When Writing Is the Air We Need to Just Breathe

May 11, 16
writing about grief

My Godmother, my “madrina”, fell into a coma a month ago. My second mother. The woman I always felt should have been my mother. The only person who believed in my writing and who encouraged me to pursuit. My first pen pal when I was barely learning to construct a few paragraphs.

One morning, not so long ago, we were sitting in her porch drinking mate and talking about nothing and everything. Then she silenced, looked at the gate with nostalgia and said, 

“I miss the postman. People don’t write letters anymore. Why don’t they?”

“Emails, madrina.”

“I know but, the letter is different… Choosing the paper, the envelope, getting the stamps…”

“I know.”

“I miss the postman…”

“Madrina, did you fuck the postman?”

A deep love for the written word and a humor that would horrify this posh society. I’d say that is what bonded us.

When my mom called me with the of news of her sister being in the hospital, I wanted to run, fly, become the Concorde. But she told me, “You won’t be able to see her. She is in the ICU… Laura, you need to get ready.”

And I thought… How do you get ready for something like that? How do you get ready to what, accept? To accept that the one person you look forward to talk to, won’t pick up the phone tomorrow, nor ever again?

Or to face what’s coming? The excruciating physical pain of the loss. Because I felt as if my soul had merged with my chest and a boxer had thrown his toughest punch right there, in the middle.

I couldn’t breathe…

Nor think…

So, I wrote…

I wrote her the letter she was waiting for, knowing the postman wouldn’t come.

“Getting ready” for a loss, may fell like how people say dying feels. Your whole life flashes before your eyes. That day, her life flashed before my eyes. A strong woman who had survived so much…, even the death of her only daughter almost ten years ago… My big sister… 

And I got to thinking, “This is not fair, I just got her back,” but I could almost hear her whispering to me once again, “Never asked why, but what for.”

She’s always been such a strong role model for me. I mean, this woman was bored at 52 and decided she needed to do “something else,” a feeling to which I relate very much. So, she went to Law School. And after the five to six years that it takes anyone in Argentina to become a Lawyer, she did it too. 

I started working at her practice a few months ago, right after I moved to this city. For the first time we had begun to have an adult relationship. And I got to see a side of her I never imagined she had.

You know that one woman in Church who helps everyone and acts like the Mother Theresa of the neighborhood? That’s how I used to see her, until we sat down in her practice as equals… And I saw her other side… Oh my God, what a stubborn, loud and bossy bitch!

To follow my dreams, to believe in my writing. To simply believe… I learned so much from her. While I was in Law School, fearing for a test I felt I didn’t know enough and wanting to not go, she’d say, “You already have a zero. Go and see if you can get a higher score.” Then I’d get an 80%.

I’m smart. My self-esteem is dumb.

And I guess she tried to teach me to not fear what could go wrong, and to always wait for what could go unexpectedly great.

Writing that letter, for me, it was… It was how I caught my breath again. 

Sometimes I see, in movies or whatever, writers typing what they recorded, and I think, “I can’t do that.” I need to write, in the moment, whatever is that my brain needs to spill out. As if it were a sneeze no human can hold. And I need to physically feel the process of writing, whether is with a pen or a keyboard.

Maybe I can only truly feel when I write… And that day, with that letter, I mourned her death.

I printed it and folded it, thinking, “It’s too heavy. This is going to cost a lot.”

Isn’t it funny the dumb things that cross our minds during traumatic experiences?

Later I headed over the hospital. My family told me not to see her, but I needed to. She seemed to have no life within her… A cold body… filled with tubes…

My godmother remained in coma for two weeks. And I remained… numbed…

I thought about this blog and how something always happens when I gather the strength to move forward. Sometimes it feels as if the Universe would pull pranks on me, or even test me. But others like this, …, it is just life…

And then, I got the call.

“She woke up. She’s already bossing around the nurses.”



Any thoughts?

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