Life is so fucking weird, man. Most times I can't even wrap my head around how weird and strange certain aspects of my life can be. For example, dating. You meet someone, you two connect, start a relationship and become one person. You share milestones together, learn and grow together, the time goes by and the next thing you know, you can't stand each other's presence. Weird and strange right? How about when you, out of nowhere, start thinking about someone a lot or a moment that you shared in the past and then as the days and weeks pass, you receive constant reminders from the universe in the form of advertisements, songs etc. of that person or that thing/moment that has occupied so many of your thoughts. For me, those reminders came in the form of advertisements for low fare round trips to Mexico in practically every subway station and throughout NYC.
From the beginning of the year, I've had this strange pull inside me to visit my grandmother in Mexico. I've always been a very spiritual person (whatever that means to you) so it's like we were both connecting on a telepathic level, and just like a wave crashing over you without warning, it came over me and I was mentally set to fly out within the next few months to pay a visit to the woman who gave birth to my father.
Lucia Melecio is the woman who is the reason for my existence, the existence of my Mexican family and the roots to which I am so deeply, devotedly connected to, as well as completely in love with. Ever since I can remember, my father's mother and I shared this amazing loving bond that even we couldn't put into words. The love that we had for one another was always felt in the hugs and kisses she would give me. When she hugged me, I remember always inhaling deeply and taking in her beautiful scent which was a combination of sweat, fresh Mexican air, dirt, fresh cut roses and strength. I felt her love in the way she would look at me whenever I would speak to her or tell her stories of my ambitions and accomplishments; it was the same way I witnessed my sister look at her first born son when the nurse finally handed him over to her after pushing for hours. My grandmother's love was felt in the way she would cook me her authentic Mexican dishes I craved and how I could always taste the TLC she would sprinkle in them. My father's mother had the most beautiful long dark hair that to me, always seemed like the vines of a willow tree coming out and falling off from the top of her round shaped head. When it wasn't braided or in a bun, and if she let me, I could get lost in it for hours like a child running free and fearless through a field of wild flowers somewhere warm and peaceful in the middle of nowhere. Her smile, crooked and so full of life, is something I would give anything to see one last time.
My grandmother was diagnosed with Parkinson's back when I was around fifteen, if my memory serves me right. She was a fighter and lived her life to the fullest right up until about a year ago when she was finally put on bed rest, after the disease she had always been able to beat slowly took over her body. Starting at the central nervous system, Parkisons begins eating away at the precious neurons from your brain unhurriedly throughout the years, until finally it completely devours all the dopamine needed to allow your body to function, and then one day you can no longer take part in basic every day routines because your body can no longer move at all. I had known and heard she wasn't doing well but nothing could have ever prepared me for that first moment I saw her laying in that bed after four years of being apart.
The room was dark and cold. Silent. Like a scene straight out of a M. Night Shyamalan film. The walk from the door to her bed seemed like it took me an entire year to get to. I wasn't sure if she would recognize me, and if she didn't how would I ever be able to handle such an innocent-uncontrollable rejection? But my fears and anxiety were quickly put to rest when our eyes met for the first time in four years. We both had a single tear come out from our left eye. She smiled her crooked half smile, and her little molten eyes were beaming with so much love and light that it took over my soul the same way the sun takes over your perspective immediately after you open your eyes from a long night's sleep on a bright summer's day.
I was with her for ten days. In those ten days, I was over her home everyday and I spend my long hot July summer days on her ranch, in her room, by her side. Surrounded by all my aunts, uncles and beautiful cousins, whom I can now connect with on a more sophisticated level since we are all much older, I felt a sort of calmness in me that I hadn't felt in many years. The power of happiness and that calmness took over my body the entire time I was there. I felt like a child again, with no worries or stresses. I felt so innocent and free, but over all, I felt elated to be surrounded by the people who, in those days, I realized mean the whole world to me. I never wanted to leave that moment. I never wanted to leave the country after experiencing that.
My grandmother fell into a coma the night I left (unbeknownst to me), maybe it even happened the moment I said my goodbyes and kissed her forehead. I saw her close her eyes and I remember feelings of bliss and love over taking the room as well as myself. I wasn't scared, I was sad. But it was a happy kind of sad; the kind where you feel so pacified and blessed that you made it in time but in the interim you are somber because you know you'll never live this brief period of time with this person ever again in your life.
I remember August 2, 2016 like it was just yesterday. It was around 9 pm when my phone started making a strange ringing sound, I looked at it and saw that I was getting a Facebook call from my cousin Paulina. (Side note: Paulina is my rock of a cousin. We are very close and I love her so much as if she were a sister instead of a cousin. She recently moved to Playa Del Carmen for a job, I was unable to see her while I was with my grandmother in those ten days. I hadn't seen her since May 2014). Seeing her calling me via Facebook seemed strange to me but I didn't think much of it. As soon as I picked up the call, I noticed it was dropped and my father's call took over my phone now. I answered it thinking I was answering my cousin but instead realized it was my dad. The next part still replays in my head like a broken record player:
Papi: " Hola mija, donde andas?"
"Hi, where are you"
Me: "Dad? en mi casa, me estaba llamando Paulina pero creo que tu llamada la corto, que pasa como estas, todo bien?". "Dad? I'm at home, Paulina was just calling me but I think your incoming call dropped it, whats going on? everything ok?"
Papi: "Aye Mija no se como decirte pero tu abueli-" "I'm not really sure how to tell you this but its your grandm-".
Me: "No, no. No digas eso no me lo digas, acabo de ver la" "No, no. Don't say it, dont you dare say it, I was just with her!"
Papi: "Sorry mija pero se fue la misma noche que te fuiste, nunca desperto despues de domingo" "I'm so sorry she left us the same night you left her, she slipped into a coma that night and never woke up from it."
I feel empty and lost. I feel like I'm having a bad dream and as much as I try to wake up from it, I can't.