My nana’s house has been the family hub since before I was born.
After church, we’d go over to nana’s house for breakfast, donuts and coffee, which would turn into nap time, and then into the nighttime parties at her house. Located in historic downtown Tucson, it was one of the very first houses built. When you walked in the doors, you could feel the love in the house.. smell the fresh frijoles and tortillas on the stove, and marvel at all of the family photos, ancient details (wrought iron, crafted by my Tata himself, hidden hallways and wooden ceilings), saints and candles.
When the parties would begin, family would flood through the house and backyard until the middle of the night. The food and drinks would be never-ending, and I’d often fall asleep to the sounds of mariachis and laughter. Even when I was so small, I always knew how special and fun it was at nana’s house.
My nana passed away last week, and we’ve been grieving together and spending time just how she would have loved to see it. We’ve been sitting around a bonfire in the backyard, sipping beers, and playing mariachi music way too loudly. Even though she’s no longer there, I can still picture her coming outside to say “Shhh! Ya sobra! Come inside, it’s too cold.” When we haven’t been outside by the bonfire, we’ve been huddled inside, listening to stories about the “good old days” and making family photo boards to document her beautiful life.
It’s been hard for me to say goodbye to someone I love so much, yet I feel so blessed that I had her in my life for so long, and that Livi got to know her.
I debated writing this post, because I felt like nothing I could say would able to accurately express how beautiful my nana was: her mannerisms; her cooking; her joyful attitude; how warm her hugs felt; how much she loved being surrounded by the family she created; how insanely fun those parties were at her house. I didn’t want to write anything at all, but rather sit in the numbness that I’m feeling, the sadness in my heart, and continue to go one as normally as possible. I haven’t really cried since she passed away, but was sobbing when they took her to the hospital two Saturdays ago.
I was leaving my usual yoga class, and had a missed phone call from my mom to tell me nana had been taken to the hospital. The Pilot already knew what was going on, so he continued to take Liv to a birthday party (where I was originally going to meet them after yoga), and I drove straight to the hospital. When I got there, my heart was broken. Even though it was devastating to see her in pain, we were happy they were going to let her go home and enjoy her last days with family in her own comfy bed. My nana told me not to remember my nana (her mom) like she was in the hospital. She said “remember your happy nana.” I feel her energy with me, and my last yoga class, a week after the hospital incident, it was hard for me to believe how much had changed in that entire week.
We were there the night she passed away, after the U of A basketball game. We left a couple of hours before she peacefully went to another world, at her home, with so many people who loved her. She was the youngest 98… still cracking jokes, scolding us for being loud (even though she loved the noise and laughter), and having dessert first (the family motto), even when she was sick. She knew how loved she was, and while she lived a long and beautiful life, it doesn’t make it any less sad or any easier. I got to hold her hands, kiss her forehead one last time, and tell her how much I love her.
We miss you, nana. For the rest of my life, I’ll carry your energy with me… and pray that I can leave behind a legacy half as beautiful as your own.