In Spanish there’s a word; desahogar. It means to release your feelings, in whatever form you choose, speaking, writing, singing, painting, in order to be alleviated by them. The following is just that. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Stepping out of the City Hall train station and breathing in the City air, never gets old. My entire body vibrates with energy as people walk by hurriedly. I’d like to think every New Yorker radiates drive, purpose, angst. They seem late for a life altering meeting but are quick to acknowledge the fellow New Yorker with a brief gaze, afterall who has time for a smile or a hello? It was a Tuesday, no different than any other Tuesday. I was eagerly walking to my therapy session (I had so much to tell her), and listening to Dreams from the Cranberries, when I heard the sonar sound on my iphone twice. It was Angelica. A friend of over twenty years. She wrote two sentences. Have a minute? Call me. I sensed an urgency that only evoked dread.
That phone call stopped me dead in my tracks. And one doesn’t just stand in the middle of a New York City sidewalk. But when I heard the news, when she told me, “Lin, she’s gone,” I was paralyzed with shock. I looked up at the sky, and I am not sure why I did that. Maybe to find some air to breathe. Perhaps because at some subconscious level I thought/think that’s where she is now. And I suddenly longed to see her face. For a split second I imagined her body/soul floating up into the sky. Was that what I was looking for? (Could I catch a glimpse of you in mid air? Could I see at least your silhouette up in the sky, somewhere among the clouds? How could you be gone?)
Shock numbs you and maybe it does that as a protective shield until you are able to mentally process it all; otherwise, you may collapse. Because once you process, the shock subsides and what shock does not prepare you for is the emotional aspect of it all. The breakdown. I cried. I cried and questioned myself. Why didn’t I call her? Why didn’t I call her all these years? She was a friend and a mentor.
On the train ride home, I couldn’t read as I usually do. Instead, I put my head in my hands, closed my eyes, and thought of her. I wanted to remember her face, her smile, her serene demeanor that was always full of love and light. I feared that I would not remember, but my heart never forgets a loved one. I walked home with a heavy heart and heard the usual pandemonium of the New York City streets. Shhh. I wanted to tell them. Don’t you know? Didn’t you hear? An angel left this world. But that’s the thing about death.The person is gone but everyone else keeps moving forward. I’d like to kick a little dirt at the old adage, “life goes on,” right about now.
Therefore, with a bleeding heart, with hopes of trying to assuage my guilt, I write this to her. (I purposely will not use her name. Out of respect to her and her family. Instead, I will refer to her by what she personified most: Fuerza (Spanish for strength).
Where are you now? Wherever it is, is it everything you imagined it to be or more? Does it add up to your unwavering faith? Can you send me a sign that you’re ok? Can you see me? Are you now sitting on top of a looking glass gazing down at all those you loved and those who loved you in return? Can you see your husband? Your children? Are they ok? I can’t stop thinking of them. I’d like to see them. Embrace them.
Fuerza, I need to tell you something. Will you listen? You always did.
I wish you were still here so I can tell you in person. I don’t know how much faith I have in writing this to you hoping that the winds, the gods, the angels, carry this straight to your heart. I’m calling on everything and anything to compound divine intervention. Or, can you hear me? I don’t know how this works, but I’m going to give this a shot.
Fuerza, are you disappointed in me? I never called you again. Did I let you down? Did I contradict everything you ever thought of me? You told him, I “was your light.” How can I be light? But I’m not a star. I didn’t call you. I didn’t call you. I left Miami and never called you again. And that’s what I have to live with now. You’re gone, and I never called you.
I won’t sit here and make up excuses. Besides, you’d catch on to my nonsense.
Time is never on our side. I’m sure if anyone learned that lesson here it is you. Though I believe you lived your last days to the fullest and you left with no regrets. Because that’s who you were Fuerza. You were strength, love, faith, mom, wife, friend. You weren’t one to sit around reflecting back on what ifs. You were too big for that. The truth is that I thought I had all the time in the world to speak to you. I sound like a child who thinks she’s invincible. That life is invincible. Don’t I? Fuerza, I wanted to speak to you. I was excited at the idea of us speaking, but it could wait. I had time. We had time. You see, for several months a mutual friend of ours had been trying to get in touch with me. He had been trying to tell me that you were ill, that you were retiring because your illness did not allow you to walk anymore, and I didn’t see these messages. I didn’t see them! I’m screaming now because I didn’t see them and that’s something I now have to live with. How could I have missed those messages all these months? I will never forgive myself for it.
Fuerza, I miss you. And of course, because these are the lessons life likes to teach you, I didn’t realize how much I missed you until I heard you were gone. I wanted to call for you. Fuerza! Fuerza! Wait! There are things I didn’t tell you. Wait!
I didn’t tell you that I admired you as Mom. I didn’t tell you that when I had my son and began the beautiful and challenging journey of motherhood, that I finally understood you. I finally understood why you worried so much about them; I understood most importantly your love for them, and how what was for dinner was on your mind by lunch time. I get it now Fuerza. I didn’t tell you that when I was working full time and going to school full time, that the talks we had, your encouragement, helped me. You were there for me. Always.
Where was I Fuerza? Where was I these past couple of years? I wasn’t there for you. I failed you. I failed myself. The light here is not me Fuerza. The light here is you.
I’ll never forget you. I’ll always remember you and your children. I will remember the strength you instilled in me when I made the decision to move to New York. I will never forget when I became passionate about the environment; you did some research for me and pushed me to go to a non-profit meeting for first timers. You were there, too. You stood right by me and made me listen. I’m not your light Fuerza. Can’t you see? The one shining here, the star here has always been you.
I love you.
If you need me you know where to find me.
I will not let your memory go gentle into that good night. I will rage, rage against the dying of the light! This is my promise to you.