[Afterword, ‘Have you Seen Marie?’ by Sandra Cisneros 2012]
‘In Mexico they say when someone you love dies, a part of you dies with them. But they forget to mention that a part of them is born in you – not immediately, I’ve learned, but eventually, and gradually. It’s an opportunity to be reborn.
When you are in between births, there should be some way to indicate to all, ‘Beware, I am not as I was before. Handle me with care.’
I live in San Antonio… Behind my house the river is more creek than river…. It is calming and beautiful, especially when you’re sad and in need of big doses of beauty.
In the spring after my mother died, a doctor wanted to prescribe pills for depression. ‘But if I don’t feel,’ I said, ‘how will I be able to write?’ I need to be able to feel things deeply, the good and the bad, and wade through an emotion to the other shore, towards my rebirth. I knew if I put off moving through grief, the wandering between worlds would only take longer. Even sadness has its place in the universe.
I wish somebody had told me then that death allows you the chance to experience the world soulfully, that the heart is open like the aperture of a camera, taking in everything, painful as well as joyous, sensitive as the skin of water.
I wish somebody had told me to draw near me objects of pure spirit when living between births . My dogs. The trees along the San Antonio River. The sky and clouds reflected in its water. Wind with its scent of spring. Flowers, especially the sympathetic daisy.
I wish somebody had told me love does not die, that we can continue to receive and give love after death. This news is so astonishing to me even now, I wonder why it isn’t flashed across the bottom of the television screen on CNN.
I wrote this story… I wanted to be able to make something I could give those who were in mourning, something that would help them find their balance again and walk toward their rebirth…
I knew as I wrote this story that it was helping to bring me back to myself. It’s essential to create when the spirit is dying. It doesn’t matter what. Sometime it helps to draw. Sometimes to plant a garden. sometimes to make a valentine’s day card. Or to sing, or create an altar. Creating nourishes the spirit.
I’ve lived in my neighbourhood for over twenty years, longer than I’ve lived anywhere... Last April my neighbour, Reverend Chavana, passed away unexpectedly. His family surprised me by asking if I’d write his eulogy. I can’t make a casserole, but I felt useful during a time when I usually feel useless, I was grateful.
There is no getting over death, only learning how to travel alongside it. It knows no linear time. Sometimes the pain is as fresh as if it just happened. Sometimes it’s a space I tap with my tongue daily like a missing molar.
Say what they say, some may doubt the existence of God, but everyone is certain of the existence of love.’