Xicana Reflection – On Death

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Screen Shot 2016-07-06 at 7.51.21 AM
Artwork by Ruth Olivar Millan

How do I even begin this one?

It’s been a couple of months since my brain and fingers have attempted to put into words what is on the mind and in the heart.


That is the word that can most express some of what I am feeling and the thoughts that linger in the aching brain.  I am afraid of what may arrive at my door.  Thoughts of who will be next hide in the dark recesses of my mind.

“Please Creator, we’ve already lost two…”

But every good Mexicana knows that it always comes in 3’s. “The dreaded 3,” forming on my lips as I try to suppress the question – “Who will it be?”

The last time we had a significant shock to the system like this was almost 20 years ago – mi abuelito, mi abuelita, y luego mi tia – the 3 all in one year.

I’m trying to be a good student of life and accept that this is the fate of all living, including me, and those that I love.

As I gazed upon the lifeless body of the woman who had been the stand-in abuelita for so many of our children, I realized that before me lay the vessel that had housed a loving and generous being.  As her soul was making its way upon its journey to Miktlan, it seemed as if her factions had taken on more of their indigenous roots.  Despite the continued inter-mixing across generations, our history and connections revealed in our faces and characteristics.

Those of you who have been in its presence know that death has a certain smell, a certain heavy feel and sound and I was reminded of its peculiarities as I stood there almost motionless trying to reason with something so simultaneously incomprehensible.

I couldn’t help but succumb to the vestiges of my Catholic upbringing, “Porque Creador? Porque ahorita y porque ella?” – as if the Creator had anything to do with our loss.

The gut reaction: to run as far as I could from that god awful smell, sight, and sound but what would the gente think of me then?  The same reaction I felt when they texted me (yeah can you believe that?) that you, my beautiful Hermana Chicana, were gone.  But instead of running away, I ran inward to that ‘rational’ and scientific part of me and stated something so ridiculous as, “This is part of being living… everything that has a birth will have a death. Everything, including you and me,” said out loud (I think) as my children looked at me with confused faces, streaks of sadness breaking through despite my neutralized words intended to somehow lessen the pain of it all.

So mis hermanas y hermanos I say with this that life is fleeting and uncertain. I try to remind myself of this fact every time I begin to feel that sinking sensation into what is mostly petty human thought and action.

Focus: joie de vivre. (Mira, mira. The two years of French in high school kicking in.)


#lablogadora #chicana #fear


1 comments on “Xicana Reflection – On Death”

  1. Estoy contigo. Desde entonces no dejo de pensar en lo frágil que somos y qué un día inesperado y próximo será uno de nuestros seres queridos…mi pareja, mi hermano, mi suegra, o yo. El a ver vivido la gran pérdida de mi mama, mi fuente de fortaleza, en momentos de ilusión y emoción esperando la llegada de mi primogénito, se muy bien lo que es ser testigo presente de la partida terrenal de tu primer amor y tener que sosternernos Fuertes y “racionales”. Guerreros seguimos siendo. Pa lante. Aún sufriendo. Aun entiendo que la vida y la muerte son en sí lo mismo.


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