Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Alexis Is My Guest Blogger


This is my niece Alexis. Alexis is the daughter of "mi chica's" younger sister and she also happened to share birthdays with her. There definitely was a bond between aunt and niece and today Alexis is my guest blogger, but you can also find her in her own blog "Where's my mind? Right Here". Alexis happens to be a very good writer and you will enjoy her posts.

Alex as we all call her wrote an essay for school that in essence is a tribute to Sylvia or as all of you knew her "mi chica".

I'm sitting upstairs right now, and (because it's a disease, I swear!) I'm being nosy. My mom is on the phone, and I don't know who she's talking to, but she's talking about Tia Sylvia. Telling whoever is on that other line what happened that very long month ago. Listening to her talk, I can just hear all the wisdom that Tia Sylvia left her. It's just in her voice. Hearing this, it reminded me of the essay that I got back recently. It was my AP English Summer Assignment and we had to write a Narrative Essay. Being the procrastinator that I am, I didn't actually do it during the summertime. Instead, I waited until Winter Break, hoping that I'd think of something to make up, just to get a grade. Unfortunately, this was around the time that Tia Sylvia passed away. The day after all the family had left, everything felt so empty. I just wanted to get all my thoughts out, so I started writing. Writing, writing, writing. When I got this essay back, among the many notes that my teacher wrote, she asked, "Did you share this with your family?" So here's the time where I want to share what I wrote about just days after the funeral.



Death is a strange thing. One minute, a person is living their normal life, doing their daily activities, spending time with loved ones, when all of a sudden, Death unexpectedly swoops in. Oh Death, with it’s spontaneity and cruel sense of humor. It lures millions into thinking that loved ones won’t die, that Death won’t happen to anyone around them. Then it takes someone away, leaving everyone in shock. I, too, was part of the majority that’s lulled into this false sense of security. Sure it had happened to friends, and of course I would hear about it in the news. Yet I was still in that perpetual state of denial. I would think to myself, that won’t happen to me. I love and need my family and my friends, so they’ll never be gone. I went 17 years thinking that way. Day by day, I went on thinking that I was just “lucky.” My “luck” ended when I got the worst kind of reality check.

December 21st had been a great day. It was my best friend’s birthday so I spent the majority of the day with her, celebrating her 17th birthday. I came home at around ten and as usual, spent time with my mom. We discussed plans for Christmas and New Year’s, told each other about our day, and at around midnight, we eventually went to sleep. I was in a deep, warm, peaceful sleep, having dreams that I would never remember when all of a sudden I heard a voice and felt a hand shaking me awake. I reluctantly opened my eyes to see the blurry outline of my younger sister, Paula. As I tried blinking the blurriness and sleep from my eyes, she began trying to explain something to me. Being disoriented, I wasn’t understanding, and getting a little frustrated that I had been awoken from my great sleep. I asked her to just tell me what she wanted. She said, “Mama needs you.” The second I heard that, I knew something was wrong. The tone of her voice was different from usual and right after that thought occurred, I heard the sound of sobbing coming from upstairs. I sat up so quickly that my head spun, but I didn’t care. I needed to get to my mom and find out what was wrong. I sprinted up the stairs, looking every which way to see where she was. The sobbing was coming from the direction of her room so I rushed over. As I was going down the hallway that leads to her room, I saw her slowly walking out of her room. When she was in the frame of the door, she saw me. We stared at each other for a couple seconds, and in those few seconds, I knew something horrible had happened. My heart felt as if it was beating in my throat, I could hear my pulse, I held my breath in anticipation. The words that came next were in slow motion. “Your Tio Joe just called, he said he had to take your Tia Sylvia to the hospital. She didn’t make it. She died! Oh God, I just can’t believe it, she died!” It didn’t make any sense to me. I was in disbelief. Someone so strong, so full of life, someone I had just seen the day before couldn’t have possibly passed away. I tried to push those racing thoughts aside as I tried to console my mom. I made her sit down and I hugged her for a very long time as she sobbed into my shoulder. After about five minutes, her crying slowed and I knew she was trying to be strong for all of us. “I need to go to the hospital. I need to be there with everyone, see how they’re all doing.” She whispered. “I don’t think I can drive, I’m going to have to call your Dad. I hope he hasn’t gone into work yet.” She stood up, but I was frozen in shock. I sat there on the floor as I watched her try to pull herself together and get ready for the hospital. I sat there, still, as she called my dad and asked him to pick her up. Finally, in frightened words trying to be smothered by bravery, my mom announced that she would be home soon and she would call me when things were figured out. I gave her a hug and off she went. I looked out the window as my mom got into my dad’s car and sped away. My mom had left and it finally hit me. My Tia was gone. Tears immediately started trickling down my face. I lied down on the couch and cried my eyes out. I sat there for three hours straight, just crying. So much time had went by and no phone call. Finally, at 10 AM, my mom called me. My Tia had gotten up to use the restroom in the middle of the night. For some reason, she got really dizzy and called for my Tio. When my Tio ran to the bathroom, she had fainted. He checked her pulse, it was very faint. Acting quickly, he rushed her to the hospital. When they got there, they had tried reviving her for about an hour, but there was nothing that they could do. She was gone. This was the first time that someone close to me had died.

