We’ve never met, though I would have very much liked to. I talked to you a couple of times, I don’t know if you heard me. I’m sorry if I spoke to you the way I speak to our cats. I probably shouldn’t have but then again, I speak cat language to all the things I love. Because I loved you, I still do.
Ander, I wasn’t there when they heard your first resounding heartbeat but it must have been wonderful, a little like an echo of a friendly voice in a cave you’re lost in. It must have been glorious, powerful, beautiful and incredible – a little miracle. From nothing, life.
And then, months of anxious waiting, while we watched you grow and your mamma glow, from our evening WhatsApp calls, confined to our homes. I don’t suppose it mattered much to you, you were confined to yours anyway. It would have been nice though, to be with you every step of the way. But I guess things don’t always work out the way you want them to, do they?
I had so many plans for you Ander. You would have obviously been a voracious reader, like your zija. I’d have bought you books in all shapes and sizes and colours and themes, until I would have to catch up with you and how quickly you grow, when you solemnly tell me you’re not a baby anymore, you know, and that books about farm animals are hardly going to cut it. We’d have aunty dates where you enthusiastically mimic every little thing that had happened to you, every fall, every goal, every story, every cloud, every laugh and every tear and I know I would have stared in wonder, for to see the world from a child’s eye is another miracle Ander. It truly is.
But I guess, there were other plans for you, plans we weren’t in on. You weren’t going to read or play or score or cry. You were just going to be, for a little while, and then take your leave to shine somewhere else.
Ander, I will never hope to understand why things happen the way they do. Sometimes, there is perfect harmony in the timing of life and then at times, the whole order of the world is inversed, and nothing makes sense anymore. It’s just chaos, you know? A darkness so absolute that you don’t think there could ever be light anywhere any more. It’s like hurling your questions to bare rock. Why Why Why. No one answers, simply because there is no why. It happens. That’s it.
When I saw Papa (it’s grandpa to you) flashing on the screen of my phone, when I knew your mum had her monthly appointment, I knew something was not right. I felt it, like a dark hole opening up inside. I was terrified to pick up the phone but I did. There is no heartbeat anymore, he said, his voice breaking. That friendly echo had gone silent and the dark hole inside me swallowed me up completely.
You know Ander, I don’t think I should be telling you this either, but when your mum and dad told us what they would name you, my mum (grandma to your little ears) frowned and, as she always does on these occasions, voiced her opinion. “UNDER?!” while mimicking putting something under the table. Your own mum got quite pissed (I meant angry), and started throwing her bump around explaining how it’s a beautiful Spanish name, and the name of one of the best Man Utd players at the moment (yes, unfortunately you would have been a Man Utd fan, whether you wanted to or not). Looking back, I don’t think they knew just how beautiful a name they had chosen.
Ander means brave. It means having the strength to fight, a variant of the Greek Andros – and we all know that’s where all the famed heroes come from. They did not know then just how much the whisper of your name to each other was also a sharing of strength. They did not know how much it would resonate with what we all need right now. Bravery to carry on, to get back up, to find happiness despite the inner guilt that tells us we should not. That name was also a reflection of your parents, the strongest and bravest people I know, who went to depths no parent should be allowed to go. She is your mother but she is also my little sister, my blood. She’s a hero, make no mistake. You go tell Heracles (he’s also a star somewhere), that he might have met his match: my sister, and all the women just like her.
This was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to write Ander but I wanted to, because this is the expression for all my emotions, even grief. By putting it there, in words, I can look at it from a different blurry eyed angle. In its tangled mess, I can try to accept what happened, not explain it or find reasons for its existence, but accept it for what it is. Heart breaking, overwhelming, horrible in every sense of the word. But I can also see how, even through the pain, there is strength, the strength you conferred. Never have we come together as a family than now. Never have I loved my sister, brother, parents, husband, friends, so many friends, more than I do now.
With your very being Ander, you’ve touched so many lives, it was beautiful to see. It felt like drowning, flailing uselessly, until a hand, and then two, five, ten, fifty, shot through the water, picking a part of us, and lifting. It was beautiful. I don’t think I’d be able to write about this now if it wasn’t for them, whose arms carried us and created a net we could hang on to.
You’ve changed everything little one, and while I wish with all my heart that I got to meet you and teach you wonderful things, you got to teach me one instead. In your innocence and goodness, you’ve taught us just how precious life is. How nothing is ever certain, how everything can be taken away without a moment’s notice. How we must love and love fiercely, every second of every day, because now is all we have.
Watch over your mum and papa. For them, not for me, I want you to shine extra bright at night and I promise I’ll try to live up to your name.
Hanini tieghi, inhobbok.