Powerful Blood Ties
April 26, 2010
1984 had been the most prosperous year during the last twenty in the family business, which was the reason why everybody was excited about that Christmas season. For Christmas Eve, the whole family (more than forty relatives) would congregate for the big celebration. It was equally great for the kids and the adults. My respectable father, Efren, the godfather of this clan, would host the great festivity. Everyone had planned to be on time for the toast, the banquet, the fireworks, and most of them were expecting the presents as well. Everything would happen around midnight according to the tradition and in honour of Baby Jesus.
On the same day before sunrise, my brother Orlando, had gone to visit his girlfriend, a 10-hour drive. My father had asked my cousin’s parents’ permission for their 15-year-old boy to accompany him. They would come back perfectly on time for the nativity event. In the afternoon, I was packaging and wrapping presents and setting up the attire I would wear that night, when my father appeared at my door. I thought cheerfully that my best friend was looking for my secret help, but the instant I saw him, I knew something terrible had happened. I perceived my hero as frail, and incredibly frightened. Without words, we hugged in a profound silence.
Orlando, in his early twenties, was Efren’s only son among four girls, two older and two younger than him – he, the only one that would keep the family’s name. According to a brief phone call in the afternoon, we were informed that on their way back, they had had an accident. My father was heartbroken; his godson (my cousin) had been reported dead, but there wasn’t enough information – about Orlando – except he was badly injured in a town hospital. The boy was killed when Orlando’s jeep crashed against a tourist bus close to a town two hours from Bogota. My father regretted it over and over again, that he had called in the early morning asking for Augusto’s company for my brother. The remorse was destroying him. He felt himself absolutely guilty; useless regrets wouldn’t help at all. Until that moment, he hadn’t been able to tell my mother the disastrous news – there weren’t words. So, we went together to inform her. Surprisingly, she was braver than him.
“Darling,” he told me, “Augustos’ parents are expecting to be picked up to go to Fusa. Your mother and I are going ahead to the funeral home to arrange the burial and look for your brother. We’ll be waiting for you there.” It sounded bizarre to me, why me . . . and not him? I couldn’t reply. I knew, he was protecting them from more sorrow.
At dusk, I reached my auntie and uncle’s home. He was devastated and immersed in an endless world-gaze, looking nowhere. He looked at me without noticing my presence. Entering into the house, a gloomy coldness wrapped me in the middle of a mortal silence. My aunt sat down on the stairs enfolded in grief and said as soon she saw me:
“Why didn’t Efren come?” It sounded like a condemnation, a knife in my soul.
For the next three hours, I drove to Fusa to the sinister date in an endless journey. Not even one word was pronounced. Only a thunderous silence talked to me. By me, a ghost sat down (the poor father) and in the back seat, my grandmother’s presence was consoling the wrecked mother. When I went into the funeral home, I was relieved from duty. I left the burden in my father’s hands. Afterwards, I saw them hugging, talking and crying. It seemed to have been happening far away from me. They had freedom for reconciliation.
Later, everybody was resigned and immersed in their inner mourning. My father privately recounted to me how the collision had occurred and the forensic report. The boy had been ejected from his seat and crashed against the windshield of the bus; the outcome, many of his internal organs had exploded. My brother had several bone fractures and profuse blood loss. Doctors were expecting more test results. At the moment, my father had the whole incident under his control. The boy’s funeral would be given on Christmas Day. Again, he was the family’s patriarch.
When I went to see my brother at the local hospital that dark night around 10:00 p.m., my heart was beating fast. I entered anxiously into the emergency room. In the middle of a freezing large white room was a high metal stretcher with my brother laid down on it, in complete abandonment. I approached slowly and tensely to him, trembling, and my hands sweating. For a long time, I contemplated tenderly my brother’s serene and pale face, his hands and his injured body having a blood transfusion. I can’t say if he was unconscious or asleep, but for sure he was absent from this world. I took one of his hands in mine. I thanked God from the bottom of my heart – he’s still alive! It was the only endless moment I cried silently but sincerely, deeply in conviction of the power of “blood ties.”
Instantly, I realized my anguished father’s reaction earlier for protecting and helping his offspring. I understood the reason why the “blood ties” are inexplicable. It’s the powerful relationship existing by birth beyond reasons, making people act impulsively. Under immense touching sentiment, I treasure my father’s worship for his kids – I felt myself blessed.
By midnight, a caravan was going toward Bogota. I was driving behind the ambulance, carrying my surviving brother and the hearse carrying the lifeless boy. My mother sat by me and my fathers’ car fallowed us, closing the procession with the mourning parents by him. Silence was again the guest, but a gently scintillating sense was still with me, the faith of Baby Jesus hopefully reborn.
For all of us, despite being apart, the family circle is unbreakable.
My adorable father traveled to another dimension where he continuous to guide his kinship relatives; he left us the perfect generosity and unity treasures. Undoubtedly, Augusto and Efren’s presence would be with us forever, mementos engraved in our minds and souls. For this, family blood relationship goes farther than disputes because “Blood is thicker than water!"