I was on the phone with a friend, talking about the separation between church and state… and shaking our heads at the silliness that arises when people give opinions about an issue without having enough information to truly know what they are talking about.
Our conversation was light and not serious at all, so I was scrolling through my friend’s Facebook while we talked. I could hear one of my friend’s children giggling on the background—the child had finished using the bathroom just to find out that there was no toilet paper, and had to leave the facilities in order to get a new roll.
It was April 18th and I had scrolled down to April 17th on my friend’s Facebook wall when I heard her kid yell, “Pants!” right before I read “RIP: Author Gabriel García Márquez dies.”
My friend was talking to me, soothing me, asking me if I was okay. I think I said I was fine. I was actually sobbing so hard that the toothache that had tortured me for days intensified. And I was giggling… and thinking, Oh dear Gabo, I had the image of a soiled-bottom kid running around with her pants around her ankles when I found out you died.
When I ended the phone conversation, I laughed—loudly and wildly and gleefully—because I knew that if G.G. Márquez had heard about what was in my mind when I learned of his death, he would roar. And he would probably turn the moment into a story; for “Life is not what one lived, but what one remembers and how one remembers it in order to recount it.”
I called a friend (let’s call him Jaws because he loved that nickname). Jaws was the one person who witnessed my only speechlessness moment—life didn’t prepare my mouth to say what it was supposed to when my eyes saw the writer that my brain and heart had always admired most.
I called Jaws… to share the story of the pants around the ankle and my mad laughter. After many fruitless contact attempts, I found out the day before G.G. Márquez’s death, Jaws had also left this world. I was told that he built a boat of fire. His strong hands, his lucid brain, and his loyal-till-the-end heart, sailed to the Underworld shrouded in flames.
People often speak of a person being in shock after hearing terrible news. They say things like, “She didn’t make a sound. Didn’t blink. She was frozen, wide-eyed, open-mouthed. Just gone, she was gone, and then she was laughing—loudly and wildly and gleefully—she was in shock.”
The death of one of the most brilliant writers of our times and the suicide of one of my best friends didn’t send me into shock. No. But I found myself thinking about everything I’ve ever known… You can say that when I learned about their deaths, my entire life flashed in front of my eyes.
I’m grieving. I’m thinking… There’ll be changes… I’m summoning well-lived moments to retell them as I remember them… to make them into stories.
See you when I see you, Jaws and Gabo. I’m a better me because you lived to tell the tale.
Gabriel José de la Concordia García Márquez (6 March 1927 – 17 April 2014)
image via, The Telegraph