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Welcome to issue numero two of The Radvocate! In case you’re new here, this is an unsponsored zine forum for artists, writers and other weirdoes to contribute their work to. It is printed by us and given out free of cost to you. Also, we have a mailing list! You can give your mailing address to our e-mail (theradvocatemag@gmail.com) and you will receive (at no charge) each new issue of the zine when and/or if it prints. Since the first issue, we have seen a lot of growth here at the Rad offices. More and more people want to get involved, contribute, and generally just learn more about the zine. Our sticker campaign has gone international (Seriously, its true- look!) and hopefully you are finding copies of this issue in your local coffee shop, art gallery, dive bar, skate shop, alleyway, STD clinic, or gutter (seriously –one guy wrote in and told us he found an issue in a gutter in Long Beach. WESTSIDE!). If you have any places that would be great to put copies in, let us know! We’re always looking to litter a new space with our creative garbage.

One highlight of this issue is the first poem to grace our pages, written by everyone’s favorite oenophile (no, not the drunk kitchen girl) Chelsea Boyd. In honor of this momentous occasion, I’ve written a little poem here to help kick this issue off: Pointless? Maybe. Unprofitable?Definitely. Lackluster? Somewhat. Clichéd? You better believe it. Unoriginal? Sure is. Boring? NEVER. Well, hopefully. Remember kids, the best things in life are abstract! Enjoy Radvocate #2! -Ed.


Something’s happening at the fountain -cyclists, hundreds, riding in circles, whooping out nonsense, cracking cold Rock Stars, wailing on kazoos. Tall bikes, long bikes, loud bikes, bright bikes, all zipping around in an absurd whirlwind, blasting Michael Jackson, howling at the moon. “Let’s go,” someone cries. “Let’s hit it! We’re gone!” And just like that the mass splits west, pours through Balboa, roars its way out. A galaxy of red LED supernovae weaves through the warm San Diego night. The cops are waiting as we amoeba onto sixth. “Stay to the right!” Sirens moaning like cat sex.. Stoplights cringe at the sight of us. Someone cuts left on University. Five others go right and the blob abides - kinetic democracy without a word. At the west end of Hillcrest a transvestite does the splits on the street corner and waves. Cars honk their horns. Pedestrians cheer. Through North Park, then, hooking south on 30th, drinkers at Bluefoot yipping like coyotes. South Park arrives in no time. Bells, horns, and boom boxes announce our arrival. Families gather on their lawns. “What’s going on?” some ask. “Jesus is back! 2012!” At Grape and Fern an old man glowers from his truck. “You should be walking!” he suggests, portentously. We slide through a residential block and a fat man bellows from his porch, “Why are you breaking the law? Everybody HAS to obey the law!” We shatter his reality with an easy evening ride. Down Broadway, don’t stop! Keep pedaling! No brakes! Fixie kids skidding fiercely left and right. We violate one way streets and the cops intercept us, radio chatter saying, “We’ve got ‘em at 7th and G.” The Hare Krishnas welcome us at 5th and Market chanting wildly, bald craniums glistening in the night. “Why are you doing this?” an amused tourist asks. No time for small talk, but why indeed? Are we Communists? Satanists? Anarchists? Assholes? Some of us, maybe, but that’s hardly the point. Like any true congregation, we have as many ideologies as individuals -the environment, awareness, power to the people, renegade mirth, art, community, controversy, rebellion. To blow your effing mind! We are ‘cuz we can, and so can you! Get a bike, love, and we’ll see you soon. We hit Harbor and the group circles up, hundreds of cyclists spinning pedals in the crossroads. Drivers lean on their horns, but nothing happens. We have obtained critical mass. “Let’s go,” someone yells finally. “Out!” We soar up Harbor Drive, brute whoops rolling across the water, downtown inverted and shimmering. The airport! A sonic bicycle bumps James Brown through the terminal. A BMX kid wipes out on a curb cut, bleeding profusely from his skull.


