My Life In India
Written August 2017.
September is nigh, which means that it is about time for another one of my updates. Like always, I find myself incredulous to believe that August is already wrapping up. It has been completely full and totally too fast; it has been exceptionally draining and magnificently generous in the sheer number of blessings I’ve received.
Considering all the things that have happened, I think I might just focus on the most significant. Because from it, so many beautiful blessings have poured into my life.
August 13, 2017
My dear sweet Grandma passed away at 92 years old. Words cannot express who this woman has been to me. Words cannot convey the depth of my love and the depth of my grief to be so far away from her during her final few days of life.
Allow me to steal words from my cousin, Matthew, who recently posted about her life:
Alice Pagan, 92, of Melbourne, Florida passed away on Sunday, August 13, 2017 peacefully in her home. Originally from Puerto Rico, she moved to Brooklyn, NY at age 20 and became a factory worker, where she eventually met her husband Arturo. They both decided to go to beauty school, which led them to open multiple beauty salons throughout the Bronx and Yonkers in the 1950's. Alice and Arturo started a family and finally purchased their dream home in New Rochelle, NY. There, they raised 5 children of their own, had 1 adopted son and fostered 8 children. Having at one time 11 children in there home. A home that always had its door open, a warm meal on the table and the security and comfort that so many kids needed. After raising her family my grandmother eventually went on to help establish the Westchester Hispanic Coalition. There she volunteered as a translator and assisted migrant workers and their families to attain basic needs to survive. She was paying it forward, for the help her family received some 40 years before.
Her life as my grandmother I can’t yet seem to sum up into words.
She is life and warmth and gentle, giving hands. She is the green ivy wallpaper in a clamoring kitchen. She is the memory of otherworldly high-pitched giggles as this little pig cried, “wee, wee, wee, all the way home.” She is both denture and dentureless smiles. She is so much more and I don’t have the words yet.
I keep getting stuck, when I think about her. When I think of her, I get stuck on her perfect arms and a small phrase. Her arms are a memory so engrained in me. I identify myself by her arms, by my knowing them. I am most grieved to know that I cannot hug her arms, I cannot rest my cheek against them, I cannot find myself inside her embrace.
Dios te bendiga. Among all the memories of her voice and laugh that flash into my mind, this one stands as the most significant. The one she lovingly spoke and insistently repeated the most. The one that I have come to cherish and depend on most.
I have hated the moments of anxiety that remind me that I also am incapable of predicting the future moments of my loved ones’ lives. These moments not only remind me that we are not promised our subsequent breath, but also that I am presently missing out on my family's everyday lives and journeys. I am missing out on their growing up and growing old and simple growing; I am missing out on the small and subtle changes that go into making who they are daily becoming.
Since her passing, there have truly been moments of such perfect goodness, I cannot help but be absolutely grateful for them. These moments are hope giving and life sustaining. These moments of friendship and kindness are so undeservedly saturated in divine sweetness and Holy Spirit comfort.
I am undeservedly blessed in moments with friends who’ve let me scroll through hundreds of photos of my Grandma. Of friends who have made themselves available to comfort me when I’ve asked. Of friends who have prayed for me, hugged me, made me laugh, noticed when tears were welling up and offered simple words.
I am undeservedly blessed in moments with my students—the loudest reminders that I am where God wants me to be.
I can't emphasize this enough, so perhaps I will just repeat it over and over. I am undeservedly blessed in moments with my students. I am undeservedly blessed in moments with my students.
I am undeservedly blessed.
I am anticipating that the full weight of losing her won't really sink in until I go back home and she isn't there.
And, again, August has been incredibly, incredibly full. Very full of Grandma in the most beautiful ways possible, because anything of her is always the most beautiful. The hardness of losing her comes forever and inseparably linked to and entwined with the goodness of memory and an abundance of comfort beyond measure. Memory and Comfort that I can sink into. The soft place to land and remain and sink deeply when I get stuck.
So I cannot begrudge my stuckness or the hardness of my grief, because of her arms and her words and my knowing them. My formation through them. I have come to understand the depth of pain of losing her as a good and generous symptom of her living and loving and being my Grandma. A good and generous symptom of having been built and grown up by those arms and those words.
I am undeservedly blessed.
All this to say, I expect that fluctuating between stuckness and forward momentum might continue for some time.
All this to say, my beautiful and perfect life is capsized and overtaken by the perpetual downpour of blessings that I receive: the moment to moment miracles of knowing and partaking in the lives of my students here.
All this to say, I love her.
Thank you for reading.
Dios Te Bengida,