I went back to San Luis Potosí in 2014 to visit family and do a little bit of touring and sight-seeing. I hadn’t been back to my native country since 2002. Since I left Mexico, I’ve only went back to visit my relatives and my country four times; that’s four times in twenty years. To some people it may not seem like a lot, but to others it may seem like enough.
For me, visiting my country four times in twenty years was enough, until my grandmother passed away. When I sat down and thought about those four times, I went back to visit her, I now feel it wasn’t enough. When I found out my grandmother passed away, I felt guilty. I wished I had gone to see her more often. I wished I still had the opportunity to go and stay at her house and spend time with her. I wished I would’ve video-taped her or recorded her voice so that I would remember her and not forget her. I wished…
I now understand that I was hurting and in my hurt I wasn’t able to see the facts and realities of the situation.
The reality was that my extended family didn’t have a good relationship with my mother and sisters. My grandmother didn’t have a good relationship with my Mom and therefore it affected our grandmother-granddaughter relationship. The day we left Mexico, my Mom and grandmother didn’t speak or say good-bye to each other. I did say good-bye to my grandmother and it pained me so much because, even as a child, I knew then that when we saw each other again it wouldn’t be the same; things would change.
When I saw my grandmother again, twelve years later, I barely recognized her. Time and aging completely changed her demeanor, her appearance, her heart. She was so fragile that when I hugged her, I thought she was going to crumble. I wanted to hug her so hard but was afraid I’d break her bones. Her eyes were now gray in color, as if they had been covered by a layer of clouds that hid the beautiful honey-gold color of her eyes I remembered. The beautiful golden curls and thick hair from my memories was replaced by a thin and silver collection of wispy hair.
I remember her standing in the foyer of her house one Sunday afternoon, after I arrived in Mexico. She looked at me as if trying to remember who I was. Time and age had changed our bodies so that we couldn’t recognize each other at first. Twelve years might not seem like a lot, but for us, it was like 120 years had passed by.
I was so overwhelmed with joy and sadness when I hugged her that words refused to come out of my mouth. A knot in my throat prevented me from speaking. I wanted to cry and jump out of joy at the same time. I was overjoyed to see her once again because she meant a lot to me. I loved her so much and came all this way to see her, but at the same time, I was sad that she didn’t look the same way as when I first left her. Her body wasn’t the same and I knew it was a matter of time before she passed away.
Where did all this time go? Is there a button that we can press that can stop time?
That Sunday afternoon my family and I had a pleasant family reunion. There was no confrontation, no feuds, no explanations, just seeing each other again and a lot of questions without answers. All I know is that this was one of my biggest dreams come true; to see my grandmother once more and enjoy a meal with her. To be able to hug her and tell her I loved her. To be able to sit next to those family members who we didn’t meet eye to eye, who said hurtful things, who gave us grief in the past, now all that doesn’t matter anymore.
We ate, we shared anecdotes, we took pictures, I gave grace before the meal while seating on my late grandfather’s chair, where he always sat to eat his meals… I was in a complete bliss!
This would be the last supper my grandmother and I enjoyed together. Ten months later, the Lord called her home.
I was so surprised by her passing away so soon. I couldn’t believe it at first, I was sad, I was angry and overcome with all those feelings that follow the loss of someone we love. But after a while, God gave me healing and perspective.
Before I left my grandmother –another Sunday afternoon before leaving Mexico– I made it a goal to go up to her and give her a big hug. When I hugged her, I was taken back to the time when as a child I left her house to move to the U.S. and wondered if I was going to be able to hug her again or if this would be the last hug. I said good-bye and walked away, and I was about to walk out of her house when all of the sudden, I felt that one hug wasn’t enough. If I could I would’ve given her a thousand more, but I turned around and saw her standing by the door of her foyer surrounded by other great grandchildren and my cousin, and I went rushing back to her and gave her a second hug.
Those of us who leave our country behind don’t really know if we will be able to see our far-away loved ones once more.
Perhaps that second hug was our actual good-bye on this earth, the hug where we said to each other: “This is for your departure grandma’ because I will not be here to give you one last hug before you leave.”
Those who lose a loved one know that feeling, of wanting to go back in time and give more hugs, more time, more I love you’s. I went through this myself. But whenever I find myself feeling this way, I am reminded of this truth: God is good for He granted me what I asked Him for; to see my grandmother one last time before she left his earth. He gave me an opportunity to see my grandmother one last time, hug her and tell her how much I loved her. And this is not a final good-bye. Even though I can’t see my grandmother physically on this earth anymore, I see her in my dreams, I feel her close to me when I am cooking or gardening, the things that she enjoyed the most. She is still with me. We will see and hug each other again, just like we did during that unforgettable family reunion in 2014.
I love you, Abuelita! ¡Que en paz descanses!