Flying over Dallas

The 2am phone call always rings out in despair. When you have family overseas, no good news comes with a late night call. 

My parents and I learned of the passing of my cousin in Washington DC, at 2:12am Sunday morning via email from an uncle. Then the calls started, and the news shot across the Pacific.

Washington,

Baltimore,

El Salvador,

Long Island,

Australia. 

My first thought was disbelief. I didn’t really know my cousin, I had met him when I was younger and even then it came with the shyness akin to meeting a stranger. My aunt and uncle, his parents however, I had known for some time. My uncle looked much like my dad only with more melanin to his skin and wire frame glasses perched on his button nose. The same nose we all have. That my cousin had. 

My next thought went to my aunt and uncle. Their pain unimaginable, their minds inconsolable. I don’t dare try to imagine what they feel. 

Thirdly, I thought of my dad. He looked at me across the living room as he held his phone on loud speaker talking to his brother in DC. I looked back at him and I could read it all over his face. He was going overseas. I knew from the moment he sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose. I knew he wanted to be with his grieving brother. 

So that’s where my dad is now. Flying over Dallas Fort Worth.

And in the mayhem of planning an overseas journey in the space of 72 hours, I haven’t fully processed what this all means. What the passing of a family member really means. Because I may not have known him, but he was always there. We may not live close to our families. But they were always there. And now all of a sudden, there is one family member that isn’t there anymore. And he won’t be anymore. 

I sat on the floor of my bathroom mid panic attack wondering what would happen the day someone truly close to me leaves forever. And all I could think to do was hold my breath in the physical attempt at keeping the waves of panic at bay. And the longer I sat still and the longer I didn’t breathe, or didn’t open my mouth, the longer I could hold myself upright. But eventually I had to breathe, I had to let out the sigh of sadness that had built in my chest and clogged my airways with it’s thick fog and black smoke. So I exhaled, and with it came an outpouring of everything I had kept behind my eyes and locked under my tongue. There were screams and yells and tears and great shuddering heaves of anger and despair.

Once the waves had passed and the onslaught had calmed, I wanted to write what I felt. 

But the words evaded. 

I held the pen in my hand but everything was still a blur, like there was a cloud in front of my eyes; I knew where I wanted to go, but I couldn’t make out the path to get there. 

After days of trying to find the right words I eventually gave up. And I decided to write words for myself and not for an audience. I didn’t make it pretty or nice or pleasant. All I did was write down the incredible labyrinth of words I had failed to navigate in my head. And this is it. Whatever you’re reading now is what I wrote in my moment of sadness for my family. 

Now all I can think is, how beautiful it must feel to love someone and be loved simply by default. Simply because it is what your instinct tells you to do. I hope you have this feeling in your life as my cousin did.

Elena Luna