Have you ever had someone in your life and all of a sudden, in a second they are gone from your life?
Age 16 on the eve of junior prom
His name was Alejandro. He was my next door neighbor. My other two neighbors would spend a huge amount of time daydreaming about him. We would watch him leave the house, watch him play basketball and giggle about him everyday.
Time has blurred his features and I no longer remember much except for his wily frame and cool demeanour. His mother was odd , and eccentric with purple / brown hair and contagious laugh. I remember sitting next to her as she joked about her divorce. She treated me like I was her age, and it was odd and exciting.
Watching Alejandro from afar was a favorite pastime of Natalia and I. Who was he? What did he do? We passed the time on those lazy summers trying to find out. There had been another neighbor, who wore tight fitting mini skirts and whom boasted about her exploits with him who might have gotten farther. But we weren’t like her, so we never talked to him much.
Junior prom was right around the corner. I was excited, and had a crushed velvet dress made specially for the occasion. There was no one who I wanted to invite so one day, on a dare I blurted out to Alejandro as he was about to leave , his hands grasping his basketball
You want to go to the prom with me?
He told me he would. I was ecstatic, and I thought of all the things that would happen that night. All those naive possibilities that a young dramatic writer’s mind can do. A couple days before prom, Alejandro told me had to cancel because it was his mother’s birthday. I thought he had made up the excuse. I was so angry at him I stormed away , my heart in shreds. Luckily, my best friend Jesus was able to take me to prom. ( I was so disappointed over Alejandro I don’t know if I ever thanked him properly for this ” save” so thank you Jesus- now a reputed psychiatrist for that)
As I went to prom, his mother on her birthday went to a gas station and shot herself in the head.
I never saw Alejandro again, never glimpsed the outline of his back as he left for school, never saw him playing basketball.
He was gone. Tragedy struck and he moved away and that was that.
I think of this suddenly today, randomly. For there are people who come into your life for brief moments in time, and affect the fabric of our stories in small and significant ways.
There was another boy named Cesar. I don’t remember much about him other than the fact that he loved to laugh. He died drowned in a lake when he was 17. Another girl died a victim of drunk driving named karina. Recently, a friend I had not talked to in ten years killed himself.
It is so odd, and so tragic how much we cherish people when they are gone. How we would never think to speak ill of the dead, yet we are so insistent on speaking ill of them when they are gone. For me, death is not a tragedy, it is only a means to be liberated from this material plane. What is tragic is how little we cherish the moments that are gifts…
I think of Alejandro as an example of someone that I never got to know enough based on my own silly fears. Maybe he was just a boy, maybe he was a friend… Things change so quickly that I never had the time to find out.