I was 11 years old. I remember hearing the news and not being able to comprehend what happened. My mom rushed to my grandparents house. I don’t have a nice flowing series of memories, more so fragmented pieces that stayed with me. Pieces that now are coming up
I remember so many whispers about how my abuela wasn’t crying. How she was dictating what to do but hadn’t shed a tear. I remember my mom got into an argument with one of her sisters in laws about it and my abuela having to break up the fight. I remember people praying all night, staying up into the wee hours of the morning. Large pots of coffee, home made biscuits and cookies by the dozen. I enjoyed the cookies but felt a heavy sense as people prayed over my grandfather’s coffin that was in the living room
Later that morning we took him to church. Mass was held and my tíos sang to him “es un buen tipo mi viejo…”. Tears streaming from their eyes, guitars at the chest as they walked towards the altar. That’s when it hit me. I missed my Dad in that moment and I came to realized the significance of it. My Dad was at that point already in the US trying his hardest to bring us to join him
We walked to the cemetery as a group and saw him be buried. That part is fuzzy. I know it happened but at the time I blanked out
When we were walking back(uphill which was uncomfortable especially in my church shoes) I cried. I mean I really cried. I looked to the sky and told my abuelo I missed him. In that moment my Mother said “don’t do that! He won’t be able to cross over. He will linger here.” In that moment I learned that grief was to be buried deep inside
Ever since then I treat grief as something that needs to be suppressed . I do this a lot with certain emotions. It was a message I heard over and over. When I lost a baby I didn’t fully grieve until much later. When my uncle died the reality of it wasn’t present for months
On December 8, 2020 my tia Cecilia died. Unexpectedly. Suddenly. I was at work. I cursed out loud and froze. My co workers were instantly at attention asking me what’s wrong. I blurted out “my aunt just died.” I let out a few tears and then composed myself. I was at work and could not afford myself the grief. But of course this was an old practice. I muscled through the rest of the night. I felt like I was skating on top of my emotions much like some people skate over top frozen lakes. There’s water at the bottom but the layer of ice is thick enough to step on.
As I showered and listened to one of my friend’s podcast he briefly mentioned me. Hearing my name made me stop. Hearing his kind loving words opened me up. In that moment something lifted. My grief came flooding back and with it a sense of liberation. It was like love waking me up.
I still cannot wrap my head around the fact that I won’t again hug tia Cecilia. She won’t ask me how I am. She won’t try to feed me endless tortillas and pour me coffee. She won’t ask me about my daughter about work. About how my dad really is. She won’t touch my hair back and tell me how much she loves me. She won’t be packing to join us at the beach. Her weathered and expert hands finally at rest. I don’t know how to fanthom this. I don’t know how this can be true. She is so vital. So strong. So present. She was a leader, a woman dedicated to her faith. I miss her. She mothered me knowing that I needed that because I didn’t really had it. She loved me and loved all of her nieces and nephews like they were her kids. Her kitchen was the heart of all of us.
Today I release trauma and I allow for my grief to remind me over and over how much I love end how much I have been loved. Today I allow my grief to split me open. Today I celebrate that love found it’s way to me. Today I join my Ancestors in celebration of my Tia’s crossing over and I offer my heart to my family as we grieve her physical loss.