​Tía Blanca

I woke up with my workday alarm. New day, new month, new job. It was the first day at my newest gig, in the summer of 2019. I turned on the data switch on my iPhone and was surprised by the amount of WhatsApp messages I had received during the night. They were from my sister and my mom. This couldn’t be good, I felt. I was, unfortunately, right. My dad’s only sister had past away. In a regular, boring day, I would have actually paid the adequate attention to what has just happened; but I was already completely stressed out by this day. So I shrugged it off and moved along.
The day was pretty hectic, so it went by quite fast. At 4:30 PM I was already closing my laptop lid and getting ready to go meet my, at the time, girlfriend. As I biked to hers, the fog in which I stored my emotions for the day started dissipating. Only a quarter of an hour later, I was kissing C at her door. I came in her living room, took off my backpack and sat at her couch. “How did it go on your first day?” she asked. Her question vanished in the background noise of my mind. “Feliz cumpleaños, mijito. ¿Cuánto cumple?” my aunt Blanca asked me, every single year, over the phone on my birthday. She never missed one. “Happy birthday, my dear. How old are you now?”
“My aunt died last night,” I managed to say, and then broke down crying. It must have been ten, fifteen, twenty minutes. I lost track of time. C sat, silently, next to me. I put my head on her lap and, as she quietly brushed my hair through her fingers, I weeped uncontrollably.
I was never particularly close to my aunt, for apparently an unspoken rule in my family is not to be close to each other. But I did know her way better than the rest of the Hernández, because she babysat me and my siblings, when we were very young. She was never the affectionate type and she cursed and smoked a lot. But she cooked well and let us do whatever the fuck we wanted, as far as we got off her back. It was a sweet deal for a kid. Also, it was quite hilarious seeing here soak her feet in hot water with chlorine; her secret formula to keep fungus and hardened skin at bay. As it was also funny how she always took home all of our newspapers, just to save money on toilet paper. What a hardcore woman that was. Or just cheap and poor. Or both.
Although her death after losing her battle to cancer was to be expected, it hit me way harder than I anticipated. As I sat at C’s couch, after having a quick memento of one my my brief, awkward birthday phone calls with my aunt; I suddenly realized I was never gonna hear her voice again. And that, the previous night, I just lost one of the few people in the world that gave a fuck about me. That I was, from one day to the other, way more alone than the day before. And that was dreadful, sad and horrifying. So I held on to C, tight, in this silent moment of tears and despair. Sank my face between her legs, as if to hide from this pain. Feeling the warmth of her strong hands on my head, I let myself go onto her. And I felt safe, protected against everyone and everything, for as long as this moment of sublime fragility spanned.
I loved her. So fucking much.
It feels like it was yesterday. Now tears won’t stop streaming down my face, while my fingers keep typing and my second glass of Italian red wine rests by my side on the couch. And maybe it’s the alcohol speaking, or my vulnerability flashback, but I can’t help asking the big questions into whomever gets to read these words: What do we love when we love someone? Do we love our idea of them? Do we love who they are or represent? Or do we simply love moments like these, when they quietly sit there by our side, while our world comes crashing down, as if they could save us from the debris falling from the skies in the last stretch of Judgement Day?

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