Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Cheers 4 Life

When you lose someone you love, finding your bearings is the first step and depending on who they were and what they meant to you, it’ll be different every time. Although I already wrote about Mom, I did it in Spanish and since I live my life bilingually, I need to process things in both languages, so here’s another post. In addition, although there were those lucky enough to know Mom in real life, others got to know her through me and my writing. So part of me feels like she’d like me to write to those people who knew her from my stories.

I’m also writing this because my blog has always been a platform to try and have a positive impact. A lot of what I write comes from what I need to process in my life and this most certainly is something I’m processing and shall continue to do so. I don’t know if reading this will help someone else, or maybe it’ll just help me sort feelings and thoughts via words, as is the case usually. Regardless, the words are written with kindness and love, which is always a worthy way to start any endeavor.

It’s been an odd two weeks where I catch myself picking up the phone with no one to call. It took a Category 5 hurricane to bring down communications in Puerto Rico, a cruise trip where there was no cell reception, health complications, and now Mom having passed away to not talk with her on the phone every day. It’s not like her passing hasn’t sunk in, but so much about love can seem like muscle memory and reflexes. So now the challenge is to find new ways to love and express and communicate my love for her, which is something that takes a little getting used to. Rather than big things, I find myself remembering her in the most random things and although it does make me tear up a bit, I still catch myself smiling through tears, because even now she can make me smile. Like I said, muscle memory.
Some people deal with the bereavement process by talking to their loved ones and I count myself in that bunch. So much of what I shared with Mom were conversations. Long, winding, meandering, random conversations about everything and nothing. There were no taboos and we always spoke honestly and like lifelong friends. When I was about to come into this world, her doctor told her she had to hold on for a while, because another mother was in labor, had placenta praevia, and if they didn’t see to the woman, her and the baby could die. So for about 40-50 minutes, we “stood there,” minding our own business and I suspect she talked to me and asked kindly to sit tight and just give her a couple of minutes. So even before my entrance to this world we were talking and she was thinking of other people before herself. The other baby was delivered, happy and healthy, and then at some time past 6 PM, I was born. During those first few nights, nurses wouldn’t come into the room, because they heard her talking and thought she had someone visiting. She didn’t. It was just me. And we were just talking.

So I see no point in stopping a good thing we had going for so long.

I am all about traditions and sticking to the ones that enrich our lives; so in my morning and afternoon commutes, I talk to Mom. One of the biggest differences is that I don’t have to worry about dropped signals or low battery, so those are some pluses.

A couple of days ago, someone said something on the lines of: “Well, this is the last #CheersMamaEstrada.” I gave a little smile when I read that because last I checked, I’m still breathing, she still lives within me, and we still have positive vibrations to share with the world. I have a gallery on Facebook called #CheersMamaEstrada (Click for the link) and I will continue posting to it during weekends, because she was too big to be handled in just one day or one tribute.

As for her journey, she definitely faced countless challenges. However, time and time again I was fortunate enough to witness some of the best things humanity has to offer, and not just from her determination. Sure there were scary moments, frustrating moments, and sad moments, but the moments of light, where people shared their best, unconditionally and selflessly, were quite a few as well. Doctors who didn’t have to visit yet came by every day to check up on her, nurses who came from other offices because they had the gentle hands that didn’t leave her bruised when taking blood samples, caregivers who in so many ways cared for her SO much more than just a patient, family members who came by and visited after years of being out of touch and chatted with her as if they hadn’t seen each other in a couple of weeks, and people the world around who would toast to her good health. Seriously, she loved the thought of people getting a buzz in her name. She always welcomed and appreciated thoughts and prayers, but she shall always be a being of smiles, and to know that someone would smile while thinking about her made her day each every single time. Even better if it was with their beverage of choice. So again, why stop a good thing?

As one of her three sons, I was also able to witness true greatness in the love we share as brothers for the same woman. What needed to be done got done. Period. It was never a problem. It was never an issue. It was our duty and our shared honor to show her pure love, selfless love… the type of love she taught us and raised us with and the type of love we have gotten from our wives, our families, and our friends. Where everyone was hurting but chose to smile, to toast to life and joy and love, and to keep going forwards.

Going back to May, I actually did go to the Puerto Rico Comic Con, because I knew Mom would insist and I wanted to bring her some happy news about my adventures. I was alternating between being at the hospital and being at the Convention. Among the many amazing things I got to see first hand, it was that if anyone had any doubt about why they call my wife the Captain, it got dispelled handily. She handled the booth and countless other situations being so much more than just a Captain that she might get a promotion in Book 3. She also gave me my space and endless love and patience to express and feel whatever I had to feel. In short, she was essential in me being able to give my best to my Mom, my brothers, and our family. Then at the convention, everyone had a kind word to say. Both of our booth neighbors and several other people offered help and support and were truly wonderful in so many ways. Seriously, there were so many bright moments shared by people and kindness all around, with nothing but positive vibes. And I took all of that to Mom when I went to the hospital and every time I toast in her name.

