This, is my recollection of an event that happened when I was in Mexico this past Christmas break. It may not make sense to you, but it’s not meant to. I wrote it here just so that I can remember. Do not read on if you are squeamish.
We went over to Juan’s house, because we hadn’t heard from them in a couple of days and we had agreed that we’d go over there for a barbecue. Since we hadn’t heard from them, we went by Juan’s house.
There was no one outside, and there were no cars there. This was very unusual, since most people in this part of Mexico sit outside their house greeting passersby and visitors alike. We honked the horn, thinking maybe they just went inside for something or another.
That’s when one of the kids that lives there came outside.
The young child greets us in the car and walks up to my rolled down window. We asked her where are the adults? She tells us, very calmly, very matter of fact, that the baby has died and has gone to the sky.
We asked her to repeat herself and she said the same thing. This time, she gestures with her hand upwards and looks up into the sky.
Naturally, we wanted to clarify what she was talking about. We went into the house and found the adult that was taking care of the kids that had remained behind.
That’s when we found out, that a baby did indeed die. It was the little 4 month old girl named Michelle, that we had met just a couple of days before.
She died in her sleep.
She’d been sick for a few days. Her mom and dad took her to the hospital for a doctor to examine her. A doctor determined, at 3 am, that the baby was fine and they were sent home.
Once home, her tired mother coddled her in her arms and dozed off to sleep. The baby died while she slept in her sleeping mother’s arms.
Her mother discovered her lifeless body when she woke up from her nap at 10 in the morning of the same day.
It was around 7 pm when we pulled up to the house. At about 7:30 pm, we went to the baby’s wake.
She looked, like a little doll. It just didn’t seem real.
There was a little white felt covered coffin in the living room of the baby’s mother’s uncle’s house. The little girl, Michelle, was laying in state under a thin pane of glass. Her little eyes were not completely closed, and her little tongue was almost poking out on one side of her mouth.
It didn’t seem like it was real, human, baby that was in the coffin. I recognized that it was her because she had a prominent birth mark on her cheek.
Her mom was inconsolable, as was Juan’s wife.
Most of the women at the wake were inside the very cold house, and the men were outside, sitting around a pyre, silently. Save for the crying of the women inside the house, it was very quiet.
The next day in the morning, the men went out to the cemetery and dug the grave for the baby girl in the family plot. Turns out, if you’re of meager means in Mexico, you or your family have to do it all. That includes digging the grave that your 4 month old daughter will be buried in.
We did not attend the funeral, but it does not make it any less real.