The first thing I thought when I saw the text message that said you had died was that you overdosed. I had feared that so many times. I couldn’t get a message about you without thinking that’s what I was going to hear.
The message said “I am sorry to tell you your father passed away on christmas day”. In my mind there was this sad man getting so fucked up because he was away from everyone he loved going to sleep and foaming at the mouth in an empty twin size bed. That was awful.But instead I learned you were all dressed up. You had wrapped your presents and you were going to head out soon.
You used to brush your hair wet.
There was a way you smelled out of the shower. The smell of that tangy blue bar soap. The only time you didn’t smell like cigarettes. But that was long ago, when you could still afford cigarettes and before I started sending you Dove.
I wonder if you were happy. Were you tying your shoes. Were your glasses off. When you clutched your chest, did you try to cry out for help.
Was this… redemption? The week before you had finally gotten to see my brother. You had won visitation and you were bringing gifts on Christmas for your supervised time. Did it finally come full circle? The irony of you not having made it one final time is not lost on me.
My father was not a good father. He got caught up with other things and didn’t make it to us sitting on the curb waiting one too many times. He held his cigarettes facing his palm to try to keep the smoke from drifting towards me but instead I just burned myself searching for his hand to hold.
That’s exactly how you were, always trying and never realizing you were burning me.
His passion was fiery just like mine and he must have taken all of the happiness I never felt because it looks like every day you were in a party and I just need to beg for just. one. drop. of light. I took all of your seriousness. There was absolutely no real conversation we could ever have without it going from fun to fury and maybe it was the drugs or the booze of the country but I alway wished you could keep a straight face in the wake of my real.
I don’t really know why we need to be seen as we are by others. Maybe your glasses were always foggy with joy. I remember I used to ask for you to be serious and you would get mad: the whole world is too serious and life is too short and work is too boring and why not be a clown instead. You were funny and fun and always inviting of others. So inviting that sometimes it hurt.
You chose to stay in a country that is burning to the ground. You told me that someone had to stay and fight for it. But why didn’t you fight for us? That country consumed you, right down to your very last breath. It ate at your body, it devoured your soul and it took your life. All for what? Some type of commitment that you have never shown towards anything else?
The plan in November was that maybe you would come for the holidays. The tickets were $2137 dollars. You said it was enough to buy a car there. That you didn’t plan on dying anytime soon and that we should wait for when rates are lower and the schedule is less complicated.
SPOILER ALERT: The tariff is never lower and the schedule is never less complicated.
I am now left with all the memories of what could have happened if you grew old. If you kept your promise and left Venezuela in 4 years.
I am left without sorting through your clothes and smelling your smell one last time. Without separating your belongings and spreading your ashes. I am left with a hole too full of nothing that fills it because my country has taken even your last breath from me. You will never know my youngest daughter or my brother’s children. You will never see my little brother grow up. We will never get to heal together.
So I put this thing together for those who can and make the effort to make it because I am tired of missing funerals. I am tired of goodbyes given to the wind. I am tired of my family being ashes scattered in oceans when we are still here in the flesh unable to hold each other. Your last goodbye is not something my country will take from me.
SO as we get together to remember all of the laughter and happiness my dad brought us, and we are honest about all the pain and trauma some of us had as a consequence, let’s also remember that today could be our last day. This week could be our last week. Make the choices you can for now. Do not wait for a special date for the good bottle of wine. Do not wait for the lower rates. Do not wait for the better schedule.
Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans.
I am deeply saddened that the world did not get to exist with my dad having found freedom from his demons. His joy and passion could have moved mountains. I like to believe he was one step closer to finding healing, and that has to be enough.