I spent most of my Sundays of 2004 the same way. I knew that Warner Channel had what I called a “marathon of my favorite shows” at the time, which included but was not limited to: Who’s The Boss?, Full House, Step by Step (my ultimate favorite) and Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. I think I was in the middle of a Full House episode when I heard the phone ring. The details here become a little blurry, at least some of them. The me from now would say: I didn’t answer the phone. But the me from back then had no aversion to phones like I do now – perhaps a more deep analysis would connect the me from then and the me from now with my relationship with phones beyond the obvious trauma involved.
A part of me wants to say: I answered the phone. Either way, it is sort of irrelevant considering the fact of what news was coming from the call. It was my uncle and he wished to speak with my father. I went to my parents’ room and gave my dad the phone. I remember coming back and sitting on the sofa – and also this sensation of being small when coming in contact with it. I continued watching my show. At one point, I heard some loud voices – both from my mom and my dad. I got up and started walking back to their room. I was in the middle of the hallway, between my room and my brother’s, when my dad shouted, with disbelief: He’s dead?
Again, time goes very slow when nothing is happening to change something you don’t want it to be true but there is nothing you can do about it. Also, I don’t remember hearing voices for a while after hearing that. It was like: you won’t be able to hear anything else besides this. Over and over again. Even if I can’t recall, it is safe to say my mom was crying at this point. My grandparents were expected to arrive soon at our house.
Everyone has one of those actions that are just plain ridiculous when someone close to you dies. Mine was going to my upstairs neighbor who gave me rides to school to let him know I wouldn’t go to school the next day. I didn’t say why. I just said: Hey, wanted to let you know. Have a great Sunday. It is amazing how polite I was through the whole day. The amount of thank you’s would be like trying to compensate the darkness of my world and represent an attempt of throwing in some kindness.
Later, during the funeral, my neighbor would ask with a funny tone: why didn’t you tell us? I recoiled at the question. I answered that I didn’t know why. Now, I would elaborate this to something like: because it was something bad, but I didn’t know how bad it was and I was too afraid to explain or even voice the possibility of what was happening. He was perhaps trying to say: “if you had told, we could help”. But “how?”, is the reply that always remains.
A friend of the family came, along with my grandparents and my uncle. A plan was in motion in my mind and I was rooting for it: my uncle and my parents would go and unmask this charade – probably coming back with my brother and we could all laugh about it during a nightly barbecue. My grandparents would stay with me, my aunt and my two cousins. I asked three times if I could go with them – they said no. Hours passed. No news came. I kept calling his cellphone over and over again – it was off. Every dialing sound was a cry for help.
I started creating theories. His documents were stolen, probably. He is just sleeping somewhere. Perhaps his cellphone was stolen or forgotten. Nobody vanishes on thin air, he will show up. Stop worrying, you are so stupid, things will be okay. Let me call his cellphone again.
And then the house phone rang. Of course I jumped to answer it. It was my fucking house and nobody else would answer it besides me. My uncle said: “Hey, is grandpa there?”. I felt betrayed, but at the same time you leave all your feelings aside for the possibility of news. My grandfather didn’t say anything, he just listened as we all stared at him. He turned the phone off and looked down. He said: “It’s true. It’s him. He’s dead”.
I remember looking through the window and the first thing I can say, from my experience, you’ll feel when you hear disturbing news like this is that you start looking around for references of suffering. But you usually get angry because the world keeps on spinning. It’s unfair and fucked up, but it’s the way it is, what can I tell you? Nobody can comfort you; no one can feel that particular absence; no words are words enough. You learn that the universe does not owe you anything, let alone reason.
listening while writing: Sea Wolf – Neutral Ground