One of my very best friends, Rosa Elvira Salinas, celebrates a birthday today … and she’s not here for me to call, email, text, or visit her … Rosa passed away, by her own choice, 15 years ago.
I remember the details like it were yesterday: We were celebrating the start of Cinco de Mayo weekend with my familia … the station had two big events planned for the next day and Rosa and I would be working an event in Modesto. I arrive to the venue and call Rosa’s cell, then called her home, more than once. By the time the event started, Rosa didn’t show up, and, while I was disgusted, I did what I always do: just moved forward with the day’s events, ni modo.
I don’t remember calling her before that Monday after the event, as I was still mad that she left me hanging at the events. I was working on some production (commercials) in one of the studios, when I get a call on my cell phone from a mutual friend, Victor. First thing Victor asks me is if I’m sitting down and then he tells me that Rosa was found dead by her mother and daughter. Her daughter had been away at a camp for the week and her grandmother had gone to pick her up as Rosa failed to show up.
I was inconsolable and stayed with my familia as I was afraid to be alone … I could not believe that Rosa was gone and, to this day, I still have a hard time hearing how she was found. Rosa was not perfect but she was really trying to overcome her codependency to a certain guy and his issues and she was getting ready to move to a new job in a few days and get a fresh start on her life. As it happens, I was also getting ready to make a major move as well out of California so we got together that night with my fam to toast the future.
Turns out that the police had been looking for me too on that Monday … they were conducting an investigation on the events surrounding Rosa’s death and they heard my voice on the many messages that I had left Rosa looking for her the next day. I know that I was one of the last people to see her alive because she was still wearing the clothes that I described to the police. Her death was eventually ruled a suicide although I still have my doubts.
I had a few months of absolute darkness and very challenging times ahead of me but Rosa’s death taught me that there was another way out of one’s problems, gave me a little more courage to face life instead of running from it, and, eventually, I began to remember Rosa as I had always known her: smart, funny, stylish, confident, always wearing red, taking care of business. I would give anything for Rosa to have seen herself thru my eyes…maybe she would made a decision to embrace her fear and her life instead of making that fateful decision to leave it all behind.
A few months ago, I drove by the place where we last partied, and it had been converted into a Mexicano grocery store and I smiled when I saw what it is now called, you guessed it, “Rosa’s”. So I always send her a silent shout out when I pass by her ‘place’!
Happy Birthday Rosa and hope that you are resting in peace!
Send good vibes to your good friends today … no matter where they are!