This was a very strange weekend. My mom’s birthday was on Saturday and Friday night we still had no solid plans other than going over to my parents at some point Saturday but going out for a nice dinner on Sunday (since Sabi worked pretty late on Saturday).
We were woken up Saturday morning by Juan’s mom on the phone. Manny, Juan’s cousin had passed away. He was 37. Obviously everyone’s initial reaction is “how did it happen, was it an accident, etc?”. But the thing is, we don’t know why (at least not yet). He went to sleep on the couch, where he liked to sleep despite having a lovely wife and bed, and in the morning when his little girl went to wake him up, he didn’t.
We went to their house around noon and it was the most devastating place I remember being in. I have been to funerals, but I hadn’t been to the house of the deceased just hours after removing the body. I had never experienced the raw devastating emotion of people you love simply falling apart at the seams. I knew Manny, but I didn’t know him. The closest family that I have had pass away, particularly the my young uncle happened when I was too young to be exposed to that. Seeing his family and the cousins and aunts that we hang out with suffering like that? Absolutely awful. His dad was in Mexico and caught the first flight back with his cousin. Juan offered to go pick him up at the airport so we went and he arrived around 4pm, not even 12 hours after he was found. I went hunting him down at the international terminal at LAX (thank goodness for his sombrero!). I hadn’t anticipated how being the first person to see him here, a tangible person to bring a little bit of the unbelievable reality that his son was dead, was going to feel. He fought back the tears and the sobs as much as he could in the car. I made small talk with him about where he was coming from, where my dad is from, etc to calm them down a bit.
As soon as we got to the house, someone was in the parking lot (I dunno the relation) and he fell apart in their arms. After a couple of minutes, he walked into the house where all the tias and cousins were waiting, not to mention his daughter in law. The wailing sobs coming from the three of them, dad, mother, and daughter in law as they embraced was too much to bear.
We left soon after. It was after all, my mom’s birthday.
I am thankful that we had that luxury. To be able to step away from it and see that life really does go on. It was an emotional relief even if it did make me feel a little guilty inside. The dinner for my mom was very impromptu and my dad’s idea. We had already established that we wanted to take the family out for dinner on Sunday since Sabi didn’t work that day. So we did that as well. It was nice.