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NEXT TO YOU

To be physically next to someone might feel it is the only way to connect in this world, but how many times have we felt someone is there when they're not? Maybe they are.

"And this is the promise which He Himself made to us. Eternal Life." 1 John 2:25

Someone might want you to read my story or someone needs to hear yours.



(English Version)


It was January 1st, 1981 and I was at the Jorge Chavez International Airport in Lima, Peru saying my last goodbye. The fly hostess called the passengers and I gave him a hug and a kiss and started crying like a baby. I was his little baby. My daddy kissed me and his eyes filled with tears. Why were we crying? We were going to see each other in two months.

For a 16-year-old teenage girl, the most important moments are usually those spent with her friends. I loved my parents. I loved my sister. The circumstances at the time didn’t let us live together. My sister came to America to continue her studies in a university and our mom came with her to make sure her daughter was safe in the foreign land. I missed them like crazy, but i had my friends. My friends were there for me and they became my family. Their families became my family.

My daddy stayed in Peru with me and I had no doubt he was the best father in this planet. If I could have asked for a father, I would have asked for the same exact person. The older father, 18 years older than his wife. I had a daddy that was as old as many grandfathers, but he was never sick and he was definitely never angry. I remember when he saw a picture where he “caught” me smoking a cigarette; and he asked: “what is this”? I didn’t know how to answer that question, I knew he wasn’t happy. I just opened my eyes with no words. I wasn’t scared, I was just sad. I never wanted to disappoint him and I had just done that. He gave me advice against that bad habit, even though he smoked himself. My mom smoked, my sister smoked. I was just like them, just like all my friends. He was hoping I didn’t follow their bad habits, but I did. I was never scared. I was just sad.

During the time my mom and my sister were gone, I got to spend alone time with him. God granted me that time with him. We talked about his dreams, we talked about my dreams. We spent time alone and we spent time with my friends. He was that kind of father, he was everyone’s loving uncle. Always doing something for everyone, always thinking of everyone else. He wanted to make everyone else happy. My grandmother, his mom, was a bitter woman. She wanted my dad only for herself. She became a widow at an early age and only had one son. He did everything for her. When my grandmother finally realized that she would have to share my daddy, she would have none of it, so she never accepted the “other woman”. My grandmother never allowed my mom in her house, or her life. I knew she didn’t mean to harm my daddy, but not only did she harm him, she divided the whole family. Because of her selfishness, her son had to live a double life. He spent time with his mom and he spent time with us. Mother’s day, Christmas, birthdays and any other holiday he had to celebrate twice. He took us to visit her and we always complained. This was the woman that made my life complicated. He wanted to make everyone happy. Unfortunately, he knew it was not possible.

He would try to make plans for the future, but that involved having to make plans for his mother’s care. So his plans always started with these words: “when my mom dies…” he knew at 90 years old she wasn’t going to live much longer. For this trip, he was going to send me to visit my mom and my sister and then he was going to meet us para hablar sobre el futuro and spend the last few weeks of my vacation together. Our plans were starting January 1st, 1981. At least we were going to be able to spend time together for a couple of weeks.

That same year I was going to graduate from high school. My friends and I had planned our senior year for months. I was coming back to a year full of celebrations. My class was going to take a trip to Cuzco and Arequipa. We were going to be the oldest ones in the whole school. We were together since we were 5 years old, now we were turning 17 and we owned the world. At least, we thought we did. On December 31st, 1980 I came down with a fever and I decided to pass on a New Year’s Eve party because I didn’t want to get worse and ruin my trip. My daddy had told me he was coming home after visiting his mom and we were going to spend New Year’s Eve together at home, maybe we would go by my godmother’s house and have dinner with the family. Nothing big. Before my dad got home, a few friends came by the house and asked me to go with them to the New Year’s Eve party. I told them my plans of staying home with my dad because I had a fever. They insisted, it was New Year’s Eve and I wasn’t going to spend the summer with them. They didn’t have to insist too much. I felt better, instantly. I got ready, wrote a note to my daddy telling him to pick me up at my friend’s house and then we could head out to the airport.

