Edenia "Nelsy" Vargas-Añil
July, 1943 - May, 2011
You've broken my heart. Nothing can repair it. I miss you desperately.
It's 4 in the morning on a Sunday. I can't sleep, again, and the tears are flowing without stopping, as they have been now for two solid weeks now.
Funny how I easy I can type out a little blurb about someone who has passed on. For every celebrity that has made some form of an impact in my life I've written a short couple of paragraphs, and in lieu of that, a short sentence of remembrance. It's pretty easy, but then again, I have never met them---my life has revolved and been shaped by their influence, their existence.
Writing about them is almost an impersonal exercise in creating a tribute. Yes, there is a sense that someone has moved on... but it's not close. It's not intimate. It's not really affecting me. It's transient because they were not blood of my blood.
None of them were my mother.
This is going to be perhaps the hardest piece I'll ever post. I've already skirted the idea, started, stopped, crossed entire paragraphs out, begun again, taken a break, sunk into valleys of deep depression, come back, and wondered if it's worth it, this life I'm living, if all I can think of is her absence. Life is short, and I can see it now. Ages ago, during the fall of 1976 I recall holding tight to her skirt (she loved skirts, and rarely, except towards the end of her life, she was seen in pants), and as we walked to PS 19 from our Junction Blvd home in Queens. Our Uncle Luis had just died and the very act was something totally alien to me. Death? I didn't know what that was. Yet there it was, he was gone, and one of my aunts had yelled at me, "You'll see! Everyone dies! Even your mami Nelsy will die one day, and then what?" [Little did I know the bad blood between the paternal Vargas and the maternal Vargas families, but that's another blog post and is not important at the moment.]
The ferocity of my aunt's outburst scared me. I began sleeping with a night light (and still do, but that's for other reasons, not because I'm afraid of the dark.) That chilly, overcast morning I asked her, "Mami, you're never going to go away, right? Like Uncle Luis?"
She laughed, a thing that to her death always made me soar. You see, Nelsy had the most illuminating smile you could ever see on a woman. Yeah, maybe I'm being partial because she was/is my mother, but so be it. Everyone says their parents are the most beautiful/successful in the world. I'm no exception. I own it.
"Oh, for God's sake, Ivan! You're too young to worry about these things! I'm going to be around a long, long time. Come over here, you're nose is running and you're crying." She dabbed my eyes and blew my nose. And then she'd give me a tight hug, making the winter skies blue again, the worries a dim memory.
And she was right. She wouldn't go away for a long, long time. Yet even then, time has a way of slipping by, of letting you aware of its implacable existence when you've reached the crux of major events and the credits are rolling quietly by. When you're small, time seems eternal. Endless. Now even a day isn't enough to do everything, and a two-week time off from work means barely a second, and then you're back at the bump and grind, wondering, wondering. I had so many plans to fulfill with her. And now, she's been whisked away, painlessly, to the Other Side.
The last words we spoke to each other were words of "see you soon" and "I miss you very much" on the 14th before that terrible afternoon on May 16 when I received that disgusting phone call while I ran a mile to nowhere on the elliptical. Would it that I could have run immediately home and revive her! She wasn't sick, she was completely active, gardening like there was no tomorrow, but anxious to come back to the States from Dominican Republic where she had her house and stay half a year with my sister, and a month or two with me in New Jersey. She always loved NYC, and missed it with the same passion that she couldn't really tolerate my father's home town where she lived too much. She had so much to do, so much she wanted, and now she's vanished, and sleeps in her own hometown, surrounded by her loved ones.
I'm trying to remember her as much as I can. Time is too brief, and memories has a way of fading. It's too soon for me to really react, even though all I have been doing is going through the motions with a stoic facade and accepting this bitter pill while I silently collapse on the inside. I don't know what comes next. I'm trying to take things a day at a time. Anyone who says it gets better as time goes by clearly is trying to be helpful in their own way, and that's fine. Maybe it does get better. Maybe I will eventually heal, and smile whenever I smell a scent that reminds me of her, or see a lady that looks like her. Maybe it will get better with time. If only there were a way death didn't involve so much agony for those who remain....