It was Cinco de Mayo morning. I had events in two cities that year. I remember. I was setting up in one city and getting ready to head to a Cinco de Mayo parade in another. I was to meet Rosa so that we could handle the parade.
I kept calling and no answer, nada. I thought that she might have overslept, as we had gone to see my family at a gig the night before. As I got closer, I kept calling and getting angrier because I really needed to get to the parade as it was time to line up. Each message I left was something like, “mujer! get the eff up, we cannot be late and I don’t have time to go for you, hello? your client will be pissed and why do I have to take care of this sh– too!? Jeez…”
Once I got to the event, I was more angry than concerned, I admit. Cinco de Mayo is the biggest time of the year in SpanishRadioLand and it is the one time of the year that I do NOT tolerate this kind of irresponsibility, no call, no text, nada? I was livid. However, I got us through the day and that was that.
While on the drive home, I tried to call Rosa again and, still, no answer. Her daughter had gone on a trip with her school so she wasn’t home and I wished that I knew how to get of hold of Rosa’s ex to see if he had seen her. I was thinking that both Rosa and I were going to be leaving the station soon as we had both gotten other jobs and would be moving from the area. Rosa was going to be moving during the upcoming week which is why we were out celebrating the night before, she would be leaving right after Cinco and her ex was not happy about her leaving, he was all up with another woman yet he still kept Rosa hanging on – she had decided that she’d had enough and was down for for a change.
On that Monday after the Cinco de Mayo festivals, I was at the station and had just completed my on-air shift, when I got the call. The police called me to see if I could go into speak with them regarding the circumstances around Rosa’s death. Upon hearing the news, I was almost inconsolable and very much in shock and disbelief. Turns out that she was found in her garage with a rope around her neck near the running car that had been rammed into the washer/dryer, found by her mother and daughter when Rosa failed to show up to pick up her daughter from the aforementioned trip.
The first question the detectives asked me was ‘did you think that your friend was capable of suicide?’. I didn’t think so but I did know that, some days, I would have to talk her into getting to the office, going to pick her up even, so that she wouldn’t lose her job. Looking back, the pain of depression is very real, and Rosa was trying to fight it off, to make a new start for herself. I was numb and became very depressed as well over Rosa’s death. I couldn’t sleep, I was afraid to be by myself, I was afraid for Rosa, was she at peace? was she still in pain? what was she thinking when she decided it was time to end it and stop her pain?
To this day, I still do not understand what got into Rosa’s mind that she needed to end it all. I suppose that it’s true that for some folks, living is harder than dying. After my intense sadness, I spent a good long minute being mas enojada que la fregada /mad as hell. Frustrated that I could do nothing to help her, to save her. I did try, but it wasn’t enough. Angry that her daughter would grow up without her mama, angry that her ex had indeed been at her home that night but it was never proven that he had anything to do with her death.
Now I choose to remember the good things: her laugh, her unique way of telling me the chisme, how she used to tell me that dressing up and putting on ‘lipistick rojo‘ would make my day better, the hilarious ways she would use the f-word, that she loved pearls, and loved to wear red. Rosa, for all of her sad times, was able to always be my champion and was all for me ‘moving on’ to the next opportunity and helped me find my InnerChingona when I needed it most. It was absolutely the best thing for my career that I made this move. I smile when I think that she never let me forget that, after a crazy night, that I got to work with only one work shoe with me, and she covered for me at work so that I could go out and buy a pair of shoes and save my reputation LOL!
I’m still trying to learn to watch for the signs of desperation and suicide in a person so that, maybe, I can let them talk it out and find their power. I’ve been very down before but not to the point of ending it all. Maybe that’s a gift that Rosa gave me, to show me how to handle my business and stress another way. Quien sabe?
I wish she were here. Especially today. It’s her birthday.