I’ve been to Semarang once, vacation, alone. Not much to see there but those several sites that worth to visit in Semarang, I personally think worth to visit twice. But my trip this time was different, I wasn’t going to Semarang solely for vacation or the sightseeing, I went there to accompany a friend in a pilgrimage (journey into remembrance and prayer), to visit a grave of a lost loving husband, a lover. It was his 100th days leaving this beautiful world. And this is the story of how this trip became one trip that worth the remembrance.
It’s definitely not entirely the journey that I’m going to tell you here, but also the love story that I’ve been longing to hear since the first time I heard Dinda’s name. It wasn’t a happy event. No, it was sad and shocking news on one bright morning said a friend of a friend – named Alex – died suddenly. My twitter timeline immediately filled up with the condolences and grieve. How it was shocking for everyone and how they are deeply regrets the incident. That guy – Alex – must be one hell of a good guy to remember I said to myself, judging from all the good memories and adoration people twit. And some of my friends in office started to talk about the late and also his wife – Dinda. The stories I heard that moment was a bit of this and that, not the full story, which raised my curiosity of what-actually-happened? Amazingly, not long after that moment, I met my childhood friend – Adi – that happened to be Dinda’s best friend, and that’s how I was introduced to her! Now don’t you believe that there’s nothing in this world happened just because? Everything happens for a reason. After that, I hang out with her couple times, and she unexpectedly asked Adi (and I was tag along with him 😉 ) to join her in a pilgrimage trip to the city where Alex resting. I – with no hesitation at all said yes… I wanna listen to her story. I thought wanna write it…
The Love Story
Dinda is one good looking woman, with skin color like a chocolate milk :). Average height for Indonesian women and her best feature is her smile combines with the twinkle eyes. When she smiles, she means it. When I first met her it was in a karaoke room with bunch of people. In the dim light she looked like a real happy and bubbly person, but when we moved to a brighter place to eat, I can see her sad and tired eyes that move something inside me. She’s still in a deep grieved.
Dinda and Alex met on 2005 via a popular social media at that time, Friendster. When Dinda told me the story on a moving train to Semarang, I can see how vividly she remembers it all, their love story. She told me everything in detail with an excitement of a little girl who just met her first love. Alex sent her a friend-request and Dinda ignored it owing to uninterested, until incidentally they met in an informal way at a friend’s office. As they shake hands Alex didn’t realized it was Dinda. Dinda did, and that’s why she finally approved the request. Alex replied in gratitude upon that approval and they had their first real conversation.
What Dinda told me after that quite shocking for me. Dinda is a breast cancer’s survivor. She found out that she have the cancer not long after her first conversation with Alex. Of course it has nothing to do with it. But Dinda’s story on surviving the cancer proofed nothing else but her being one tough girl. She went check the little lump near her breast by herself, and also deal with the news alone at that time. Instead feeling down with the heartbreaking fact, she coped up by seek advice, listen to people around her, and look out for detail information on how she can be healed. She consults with several doctors in Jakarta and Singapore. She ended up with the only solution, an operation to remove the cancer’s cells by removing her right breast, and have it re-done in Singapore. At that time the doctor said that one operation might be enough to stop the cancer from spreading. But just like a nightmare coming true, she has to do the chemotherapy after that because the cancer actually has spread to her lymph nodes. The chemo need to do in 8 sessions, that’s painful enough to change one’s body condition, but Dinda got no choice.
After the first chemotherapy in Singapore, Dinda came back and continue the chemo in Jakarta. Alex called her, and that was their second conversation. Dinda told Alex the story of her illness and Alex spontaneously wanted to meet her. Dinda was too weak from the therapy and got to have a bed rest for at least 10 days after it. They did meet after that, and after that, and after that, and Alex obviously showed how much he cared for Dinda. Dinda was hesitated for some obvious reasons, her sickness of course, as much as possible she should keep her mind away from things that possibly distressing her, especially emotionally. And there was other BIG thing, they come from different background religions. Dinda is a Moslem, and Alex was a Catholic. But it didn’t stop their friendship or Alex’s sincere attention for Dinda. He was there through all her therapies, a very much inconvenient one because after several sessions Dinda’s body inevitably got affected by it. Dinda lost all of the hair on her body. She was totally bald and definitely looked funny. Alex said she look like a turtle :). Dinda didn’t deny that she loves Alex’s companion through her illness and her medication at that time, but for being a lover she was still in doubt. On one evening, at the café they used to go every week, Alex asked Dinda to marry him. Dinda couldn’t believe that and ask some times to think it over – I think that’s a wise decision.
