"Her health is fading fast." That is how it was addressed to me in the e-mail. I wrote back, specifically asking for a phone call, I didn't care what time of the day it was, I was going to say goodbye and hear the last sound of your heart beat. I was going to be there.
Little did I know, my phone decided to malfunction and I did not expect to wake up that bright and early L.A. morning to find that I was unreachable and to see that you had already passed away...I was not informed through the sound of a comforting voice of a family member, but through an e-mail confirmation. Reading those words staring back at me through the glare of my computer screen, defined the word anger. For the first time, in my life, a part of me slipped away and I was given no warning that your life was on the final brink and I wasn't there.
14 years later and thoughts of you have been appearing in my mind from time to time. How I would watch you work tirelessly to express your love and care for the entire family; your cooking, your smile, your words. Your body was breaking down, but your spirit never did. So many questions I've never asked you. So much history left unsaid. And it mostly consists of the words I miss you.
I was only 19 during our very last visit. I didn't know. And I simply didn't know that your very last words to me were so beautifully said, while mine were generated through this horrible cliche of the casual mindset of a teenager... It was good to see you. I'll see you again, soon.
...14 years later, after spending the weekend with your children, I am left completely stunned. On a dark, cloudy, day, Dad took me to visit your sister, followed by your house.
The house...I had not seen your house since I was 16.
The new owners had boarded it up and left the land unkept. But along the tall grass sprouting over the gravel, that was once your driveway, my internal youth awakened. I ran to the trees that I once climbed, I walked around the house brushing my hands along the old chipped paint against the wood, feeling that there was nothing left untouched by the love of family.
"I get a sense that we are welcomed here... Something here doesn't want us to leave." My husband validated the very sense I was experiencing as I stood on the concrete platform, looking over the land and seeing the house as I once remembered it; the voices heard from the kitchen through the glass doors, the driveway full of cars, our family gathered around for spaghetti and meatballs, the feeling of Christmas was in the air. And through the boarded glass door, I could feel your Christmas tree, I could feel the laughter, I saw the pictures of all your children lined up along the wall, my Dad being the first in line.
But Life had to pick up where it left off...
As Dad drove us back down south, the thought that kept lingering was the power of your presence...In the living room.
You see, when I walked inside your sister's home and saw her living room, I saw yours...The very same furniture, colors, arrangement, the lighting fixtures, "We had very similar taste" - your sister announced, breaking the silence. But within my first step into her living room, you were there. It's like a time machine transported me back to when you were here and life was carefree...
And after going through all of my photos of that living room the first photo I took, of the unlit chandelier, perfectly captures the feeling that I was not alone, I never was, and with you, it was never goodbye.