It’s been an interesting week, to say the least. Given the closeness to Dia De Los Muertos, All Saint’s day and All Soul’s day, and just…being reminded of so much, I decided that today’s entry will be in the form of a letter to my mother. As I was writing this, Barber Adagio for Strings came on my Pandora, so I’ve linked it here as suggested listening if you’re reading. Adagio for Strings
This week has been a lot, both beautiful and difficult. I’m writing to you about it because yesterday I was desperately struck by the desire to talk to you about everything I’ve been experiencing here, both in my year in general, but especially in our border delegation. Experiencing the wall reminded me so much of stories you and dad told me about the wall in Berlin and everything it symbolized. It was hard, because it went from this….intangible thing that, while I knew what it was and thought I understood what it stood for, was little more than a way to separate brothers and sisters from one another. It separates families, friends, and communities in a way that I find to be repulsive and discomfiting. In the name of our “security” we have expanded and reinforced to the extent that people are driven into a desert and die. I feel unhappy and uncomfortable with what this wall has done, does, and will continue to do until such a time as we choose to change it.
I remember you talking about the differences in appearance in the sides of the wall, the brightly colored West side and the drab, downtrodden feeling and looking East side. I remember you talking about families and friends being separated and the restriction of movement and the helpless feeling people experienced. The crazy thing is both sides of this wall contain elements of both sides of the Berlin wall. The Mexico side is brightly colored, the community and artists have painted murals. The US side is just drab and untouched in the area we experienced at least. The community in Agua Prieta seems to exist all the way up to the edge of the wall, a riot of color in the structures, signs, and advertisements, while the Douglas side seems to have a demarcation where life almost stops. As it is, this community is two halves of a whole separated by an eighteen foot wall. Many people refer to it as Douglaprieta. It is one place, not two. We separated this community.
Yesterday was the start of this sudden bought of missing you and wishing I could talk to you. We went first to a conference, and talking about “traditional knowledge” and where we encounter it led to a thought that you held so much knowledge that I won’t ever be able to talk to you about. Knowledge that left when you left. After lunch we went to the Procession of the Little Angels. I didn’t know we were going, and experiencing the altars and physical signs of grief and celebration of life was somewhat overwhelming. At the same time, it was joy filled and peaceful. It was something you would have loved and I know you would have participated somehow had we lived here. It’s absolutely a time of grief and remembrance, but also a celebration of life. There are costumes and face paint and crafts and music. The altars are handmade, brightly colored, lavishly decorated, and absolutely beautiful. Walking through made me realize how I wish I had seen or experienced something like this when you died, to realize that it is okay to grieve and that pain isn’t something ugly to be hidden away, but a part of the beautiful, complex, crazy life we live. It is necessary to experience it and live into the pain and discomfort in a way that is difficult, but also something that makes us grow.
Sometimes the reality of you seems so distant and far away, like a dream that I’m not sure happened. I’ve long since forgotten your voice, the smell of your perfume, and the sound of your laugh. Unless I look at your picture, I forget the wholeness of your face, save for when I see the echo of it, however strong, in my own. The pain of missing you sometimes overwhelms me to the point that it takes my breath away, and I wonder if the happiness, even joy, that I feel will ever return. I’m often struck by how much I want to talk to you about the things I’m experiencing. I’m so thankful that you, and Dad and Linda, taught me to care deeply for others and work to give every fiber of my person to that. As much as I wish I could share my experiences with you, I also realize that, if I could, perhaps I would not be here doing this at all. If I hadn’t lost you, perhaps my life would have taken a very different trajectory. I’m thankful we went to the procession. It hurts, I think it always will, but sometimes, I think the pain exists to remind me that you were really here. To remind me that, when you died, you took a piece of me with you, but you left pieces of yourself here within the world for me to find. Those pieces help me find joy and beauty and to know myself.
I’m so incredibly proud to be your daughter, and hope you would be proud of me. I can’t wait to share everything with you again someday. I love you and miss you, and I promise always to be careful with the candles.