I can confidently say that, besides the daily routine and stressful parts of life, I am a joyful person for the most part. However, during the last couple of days, I have been a complete, hot mess!
I take pride in being the kind of person who friends tend to turn to when it comes to asking for advice. In general, I am pretty good about dealing with my feelings and emotions. (Well, except for when something or someone pisses me off. Then, forget about it! In those circumstances I really have no concept of emotional intelligence. Yet, I promise I am working on it!)
To my surprise, I completely lost it this past week. Since I witnessed my dad fight cancer and realized it was, indeed, a losing battle, I haven't experienced something similar. I vividly recall that evening in the fall of 2003 when I went out with one of my brothers and a couple of friends to a night club to try to have a good time; one of my dad’s wishes—for me not to stop living my life because of what he was going through. He wanted me to at least to try be happy in the midst of all that was going on.
Although I tried, leaving behind the pain that constantly haunted me was a pretty difficult thing to do. Nearly impossible. As I stepped out of my house that night, I carried the weight of the world on my shoulders and the heaviness of an aching heart in my chest.
As the night went on, I decided to sit down for a bit and found a barstool right by the window to get some fresh air. There, I stared at the trees, watching them softly move as if they were dancing to the sound of the wind. Behind the beautiful green leaves, I was able to see the moonlight shining. As I witnessed that graceful display of nature, an unannounced thought came into my head:
"MY DAD IS GOING TO DIE!!!"
I immediately started to cry uncontrollably. For a moment, it felt like there was no music, no flashing lights. As I lowered my head, my brother and friends hugged me in an attempt to console me. It was no use. So, we left. Not much could be said.
Approximately eight years later when my grandmother passed away on Christmas Eve, I didn't take the time to grieve. Two days before receiving the sad news, I had found out I was six weeks pregnant. I didn't allow myself to mourn. I did my best just to not think about it and try to focus on what God was giving to me, instead of what was being taken away.
It wasn't until two years ago while standing in line at Lowe's that I found out one of my run club members had been involved in a fatal accident. As I paid the cashier, I started to cry. Once I arrived at home, I tried very hard to calm myself down since I didn't want to upset my daughter.
Just last month, I wrote a post about how a single decision can bring lifetime changes (https://kleinnanda.wixsite.com/thenandakleinjournal/post/when-one-decision-brings-lifetime-changes), sharing how moving to a new place made me so much happier. Nonetheless, among my close friends, I have always been the person who makes the decision to depart. In retrospect, I had never thought about my friends’ perspectives and how it must have felt to be "left behind."
For the first time in my life, I started to understand how it feels when someone dear leaves to start a new chapter somewhere else. To me, the news came as unexpected! Since I moved to Miami about five years ago, I was lucky enough to have met great people and blessed with amazing friends who became like family to me.
Brazil always felt like home, because that's where my friends were. Once I became closer to so many of the folks in Miami, for the first time in eight years living abroad, I started to feel like I was finally home. Just the fact that many of us came from other places always made me feel like Miami was the city to come to, not to move from. But as I said myself, sometimes we just have to make changes, and that's exactly what a dear, obnoxious friend of mine is doing.
As a good friend, I believe it's my job to show support and be happy for him even when my selfish side deeply wishes he would never go. But as soon as I heard those words coming out of his mouth, my eyes filled up with tears and there was nothing I could do about it.
Goodbye, you guys!" I said as I waved to the group departing after one of our after run Saturday breakfasts.
"Goodbye!" said everyone else while kissing and hugging each other.
"OK. Goodbye, Raguila!" I waved from a distance.
"Aren't you going to give him a hug?" demanded Aligri.
"No. I am not. I don't want to hug him. He was sick!"
"He is not contagious anymore!"
"Look at his face! He just said he looked like that because he wasn't feeling well!"
"I don't mind! You don't have to hug me! I really don't care for fake friend's hugs!" he exclaimed from a distance.
"And I don't care for hugs from friends who don't show up for my birthday, either!" I said dismissing him.
"OK," he said as he walked toward me. "Give me a hug!" he said while already wrapping his arms around me. "After all, you never know when you will have the chance to hug me again!"
That comment made me recall the previous year when, while riding his bicycle, a distracted driver cut in front of him, making him hit the side of the vehicle, flying over it, and falling head first on the ground.
"Don't you say that!" I pleaded. "It makes me think of unpleasant memories."
"Well, I am leaving. I am moving to another state!"
"What?!" I exclaimed as the tears immediately started to appear."What do you mean?"
"That's why I wasn't able to make your birthday! I had a job interview!"
As I walked toward the parking lot to avoid having to say another word, our remaining friends about to get in their cars noticed that I was very upset and approached me. I told them the news. Little did we know that Saturday morning when he appeared after our run to join us for breakfast—which was unusual—that would be our last breakfast with him.
That morning, I didn't waste the opportunity to joke with him saying the reason he looked bashful was because he was going to have to pay for a ten-dollar coffee since he always complained about our choices of venues after our runs saying the cafe con leche was just too expensive! We had no idea why he was so quiet until later that week and that we would be gathered for this farewell party.
He said it was not a goodbye, but a “see you later!” As for me, I know I will miss this fella who wasn't my favorite person, but grew so big in my heart that he made me feel like I had a bratty, yet super cool brother. His picking on me also helped me to improve as a person and as a runner (and I know he will disagree with such sentence just for the pleasure of it!).
I can say with no shame that this friendship started as a love/hate relationship. I can't even count the amount of times I had thrown punches at him just to see how good and fast of a response he could give, sometimes with the sole purpose of getting a good laugh out of it! Just as it was during some tough times for all of us.
I will never forget the time during hurricane Irma when we all were so stressed and concerned that the hurricane was supposed to hit Miami. As a group of friends, were able to stay sane by communicating through WhatsApp. Through our pretend fights, we were able to entertain ourselves and others.
While I was sharing information from news networks, he kept complaining about it and telling me to stop watching the news. Later on, I recall sending a message to the group advising everyone about the recent tornado warning and the reports of a touchdown in the vicinity. He responded quickly.
"Nanda, why don't you go ahead and walk outside and let us know if you see the tornado?"
At that moment, I found myself sitting on a mattress inside my walk-in closet with my entire family, crying. I was laughing so hard my stomach hurt. For a moment, I forgot about the fact that the wind was blasting against our windows and the roar it made. Few people have been capable of making me burst into tears of sadness or joy like this friend. Someone who I can't wait to see once again, just to remind him of how obnoxious he is!