Artwork by Victoria Paul

“Welcome to San Diego!” someone shouts to the bemused, irate new arrivals. Over the bridge, up Nimitz, across Rosecrans, down to Voltaire, into Ocean Beach. A few cyclists file into a liquor store for tall cans. Half-eaten burritos get salsa’d in the street. Up Sunset Cliffs, west on Mission Bay, north on Mission Boulevard, into Pacific Beach. Some riders break off for bite at the tavern. Others disappear, carrying bikes to the sand. Lovers embrace on Crystal Pier, smiling. No one asks why, but their eyes shine the answer.


‘Impatiens’ illustration by Sean Sagawa


'Impatience' I thought they were called maybe because they were a spring flower we waited for so desperately to show us that another life of warmth and clear skies and light was coming. They weren't my favorite flower. Too flimsy and dull-colored. Not strong enough to ever be plucked from it's mother and taken somewhere else. 'We always turn away from the things we disown in ourselves.' It was a short season of clean, new growth, fresh air, children gripped with anticipation. Summer swiftly brought air weighted with suffocating wetness and the dread of it all ending too soon. But with the impatiens came the sound of the hose outside in the evening, watering the new growth knowing that my father was there in his yard in his home, creating his best work, a family at peace and the fireflies behind him holding the light for my surrender to the undeniable fate of changing seasons.


I stretched out on the old stone steps in front of the American University of Paris. Half my body was in the cool shade of an oak tree, but my legs basked in the warm spring sunshine. I had just taken the subway from Charles De Gaulle to the Rue de l’Université stop across the street. I had called Freddy, who said he was on his way. Deciding that he would probably not be able to pull right up to the station, I crossed the street and sat on the wide, elongated steps of the school to appear more visible. Until then, I was taking in the sights, sounds and smells of a country I had never been to. It was making a great first impression on me already: beautiful weather, cute college girls walking in and out past the school, birds singing. With every passerby you could hear the French language, which babbled calmly and effortlessly through conversations like a brook. There was an adjacent city park filled with lush grass and families out for picnics, with children screaming and chasing each other around the tall, shady trees. Not a bad way to end an 11 hour flight. The bliss was interrupted by the sight of a tall, black-clad Frenchman across the street. Freddy! I hauled up my giant backpack and started to walk towards him. I checked the street and weaved between cars and trolley tracks like Frogger, keeping in mind that these people would not stop for me (in any circumstance). About halfway through he recognized it was me and came to the edge of the sidewalk. “How are you, Matty?” he said excitedly. He grabbed my arm and we bro-hugged with loud slaps on the back. “Let’s go. My father’s place is just down the street”. As we walked through the aforementioned park towards the city streets, we talked and Freddy asked about friends back home, who was doing what, etc. In the midst of this everyday chit-chat, I was silently freaking out about where I was. The streets already looked like the backdrop to a Zola novel, with cobblestone streets and 300 year old high-rises shooting up from them. The apartment building where Freddy’s Dad lived was a departure from this Dickensian template. It was obviously built in the 70’s, but didn’t present itself in a cheesy or decrepit way. More that it represented a cool, contemporary feel of that particular time: well-maintained, minimalist, and at times abstract. You could say it had a timeless feel, but simultaneously the architecture had a firm sense of its own place in time. This was also the first place in Europe where I would encounter the tiny elevators. I guess anyone could make a half-joke, half-guess that elevators in America needed to be bigger to accommodate the bigger (read: fat) people and that in other parts of the world, elevators never needed to be more that 7ft x 4ft x 3ft.


