Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Is This All There Is? Sept 2009

It's been sad around here lately.

It all started a couple of months ago when a friend in Ajijic died. It was expected, she had been ill for some time.

But then, her widower was diagnosed with cancer and left Mexico to be with family and to have his treatment in the states.

Shortly after, a beloved elderly friend became ill suddenly and died. She begged her doctor to just let her go. He did.
I want him to be my doctor at the end too.

Then another friend succumbed to cancer. She had been suffering too.

Two weeks ago another friend died suddenly one night of a heart attack. She was only 54.

This week I have 2 Celebrations of Life to attend. I hope it's that last of them for awhile.

I guess this is to be expected when one lives near a retirement community. . . but I'm having trouble shaking the 'Is this all there is?' feeling.

I love the way Mexicans view death and the grieving process. I suppose being deeply religious has something to do with it, but they do not seem to cry and be devastated.

When someone passes, scores of white chairs magically appear in front of the home of the departed. A canopy is erected to shelter everyone from the sun and for 24 hours family, neighbors, and friends drop by to pay respects and participate in the vigil. The dearly departed lies in state inside the home where flowers and food are abundant. People come and go.

When I lived at the beach, my old neighbor on the corner passed and the white chairs appeared. The occupants of the chairs partied for 2 full days! Cases of cerveza were delivered, discarded beer bottles were scattered everywhere, kids ran about playing, plates of food were devoured, and the event went on nonstop for the whole 2 days.

The highlight of the mourning was a group of elderly caballeros (cowboys) who pranced in late the second afternoon mounted on magnificent horses with tooled leather tack studded in silver. They put on a show of dancing horses better than any parade I've ever ever seen. One particularly jubilant fellow was passing around shots of Tequila in a hollowed out cow's hoof! Bleeegghh.

Directly after the 'white chair' visitation day, there is a funeral mass, followed by a procession on foot with the casket, flowers, and mourners trekking to the panteón (cemetery) where there can be either a great celebration or just a burial.

Recently a young man in Jocotepec was buried with mariachis to send him off to heaven.

Here is a recent procession to the panteón in Jocotepec,
casket in the back of white truck with family following close behind.

The mourners, young, old, and very old, walk the long hot walk from the funeral
mass to the panteón in Jocotepec.

More folks. . .

. . .and still more folks.

Then the trucks with the coronas (flower wreaths).

This person had so many coronas that it took 2 trucks to carry them all.

Stay tuned for November 5th, Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead)
when those who have departed are celebrated. I will write about that then.

Maybe by then I'll know the answer to the question: Is this all there is?

For now, off to celebrate Val's life.

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