First it was my father, he confused the nights with the days, he stopped remembering me and one night his heart stopped. Then it was my mother, a stroke and many years of ill-cared illnesses ended the life of the person who loved me the most. Yesterday was my sister, my only sister.
We had not seen each other since the last century, since I left in search of another life, without knowing that what was left behind would never return. We were different, she always functioned as the mother who scolded, the one who disciplined. He insisted that I do things right, he checked my spelling, he corrected my dance steps: “Mark, Edua, mark. If you don’t mark, you don’t seem to know how to dance.”
Through her I met the Beatles, very forbidden in that Cuba where I grew up, and Lupe with her “Theater … yours is pure theater.” He hated her for her strict sense of order, everything organized, everything classified, everything in its place … did he hate her? Now I realize that I inherited that from her, I am organized, I classify everything, I want everything to be in its place.
I never called her by her name, when I barely knew how to speak she was “nana”, then they knew that she meant “my sister” like that, as if it were a single word. Did I say we were different? Yes we were, but maybe not that much. She didn’t like classical music, but We both loved to dance and dance well. She was not fond of reading, but we were both dying for a good scoop of ice cream, better if there were five of them and different flavors … and today it is gone. Covid-19 killed his breathing.
A couple of weeks ago he told me that he was infected. “Don’t worry, take care of yourself, but you have two vaccinations, I’m sure you have a mild time.” She was optimistic, something rare in “my sister”, even happy. Every day he sent me a message telling me how he was doing. “I have a fever, 37.5” he wrote to me, to which he replied, “It is not a fever, do not fear.” But on Sunday he stopped writing, on Tuesday I learned that he had been on a hospital bench for a couple of days with vomiting and diarrhea, there were no beds available … he was dehydrated. “Nothing that can’t be solved with multiple serums” I thought. A day later they tell me that their saturation was bad. Sixty percent saturation!
Then I already imagined what was going to happen. I moved land and sea to be taken to an ICU, I knocked on all the doors that I could and the ones that my friends had… but I couldn’t. I spoke with the doctor who treated her, “she does not meet the international criteria to enter intensive care” she told me and I’m sure she was crossing her fingers without anyone seeing her. He died hours after listening to me on the phone, He said “my brother” and something else I wanted to think about was “I love you”.
I always thought that “my sister” had not known love, she had a tough character that made her unbearable at her peak. I was wrong, at his side at all times he had a man who, having the ocean and a dictatorship in between, did not allow me to know. Her husband, someone who hours after she passed away she whispered precious words to me on the phone. With the calm of someone who has known how to live, he told me: “Your sister was my life, my pretty old lady. When she started arguing, I hugged her and calmed down. She left calmly, happy to have talked to her brother. It was my life. “
Some phrases that resize me to “my sister”, his calm flooded me. She did not die alone, she had a loving hand holding her. Before hanging up he added: “I always expected, I expected a call from you or your daughter.” And so I want to remember her, waiting for my call, that of her only brother. Waiting for the call of his daughter, his only daughter. Both out of that Metaphorical Island, away to seek a dignified life, determined to make a future for ourselves without thinking about the suffering we generate in those who stayed and couldn’t hug us before they died.
*** Eduardo López-Collazo, scientific director of the La Paz University Hospital Research Institute (IdiPaz)
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