I have grown up loving you and being loved by you, Abuela, and a consequence of being so far North from you, so far from the small Andes town in Argentina was that I grew up missing you. But that distance always came with the promise of next time, of seeing you again, of drinking maté in your backyard, of learning from your wisdom. Now, that promise is gone. Abuela, I have always missed you, but now, I do not know what this feeling is, I don’t know what this emptiness is called.
I have been trying to find words to help me through, but there is nothing, no words that I have ever written, ever read, have ever heard that has been able to give me comfort. But something has. You, Abuela, you have been getting me through this, even though you are no longer here.
Even now, the moments where I feel I can’t breathe, alone, crushed under this void, I can’t help but smile at the sight of your mountain eyes and the presence of your roaring spirit. I can’t help but laugh at how you teased Abuelo and how recklessly adorable you two were, even in your old age. I can’t help but imagine how annoying I was when you came to New York when I was a little one, trying to show you every tree, every tall building, because I thought I knew everything about the world. I can’t help but imagine the love you gave me, the love I don’t even remember when I was baptized in Argentina, a baby that was discovering every new thing around him. I can’t help the tears, I can’t hold them back, but I also can’t hold back the strength you instilled in me, in us, your familia, even when I think it is no longer there. I am getting through this, we all are, because of how strong your spirit was. Its isn’t easy, but when is this ever easy?
I am going to miss you for the rest of my life. Now, the pain so near, so difficult, especially since I am so far from my familia, mi madre, mi hermana, mi padre, mi Abuelo. But this strange optimism, this foreign hope, especially now, I recognize only because I recognize it comes from you. These past few days, I have been thinking about my last moments with you, the final month two years ago sitting with you and Abuelo, drinking mate´, eating your incredible food, just basking in the majesty of your soul. You were warm, steadfast, and without even knowing it, a feminist warrior lecturing your younger kin on the absurdities of our gender roles. It made me smile so much, made me so happy, to just sit with you, listen to you, be loved, hold your hand, to learn, to know I had a home in Barreal. Two years ago, on that final night, those final moments, when we embraced, and cried as we always did, I said goodbye. I remember it so clearly now, that final touch, and walking beneath the stars, driving away, already dreaming about the next time I’d get to hug you.
That next time didn’t come, it won’t ever be able to come. I wanted to be there, Abuela, to see you again, to say bye and tell you how amazing you were and how much I loved you. I wanted to see that smile again, the one that told me it was going to be okay. I want to say I’m sorry, but I know exactly how you would respond, how you would scold me and not accept my apology. You’d tell me to live, to love, to follow any road I chose.
On most days I don’t know what to believe. But something I do believe in and have is memory, the memories with you, with our familia, and it is a memory that I will hold on to with the tightest grip until my final day. I will hear your words in the rolling winds over the Andean hills, in the roaring rivers, and the silent diamond skies in your backyard. Every time I drink maté I’ll just wish I could have you make it, because its never tasted as good. Every time I hear ché it will be you who I see. Every time I get lost, frustrated, enraged, I know you will be there to comfort me. This is how I feel you, through those memories, wherever and whenever they may hit me. I know eventually the sadness that I am feeling now will transform into happiness, one that recognizes how lucky I was to have you in my life, how lucky I am now to be able to remember you as I do. But right now, all I can do is feel what I feel, and let time pass.
I managed to send you a message from so far, and it gave me some strange joy to know you heard my voice. I wanted to hear yours, but the words you relayed through my madre and hermana were more than what I could ever ask for. I know you loved me, and that I made you proud, and that you sent me your blessing. I’ll keep loving you, keep making you proud, and continue to draw upon your wisdom.
But there is one final thing, and I have already told the stars to give you this message, but I say this here again.
Abuela, gracias no sólo por tu amor, pero por lo que nos has dado, a mi hermana y yo, a través de mi madre. Ella, y por extensión nosotros, no sería lo que es hoy en día sin ti. Fue a través de este amor indescriptible, este apoyo incondicional, una fe de cielo, que he llegado a tener y lograr tanto. Mi madre, su hija, la amaba con una fuerza, que yo sé de ser su hijo. Pero ese amor no existiría sin usted. Si pudiera decirle una cosa más, le diría gracias por criar a la mujer que me crió.
Abuela, I will always love you, always miss you, and always be in your debt. As I did in Argentina every night after I said goodnight that final month I was with you, whenever I look up into the diamond sky, especially when I return to Argentina, I will feel your wise hand clasp mine, and I will remember that smile. I don’t know where you are now, when I might see you again, but I do know that when I look up I’ll remember you, and regardless of what happens, I’m happy knowing I only have to look up to feel you here once more.