This makes sense, if you’re talking about one or two people. But when there are two or three people with giant backpacks and luggage, you’re in for some elevator-squeezing Three Stooges-type antics. After tumbling out of the elevator, we arrived at the flat. “Put your stuff anywhere for now” Freddy said. I set my pack down and looked up to an amazing sight: an entire wall filled with shelves and shelves of books. Wow! I turned my gaze and saw another wall of books. Then I realized the entire room was covered in bookshelves. Wait…I paced from room to room, looking in awe. Another room of books, and another, and another…the entire flat was coated in bookshelves. Every square inch was a resting place for his father’s massive collection of tomes. “Yeah, my Dad is weird. He really likes books” Freddy said, noticing my expression. I went through some of the shelves, line by line: Flaubert, Turgenev, Dumas, Rousseau. Not just French writers either, but plenty of contributions from English, German and American literature, like Goethe, Victor Hugo, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Mark Twain. There were even books written in Japanese and Chinese characters. Freddy simply shrugged at my amazement. “He said he’s read most of them”. There was no doubt in my mind that it was true. For that time we hung out in the small, well-lit kitchen. Freddy was multi-tasking by cooking some pasta for us and making necessary work phone calls. He was tasked with being a judge at the FISE, an international action sports competition in Montpellier. Our tour would be ending there, but he needed to handle the professional side of things before he embarked on the madness with us. “So, here’s the deal” he said, while we dug into the pasta. “Etienne doesn’t get off of work until six, so when I get things done here, we can go see some of the sights”. Etienne was the guy who I initially contacted and pretty much organized the entire tour. I had met him years ago when he went to SDSU, where he would be a regular at the infamous SDSU Poway Park sessions along with a number of talented bladers who were all attending SDSU at the time. At first I had planned to go to England this year and make my way down to the FISE, but when that fell apart Etienne sent me a message explaining the trip they were taking along the eastern side of France to Montpellier. It would be madness: nine people in a van stopping in Strausbourg and Lyon (each of which was having their own contest) and concluding in the beer-soaked clusterfuck known as the FISE. Not to mention pillaging the local spots, parks and towns all along the way. So, I made plans to fly into Paris and back home out of Barcelona (cheaper and closer to Montpellier) and just like that, my vacation was planned. All that was left to do was show up.


And show up I did. When Freddy finished up, I grabbed my giant Sherpa bag and we careened headfirst into the streets of Paris. “You want to start with Notre Dame? That’s one of the most popular, and a good starting point”. I agreed and we took the tube to the hunchback’s lair. It was this point I was starting to notice the heat. Paris in the spring is nice and sunny, usually 77 degrees Fahrenheit, but when you have a jacket and a heavy backpack…it can be a bit much. First we went to a park in front of a parliament building, with patches of grass and a large reflecting pool in the middle. Everywhere we could see the Parisian elite taking advantage of the beautiful day by relaxing. They sunned themselves on pool chairs, wore white clothes, and let their children sail old toy boats in the fountain water. Young couples were whispering sweet nothings to each other in the shade of a willow tree in the midst of classical marble statues. It was all very idyllic. And dusty. The paths in the parks are not paved with cement but left as packed dirt, as I assume it has been for hundreds of years.


And show up I did. When Freddy finished up, I grabbed my giant Sherpa bag and we careened headfirst into the streets of Paris. “You want to start with Notre Dame? That’s one of the most popular, and a good starting point”. I agreed and we took the tube to the hunchback’s lair. It was this point I was starting to notice the heat. Paris in the spring is nice and sunny, usually 77 degrees Fahrenheit, but when you have a jacket and a heavy backpack…it can be a bit much. First we went to a park in front of a parliament building, with patches of grass and a large reflecting pool in the middle. Everywhere we could see the Parisian elite taking advantage of the beautiful day by relaxing. They sunned themselves on pool chairs, wore white clothes, and let their children sail old toy boats in the fountain water. Young couples were whispering sweet nothings to each other in the shade of a willow tree in the midst of classical marble statues. It was all very idyllic. And dusty. The paths in the parks are not paved with cement but left as packed dirt, as I assume it has been for hundreds of years.


