Monday, December 14, 2009

In the meantime...

This post is not about baby. If you're here to read about the contents of Luki's latest diaper, I am sorry to disappoint. Believe me, I wish I was in the mood to write about poop. I would give anything to go back to eighteen days ago, when poop was the worst of my problems -- silly, trivial, inconsequential, poop. But I can't talk about poop, not today. Because November 28 was The Worst Day of My Life and I'm still living in its shadows.

The Worst Day of My Life -- I wonder how many times I've used that phrase in the past because traffic was bad, or I left the house without an umbrella on a rainy day. It's amazing how a single event has completely sharpened my perspective. The worst thing that can happen is not getting laid off or missing my connecting flight. It's not seeing the perfect pair of shoes on sale, only to find out they're sold out in my size. It's not even having the republicans win every single election from now until the year 2175.

The worst thing that can happen is to stand in a hospital room while my father -- my young, vibrant, agile, father -- is pronounced dead by a team of doctors. Dead. As in, he will never fry plantains again, or hold my mother's hand, or check the air in my brother's car's tires before he heads back to college. Dead. As in, he will not see my son grow up, he will not be at his first birthday party or watch him ride a bicycle; he will not ever hear him say "abuelo."

Wrapping my head around the permanence of death has been one of the biggest challenges of the past eighteen days. It's so hard to comprehend that while I am on this earth, I will never see my father again. That I can't even call him for a second, just to ask him how much water I need to add to the pot in order to make his perfectly fluffy white rice.

But everything in the past couple of weeks has been challenging. I've felt a range of emotions as wide as the horizon my dad liked to stare at so much on our trips to the beach. In the same day, the same hour even, I can go from being calm and collected to feeling an urging need to punch a wall and scream until my voice is gone. I am convinced that my father is in a better place, that he is resting, that he is happier than ever, but at the same time I feel an irrational hatred for all the ladders in the world. I despise brain stems and hematomas and neurosurgeons who are trained to say, "there's nothing we can do" without expressing the slightest hint of emotion. And I know, I KNOW, that everyone dies. That we all have a beginning and an end. And I think about all the kids who have lost their fathers or who have never even met their fathers, and I feel lucky that I had the MOST AMAZING dad for 26 years. But then, I see the old men who live to be 90 and teach their great grandkids to play dominoes, and it just seems so unfair.

All of these thoughts and feelings are constantly speeding through the interstates inside my heart and mind.

One emotion has remained constant, however, and that is gratitude. The outpour of support from friends and relatives has been amazing. The family that got on the first flight down, just to hold our hands. The friends who drove to the funeral for the day, spending more time in the car than at their destination. All the people from near and far who sent bouquets of flowers. All the folk who showed up at our door with plates of food. And all the friends, some whom I haven't spoken with in years, who have kept us in their thoughts and prayers and wrote kind messages of support on this blog and on Facebook. I haven't been good about responding, but I've read all of them and I just want to say Thank You.

And thank YOU for reading this entry, despite it not being about the light-hearted and banal things I usually write. I have to believe that with your help, and with time, there will come the day when I can talk about poop again.


  1. Es muy fuerte lo que estas pasando Ailen, y lo entiendo por haber vivido en carne propia una prueba TAN fuerte como esta con la ida de nuestra amada Madre hace 9 años. Estas pruebas de la vida a la larga nos hacen mas fuertes y nos recuerdan lo fragiles que somos, que estamos en esta tierra de manera temporal, para cumplir un deber y ayudar a los demas. Recibe muchas energias positivas, por aqui a tu orden si necesitas algo. Abrazos para todos x alla.

  2. Ailen, I am so sorry for your loss and I wish you and your family were not having to endure this. It does seem awfully unfair. They say that we grow through our deepest pain, but what the hell do "they" know. At any rate, as sad as I feel for you, as many tears as this entry brought to my eyes, I'm also glad that you're sharing your pain here, because you express yourself better than most, you're able to let us in on your pain very clearly, you're helping us to share your pain. This is an incredibly moving piece. You are an amazing writer, Ailen, much more so than you know.

  3. Ailen, aunque ya te lo he dicho muchas veces, siento mucha la partida de Ulises, mientras te escribo, lagrimas salen de mis ojos, pero no me puedo ni siquiera imaginar lo que tu sientes, una vez mas sabes que cuentas con nosotros para lo que sea, siempre.