Salsa de Chisme, de Mi Querida Abuela

My mom was there and my dad was there. we were in this place, it was very warm and there was a tint of amber. I couldn’t see who was speaking, but someone told us that they were going to wake up Abuelo and Abuela. I was confused because they had both passed on. but they said, yes, we are waking them up so you can see them and say goodbye one more time. I am so confused and to be quite honest, a little freaked out. I didn’t understand what was happening, but I looked at my mom and she told me everything will be okay, don’t be scared, it is just Abuelo and Abuela like they were here with us before they passed. So, I said okay and I walked in the room. Both of them were there on the beds, awake. my Abuelo was standing like he used to when I was younger, but a younger version of himself and my Abuela was just looking at me with care in her eyes. They both looked plump and alive. I hear my Abuelo say my name like he used to—“Janda!! Janda!!”. 

When I was younger, he would say my name and sometimes he would hand me a chile and say “no pica, no pica” or sometimes it would be a plant that he would playfully put in my hair. That is what I felt when he said my name in the dream—“Janda!! Janda!!”. 

I was with them for what felt like a long time, just sitting there with them. I then heard my phone ringing and I put my phone to my ear and I heard my cousin on the other end, but she only said “hello” and then I heard my toxic uncle. He said, “We can’t have a viewing for my mother, we can’t. It is my birthday that day. I don’t want it that day, I won’t let it happen”. I knew these were lies, so I immediately went to look for my dad to tell him what I heard. so, I ran and ran till I could get to my dad–I needed him to know the truth. but it felt like my dad was just getting further and further away and I couldn’t reach him and then I stopped.

There was a moment where I looked up, and the voice told me that my Abuelos had to go rest now and that I should go say goodbye. I went and saw my Abuelo smiling at me and my Abuela grabs me like she used to and squeezes me and gives me one of her besotes and then they leave. I am then on this hill and I feel people around me. people that I know, but the only person I see is my childhood friend. she says your grandparents are now resting, do you want to go and see them? I feel afraid, but we walk to their grave and I see both of their coffins. they are both open like they have just laid back to rest. I start to get sad and afraid and I say “no, I’m too scared, I don’t want to see them like this” and my friend says “that’s okay, they are okay now. we can walk back”. I start to run away and just like that my eyes open.

Ay Abuela, I miss you so much. Abuelo, Abuela—te extraño mucho. Te Amo. Estoy cansada y triste. I love you both so much and miss you so very deeply.

Salsa de Mis Ancestros- Made con amor by my Dad and I

“How are you?” has been the most overused question of this year or perhaps even longer, and i have to say—I am no longer fond of this question. there is no right way to answer this, and it just feels like the polite thing to say now in days, but it has become so redundant and overused that i don’t really even think of it as a question anymore, more like a reflex. “how are you?” “I’m good, you?” and, then, proceed to move on to whatever conversation. reality is: I am not good–I am trying to survive; I am grieving, I am holding space for myself at the moment. I am learning what healing looks like for myself because I am not really sure what that looks like. It seems every time I grow a new bud, I drop another leaf and that leaf could be something that I was desperately holding onto for so long, but I no longer had the space for it. which is very gripping to come to terms with. The truth is, I am hurting. with every new piece of growth that comes out of me comes with an open wound that was forgotten. 

My Abuela just recently passed away this past January 2021–unexpectedly. My partner was on the phone with his Abuelita, who lives in Mexico. he got off the phone, and he told me that in their conversation; she expressed that it feels as though they are killing off the older generation. there has been a lot of grief over the past year–so heavy that everyone just couldn’t process what was happening. grief of family, friends, ways of living, travel, concerts, celebrations of birthdays and holidays etc. the list is endless. well, the truth is–I am angry and sad and frustrated and anxious and all the feelings. I can’t anymore. there needs to be more solutions to unanswered questions, but there isn’t.

Since my abuela past, there is a lot of trauma on that side of the family- definitely a toxicness that lives in me that is something that i have tried to avoid at all costs. a family that has valued money and education status above everything. you are not successful if you don’t acquire those two things to their expectations. anxiety levels have heightened in this household, and I pray to my ancestors that we are protected from any harm they continue to cause us. our energy has been depleting the moment we found out about my abuela back in January. when it comes to them, the feelings that come are numbness. words that were said have cut so deep that time still has not eliminated that pain. Now, these are people (supposed tias, tios, nina, nino) that have caused my family and I a lot of pain. My brother and I were often told that we were getting “too chubby”. my favorite is when they would get us clothes for Christmas that were 2 sizes smaller than our regular size. I have seen them torment my brother in which they felt was “all in fun,” but it wasn’t fun when they made us both cry numerous times. there was one time when I was about 16 years old where things had started to get really bad, and we were slowly distancing from them and I had gone over to one of their houses–I will say that I was only coming to terms with the toxicness around this time–but she would not stop saying these horrible things about my parents: saying they are not smart, that my dad is an asshole, and literally venting to me about how terrible my parents were and in that moment I had felt the most uncomfortable because I was place in this position, well for what? Was she trying to turn me against my parents? What was the intent behind this? I just could not understand why she would be telling me these things as though I am not going home to my parents right after this? 