At 6am my daddy was picking me up, just like I had asked him in the note. He looked at me with those beautiful blue eyes and I realized I had done it again. I had disappointed him. We were supposed to spend our last night together. He had told his friends that he was going to spend the night with me because I was sick and I was leaving the next day. He kept his promise. I didn’t. When I saw him, I explained to him that I felt better. I explained to him that I felt bad for my friends that went all the way to my house to get me out of bed. He didn’t have to say it, but I could hear him out loud: “What about me?”, “What about our plans?”

We went home, picked up my luggage and went to the airport. He didn’t hold grudges. He didn’t make the ride to the airport uncomfortable. We finalized our plans, talked about his party at my aunt’s house, talked about my party, and of course about our “soon to be” family vacation. That is why I didn’t understand my reaction to our goodbye. It was only a few weeks. Why was I crying this way? I looked out the plane’s window and saw him for the last time.

My mom was waiting for me at the airport. I called my daddy and let him know that I was ok. The first month was uneventful, I wrote letters to him and he wrote me back. One night I was alone in a dark room, ready to go to sleep and I saw my daddy calling me. I opened my eyes and didn’t understand what had just happened. Why was he calling me? Why was he saying: “Come with me”. That was strange. I told my mom I was afraid; I didn’t want to be alone. I wanted to sleep with her. She loved the idea and for a whole week we slept together.

On February 8th, 1981 I woke up at 7 am and sat on the bed, I told my mom that I wanted to call my dad. She thought I was crazy. She reminded me it was 7am. She said: “Call him, but don’t take too long”. I didn’t care, I wanted to talk to him. I needed to talk to him. I called him. He was awake and we talked for 5 minutes. We talked about his week and our plans, then he said “please take care of yourself, I love you”. Yes, those were his last words. That evening, on February 8th, 1981 my daddy died of a massive heart attack. My mom answered the phone. She hung up and told me: “We have to fly to Peru, Guillermo is in the hospital”. They didn’t say it, but he had already died.

After finally arriving to the airport in Lima, everything seems like a fog, a bad dream, a horrible nightmare. The authorities at the airport let us go through without checking passports or luggage. My uncle had made a phone call and as an education minister for the Peruvian government, they were not going to argue. The first person I recognized was one of my cousins and I didn’t even say hello: “How is he doing?", she didn’t respond. She didn’t need to say a word, I knew. My sister grabbed me, we cried all the way home. They were burying him there. I didn’t understand anything. What happened to our plans? Why were so many people at the house? I wanted to be alone with him like I had on our way to the airport.


The next day we went to the cemetery to bury him. I think many cars followed, but I was alone. My mom and my sister were next to me, but I was alone. I still remember the hole in the concrete wall, the tombstone next to him was my grandfather’s tombstone. The space on the other side of his hole was already reserved for his mother. How convenient! Now, she was going to spend the rest of the eternal life next to him. She had made sure to buy the 3 spaces together, like she always wanted. His plans were to have a different life when she died, but she was still alive. She never showed up to the wake or to the cemetery, she said she wanted to remember him alive. My last goodbye was not at the airport, it was when they covered the hole. I remember crying like a baby for a second time in 40 days.


That night after the burial, I remember going to my bedroom and falling asleep right away. I didn’t want to wake up. My daddy was gone, and my life was not going to be the same, ever. I was right, but what I didn’t know was that God was sending me a message that was going to last forever. I had a dream. I was skating with my mom and with my sister. We saw my daddy far away and I started skating really fast to get to him, I was so happy! I didn’t understand what was happening, but I was quivering. The first words that I could think to tell him were: “What are you doing here? You just died!” And with his usual beautiful smile he answered: “No honey, now is when I’m really alive!”

