It's incredibly late, even by, say, grad-student standards. I can't sleep. It's 2:46AM, and I find my mind wondering. I decided to look in on Mami's Yahoo! account, which I do time to time, just to peruse the "Sent Box" and read my mother's email. I am sure some of you think that's an unforgivable betrayal of some sort, but I promise you my mother would be doing the exact same thing. She was nosy like that.
Of course, what I should've remembered I would find on the first page of the "Enviados" folder (Mami used Yahoo! in Spanish) was an exchange I had with one of my mother's oldest and dearest friends, Mario. He was her middle-school "boyfriend" in Colombia, who went on to become her life-long friend.
In fact, Mario was one of the last of Mami's friends to have an entire conversation with her. On her 67th birthday, September 22, 2008, he called from Barranquilla, and I happened to catch the call. I passed the phone to Mami, who was lying in bed, half asleep. I remember her perking up, smiling and lying to him about how she felt "fine" and how with God's help she would be well enough to attend their graduating class' 50th reunion this fall. She thanked for his call, for remembering her birthday, and for singing the traditional Spanish birthday song to her.
A little more than a week later -- on October 1 -- when Mami was in the hospice house, and we knew the end was near, I logged onto her Yahoo! account and saw an email from Mario, who didn't seem to know just how dire Mami's circumstances were. I sent him an email saying the following (in Spanish):
Sorry, my Spanish isn't so great, but I wanted to tell you that Mami cannot talk on the phone anymore. If you want, you can send a message by e-mail, and I will read it to her when I get to Florida on Friday.
Thanks for being such a good friend.
Sandra, Diana's youngest daughter
Mario responded October 2, 2008 at 5:49 PM. He did not know that Mami had died at 11:10 that morning, before I made it back to Florida, before I could read one final message from her loving friend. Here's what he wrote:
You've been such a very special person to me. My memories of our friendship go as far back as when we were studying at the Colegio Americano. We always had such a lovely time talking about everything that came to mind. Ah, those days. Then you got married and you would tell me stories about how beautiful your children were and how your children were growing up. I had the opportunity to meet several of them and later on see photos of your grandchildren, and indeed you were right.
Later in life we reconnected and once again had the opportunity to share special moments together that made our friendship continue indelibly, and whenever I talk to you, I feel that friendship instantly resumed.
Dy, I hope that you know just how much you mean to me, and I pray that you will get better, so we can continue to have our beautiful conversations and have the opportunity to see each other again.
I pray to my God who is yours also to bestow many blessings on you and all members of your beloved family.
A big hug, a kiss and get better soon.
TQM [I love you lots in Spanish],
What a friend my mother was! In some ways, as amazing a mother as she was, she was possibly, just possibly, an even better friend.
God, help me be the kind of friend who's worthy of such praise.
Photo: Mami, second from right, with her gym-class buddies, circa 1958