Nov 2, 2020
My heart aches.
Loss is never a topic I enjoy writing about. Words seem to fail me.
I can't describe the void I feel on my chest, and it's impossible to keep track of the tears that show up unannounced and make the roof of my mouth taste like salt.
2020 has been hard. Many people who I admire and care for have passed this year.
Today, too... there was an announcement about someone who I knew in life who passed away because of covid19.
To be totally honest, I knew this person because I became really close to their significant other...
Me and his wife... we are penpals who enjoy Pokemon and cute stationary, not to mention that we always find time to snack together and talk about life whenever we are blessed with the opportunity of being in the same city for a period of time.
I knew him as my friend's loving boyfriend (at first, because I met them before they got married) and eventually, I clapped and gasped and laughed when they announced their marriage.
More than once, they welcomed me in their home at Tokyo (as mexicans, we stick together and bring a little warmth with us wherever we go) and he made smart comments about the movie we were watching (Lost in Translation) and gave some wise advice while we ate a pizza. He was kind and welcoming.
See, the thing is... I knew him as a person. A personal acquaintance.
Little did I know that behind his kind smile and calm and relaxed nature was a whole following of people online who admired his work.
Today, when word first came out about his passing, I was in absolute denial.
The last time I had interacted with him, we had chatted and eaten pizza. I saw the cool pictures he posted on Instagram and smiled whenever my friend posted tweets or stories about how much she loved her husband. I saw him tweet a couple of weeks ago.
Why? The question echoes in my head and I dont have an answer. Just quiet sadness. Maybe a little denial.
And then I see the posts my friend has put up since the announcement, and they are all about celebrating his life and the amazing experiences they shared together. Remembering the trips they had together, posting pictures of them smiling, hugging each other, his eyes sparkling with joy.
And I can't help but accept that maybe, just maybe, I have been looking at the picture from the wrong perspective all this time.
Maybe... it is not about enveloping ourselves in sadness because we believe those who pass away are not here anymore.
It is about celebrating their lives and everything they shared with us while they were here in physical form.
Every word of advice. Every smile. The last time we had a cup of coffee together, or maybe just a funny joke they shared with you.
Little details stick the most, at least in my experience.
And today, I would like to write short letters thanking those who might not be here in physical form anymore, but who still exist in my mind and in my heart, and whose lessons will never leave my side... just like their memory.
* * *
To my best friend from when I was child
I liked hanging out with you because you were smart, funny and easy to talk to. We played videogames and studied together, specially because our mothers were very close friends.
I still think about how you were the one who explained to me what sex was (when we were in 6th grade, too) and how we would hide from our mothers while we explored the park after dark.
We met again shortly before your passing, and the reconnection made me realize I had been silly to stop talking to you for a while. I was too proud, back in the day. Your death taught me to no expect to have a guaranteed tomorrow to set things straight.
You were my first funeral. The first person I saw without life.
I left two rings by your coffin when I went to say goodbye.
I hope you liked them. They represented the friendship candy rings we had when we were children who played tag and hide and seek.
Thank you for being an amazing study partner and for teaching me what deep friendship was. I love you so much. I miss you. And I am sorry for pushing you away after I came back from my year away. I was just jealous you had moved on and found other friends. I wanted to be special, I guess. Silly me.
When you left, your mom was so sad...
She would call me to talk about you, and we would both constantly cry.
I know you were there for me at that japanese speech contest, you know?
I made my speech all about you and how you inspired me, even with your short life.
I felt you by my side during that speech, and just the memory of that moment is making me cry.
Thank you for being there, even when I can't see you anymore. I feel you and think about you constantly.
I have been happier the last couple of months, and I can sort of imagine you giving me the thumbs up and winking, just like how you used to do before you ran off to play soccer whenever you saw I was heading back to the library to read another book.
It's a little funny to me how we became such close friends when you were very into sports and a social butterfly, while I was just considered a nerdy girl who loved to read.
I hope you know how much I love you.
Always have and always will.
* * *
To my best friend's mother
I was going through my messages with you the other day, close to the day of your death anniversary.
