Antes y después: la linea de mi vida

Monday, we started Spanish class in a new location with a new teacher. The new location is the porche of my casa and the new language facilitator is the guy who did my initial Spanish language  interview a month ago in Managua. I was a little nervous to have classes with him (actually, we didn’t know who our new profe would be until he showed up at 8ish on Monday morning). We didn’t know what to expect, but it was fine.

We loved our first teacher (they say you never forget your first) and I was sad to change, but I understand the value of learning from people with different perspectives and teaching methods.

One of the first activities we did Monday was the linea de mi vida, so I had to make a timeline of my life—including all of the highs and lows—and stand in front of the class and talk about it in detail.

I haven’t cried in Nicaragua. I don’t think I cried in the 3–4 months leading up to my departure (but I came close on the day that I left my job and at the airport when I said goodbye to big sister.)

Anyway, as I was standing in front of the class talking about my life, I felt a little emotional, and it almost showed. I talked about how my parents got divorced, and I said that have a stepdad, but in my heart I have two dads who are equal. En mi corazón, mi papá y mi padrastro son iguales. Tengo dos papás.

Hablé de my favorite memory, cuando Jasmine golpeó a mi novio abusivo en su cara.

Mostly though, I talked about the two most emotional subjects in my life: Harry Potter and Dad.

I talked about how the end of Harry Potter marked the end of my infancia, and about how I had a complete emotional breakdown—lloré mucho en el cine—after I finished the last movie (because my childhood ended una vez más.) I talked about how Harry Potter changed my life, and how reading book one in Spanish is like a brand new experience, like I’m a kid again, living the magic for the primera vez.

The end of my timeline was Dad’s death. I don’t have sufficient words in any language to express how hard it was (and still is.) I purposefully ended my timeline there; in many ways, I feel like Dad’s death is still shaping me too profoundly for there to be an after. It still kind of feels like during, you know? Or maybe there is a before and after, but the after just feels like a weird blur that isn’t allowed to be real.

(Side note: I feel like every time I meet a new person, I have to work Dad’s death into the conversation immediately. It isn’t really typical first-meeting conversation, but also I still have a dad who is alive and living in Missouri, so I kind of need everyone to recognize that yes, I have an awesome dad whose shenanigans I’ll likely reference in the present tense, but I also have a gaping hole in my heart that will always belong to Daddy Glenn. Maybe I’d just rather explain it all now than deal with confusion later? [“Oh, your dad died? When did that happen? Weren’t you just talking about him tying flies with squirrel fur?” “No, the dad who ties flies isn’t the dad who died. I have two dads but for some reason I’m just now mentioning that.”])

Anyway, the first question my profe asked after I presented my linea de mi vida was “What about the Peace Corps?”

Fair question, but it’s complicated. I ended my timeline where I did for a reason, but I ended up drawing a point in 2016 for Cuerpo de Paz after he asked. I had to explain that I am happy to be here and I love Nicaragua, but it’s difficult to think about the Peace Corps so close to Dad’s death, because I never told him about my Peace Corps plans. Ten years of thinking about it and a year of application stuff, but I never told him. I was offered this Nicaragua gig on New Year’s Eve, and he died less than a month later.

I explained that I didn’t tell Dad about it because I didn’t want to give him preocupaciones at the end of his life, but después, I really wanted to be able to tell him. 

I’d give anything to tell him and have him say, “be careful” one more time.

For the record, talking about this in Spanish is about 100x more emotionally draining than talking about it in English, so I quickly got to the point where I literally couldn’t continue speaking. I think if I had, I might have shed a tear on my porch in front of my friends and my new profe, so I just said “that’s all.” Luckily, all of the other follow-up questions were about Harry Potter, and I was running late to my English class so I had to cut the preguntas and run across town to play Jeopardy with my 9th graders.

10 thoughts on “Antes y después: la linea de mi vida

  1. Jasmine Johnson September 14, 2016 / 4:25 pm

    Ok, when you said “En mi corazón, mi papá y mi padrastro son iguales. Tengo dos papás.” I got a little teary. Then at “Hablé de my favorite memory, cuando Jasmine golpeó a mi novio abusivo en su cara.” I LOST MY SHIT. I was about to burst into tears so I stepped away for 45 minutes and then came back and finished reading.

    I don’t even know what to say about Dad. We experienced his death so differently, you know? But we’re also the same person? I don’t know. I just know I want to finish my DadQuilt. When I was making it it was so comforting and I thought I’d sleep with it every night, even if it wasn’t finished. I haven’t touched it since I brought it into my apartment. It’s just sitting on a storage tub, folded. I think tactile things like crocheting and quilting really help me handle my feelings better. Maybe you should develop a DadHobby.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jade September 15, 2016 / 11:29 am

      I put on a DadShirt for the first time since being here and it still smells like him and it was so comforting. I didn’t expect the smell–most of my DadShirts have lost it–but this one still had it and it was wonderful.

      I definitely need a DadHobby but I’m not sure what I could do here in Nicaragua. I only brought one DadShirt because I’m terrified that my sentimental things will get lost or destroyed. Do you have any DadHobby suggestions?

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Kay Sublett September 15, 2016 / 6:49 am

    Jade, I understand about you mentioning your Dad right away in a conversation. I did the same after Trenece died. I don’t so much any more, I guess we hold them in our heart and want to share them with others. Have a good cry, it helps. Love you bunches.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jade September 15, 2016 / 11:26 am

      I’m glad to hear that this is a normal way of coping. Maybe with time it gets a little bit easier. It’s very strange being in a new place where nobody knows anything about me. I never know what to share and when to share it! Luckily I have 4 other Peace Corps trainees in town with me and I can talk about my life with them (in English!) when I need to.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Anna September 15, 2016 / 1:26 pm

    So, I blame everything on my ~hormones~ right now, but I definitely teared up when you were talking about how you didn’t want him to have any extra worries, though you wish you could have told him in the “after” of his death. Damn damn damn. Idk, I think about my current… news… and really struggle with knowing when the right time to tell my dad is. I don’t want him to worry about potentially dying BEFORE, you know? But I also need him to know as well. Obviously this is a WAY different set of circumstances, but when I was reading this I thought about what would happen if I wasn’t able to tell my dad, and that got the jears almost flowing.

    Sometimes I still can’t believe we have experienced such a loss of our fathers so close together, albeit in much different ways. All I know is that I love you, and I wish I could carry your heart in mine when yours feels too heavy. I miss you much, but I love reading about you in Nicaragua. I knew you’d do so great.


    Liked by 1 person

    • Jade September 16, 2016 / 7:39 am

      I think of you and your situation all the time. Honestly, I don’t think you’d regret telling him soon…like, maybe when you have a tangible thing to show him? That way it will be really really real? Idk I’m terrible with advice but even though our situations are different, I feel like you can learn from what I did and didn’t do. And my biggest (or maybe only) regret is not sharing more with Dad. I should have told him every single thing.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Restabrook15 September 23, 2016 / 8:21 pm

    All I can say is, this post is beautiful.

    Liked by 1 person

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