Two years ago today I got a text from Laura asking if I had heard the news. I responded with a ‘what news? You’re making me nervous. Haha!’ Because, surely, the news was going to be that she was going to Honduras on an earlier flight or that someone got in trouble for doing something ridiculous. I still remember ever so clearly the place I was in the house when the words came out of her mouth. I remember where I was when we got off the phone and I curled up in a ball on the floor and cried. And the spot in the hallway when my best friend answered my call and I blurted out “Chon is dead”.
Two whole years. In so many ways it feels like it’s not possible that it’s been so long. And yet, this morning I was wishing I had my hard drive with older pictures and videos so I could watch some and remember what his voice sounded like. I only vaguely remember his laugh. (Although, I most definitely remember that it was wonderful.) Instead, I have this picture that I swiped from Adonay’s wall of a much, much happier time in Chon’s life. Kills me a little to see the massive amount of light and life in those eyes and that smile.
I went to the cemetery this morning to do some journaling and praying and maybe a little chatting with the cement grave in which his name is sloppily and incorrectly carved. How can he be honored today? This year? He’s not coming back, but there’s this something inside me that still wants to do something for him. What can I do? After throwing around a few ideas, I settled on this one:
Love and help those that he loved.
Oh, wow, that’s one of the easiest goals I’ve ever had.
You see, even though it will never stop being sad that he is gone, watching the people he loved grow and change has been immensely joyful.
Rigo has fully and entirely become a teenager. (Which, of course, brings some fears of getting through these next few years.) But he’s looking more and more like Chon and he loves hearing it. I love hearing him talk about Chon at the most random of times. Out of the blue, I’m suddenly hearing a story about when they were little. Or I’ll see him lead a volunteer over to his stuff, pull out an album and show her all of the pictures of him.
Manuel. I could write a book about this child. Before March 21, 2013 I purposely avoided getting to know him because he has the same personality and stubbornness as Chon and I couldn’t handle the war of wills with another child brimming over with promise. Yeah, that has since changed. He has done incredible work in dealing with what has happened. He can still be stubborn, but it’s astonishing how much his path changed after Chon died. He’s not perfect and he’s not a saint, but my heart regularly swells to the point of bursting with how proud I am of his decisions, his way of thinking and his ability to communicate.
Yami. The mother of his child. She thinks she looks like a dork in her uniform, but I’m so happy that she’s studying that I just had to snap a few pictures. They are still so very poor, but she’s striving to get to the point where she can sustain her little family. She’s so young and so beautiful and yet hasn’t found the need to find someone to take Chon’s place. I’m so grateful for this. (Mainly because new boyfriends don’t often look kindly on old boyfriend’s child.)
And then there’s Kaylee. Or as some say – Choncita. (Little Chon.) This little one…. I want to give her the whole world. I want her to know that her dad was so wonderful. I want her know that all of her sass and stubbornness and confidence comes straight from him. And I want to do everything possible to make sure that history does not repeat itself.
Four years ago this month, I spent a significant amount of time taking pictures of the grandes doing backflips in a nearby swimming hole. Chon took advantage of every opportunity to push me in the water or get my attention for me to watch how long he could hold his breath. These are probably my favorite days I had with him because he dropped all of his teenage angst and rebellion and would spend afternoons being a carefree child once again. Yesterday, I spent the day with Manuel and many of the current grandes, filling old flour sacks with dirt and rock to dam up the river and create the swimming hole again. How fitting that felt. How fitting it is to be here at this time. In a few minutes, I’ll leave here and go up to the mountain to see if they want more sacks. I’ll hopefully go with Rigo to spend some time with Yami and Kaylee. The boys have said that they don’t want to even remember the date that Chon died, so I won’t say anything to anyone about what today is.
But they’ll be together and I’ll be with them.
There is nowhere else I would rather be.