Why Mass Migration from Venezuela is an Opportunity

This is a call to people and governments in countries where Venezuelans are emigrating en masse. A call to open your arms and help Venezuelans in these difficult times. A call to remind you the haven that Venezuela represented to so many Latin American, European and Middle Eastern people in the 60s and 70s. A call for you to open your eyes to the benefit you stand to gain by welcoming migrants to your countries.

I understand the numbers are staggering. I understand massive exodus from a country can create a global crisis and the adjacent countries are most affected. I understand that the culture, the economy can be changed when massive groups of people come in from other cultures. I understand it because I lived it growing up in Venezuela in the 70s-80s. And I can tell you that a country can absolutely benefit from an open arms policy to refugees.

My father was an Argentinean immigrant to Venezuela in the 70s, a time where so many Argentineans, Chileans, Uruguayans, and Cubans were fleeting their countries from oppressing governments. A time also where Lebanese were at war and many came to Venezuela too. The famous writer, Isabel Allende who fled Chile from the brutal dictatorship of Pinochet, has talked about what Venezuelan meant to her in those times. We saved her life and countless others.

I grew up surrounded by refugees in Venezuela. A bubble of southerners from Argentina, Chile, and Uruguay who constantly talked about how much they missed their mate and beef. Who roared for their soccer team, and made asados on Sundays. A group of people who longed for their country but felt they couldn’t go back. They were professors, engineers, parents, writers, priests and poets, entrepreneurs and cooks.

I was born in Venezuela to a Venezuelan mother but I did not feel Venezuelan. My mom embraced my father’s Argentine culture. We didn’t share the Catholic religion. We didn’t eat the same food. We didn’t even speak the same slang. But we were in Venezuela, we lived there and through my childhood into adulthood, I came to understand the immigrant experience and impact to our society. Starting from my mother and her family to all my friends and people who surrounded this immigrant bubble of mine, I experienced the generous and nurturing warmth that Venezuelans gave to all these immigrants.

Venezuela changed a lot in these years, the oil boom and economic prosperity attracted hundreds of thousands of people from all over. Everything changed. New industries were formed. The Germans charted unknown places of the Amazon. Universities got better with the influx of intellectual capital. The Portuguese brought the panaderias. American companies headquartered their Latin American operations in Venezuela. Caracas, the capital, developed into a gastronomic hub— you can go the protected archipelago of Los Roques an eat a magnificent Italian meal thanks to a handful of Italians that decided to make this paradise on earth. Tourism boomed all over, Venezuela was the “best kept secret of the Caribbean” as stated in the tourism campaign of that time. Pop culture – music, cinema and telenovelas were fueled with the talent from all these other countries. Venezuela was a cultural force throughout the 80s decade.

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Venezuela changed these foreigners too. When the 90s hit and the economic downturn started, many left and went back to their countries. They were not the same, the Caribbean culture of joy, the positive – there’s always a way – attitude, the love for nature and music and the easy-going constant tease of friends… that all went with them. I’ve met many of them back in their country of origin and they all miss Venezuela now. Some, like my father, couldn’t leave what had become their true home.

By the early 2000s I was established in the U.S. well before things got really hairy in Venezuela. I started a long campaign to convince my father to leave Venezuela too. Things were getting worse and I didn’t want my parents to stay in an unsafe country with an autocratic, corrupt power hungry President that was using populist and fear-mongering rhetoric to destroy the democratic institutions (I’m still talking about Venezuela.) I feared that Venezuela would become another impoverished country driven to ruin by some greedy dictator. My fears became true.

My father said to me “I’m Venezuelan. I already left a country. No dictator is going to ever make me leave my home” He didn’t. He died Venezuelan, loving his Venezuelan wife and his two Venezuelan children. He still didn’t like Arepas much, but my father and the refugees who became my surrogate family gave everything they had — they built companies, created jobs, raised families, taught others and invested every penny they had — to and in the country that opened its arms when they were in need.

“In Colombia, human rights group Dejusticia has launched a campaign called #VenezuelaBienvenida, which combats discrimination against Venezuelan immigrants in the country. As the group puts it, the campaign is a “call for solidarity,” and one of its aims is to showcasehow many of these are descendants of Colombians who originally fled the armed conflict.”
Nov, 2017, How Latin America is Responding to Mass Venezuelan Migration. 

Now countries like Panama, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Peru, Colombia and yes, the United States, have the opportunity to open up to Venezuelan immigrants. It’s an opportunity to give back to a country that was generous and open just a few decades back. An opportunity because most of us, Venezuelans, will give everything to you. Most of us come to work hard and build, to teach, to share, to invest and to raise our families well just for a chance to create a new life in a safer place.