We made our way from the Monet painting of a park towards Notre Dame. We passed by a number of bookstores (called Librairies), some of which were in continuous operation for hundreds of years. He said that these places, especially in the hip quarters, were popular places for citizens and celebrities alike to see and be seen at. Wow, just goes to show how valued the printed word is back home where the closest place to get books is in a failing big-box store wedged between the Home Depot and the discount rack. Freddy told me that for a time he had worked in one of these bookstores, with his father being a frequent customer. Shocking. Oh, and speaking of globalization, the charming cafes and boutiques were suddenly interrupted by a Starbucks, one of the few chains to successfully flourish in France. And there it was, lined up on a parallel street opposite of Notre Dame, pointing towards the landmark like some poorly-caffeinated staff of Ra. “Oh, Starbucks! Hey wait, I wanna stop here” said Freddy. Of course. For a while we hung out in the courtyard of Notre Dame, and Freddy held my bag (thank God) while I went inside. It truly is aesthetically beautiful inside, with a ceiling that takes your breath away. Just try to get through and take your pictures before a service starts, lest you be subject to old Parisian worshippers moaning latin chants. After Notre Dame, we made our way on foot along the banks of the Seine towards the Louvre. The riverfront was lined tourists and locals trying to sell antique prints and crap with the Eiffel Tower on it. Other than that, though, it was quite scenic and cooler because we were closer to the river. We entered a calm courtyard beside the Louvre first, which was almost dead quiet in the middle of the day. Through the archway, adorned with sculptures from the great masters, we could see tourists covering their eyes and walking quickly through the main plaza, instead of gawking and taking pictures. “What’s going on?” I wondered out loud. As soon as I said that, we came out of the structure and found out why. The dust problem was happening here, too – but because there were no trees or foliage in the museum plaza, the landmark was getting the equivalent of a sand storm. Freddy tried desperately to point out famous statues and attractions, but my eyes were stung with sand every time I opened them. There is a picture of me next to the Louvre pyramid where my face looks swollen shut like a bee allergy victim. I pulled out my hooded sweatshirt to provide my face with a little protection, and we pressed on into Jardin des Tuileries – the source of the flying dust demons. We stopped at a tiny hole-in-the-wall – literally – owned by an old Vietnamese woman where I bought some cheap sunglasses with Rasta stripes on them. “Well, they’re the only ones that fit” I sighed, as she energetically nodded and motioned me to press 3 euros in her hand.


Thankfully, the trees of the Jardin also provided relief from the sand. We walked along the eastern edge toward Champs-Elysées, which Freddy coined “the fashion district” as it was home to the best shops in Paris and the entitled assholes that inhabit them. “I’m meeting a friend from High School at a Brasserie there. We should hurry because it’s almost time” Freddy said, fidgeting with his phone every minute or so. Suddenly we became acutely aware of a fenced off area with huge event tents set up in them – and the presence of menacing looking French legionnaires with machine guns. They milled about with nowhere to go in particular, like sharks searching for food in murky water. We kept going, trying hard not to look suspicious, and saw a sign that explained this weird set-up: G8 Summit event. All the high-end security made sense now! After all, Obama and Sarkozy and a bevy of other dignitaries were in these tents that were just a few feet away, supposedly solving all the world’s problems. Later that night, I saw the news coverage of the event acted out by this disturbing realistic-puppet satire TV show which supposedly is ‘big’ in France. All I knew was that it gave me the willies. Who would want their political satire brought to them by Dark Crystal-esque muppets? When we got to the end of the Jardin, we were confronted with a problem: the exit Freddy had hoped to take was blocked by our friends at the G8. Speaking of which, why would they have their high profile event in shabby white party-rental tents? It looked more like a wedding reception than a political summit. You’re going to tell me they don’t have one building in Paris nice enough to host world leaders? Anyway, there was no way to get around it without walking back a mile from where we were. “Merde! We’re gonna be late!” But after a bit of scrambling, we found a hole to get out of the park near a roundabout where (for some reason) a giant obelisk from Egypt sits in Paris and made our way toward the café. It was near the Palais de Elysées, and the brasserie was quaint and quiet, at least for that area. Freddy and his friend Carolina greeted each other in the mass of people. She approached me and we did the faux-cheek kissing greeting, thankfully without any awkward mistakes. It was the first one I’ve done in France, and until then I was haunted by a gauche incident that had happened with a cute girl from Mexico City at the last SDSF Open. I got the rhythm down now, I thought. No cultural awkwardness from here on out –at least in that department. As we sat down at the small patio table, Freddy and Carolina lit up cigarettes for the traditional French appetizer. We were soon joined by Damien, another former classmate of Freddy’s and a nice enough guy. He had been to San Diego once on business, and since he spoke pretty good English, we talked about California and Mexico for quite a while.


