"All the Days of My Life"
A moment of awakening
Guadalupe Gonzalez, Contributing Writer
Life can change in an instant. How many times have we thought this, over this past weekend, when we have heard of someone's misfortune, or had a tragedy happen in our own lives?
Published on LatinoLA: July 23, 2012
The other night, people gathered from different parts of the city in Aurora, Colorado. Maybe they had made their plans days in advance of a much-hyped movie premiere, maybe it was a last minute deal, maybe that movie in Theater Nine was sold out so they had to wait for the movie in Theater Eight. Everyone of us knows what happened.
We have heard people speak of it, heard in graphic detail about the blood and the anguish, seen computer graphics of a re-enactment, learned about the weapons used and how they and the arsenal were obtained. We have learned, yet again, too much about a terrible and atrocious criminal act.
As a nation, we are in sorrow and shock. How could this happen in a movie theater? We all run in to catch a movie, grabbing our popcorn and pulling out our stashed-in-our-purses sodas as the trailers play. Getting settled in and hoping the persons who fill the seats in front of us aren't on the local basketball team. Or are not Abuelitas with cotton candy hair up to THERE! And then something like what happened in Aurora happens and we look around and realize: "That could have been me." Or it could have been our parents, or our children, or our friends or neighbors or co-workers.
We focus our worries on everyday events, usually uneventful. Do I stop and get the milk now or do we have enough for cereal tomorrow? Should I pull over at the ATM and get some money because we are taking "fulano de tal" out to lunch? I am in a hurry to pick up [/i]mi hijita,[/i] so should I run this yellow light?
Every single day, every moment we think and breathe, we are making decisions. Others are making decisions at the same time, as well. We all impact upon one another.
I can pinpoint the exact moment my life changed irrevocably: May 31, 2007 at 7:30 in the morning, when I awakened to hear my husband gasping desperately for air, and I knew he was in really bad physical shape. I did not know then his aorta was in the process of tearing in a spiral formation. I did not know then that his chances for survival were very slim. I just knew I had to throw clothes on and drive him to the hospital. He had managed to say "No time" when I asked if I should call 911. So I drove like a maniac -- one foot on the accelerator, the other on the brake. My hand on the horn.
I ran stop signs, I ran lights, I was prepared to have police follow me, if needed, to the emergency room. And it was only then I would stop and take my lumps. But I knew my husband's life depended on my reactions first, then on the hospital's auspices. Primarily in my thoughts, though, were that God held my husband's life in His hands.
That thought occurs to me much more often now, mostly every day I remember that my life, those lives of the people I love, who love me, who surround me -- we are all in God's hands. And it is a sobering thought. Because we all believe that WE are in control of our lives and our destinies. WE make our own decisions about what to do and when to do it. And it is comforting to think so, because then WE have power.
And we do control our lives, to a degree. We have the power of free will. But we also have the entity my Papi referred to as "Nuestro Divino Maestro." I muse upon this phrase, and I consider how it may be interpreted. It can either be "Our Divine Teacher." Or, alternatively, "Our Divine Conductor", as in an orchestra. I am far too simple minded and my intellect cannot fathom which it is or should be.
My intellect cannot fathom why some people live, while others die. I know I am eternally grateful that my husband lives, against all the odds, he lives. My life was changed that day, for the better and for the worse. The latter, because I think I am hyper-aware of the fragility of life. How quickly it can be wrested from us. How sudden that final breath can be. How quickly the color of a person changes and their eyes dull.
My life was blasted into full awareness on that day, and on subsequent days, as I treasure each moment spent with friends, family, co-workers, people I meet in stores, my dogs. You name it, I see my life as if it has been painted with colors from a palette of colors I never even knew existed. And all because my beloved was on the brink of death and was given a second opportunity to live. And I was given a second opportunity to love him.
Now, I tell people that I love them. I don't wait "for the right moment." For that moment might never come. I try to live as best and as honestly as I can, because this is it. There are no re-do's.
My mind and heart ache for the suffering people who staggered out of that movie theater, those who remained within, and all of those touched by this tragedy. And I hate that something like this has to happen for us to get our priorities in order.
Guadalupe Gonzalez (c)
Guadalupe Gonzalez, Contributing Writer:
Writer and Los Angeles Attorney