Tag Archives: dying

Until we meet again…

1 Apr

On March 10th, my cousin, Carlos Reyes lost his life at the young age of  28 in a tragic motorcycle accident.  People tend to automatically assume when there’s an accident involving a motorcycle that the cyclist is the one at fault, but this was not the case.  Carlos was swindled out of his life by a reckless driver in a car whose poor judgement also claimed the life of the passenger in the car (the driver’s wife) and still has the driver in a coma.

There are no words to properly justify the devastation this tragedy has caused our families.  Though Carlos was not at fault, there was a second innocent life lost in all of this and there is another family that is suffering the same pain we are.

Growing up, though I loved all of my cousins, I was always closest to Carlos and his brother Nick.  The two of them have always been my loves; I adore them and the ground they walk on; I always have.  They were my first friends and to this day, though at times we may be distant, we’d still do anything for each other.

Loosing Carlos has got to be the single most hardest thing I’ve ever had to experience in this life.  I always knew that I loved him, but I never realized just how much.  His departure had completely broken my heart, shattered my hopes and had left me with the deepest emptiness in my soul that I honestly lost all desire to continue.  Billie Holiday said it best in Gloomy Sunday, “Angles have no thoughts of ever returning you. Would they be angry if I thought of joining you?”  It wasn’t just my personal pain that made me feel this way.  It was having to see the pain in Nick, our grandmother and the rest of the cousins that was even more difficult.  And the worst of all, the thought of what was to happen to his son, Carlos Jr.

But after every storm there comes the sun.  I could never in a million years say that I am glad that Carlos lost his life; I would gladly give up my own for his return, but I can honestly say that I am grateful for the gifts he gave me when he left.  I’ve come to realize the things that truly matter in this life.  I had been given tiny glimpses of them before, through the loss of other loved ones, but never like this.  The person who I was up until the 10th, is not the person I am now.  And a family that was once segregated has now been reunited.

Before Carlos’ passing, I had only a handful of cousins and one Uncle left and now I have over 13 cousins, and after 14 years of my Aunt Raisa’s passing (Carlos & Nick’s mother) I have Aunts and I have Uncles; all that I knew when I was a young child, but never as a teenager or adult.  And now that I have them in my life again, you better believe that I’m never letting go.

The love and support that I have been able to give and receive from my immediate family and the newly discovered one is the only thing that has gotten me through this as sanely as I have.  We didn’t even know it, but we needed each other and for this, I thank Carlos from the bottom of my heart.

I’m well aware of the saying, “Time heals all wounds,” and maybe it’s so, but Carlos is not someone I will ever forget.  It’s still almost unreal to believe he’s not here anymore, but like Pink says in Who Knew?, “I’ll keep you locked in my head until we meet again.”

Thank you for everything Carlos. I love you, now and forever.

Carlos Rey Reyes
1.6.84 – 3.10.12

Realize what you have before it’s gone…

6 Nov

Last night I was requested to Bartend at a private party.  This particular event was a very elaborate Housewarming party for a really nice family that was very excited to be settled into their new home (which was HUGE), and of course, share it with their friends and family.  They invited loads of guests, had tons of food and alcohol, a DJ, servers, valet,  you name it.

The party started fairly early and by midnight it was still going hard.  Belly dancers were about to come out and put on a show when the unfortunate happened; The host’s mother passes out and experiences a stroke.  Immediately they got on the phone with 911/Rescue and did all they could to keep her alive until the medics arrived, and even then they had to pump her chest and do God knows what to try to make sure she was getting enough oxygen.

Long story short; Grandma is gone.

I was the last of the help to leave.  I had to wait for the host and the rest of the guests to leave so that I could go back into the yard to gather up my equipment.  There I had a talk with the host’s daughter, who is my age.  She is a sweet woman, and was mourning, of course.  And as she vented she said a lot of things that I too felt when my grandfather had passed away: “All the times she called me and I didn’t pick up because I was too busy.  All the times she invited me over and I didn’t go.  And now she’s gone and there’s nothing I can do to fix that.”

My grandfather, Abuelo Rey, passed away about four years ago.  I still cannot see a picture of him or even talk about him without tearing up or just all-out balling.  Even now, writing this, I can’t help but cry.  His death is one that I accepted when it happened.  He was sick and regressed fairly quickly in last two years of his life, so I knew that when it was his time it was his time.  It was for the better and I accepted that.  But what I did not accept or forgive myself for was the fact that I had barely been around for those last two years of his life.

I honestly used to blame it on the boyfriend that I had at the time.  Though I loved him very much, he was a very selfish person so we only ever did what he wanted to do, when he wanted to and how.  We spent a lot of time with his family, but barely any with mine.  I made countless plans to go see my Abuelo and Abuela, but at the last minute he never wanted to go so I’d give them another excuse as to why I wasn’t going over to see them.

I do realize now that my partner was in no way the blame of my absence.  Though these actions did contribute to his selfishness, the ultimate decision to go or not go was mine.  I didn’t have to rely on anyone but myself to go spend time with my family.  If he didn’t want to come with me, well that should have been his loss and his loss alone.  Instead, I allowed it to be mine as well.

And though I feel in my heart that this doesn’t matter, because while he was in his coma in the hospital, not responding to ANYONE, he responded to ME.  Once his eyes closed, he never opened them again, but when I went to see him, I sat down on the bed next to him and I held his hand.  I held his big, almost lifeless hands and I leaned over and softly spoke into his ear.  I told him that it was me, and that I was sorry for not having come over all the times I said I would and that I knew I was a horrible granddaughter, but I loved him very very much.  And as I spoke I felt his hand starting to tighten up, tighter and tighter.  Once I gave him a kiss on his cheek he gave me one last tight squeeze and then that was it.  He passed away a few day later without having responded to anyone else.

Because of that, part of me feels forgiven, but it still weighs heavy in my heart no matter what.  I still remember everything about my last visit to his house and I remember his voice as clear as day.  I miss him so much, and I really wish he were still around.  But alas, thinking like that will never make a difference so what’s the point?

I guess what I’m just trying to get at here is that you should never take anyone for granted.  Age doesn’t matter; I’m not only talking about the elderly.  You never know if today could be yours or anyone else’  last day, no mater what age.  I’ve also lost young friends to very unfortunate circumstances, but their stories would require a whole entry of their own.

Just, don’t ever put off for tomorrow what you could do today.  Always follow through when you tell someone you’re going to see them or spend time with them.  And never be afraid to tell someone you love them when you know you do.  You never know when it will be your last chance to do so, and once that chance is gone, there is no getting it back.  In life and death there are no do-overs.