Jan 21, 2010


There are, I am sorry to say, plenty of things in life I wish I had no knowledge of. Things I wish I remained in the dark about. Things that I wish I could unlearn, things I wish I didn’t know. The list is eclectic and all encompassing from what goes in a “morcilla” sausage (pig’s blood and rice) to the fact that a high percentage of middle school age children have already had oral sex.

How to ship the remains of a loved one to his home country is now at the top of the list. Dear Husband is right, sometimes, life gets in the way of your plans. I am sure Alfonso wasn’t planning on dying an ocean away from the son he adores and the woman he has been married to for 20 something years. I am sure he wasn’t planning on ending his month vacation in the U.S. with a heart attack. But shit happens, life happens, death happens. Still I wish I didn’t know. I wish I didn’t have to deal with it. I am immature enough to wish that I didn’t feel so scared about my own parents; my other loved ones who are his age. I wish I wasn’t suddenly scared shitless that someone I love is simply going to slip away from me without me being able to do anything about it.

The moving of a body to another country is complicated business let me tell you. I wish people didn’t have to go through with it but apparently it happens all the time. My recommendation to those who are unlucky to go through this is to contact the consulate, embassy, church, friend, high school sweetheart, or the man who sold you your refrigerator. Every person always knows a person who can help and maybe, just maybe, that person that you contacted can have an answer that can make your life so much easier.

That person in my family’s case (lucky for us) wasn’t so far removed that we had to hunt him down. That person was Uncle V. Who was angel, God send; lifesaver all wrapped up in one and happened to have a contact in the Colombian Consulate who helped us a lot.

I wish I could be one of those people who have the privilege to fall apart. Okay I really don’t but I wish I didn’t have to do so many things I had to do. Pick the casket, sign the paperwork in the hospital when all I wanted to do was curl in a ball, ask questions, find out, hear the cause of death, and see him dying. The list is never ending. More than anything I wish I could un-live the moment in the emergency room when my mom looked up at me daring me with her eyes to give her good news, that very moment when I had to translate what the doctor had said. I wish I could’ve told her he was alright. I wish I could’ve told her that he was going to make it. I wish I didn’t have to be the one to tell her that he was dead. Another thing I guess I have to add to my list of unwanted knowledge.

There were so many papers to sign that I don’t even remember. So many faxes, emails and payments I cringe at the thought but again it could’ve all been so much worse. I cannot help but think that we are all in all lucky. Because I have heard that the process is usually so much longer. No matter what we went through to get it done the fact is Alfonso flew back home to be with his family Saturday at 4:00 pm.

We did our best. We tried our hardest. We prayed for him, got our hearts broken and sent him home whole. He will be viewed by his wife and son who said bye to him a month ago, not knowing it would be for the last time.

This post seems horrible selfish. Talking about his death affected me instead of how it affected his family or even him. Maybe I should wonder what dreams he left undone. What things he wanted to do. Maybe I should concentrate on him…but at least here I can indulge in feeling what I am feeling and not worry about keeping it together to get shit done. Personal blogs are by nature, self-centered and self-indulgent. So I will say what it felt like to be there, what it felt like to live it or to go through all the cold paperwork that says nothing about feeling and all about impersonal generalities.

It felt weird filling out the forms knowing that his name was one of many, that his death meant nothing to the people who read the paperwork I was filling out. They didn’t know he had a booming voice or that he was polite and never spoke ill of anyone. They didn’t know that he was amazingly nice to my mom or that he never said anything back and was eternally patient when I was stupidly mean, and rude. They didn’t know who he was and who he left behind.

I am so incredibly filled with regret for the things I said and didn’t say. For the times I might have make him feel unwelcome, for the times I criticized his driving, for the time I complained he was too loud and woke me up too early in the morning.

I know without a shadow of a doubt that Alfonso, wherever he is, is thankful that we got him back to his dear family to be buried in the town he was born in. So unwanted knowledge or not I am happy that only seven days after his death we accomplished what it takes other people a month. To move him from one country to another so his family can grieve properly. So, who cares if I wish I didn’t know? The fact is I DO know and no matter how much it sucked knowing it is over with; done.

Saturday he was home and Sunday he was buried; our part in this story is over. Last night we prayed the last Rosary for his soul, the last day of the Novena putting an end to the whole ugly episode. We threw away the flowers that sat next to his picture, blew away the candle, sprayed some holy water around the house and with hot chocolate and spicy empanadas said goodbye. So I raise my glass of Merlot as a final goodbye to him: Safe trip Alfonso, and Godspeed.

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