I don’t suppose you wouldn’t exactly know, but there is something about growing older that makes you reflect more upon your life and the ways it could have been different. I’ll be fifty five next year, and I have to start thinking about retiring soon, or at least moving to part-time work. Without children, Cristian and I might have to work longer to make sure that we have enough to support ourselves. Enrique has a couple of years still to work, but Sofía retired this year – their children are grown and working their own jobs, and Memo’s oldest daughter is now almost the age that I was when you died. I don’t know whether it’s worrying or comforting to see that life keeps moving onward around us, starting over again and again in new bodies.
The other day, Sofía told me about a book he read recently. In it, they talk about this concept that a butterfly can flap its wings on one side of the world, and because of that a storm may form on the other side. And now I wonder how many tiny movements I could have made that would have had such an impact. I have spent much of my life watching time move pass me, always surprised to see myself growing older. And even in times when I was discontent, I never considered that I might be able to have an impact on the world around me. I wish now that I had known all of this much earlier.
I’ve spent much of the last decade angry and guilty for all of the things I didn’t know. I look back at who I was when I was in my teens and in my twenties, and it makes me sad to see how little I knew about my world. All of those times I was only concerned for myself and the suffering that I was going through, never fully cognizant that others were also suffering much more than I was. And even when I did realize it, I always thought to myself that all we have to do is keep moving forward and everything will fix itself, and then was naively disappointed when it didn’t.
Perhaps that’s part of the reason that I’m so reluctant to retire. I don’t want all of that new time to contemplate the past and what I could have done differently. I shared this thought with Rosa recently. We meet up quite often to talk about how blind we were in our youth and to try to speak about our culpability and compliance because we never looked deeper into the horrors around us. We try to be as brutal as possible to each other, because sometimes friendship is about nonforgiveness. When I told her what I was thinking, she said to me, “That sounds like a lot of the same thoughts that you had growing up, about trying to leave the past in the past and only focus on the future.”
It horrified me how right she was, that even after all of this time and all of the things I know now, I’m still stuck in the same mindset. So I’m trying to be courageous and try to shake off those feelings. I’ve gone to walk in the Parque de la Memoria a couple of times, and I plan to continue to visit other memorials. It’s still too hard to make myself read books and articles about the awful things that people went through, but Cristian has promised that when I am ready to do so, he will read them alongside me. Though I can’t actually go back into the past and change anything, I can try to redeem myself for my mistakes and honor those who suffered and died by not forgetting their memory. I will not try to ask forgiveness for my ignorance, because I am not sure that I deserve it. I only hope that I can make everyone in my life proud by acting wisely in the time I have left.
All of my love,