Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas time

Time has been acting funny since the tragic and life-altering event of November 28. My mom keeps saying that she wants the clock to tick faster. That she feels the hours and minutes leisurely strolling by, like tourists who don't want to miss a single site of nostalgia and sorrow. For me, on the other hand, the past three and a half weeks have flown by. I am still stranded in that hospital room. Every detail of that day remains engraved in my being -- the rhythmic noise of the ventilator; the way my dad didn't smell like himself; the look of disbelief on my mother's face when the doctors told us he was gone. It is as if it all happened five minutes ago.

I recently realized that Christmas is in three days, and that doesn't compute in my mind. I just had Thanksgiving dinner with my family. My dad was there. He praised my turkey. The next day he had an accident and was hospitalized. I'm stuck there. How did all these other days sneak in? When did it become December?

Christmas, as it's traditionally celebrated here, has never been a big deal for my family. Before we moved to the United States we didn't really know anything about Santa Claus or crowded malls. In Cuba, all we did was get together for a big meal on December 24 to observe Noche Buena. When we arrived to this country right smack in the middle of Holiday Season 1992, we thought people were crazy and tacky for having giant trees with flashing lights inside their houses.

My brother was still pretty young when we got here, so he bought into the whole Santa thing despite the fact that the fat man in the red suit had never visited him in Havana. So, for the first few years we put up a tree and opened presents Christmas morning. But when we got a little older, we stopped doing all that. The celebration was limited to a big feast on the 24th.

This year, Ton Ton and I wanted to play up the holiday for Luki. We planned to get a tree and put up lights, and envisioned dozens of presents to commemorate our baby's first Christmas.

And then the terrible thing happened. The terrible thing which has put all other things into perfect focus.

My father's sudden and unexpected death has made me realize that the most amazing gift I have is time. The time I spent with him, and the time I have left to spend with others.

When we asked my mom what she'd like to do for Noche Buena, she said she wanted to spend it in bed. So this December 24th, my brother, Ton Ton, Luki and I will be climbing in there with her. Wrapping up the present. Opening up the memories time has kindly left behind.

1 comment:

  1. Sending wishes of peace, love, and comfort to your family. . .