Monday, 8 November 2010

crie de cour

I need to blog, but the heart´s gone right out of me.

I know somebody out there likes hearing about plows and pilgrims, grapevines and tree-cutting, how the canary is singing and how Tim is coping with the loss of his lifetime boss, Una.

Since losing Una last Sunday I have poured myself into a writing project that demands about 1,700 words per day, through the NanoWriMo program. I am writing a fictionalized historical novel, something I´ve been sitting on for a couple of years. It´s pure escapist fun for me, and I´m enjoying myself. I don´t know if it will be any good or not, but WTH. When real life gets too heavy, it´s good to just throw yourself into someone else´s shoes. Someone who lived, say, 1,000 years ago.

And life skips along, with the wind stripping leaves off the trees, and the trees being trimmed. I enjoy climbing trees. Add a chainsaw and I can make something useful of it. I figure I´d better get this out of my system now, before I get too old to handle either activity. So this morning I trimmed one of the big spruces, the one out back. It should be much healthier now, and much less noisy when the wind gets up: It was full of big crossed branches and rubbed horribly on each other, scarred the tree, and created a terrible moaning outside the blue bedroom window during storms.

After that we lunched. And after lunch someone came to the door. It was Fran, carrier of messages, usually scribbled on a bit of paper. Perhaps they´ve canceled Mass, I thought, or the local government is calling us together for some meeting or other. But Fran was frantic. He had no note. "You must come with me, Rebekah. Follow me home. Julia needs you," he said. Strange. Fran almost never makes that much sense. He ran out the door. I ran after him, wondering if someone needed first aid or CPR -- far as I know I´m the only one around here who knows how. I hoped to God it wasn´t Fran playing a trick on me.

Down the drive, round the corner, Fran turning to shout "Hurry! Hurry! Run!" I was wearing my moccasins. Running was not easy, but I did it. Fran opened the door to the the place we call "the Juli House." There the key of life suddenly changed to something very minor, very sharp.

Inside, round the corner into the sitting room, was my next-door neighbor Oliva. And Julia, the lady of the house. She turned to me, sobbing.  "Ay, Rebekah!" she cried. "Tu amiga, tu amiga!"

It´s Juli. Little Juli. The English teacher, the daughter of the house, 32 years old, Moratinos´ youngest citizen, my best and only real Spanish friend... she is dead. Killed this morning, head-on crash with a truck, just north of Salas de Infantes, where she was in her second year of teaching primary school.

Julia at her school, Oct. 2009

She was just here with us yesterday. She comes home to Moratinos most weekends. She´s a homebody, a daughter of the pueblo. You may remember her from previous posts. We spend considerable time together, taking road trips, taking walks, hanging out after Mass on Sundays, chatting in two languages on the church steps on long summer afternoons.

No more. Juli is gone. I cannot believe this. I cannot understand it yet. (I am writing this while I am still numb.)

One beautiful thing about the pueblo is everyone is expected at the house of mourning, and everyone is allowed to cry as much as they like -- men, women, children. I sat there and cried myself sick with Juli´s mom, and with Oliva, and Juli´s uncle Pin. And when Manolo and Feliciano came in, they hugged Julia and cried, and when Manolo sat down next to me and saw me crying, he patted my shoulder and cried some more. In England they make tea in these situations. In America, they break out the bourbon and the Valium. Here, they all just have a good, honest howl.

Twenty people live here. When one of us dies it´s a terrible blow. And when we lose the youngest, and perhaps the most decent, sweet, and caring of us... It is incomprehensible.

Tomorrow they´ll ring the bells the way they do for deaths. Patrick and I will try to follow the motions of the others, to do the right things at the right time, choose the right words to say at the right moment.
Advice on the finer points of pueblo behavior in these situations is very hard to find. In English, impossible.

The person who we always asked, the local who told us a house was for sale in this town, who told us how to find the owner of the lost dog who became Tim, who asked me to come along when she took a big exam, who helped us understand the Byzantine tax documents that arrive in the mail... the girl who taught me to pronounce "imprescindible" and "joder," and how to use a sickle without chopping off my hands, and how to negotiate a traffic circle.

Little Juli, our guardian angel of Moratinos, is dead.

The hearts of an entire town are broken today.
People, please pray for us.


ksam said...

Sitting with tears in my eyes now, feeling like someone just dumped a bucket of icewater over me...all I can say is I will pray for you, all of you. There are no words. Karin

Anonymous said...

Oh Rebekah! Holding all of you in my prayers. Elyn

Laura said...