Now is when I’m really alive. Yes, I had heard about life after death. I had heard about the light. I was raised Catholic and I had heard that Jesus was there to meet us when we died. I believed it because that was what they told me, but I had never really thought about it and I definitely wasn’t thinking about it that night. Why was I dreaming about it? It wasn’t a dream; it was a message. Eternal life is God the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Eternal life does not end in this world. Eternal life is not a hole in a wall. My daddy was happy and that is what mattered to me. I didn’t think I could forgive myself for not being next to him when he died, but in this dream he told me: “I am happy” and I knew he was saying, “I will always be next to you”.


(Versión en Español)

JUNTO A TI

Era primero de enero de 1981 y yo estaba en el Aeropuerto Jorge Chávez de Lima, Perú mientras me despedía por última vez. La aeromoza llamó a los pasajeros y yo le di un abrazo y un beso y empecé a llorar como una bebé y yo era su bebé. Mi papito me besó y sus ojos se llenaron de lágrimas. ¿Por qué llorábamos? Nos íbamos a volver a ver en solo 2 meses.

Para una adolescente de 16 años, sus momentos más importantes son casi siempre los momentos que pasan con sus amistades. Yo siempre quise a mis padres. Quise a mi hermana. Las circunstancias de la vida no permitían que viviéramos juntos en ese entonces. Mi hermana se había mudado a los Estados Unidos para seguir sus estudios universitarios y mi mami vino con ella para asegurarse que su hija estuviera sana y salva en el extranjero. Las extrañaba muchísimo, pero tenía mis amigos. Mis amigos estaban ahí siempre y se convirtieron en mi familia. Sus familias eran como mi familia.

Mi papito se había quedado en Perú conmigo y yo no tenía duda de que él era el mejor padre en este planeta. Si yo hubiera podido pedir por un padre, hubiera pedido la misma persona exactamente. Un padre bastante mayor, 18 años mayor que su esposa (mi mami). Yo tenía un papa que era de la edad de muchos abuelos, pero a la vez él nunca se enfermaba y definitivamente nunca se molestaba. Recuerdo que encontró una foto donde yo salía fumando un cigarro y me preguntó: “? ¿Que es esto?” No sabía que responder, yo sabía que no estaba contento. No tenía miedo, sino que estaba triste. Nunca quise decepcionarlo. Solo abrí mis ojos, sin decir nada. Me dijo que era una mala costumbre, aunque el también fumaba. Mi mamá fumaba, mi hermana fumaba. Yo era como ellos y como todas mis amigas. El esperaba que yo no siguiera sus malos pasos, pero así fue. Nunca tuve miedo. Solo tristeza.

En la época en que mi mami y mi hermana no estaban, pase mucho tiempo sola con él. Dios me presto tiempo con él. Hablábamos mucho de sus sueños, hablábamos de mis sueños. Pasábamos tiempo solos y pasábamos tiempo con mis amigas. Era ese tipo de padre, el “tío querido” por todos. Siempre haciendo algo por alguien, siempre pensando en todos. Quería asegurarse que todos estuvieran felices. Mi abuela, su mama, era una mujer bastante amargada. Quería a mi papi solo para ella. Ella enviudó muy joven y solo tuvo un hijo. Mi papi hizo todo por ella. Cuando mis papás se conocieron, mi abuela sintió que lo iba a tener que compartir y por eso nunca aceptó a “la otra mujer”. Mi abuela nunca permitió que mi mami entrara a su casa, o a su vida. Yo sé que no trataba de hacerle mal a mi papi, pero así dividió a mi familia. Por su egoísmo, su hijo tuvo que vivir una doble vida. Pasaba tiempo con su mama y tiempo con nosotras. Día de la madre, Navidad, su cumpleaños y cualquier otro feriado lo tenía que celebrar dos veces. Nos llevaba a visitarla y nosotras siempre nos quejábamos. Esta es la mujer que había complicado nuestras vidas. Él quería que todos fueran felices. Lamentablemente, él sabía que eso no era posible. Trataba de hacer planes para el futuro, pero eso quería decir que tenía que dejar todo preparado para el cuidado de su mamá. Sus planes empezaban así: “Cuando mi mamá fallezca…” Él sabía que, a los 90 años, ella no viviría por muchos años más. Ahora, él me iba a mandar a visitar a mi mami y a mi hermana y después nos íbamos a reunir para hablar sobre el futuro y pasaríamos las últimas semanas de mis vacaciones juntos y después él y yo nos regresábamos a Lima. Nuestros planes empezaban el primero de enero de 1981. Por lo menos, íbamos a pasar un par de semanas juntos.

