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“gracias” y “hasta luego”

A celebration of life, in a moment of loss

Last night I attended a mass to celebrate something I was not prepared to celebrate. A celebration of a life. The life of a mother. The mother of the love of my life. The grandmother to our son that will be arriving in less than two months. The mother who gave me a sense of “home” in Spain.

During a time of loss, we often experience a variety of painful emotions. Anger. Sadness. Depression. We move through a process of denial, questioning, and bargaining. We fight against the reality, wishing for something to be different. We hold each other tight as we shield ourselves from processing the truth of what has just occurred.

Time. How sensitive we become to the meaning of time. She was taken from us too soon… Why now? If only we had more time… I wish I would have spent more time…

What if we could turn these painful emotions into a state of gratitude? What if we could shift our perspective and say “thank you”, instead?

Gracias

It is such a simple word, but one that can truly cause a shift within.

Gracias… for time. I only had the opportunity to know her for a short nine months. However, there was a time where we weren’t sure if God might take her from us before my flight even landed in Valencia, when I was on my way to meet her, last December. I am so incredibly thankful for the time we had together. For the moments we shared holding hands, for the lunches we shared doing our best to communicate in spanglish, for a beautiful summer beach day, for taking walks around the hospital or in her neighborhood where Timi grew up. I am so grateful for the time we had together for her to know the true love that her son and I share. I am especially grateful for the time she had to dream of being a grandmother. The time she spent planning all the wonderful things she would do with, and share with, our son. Gracias, for the time we had to love each other.

Hasta luego

Saying goodbye is such a difficult process. It is not experienced through the words you share, but rather, the moments. I can distinctly remember the joy on her face when I arrived to visit her in the hospital about three weeks ago. It was a look of surprise, relief, excitement, and even one of apology. She grabbed my hand so tightly, stared down at her grandson tucked safely inside of me and then looked directly into my eyes. “Te quiero, Jenni”. Our last encounter was different, but no less meaningful. We had reached a point where she was no longer able to speak to us with words, but she was an amazing communicator nonetheless. Right before I left her bedside, I placed her hand on my belly. Her grandson began to kick, just in that moment. I watched her face and body respond in a way only a grandmother would, experiencing the joy of feeling her grandson. They were connected. For eternity.

She insisted on never saying goodbye. “Adios” was not a word you would hear from her. Instead, it was always “hasta luego“. See you soon, or see you later, but never goodbye.

In our last moment, I felt an enormous sense of gratitude. Gracias. And from both her grandson and me, “hasta luego abuelita“.

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