Holding you in the Light and praying you will experience some lightness in the coming days and weeks. This is just too much at once. I am so sorry.

peter said...

Thank you for sharing your cry of the heart with us. There are no "right words" for this occasion because this kind of thing is so very wrong. It cuts against the grain of the universe, it wounds the heart of God. It brings tears to the eyes of strangers.

There is a love which is stronger than death. I pray that in the midst of this horrible time, you and Pat and the rest of the pueblo will be comforted with that peace which passes all understanding.

m11pilgrim said...

you are in my prayers

Anonymous said...

My heart is heavy and my thoughts are with you & Paddy, Julia and all the residents of Moratinos.

Anonymous said...

Incomprehensible...not Juli...what?

I am having my big cry now...only met her a few times...translating for us in Moratinos, talking about her english lessons, her classroom, her life ahead....what?????

holding you and Paddy and Kim and even Brian in my heart now...and my heart is sad...and it will pass...I can only imagine...


kim said...

Prayers for all of Moratinos. Prayers that the lord tread lightly on all hearts.

CaroleH said...

So very sorry Reb, for you, Paddy and all your little village of Moratinos. We get to know them all by reading your blog, they become family, we look forward to meeting you and them next year....... and now there's another "loss" . . .. this one, so NOT fair . . . so . . . so . . .. .!! . . .. lost for words.

Know that so many, many of us are with you in spirit, sharing your loss in some small way. Comfort, courage and love. x Carole

Ryan said...

Reb & Paddy,

This is awful. I'm sitting here completely stunned ... I can't imagine what this is doing to everyone there.

Please give my deepest sympathies to Juli's family. They and you are all in my thoughts.

She was an amazing light in that town.

Lynne said...

Rebekah, my heart goes to you and Patrick, Juli's family and to all in the pueblo. This is so bloody awful and painful and tragic.
I hope for peace and healing for you all.

Anonymous said...

Poor dear girl....

Keep a steady hand on the tiller, and your nose into the wind,
the sun comes up tomorrow,
and the light will shine again.

Love on all fronts, for all accounts,


The Solitary Walker said...

Praying now. My thoughts are with you. Peace.

Tracy Saunders. said...

So hard to understand why life sometimes seems to send us repeated punches, one after the other. Maybe there is no reason. I kind of hope not. My deepest thoughts to you Rebekah. Sometimes it's OK to be not strong.

Anonymous said...

What a terrible tragedy. I can tell she was a sweet young lady. And she had become, somehow, part of our families. Sorry for the family, for you and all Moratinos. Tino

JenMonster said...

It's never ever fair, is it? I did not know her, but I love her for being so good and caring so deeply for those around her. My heart is shared with Moratinos for the suffering. I'm so sorry.


Anonymous said...

Life is so cruel sometimes, Julia was one of the most kind, sweet, caring and easy going people I have ever met. I will see you on Thursday. Tom

FatmaG said...

I feel so much sadness for all of you!
It is so hard to have to say adieu.
It is impossible to understand why.

I am not a good praying woman, but my beloved grandmother Rosa was; her relationship with God was always excellent and far better than mine. Generally I ask her in heaven to assist me. And she does!
So, you can count on our prayers.

Peace for Juli,
Strength for you in these days!

Ailsa said...

I'm so very sorry. The whole pueblo is in my thoughts. Hopefully all these prayers from around the world can be felt out there, carried by the wind, to Moratinos.

Rebecca said...

It seems when it rains, it pours. So much sadness! It is hard to understand 'why' when a tragedy like this happens. All of Moratinos are in my thoughts.

claire said...

I join all the prayers flying to Moratinos and to all of you.

Juli's death is extraordinarily sad.

Yes, like Laura, I hold you all in the Light.

Anonymous said...

They come in 3's.

You're all done now, for a long time. See you soon.


Anonymous said...

But of course I will - asking for comfort, and strength for you, and for all the people of your pueblo, in your mourning. Courage. Jxxx

FrereRabit said...

I am shaken by this news. Shocking. Truly awful.

I only knew her briefly, while I was hopping around Moratinos with a broken foot. She was so kind and that lovely smile...

I am slowly becoming a Catholic agnostic, so I will pray for Julie in the sound of the wind in the pine trees. And remember her smile.


Anonymous said...

I am reading this backwards so I know that you are soon heading on the Camino with Juli's mom. I hear that you have lost a friend, her family has lost a treasure and the entire village has lost a part of its future. I will pray for you two to have the weather that will help make this a healing journey.

AnnieSantiago said...

I'm so sorry Rebekkah! My deepest sympathy and prayers.