As a baby, I waited with my twin sister at the door of my house every morning for her arrival. Our little faces that peered out the front window would light up as soon as we saw her five foot figure walk up the driveway. Although her legal name is Andrea, my whole family has called her “Ada” since the very first time my sisters and I tried to say her name. We knew from an early age that Andrea was special; she was someone who we could rely on, who she herself refers to as “our second mama”.
On an average day, when Ada is about to leave my house, she calls up to my room as I’m doing homework, “Adios mi Alejandra.” I respond instinctively, “Adios Ada, te amo mucho, y espero que te suenes con los angelitos.” Such a short dialogue, at face value, seems insignificant. However, I wholeheartedly believe that I must say these words every day—my goodbye to Ada is a necessary part of my daily routine.
When I came home from school one day, towards the end of the third grade, I walked into my house and knew instantly that something didn’t feel right. I entered my kitchen and saw Ada hunched over the table, hugging my mom, tears streaming down her face. Her youngest daughter, Cindy, had taken her own life the night before—I heard her explain between sobs. I walked over to my mom and Ada, threw my arms around both of them, and sat with them until we all could contain our tears. When Ada approached the door to leave that day, I whispered in her ear the same goodbye as I would any other day.
Through all of the trying experiences in both my and Andrea’s life, we both knew that we could rely on the simple goodbyes that we’ve always shared. Lives have ended, severe financial limitations have been overcome, children have grown into adults—amidst these changes, good and bad, I’ve come to appreciate the certainty of our goodbyes. They affirm the support we have for each other, and the love that can’t be shaken by life’s obstacles.
As a college-bound high school student, I’ll soon embark on my own experiences, away from the comforts of my family and home. I’ve begun to create a mental list of the things for which I’ll thank Andrea when I have to say goodbye—I’ll thank her for pulling out my baby teeth when I was too afraid to do so, for teaching me how to add and subtract, for holding me when I cried after getting hurt, and for teaching me how to find the strength to overcome the saddest moments. But when the time comes to bid my farewell and the sadness of leaving Andrea overtakes my memory, I’ll know to utter the simple goodbye that I’ve shared with her all my life. I’ll say, “te amo mucho, Ada, y espero que te suenes con los angelitos.”