Tuesday, December 27, 2016

For you

I hear the phone, “ringing off the hook,” a saying that I hear a lot in my household as their are always people calling us (we’re just that popular). I run to go catch the phone, but it goes to voicemail. I hear through the intercom my mom’s worried and shaky voice.
“Anissa, please pick up, pleaseeee.”
I pick up the phone.
She tells me that as she was driving to my old high school for my sister’s awards night, she saw that there was an immense fire in San Bruno. My mama was worried that our friends might be in trouble because the fire looked to be in close proximity to their home. At this point I ran to my porch (located in the back of my house) and I saw houses and trees engulfed in a ball of fire. I scurried downstairs to find my binoculars, in order to get a better look at the fire. Once I got back outside the fire had doubled in size. Finally, my parents returned from their quick “trip” to my sister’s awards night (since they never made it there). My mama comes in saying, “I’ve called Jackie’s cell phone several times and she won’t pick up, I’m going to call other members of her family.” About ten minutes later, she got a hold of Jackie’s oldest daughter, Gabi, and explained to her that their was a fire close to their home and that her mother wasn't answering her phone. My mom didn’t want to worry Gabi as she was at tennis practice, but she couldn’t help but panic. I then ran up to my parent’s bedroom (located in the front of my house) because I wanted to be as far away from the view of the fire as possible. While in their room, something hit me. It felt like a ton of bricks. It felt like I had just swallowed something really heavy and it sat in the pit of my stomach. I proceeded to fall to the floor. I cried like I had never done before. In that instant, I knew my best friend, Janessa, and her mother, Jackie, were gone.
That night I was sent to bed early because 1. My parent’s were trying to shelter me from reality 2. It was my 13th birthday the next morning. However, I could still hear my parents and sister watching the news, awaiting the list of the victim's names. Surprisingly, that night I remember sleeping. I had convinced myself that everything was going to be all right, afterall I had seen Janessa two days before …
“Happy 13th Birthday, mija!” I had almost forgotten it was my birthday. That day (a friday) I went to school and then went to play mini golf with some of my closest friends. I hadn’t brought up the fire to my friends because 1. I was trying to shelter myself from reality 2. It was my 13th birthday and I wanted to enjoy it … So much for enjoying it though. I mean how could I when I was so damn worried the whole day. I just wanted answers.
The next morning my mom came into my room and told me to meet her in the playroom (a room in my house that has board games). I sat on the couch awaiting the truth. I wasn’t nervous, in fact, I was calm. I think back now, and the reason I was so calm was because I had known the truth the whole time: My best friend and her loving mother (whom was my mom’s best friend) did not survive the tragic fire.
But I write today not out of sadness, rather out of love. There is sooo much I want to share and get off my chest … thus this is a warning that the rest of this post might be all jumbled and represent my “scattered brain.” This incident, be it tragic, has led me to who I am today. 1. A believer of God 2. A confident Latina who is unapologetically myself. I’ll start off by explaining #1 … how I am now a strong believer of God. The reason being, God had sent me so many signs that the fire was going to happen and he was going to take Janessa and Jackie from us. For instance, I had met Janessa through my Mexican folk dance classes when I was merely six years old. The week of the fire we were preparing for Fiestas Patrias, a performance that Janessa and I were both excited about. Thus, we had extra practices the previous week … I had seen her more often that month than ever before (So that was sign #1.) Also, the week of the fire her mother asked my dad if we could drop Janessa off at her home after a dance practice. When we dropped her off, I remember distinctly that she wouldn’t shut her front door until we fully drove off. She enthusiastically waved goodbye, and I only wish I had known that was going to be our last goodbye. As we drove off, my dad made a wrong turn and we entered the cemetery (sign #2). While stuck in the cemetery, I remember feeling a sense of heaviness (sign #3). In short, I do believe God gave me those signs in preparation for what was to come, and I thank him each day for allowing me to spend more time with Janessa during that month.
But the most important thing I have gained from September 9th, 2010 (the day of the fire) is my guardian angel. Today, I do not live my life solely for myself, rather for Janessa and all those that have had their lives cut short. During their funeral, I promised myself that I would live my life to the fullest. That means 1. To surround myself with positive people who love me for me 2. Cut ties with those that make me feel less than what I am 3. Remain selfless, but still do things for myself. This “tragedy” or what I prefer to call it, this “beautiful mess” has caused me to be grateful for everything that I have and that I have experienced … meaning I am grateful for experiencing my first love, my first heartbreak, etc etc. Because not everyone is privileged with the time to experience these things. 
I want to end this by saying: Thank you to my guardian angels for pushing me to be the best version of myself. I do it all for you.

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