I’m thinking of Luis today. He lost his sister a long time ago. He was young, she was younger. It destroyed his parents. Of course, her death would. That is expected. He was hurt too, but their mourning consumed them and life was no longer happy and normal. Christmas stopped. Celebrations and joy were on hold. Rituals became meaningless for them. He felt sad. He was still their child. It seemed like they had forgotten him. He wanted his family to be normal again. They couldn’t be there for him the way he wanted. He understood it, yet it was difficult to accept.
He was full of life.
Sometimes the pain of losing someone transforms an individual driving them towards change and renewal. Sometimes it never gets transformed leaving someone bitter and miserable. Sometimes it reminds us to focus on the seemingly insignificant, which really isn’t insignificant at all. It can be the driving force that ruins or inspires us.
He didn’t let it ruin him. It was unpleasant, he didn’t want to abandon his family, only to expand it and he did. He made his own family. His girlfriend Veronica became his wife and they had two children.
When I first met Luis, back in the 90s he was a student at NYIT, that’s where we found him. Since that was where I first went to college and it was filled with technically minded students, I decided to put an ad up on the boards at the Manhattan campus. He came in for an interview. He was clearly the obvious choice. The job he would take as a part-time technical assistant would impact the whole unit.
He was the perfect candidate and he had our director of all things technical and other random stuff, Lenny to guide and mentor him. Together, they took every piece of equipment old and new and made use of it. Luis was the goto guy for a variety of tasks. Lenny was relieved to have help. Both Lenny and Luis had to troubleshoot and problem solve non-stop daily, helping countless people in their daily work lives and to get all their projects completed. We were a small unit that grew rapidly producing documentaries and special programming for Discovery, A&E and other outlets. He was part of a great team that helped make that happen. He cared about his work and enjoyed it.
Still, it wasn’t his role at work that fills my memories.
My memory is fragmented, I don’t remember all the details. I do remember his good nature, feelings of warmth and energy.
I am thinking about the time we spent not only working together, but me dragging him downtown to art galleries at lunch so he could learn about art. Or helping him to figure out which college major was best suited for him, discussing his direction and desire for a creative education, and other important life stuff – mostly over a coffee or quick bite. Or when he stayed with me and Mark and slept on the couch with the cat and dog so I could bring him to work with me at the textile company that I worked at following TV land for a few days.
He used to call me ‘mom.’ A term of endearment that demonstrated genuine affection and maybe even underlying gratitude for what I imagine he considered kindness? How could you not be kind to Luis? He was kind and warm and open. He deserved to be nurtured and cared for as we all deserve that. Even though I wasn’t old enough to be his mom 🙂 it meant a lot to me. It was special to me too because I also had my own work ‘mom’ too – Pat who I truly adore to this day.
It was a long long time ago. Lives change and we lose touch. A few years ago we connected again on social media. It was nice to see periodic posts and pictures of him with his family. My heart was warmed.
Then he died.
So here I am sharing a part of him that maybe some people never knew. That’s the point. Sometimes we forget the complexity and depth of story each individual carries within them. I was inspired to write this as his wife Veronica reached out to people who knew him a few days ago on social media and asked for memories or stories that she can include in a memory book for her children.
Memories change as the years continue on, we change. Every person only knows someone in relation to themselves, our unique experiences with them. We can never truly experience the whole, only bits and pieces. And, since every person who knows another only knows a piece of them, I hope she receives a lot of stories. All of our memories, our bits and pieces of memories of Luis are like pieces of a mosaic, each piece unique and separate. Perhaps our fragmented memories glued together along with their sons’ experiences of their father, they will be able to see the beautiful mosaic that was his life more fully.