Monday, September 27, 2010

We only say adios once.

We rushed down to the ER but it was too late. We already knew it was when we were in the car. We felt it. Still, when the woman at the desk said she wasn't there, I reeled back in pain. It is so cliche. I don't care. It's the truth.
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We drove to my parents' house. Inside, by habit, I walked to my grandma's room. Just to say hello, to give her a kiss. I stopped cold at the door, feeling stupid. We left it shut.
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Hours later, I heard sobs interrupted by laughter (or was it laughter interrupted by tears?) My mom and my sister had gone in, were standing in her room. There was her bed, her scarf laid across the pillow. Her perfume, her hairbrush, her red lipstick; everything waiting for her. They had found presents she had bought for my babies. A guitar for my son, yellow. Two outfits for my daughter. A new set of overalls for my youngest. Lucas heard us and came rushing inside. He wanted to ask her for gomitas. Loli came in and stole her shoes, took off wearing them on her hands. Like always.
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I opened her closet and choked on my tears. How many times did I pick out an outfit for her? Two years is over 700 days. The number seems too small.
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It felt so good to be there; in her room, as if she had just gone to get a glass of water. We sat and looked at every detail as if we had never seen it. The posters - Ricky Martin, Enrique Iglesias, and Pope John Paul II. Her collection of elephants. The photos up all over the walls, framed and taped. Her certificate from the day she became a citizen. Signed photos from the news-ladies at Univision. Her fruit snacks. Her remote control that she was always pushing the wrong buttons on.
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She used to sit up at night after her soaps were over. She'd sit at the edge of her bed in her cotton nightgown and pray. Hands folded, eyes tightly shut. When I'd spend the night to take care of her, I'd see her there; I'd hear her, praying for everyone by name. I'd wait. An hour later I'd open her door again, wanting to say goodnight. She'd still be praying. That little twin-bed with its yellow sheets, always yellow - that was a holy place.
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It was too much; I left. I went to the kitchen, but she was everywhere. The counter where she held my babies while I cooked. Acompáñame! I would say. Ya voy. Oye oye, no me dejes aqui solita! Ya voy.
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Pero ya se fue, and left behind is phantom-pain.
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Like an amputated limb, her absence is an ache so large it's a presence.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Love.

It's agony; muscles and bones churning, writhing, contorting. And then, suddenly, he's handed to you. Small and whimpering, curling away from the unexpected cold, laid on your chest. You look at him and you know him; your heart leaps. You recognize him as yours. You wrap him up in your arms and hot tears burn in your eyes and the moment is suspended; like flowers blooming ultra fast while the background stays the same, set to the sound of a projector whirring. You break your gaze to turn to your husband, to let him in too, and time starts again. Quickly, catching up for all it missed, some kind of technicolor blur. You keep it in your heart like a locket; the silence, the stillness, the rush, the feeling that this is how it was always meant to be.