I know I have let writing fall by the wayside for a few reasons:
So, here are a few things going on in my life, fairly stream of conscious-y:
2014 is hot on my heels, and I keep having these big plans for posts I want to write. About finding joy and redemption in Christ’s love. About my family being amazing and teaching me to be weird. About how lucky I am to have so much love in my life.
For now, a top 5:
2013 Biggest Moments (in no order)
Other big things? Performed slam poetry, started (and loved!) MMA training, got my RYT 200 yoga certification, started digging deep into issues of race and class, saw another beautiful friend get married, just… God. I just feel so lucky.
So, what’s 2014?
Little things, sure: run my first marathon (#5 and up total!) in years, spend more time with friends, continue to deepen relationship with Christ, actually learn to surf, eat better, etc.
Mostly though: Joy. Always find JOY.
Here’s to 2014. Joyously.
Memory is a funny thing.
My grandfather passed away last Sunday. It’s been pretty hard. After the all-too-soon death of my aunt this past April, ending 2013 with another passing is just a lot.
I haven’t known how to feel the past week.We were fortunate enough to know what was happening earlier in the week, so I was able to get on the phone with him and say goodbye while he was still really lucid. I’m really happy I got to hear him say my name one last time.
Still, while that is what makes me feel much better, it also ripped my heart in half. Like I wrote last April, I don’t handle grief with any consistency. One minute, I am ok— calm, even— and in belief that things will inevitably be ok. The next, I am doubled-over, ugly-crying in pain and frustration and anger at the whole world. I had felt fine when I started writing this post, for example, but I heard my grandmother called me while I was writing and I’ve spent the past 10 minutes sobbing, “pero, se extraño.”
"Yo sé, todos se extrañamos, pero voy a ser fuerte contigo.”
So there’s the woman who lost her husband, my abuela, comforting me. Love, it seems, is always fully of limitless strength and always surprising.
Any way, while there is love and strength, with grief always comes all of its stages. The anger is the worst part (though, fortunately, the most fleeting). I don’t know what to do with it. I don’t know what exactly I’m angry at. I spent much of the past 6 years being incredibly angry at God, and I know that will probably get me nowhere. God is there for strength, love, tough questions, but when I want to rail at the unfairness of things, He has nothing but quiet patience and understanding— this is just the way things are, and His will or my confusion really aren’t the major players here.
Frankly, I was angry at the nature of life itself. By Wednesday of this past week, I was just mad at how fucking temporary it all is. At some point, everyone I love is going to leave. They’re either going to leave me or die. So why the fuck bother with anything?
Despite my faith, despite long nights of reading and prayer, despite a loving family and caring, understanding friends and coworkers, and PJ (who has been a saint in dealing with my pretty erratic mood swings that sometimes manifest as unnecessary anger at him before I start weeping, which is totally attractive), I hadn’t really shaken that question until today. If everything I love and enjoy is eventually going to end… this fucking sucks, I thought, and I’m mad I have to even be part of this charade. What’s even left? I angrily questioned God. If you are solitary, no one even knows you’re gone. If you had a lot of love, you just leave a lot of people really sad that you’re gone. WHAT IS THE POINT OF ALL OF THIS ANYWAY THEN?
Ya. I was in a place.
On the flight out here, I was randomly watching whatever short film Hawaiian air puts on. I don’t remember what it was about, but as if God was answering my frustrations, this phrase stuck out (paraphrased):
There are some times when we go to a place and, we don’t know why, but it speaks to us. We know yes, this feels good. We don’t have to know why. When this happens, we call it “ancestral memory.” When you feel it, you know somewhere, one of your grandparents is telling you this is what you need.
She didn’t say “aunt” or “uncle” or anything else. As if meant for me, the quote hung there, letting me marvel at it for a second.
I don’t necessarily have a lot of specific memories of my grandfather. I mean, I DO, but everything in my family’s history is so weaved together it’s hard to tell what are my memories and what has been embellished with the shared stories of my parents, brother, aunts, uncles, and cousins. I know my grandfather made me laugh a lot. I remember, once, when he sat me down at my aunt’s dining room table and gave me a book of Mexican folklore and spoke to me about history. I don’t remember the specifics, but I remember the feeling of warmth and sanctity, of thinking this is an important moment for me to remember.
When I heard that quote, and in looking up photos when I got home, I realized that what I knew deep in my heart, in my DNA, in my ancestral memory, in my na’au, is that my grandfather loved me. He loved all of us, a lot. Even if the colors are faded in those experiences with him, the feeling of love, caring, joy— that always remains deeply embedded in us.
Appropriate, then, that this week is gaudete Sunday, a day of seeking joy in our lives. It seems like it might be hard to find joy in this weekend, and it might— in the secular sense. Fr. Martin, S.J. though, recently published a great reminder about the Christian idea of joy:
Joy has an object and that object is God. The ultimate response to the good news is joy, one that is lasting and can endure even in the midst of difficulties.
While my grandfather is no longer with us, the lasting effect of his existence— the creation of my large, extended family, his thirst for knowledge, his quiet thoughtfulness, the fact that he is always present in my childhood memories when I think about “family,” and “love,”— that is the type of joy that lasts beyond the sadness of losing him. THAT is what we give to others by being here, despite our temporary existence in this form. The human connection to share love with others is transforming for those who give and those who receive.
So, perhaps that is my grandfather’s most recent gift to me. In his passing, he forced me to face the anger I’ve held onto all year and choose to let it go. He forced me to rip my heart open and grieve before using that pain as a reminder of how strong we all are. Now, he watches, and gives his wistful half-smile reminding me: Mija, no te preocupes. Nothing ends. There is always love.
Te extraño mucho, abuelo, y te amo siempre.
Apparently, it’s national sibling day. I’m sad I found out so late, but that’s cool. I’ve definitely spent some time talking about why my parents are the bomb. My brother definitely deserves a post. So, with the
30 10 minutes left of National Sibling Day, and the fact that my brother has no clue that I am writing this, here we go.
This is my big brother, Paco (and my dad, far left). He’s 2 years older than me, and he’s pretty fucking awesome. Here are some key reasons why:
So, there you have it. My big brother is awesome.
Lilo and Stitch
(Big news coming Sunday afternoon. Be excited)