Thursday, 05/27/04 - 10:33 pm.
I wrote this (until the "****") in the morning:
I used to hate early morning phone calls. For one, they always woke me up in such a rush that left my heart beating at a violent, dangerous pace (I'd read that many japanese bussinessmen die of heart attacks when they get out of bed so suddenly).
Second, I always associated them to bad news. It's a social standard that you must wait for a decent hour to call someone. So if it's so early, then it's urgent, and if it's urgent, then it's bad.
Lately I'd stopped caring about those phone calls, though. They weren't so often, somebody else picked it up (my mom, usually) and it'd turn out to be someone to confirm assistence to any given event or something of such irrelevance.
So the telephone rang at 6:30 am today. I happened to pick it up.
- Me: hello?
- Victoria: hey.
- Me: hey...what's up? How are you?
- Victoria: not too well....t h e y k i l l e d...
As soon as she started the sentence, everything turned to slow motion. I can't imagine how many times I asked "who? who? who?!!!" while she made a pause between the "not too well" and the T.
They killed Ern.
The rest was just a blur for me. I had to hold myself against the wall. I think we talked about where the body would be and such. Then I hung up, mechanically headed to the bathroom and took a shower. I was shaking...but I think it was because of the cold water. Then I took Frog for a walk, then I ate and then I read the newspapers.
Five young men were killed last night, in different places of the city. But Ern's name wasn't mentioned. I figured he got killed late at night, but Victor called me in the morning (as well as Victoria and Angie) and said he was killed between 7 and 9 at night, at a bus stop.
I studied. I worked for three hours straight, thinking about him, death and HIS death. I'd talked to him for the last time on saturday. I remembered his dad died and I wondered if he was an only child (he's got a 4-year old sister). That led me to think about his mom. I thought "such is life" and didn't cry. I remembered he had to take a midterm tomorrow.
"Such is life" is what Joseph told me on the phone (I called him, too). I guessed he was at a loss at words. Later I discovered he's very...special on the subject of death.
I remembered that people at my school, around prom day, used to say "I wonder if some of us will be missing our 10-year reunion". Ern is the first one, then. And I don't think he'll be the only one.
Maybe I'm talking it too calmly, because we weren't really close (we were teammates last year, but not exactly "friends")...I don't know. I don't feel like crying, but I'm a little bit in shock. I think it's the first significative death of mine...I wasn't really affected when relatives (uncles, aunts, granddad) died, because I wasn't close to them, I was little and they were old or sick. I thought it was natural.
But this...this is a 19 year old, student of second year of psychology. I graduated with him once (at school) and we were going to graduate together (university) again in 3 years. He was going to a party (my friend Pablo is leaving for Cuba tomorrow, he got a scholarship). When we talked for the first time, it was because we were watching a couple making out in a car. I sat next to him so many times in class. We laughed quite a few times.
It takes time to swallow it. The first stage: denial. You think "maybe they got the wrong corpse, maybe he's just sleeping with his girlfriend". But that didn't last, I didn't deny his death. He's dead, it's that simple. It's really weird, but I can't get myself to cry about that. I'm in shock, I'm a little in pain. More in shock than in pain, which is self-explanatory.
Last time I talked to him was on saturday. Last time I saw him was on monday. If you don't count the picture in the newspaper, in which he's lying on the sidewalk. I often wondered what would be like watching someone you know, dead, on the news. It's weird. "Hey, I know him".
I went to where the body had been taken. I was surprised to see no one from his family. No one was there, except for his group of friends (who he left us for, last semester). They'd seen it in the newspaper, a psychology student murdered last night, that's how they found out.
Victoria arrived a little later, and I...I usually don't do this, but I went to see the body. He was peacefully resting, somebody did a good job on the grooming. He was holding a crucifix, and I was a little scared he'd open up his eyes. But he looked serene, calm. I think that helped me. Freud talked about the Nirvana, and Ern was there.
Victor came later on, and we stayed there, just the three of us. My brother gave us a ride to the UCA, where we met with Irene. She was at the party when the news arrived last night.
The class I had at 3:30 was conveniently called off. And I spent all the time with Joseph. He wanted to cheer me up, so took me to a house near the university. It was odd, because he walked in a juicehouse (not coffee, juice), as if it was his own house. I'll introduce you three people. The three people were a HUGE fat man, a skinny teenager and a mid-aged guy who I think is very archetypical, he seemed to be a music video director (with beautiful green eyes). The fatman was such a riot, he kept tearing Joseph apart with "remember when's". Oh, and although he was flirty toward me at first, he calls me "daughter". The archetypical guy was very straight-to-the-point, simply throwing in a witty line here and there. The skinny teenager seemed very cool.
