Voices of the Valley: Meet Reyna Pérez
From: Mexico, Current City: Eau Claire
Here is a note to remind you how much I miss you…
The last time I heard your voice was on a December afternoon when the phone rang. My mother and I were beginning preparations to celebrate my fifteenth birthday. You sounded very happy to be visiting your mother’s hometown; we talked for hours as was our custom.
I remember your exact words when we said goodbye. I said, “Goodbye, Uncle.” You responded, “Only say goodbye when I die because that day I will not be able to see you again, and even so will take care of you from heaven. Today, just tell me – see you soon.”
I was filled with a strange sensation, as if I was being prepared for your departure. You were more than an uncle. You were the brother, the father and the accomplice that life gave me. And yes... that December 31st day arrived, the most difficult date for 10 years.
I went to visit my grandparents like every year hoping to see you. But, that day you weren’t there. That wasn’t too strange because I understood that you had a new family: a wife and your two babies. We were happy because seeing you grow and fulfill your dreams always made us very happy. And we knew that the next day you would be there, at the grandparents’ house, because you would never miss a pozole from Grandma Marce.
January 1 at 5:00 a.m. I heard my desperate grandfather knocking on the door of my house. At 5:00am I still didn’t know if I was awake or was still in a horrible nightmare. I heard him say, “Antonio didn’t come home. We looked for him all night and we couldn’t find him, he just went out to buy tacos and didn’t come back…” In that moment everything was happening very fast, but at the same time, everything was like it was in slow motion. 44 There were many people in the house. Some people cried and I did not understand why...
Mom took my hands, sat me on the edge of the bed and told me the words I never thought I would hear. Not because I didn’t understand the cycle of life, but because you were the person I would have wanted to see grow old day by day. Together with the family as before.
Today I am 27 years old and I still do not understand how a stranger can have the courage to take the life of a person who mistakenly crossed his path, who only went to buy tacos for his family and was there at the wrong time. Not only did it stop your heartbeat, it took the lives of all of us who love you, it took away our desire to move on, it put our whole lives on pause and left us with a pain that after 10 years is the same or still worse.
Now I know that I have an angel watching over me from heaven, who never leaves me alone and when life gets difficult I always turn to you. Someone told me that heaven exists, and I hope so because it is the only hope I have of seeing you again and hugging you...
And then I can say… This is not goodbye but see you soon because I will see you in heaven.
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