Abuela, I'm so sorry I cannot be there tomorrow. I wish like hell that I was, but it seemed that the odds were not in our favor this time. I hope you can forgive me.
I know you're with Titi Rosie now. I know you're watching over us all; I've seen you in my dreams since I said my good-byes to you in New York. I know you were suffering for a long time, even when I saw you back in May. While it pains me deeply to see you go, I am also at peace knowing that you no longer have to fight those battles. I know things are still messy with everyone else, but you can take ease in knowing that we will all get through this. Someday, somehow, all will be right in our world again.
I will always cherish the times we spent together. I will always remember how you would take me to the Yankee games as a kid, even if it was just to catch a few innings. You used to say it was never a waste to see those few innings, just so we could watch Bernie Williams, Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera and the rest of the "Dream Team". My love of baseball definitely came from you. My favorite baseball memory will always be whenever the Yankees were in the playoffs; you would write down the Yankees roster and put the list in the microwave, just for them to "stay hot", and you would write down the opposing team's roster and put them in the freezer, just for them to "stay cold". I will always remember the wrestling days, and how you would cheer on those you favored and cursed the ones you despised. Needless to say, the only Spanish I managed to learn were your famous string of curses. I think you always loved knowing that, even when you pretended to be shocked whenever I repeated you.
I will also remember the constant Law and Order marathons, as well as your need to be glued to Court TV (or what is now Tru Tv). I remember how happy you were whenever I brought over my CSI: Miami dvds, especially because you knew how I was so in love with Adam Rodriguez. You enjoyed making me blush whenever he came on and you would point and say, "Hey, it's your husband!". You enjoyed making me laugh about other shows too; you survived the Pokémon and Yu-Gi-Oh! days of my childhood and tween years, though I know deep down you loved watching them with me.
I will remember the hot summer days where you would buy me coquitos and piraguas. You got me to appreciate the coconut ones, even though I only ever wanted the cherry ones. I will remember how we passed the time playing Bingo, Memory, Sorry, Boggle, and all the other board and card games we had stashed away in that teeny tiny apartment. I will remember how you would joke around and tell people how Jonathan, Hector, Stephanie and I would drive you crazy whenever you had all four of us with you and how you had to keep feeding us just so you could have some moments of silence.
I will remember all the scowls about each time I would cut or dye my hair. I know how happy you were seeing the natural blonde back, even with the current short cut. I will remember the smirks you had whenever I took a long time to get ready because of my newfound need for make-up; I think you were just happy I finally turned into a girl. I will remember that one phone conversation we had about boyfriends; you would tease me about being lazy in finding one, just so you could finally meet one instead of hearing about him through my cousins. I think you were always worried I would keep away from guys because I've never had a boyfriend long enough and I was more interested in my books and sports. You never have to worry, Abuela. Never.
I will remember the trips to Puerto Rico, and how happy you were that I was able to dance to the music. I will never forget your smile from when we danced so much at the big wedding, and I will never forget how hard you laughed when Titi Rosie pulled me to the floor for the bouquet toss (to which I actually caught). I'd like to think you enjoyed having me sit with you on the rocks by the sea, you with a cold Coors in hand, and me with an authentic piragua. As much as you loved the Bronx, I think the sea was where you truly felt at peace.
Well, I shouldn't forget Atlantic City and its casinos either.
I'm sorry I never did get to go gamble with you at Trump Casino in Atlantic City. I always thought that there would be a day where you and I would be glued to the slot machines, though I would never have your luck. I'm sorry I never got to have a cold beer with you; it took me a long time just to even like that kind of alcohol. I'm sorry I couldn't even get out to your birthday party in City Island; you have no idea how much I wanted to be there for you. At least we had the mounds Valencia cakes, with Dad scolding us for hardly leaving him enough...at least we had the old traditions from the holidays, before all the wars and the madness. You got to see me graduate college; you got to spend so much time with not only your grandchildren, but also your great-grandchildren.
I'm sorry it hurt you that I moved away to Santa Fe. I know that even my going to school in Vermont hurt too. I think my need to explore and leave New York and New Jersey scared you sometimes, as if I would forget you and everyone else. I never EVER did. Even with my gypsy spirit, I could never forget what mattered. I had a poor way of showing it sometimes, I can admit that, but it never meant that I never cared. Now that you watch over me, I know you can see why the southwest claimed my heart. Even as I sit here in the gallery, I can feel your presence over my shoulder, casting various facial expressions, laughing that small chuckle of yours while saying, "You're writing again, mami?".
It hurts that I cannot even read this aloud to you tomorrow, while everyone else is saying their good-byes to you. I will see you again, I know this. Whether the greeting is, "What did you do to your hair?", "Where is your hat?", "What's with all the make-up?", or simply, "What took you so long?", I know you'll be there with open arms to hug me again. While Coors is not my poison of choice, I think just this once I can make an exception and have one with you.
I love you, Abuela. I hope the baseball players in Heaven are giving you one hell of a show, and that the casinos along the beach are far more fun than the ones here. We'll be alright down here, I promise.