I went to my best friend’s grandfather’s funeral today. As I sat in the back of the room looking around at all the faces that I know and love and all the faces that I haven’t seen before, there was one face I couldn’t keep my eyes off of and that was the face of Juana, grandmother extraordinaire and wife of Leo, who is now laying in front of a packed room, at rest, for all of us to see. I gazed upon her through my silent heartbreak as no one watched and I learned so much. She was a woman in love with a man for 65 years, a love that traveled with them from Cuba, to the US and a love that created a family that could live on their hopes and dreams for the sacrifices they had made.
I had an epiphany, an awakening, an enlightenment that I had not had before. I walked up to the casket with a tremble in my step, nervous and scared. The last time I saw him he was asking me to dance and if I was going to smoke a cigar later. “you’re looking great, mi niña.” The knot in my throat grew and the tears rolled from my eyes and there on the top of the open casket, a note. It read “Leo, Te amaré por siempre, Nita” and that’s when it hit me, that no matter the things life throws at you, love is forever. Real love fights the battles of heartache, war, sickness, and indifference and surpasses them and wins them with truth, honesty, and second chances.
It’s about the risks you take on finding that love that count and it is how your hands bleed from holding on to it so tight because you know it is home. You know it’s your true north.
It was the moment I looked into her eyes, and saw the eyes of a teenager who just lost her first love- A watery mix of peace and angst; Heartbreak and acceptance- that it really hit me, life expires and it’s how you choose your path and the chances that you take which will define you as a person.
Life can be taken in a few moments and I realized that I shouldn’t be wasting my time waiting for things to happen to me, I should be taking the risks to get the things I want; not only in life, but in love.
On this day so close to celebrating 65 years of devotion, laughs, and cries, she remains to be a woman with a life fulfilled. I thought to myself, this is how I want to be. I want to know in my old age I fought for the things I wanted and I fought for the people I loved.