The Year Since

Two men in front of a sign in a small town in northern Mexico. One wears a green shirt and hat. The other wears a tan shirt.
If you only have a minute:

This blog post reflects on the passing of Andres one year ago, and the impact it has had on me and my family. I also discuss my father’s resilience, my anxiety about receiving bad news, and the difficulty of returning to the ancestral hometown. I also reflect on the prevalence of divorce in my social circle, and the importance of honesty and communication in my own marriage. The post concludes by acknowledging the ongoing pain of Andres’ loss and uncertainty of life.

If you have more than a minute:

It has now been a year since we lost Andres. Time has a funny way of making such big losses easier. It doesn’t mean it doesn’t still hurt, or that I don’t wake up some days wishing it was all a bad dream. It means the loss is less painful and more manageable. A year ago, it seemed like I was also on the verge of losing my dad. He was so heartbroken, and I was worried he’d do what so many men in our culture do when they face great loss.

Dad didn’t. He’s soldiered on, marching into his twilight years with things to do and machines to fix. It also helps that he gets almost daily pictures of his granddaughter, and that we went to see him in August last year. Still, my anxiety moves up a few decibels when I see his name on the phone, as I’m dreading bad news.

I need to re-program my brain to understand that not all calls from him have been bad news, and that not all visits to the ancestral hometown have been bad. Going there was a lot easier when I was a kid, though. There wasn’t a care in the world other than to have fun, catch bullfrogs, play soccer, and eat good food made by either one of my grandmothers or aunts.

In the same year since that nightmare, no less than three couples in our sphere, and two couples I’ve known from previous jobs, have separated or divorced. It was interesting to see how some of them displayed a ton of love and affection on social media, only to air out their grievances and complain of each other’s infidelities, shortcomings, or “changes” since the divorce. I guess what is shared to social media is not always the truth, right?

As I wrote in a previous blog post, I’ve made a deal with my wife that we would be open and honest if it ever got to the point where either of us considered calling it quits. We also agreed to seek help from a marriage counselor, and that we would work hard to fix whatever was going on. This agreement has helped a lot in the almost 13 years we’ve been married, because it has allowed us to be honest about things we need tweaked in the marriage, like me taking care of my anxieties and myself, or her slowing down with the multiple jobs and responsibilities.

And, as always, the little girl we created was priority number one. We owe it to her to be the best parents and role models of what a relationship should be. While we have always been at higher risk of divorce because our parents were divorced, we also used the knowledge of that risk to go to premarital counseling and sort things out before they became an issue. My wife is right when she says we should all be assigned a therapist at birth.

So I keep moving on in the new job and the new challenges presented, all the while still aching over Andres’ death and the lack of fulfillment of all his potential. I still wonder what if this or what if that? And I never get an answer that calms my mind and relieves my guilt of being so far away as a big brother.

Life is crazy like that.

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