A lot of little things have been happening lately that I want to write about. Nothing giant, just a lot of little things, which (just like the moments in life!), when you add them all together, they make one giant, amazing thing. So here’s my a lot of little things posted, added up to make one big one.
The first is that today I voted! For the first time! SO EXCITING. It was quite intimidating but when I connected the arrows and fed my ballot into the ballot box, and saw that number go up from 342 to 343, I felt very accomplished and quite proud. I like having a say in my country’s politics, in my life. It’s only 1 votes out of a number quite large, but it’s still a vote, apposed to none. I have the greatest respect for all the suffragists who fought for their, and my, right to vote, just about 100 years ago. To quote Marry Poppins: “Our daughters’ daughters will adore us”–They do!
Secondly, I got my last guard schedule for the season, and that usual feeling of summer is over sadness/school is starting excitement is filling me. I love my summer family and even though, I envisioned my last summer at home/before college a lot differently, I’m glad this is how it worked out. I’m richer–in both money and experiences and friends!
Grandma and Elyse and I went shopping yesterday. I bought 3 shirts. I broke my 3 months shopping free attempt 2 days into it. I’m starting over. August 14th through November 14th. Let’s go!
We celebrated a lot of things over the weekend–GJ2’s anniversary, Grandma’s birthday, Dad’s birthday. It was really nice to be with my family and see my cousins and my aunt. I’ve been blessed with being able to spend 9 days with my grandparents over the last week and a half. I love them both so much. Grandpa’s one liners, Grandma’s stories–everything. I could go on and on about them but instead I’ll just sum it up and say I’m grateful.
Moving on from the happiness, yesterday was the one year anniversary of the worst day of my life. I know it’s not fair to all the other days I’ve lived to name just one as the worst day of my existence this far, but it’s true. August 13th, 2011 was indeed the worst day of my life.
It was a morning that started out with pancakes that I couldn’t force down my throat. Then Angelica, Alma, and other women of Santa Isabel dressed Rachael and I in polleras. Angelica made me wear one that was too small for me and wouldn’t zip up, so I had to hold a towel around my waist. They pulled my still wet hair into a side braid and stuck somebody’s tembleques (beaded hair pieces) in my hair and somebody else’s earrings in my ears. They did my make up and placed my Gpop’s hat on my head. My feet were stuck into Alma’s high heals and I was led through the rain, under an umbrella, to the church where Alma and Abdiel took Rachael and I’s pictures, together, alone, in different stances and each in 2 different polleras. I was sad but happy. The whole thing was bittersweet. It was rainy, Santa Isabel was crying. It didn’t want us to leave. I didn’t want us to leave, but we were leaving and we all knew it.
Phone numbers and contact information were exchanged. Goodbyes were said. We chased down Alejandro across the soccer field. We said goodbye to Jorge twice. I sobbed in Alma’s arms and in Angelica’s, words failed. We said goodbye to Gpops and Gma. I cried deep, chest wrenching sobs when I said goodbye to Roberto. He was crying too. Everything was breaking. My host dad, Ariel picked us up at the cancha in the mayor’s car. We started the drive back to my house when we begged Ariel to stop. Rachael and I jumped out of the car and said goodbye–again–to our bebes, our ninos. Rachael held Yosylen off the ground for a good five minutes, sobbing. I couldn’t let go of Eini.
Soon we were saying goodbye to my family and I hauled my giant backpack out of my and Liedys’ room. I double and triple checked that I didn’t leave anything behind. There was more hugs and more tears and then we climbed into the car. Liedys, Abdiel, Rosi, Delys, Arielito, Ariel, Ana, Rachael and I. The wind blew in threw the open window, twisting and turning my hair. My salty tears evaporated from my cheeks, leaving nothing behind. Construction workers whistled at me when we drove by their site. My whole family laughed and joked about that.
I clearly remember climbing up the stairs at the building in Las Tablas with my backpack, struggling not to tip over. Someone else carried my smaller backpack. We struggled. I remember everything about the goodbye party that followed. I remember how the food felt like sawdust sliding down my throat. I remember be overly concerned someone was going to throw their bag on top of my Gpop’s hat. I remember watching the other vols come through the doors with their families, watching their goodbyes. I remember Carmen’s hug when we first walked into the room. I remember how Abbie’s grandma sung a song for her that made her sob, and me sob and half the room sob. I remember everything, every little thing. I could go on and on.
I remember crying harder and harder as the last goodbyes came closer and then the hardest when they were finally there. I remember how they lingered on as we waited outside for the bus, and how there were jokes made among the sadness. We were still a family, even among the goodbyes, among the until laters. We could still make each other laugh.
I remember how I tried to say everything I wanted to say but in moments like those, the language barrier made it impossible for the right words, for all the words I wanted to say, to come out so I just hugged Ana, Liedys, Rosi, Delys, everyone tighter, holding on, trying to hold on forever, to hold the moment out, to make it last.
I remember getting on the bus, and waving and climbing down the aisle with Rachael and her muttering “I have to tell you something. But not here.” and me guessing what that something was.
I remember how cool the AC of the bus felt on my hot, salty skin.
All these names, all these places, they don’t mean anything to you, but they mean everything to me. And saying goodbye to them was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, mostly because it was a goodbye mainly and not an until later, since I have no idea when that until later will be–if ever.
It was already the worst day of my life and then it got worse.
Rebecca and Carmen called me over. I was already hallow. I was already broken. They took me into the staff room. I thought I was in trouble. My heart was racing. I was scared.
Then they told me my grandpa had had a heart attack. My worst day got so much worse.
I cried when I thought I had nothing left to cry for a long, long time.
After a struggle to make the call, a lack of numbers remembered, I finally got in contact with Elyse. We sobbed together, miles apart. I sobbed to Rachael later. I talked to my mom and my aunt Janet. I sobbed to them, with them. Panama, the country my grandpa dislikes for it’s memories. Panama, the country I love for it’s memories, was keeping me from him.
It was an emotional next few days but that day, the 13th of August, it was the worst day of my life. I have never felt so robbed of everything I own and love. I have never felt so alone, so surrounded, so scared, so unsure, so empty, so hallow. I have never felt so many things in one day.
And yet, one year later, I have felt so many more things. I know so many more things. My grandpa is alive. I now have two families, and another sister. Another best friend. Another best friend’s family, who cares for me because I care for one of their own. My world keeps expanding, growing, spreading, changing.
Even though a year ago, on the 13th of August, my heart shattered and every bone of my body cried, I made it through. I am standing here now a better, stronger person for it.
August 13 2011 was the worst day of my life, but it’s only made every other day that has come afterwards that much better. It only makes every minute I spend with my grandpa that much more special.
I owe thanks to August 13th 2011, even if it was the worst day of my life.
I am truly blessed, with both a lot of big things and a lot of little things.