Ese mismo año, yo me iba a graduar del colegio. Mis amigas y yo habíamos planeado nuestro último año de colegio por muchos meses. Yo regresaba a un año lleno de celebraciones. Nos íbamos de viaje a Cuzco y Arequipa con la clase entera. Íbamos a ser las mayores del colegio entero. Habíamos empezado juntas desde los 5 años, ahora cumplíamos 17 y éramos dueñas del mundo. Por lo menos, eso era lo que pensábamos. El 31 de diciembre de1980 yo tenía una fiebre alta y no iba a ir a la fiesta de año nuevo a la que me hablan invitado porque no me quería empeorar antes del viaje. Mi papi me había dicho que iba a ver a su mamá y luego íbamos a pasar el año nuevo los dos en la casa o quizás iríamos donde mi madrina para comer con la familia. Nada muy grande. Antes de que mi papi llegara a la casa, vinieron mis amigos y me pidieron que vaya a la fiesta de año nuevo con ellos. Les conté que me iba a quedar con mi papi porque tenía fiebre. Ellos insistieron, era año nuevo y yo no iba a pasar el verano con ellos. No tuvieron que insistir mucho. Me mejoré, instantáneamente. Me alisté, le escribí una notita a mi papi diciéndole que me recogiera de donde mi amiga y le dije que de ahí salíamos al aeropuerto.

A las 6 a.m. mi papi me recogió, como le había pedido en la notita. Me miró con esos ojitos lindos y azules y yo me día cuenta que lo había hecho otra vez. Lo había decepcionado. Íbamos a pasar nuestra última noche, juntos. Él ya les había dicho a sus amistades que la iba a pasar conmigo porque yo estaba enferma y me iba al día siguiente. El cumplió su promesa. Yo no. Cuando lo vi, le expliqué que me sentí mejor. Le expliqué que me sentí mal porque mis amigos habían ido hasta la casa para sacarme de la cama. Él no me tenía que decir nada, pero yo lo podía escuchar a gritos: “? ¿Y yo?”, “? ¿Y nuestros planes?”

Fuimos a la casa, recogí mis maletas y nos fuimos al aeropuerto. El no mantenía resentimientos. No me hizo sentir incomoda en camino al aeropuerto. Terminamos de hablar de nuestros planes, me contó de la fiesta donde mi madrina, le conté de mi fiesta, y también de nuestras próximas vacaciones familiares. Por eso es que no entendía porque tuve esa reacción cuando nos despedimos. Iban a ser solo unas semanas. ¿Por qué estaba llorando así? Miré a través de la ventana del avión y lo vi por última vez.

Mi mami me estaba esperando en el aeropuerto. Llamé a mi papi para dejarle saber que había llegado bien. En el primer mes, no pasó nada. Le escribí cartas y el me a mí. Una noche estaba sola en un cuarto oscuro, lista para dormir y vi que mi papi me llamaba. Abrí mis ojos y no entendí que es lo que estaba pasando. ¿Por qué me estaba llamando? ¿Por qué me pedía que regrese con él? Era todo muy raro. Le dije a mi mami que tenía miedo; no quería quedarme sola. Me fui a dormir con ella. Le encantó la idea y por una semana entera dormimos juntas.