I went 17 years never truly experiencing the loss of someone close to me. It hurt so much, I couldn’t even believe it. It seemed as if I was standing in the middle of a room and everyone around me was rushing, rushing, rushing. Never stopping. Constantly making plans. Everyone kept talking about wakes and funerals. In reality, I didn’t even really know what that was. I’d never been to that sort of thing. I only knew what I saw in the movies. It was so strange to hear my mom and her nieces talk about how they were going to dress my Tia. Talk about how they were going to do her hair. Everything was so surreal, but I knew I had to snap out of my shock and start preparing myself for all the emotions that were headed my way. Within the next three days, I felt as if I had prepared myself. I was prepared for all the emotions that would be flying around and I wasn’t going to let them get to me. That’s the way I felt...until the second I walked into the funeral home. My mom and I were the first ones there because she had to make sure everything was in order. I slowly approached the casket, not knowing what to expect. When I finally got up to the casket, all the emotions that I had prepared to block out came flooding back in. I stared at her and cried. I remembered all the good times that I had with her. I especially remembered my 17th birthday, the birthday that we shared, when she gave me the most beautiful gold ring with our birthstone, topaz, in the middle. I clenched that ring in my fist as if squeezing it would somehow bring her back. I continued staring down at her and she looked so beautiful in her 25th anniversary wedding dress. I was happy that she still looked like herself. Everyone around me kept touching her hands, but I didn’t. I knew that feeling the skin that was once so warm but was now icy cold would ruin this illusion that she was only sleeping. It’s funny how if your mind wants something bad enough, it starts trying to make it reality. I kept getting this feeling like she was about to jump out of the casket and yell “Just kidding!” And for a split second, I thought I saw the steady rise and fall of her chest, as if she was breathing still. Strange as it is, this gave me hope and I knew that at that exact moment she was looking down on all of us and was so proud of the strength she had helped us build.

The day following the wake was the funeral. It started off with a beautiful mass at St. Vincent De-Paul. My Tia had just recently started reading the Bible again and she had bookmarked her favorite passages. The majority of those passages were about love and family, the things she held most near to her heart. They were all read aloud in a mix of English and Spanish. After the mass, the families all piled in their cars and followed the hearse to the Holy Cross Cemetery. The cemetery felt so relaxing. The second I stepped in there, I felt at peace. In it’s own strange way, it was beautiful. The grass was so green, especially in contrast to the cloudy sky. I could see headstones from what seemed like miles. The best part of all, though, was the myriad of flowers that visitors had left at the gravestones. It looked like a garden. We all gathered around the area my Tia was to be buried and waited for the hearse to arrive. When it arrived, all the men in the family stepped forward and each lent a hand to help carry. Even my younger brother, a little 11 year-old, was by my dad’s side, helping. The casket was gorgeous, something I had not noticed the day before. It was stark white with the biggest flurry of the reddest roses on top. The handles on the side were the shiniest of silvers and the one thing that really completed this picture was all the men carrying it, becoming one force. Like the mass that was held, the funeral was beautiful as well. The Priest from the church was there and read some more passages from the bible. When he was finished reading, he blessed my Tia and her casket, splashed holy water on it, and summoned the workers to lower the casket into the ground. My whole family watched in complete silence and her casket was slowly lowered into the ground, disappearing inch by inch. When it was all the way in, the red roses that had been on top of her casket were distributed one by one to each person there. When everyone had a rose, we went up to the final resting place and one by one threw our rose in. There wasn’t a better way to do this. I was in awe as I watched every person throw their rose in, some kissing theirs before throwing it in and some whispering a little prayer. At one point, through the tapping sound that the roses made as they landed, I heard one of my cousins whisper, “I’d rather cover her with roses than dirt any day.” I couldn’t agree more. Each rose meant something different depending on who threw it in, but they all had something in common. They were all filled with the deepest love for my Tia Sylvia. Something that she had given all of us every day. At that moment, I knew I would be able to get through this, and with my family around, it wouldn’t be too hard.

My Tia Sylvia was an amazing woman. She dedicated so much time, love, and energy into our family. She made sure that we stuck together as a real family should. She would be so proud at the way that my family has already been helping each other through the pain and heartbreak. It’s what she lived for. I can definitely say that she was the rock of our family. She was strong, supportive, and a true leader and great role model. Now that she has passed, it’s time for each one of us to find that rock within ourselves so we can carry it on for the future of our family. It may take some digging, but she left us with the wisdom and strength to uncover it for ourselves.

I miss you. Love, Alexis


Nikki said...

I'll come back when j compose myself...

Kika said...

my daughter ;)

Michelle said...

I commented on her blog when she wrote it... That essay is just amazing.

MrManuel said...

This is amazingly well written. Your family should be proud to have such talent.

Lucky Lady said...

wow is all i can say, what a loving family sorry you lost her but I think she will always be with you ♥

ChrisJ said...

There is only one word to describe this blog -- BEAUTIFUL!

Chely said...

[Copy of my comment to Alexis]

Oh my God, Alexis! I cried.
I mean…I cried and cried and cried.

Thank you for sharing with us this amazing narrative of all of the events. It was as if I was there at your house – when I wasn’t – and at the cemetery all over again. The description of all your observations is so precise, that I was looking at all the details you described loud and clear.

I loved your title “The Rock”, no better title than that. I am so glad to see that Sylvia’s message has been received exactly for what it is…LOVE. I’m so happy to hear that she was a big influence to you and that you are all coping as best as you can. She was a huge influence to me and just this weekend, I was sharing to my friends, what an amazing person she was and everything I learned from her.

Your story reminded me to all the stories my girls wrote about their grandpa’s funeral as well and the impact it made on my youngest daughter, Thalía. At 11 years of age, Thalía wrote one of the most heartwarming narratives I had read until then. It is eye-opening to view the passing of a loved one through the eyes of a young person.

Thank you as well, for making me cry. This emotion is a big reminder on just, how much I loved her. You never mentioned what grade your teacher gave you, but I don’t care, because I gave you an A++



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