Sunday, November 7, 2010

Dia de los Muertos

On Tuesday, I carried this sign in the Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) candlelight procession through the Mission in memory of Dad and Mike.  Dolly came with me at the last minute since Duncan had to work, so the night didn't go as I had planned.  Day of the Dead is scary for Dolly.  She is scared of the crowds, the smoke, and the masks.  We walked only a couple of blocks before she was begging me to go home.  I felt torn.  I really wanted to stay, to be a witness for my dad and my brother.  I tried explaining to Dolly how important it was to me.  I also wanted to meet up with my friends who were grieving a loss of their own.  But once again, the lesson:  I am not in control.  I need to let go.

Earlier that morning, I tried, unsuccessfully, to assert my will onto Dolly.  Over the weekend she had written a beautiful essay for Day of the Dead, which she planned to enter into an essay contest.  The winners would get to read their essays at her school's Day of the Day Assembly.  That morning, however, she decided she didn't want to turn in her essay, and she didn't want to read it in front of her friends.  I was proud of her for writing it, and tried to convince her to show her essay to her teacher.  I even walked her into school, thinking I would enlist her teacher's help in convincing her.  In the end, I realized that this quest was more about me than about Dolly.  It was completely understandable that she didn't want to read an extremely personal essay to her entire school.  When I realized what I was doing, I stopped.  I turned around.  I let it go.  

Dolly and I left the Dia de los Muertos procession and walked to the festival of altars in Garfield Park.  As upset as I was about leaving the procession, as soon I got to the altars, I knew it was where I needed to be.  Someone looked at my sign and said, "Look, she's carrying her altar with her."  We went into the playground so Dolly could ride on the merry-go-round.  I had an overwhelming feeling of warmth and calm.  I thought it was Dad telling me that everything was going to be OK.  Then I cried for a long time.

Dolly and I walked around the park, looking at the altars.  I felt inspired to build an altar next year for people who died by suicide.  Next year I won't go the procession, and will spend the evening in the park only.  At one altar, there were cards, pens, and envelopes for people to write messages to those they have lost.  We wrote a note to Dad and Mike, saying that we loved them and missed them, and that we hoped they were at peace and with each other.

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