This morning at work I was presented with a new client. Her name was Martha. Then I was introduced to her husband. His name was Juan. I immediately detected a slight Spanish accent with Juan. Just a tinge of what I assumed boasted a Mexican heritage. Accents fascinate me and I love playing a game with myself and others called Guess That Accent!
After I applied Martha’s color and put her under the heater for processing, Juan and I began a conversation. The more we talked the more I felt his accent seeping into the deepest part of my soul. I felt like reaching out and touching his face. What are you thinking?! I wanted to hug him and put my head on his shoulder. Are you crazy? I wanted to feel the essence that was oozing out of his soul. What on earth is going on here?!
In some unexplainably strange way, Juan reminded me of my momma.
I couldn’t help myself and asked Juan what his heritage is. He paused for a moment before stumbling out that he was from Texas. Yeah, that ain’t no Texan accent I’m hearin’. I can only guesstimate that he may have suffered some form of prejudice in the past and was hesitant to share. I pressed on by saying I detect a slight accent. He must have sensed I was reaching for something more and he quietly replied, “I was born in Mexico.”
And then it started.
Tears welled in my eyes and began spilling down my cheeks as our conversation continued. I felt a little perplexed (as I’m sure Juan did) with my sudden burst of emotion so I quickly tried to save him from thinking he had done something wrong.
I began to explain that my mother recently passed away (2/1/15) and she had a slight Spanish accent. For those of you who don’t know, my mother was raised in Cuba from infancy. Although she is not Cuban by heritage, she was Cuban by heart. She brought the Cuban culture she loved so much into our home growing up – food, music, language and all! Her first language was Spanish and I loved it!
No matter how much I cried, Juan didn’t flinch, make any weird expressions or move one inch closer or away from me. He remained peaceful and still.
Through my blubbering and runny nose, I went on to tell him that the Spanish accent always reminds me of my mother and I miss hearing her rap it out with random persons all over this city. Being geographically close to Mexico, Arizona is home to many Mexicans. I believe my mom was friends with every single one of them! She seemed to share a sense of “home” with all Hispanic people even if their country of origin was different than her beloved Cuba.
I told Juan not to worry about my tears as this was a very good thing and that for some random and strange reason he was reminding me of my mom. He nodded slightly while smiling and again, he did not flinch, make a weird expression or move one inch closer or further from me.
Prior to my massive self-healing that took place a few years ago, I rarely cried. I had gotten the message as a child that my tears were annoying and burdensome to others, so I stopped crying altogether. Later in life it took an awful lot to make me cry and it usually had nothing to do with something going on within me, but something going on with someone else. I had forgotten how to cry. One of the things I had to teach myself was to allow for organic emotions and the tears that followed. I’ve been practicing ever since.
And here I was standing in the middle of my place of business crying to a random man.
Wow… life is weird!
So…. I allowed it. I let go. I let it be what it was. I stood shameless in front of anyone who may have been watching. In fact, I was so present, the thought never crossed my mind. I was in it. Every cell in my body was soaking up the essence of Juan. At that moment, I was looking at my mother.
It was cleansing. It was beautiful. It was warm and delicious.
Of course, I have run across many Spanish speaking people since mom’s transition. I even work with a few; however, there was something different here. Something that my words will never describe accurately. There was something happening that was far outside the reaches of my understanding. All I know is that it was real.
After work while driving to pick up my little one from summer camp, I questioned that little scene. What on earth was that? Was that grief? Have I been suppressing emotion? Am I in denial that mom is gone? Those tears came so quickly and so organically. Have I been denying the reality of momma’s transition? I sat with it, I opened my heart and all I heard was, “No Kristen… That was Love” and I knew… plainly and simply…
That was love.
I was not sad. I was not grief stricken. I was merely reminded of and celebrating, in a perfect moment in time, a piece of my mother that I have always admired.
Upon further reflection, I remembered I had asked my momma yesterday to make herself known to me. I was craving a little “touch base” from her and if I could see her that would be so great! Today I saw her, felt her and heard her. She came to me in the form of a 63 year old, silver-haired Mexican man and based on his reaction to my tears, I can bet he houses a similar soul to my momma.
The truth is I am happy my momma no longer suffers here and I can feel her with me all of the time. Our love is strong and eternal. I don’t grieve her, I LOVE her and I celebrate her life! She always touched me with her gentle way and her gorgeous command of Spanish. I remember how even as an adult, I loved to sit and listen to her speak to her friends while trying to decipher the conversation through the few words I could interpret. My momma left a legacy of equality, non-prejudice, kindness and love.
Thank you, Juan, for being my earth angel today. And thank you, Momma, for finding the perfect way for me to feel your essence. I’m still smiling and I will continue to smile every time I think of you.