An indelible memory
I guess I must have been about 7 or 8 years old because my twin brothers had been born already for at least a year or two and we had moved from a rental to our own home at 8 Hudson Street in Mexico City. My bedroom was on the second floor and it had a small balcony overlooking the street. It must have been a weekend because it was midday, and I was not in school.
In general, my ability to recollect is not very good; even now, as an adult, I have trouble remembering dates or specifics about the weather, panorama, what clothes people wore, or other particulars. My younger son claims he remembers events of his childhood dating back when he was really young, like 3 or 4 and he offers all kind of detail as proof. I believe he remembers what his mother or probably his grandparents have told him about his younger years rather than the events themselves.
But I remember distinctly being on the balcony looking down at the street when a fancy black car, a hearse, parked in front of our next door neighbors. Some people went into the house and shortly after they came out rolling back a black coffin. I remember distinctly that I stood there astounded, hardly breathing. I understood that somebody in the neighbor’s home had died. I didn’t know our neighbors well. They were grownups, no kids.
This was the first time I had contemplated death and I was overwhelmed. I watched until the hearse left. I don’t remember other cars. I don’t remember crying. I don’t remember if I went looking for my parents. I don’t remember anything else about that day, but I have never forgotten the black car and the black coffin and that I was impacted profoundly.
Today, February 22, 2021, there are over half a million persons who have died of Covid-19 infection and somehow the image of that day, almost 80 years ago, when I first encountered death, came to my mind automatically.
Contributed by: Federico Dies
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