I remember it was a Sunday morning and I had just finished getting ready to go to work when I noticed I had two missed calls, one from work and one from my manager’s cellphone. I thought, “Crap! Was I supposed to go in earlier?!” I immediately called back… I remember my manager’s exact words as he asked me, “Did you hear what happened to Blanquita?” I think I had about a thousand thoughts in a second, but I wasn’t prepared for what he would say. He told me she had passed away in a car accident, and it might have been the shock, but I thought he was lying to me. I thought it was some kind of horrible joke. The tears began to run down my face, and once I started, I could not stop crying. My sister was at work, but I called to tell her because I didn’t want her to find out any other way. I hung up. With great efforts I tried to keep it together while I redid my makeup. I began to walk to work and saw my sister in her car driving home. She had left work early. She gave me a ride and we cried in the car together…because what else could we do?
I walked into work; the restaurant felt sad and gloomy and my coworkers and I all had red eyes and knotted throats. We had to keep it together. Later, we found out 4 other girls (3 that I knew) were involved, and Ana, a mother of 2 beautiful kids had also passed away. It was heartbreaking and I was worried. It didn’t help that throughout the day, customers were asking about what had happened. I just wanted to tell them to shut up. I just wanted to go home. I JUST wanted to cry until there were no more tears.
I think loss comes with many emotions, and anger is definitely one of them. I’m angry because she was too young, I’m angry because her life was going great; amongst other things, she had just gotten her license and bought a car. She was attending college. She had just come back from a trip to New York. Blanca had plans just like the rest of us!
I think about her every day, about 4 or 5 times, sometimes all day…and I don’t think that’ll ever change, but I don’t mind. I sometimes forget what her smile looked like, so I’ll visit her Instagram page just to refresh my memory. I get mad at myself for forgetting her voice and her silly laugh, and when I finally remember, I feel relieved and I hope that I never forget them again. We had known each other for about a decade. We were in Middle School drill team together and she was my sister’s friend, but we didn’t become close until we started working together at the restaurant. If it hurts me this much that she’s gone, I can’t imagine what it’s like for the people that were even closer to her.
I sometimes still can’t believe she’s gone and I only find comfort in knowing that she lived her life to the fullest. She worked hard but made sure to enjoy her time off. She loved to dance and she loved to spend time with her friends. (I’ll never forget the time we went out salsa dancing, trying to copy everyone else’s moves.)
I still remember us rolling up silverware at work and talking about what our costumes would be for Halloween. That was the last time I talked to her- a week before she passed. We talked about ninjas and laughed about a unibrow (I was Frida Kahlo). I don’t care what the topic was, I just know I’ll cherish that moment forever.
The point of this post is not to bring back memories of the day of Blanca’s death or even give you details on the accident; it’s to tell you to enjoy your life every minute of every day, even if it sounds cliché. Life is unexpected and sometimes tomorrow never comes; don’t let a tragedy remind you of that. You make plans and you have dreams, but that doesn’t mean anything if you’re not acting on them now…TODAY. Every chance you get, tell the people you love that you love them. Be kind and laugh as often as possible. Never take yourself too seriously. Make your mark just like Blanca did and give people a damn good reason to remember you.
I’ll remember Blanca as the selfless, hard-working fun girl with the silly laugh and the beautiful smile. And when my time comes, I hope people remember me as the girl who loved to travel and the girl who loved her friends and family endlessly.
P.S. I hope you know how much I cried while writing this…and I hope you’re all living your life to the fullest and doing what makes you happy, or at least searching for your happiness.
Rest in Peace my lovely Blanca and Ana