A few years after this, history repeated itself, the only difference was that it was in front of family members, me and my parents. I said something this time, holding her accountable to things she was saying under our roof and to focus on my Abuela (it was her 80th birthday). She has avoided me since then. 

Being around them is like constantly being a victim of adultism. there is a superiority over the cousins in the family. they needed the control over us, so often times I was told “you’re too young to understand” or “listen to me because I have the education you don’t have” this type of “know it all” dynamic that oppresses the kids (even into adulthood) that we know nothing and our opinions do not matter because they still see us as this younger generation, but why couldn’t we be worthy of our opinions in that present time? that is something I often ponder: if these “adults” are really “adults” then why are they acting below their age? Why are they not willing to learn new things? why won’t they take accountability for their actions? Why do they expect us to apologize if they choose not to apologize for the harm they’ve caused? What does “adulting” even mean at this point? 

As a society, we are so quick to assume that the younger generation is better at technology and social media because we are “young”. but, the truth is, age has absolutely nothing to do with knowledge or experience because your brain is always trying to soak up new information, that in itself is a huge part of the human experience because no one has the answers to everything–there is no right way or perfect person that knows everything. my abuela had a 3rd grade education; yet, she raised 8 kids on her own while my abuelo was working in the US. She is also the reason why they all got to spend a good part of their growing up here. SHE FUCKING DID THAT!! you don’t need an institution to tell you that you are smart, intelligent or knowledgable. knowledge comes from an assortment of your own experiences and storytelling of others. whatever knowledge you possess is unique to you and that is your superpower. 

My abuela’s knowledge held a truth of love and resilience, something that was often overlooked over the years. she wanted to be heard, she wanted her magic to be known. her magic was true, her magic was love, her magic was and continues to be powerful. This magic was passed on to generations after her and I can feel her magic running through my veins. 

maybe she feared she wouldn’t be remembered in the conventional way, but abuela made sure her presence was known because you could hear her through all the things that she loved in life. to live unabashedly and without fear was one of the lasting lessons she left me and I chose to honor that because that was her truth. 

this is my truth and i want to speak my truth, con amor. I am choosing to hold space for my anger, my grief, my trauma, my healing–the only difference now is that I am not going to apologize for my truth, I will own it because this is my way of being a voice for my ancestors that couldn’t speak their truth. 

Un mesaje a mi Abuela:

Querida Abuela,

To know your historias is to know your embodiment of amor and resilience. You moved in a fearless and unapologetic sway, so that we will always remember you and the path you paved. 

Abuela, your love transcends the moment I was in your presence and you showed that in so many ways: Through your abrazos fuertes, your besotes, or su cantar. No hay fin para su amor a su familia. Dirijo con amor. Su amor was profound–not just for your children, but para sus generaciones que vienen. When you lead with that much love from your heart, other people are drawn to that. Su amor abrió puertas para oportunidades y sueños que eran más profundos de lo que imaginaba. 

You knew so much more than we could ever know. You found ways to be seen and tell your story because you wanted us to know your history. 

Abuela, you were perfectly imperfect, but that was your lesson to us–you never apologized for anything. You were never ashamed of who you were or where you came from. Abuela, espero honrar su espíritu y en todas las maneras en que la recuerdo. Everytime I wear bright and colorful clothes, when I wear my chunky rings (i know you loved all your rings), when i paint my nails a bright purple or pink, when i clean the house, when I am in kitchen making salsa (especially con mi papa, he cooks and moves in the kitchen just like you did), even when I listen to your favorite songs:

“…Caminos de Michoacán

Y pueblos que voy pasando

Si saben en dónde está

Porque me la están negando…”

The sacrifices you made to come here were so important and pivotal to your family because if you hadn’t done that, we wouldn’t be here today. 

Su espiritu and your imparted knowledge and wisdom will forever live within us, so that I will continue to be a catalyst for your historia to be heard and to honor you with the love you gave us unconditionally. 

Te amo para siempre, Abuela. 

Con mucho amor y un abrazo fuerte, 

Su nieta, Alejandra

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