Between Worlds on Halloween

I tend to get nostalgic around this time of the year. While everyone is celebrating, buying and eating candy, or coming up with great costume ideas and events, I’m simply waiting.

They say Halloween is the time of year when the dead is allowed to roam until winter sets in, visiting loved ones. It’s considered the thinning of the veil between the worlds. So I wait, to see if I’m worthy of one of those visits.

If this is true, I say, I’ve lost a few that I wouldn’t mind connecting with again. A few I long to see and talk to, who have already made their way into my writing and prose.

My mother-in-law passed away almost seven years ago. But if you ask me, it feels like Angela is always near. Although I’ve never dreamt of her, I think of her often, wondering if she’s able to really see from the other side. “Do you see us, Angela? You were right about just hanging on.” I wonder if she’s had a hand in keeping our love hold for so long.

She passed away after suffering several strokes. The last time I saw her, she was tied-up to a machine and unable to speak. I don’t really remember our last conversation. The second to last stroke shut her down almost indefinitely. But her last one – which she had quietly, alone in a nursing home in the Bronx – destroyed her brain. I ran to the hospital while Luis worked. He would meet me there later. One of Angela’s neighbor arrived before he did and stayed around to talk. But as soon as he got there, several doctors approached us, with some looking like they were just starting that day. They sent the newer one – with a thick Indian accent – to break down the news for us. “Over 50 percent of her brain is not working…” He said something else about how there was nothing else they could do, I think. Or maybe it was me who asked him. I’m not sure. Luis was there listening as well, except the words weren’t making sense to him. “What did he say? What does that mean?” I stared back blankly and before I knew he, he was hanging on to my shoulders. The neighbor, who understood very little English, asked me as well – her big eyes holding fast to the tears, “Que pasa? Que pasa?” I nodded.

Analia passed away a few months later. I met Analia years before she got cancer, when I interned for a trade publication that later hired me full-time as an assistant editor. She worked for the events department. Although our offices were far apart, we hit it off immediately, she would hang out often with my daughter, eat breakfast with my mom, visit family with me in Rhode Island. Her calm, all-knowing demeanor grounded my fast, sporadic energy. It was weird, I later thought when I started learning more about astrology, since she was an Aries and I the Taurus.

She moved to Canada a few years before she passed, shortly after getting diagnosed with cancer. She wanted to be closer to her family – her two siblings. I just thought she wanted to be home. We remained connected only through Facebook; probably my biggest regret. Even the last dream I had with her – about a month and a half before she passed away – I noted on Facebook.

Thinking of you… Posted this on Alicia’s wall too cause I had a dream that we were working in Lockwood (still). It was actually a very nice one…

I wish I could remember more details about the dream. I wonder what she would’ve said about it. She never replied back. I think she was too sick by then. I then decided to email her a week before she passed. Telling her how much I missed her and that another friend and I were planning on visiting her soon. I wanted her to hold on for that. I don’t know if she ever read it.

Then there was my Nena, who died five years ago, and is probably the most painful lost in my adult life yet. The last time I spoke to her, I did most of the talking, because she was comatose and unable to talk back. Although had suffered several strokes, which had left her bedridden far away in her daughter’s home in the Dominican Republic, she hummed in excitement when we spoke. She knew who I was, I thought.

Nena helped my mom raise me. I would often stay with her overnight. It was strange, or something made for a TV-sitcom: a school-aged child always wanting to be with a 60-something-year-old aunt. I still remember those days, because it was mostly spent us drinking coffee and watching novelas. When she wasn’t watching TV, she was admiring herself in her small handheld mirror or talking on the phone. At night, she would spend hours praying in quick whispers for what I assumed was everyone in the family. I would watch her from under the covers, the glare of her night clock beaming sharply against her face and beads. She almost always caught me though. “Acuéstate muchachita,” she would say. “Después mañana no te vas a querer levantar.”

Is there someone you wish you could dream about, have a conversation with or touch again?


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