Yesterday was the 9-year mark of my abuelita’s (my grandmother’s) death.
In April of 2001, my Mom (who lives in the US) took a flight to Mexico because she received The Call.
If you live far away from your parents, you know what I’m talking about here.
The Call for my Mom was, “Get on a plane, because your mother doesn’t have much longer.”
R and I were in Chicago at the time. I phoned my mom in Mexico City, and she only spoke to me in English.
While my Mom speaks very well in English, I knew that my abuelita was in bad shape.
My Mom is Mexican, and she was speaking in English to me from Mexico, because she didn’t want to cry on the phone. She didn’t say that to me. But since I was speaking to her in Spanish, and she was answering me only in English, I knew what was up.
If she spoke on Spanish, she would cry and ask me to come to Mexico City asap.
She wanted to spare me all kinds of pains.
I got off the phone. I turned to R and said, “It’s bad. My abuelita isn’t going to make it.”
We had some money saved up for an immigration lawyer for R. It wasn’t a whole hell of a lot, but it was earmarked for him.
R said, “You should go to Mexico and be with your family. ”
I asked, “With what money?”
He said, “The savings.”
R insisted, and I took the next flight out.
My cousin picked me up at the Benito Juárez airport in Mexico City. We were barreling along the busy streets of the Distrito Federal. I was chattering away from fear and exhaustion, telling my cousin what I’d say to my abuelita once I saw her.
He pulled over to drop a friend off and said, “Listen, I don’t know how to tell you this, but our abuelita died during the night.”
By the time I arrived to Mexico City, by the time my cousin told me that my abuelita was dead, her ashes were already in a small and shiny rectangular box.
I couldn’t stop thinking that my abuelita’s ashes were in a toaster.
My abuelita died in my mother’s arms in the early morning of April 7, 2001.
It was during a quiet moment, when none of the other family members were in the hospital.
R was deported on April 26, 2001. It was during a quiet moment, when no other family members were around.
Sometimes April is the longest month.