My mom had just died. I was feeling a deep emptiness in my soul. I had managed to appear calm and strong at the hospital, and after that, greeting friends at the funeral home, the church, and the cemetery. My sisters had cried her loss, but tears didn’t come to my eyes. People told me that they admired my serenity. They didn’t know I was in shock.
There was no reason to be shocked, she was 97, had survived a stroke years ago that left her hemiplegic, and I had been taking care of her all that difficult time. But her departure was too fast. One day my sister and I were out with her in her wheelchair enjoying the sunshine, and the next day she was dying because of an intestinal clog.
All those years at her side tightened our bond even more than ever. I was her confidant in her illness, as she was mine in everything about my life. She was wise, funny, joyful. Even in her situation, she always surprised me with her good spirits.
I thought that when she passed away, I would collapse. But I simply couldn’t react in any way. I kept making arrangements, dealing with the bureaucracy, like a machine without heart.
My younger sister lives in Poland. Several days after the funeral, she was leaving back home. We went to have lunch at a beautiful place called Ultzama in the mountains near my city in Navarre before her flight. The day was gorgeous, and we went to the terrace from which there are spectacular views. At the entrance, there was a dark corridor with two armchairs and a chimney. The fire was on. I stay there looking hypnotized by the movement and the brightness of the flames and the sparks. I sat down and felt tears began to fill my eyes and roll down my cheeks. I remembered an old tale my mom used to tell me when I was a child about sparks, the little nice and mischievous geniuses of the old houses. Then I cried, painful tears but tied to sweet memories I’ll never forget. The little genius had released my immense sorrow.