Viviendo en la Claridad: “Land of Angels”

angeles

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It was the first of November, when they celebrate with those loved ones that had passed as if they were still alive! People flew kites that touched the sky as if they had wings, trying to connect with their loved ones on the other side. They decorated graves with beautiful flowers: daisies, bougainvilleas and carnations. They played music, danced, and laughed until their stomachs ached. To the side of each tombstone, a bottle of liquor was placed, in hopes that the body’s spirit would descend to drink and satiate the thirst that maybe it had not been able to when it was still alive.

José and his seventeen year old son were mesmerized as they observed the customs of this tradition at their small town’s cemetery the morning after Halloween.  It had been a while since the last time they spent time together. Luis felt ashamed for the agony that his parents suffered in the middle of the night when the police knocked on their door.  They had stopped him for driving under the influence of alcohol after he left a costume party.  José paid a $2,500 fee–all his year’s savings–to bail his son out of jail. Without scolding Luis, he asked his son to accompany him to the cemetery.

Luis was puzzled when he saw a solitary skeleton seated on a bench as if she were waiting for someone.  Her only company was something black and hairy with eight legs hanging from her neck, resembling a stone necklace. The skeleton was wearing a long and elegant dress as if she were going to an elite party, and a spider web that looked like a scarf covered her skull. On her left arm she was holding, very tight to her heart, a purple purse that seemed heavy as if it were carrying gold inside.

“Why are we here Dad?”

“The time to show you a side of life that I hope you will never experience has arrived.  Just like that skeleton I, too, have been waiting for many years.”

“Waiting for what?”

“Waiting to meet the father I never had, to become a millionaire overnight, and to be able to buy a woman’s love. I hid my fears cowardly behind a mask of rebellion and apparent manhood. I wore a suit to cover my inner poverty. Toasted with the finest wine, hoping to quiet my inner cry.  Got lost in brothels, trying to steal some affection.  Drove expensive cars, yet I felt sad inside as if I were going to the cemetery in my own luxury coffin.

“When I was your age, I walked on the streets feeling dead inside. I regarded myself as a victim of circumstances. Resented others when they had something I did not, and even felt I had the right to steal from them.  I got used to making easy money, and became a prisoner of vices, addictions and negative influences. Blamed life for my misfortunes without realizing that I was to blame of most of them. In the end, I was left completely alone. I hurt many people. I drowned my mom’s heart in agony while she was just trying to fill the gap that my father’s absence had left in my life.

“I made many mistakes, son, and paid a high price for them. I lost my legs. And for years I lost sleep, regretting not having asked my mom forgiveness in time. But one day you were born and saved me from falling off the cliff.

“I accept you the way you are, with your sexual orientation, your virtues and your flaws, your successes and your defeats. I may have not been a good father. I was never very affectionate or patient with you. In my desire to give you everything I lacked during my childhood, I forgot to spend more time together and to say how much I love you. And for this, I ask your forgiveness.

“Son, in few months you will turn eighteen. You will be a man, free to choose how to live your life. You will never be able to erase your past nor to control many future events in your destiny, but you sure will have the power in your hands to decide how you want to deal with them. I do not pretend to run your life, I only ask you: Please do not repeat my mistakes.

“Take time for you, and nurture your spirit! Appreciate nature while you still can see rainbows and smell the flowers. Go walk in the mountains and enjoy the sunrays that touch your skin. Listen attentively to the birdsong, the falling rain, and your friends’ secrets. Express your love to others while they can still hear you. Bringing them flowers, flying kites in their name, or lighting a candle will not be of much comfort once they are gone.

“In this world, we are traveling angels, just passing by. We come to learn lessons of life. Celebrate your successes and learn from your mistakes. And remember: At the end of your life, it will have been entirely up to you how you designed your journey through this land of angels.”

