05 February 2009
My cousin died today -- To Heather Montoya!
I feel completely morbid writing this on my blog, but I think putting what has happened in written form will help me process the loss of someone I felt connected to -- a new thing for me.
I met Hezzy at our family reunion in the little town of Golondrinas, New Mexico. Our family, the Montoyas, have lived in this gorgeous part of NM for a good deal of time and the family ranch is immense. As a child, I'd visit and swim in the river, cross the rope bridge, and eat Aunt Daisy's homemade tortillas and chile con carne. AWESOME! In the summer of 2007, we had a huge family reunion, and it was at this reunion that I met Hez. 6 years older than I, I saw her as the older sister I'd really like to imitate. Vivacious, spunky, ain't gonna take crap from anyone, she was pretty much the bees knees. She and I talked about our travels, our passions, our lives as we gallivanted with the fam, drinking and dancing around the bon-fire. That Fall, I visited her in San Francisco, and below is one of our many fotografias. I've decided to leave out the many she took of me when I was pretty tipsy. HA!
I was hoping to visit Hez again this past Friday, but things didn't work out. I've been up in the Berkeley for a writing project, and on Monday, I received a call from many different family members (in NM and in CA) that I needed to go to the ICU of Pacific Campus in SF because Hez had had a stroke Sunday evening and then soon slipped into a coma due to the aneurysm in her brain located near the spinal chord I think. I was pretty much unbelieving of the seriousness of the situation until I saw her that evening, and then and there, I realized that it was bad, very bad. Tuesday we heard that her reflexes had shown some reaction and that there was still blood flow on the top of her brain, but Wednesday, yesterday, the doctor revealed that the scan showed a larger hemorrhage than anticipated and irreversible damage on the lower part of her brain.
Conversation then became more about organ donation and the celebration of her life to be held Saturday. Fortunately, providentially, I happened to extend my flight until Sunday morning, so I'll be here, and I'm glad and moved because I've been present with Hezzy during this whole time; what a privilege! Even today, I walked to the hospital from the BART and a visit to CIIS, and I arrived later than I hoped, but as I arrived, I encountered Hez's mom, Francesca, and we had this amazing healing conversation about my shawl that I had put on Hezzy while in the hospital and how Fran planned to wear it the next few days, put it on Hez's altar at the celebration on Saturday, and then give it back to me with all the blessed energy! And, yes, it was as I was talking with Fran, at 3:11 (Hez's birthday and room number in ICU) that Hez was pronounced dead.
I'm here, I'm present, and I'm thankful. I love you, sister, prima, Hezzy Montoya.
You lived life fully; you were larger than life; you were an inspiration to LIVE OUTLOUD!