Maria & Ramiro
I got to see Maria last night. Eight days after a car driven with no headlights on, driver drunk and high, hit them head on and almost killed them. She is home and recovering.
I cannot tell you how good it was to see her last night. To be with her and her family and to just soak up all the wonderful things she is.
Ramiro, her husband, is still in the hospital and not likely to be out in the near future. His injuries much more extensive, while hers were much more life threatening. But he is in his usual good spirits and seems undaunted by the difficulties life now possess for them both.
And that is who they are. Both of them. Happy people, with great senses of humor, who love life, their families and friends and show up no matter what. They are rare people and I am lucky to call them my friends.
I met Maria at a time in my life where I needed so very much. Newly separated, retuning to the workforce after a long hiatus, working 50/60 hours a week, trying to reclaim a life for myself after feeling so consumed by a marriage that didn’t ever feel like it served me, moving back to California. Everything in my life was upended and in chaos. I was reeling and my kids were handling all of the change as well as could be expected for a 8 and 10 year old. We were a collective mess and desperately needed help.
And that is where Maria walked into our lives. She came to us at a time when we needed her so very much. We were lost, floating in space, banging into each other and hurting. She came to our home and she just began, in her silent, caring way, to help us put the pieces back together again.
And she did that until last October. Every week day she took the helm of my life in the afternoons, getting my kids where they were supposed to be, taking care of the house and animals, helping with homework, making them snacks and dinner, taking them to friend’s houses, doctor and dentist appointments. Her position was as a nanny but that doesn’t describe really what she did, she was my children’s afternoon and evening mother. Because that is how much she cared. She did everything as if my kids were her kids, while never stepping over that line where I felt marginalized or rebuffed. Somehow we formed a partnership that worked and created a loving foundational family that saved all of our lives.
I seriously don’t know what I would have done without Maria. I was so overwhelmed with all that was on my plate. My son’s issues were spiraling and I was barely hanging on. She used to hug me and tell me what a great mom I was, after witnessing my son’s horrific words thrown at me like daggers. I dodged but even the ones that missed me hurt and the ones that landed, well I needed help from Maria in removing them.
The house and kids and pets were chaos. Really. But she took command and made it all work somehow. She made herself available to me and the kids, putting us first so very often. I felt guilty frequently for asking her to stay when I had to work late, or had the temerity to go on a date after work. I could only do those things because of her. Without her, the whole of my home life would collapse.
Over the years, I came to know her husband. Ramiro was known for picking up Maria and the kids and treating everyone to movie, with all the candy and soda they could drink. He laughed and smiled and made life fun. He spoiled them and treated them like they were his own children.
Maria and Ramiro took my kids with them to family parties and my kids spent time at their house, often. My kids were not some kids that were taken care of by Maria, they became an extension of her family, because that is how she treats everyone. If you are a friend, then you are pretty close to being family.
Last night I sat in Claudia’s living room, a room filled with laughter, conversation and so very much love. Maria was there at the center of it all. Feeling so blessed and lucky to have all these wonderful people in her life that love her and care about her. I talked and watched while her sister and sister-in-law made delicious food in the kitchen, talking and relating and loving each other while they cooked. Maria told me my daughter and I were staying for dinner, and so of course we did. Chile Rellenos. Oh my god, they were so good. So delicious.
Ramiro called on the phone and every one took turns talking to him. Commenting on how well he is doing. Everyone sharing how scared they were, how upset they were about the fact that the man responsible was not arrested and is now out of the hospital, free to cause another accident. But we spent little time talking about him, because there were so many other wonderful things to talk about...Maria, Ramiro, their dogs, kids, life. I felt like I was in the middle of life while I was in that living room. Not my living room at home that only the dogs use really. The kids occasionally. In this living room, life happened. Family happened. Love happened. Adults and kids all mixed together, eating, talking, laughing. And it made me realize how very much I have in my life. I was not an outsider, I was welcomed as if I was there every Sunday. My daughter and I part of the happy mix of people there to share in the love and care for Maria and Ramiro.
I am not sure that I know two better people. Really. They are people who give. Always. Usually to their own detriment. And they do it with a smile. I knew Maria would be uncomfortable with the Go Fund Me page, but I also knew that they would need the help. And so fitting that the initial ask has almost been met in a short time. There is a fund raiser planned for April 10th also. So much love in the community. Hard working, loving people who have given so much to their families, friends, community and to me. It is their time to receive, life long givers, now must take their turn receiving which is not easy for either of them.
Giving is what one does when one feels one has something to offer, receiving is what one does when one does not. Which is why giving is so much easier than receiving. Receiving allows for an intimacy that giving can, but often, does not. We all need time doing both, giving that which we can, to those who need, and also taking our turn receiving, which requires an admission of need, of lack. And that is hard to do in our world. But I believe, that while it is great to give, service being the highest example of faith I know, receiving is what draws people into our lives, our hearts and our being. Receiving is what connects the circle all around. Without receiving, giving just encourages taking, and we already have enough of that in this world. Giving and receiving is what allows the process to underscore the love, intimacy and connection that exists.
So today I give to them, in all the ways I can, because I want them to experience receiving. To feel the love, the joy and the happiness that they are alive, they are recovering and they are going to be ok. Forever changed but still them. And the world continues to be a better place because they are still here with us.
God speed recovery to you both, and grant you the willingness to bathe in the love and friendship that surrounds you, orbits you, because you are worth every single loving deed that is directed to you.
I love you both and am so grateful and honored to call you both part of mi familia.