00053: In Memoriam
During the months of February and March 2018 I was rehearsing a new play titled, The Cries of La Llorona. The play was an attempt to reach the Latinx audience and to introduce my own work to the college. Also, the play was a present to my younger sister, for I wanted her to know how much I admired her for raising her children without the help of her husband, who turned out to be a complete looser.
The play was scheduled to close on my birthday weekend, so my younger sister and I talked about how the family was planning to come over my place and spent the weekend in order to watch the play and celebrate my birthday. “All that would be happening a month from now,” I told her as we chatted over the phone. This conversation happened on March 5. Three days later, my sister suddenly passed away of cardiac arrest.
Needless to say, the rest of the rehearsal process and the run of the show was a very bittersweet period for me. The themes presented in the play and the nature of the existence of the play itself made my personal healing process a challenge. My family came to see the play on my birthday weekend, but we didn’t celebrate it as before. Instead, we had an uneventful, quiet lunch. I never told my family that the play had been written for my sister. The program was supposed to say, “dedicated to my sister” because a, b, c. Now it said in “memory of my sister.” And because the play was in English, my mamá didn’t quite connected the main character and the play’s themes with my sister and her passing. That was a blessing.
Today is my sister’s 3-year anniversary since her passing. And almost every day I think of her laugher, our conversations, and the fact that she was very good at making jell-O. In fact, for every birthday celebration within the family, she provided these colorful delicious jell-O that everyone loved and was eager to eat. Today everyone misses that treat.
Two days ago, on March 5, 2021, we buried our oldest aunt, Angelina, who passed away due to COVID-19. She was 92 years old, and before she was hit with the virus, she was a very strong woman, who despite her age, was always physically active and always, ALWAYS, very happy to see us together.
At the private funeral services, one of my older sisters and I were talking about how we had almost buried our tía on the day of our sister’s passing. About how our sister was just 46 years old when she passed and my tía was exactly 50 years older (92). We also talked about how, in Mexico City, while we were in the memorial serviced for my tía, my sister’s older son was celebrating his birthday and how, among the family who was present at the memorial services, the youngest member was turning 2 years old on March 10.
Life is full of intricacies and inexplicable ironies. One moment we are celebrating life and the next we are mourning our dead ones while looking forward to celebrating life again. I miss my sister very much, and I’m going to miss my tía as much. Both are in my heart and will forever live in my memory. The tears I shed as I write this are a reminder of the love I have for both and of the pain I feel now that you are not here. Like “La Llorona,” I shed tears from now until the end of my days and those tears will be a testament of the love we’ve always had for each other.
Rest in Power Margarita Ballesteros Anaya and Angelina Anaya Ayala. Both were very strong women and full of life humans on this earth. I’ll miss you both and I will always remember you. #carlosmanuelspeaksthetruth.