Do not close your doors.

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Happy 4th of July from an Immigrant

Rafeal Osio’s tale on the Washington Post highlights what many professionals who emigrate go through these days. I left Venezuela before the crisis peaked, mostly chasing a selfish thirst to fill my thirst to see the world and experience the vibrancy and the diversity of the “first world.” However, Rafael’s journey still rings true to me. The pasture seems so green in another country and then, the reality of starting over is so humbling and so much harder than you ever thought. And yet, what drives us, immigrants, is the hope that you can make a better life in place that promises more freedom, more justice, more safety.

I hold those promises dear to my heart in my new country, the U.S. And it’s why I stand against rulings and laws that threaten them such as, the recent Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, which seems to go against the very core values of the Constitution; and the lack of strict gun control, which is making public places like schools unsafe. Here’s why this baffles me to now end: in this country, you have to keep your kids in a car seat until their 7 to protect them from crashes; you can’t drink beer in a glass bottle in the beach because someone might get a cut; you can’t even have stairs in your house without a rail because you may fall (in your own house!) and yet, we can’t seem to muster the will to regulate the access to an object specifically made to kill. #makesnosense

These are the things I think about while I prepare my house to get together with friends and celebrate this birth of this great country which I never thought I would love and appreciate as I do. But I’ve built a life here, a really good one, I have a beautiful family, many  friends that have shared my journey and, economic and intellectual freedom. After 16 years here, I feel at home. And when I read or hear about fellow immigrants, undocumented or not, I empathize. I know some go through much harder times and some are luckier. Whatever the case is, I hope that we treat immigration reform with humanity and compassion. We, immigrants, are still part of the bedrock of this country.

Happy 4th of July from a loving self-made patriot.

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How you can change the world, today

On Wednesday I finished packing my bag. I had bought my mother her vitamins, I had a new dress I and got a haircut in order to look put together. I was getting ready to embark on an 18 hour journey to get to Venezuela to witness my brother’s wedding. It’s such a happy occasion for our family. Ever since we lost my my father, it’s a treasure to get together with my family to celebrate love, life, and happiness.

It was six o’clock when I zipped up the suitcase and my husband asked me, “are you really going?”

I looked at him with tears in my eyes, “no, I don’t think I can.”

Over the last week I’ve watched in despair how Venezuela, my native country, goes through a spike in social unrest that has left at least six dead and hundreds injured. Most of them young students.

Try to picture my anxiety as I check Facebook and my feed is inundated with images and videos of young people in the streets, armed forces shooting and throwing tear gas at people, roads barricaded and hundreds of pleas for help and support.

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I scan the images and I recognize the corners and street lights and a shiver travels through my spine as count the blocks between that street on fire and my mother’s home.

The anxiety takes over and I become a sleepless zombie glued to my phone and computer incessantly checking social media and asking my family, “are you ok?” I remember feeling something similar with the attack at the Boston Marathon. But there was a big difference, I didn’t feel alone. I felt like EVERYONE cared and I was one more concerned citizen praying for the safety of our people. I felt belonging.

My frustration almost exploded when I was driving and I heard an NPR report on the protests and violence of the last few days not in Venezuela, but in Ukraine. What?! Do this people know what going on there? I mean, we have A LOT MORE OIL!  

Yes, Ukraine has gone through a steeper escalation of violence. Thankfully now they are working out what looks like a temporary solution for a cease fire (update 2/22 spoke to early). But I haven’t really paid attention because I’ve been engrossed with what’s happening to MY country, and MY family and MY friends and MY trip.

You know how it is. I have two little kids, a job, a mortgage and all the ordinary middle-class tensions and distractions that keep me from expressing a mere, “oh God, those poor people!” every time some crisis flares up in any other part of the world that I’m not directly tied to. It’s not like I do much anyway. Frankly, the only news that really affects my daily routine is the weather.

As the days have gone by and news about Venezuela started trickling in the major news outlets, I started to realize that my desperation for news in the United States was a little over-dramatic. The overwhelming feeling that “no one cares” started melting away as I saw the petitions and the tweets praying for our country.

But here’s the thing: How did Venezuela’s situation become news-worthy? And does that matter at all? Over 3,000 videos were uploaded to CNN iReportTweets about Venezuela are rapidly increasing. A young student in Florida made a video that summarized “What’s going on in Venezuela (in a nutshell)” with over 2MM views in a few days.