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About the author

Laura Figueroa

Laura was born in Guatemala and immigrated to the US at age 21 to redesign her life from the bottom-up. Her first jobs in this country included housekeeping and babysitting until she learned the language. Eventually she went back to school and earned a BA in Psychology at California State University and an MBA at Walden University. Laura has worked in the HIV field in different capacities and with people from diverse backgrounds since 1996. First with LA Shanti as Programs Manager and then with John Snow Incorporated in Colorado where she provided capacity building for several ASOs in the Midwest and conducted HIV national trainings. She also did independent consulting work and motivational speaking, Prior to joining Gilead she worked at Boheringer Ingelheim for 2 ½ years, first as Community Liaison and later as HIV National Accounts Manager. Laura is a columnist for xQsí Magazine and a contributing writer to the book Gathering Round the Fire.

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  • http://www.facebook.com kimm

    i love it was very interesting keep doing Gods work

    • Laura Figueroa

      Thank you Kim! I will keep you posted on my next short story in November. There is also a book called Gathering Round the Fire that was recently published. On snapshot of my life is narrated in it. I titled it titled Dancing with Fear. There are also magnificent stories from other unique and inspiring women. You will love it!

  • Alejandra A.

    This a great story, reading it moved something deep inside of me. It has a wonderful message!!!

    • Laura Figueroa

      ¡That is wonderful to hear Ale! Thank you for sharing. ¡Blessings!

  • Ric Parish

    Very beautiful and inspiring! Thank you Laura for sharing your compassion and wisdom.

    • Laura Figueroa

      Thank You Ric! I appreciate you taking the time to read the article and share some comment. Sending you hugs and blessings!

    • Laura Figueroa

      Ric: You actually have a lot to do with my decision to start writing for a magazine. I accepted this opportunity after reading a suggestion that you and Bill Mannion made to me a while ago when you both read my thoughts of the day on Facebook. Do you remember?

  • Tory Topjian

    Laura – This took my breath away! WOW! What an empowering story of not only accceptance of one another but how we should view life moving forward! Thank You my friend as this just continues to confirm to me that I know that I made a good choice in rexploring the road to going to Ministry.

    • Laura Figueroa

      Tory! “Exploring the road to going to Ministry”? WOW! Thank you for sharing that! It is a big calling and I know you have what it takes. May the Universe bless your path with more clarity and peace my friend!

  • Chris A.

    Powerful story, Laura…thanks for sharing!

    • Laura Figueroa

      Thank you Chris! I know you are a Dad, and thought this would mean something to you. Hope all is well with you and your family.

  • Victor McKamie

    Great article Laura! I was pleasantly surprised by this thought-provoking piece on the angles among us. It motivated me to reflect on my own affliction and think of those losses I’ve experienced over the years. It is truly a pleasure to witness your transformation unfolding right in front of my eyes as you realize the changes in your life that influence your writing.  I view this is a beautiful tribute to your loved ones as it sheds a beacon of light on just how beautiful your mother was and is as her beauty resonates through you and your words. Thanks for sharing your story and teaching us through real life metaphors.  Allow me to lead by example and tell you that I Love you sister for who you are and what you mean to so many. GOD’s LOVE NEVER FAILS!!!

    • Laura Figueroa

      Victor…thank you for you comment, especially when you refer to my mother. I still miss her terribly, and I probably always will. At the same time, you are right, I tried to let her guide me and live through me. Many times when I write I feel as if I am putting down a message she wants me to share with others. I feel deeply connected to her in spirit, and I feel tremendously grateful all her teachings and unconditional love. She will always be my number one hero and greatest love of all.

      Thank you too for all your support and genuine care, not only for me, but for everyone around you. May your kind heart be blessed!

  • Rita Gonzales

    Thank you very much for sharing this story with me. Life brings us many paths that we will take, sometimes we discover we are on the wrong path but we have the ability to move to another one.

    • Laura Figueroa

      Dear Rita, thank you for your comment! Very true, we can make choices. Maybe we cannot change certain circumstances, but we certainly have the power to choose how to deal with them. And sometimes it is best to move on into a completely different direction. Perhaps, if we spent more time learning how to be in tune with our instincts, we would know when something is worth dealing with, and when it is best to let go. Thank you again for your comment, and see you soon!

  • Justin Hernandez

    Laura, this is beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

    • Laura Figueroa

      Thank you for taking the time to read it Justin!