Sometimes we find it hard to accept that a loved one is gone. Although we hear phrases like “you have one more angel”, “s/he is another star in the sky”, “s/he is taking care of you from above,” and many others, sometimes we want proof that really, after leaving this earthly plane, those who we love are taking care of us.
I lost my father when I was 17 and my brother was 14. After a cancer that devastated him, he died surrounded by the family on October 9, 2013. He was 51 years old, but internally his body was of a 81 year old man.
There have been many special moments during which I wish he had been there, although I trust that his spirit was with us, and many times I have asked for signs, something to know he’s still at our side.. As I write this, I keep thinking about two recent events in which he was definitely there.
Only a few days ago, my mother had a dream that left her worried. She, my brother, and I were in our living room, and he was borrowing money from me. Mom asked him how he planned to pay me because he’s unemployed, and he looked away. Suddenly, his girlfriend entered the apartment. My mother looked at her, not understanding what was happening, and my brother still wouldn’t look her in the face. In addition to that, it was hard for her to sleep because of a severe pain in her lower belly and back. She said it was the same pain as when she gave birth.
When I woke up, my mother told me about the dream, but I didn’t give it much importance. In response, she told me that my brother had a car accident. Two tires exploded, the wheels were damaged, and the dampers were useless. He was with his girlfriend; he was driving and fell asleep at the wheel.
Fortunately, nothing happened to them. In a matter of seconds, when the girl realized they were going to collide with an electric bearing, she threw herself behind the wheel and deflected the car. She was going to receive all the impact, which could have been fatal. The vehicle climbed onto the sidewalk and suffered all the damage. Somehow they managed to get to his girlfriend’s house. Although their windows were down, and the rearview mirror on the side of the passenger broke, the two escaped without a scratch.
It could have been worse, much worse. My brother is diabetic, so he has a hard time healing. Had he been alone that night when he feel asleep, I don’t think he would be here today.
What amazes me most? Before leaving, he put on one of our father’s watches, along with the cologne he almost always used. I don’t need anyone to tell me to know that this man was there, taking care of him, and even my mother blessed the pain that didn’t let her sleep if suffering it was a way to prevent any harm to fall upon my brother.
We have been without internet in the zone I live in. Our connection cables were stolen and, no matter how many times we replaced them, they were stolen again. There was no way to have internet, so it was up to everyone in my house to go to a supermarket in the next block to study, work, and stay connected.
We are all students in my house, and since we ran out of formal jobs, we depend on informal, sporadic gigs, so both social networks and WhatsApp have become work tools we cannot separate from. Over time, we managed to make it work, although it’s still a cumbersome process, especially after running out of desktops.
In one way or another, with phones without space and unconfigured laptops, we managed to stay afloat, do our university assignments, get clients, and each of us became known in our respective fields. Step by step, we left the hole in which we were sinking.
Two nights ago, I went to the market with my laptop and phone. In the corner, before crossing the street, a guy called out to me. I stopped, suspecting nothing. My voice ran out when he said, “If you shout, I shoot you.”
At no time did I see if he had a gun, a razor, or anything else. I was just thinking about the books I had to review, the application with which I’m learning languages, my contacts, my social networks, the work I had been doing, and the laptop that I needed in order to access of them. “Don’t ask me to open the briefcase,” I thought again and again.
At some point I exhaled, suddenly calm. I felt a burning in my chest, but I was calm. I knew nothing would happen to me. I gave him the phone, the headphones, and when he asked me to unlock the phone I thought for a second about hitting him, running away, doing something – but I discarded the thought. “Leave me alone; let him go.”
I turned around, and he went in the opposite direction. Then I came back, and he yelled at me to return. I waved, asking him to leave me alone, and I returned home unharmed. My thoughts were far from being so relaxed when I entered the house. I felt anger, helplessness, depression, and anxiety, and still, two days later, I think that I could have done something to keep my phone. But I knew then and still know something very clearly: it wasn’t just the two of us, myself and the robber, in that dark corner. There was someone else, and although I have no way to prove it and there were no signs, I’m sure my father was there too.
We are never really alone
Losing someone is never easy; it’s always an experience that marks a period of before and after. But losing my father when I was only 17 is very different. In my head he has two faces: before cancer and after cancer. I almost always remember the “before” one, but the yellowish, rickety face, with almost no hair, arms so thin that I could have taken them both with one hand, the swollen belly, the feet bruised by fluid retention, and the tired look on his face are still very alive in my memory.
It seems like a joke in bad taste that my zodiac sign shares the name of the disease that tore my father from me. For a long time I even felt responsible, believing I could have done something, whatever it was, until I understood that things had to be that way. From the beginning, that was my father’s fate, and there was nothing else to do but to accept it.
Six years later, remembering him still causes a lump in my throat. I used to say that I would give anything to see him once more, but it would mean losing him a second time, and neither of us deserves a farewell like that. I wasn’t there when he passed away, but if I close my eyes I can go back to the room where I saw his corpse for the first time.
The path of mourning is anything but simple, much less in these conditions, but there‘s nothing that time doesn’t cure. Suddenly, a day like any other, it seems that silence is not that heavy, that a clear thought is possible. It was at that moment that I understood someone was taking care of me from somewhere beyond. Turning the page begins at that time.
There were times when I knew that my father was there, taking care of us, but after these two events, it is clear to me that we are never really alone. Physical death is just one more stage in life, not its end.