Updated: Mar 19
I had known Carlos for most of my life. As a matter of fact, he was related to my mother in a very interesting way, which I’ll explain at another time.
No, they were not brother and sister. Him and I cared a lot about each other, but it was hard for me at first. Actually, it was probably difficult for him as well. He now found himself with an instant family, child included.
Carlos was a very charismatic, intelligent and funny individual. Oh boy and could he dance!
After about six months into their marriage, my mom had to go back to Colombia to get our residence visas. Her return was delayed due to some bureaucratic issues and Carlos and I were left alone for about four months.
By this point I was attending an art magnet school program thanks to a teacher who had seen me draw and dance.I had applied for both disciplines but chose fine arts thinking that my mother could always teach me how to dance.
I had to be up and ready by 5:30 a.m. for the school bus to pick me up, and, Carlos, being the non-morning person that he was, would always be there by my side. I still smile with love and gratitude every time I think of that.
I was finally going to have the opportunity to experience a father daughter relationship. I remember, with great joy, that one late afternoon we went out to pick green mangos from trees in this abandoned lot.
We could not reach the fruit, so he let me climb atop the roof of his car while he slowly and carefully navigated under the tree’s branches, placing me closer to each mango. We had green mangos with lemon and salt for weeks and lots of laughs.
That summer Carlos and I went on a trip to meet some of his friends. It was going to be my first trip to Orlando and maybe my first opportunity to see Disney World, so I was extremely excited.
It was not the magical experience I expected. There was a terrible car accident. I was not in the car, but Carlos was, and with tragic results.
From the freak three-car accident, only Carlos was injured. He was left paralyzed from the neck down.
From that moment on, my life became divided in two. I would now relate to things as before or after the accident. I was about to turn thirteen and the future seemed more uncertain than ever.