When I was 14 my grandmother died; I was too young to understand the depth of it. I was sad but I was really sad for my mother. You see I took the call from my tía that said she had passed. I had rarely seen my mom cry but this time I saw her cry and it was very difficult for me to watch. She went to Mexico for her funeral and we couldn’t go. My grandmother lived in Mexico and the last time I saw her I was probably 8 or so. I was too young even then to appreciate her, whenever we would go to Mexico I rarely spent time with her. One of those things you just don’t realize when you’re a kid.
Then when I was 20 my grandfather died, this again was difficult for my mother and that made me even sadder. I loved my grandfather very much and did get to spend a lot of time with him since he got to live some time here with us. He had great stories and very funny jokes he would tell. When he died, my mom was on her way to see him, in the middle of a 24 hour bus ride. She received the news during that bus ride so I’m sure it was very hard for her to know she still had so many hours to go and she didn’t get to see him before he passed. For me that weekend was the weekend my husband proposed to me. It was a roller coaster weekend for me and I’ll never forget it.
Still my grandparents were older and one would say they lived a long life; they were peaceful when they passed so you don’t feel sorry for them just sad.
However, when someone that is young dies its different. Your mind naturally wonders what they could have been or done, that loss is a lot more tragic. My family has known a few friends pass; they were mostly my sibling’s friends so the impact was harder for my siblings than me. You find it harder to console people since words like “they lived a long life” don’t apply. You try to muster up your most delicate words of condolences. Sometimes you don’t have any words of condolence so your presence must do the talking. I have been to many a funeral in my time.
Still with each death one holds their family a little tighter, you say “I love you” a little more and you pray a little harder for them. One must learn something in death. You have to try to understand why they passed and what you learned from it. When my grandmother died I learned to cherish the moments with my only grandparent left, so when he died I felt peace like I knew him and am able to carry on his stories and legacy.
For each unexpected death of a young person I learned that you never know when you are going to pass so you always have to be right with God and make sure you don’t have any pending grudges. I have tried to live my life according to that. Going to church regularly and praying daily.
This past month another family friend passed. She was young and beautiful and had a promising future. But her life served a different purpose, one that we may not understand right now but we will with time. When she died again I reflected on what to learn from the experience. A lot of times when someone dies I spend a lot of time dwelling on their death. How it happened, if it could happen to me, or where I will go once I die and if I will say the best last thing to my family and friends. But with the passing of this young friend it got me thinking on her life instead of her death.
She was an individual; she was different but she owned it. You could see right through her, to her core where it was warm and genuine. When you were around this girl she didn’t make you feel insecure she made you feel liked and accepted you. It got me thinking on what people feel when they’re around me. Do people feel warm and at home with themselves around me?
Sometimes willingly or unwillingly we make people feel uncomfortable. People can feel any tension on your part, whether it’s intentional or not. Sometimes we want someone to be mad or to ruin their day. Were all humans we have those emotions, competitiveness or condescending. People can tell if you’re being fake or genuine.
I also learned life isn’t about accomplishments even though she had many; she had just graduated with her bachelor’s degree and was moving on to her masters. Life isn’t about adventures, even though she had many, she went to many countries and cities and got to experience new cultures. But what matters most is your encounters with other humans and how they feel in your presence. Even if it’s a chance encounter with someone, when I see a stranger I treat them as if I’ll never see them again, but I never think if my exchange with them will affect them for the better or for the worse.
I have said this before but I am going to try to be transparent with people. I want to make people to feel liked and accepted be genuinely kind to everyone. Everyone that I meet I want them to feel better, so when I die people can say “she made me feel good about myself”. That no one will have any unkind words to say about me either. Hopefully you’ll see a change in me but most importantly you’ll feel a change in me.