El 8 de febrero de 1981 me levanté a las 7 a.m. y me senté en la cama, le dije a mi mami que quería llamar a mi papito. Ella pensó que me había vuelto loca. Me recordó que eran las 7 a.m. Me dijo: “Llámalo, pero no hables tanto”. No me importaba, yo quería hablar con él. Necesitaba hablar con él. Lo llamé. Él estaba despierto y hablamos por 5 minutos. Hablamos sobre su semana y sobre nuestros planes, y después me dijo: “Por favor cuídate, Te quiero”. Si, esas fueron sus últimas palabras. Esa noche, el 8 de febrero de1981 mi papi murió de un ataque al corazón masivo. Mi mami contestó el teléfono. Colgó y me dijo: “Tenemos que volar a Perú, Guillermo está en el hospital”. No nos dijeron, pero ya había muerto.

Después de finalmente llegar a Lima, todo parece como nublado, un mal sueño, una horrible pesadilla. Las autoridades en el aeropuerto de Lima nos dejaron pasar sin chequear pasaportes ni maletas. Mi tío había hecho una llamada y como tenía un alto rango en el gobierno del Perú, nadie lo contradijo. La primera persona a la que reconocí fue a mi prima y ni la saludé: “¿Como está?”, no me respondió. No necesitaba decir una palabra, yo sabía. Mi hermana me agarro del brazo, lloramos durante todo el camino a la casa. Lo estaban velando ahí. Yo no entendía nada. ¿Qué pasó con nuestros planes? ¿Por qué había tanta gente en la casa? Yo quería estar sola con él. Como en el camino al aeropuerto.

Al otro día lo llevamos a enterrar al cementerio. Creo que muchos carros nos seguían, pero yo estaba sola. Mi mami y mi hermana estaban sentadas conmigo, pero yo estaba sola. Hasta ahora recuerdo el hueco en la pared de cemento, la tumba del costado era la tumba de mi abuelo. El espacio al otro lado de su tumba ya estaba reservado para su mama. ¡Que conveniente! Ahora, iba a pasar el resto de su vida eterna con él. Ella se había asegurado de comprar los tres espacios juntos, como siempre había querido. Sus planes eran cambiar su vida cuando ella muriera, pero ella seguía viva. Ella nunca se apareció por el velorio o el entierro, dijo que lo quería recordar vivo. Mi último adiós no fue en el aeropuerto, fue cuando cerraron el hueco. Recuerdo llorar como una bebé por segunda vez en 40 días.

Esa noche, después del entierro, recuerdo que me fui al cuarto y me quedé dormida inmediatamente. No quería despertarme. Mi papi ya no estaba, mi vida nunca iba a ser la misma, nunca más. Estaba en lo cierto, pero lo que no sabía es que Dios me estaba mandando un mensaje que iba a durar para toda la vida. Tuve un sueño. En este sueño yo estaba patinando con mi mami y mi hermana. Vimos a mi papito desde lejos y empecé a patinar bien rápido para llegar donde él, ¡estaba tan feliz! No entendía lo que estaba pasando, pero temblaba. Las primeras palabras que le pude decir fueron: “? ¿Qué haces acá?” ¡Te acabas de morir!” y con su sonrisa maravillosa de siempre me contestó: “No mi hijita, ¡ahora es cuando estoy realmente vivo!”

Sí, yo había escuchado acerca de la vida después de la muerte. Yo había escuchado sobre la Luz. Fui criada católica y había escuchado que Jesús está ahí para recibirnos cuando morimos. Lo creía porque eso es lo que me dijeron, pero nunca había pensado en eso y definitivamente no lo estaba pensando esa noche; era un mensaje. La vida eterna es Dios Padre, Hijo y Espíritu Santo. La vida eterna no termina en este mundo. La vida eterna no es un hueco en una pared. Mi papi estaba FELIZ y eso es lo que me importaba. Yo no pensé que me podía perdonar a mí misma por no haber estado JUNTO A EL cuándo murió, pero en su sueño me lo dijo: “ESTOY FELIZ” y entonces supe que me estaba diciendo: “SIEMPRE ESTARE JUNTO A TI!”



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