Deep in water I splashed my way
Up the trench to our bogged front line.
Rain had fallen the whole damned night
O Jesus, send me a wound to-day,
And I’ll believe in Your bread and wine,
And get my bloody old sins washed white.
Siegfried Sassoon, Stand to: Good Friday Morning
The rhythm of Holy Week in San Miguel is very different from other weeks; many businesses and offices close for both Holy Thursday and Good Friday, my housekeeper came yesterday instead of today, there was no trash collection this morning. A year ago this season M was visiting and we went to the Jardin to photograph the procession. This morning I awoke and – except for the birds – all was quiet. Everyone must have been preparing for the procession, or had headed to the Jardin to view it, or had left town to escape the throngs. At one of the green grocers yesterday a family was stocking up on melons, tomatoes, bananas, avocados – one might have thought to endure a siege but much more likely to feed the extended family at a fiesta. Late yesterday afternoon the road from Celaya, which becomes the Salida a Celaya where it meets Cinco de Mayo in my neighborhood, was bumper-to-bumper with traffic all the way from the glorieta to downtown. Young people in bright red t-shirts featuring “World’s Number 1 City” messages handed out tourist information to the drivers who had nothing to do but read as the traffic barely moved.
In the list of attendees to the high school reunion, there finally appeared a name of someone I’d love to connect with once again. The same day I began reading a Henning Mankell mystery, one that I had read several years ago, so a haze of familiarity masked my having forgotten almost all of the details. Sort of like connecting with a long-lost friend. It’s odd that I’ve read 140+ pages of that novel over the past three days as I’ve tried to read any number of other novels from various genres in the past year or so and the best I’ve done is to manage 40 or 50 pages in any one book. Then, that night I had a dream which I remembered in the morning; it did not contain my long-abandoned friend, but it was of that time. I cannot remember the last time I remembered a dream – it was certainly months ago.
Despite having a lovely patio, I make little use of it. I’ve spent more time on it sweeping jacaranda blossoms than anything else, yet this morning, in the quiet, with time, I took my breakfast and coffee there, read for awhile, listened to the birds rattle overhead in the dried palm fronds and then chase one another from branch to branch in the towering jacaranda.
The news from yesterday
An earthquake of magnitude 7.5 centered in Guerrerro reached Mexico City. Gabo died.
If for a while God were to forget that I’m a puppet made of rags and gave me a piece of life, I probably wouldn’t say everything that I think, but definitely would think about everything I would say. I would give more value to things, not because of their cost, but because of their significance.
I would sleep less, dream more. I understand for each minute we close our eyes, we lose sixty seconds of light. I would walk when others stopped, I would wake while others slept, I would listen when others spoke, and how much I would enjoy a chocolate ice-cream!
If God gifts me a piece of life I would dress simply, I would lie in the sun, revealing not just my body but also my soul. My God, if I had a heart, I would write my hate on ice and wait for the sun to rise.
My God, if I had a piece of life… I wouldn’t let a single day pass without telling people how much I love them. I would convince every single woman and man they are my favorite and I would live in love with him or her.
I would prove people how wrong they are to think they stop falling in love as they get older, without knowing that they get older when they stop falling in love! To a kid… I would give wings, but let him alone to learn to fly. To an elder I would teach that death does not arrive with being old but with forgetting.
There are so many things I have learned from you, people… I have learned everybody wants to live at a mountain’s peak without knowing that true happiness lies in the way “you get into it”. I have learned that when a new-born grasps his father’s fist for the first time, he has caught him forever.
I have learned a man has the right to look down to another only when he has to help him to stand. There are so many things I have learned from you, but the truth is they will be worthless if they remain within me, as if stuffed within a suitcase, as I die.
Always say what you feel and do what you think.
If I knew today would be the last time I would see you sleep, I would hug you so strongly and I would pray the lord to allow to be the guardian of your soul. If I knew this to be the last time I would see you pass through that door, I would give you a hug, a kiss and I call you again to give you more. If I knew this to be the last time I could hear your voice, I would record each of your words to be able to hear them forever. If I knew these to be the last moments I would ever see you I would tell you “I love you” and wouldn’t assume, stupidly, that you already knew.
There is always a tomorrow and life gives us the opportunity to do things right, but in case I’m wrong and today is the only day we have, I would like to tell you how much I love you, and that I’ll never forget you.
Nobody, young or old, has, with certainty, a tomorrow. Today can be the last time you see those whom you love. So… don’t wait, do it today because, if tomorrow never comes, you will for sure regret you didn’t take time for a smile, a hug, a kiss, and that you were so occupied to give them their last wish. Keep the ones you love near you, whisper in their ear how much you need them. Love them and treat them well. Take time to tell them “I’m sorry”, “forgive me”, “please”, “thank you”, and all the love words you know.
Nobody will remember you for your secret thoughts. Ask God for the strength and the wisdom to express them. Show your friends how important they are to you.