Adolfo Pumarejo

Photographer
  
(the last 48 hours of my abuela)
Location: Tampico, Mexico
Nationality: Mexican-American
Biography: Adolfo Pumarejo is a mexican-american photographer currently living in Tampico, Mexico. He has been working in several proyects since 2013 when he first began street photography.  As of 2015, he has  continuously  been working on... read on
Public Story
(the last 48 hours of my abuela)
Credits: adolfo pumarejo
Date of Work: 04/01/20 - 04/03/20
Updated: 04/07/20
Abuelita, Grandma,

Some nights I would observe you from your room’s door while you laid down, alone, on your bed. From there, I admired your humanity; your wrinkles skin would tell me the story of your life and your facial expressions would let me know what you were thinking. Unintentionally, you would share with me and make me feel emotions which could not be replicated by anyone else. Watching you, the way I describe it, made me understand in its deepest and purest form what the beauty of being alive meant. 

One day, however, when I moved in to your house on Tampico in 2016, the eternal truth hid in a faraway corner while looking at me. From its place, and without saying a word, it made me understand everything: “You are going to lose her one day.” Ever since, I had present in my mind, like a bug, the fear of waking up one day and having to live such an atrocious moment. 

I would try to ignore and hide that idea inside a drawer in the deepest parts of my mind. Even if you were 89 years old, I would often tell myself you wouldn’t leave so soon, it would happen some day far away from the present, and that you still had many experiences left to live. 

But it didn’t happen like that. 

Today, on april 4th of 2020 and me being a mere 22 years old, 2 days have passed since, as they say, “you’ve moved on to a better life” and, indirectly, you made me confront what I had always tried to avoid: the day of your death. 

I always thought that when that day arrived I would have prepared a strongly worded speech for your mass which would offer deep life lessons which my family would remember forever. I always thought I would cry tears enough to fill a river and that I would miss you a lot. I even lead myself to believe that experiencing your loss would so much to bear that I would want to be alone and would not be able to accompany our family in your funeral. 

This very moment, while I find myself writing this and living through one of my biggest fears, I realize that nothing has gone or felt the way I expected it to.

The day before you left me you left me with a memory I will hold close to me forever. Even though you couldn’t communicate verbally with others hours before you passed away, you made the effort to do it through facial expressions. 

That moment I wanted to tell you and let you know a thousand things, but I knew I didn’t have that luxury. Above everything, I chose to tell you the one and most important thought to me at the moment. Even though I didn’t know that that would be the last question you would be able to answer me, I asked you, 

“Grandma, I love you a lot. You are aware I love you a lot, right?” 

Slowly, you looked at my eyes and moved your head up and down saying yes and mumbling “Mhmm.” With that, I left you in order to do other things. 

Later that day I came back to be alone with you. With no one else next to us, I attempted to ask you things in order to to receive one last signal of recognition from you. As much as I tried, though, you had no more energy to offer me that. Instead, you offered me the signal that it was time for me to say goodbye. Even though I cried next to you and did not want to accept the reality of the situation, I did not despair. I reminded myself that, if you did not wake up the next day and left me forever, at least you would have done it knowing what you truly meant to me. Accepting that made me feel at peace and calm, I no longer felt the need to cry, I no longer felt the need to be as dramatic as I thought I would be. 

Now I am in ecstasy, I am proud of you, and not to be cynical, but I am even a little jealous. I recognize that you have now reached a place that we mortal secretly dream of but can’t comprehend: to be and swim within the eternity and infinity of the universe, outside the pressures of time, chaos, and man’s consciousness, a completely free soul. 

This being said, I can finally let you go. We are ok, there are no problems or grudges between us. Both of us know what we felt for one another, and that’s all that matters. Even though I can no longer talk to you, you are still alive to me. All that which we lived together will forever be lit in my memories like a strong campfire. 

Like I always told you and I tell you again now, this isn’t goodbye forever... I will see you later. 

Adolfo 



Abuelita,

Hubo varias noches que te observaba desde la puerta de tu cuarto mientras estabas acostada, sola, en tu cama. De ahí, admiraba tú humanidad; las arrugas de tu piel me contaban la historia de tu vida y tus expresiones faciales me decían lo que estabas pensando. Sin querer, me compartías emociones que ninguna otra persona en este mundo podía replicar. Verte, como lo expreso, me hacia entender en su forma mas profunda y pura lo que era la belleza de vivir.

Pero un día, cuando llegué a vivir contigo en Tampico el 2016, se asomó de una esquina la verdad eterna y dolorosa. Me vio a los ojos y sin decir nada me hizo entender todo: “algún día la perderás.” Desde entonces tuve presente en mi cabeza, como un bichito, el temor de despertar y tener que vivir ese momento tan atroz.

Yo trataba de ignorar y esconder esa idea dentro de un cajón en las profundidades de mi mente. Aunque tuvieras 89 años, a menudo me decía que no te irías próximamente, era algo lejano, faltaban muchos años para eso y te hacían falta experiencias que vivir.

Pero no fue así.

Hoy, el 4 de abril del 2020 y a mis 22 años, han pasado ya 2 días desde que, como dicen, “pasaste a mejor vida” y me obligaste a enfrentar lo que siempre quise evitar: tu muerte. Siempre creí que cuando ese día llegara tendría preparado para tu misa un gran sermón con palabras fuertes y lecciones profundas que marcarían a mi familia.

Siempre creí que lloraría ríos de mis ojos y que te extrañaría mucho. Incluso llegué a creer que seria tan fuerte la experiencia de perderte que no sería capaz de acompañar a mi familia en tu funeral.

Por lo contrario, ahorita que me encuentro escribiendo esto, nada fue como lo que esperé.

Justo antes de irte me dejaste con algo que recordaré por siempre. A pesar de que la noche antes de fallecer no pudieras comunicarte verbalmente, te esforzaste de hacerlo con tus expresiones faciales.

Te quería decir de todo en el momento, pero una pregunta en especifico erá la mas importante para mi. Sin saber que sería lo ultimo que me contestarías te pregunté,

“Abuela, te quiero mucho. Si, sabes que te quiero mucho, ¿verdad?”

Me viste a los ojos, lentamente moviste tu cabeza de arriba hacia abajo diciendo si y murmullando “Mhmm.”

Más tarde ese mismo día, quedé a solas contigo. Intenté volver a preguntarte cosas para poder recibir una ultima muestra de reconocimiento hacia mi de tu parte, pero ya no podías darme ese lujo. Al contrario, me diste la señal de que era hora de despedirme. Lloré a tu lado y me negué a aceptarlo, pero no me frustré. Me hice recordar que, si ya no despertabas y te ibas por siempre, al menos entendías el valor que yo te tenía. Aceptar esto me dejó tranquilo y no volví sentir la necesidad de llorar, no sentía la necesidad de ser tan dramático como creí que iba a ser.

Ahora estoy en éxtasis, orgulloso de ti, y no por ser cínico, pero incluso un poco celoso. Reconozco que has llegado a un lugar que nosotros los vivos anhelamos en secreto pero no podemos comprender: el ser nadando dentro de la eternidad e infinito del universo, en paz, fuera la presión del tiempo, el caos, y la consciencia del hombre, un alma completamente libre.

Dicho todo, finalmente te puedo dejar ir. Estamos bien, no hay problema ni rencores. Ambos sabemos lo que sentíamos el uno por el otro. Aunque ahora no pueda hablar contigo, sigues viva para mí, las experiencias que creé contigo estarán encendidas en mi memoria por siempre como una fuerte fogata.

Te lo dije y te lo vuelvo a decir, esto no es un adiós… solo un hasta luego.

Adolfo
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