I laughed a lot, and I did not realized we were there for an hour and a half, just standing in the hallway of the house. I could tell their life consisted of the TV screen, the Playstation and the computer. And action figures of different kinds. I laughed a lot, and I hope I can come back and visit them some other day. I was obviously feeling bad about Ern, so I didn't enjoy it as I'd have liked.
Afterwards, Joseph and I sat on the street, on some random step. He told me he could see I had a lot of emotions, but I was trying to repress them. And that I was sad because I felt the duty to mourn, out of respect for Ern, but he wasn't my dead. He told me so many things I cannot even begin to repeat. But he made me think a lot about death, more than I already had. Because he's got the street wisdom I don't have. He experimented the death of his gang, when I was your age, or a year younger.
I told him about the crime. I told him it was only one shot, which led me to believe his murder was planned. Joseph said it was, without a doubt. Do you want me to find out who did it?. I knew he was capable, so I told him to leave it alone. A police car was driving by, and the cops stared at Joseph. As long as I'm with you, they won't take me. They don't take people in this zone, anyway.... But I told him to go back to the campus.
At 5:30 we were told there'd be no more class for the rest of the day. And also there'd be no midterm tomorrow. And that was a weight off my back, because I stupidly asked myself, after Victoria gave me the news, how would Ern take tomorrow's midterm if he was dead.
Everybody left the classrom, except for Irene, Victor, Angie and me (Victoria was at church). We stayed in the classroom, talking about it, the crime, and all. Irene is particularly affected, because she's experimented death in quite a few circumstances. I told them about the one shot, it was very...proffesional. The article (don't bother, it's in spanish) also makes me believe it was planned. He still had his wallet with him.
I left, with Joseph. My friends stayed with the Theories of Personality professor, doing the freudian talking cure or something. I had had enough. I didn't want to talk about it anymore, I was fed up. So I walked with Joseph to the cafeteria, to pick up his stuff. He told me, after the cops drove by: I bet you thought for a long time that that can happen to me, because I practically live on the street, and I rested my head on his shoulder as the only answer. So before we went in the cafeteria, he stopped me and said: I will always be with you. Well, not that exactly, but that's the bottom line.
He started to give a speech (apparently directed to his friends, but really to me). A serious peech about death that made me feel a whole lot better than all the laughter I had in the afternoon (I don't need to run away from my feelings). He mentioned that one of his friends wanted to be a clown. But he studied something else to make his dad happy. He (the friend) died. And his brother dressed as a clown for his funeral. Please tell jokes at my funeral, Maniac said.
Joseph and I walked around the campus, and we stood in the hallway for maybe twenty minutes, just looking at each other and talking. I forgot about Ern's death for a while, because I was getting high on him. But I guess this isn't the time to talk about it. Let's just say we had a mindfuck. Very intense, physically and mentally.
And we walked under the rain for an hour or so. It was pouring. He had some conflict with Angie, about their points of view on death. Both were right to me. Joseph may seem very insensitive, but he's not...it's just the way he's been raised, and all the experiences he's had, so he sees things on a whole different level.
He met my brother, and it was Heaven-sent luck that we weren't making out when he walked by. Joseph said he was a lot like me: intellectual...I bet he tells great jokes. Only speaks when needed, and speaks very well.
The day has been terribly long. I am tired and obviously in a bad mood. I think of Ernie's face in the coffin, looking so peaceful, and that's somewhat a relief. I think I'm sorry not for him...well, yes, I am sorry for him, because his life was just cut down at 19. But I'm sorry for his friends, his girlfriend, his family.
Joseph stopped me and made me look at the sky, while he was holding me from behind. It was starting to rain and we could see the lightnings. He told me the ones who stay must go on. The dead is somewhere else, wherever else, but we are here, and we must go on before death catches up with us too. And if I ever die, my love, you must go on.
I think the best thing at funerals is the laughter. It's a sign life goes on. I'm scared this hit, the death of a friend, is just a preamble to something stronger against me. Then again, that's obvious. If I'm not the next one to die, somebody else will be. All I can say is that I've learned about death today more than I'd ever had in my life. And I owe that to Joseph, mostly.
Do you think I'll cry over my parents death? You're wrong. I AM my parents, I am my dad's courage, I am my mom's pride. His view on life and death is very special.
I'll attend mass tomorrow at 9. I guess I'll see practically the whole class of 2002 there. Then it's the funeral, but I don't feel like going. I don't need to go.
I have said practically nothing in this entry (nothing compared to all the things I thought and felt and went through), but I have chosen to just keep it all to myself.