Mom calls and I quickly realize she is talking to me in her calm quiet voice so I know something is up.
Missy, I have bad news for you.
Of course she does.
My mind goes ballistic.
Just hours ago she sent an email to let us know Abuelo’s pacemaker’s battery had died on 12/13 and because of his heart and kidney situation it just wasn’t feasible to admit him to a hospital for surgery to implant a new battery.
I start writing in my head. This is it, this is when and where I find out.
She shouldn't have to tell me. I can't imagine how hard this is to tell me.
But it isn’t Abuelo.
I wasn’t expecting this and I start crying harder than any of us could have bet on in Vegas.
Remember Charro? I’ve known her my whole life because she was our family in Cuba, Abuela’s niece who was only barely younger and therefore a cousin.
Charro died in a nap this afternoon, after talking to Mom this morning because of course they talked because it was her 86th birthday and also because she opened the gifts Mom sent her.
She died on her birthday A circle. A perfect circle. We make circles isn't that perfect?
That’s all I can say, and it makes sense to us.
Mom continues in a whispered voice to not wake up Abuelo. Charro loved her gifts, couldn’t wait to see us soon.
Now I’m crying so hard I can’t believe my poor Mom isn’t heaving wordless too.
We aren’t like this, she tells me, we are strong, come on.
I come on.
I keep going.
She goes back to Abuelo, I go back to putting Christmas together for Veterans Village and for my kids.
Meanwhile my kids don’t know why I’m crying so they think Abuelo has jumped into the sky and I very awkwardly must tell them that no, no, not him.
Not today. Today he’s here, we will see him in a few days.
Not much later Zoe finds me sitting on my yoga ball and I tell her about the circle and about the gold necklace.
She’s like “what?” and I tell her how Charro gave Mom treasure from heaven and that’s where I got the title of the manuscript I wrote about that visit to Cuba.
Zoe shakes her head.
You don’t remember? Charro kept the things Abuela left with her when they fled?
Zoe shakes her head again.
I have her complete attention and love, and this alone is enough to part the clouds of sadness.
You should read my story, I feel like I’m telling my student’s “it’s in the book” when I have actual never said that to students because not much from lecture is in their textbook since I didn't write their books. I digress. Charro was a banker. She negotiated with Western Union to bring the services to Cuba.
My dissertation was on Cuban bankers who came to America and changed Miami. They were all men. All. Men. Meanwhile my own flesh and blood was an important Cuban banker and I didn’t notice or really get it because she was a woman.
Zoe nods, giving me the attention I give her when she makes me quiz her before huge exams.
Charro’s life as an independent single successful woman supported by a community of people who cared for her and respected her is giving me a feminist mind smacking.
Instead of crying I’m going to have a big big mind opening feminist moment.
Zoe nods and pauses from her snapchat poses to reassure me. “Yes, you are.”
That is enough.