So we shall continue to toast to her and share good vibes for those who need them. Because if we have received kindness, love, and support, the right thing to do is to pay it forwards. On my part, if you have someone you’d like to toast to their health, let me know and we’ll toast to them as well, because we’re all in this together. I shall also pair #Humans4Humans Efforts with #CheersMamaEstrada because I want good deeds to carry her name forward as well and because if I say we have to do our best to give our best, this is the perfect opportunity to show that regardless of what we live through, we can help others and have a positive impact.
Lastly, a little bit for those who have read or will read my work. You don’t know Mom as Mama, Tata, Marietta, or Doña María… but you will know her as Mrs. Fawn. There are several people I include in my works and Mom is one of them. If you haven’t read the Human Cycle series or Given to Fly, I won’t offer spoilers, though just know that her role is as essential as it was in my life and she shall always appear as Mrs. Fawn, with the exception of one story to be included in a future collection that will be her as I saw her. Mom was definitely consistent in who and how she was as a human, and the same will go for Mrs. Fawn. I wrote her with kindness, with love, with wisdom, and with lemon cake… because that’s my Mom and that’s how I will always see her.

My thanks for reading, for caring, and for joining me for a toast or four.

Peace, love, and #CheersMamaEstrada

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Contigo Siempre

Apenas han pasado dos semanas desde que nuestra Mama Estrada logró descansar. Aunque parece que ha pasado un siglo y un suspiro a la misma vez, creo que es de esperarse. Es raro no llamarla por la mañana y por la noche. Sin embargo, la siento conmigo. Esta es la primera vez que escribo al respecto desde ese fin de semana y pues, el camino a seguir dando lo mejor de nosotros es único y por mi parte quería compartir palabras que incluimos en su recordatorio y algunas notas que escribí para cuando los tres hermanos hablamos de Mama. 

Comparto esto para los que no pudieron ir a la misa de Mama o vernos en Puerto Rico porque creo que a Mama le gustaría que la gente leyera esto para que sigan brindando y sonriendo. 

Primero el recordatorio:

“Marietta, Mama, María, Tata

Aunque son muchos nombres para un ser humano, cada uno inspira una sonrisa por quién fue y cómo fue con cada uno de nosotros. 

A La Marietta le brindamos diciendo lo siguiente: La vida no te debe nada y nada le debes a la vida, excepto las gracias por poder vivirla y compartirla contigo.

“You’ll remember me when the west wind moves
Upon the fields of barley
You’ll forget the sun in his jealous sky
As we walk in fields of gold.”

Luego de su misa, todos tuvimos la oportunidad de compartir algunas palabras sobre nuestra chica. Cuando me tocó a mí, empecé por preguntar una de las cosas más importantes para cualquier persona que tuvo la dicha de conocerla, ¿quién nos hará los bizcochos?

Mama nunca fue de mantenerlo serio y pues, soy hijo de mi madre al igual que mis hermanos porque los tres tuvimos nuestro momento de decir algún chiste. Ella siempre conseguía sonrisas y risas y era pícara y media porque esa era su naturaleza. El detalle es que ahora que ya ha dejado este plano terrestre, nos toca vivir un momento en donde podemos ser egoístas y decir que una parte de nosotros murió o podemos escoger ser un mejor tipo de egoísta y decir que una parte de Mama vive en cada uno de nosotros.

Yo siempre escogeré la segunda porque Mama se dejaba querer y quería sin medirse. Aunque a veces le traía dolor el ser así, siempre fue genuina y cuando te amaba, lo sentías en cada átomo de tu ser. Aparte de eso está el hecho de que si la conociste, es muy probable que aprendiste algo de ella y hasta más probable que fueron muchos “algos”. Si me preguntas a mí, eso es vida. Eso es un cantito de ella. Una semilla. Hemos llorado y de seguro seguiremos llorando de vez en cuando. Nada cambia el hecho de que nos hace y hará mucha falta.

Por mi parte, siempre haré lo máximo por llorar con una sonrisa en la cara, con orgullo en el alma y con copa/taza/vaso en mano porque me acostumbré a brindar por ella y por todos los que necesitan vibras positivas y risas. Eso la haría feliz y por cuanto yo viva seguiré haciendo todo en mi poder para que siga sonriendo.

Por 70 años fue una luz en la tierra y por sus acciones nos mejoró la vida. Ahora brilla en el Cielo mientras sigue siendo parte de nuestras vidas, porque así fue y así siempre será.

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