He also imparted a deep desire to go to Australia – something I would see over and over again with people out here. Why were they so nutty about Australia? Is it because it’s seemingly the most exotic, mostly-white former colony that they can think of? Carolina stayed fairly quiet through the whole thing, usually only joining the conversation with a single comment. She didn’t seem shy at all, but rather just reserved and collected. I listened as they traded the “Do you remember when…” stories back and forth between the three of them, punctuated by a peal of laughter. Former classmates, drunken nights, weird teachers…all the stuff that is pretty much universally topical between people looking back on school days. Four beers appeared, were drank, and then another four appeared. The street had just begun to hum with the activity of the 9 to 5 commuters returning home. I leaned back and enjoyed. By the time we finished our third round, we received a call from Etienne saying that he was home. Since Freddy had to go visit his girl, I had to proceed to the nearby train station on my own. “It’s real easy” Freddy told me, “The stop is Richard Lenoir. He’ll meet you right there” I went with it, even though I was still kind of apprehensive about the prospect of heading off alone again into the Parisian underground.

“Paris Feet” by Anthony Zinonos


“I’m heading the same way! Let’s walk together!” Damien exclaimed. So thankfully, Damien led me to where I needed to go and got off one stop before me. One uneventful train ride later, I rose up through the mouth of the subway station at Richard Lenoir. Within moments, Etienne was crossing the street, smiling. It turned out that he lived in a flat that was literally across the street from the subway stop, which had a row of buildings on one side of the street and a tree lined park on the other. “So how was your flight, man? How are you doing?” We traded formalities and stories from mutual friends as we stepped into his first floor flat. It was small, yes, but for a one bedroom in Paris I think it was quite nice. The door opened to a tiny hallway foyer, about five feet wide, with the bathroom in the front and the bedroom to the right. What was really nice is that the bedroom connected to a rather spacious (and private) outdoor patio. It was a luxury in a city where space is as scarce as retirement benefits in a minimum wage job. After a short trip up the street to the kebab shop and the liquor store, we settled back in the flat. Thankfully Etienne had an extra mattress, and we talked about what to expect on the tour, when he was going to get the van, and basically the schedule for the next three days. He was on vacation now, so we had two days between now and the start of the tour. The next night he had a social function to go to with his co-workers and he generously invited me along. “And then tomorrow during the day, we can go to Bercy. How does that sound?” It took everything in me to not respond sarcastically. Of course it would be amazing! I had been hearing about Bercy and the amazing skating terrain since middle school. For a moment, I finally understood how foreign visitors coming to California felt when we went to places from classic blading flicks. It was an exciting feeling. Not overly anticipating anything, per se. More like just knowing that wherever you end up, it’s going to be worth all the trouble – and more. The next day, we watched a little tennis and strapped on the skates to head to Bercy. Tennis is a big thing here, and the French Open was going on for the whole time I was there. Since it was so spaced out in terms of scheduling, it wasn’t a sporting event that everyone would gather and have a big party for, like soccer or football. It was more like something you would turn on and check out whenever you had a free moment. That approach to watching sports was, in my opinion, very much a French thing. “We’ll go on a little tour, and you’ll get to see the Bastille, Bercy, City Library…anything else you want to see?” Truth be told, I didn’t really know that much about Paris before I came. The two days I would be there compared to the two weeks after that seemed insignificant and I thought we wouldn’t have time to do anything. Now, I had a day and a half to explore the City of Lights, and I had no idea where to go or what to do. “Umm…well, whatever you think is a must-see place…like maybe the Eiffel Tower, I guess?” I know, I know. But I was at a loss.


