just after noon on friday, june 26, my sweet mom passed away surrounded by my dad, my brothers, patricio and myself. she left this world the way she lived: with elegance and with grace.
i was in kindergarten the first time i realized my mom was something special. we had a career day and my mom came dressed in her flight attendant uniform, her chanel lipstick and ferragmos, and handed out boxed lunches (the same ones you used to get in coach before all the airlines went bankrupt). she did her safety demonstration, and let my classmates wear the oxygen masks. i went up to her afterward and told her "mom, you know how you and dad always say you're proud of me? well now i know how you feel. because i'm so proud of you." and i never stopped being proud of her. i never stopped thinking that the most beautiful woman in the world was my mom. even when she was blessing all of my friends with holy water when we left for a night of debauchery. or when we left for beach week and she chased the car screaming "make good decisions!" (i made...some. okay i made zero good decisions but her prayers kept me alive.) but these last seven months, wow. my heart has wanted to burst because i've been so sad, but every ounce of sadness is matched with a pound of pride. proud of how hard she fought, proud of how strong she is, proud that she is my mom - and always will be. i now know what true strength is, and it's not surviving heartache or standing up for yourself (althought i've done both and can't say that either is easy). it's having a disease in your brain and still waking up every single day with a "good morning sunshine!" and saying "i love you my dear, sleep easy." it's feeling like you are literally losing your mind because the disease is starting to impact your perception of reality and telling your family "let's just pray the rosary. if i can just focus on the rosary..." i have seen what selflessness is. it's hearing that you have less than a year to live and the first words
to your husband are "oh honey, thank god it's not one of the kids." it's begging your daughter to go on a date with her husband because "nothing is more important than being an attentive wife. even when you have babies anna maria, don't you forget about patricio." it's looking your daughter square in the eye and saying "you are stronger than i am. i raised you to be. do not let people pity you anna maria. you are strong. you are capable. when the time comes...tell yourself that over and over even when it gets hard. i will be with you. every step you take. every labor. every tear. i will be there whenever you turn your face and feel the sun's warmth. because our God is good."
i have chosen today, and hopefully tomorrow, and the day after that and the day after that, to look at this in the light of eternity. my mom is in heaven. and when i pass away, i will spend eternity with her and my brothers, and my dad and my patricio, and everyone i know and love. if i look at it any other way then that means i won't ever see eileen again. and that is too unbearable for me to even think about.
so many of you have said that you feel like you knew eileen because of all the stories i shared. that means so much to me. if anything, i hope i have done an adequate job of sharing her with you. to quote my father: "she is, quite simply, the finest person i've ever known." because the thing about eileen is that you didn't just like her, you fell in love with her. she knew everything about you in less than five minutes, she laughed at your jokes, she told you about a book you just HAD to read, a trip you just HAD to make, and left you with a hug and a promise of keeping you in her prayers. how wonderful this world would be if we all offered a fraction of that to each other.
i will be posting details regarding her arrangements as they are finalized with our church. thank you, thank you, thank you to all of you. we felt every prayer, every wish for healing. i love you all.