Exactly two years ago today, my grandmother died. I usually don’t like to write about personal matters online. I prefer to use the internet to look at videos of cats or insult my friends. However, since death is always around the corner, I’ll try to be serious for a bit.
I bartended the night before, so I went to bed very late and woke up to several missed phone calls and a text message from my brother. It was the worst feeling in the world. No one can do anything. It’s done. She’s gone forever.
She wasn’t just a grandmother I used to visit. She helped raise me when my dad left. Yes, Mexican families are big, but that’s just blood relation. My real family is tiny. My grandma was one of the four people I grew up with who had a significant impact on who I am today. She, like my mom, raised her kids without a dad, including one with down syndrome whom she called her “angel azul” and took care of for almost 60 years. My mother and her brothers never missed a meal, clean clothes or forgot to brush their teeth. She did the same for my brother and I when we were kids. But she wasn’t just a great mom. She was kind to animals. She appreciated nature more than anyone I know. When I got to hang out with her as I got older, I was always amazed at how good she was at her hobbies. She was a great writer. Both her poems and prose were often read on the local radio station. She played a bit of piano and sang. She also participated in so many political discussions that she got famous. Everyone knew of her talents, and what an amazing mother she was.
It is heartbreaking to write the word “was”. I still can’t believe she’s gone. How can someone that was an essential part of your life no longer exist? How is it possible that I will never again be able to hug her?
For any of my fellow nerds dealing with death, I highly recommend watching the episode “The Body” from Season Five of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It is the most realistic depiction of how people cope with death I’ve ever seen on TV. There is one scene where Emma Caulfied’s character perfectly embodies grief, anger, fear and the inability to understand mortality. Television at its best.
In case you haven’t noticed, I’m an atheist, so I’m not looking for consolation. I decided to write this as a reminder to all of us that death is inevitable. Other loved ones will die, and then I will die. Life isn’t forever. So what now? Remember that people say life is short? Well, it’s not just a quote that looks nice on a photo that someone can hipster edit (although, if you see a good example, please send. I love hipster edits.)
Life IS short. We really do get only one. So stop wasting time. If you want to take dance or cooking lessons, sign up. If you’re a teenager and you have a crush on someone, tell them. If you’re an adult in a relationship that’s not fulfilling you, get out of it. If you got into a fight with a relative, say you’re sorry. If that friend is still treating you like shit, spend your time with better friends, and make sure they know you appreciate them. If you haven’t talked to your parents in a while, call them.
Let’s be clear here. I’m not advising crazy people “in love” to get married, or fat people to eat a whole pizza. Let’s just make sure we do things that actually make us happy in the long run, help to decrease our stress and extend our life. In other words, get rid of all that negative crap.
I know I may sound “negative” on social networks, but that’s because I enjoy sarcasm and I like to laugh. In real life — yes, people, there is life outside of the internet — my friends, family and Brennan (my grandma loved him, btw) will tell you that I’m a very happy person. I’m not perfect, and I probably suck some days (sorta), but most days, I give as much as I take. I’m loyal, honest, and pretty fucking entertaining. You can be awesome if you want, too.
I owe a lot of this to my grandma. I hope that when I die, I’m remembered as someone awesome, just like she will always be awesome to me.
“La limpieza de tu casa, la limpieza de tu persona y la limpieza de tu conducta, reflejan la limpieza de tu alma” - Aurora Millán (1929-2011)