We skated up the street along the tree lined park to the Bastille plaza, which was crazy busy. It was lunchtime, so office workers were trying to fight their way either to or back from one of the many restaurants that lined the roundabout. The ones seated looked professional but completely relaxed, smoking and chatting away as if they had the whole day to spend there. There were also quite a few students lounging on the long steps of a building across from the monument, sitting in groups and eating their lunch. It was here we began our real trek through crowded sidewalks and busy streets, passing through the sounds of a million conversations. It felt liberating (and I would experience this in Barcelona, too) to cruise by a little faster than the average person walking through the city. The small shifts you make to avoid sewer tops, dodging unwary pedestrians, occasionally doing smooth turning maneuver around poles and benches. The only thing I could compare to it in California is getting around town on a bike, as everything is way to spread out to get around on blades (or even boards). Suddenly you’re freed of things like gas and parking spots and even traffic lights. I likened it a molecule of what it must feel like to fly. Quite ironic that it was here in the Bastille, where France had gained its independence, that I found liberty from conventional transportation. Vive le revolution! We rolled up to Bercy, which was surreal to see at first. After being exposed to so much media coverage of it over the years, the spot felt so real in my mind. But it didn’t hit me that this place would being something I could see and touch until that moment. I rolled around silently, just looking at all the massive ledges that had made this place a proving ground. We half-rolled, half-walked up the broad ledge stairs to the top, where the take-off for the rounded ledges – yes, the rounded ledges – were. For a while I just looked at it. It was definitely doable. It didn’t have a very far distance to jump, and I knew that (despite the sizable drop on the other side) I could stick to the top if I jumped confidently enough. There is a down ledge that goes through a dirt hill in San Diego that I used to skate all the time, and my friend Ronnie (who had been here before) had said that it was the closest thing to Bercy that he skated in California. I could do that one; I had frontsided – in fact, switch frontsided – that ledge many times. A few throws at it to work out the jitters,and the adrenaline would carry me to it. It was cake. TO BE CONTINUED IN ISSUE #3!!! Maybe.


Photo Art by Sam Currie


For the past eight years I have been haunted by the monumental experience the nineteenth of September brought me. Not a day goes by that the events of that day don’t run through my mind and remind me what fear and pain feel like. In a sense this single event was a blessing and curse. My pessimistic old soul sees it as a curse, while my optimistic young heart looks back on the experience as a blessing. It’s hard for me to say which I feel is a more accurate statement of how I truly feel. Death is inevitable and is one thing that binds all of humanity. It’s hard to recall my experience without my hands beginning to shake and my throat becoming dry, but I see all those physical responses to my recollection as evidence of the tremendous effect this specific experience holds on my mind and body. “Paige, you’ve got a note here from the office.” I stood up from my desk and went to the front of the class to retrieve the small note brought from the office to my teacher. Sprawled across this pink slip of paper the words “Call your Mom when you have a break” stared back at me. At this specific point in time, my thoughts started wandering through the dark crevices of my mind only thinking of horrifying events that must have occurred while I was in school that day. The next opportunity I had, I phoned my mom and she assured me everything was just fine, but she wanted me to stop by Nan’s house when school got out that afternoon. My tense thoughts calmed. This request wasn’t unusual. My oldest brother was home visiting with his wife and kids and my mom’s youngest sister was in town. Nan’s house was a neutral meeting place. Tennis practice had been conveniently cancelled that Friday afternoon and the plans I had made with my best friend to relax at the beach that afternoon were put on hold. I had to make the stop at Nan’s before anything else was done. No problem. But somewhere in the back of my mind, I knew I wasn’t going to be making it to the beach at all that day. Something else was definitely going on. The façade my mom had put on the situation through her phone call had worked. As I left school, I promised my friend a phone call when I was done at Nan’s, and headed over to the house.


Windows down, music up is how I drove that day. Enjoying the infamous San Diego weather I couldn’t help but question what my mom had said over the phone. The more I thought about it, the stranger the note, the phone conversation, the request of my mom came to me. With my Nan’s house not even being the amount of time it took to listen to a three-minute song away from school, I arrived at the bottom of the street. I turned down my tunes, as I continued up the street for my parents were always telling me my music was too loud.

I remember vividly pulling up to my grandparent’s house at the end of the street, circling around to park just outside of the house and seeing my dad's car parked outside. Something was wrong. Thoughts raced through my mind of only desperation and fear. My dad never, and I mean never, left work early. The thoughts running through my mind spread throughout my body as I shut my car door and realized there was an unfamiliar white van parked in their drive-way. I inched closer and closer to the house and read the side of the van, “Elizabeth Hospice".

I continued to add the day’s events thus far in my head: strange note, strange phone call, strange that my dad was off work early, strange van parked outside. My mind was completely muddled for no single thought could be completed. The garage was open, but it was empty. The white lawn chairs towards the back which were rarely unoccupied by grandparents smoking cigarettes and drinking coffee, sat empty. Upon entering the house, I was greeted with the swollen eyes of my mom’s youngest sister. She gave me a hug and brought me inside. Confusion was written all over my face, but I couldn’t even muster up the simple words to ask what was going on.