You were always so proud and happy when any of us would mention your son.
I know it was hard to watch all of us grow up. I too, sometimes wondered how he would look like as a grown up.
I missed him lots, but I knew it was nothing compared to how you constantly longed for him.
To be honest, whenever we talked, I would hear his laughter in the back of my head. Memories of playing with him late after dark would creep up and I would smile through the tears.
I am sorry we hid from you so many times.
We just wanted to play a little longer... I am sure you will understand.
Your death, like his, was unexpected and a shock.
It was hard for me to understand why you would both decide to leave this world in such a way. A car crash. Unexpected. Quick.
Hard to comprehend.
But I know that he was there to receive you on the other end, and that even though your heart had healed from his passing, you felt whole again.
I love you both.
Thank you for the candy and for the constant invitations to be with you, as a grown family.
I hope you are both resting in peace, knowing that those of us who have yet to join the other side keep your legacy and your memory alive.
* * *
To the devoted mother
I know you are more my mother's friend than mine, but we really bonded during those 4 weeks you and your daughter came to Tokyo.
I remember your happy and excited energy, wanting to take pictures of everything and everyone. It was an honor and a privilege to be your guide.
Mom has been sad since your passing. After we got the news, I cried the most, but that is normal, I believe. I am always the crier in the family.
I have been thinking about your family a lot. Please, let me know if you want me to reach out. A dream, a thought, a song... I will keep my eyes open and my heart awake for any sign.
I know your passing was sudden, but I have learned that sometimes covid works that way.
I want to thank you for the last gift you gave me. I will use the Secret Gift bubblebath solution soon, once I am reunited with my boyfriend (yes, the one you asked my mother about. We are doing great and I know you would be happy to know our relationship has been growing stronger and stronger. You always rooted for me to find love and I have. Thank you for telling me over and over that I shouldn't give up).
Thank you for everything.
Sending you a hug.
* * *
To my friend's husband
I bet you would be proud to know that your name became trending topic on Twitter today. You touched so many lives! You changed a lot of mindsets.
I know we were not very close, but you always welcomed me with a smile. I promise that I will do my best to check up on her constantly, letting her know that I am there for her through these times.
I bet you were proud to share your life with such a strong and magnificent women. I admire her for her strength.
I told her this earlier, but I always thought of you guys as a power couple. I admire you both.
Thank you for leaving your mark in this world through your hard work. But most of all, thank you for loving my friend with your whole soul.
Rest in peace.
* * *
To my distant friend
When you passed early this year, I was in shock. I guess you were too. After all, the doctors had told you you still had a year left. It made no sense!
I cried so much my eyes got red. I think you wouldn't have approved. I'm sorry.
I think about you every now and then. Sometimes I close my eyes and think of your art. Your words. Your energy.
I loved your personality and the way you faced hardship after hardship. You always left me amazed.
I honor you and your legacy. Thank you for sharing with the world your talents and your strength.
* * *
This... was harder to write than I thought it would be.
But I am thankful that I have this space to share some words that otherwise would've just been said out loud and lost in my breath.
Earlier today, I had started my day worrying about things that now I realize.... are not really important.
Putting things into perspective, I realize now how blessed I am that I can hear my mom watching tv in the room next to me, or how happy I should be that I can hear my dad giving class downstairs.
In a little bit, I will have dinner and watch an anime episode with my sister (even though there will be some distance between us, since we are trying to keep distance from each other just to be safe) and right this moment, as I write this, my cat lies by my feet, purring in her sleep.
I have so many treasures around me that I used to take for granted.
But not anymore.
I will do everything in my power to protect and care for them. To let them know how much I love them.
If you read these words, please consider telling the people you care about that you love them.
Life is too short to not express the love we feel.
Those who have passed have taught me that.
And if my time comes, I would appreciate for someone to quote these words and remind those we remain this simple lesson I have learned the hard way: We have no guarantee that there will be a second chance for expressing that love we feel, so take the plunge and let it be.
Love is the real bond between this world and the unkown.
Love remains, no matter what. Try to express your love while you can.