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Juan Gabriel

no air, loss, monsignor

No Air

by Deborah Cruz

Sometimes I forget that I live in a world full of triggers. Sometimes I forget just how terrible reality can be. How sad and empty the world is without certain people and then something happens and it’s like life shakes me hard to remind me just how fragile life is. I think this is what keeps me human and humble.

Nothing like a swift reminder that there are no guarantees. People die. People leave. Life hurts and that is the reality. Even when someone seems like they have it all, devastation can be waiting right around the corner. That’s the real reason you should never envy anyone because you never really know what they are going through. The worst part is that life is so random and we have absolutely no control of it, not really.

I guess I’m feeling a little discombobulated lately thanks to to recent losses. Last week we lost someone close to our family and now, he’s just gone. Not here. Someplace else. No longer here for guidance. What once was a crucial thread in the tapestry of our life has become completely unraveled and been removed. He’s gone and we just have to learn to live in that new reality. It’s shocking because it was so unexpected but then we began to digest it, as we do, and navigate life in our new reality minus one.

Then last night, I found out that someone who was a huge part of my childhood died. It’s silly, really. He’s a celebrity. We’ve never met but I felt a connection to my dad through him and his music. He’s from the same part of Mexico as my dad. He was a year younger than my dad. I grew up listening to him in the background of my life’s soundtrack. I passed his music along to my children as a part of my own father’s legacy. He’s always been there and now, he’s not.

This sent me down a rabbit hole of sadness. My dad is in Mexico right now. I haven’t seen him in 8 months. Juan Gabriel has always reminded me of time with my dad. This reminded me of my dad’s younger brother, my favorite uncle, Narciso. He’s dead. He was murdered when I was 16. Which reminded me of my great uncle, Ramon, he died when I was 13. He was like a Grandpa to me. I was his favorite. This made me think of the baby I lost and how different my life would look if these people were alive. Now, I’m in a hole seeing nothing but darkness asking myself, how am I even breathing in this world with no air?

You know, each time someone I love dies I try to convince myself that they are in a better place. I tell myself that they are together and one day I will see them again. That’s how I get through it. I tell myself. I convince myself that they are better off, even if my heart is breaking into pieces. But what if they aren’t? What if when we die, that’s it?

I hope not. I hate to think that death is the end for the people I loved so dearly; good people who did good in the world, if nothing else than love me; care in a world that so often doesn’t.

I thought I was okay. Then I dropped the girls off at school this morning and saw the reader board. There it was, our Monsignor’s name followed by the time for visitation, vigil and tomorrow’s funeral time. Then a wave of sadness hit me with the realization that I will never see his smile again. My children are going to say goodbye at a private visitation this morning with their classes. I hate that I can’t be there to hold their hand for this. I hate that they have to say goodbye to someone they love at such a young age.

Tomorrow we say our final goodbye. This morning, I’m feeling fragile thinking of all the loss realizing that when you love fully, you live surrounded by triggers and reminders of what could have been and what was. In moments like these, it’s hard not to go down the rabbit hole and feel sorry for yourself but that’s not what they, these dearly departed of ours, would want. It’s not what I’d want. So, in a couple minutes, I’m going to wipe away these tears and live in this moment because even though sometimes it feels like there is no air…there is. We live surrounded by it.

So now, I inhale and I exhale and I repeat until it feels natural again. I keep living and enjoying my life as fully as possible because those people I’ve lost would accept no less. And the cold hard truth is that we only have one life and it’s really short. We have to make it count. Life is a full contact sport and none of us survive in the end.

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