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A Bigger Letting Go

This is the day we sell our place in Mexico and we have no idea what it will hold. We must travel one hour away on the straight arrow road to glittering Cancun, to the notary with the marble floors and slick, stainless steel doors and the glass fishbowl of striped peppermints on the front desk.

Loading ourselves into the car you dispatch me to sit in front with Estella, our realtor. I hate this, it is no place for an introvert. I climb in and dream of the invisible corner of the backseat where I could sit, staring out the window without anyone remembering I am there. But you got that. You are a sneaky husband, after forty years, I should know not to trust you.

Now I am sitting next to Estella as we speed up the highway over the man-eating speed bumps from Playa del Carmen, past the magnificent resorts, all the way into resort city. What shall we talk about, what shall we talk about in broken English? I hate the way the English is broken because I failed to fix my Spanish. Now these fragments are all we have.

In the end it’s Trump. They hate Trump, the Mexicans, Estella tells me. I know, I can’t imagine anyone not feeling that way, frankly, regardless of their nationality. They cannot believe his attitude to this festive neighbor down south.

He is dangerous, she says, and glares at me. I glare back, yes he is. Very. We gaze forward and imagine a world where Trump is the king of the world. It is a trashy, horrible world.

All the way, Trump is this, Trump is that. We are in complete agreement; Trump is bad for humans. That is all.

On the way back my husband makes the same move and I am aghast but must hide it under a polite ease. He slips into the back and I think, as I get into the front, what now, what is there, after Trump? And my crumbs of Spanish and her broken English. It is such a long road back to Playa del Carmen.

I turn to her: Your personal problem, was it your health?

Estella fell out of communication with us for about two months during the initial phases of the process to sell our place.

No, it is nothing, I cannot say… I will cry.

No, don’t worry. Are you recovered?

No, Gail, this is something, this is something you can never recover from. I will have this, this will be here, my whole life.

She looks at me and her big turquoise eyes are swimming with tears.

I am sorry, I say, and face forward.

She reaches out, soft, feather touch, so light against my forearm. I look back at her.

I lose a child, she says. Her eyes are again the sea.

My daughter. Six months ago.

I cannot say anything, only look.

It was on your beach, the one in front of your place.

I nod with my eyes, but I am afraid.

There was a flash of lightening. She die immediately. Her… and a friend. There is a loud boom and they are gone, she is gone.

Oh dear, I am so sorry. So sorry.

She was 13, she was my little girl. My husband and I, after that we broke. We are only broken.

On the day, I went home and I looked at myself in the mirror. I saw that I was naked, everything was gone.

It was the end for us.

I put my hand on her arm. Love -- love never goes away.

Yes, you are right. She is here.

Closer than breath, I say.

Yes. She speaks to me, all the time, she speaks. She is my teacher now.

She says, ‘ momma do you know why you feel so much pain? You feel pain because you believe you are’, what is that? Divid..separ?


‘Yes, separate. From God. From me. From everything. But what I see here is there is no separacion.’

She says, ‘momma, I will call it ‘cielo’,’…heaven, you know… ‘so that you understand, but there are many levels and I have not gone. I am on another level, di…’ what is that?


She asks me, ‘Do you know God, momma? He is not really a ‘he’’.

Estella is using her hands and the car is driving itself.

‘And when you look for him, you can’t find it. It is because he is everywhere.’

She gestures. Everywhere.

‘He is not something, like us, he is this vortex, of pure, clear energy’.

The other night I went to that same beach, I looked up at the moon. I said to my daughter, ‘Anica, do you see the same moon as me?’

She said, ‘momma, I am the moon'.

(Names have been changed to protect those involved.)


If we had a keen vision and feeling of all ordinary human life, it would be like hearing the grass grow and the squirrel's heart beat, and we should die of that roar which lies on the other side of silence. 

George Eliot



I live in hazard and infinity. The cosmos stretches around me, meadow on meadow of galaxies, reach on reach of dark space, steppes of stars, oceanic darkness and light. There is no amenable god in it, no particular concern or particular mercy. Yet everywhere I see a living balance, a rippling of tension, an enormous yet mysterious simplicity, an endless breathing of light. And I comprehend that being is understanding that I must exist in hazard but that the whole is not in hazard. Seeing and knowing this is being conscious; accepting it is being human.

John Fowles, Aristos


“To love. To be loved. To never forget your own insignificance. To never get used to the unspeakable violence and the vulgar disparity of life around you. To seek joy in the saddest places. To pursue beauty to its lair. To never simplify what is complicated or complicate what is simple. To respect strength, never power. Above all, to watch. To try and understand. To never look away. And never, never to forget.”

Arundhati Roy

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