A Star is Shining Brightly Tonight

The loves in our lives

By Guadalupe Gonzalez, Contributing Writer
Published on LatinoLA: June 7, 2012

A Star is Shining Brightly Tonight

I held her in my arms when she was born, thirteen years ago. Feeling her slightness and delicacy, looking into her small face that already bore signs of her Mom and Dad, and those that came before her. "?íMira nomas!" A miracle, a blessing, a baby girl. And tonight, she graduated with honors from eighth grade. Some may say, "Huh, eighth grade, eh?" Yes. She has come a long way from the day she was born, encircled and protected by her parents, her extended family, and angels' wings.

We are so proud of her, as we are of each other's triumphs. And we stand with her, as we do with each other, during the celebratory times, and the times of dolor. I was not able to be there this evening. One of my sisters kept an open cell phone line, and as I stood outside a local restaurant, I heard the strains of Elgar's "Pomp and Circumstance." I imagined my niece, along with her class. Together since they were about six years old. Excited after all the practices, all the preparations. I remember my own graduations.

Mostly, I never realized that this would be the last time I and my classmates would be together. And graduating from law school, I wanted to get out of that competitive (but prestigious) hole as soon as possible. I remember I wore a Mexican embroidered dress, with listones at either side, demurely covering the slits in the skirt. I have it still. It is a long dress, and I wore it proudly, my heritage and mi gente walking with me, under the gown and drape that post graduates receive.

Everyone was there for me, everyone I loved. And tonight, I was so sorry not to be there for my niece and my family, witnessing this milestone event. By the time her name and honors were announced, I was sobbing behind a bush. The valet peeked over. The last time I had been in that church was the day of my Papi's funeral. When I shed not one tear. I think I was frozen in shock that day. It all happened so fast, my Papi dying.

Well, I made up for it tonight, Mi Gente. I had asked my sisters, save a place for Papa. He loved his younger grand-daughter, laughed with her, had talks with her. He would have been so proud to be there. And, somehow, I believe he was. Our niece is following in her cousin's footsteps, having been admitted to a prestigious private school, on full scholarship, with Advanced Placement in everything but recess.

The shining star tonight is our niece, who wrote me the note in the picture, now faded with time, but in a place of honor in my home. I look into her eyes and see ambition and curiosity. I look through my glasses into her eyes, also aided by glasses. But I am certain she will be a "contact" kinda girl soon. She has a strong will, and an intense love of learning.

And I adore that in her. Sometimes I forget just how young she is, for she carries herself as an older teen. We went to Ventura for the fair once, she and I sharing a room. We talked into the night and into the early morning hours, sharing the (for me) forbidden fudge I had purchased on a whim. (I am paying for that now, but that is another story, Mi Gente.) I think it was the longest time she and I had been together. And I cherish that night.

I kinda got in trouble for being a bad Tia--keeping the young one up so late, talking about books, the world, feelings, my Papi and her Abuelito, so much, so much. And feeding her fudge! OMG! Maybe I would not have made such a great Mami, but I may qualify as a kickass Tia. I think I may be forgiven, but maybe that's iffy.

Anyway, as I sat outside tonight, watching the skies and the stars in the canopy of the heavens, I realized that the stars' light was actually emitted thousands of years ago. Traveling all those centuries to shed light tonight. And I thought, my niece's veins carry the blood of mi Papi, of her Papi, of her Papi's Abuelito, who was loved dearly, and of so many who came so far to bring her to this night of joy and celebration.

She passed a milestone tonight, the first of many. I looked at the pictures sent via cell, and saw in her face the tracings of her Mom and Dad, her Grandparents, and others whom I will never know. She looked directly into the camera, holding a bouquet of flowers. Her party will be Saturday, when we will gather at my parents' house to make a brindis and to show her our support in all she endeavors.

We can walk with her up to a certain point, as her Dad did when she learned to ride a bike. We can teach her what we think she will need. But at some point in the future, she will be able to move forward on her own, learning things I cannot even imagine. She will walk into the future. But we will always be there when she looks back. And we will love her forevermore. She is our "Princess". My Papi always called her that. "Princess."

Guadalupe Gonzalez (c)

About Guadalupe Gonzalez, Contributing Writer:
Guadalupe Gonzalez. Writer, Attorney and Adoring Tia

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