It was the tears in his eyes
The way he gently laid the phone down
on the kitchen counter
...the way he slowly inhaled and then swallowed
as he fumbled around his mind
to find the words
to tell me what he had to say...
...these were the movement...the motions
that told me
that the brief conversation that he just had
brought into our reality
...very bad news
...news that involved death
would I have guessed
that news would be about you....
My awareness moved towards him
as I wanted to know
but my body took two steps back
My mind screamed TELL ME!
...but my heart whispered...not yet...not yet
I breathed shallow
Knowing all the while
that the words which sat upon his tongue
would change my world as I knew it
My stomach contracted
as each cell in my body stood to attention...
and then the words hit my ears
I didn't want them
These were not the words I had expected
I was not prepared to hear those three words
Estiven (Steven) is dead...
The world continued to move...
I could feel it.
But in my world, everything had stopped
and I found myself in a wrinkle in time
Aware of the movement of Life
but no longer being a part of it
"No! No! No!"...
but even as the words of rejection
poured out of my mouth
I knew that what I heard was true
I knew by the look on his face
by the tears on his cheeks
by the feeling of his arms drawing me close into him
And I knew, by the way we stood together
and wept for the son of our heart...
My mama heart ached with a dull longing
of disbelief and shock...
The day unfolded into a rocking back and forth
between grief and shock
I could see your face
I could hear your voice
I saw all the promise within you
You grand potential spilling out everywhere
I could still see all that you had become
in you short, 19 years
and I longed to tell you...one more time
how proud I was of you
how much I loved you
all the amazing, wonder-filled things
that I saw in you...
and so I did...
As the waves of grief
crashed over me again and again
We spoke...you and I
a sacred story
told between elder and youngblood
and you knew
and I knew
that this was your time...
Sadness sat in my throat
and we grieved you as a family
...we each had our own stories...
and this became a shining gift
in an other wise
After a tear soaked day
I fell into bed with emotional exhaustion at my side
and with tears on my pillow and
an ache in my being
sleep took me deep into a place
of rest and stillness
And there I found relief...
until the darkness before the dawn
and for a small handful of seconds
I lived in the freedom of
not remembering the day before
and then it came bulldozing back
You were no longer walking this earth
Mama Ocean had taken your last breath
and the pain of sorrow
rumbled throughout my body
and all I could do was sob
and pray that sleep would return
That's when she came to me...
She wrapped herself gently around me
like a soft, familiar blanket
Holding me softly as I wept
and she said
"Let me hold you Catherine.
Let me be your place of comfort.
I will hold this sadness, your tears,
your broken mama heart...
I will walk this out with you;
you will not be alone in your sorrow."
And because I knew her
and I trusted her
As I release myself to Grief's waiting bosom
and I let her hold me...
As I drifted back to the stillness
of deep sleep
and the tears dried on my skin...
the deep sadness of my heart
and the pain in my throat
surrendered to Grief
And with the initial shock and disbelief
fading into knowing
the truth of your passing solidified
and Grief held me just that much closer...
As time and life continued to move forward
I felt my heavy sadness turn fully over to grief
and sink into the marrow of my bones
and I welcomed it
"As much as I loved you
So will I grieve"
This was my promise to you
and to my Self
I would not apologize for...
nor would I hide my grief
For I loved you...and forever will
as if you were one on my own
flesh of my flesh
blood of my blood
bone of my bone
My Son of my Heart
that is what you were
and always will be to me...
I find myself standing at the door
to the room of many
Those who have buried their children
I am not quite in the room with them
for you were not fully mine...
But I stand at the threshold of this place
Feeling the grief of unexplainable loss
And I shall grieve you
until I have grieved enough...
I know much of this process
can not fully be walked out
until I return to your home
Until I hold your mother close
and together we weep
together we will shake in our emotions
and together we will know each others suffering
without saying a word...
I will go to your grave
and feel all it is I need to feel
I will soak the earth with my tears
my mama heart will break
all over again
and I will feel no shame
as I lay flowers on your grave
for I loved you...and always will
and the world will know of my love
all who see and know me
will know of my deep love for you
The Son of My Heart
And every time I return
I will forever feel the slight sting
of not seeing your face
not hearing your voice
not being able to watch you grow
into the amazing man you were meant to be...
in the quiet of my sadness
Grief will remind me
that I already witnessed All...
that I already saw the amazing man
you were meant to be...
Till these days come to pass...
Till the time comes that I can return
My grief will reside in my bones
some days it will be heavy
and I will feel its weight in my being
while other days I will barely even notice
As it is with Grief
a necessary ebb and flow
a part of this human experience
One I choose to embrace and breathe along with...
As deeply as I have loved
So even deeper shall I grieve
AndI will grieve...
until I have grieved enough.
Estiven Castano was born September 4th, 1997
He was the only child to his mother and father
He grew up in the ghetto of
Nativity Hill, Medellin, Colombia
In home made of old plywood, bricks and hillside.
He knew much about gangs, violence, poverty
and the desire to change his story.
When Estiven was 10 his dad died in a motorcycle accident
This rocked his young life in a way that propelled him
to even strive higher.
I had the enormous blessing of meeting and connecting with Estiven on my first trip down to Medellin in 2008
My oldest son was with me, and he too formed a bond with Estiven...a brotherhood bond that remained steadfast.
On my last pilgrimage, this year, to Medellin...
the rest of my family joined me for the first time...
I will forever be grateful to the Powers that Be
that my youngest son and my man had that opportunity to meet this amazing young man
and that they too, felt a connection and felt family
with Estiven. It was during this trip that Estiven shared with me his plans for the future...
he shared with me how he was
"changing his story"
creating a new story for his family blood line...
he told me how he felt he lived two worlds
One world was at the center where he
"lived from his heart"
The other was out on the streets, where he
"lived from his mind"...
He had graduated high school ( a HUGE feat for kids of this neighbourhood) and was attending electrical trade school.
Estiven had lived so many lives in his short 19 years
He had faced adversity beyond my own understanding
and had so many factors stacked against him...
but he was determined to make for himself
a better life
a life of freedom
and he utilized all that was offered him
for his higher good...
On June 5th, 2016
we received the shattering news
that Estiven had been killed in a drowning accident
during a weekend, group trip, to the coast
His body was recovered and brought
to the SOLAHIS Community Center
where hundreds of people from the community
came to pay their respects to this
greatly loved young man...
and his grieving mother.
On Tuesday, June 7th
his young body was laid to rest
as his spirit soared free...
He is greatly missed.