Before I moved to Boston in 02, I lived with my maternal grandparents in Rio de Janeiro. I spent weekends over at my paternal grandparents house, hanging out with my cousins and occasionally seeing my father. Those were lovely days, filled with long hours of playing with the fam and not a single care in the world. Time was irrelevant, responsibilities were nonexistent, and everyday we played outside from 9 am to dusk. I loved spending weekends there; it was almost as if nothing could go or ever would go wrong.
Life, however, is fragile and though we may take it for granted, every waking moment is a blessing.
It was a warm autumn night on April Fool’s Day. My cousins and I were making silly April Fool’s jokes, each trying to one up the other. Eventually my grandmother, who was very patient woman, heard enough of it and put us to bed. My sister and my little cousin slept with her on the bed, while my other cousin and I slept on a mattress spread out on the floor. The night was quiet until the wee hours of the morning when the phone rang. No one got up. The phone rang again. This time my older cousin and I were both up, but still no one picked up the phone. The third time my cousin opened the door and ran to pick the phone up, letting in the dawn’s first light. She ran back to the room and woke my grandmother up, telling her she had an urgent phone call.
I looked up and asked my cousin, “What happened?” She shrugged and put her index finger to her mouth. While my sister and my little cousin were asleep, my older cousin and I were both at the doorway trying to eavesdrop on the conversation. My grandmother picked up the phone and said, “Hello” there was a brief pause and then it happened: she wailed! A long piercing scream that made every hair on my body stand up. After that scream, the tears started flowing. My cousin and I ran over to see what was wrong. My grandmother was on the floor crying with her hands cupping her face. We tried and tried to get an answer out of her, to see what was wrong but she didn’t come around for a good five minutes, and when she did she only could only manage two words, “My son.”
She cried that whole morning. I couldn’t grasp the pain she was feeling, the love a mother has for her child, I don’t think I ever truly will.
Later in the day as people started to stroll in the apartment I found out my uncle and aunt had died in a car crash in the early hours of the morning on April 2nd, 2000. May they rest in peace. It was the first time someone I knew had passed away. With their deaths so came the death of my innocence, the shell that protected me from harm was gone, and my eyes were open to how unforgiving and cruel this world can actually be.