I don’t recall there being much conversation, but rather motioning to go towards the living room. Taking my first step around the corner, it hit me like a brick wall. Nan's frail body sat in her usual green beat-up recliner chair, her eyes empty. It wasn’t her. A respirator machine sat beside her pumping air into her limp body. It wasn't going to keep her alive much longer. It was then everything came together for me and I realized that the end we were all expecting to come much later from her diagnosis of terminal lung cancer was near.


Fear struck my body like I have never felt before. I was now afraid of that woman sitting in that green beat-up recliner chair. The woman was supposed to resemble the person I called “Nan", but she was the farthest thing away from the woman I had known my entire life. My mother motioned for me to go forward. I walked slowly towards her, her eyes fixated on the empty space in front of her. She didn’t even turn her head, let alone blink, as I approached her. There was no recognition of my presence, but something inside of me told me she knew I was there. I leaned forward, gave her feeble body a gentle hug and kissed her soft forehead. I knelt next to her, attempting to make some sort of eye contact with her and whispered in her ear, "Nan, I'm here. I love you." Those simple words were all I could conjure up before the tears started to well in my eyes. Now that I think about it, I don't think or even wish I should have said more. Those words were precise and exactly what I wanted her to know as she began her final journey. Tears filled the brim of my eyes and I began to feel sick to my stomach. The thoughts of fear my body had just felt outside moments ago, had set in. This was real. “How could this have happened? It’s only been two months! They said six months to a year! Why now? Can't she just fight a little longer? Who’s going to be grandma now?” As the questions raced through my mind, the more disgustingly selfish they became. The only thoughts that were consuming my seventeen year old body were how losing this woman, was going to affect me, rather than anyone else. I wasn’t able to comprehend what was happening. As I looked around, no one could make eye contact in fear that the tears that brimmed our eyes would soon roll down our faces. Each of my brothers entered the room where Nan was, the same way as I. They said their "I love you’s” and let her know their presence. Recalling that afternoon’s events, it seemed almost like a divine plan how everything worked out. Those who were closest to this woman had their time to say goodbye and call their own. My youngest brother was the last to say goodbye that afternoon as Father Cav walked into the house. The hospice workers had since moved her frail body from her old green chair to the hospital bed that had been set up in the center of the living room. Father Cav asked us to circle around her and hold hands. My parents, brothers, aunt and grandfather knelt down around a woman soon to take her last breath and looked upon her with both love and fear.


The nine of us still avoided eye contact. We had a moment of silence before Father Cav led us in saying together the "Our Father": Our father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day, our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us and lead us not in temptation, but deliver us from evil. He anointed her forehead with a small cross of oil and gave her her last rights, the final sacrament in the Catholic faith. The tears were rolling down each of the faces I looked to for a sense of comfort. There was no comfort in this room. The only thing we all had, were each other. Father Cav finished his final prayer, left us in a moment of silence, and was gone. It was during that moment of silence, that Nan took her last breath. It was not a gentle breath, but rather a final gasp for air. With that final gasp, it was clear it was her last attempt at life. We broke down into deep sobs and tried to console each other the best we could. She was declared dead at 3:33pm, September 19th, 2003. My tears seemed infinite as my dad held me within his arms. I found it hard to breathe. Did I really just witness a death? A piece of this day is replayed in my mind every day, some days more than others. Death is something humanity knows is inescapable, yet when it comes, we are never prepared. I have lost people in my life since Nan’s death, and it never becomes easier. With no grandparents to call my own, I have found myself holding onto my family stronger than before. The people I have been blessed with as my parents and brothers are truly gifts. The experience of Nan’s death is something that bonds us beyond blood. It is something we shared as a family and all learned from. There isn’t a conversation that doesn’t end with an “I love you” or a hug that is held just a little longer. We, as a family, lost someone that day but in the end formed an irreplaceable bond of love.


‘bikeRIDEbill’ by Anthony Zinonos


The Radvocate Issue #2  

http://www.theradvocateisamagazine.com/Media/Default/Archives/R2ArchiveVersion.pdf

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