|Foto de Marta Ramos|
The call of death
By Manny López
Dying is the same as moving from one house to a much more beautiful house...
- Elisabeth Kübler-Ross
For months and months I have felt the darkness of death near me. I can recall almost all the occasions when it felt like it was a matter of minutes. It wasn’t my death I was worried about. I have died on almost two occasions, and I am still here. The death that lingered, and still does is aimed at my friend, poet Elena Tamargo. Presently she is hospitalized in a hospice, where she is unconscious, and waiting for death to catch up to her… eventually.
I have pretended to be ready for the inevitable, however day by day it becomes more difficult to realize that my confidant, my friend, my teacher is not going to be around to critique my poetry, to guide me to the right path in life, to recommend a book. I am going to miss our endless telephone calls and daily emails…our Sunday escapades. Although I know the process and all that comes with it; one never fully feels ready to accept death. Maybe I am a selfish person, but I want her near me, as always.
Yesterday, I began printing the emails sent back and forth that were still active in my AOL account. The thread began on November 2009 until this past October 22 when I received the last email from Elena. There were over 400 emails, and it was impossible to stop reading them. On January 2011, while I was in Italy, she wrote to me to hurry and come home. She had a dream where she is really thirsty, yet she does not drink any water, waiting for me to bring it to her. This really scared me; for she knew that far in advance that she was dying. Maybe I did too.
I lit a candle for her in every church I visited, and I carried her message, which read, “ I want a miracle” to Saint Francis, and Saint Clara. When I was in Peggy Guggenheim’s garden I stood in front of her Wishing Tree that Yoko Ono had donated to the museum and wrote down Elena’s wish, and clipped it to the highest branch I could reach for. Hanging there, the sunlight stroke the white paper; this gave off this incredible luminous glare. I was sure her wish, and my plea would help cure my friend.
When things got bad Elena would look at me in the eyes, and with this girlish grin ask me, “ Am I going to die?”… I always gave her the same response, over and over like a broken record, I always replied, “Only the people who have no future plans in life die, and you have so many… you won’t”. I became a compulsive liar when in the company of my dear friend. Anytime the subject of death came up, I would turn it around. Instead I made her promise to get better, to eat well, and to accompany me in a trip to Antigua to visit her dear friend, the Guatemalan poet, Maya Cu. We talked about various projects we had in mind. We had endless talks about our future, mines… and hers.
One night I was very down, and she was too, yet she listened to me patiently, and afterwards said to me, “…we need to have a plan, we both cannot be sad at the same time. If I am sad, you need to help me out of that, and vice versa.” That is exactly what we have been doing, rescuing each other and easing the pain we each were dealing with.
I have spent my entire life looking for an accomplice in the form of a partner, a lover. Life and its many mysteries takes you by surprise. It wasn’t until recently that finally it materialized in the form of a partner, however since our first encounter Elena and I became just that… accomplices. She has been my most fierce defender time and time again.
This past weekend I was contacted by the Miami Book Fair International, where she was going to be presenting a book with other poets. They asked if I wanted to participate by reading her poetry since it was impossible for her to be there. I agreed, because she had called me days before in the middle of the night, agitated, saying I needed to cover for her at the Fair Presentation. I agreed because it is an honor to read her work. But most important I agreed because her voice needs to carry on.
She knows I am going to be reading on Sunday. I have told her. She cannot talk, but she hears me… when I read to her Hölderlin's Hymns, or when I consult with her on the poems I am going to be reading Sunday, or when I tell her that everything will be alright.
Death is right around the corner; however I am not afraid of it anymore. A couple of nights ago I told her that I had come to bring her water, that she did not need to be thirsty anymore...that she didn’t need to be afraid anymore. I am depositing all my energy out there, in the Universe, for it to do as it is supposed to do. Whatever that is, Elena Tamargo will never be absent.
We have plans, she and I…