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The world started to care (a little bit) because people cared. And when ordinary people like you and me care, pressure mounts. Governments, celebrities, international organizations start to speak out and things start to change. Albeit slowly, but they do, eventually, change. Just take a look at successful social movements like anti-whaling, recycling, anti-tobacco, LGBT rights, etc. Laws and social rules do change, but only after a shift in mass-consciousness is achieved.

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Moyer’s eight phases of successful social movements show progress over years when public awareness peaks after crisis events.

Venezuela is not the first example of this case and it won’t be the last. All it takes is for you and me to care a bit more. To read beyond the headlines without dismissing conflict with a sigh, “it’s such a mess….” Yes, each country, each situation is impossibly complicated and I’m sure it’s hard to relate to most of it. But you can help change things by changing your attitude.

In short, to change the world  just give a sh#t!

As for my trip, instead of celebrating my brother’s wedding in Venezuela, me and few pela gatos (Venezuelan expression to denote lonely people) will be at the Seattle’s Space Needle at 2 p.m., to join a world-wide call for the preservation of human rights in Venezuela. People are fed up with food shortages, failed security and the faltering economy — those are long term problems.* Right now, I want:

  • The government to stop the violence against its people.
  • Retreat the National Guard and the paramilitary groups
  • Free all political detainees.
  • And reinstate freedom of speech.

In preparation for the protest, I read for the first time all thirty articles of the International Human Rights Declaration and I found it so thorough and inspiring. It’s a wonderful pact we have made. We have agreed to observe and uphold this broad set of rights above our local governments and cultures because above all of it, we are humans. And as humans, we can all work a little harder to relate a little more and make this world better.

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UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the peoples of Member States themselves and among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction.”

*Disclaimer: I believe Maduro’s government is illegitimate. I do not support it, but this time I am not interested in demanding his resignation because I am not sure what the alternative is but the violence against its people has to stop.

A year without you

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A year ago today we said goodbye to me dear dad. I was a daddy’s girl and had the great fortune of having a GREAT dad. In his memory, I am publishing the eulogy I wrote for his funeral for which I was unable to attend due to my pregnancy.

My father was an stoic man. He reserved his emotions for the pen and paper so perhaps it is not a coincidence that I am not present at his funeral and the last words about my father are written in a letter.

Those who really knew my Roberto knew that his intransigent personality was only a shield for his immense heart. He always expressed his love through grand gestures and few words. Loyalty and generosity were his core.

Dad didn’t take regular steps, he leaped ahead. Whenever we walked together I always struggled to keep up his pace, and I do not believe I was the only one. That’s how he lived 68 years on this earth. Leaping forward with big ideas, big dreams, big feelings.

While my brother and I have traveled and lived in different places, our world was ample even before leaving the nest, thanks to the imagination and grandiose personality of our father. As a child, I used to complain that if I asked him how much was 2 and 2, he would start by explaining the origin of mathematics.  This is who he was, always challenging us to see beyond what was immediately there.

My father always had incredibly high expectations of all those around him. And his presence and influence made us live with intensity by seeing new experiences, migrating to new places, learning, new things, working hard at everything. When my mother was faced with the end of a career, my father pushed her to reinvent herself and start over. Today my mom not only has a new and successful career, she has developed and grown so much as person, a journey that made my father love her and admire her even more Many of his former students told me that Roberto was the hardest professor they’ve had but also the best one. Well, I had him as my professor for 36 years!

Roberto Gil lived an intense and passionate life. As a young politician in the Argentine Communist Party as Beto. As a rebellious engineer student in Hungary where I learned he was called Robie. As a world traveller with Schlumberger, which landed him in Maracaibo to steal my mother’s heart in a red Maverick. As a beloved college professor and a petrochemical engineer known as El Che. As an entrepreneur who built a successful company that has provided for many families, including mine, for over twenty years. And as Ro, an exceptional father and companion. Papi had many nicknames, but as I got to know different people who shared different phases of his life, it became clear to me that he always projected an intensity that was unforgettable.

This is how I want you to remember him. A handsome, smart, strong, brave, loyal, intelligent, romantic and passionate man. A man of conviction – one that if faced with something he didn’t like would say that it was not a matter of opinion, or taste, it was simply wrong.

Until his last hour he showed his strength. He fought cancer for the last seven years. He fought epilepsy all his life. If there is anything we can learn from my father, is that not even health difficulties are an excuse for not living life in full. Now that he is gone, we should not forget his advice. We should keep making efforts, keep dreaming and moving forward. He would have wanted it this way.

Goodbye Beto.

Goodbye Che.

Goodbye Robbie.