From what Dinda told me, it’s easy to figure what kind of person Alex was: persistence (might consider stubborn 😉 ), loving, thoughtful, someone who stand his ground and keep his words. Alex brought his Mom to Dinda’s Mom 100th Memorial Service. Dinda’s family was open their arms to him as much as Alex’s family to her. I can see that it was actually the big love from people around them, their closest peer, that made them stronger and more confident in starting and continue the relationship. Dinda’s Dad & sisters just like Alex’s parents is people who open for differences. Instead looking the religion as a gap, they put their children happiness above it, more than their ego. So in that case, I consider them really lucky.
On 2007, after done with the chemo and Dinda got better (thou not totally cured), Alex and his family formally proposed Dinda. The road still not easy, because although they accept the differences they still need to decide what kind of wedding ceremony they’re going to have, the Islamic way or the International one which meaning they go to Hong Kong and get wed there, no religion base. Dinda’s Dad of course wanted them to marry in Islam ceremony, and when things still in consideration he died due to heart attack. Oh can you imagine how sad it can be? On their confusion on what they should do, Alex’s Dad told them to go and sit alone in a room and solve their problems like an adult in deciding what they want to do with their wedding or their relationship. On January 2008, Dinda and Alex finally got married in Hong Kong, just them, Alex’s parents, Dinda’s oldest sibling, and 2 of their closest friends. They also had a beatiful reception in Bali with family and friends.
Dinda giggled whilst telling me how much they spent their dating time fighting with each other. She was doubting everything, she argued everything, she was walk away from Alex when they’re fighting, but Alex was still there for her, convinced her that they are not fight that far just to break up and give up. Dinda told me how she finally convinced, that Alex is the person she wants to spend the rest of her life with. And because they already fight a lot before the marriage, there’s no more to fight left after that, everything just seemed sorted out. How they lived their marriage life like there will be no tomorrow for them. Dinda feels so grateful that Alex never treated her like a sick person, but rather like a healthy girl that need to be take out every now and then. Dinda was so happy and so secured. The 1st anniversary celebrated small and simple and also the 2nd, they share their feelings of how much they love each other and wonder are there any couples that happier than them.
On end of February 2010, several weeks before Alex death, Dinda got this pang of lonely feeling, struck her like lightning. A thought crossed her mind “How if Alex leave her first due to death?”. She instantly told that to Alex and weirdly Alex had the same feelings too. They had a long sad moment sharing feelings how if one of them died first and how painful that going to be. Not long from that Alex was sick. He had acute gastric and after that a typhus. And because of the complications, he got trouble breathing several times. They did check it to doctors and Alex got medication. I got no braver heart to tell the detail story of Alex’s last breath. Tears were running down my cheek when Dinda continues her story of her last moment seeing Alex’s eyes when he got heart attack and collapsed. She remember every lines they were exchanged that night – the last night them being together. It’s so painful to remember but Dinda keep told me in detail, she is so strong. I learn, that when you can tell the whole story of someone you really love without skipping the sad part or the tragedy, I think that’s a real love story, coming from a real love, strong love.
I asked nothing more after that, I stop at that. I was all over feeling blue already and need to take a deep breath. I am – as always – so sentimental. That’s one beautiful story, not a happy ending one – for me – but still a beautiful and inspiring one especially when I see the person myself. I realized that good memories of love will make people stronger than they think they are, even when they lost the person they love so much. The memories lingers creates hope and not desperation. Dinda has just taught me the real meaning of surviving. A lesson of how to take one occasion that seems like tragedy and transform it into a beautiful memories that make life even more worth living.