“To tell you the true, I could not wait for this…” whispered Aunt Dani to her sister Moly who, rolling her small eyes said, I know what you mean…oh God!
They were seated at the large and very well ornamented table for Christmas. The food, cakes, breads, and pies smelt so strongly good that was like it could be tasted. The house was smelling Christmas Day!
For that family, Christmas Day was always a day when all gathered at Papa Joe and Mama Alicia house. They were married for 45 years, when a cervix cancer took her in less than 3 months after it was discovered. Papa Joe was 10 years older than Mama Alicia. She was his sweetheart, he lived around her like a fly around a fruit. He never missed a moment to show her his tenderness and appreciation, his love and caring.
For Mama Alicia, he was her always and forever love. So much love and giving between them that when she passed, he turned mute, sad, depressed.
They had four children,7 grandchildren.
Bridget was the youngest one, when Mama Alicia thought the months of absence periods were her menopause, they were happily surprised with that pinkish bunch of love.
Everyone was there to support Papa Joe, but Bridget was the one who really could bring him back, since her pain and suffering had to be priority in their healing process.
And then the unexpected happened.
Madeleine, Papa Joe brother’s wife, joined Aunt Dani and Moly, commenting “ how difficult is to face this first Christmas without Alicia…”___ Moly agreeing said, “Yes, but looks like Joe is moving on fast..., “hum, hum”, Dani added…” the preferred Bridget’s teacher, and friend”.
The three of them kept murmuring while watching the delicate and harmonious way Maria, the guest, moved her shaped body, balancing her head and letting her dark and long, shining hair dance in the air, adorning her beautiful South Latin features in the brownish smooth skin. The voluptuous lips adorned with a red lipstick high lightened the big dark eyes like two black onyx stones, and a graceful smile showing a file of symmetrical teeth so white like pearls in alignment. A sweet and floral classic accent parfum around her.
The talking was disturbed by happy laughs coming from the new couple, since Maria decided to take Joe to dance and he was very reluctant.
After Maria talked closely to Joe, he went to the box music and changed the Christmas song for a dancing song, and the couple started to dance, slowly and gracefully.
Joe was radiant. His eyes were bright, and he had a smile in his face all the time. For the astonished family, he was wearing nice new clothes and shoes, and a soft but manly colony accent followed him.
Maria was wearing an elegant blue and white dress, matching the elegant classic ballerina flat shoes.
“Joe lose weight! He is agile! Look how he can move his feet! Where is his beer belly??” exclaimed Madeleine, waiving her hands in the ar. “I was told he started to go to a gym after he met her. Well, he had to take Bridget up and down….so…” said Margo taping the table with her fingers
That was not Joe, who would be in his every year casual and old clothes and Christmas sweater, and chubby sweetheart Alicia would wear her Christmas every year dress, and the old red and white slippers that the kids believed was Mother Christmas shoes. They were mama and papa, the lovely granny and grandpapa. They were the incarnation of Christmas family day celebration. Not only that, but, that day, with them, would replenished each one with a feeling of certainty that life was good, everything was always going to be OK, the warm and safety place would be always there waiting with opened arms to cuddle the prodigal son, to wipe away the tears from the frustrations and delusional growing up experiences, the safe harbor to return always after more one step in the journey called life.
Uncle John tapped Ed shoulders saying “the old man is happy. Good for him”. “Yes, I see…she did rise him up…. but…you know, I miss her so much….” Ed said with wet eyes.
“I understand…everybody here does too”. Uncle John comforted Ed, who kept murmuring like he was talking with himself _ “I can feel her presence, I can see her slicing the turkey with her old and soft hands…smiling with her eyes, and the happiness for having everyone here, filling her senses and soul. She was so special and unkind…”.
The sound of music and voices were different for Ed, he could almost hear a “silent” hanging over them. That was his last day before leaving to the base in Iraq. It was his duty, and he was proud of himself, but his heart was sad, heavy. His eyes kept looking for her, hoping to find her. It was time to leave, and he went towards Ben, his oldest brother, who was around his sisters and Maria, talking and laughing, it was clear they were having good time. “the day is over, I am leaving…where is Papa?” Ed asked. “Yep…the day went so fast …Papa was here just now…do you know when you are coming back?” said Ben. “No, I mean, I am not sure, usually we can visit after a while, but I don’t know for sure how is that base, so… take good care, love you”. Said Ed hugging Ben who murmured back “I love you too.”
Ed went to the rooms looking for Joe. He stopped in front of Joe and Alicia’s door’s room and saw Joe sobbing with Alicia’s Mother Christmas slippers in his hands.
“Dad…are you OK?” asked Ed turning his arm around Joe’s shoulders.
“Yes…yes… I am” Joe said wiping his eyes with the back of his hand.
“I am OK…I miss her…it is our first Christmas, you know…she is no more here…but I am OK. I came to get a book and I saw her slippers under the bed… “. Joe said almost whispering.
“I understand Dad…I miss her too…now we need to get used to live without her. But you looked so happy a while ago, dancing, laughing” Ed said.
“Maria opened a new life for me. The life I knew and used to live, is gone with your mom. I was going with her. I was feeling lost and afraid. I could not imagine myself living without Alicia. It was like her death broke in pieces all the structured rolls I used to play in life. And then with Maria I started to rescue a guy that I even didn’t know was there ,who love be with friends, loves to dance, and take care of himself, and I learnt with her that was not wrong to rescue that guy back. I had to disincarnate a Joe that would play the roll he only could play with Alicia, built during our 45 years together. Family traditions and believes, culture, all that patterns…a treasure of love and commitment that now is accomplished. Do you know that Maria is five years younger than me and, so, five years older than your mom? Yes…although she looks much younger. She has this way to live the life, easy, light, no dramas, with gratitude for everything, no questions… I believe it is her culture , which is very tied to their ancestors and nature. I do not know how much time I still have here, so I decided to live this time with plenitude. I love your mother. I know I always will, and she will be with me, until my last breath. Maria helped me to walk with your mother’s memories and feel my love in gratitude not pain.” Joe finished looking at Ed, who with wet eyes, hugged his father for a while and then said goodbye with no more words.
In the way to the airport, Ed felt that day was the day he closed his mom eyes. She was gone, and like his father, he chose to carry his love for his mom with gratitude and not with pain.
He was already installed in his seat at the plane, when an old smiling lady, seated at his side. He looked at her and saw his mom, same gray cock hairstyle hair, same way to smile with eyes, same chubby mom. She had a book opened where he could read “Goodbyes are only for those who love with their eyes, because for those who love with heart and soul there is no such thing as separation” – Rumi.
Ed looked for nowhere for an instant and then, trying to get comfortable in his seat, with a long and deep breath, closed his eyes.