Goodbye Roberto.

Goodbye Ro …

Goodbye …Papi.

Rest in peace you will always be present in our hearts.

* * *

Mi padre era un hombre estoíco y nosotros tendemos a modelarlo. Tal vez es un secreto para algunos y nó para otros, a papi le gustaba mucho escribir y sus sentimientos más profundos los expresó a punta de pluma. Por tanto, es possible que no es mera coincidencia que me toque estar lejos y tener que expresar las últimas palabras sobre mi padre a través de la escritura.

Quien conoció a mi padre sabe que su personalidad intransigente era sólo escudo para proteger un corazón tan inmenso que se le salía por las mangas de las camisas. Y que a la horas de las chiquitas Roberto demostraba su amor con hechos categóricos. Su generosidad y lealtad fueron su temple.

Papi caminó con altitud. Con grandes sancadas. Cuando era niña tenía que ir al trote para mantenerme a su lado y creo que no fuí a la unica que le tocó hacer esto para seguirle el paso. Y así fue por la vida durante 68 años de vida. Roberto Gil, fue un hombre de grandes pasos. De grandes sentimientos. De grandes ideas. De grandes logros. Con Roberto Gil no quedaba nada a medias.

Vivir con un personaje como Roberot, te cambia el mundo. En realidad te da mundo. Si bien mi hermano y yo hemos viajado mucho y vivido en diferentes sitios, nuestro mundo fue amplio desde antes de salir del nido. Eso gracias a la imaginación y la personalidad de nuestro padre. De chica me quejaba que si le preguntaba a papi cuanto era 2+2, el empezaba a explicarme el origen de las matemáticas. Siempre nos hacía ver mas allá.

Papi siempre tuvo expectativas increíblemente altas de todos los que lo rodeaban. Y su presencia e influencia nos ha hecho llevar vidas intensas, experimentar, avanzar, educarnos, eforzarnos. Cuando mi madre se enfrento con el final de una carrera, mi padre la apoyo  la aupó para que se reinventara y volviera a comenzar. Yo hoy mi mamá no solo tiene una carera nueva y exitosa, sino que se ha desarollado y expandido como persona lo cual solo hizo que papi la quisiera y respetara mucho más. Más de un ex-alumno de él me dijo que Roberto fue el professor más dificil, pero que fue el que más le ayudó a avanzar ¡Imaginense que yo lo tuve de professor por 36 años!

Pues sí, Roberto Gil vivió una vida intensa y apasionada. Desde formarse como un jovén politico en el partido comunista Argentino como “Beto”, luego al dejar su Argentina para estudiar en Hungría – donde descurbrí le decían “Robie” y recorrer el mundo con Schlumberger, al llegar casi que por accidente a Maracaibo para robarle el corazón a mi madre en un Maverick rojo. A ser professor universitario y hacer carrera en Estizulia como El Che. Y luego a armar una empresa de la nada que a sostenido muchas familias por mas de veinte años. Y con todo esto siendo un padre  y compañero excepcional . Papi tuvo muchos apodos, pero a medida que conocí a gente que compartió diferentes fases de su vida,  fue claro que siempre era el mismo espíritu intenso e inolvidable.

Asi quiero que lo recuerden. Al hombre buen mozo, elegante, fuerte, valiente, leal, inteligente, sentimental y apasionado. Un hombre de convicciones – al que le parecía que si algo no le gustaba no era cuestión de opiniones y gustos sino que sencillamente estaba mal.

Hasta su última hora el demostró su fortaleza. Peleó el cancer estos últimos siete años. Peleó una epilepsia toda su vida, aunque sólo detectaron a los treinta años.  Si algo podemos aprender de Roberto, quien en vida le tocó una salud dificil es que no hay excusa para no vivir… en Mayúscula.

Adiós Beto.

Adiós Che.

Adiós Robbie.

Adiós Roberto.

Adiós Ro…

Adiós…

Papi.

Descansa en paz que siempre estarás presente en nuestro corazón.

Happy day to my working mother

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It’s mother’s day and even though I have two children of my own, this day fills up with memories of my mother rather than my own.

My mother worked. She didn’t sew, cook, or was around the house much. She’d normally leave the house at 7:30 AM and come back rushing for dinner at 8 PM.

In the mornings, I would watch her get ready for work. I would watch her get really close to the mirror to put on eye liner (something I have never managed to learn) and sift through her colorful business suits. My favorite was the red one. She wore it on ‘important’ days.

My mom was an executive, she had a long career in informatics and ended up being the CIO of large tech company in Venezuela. Her work was very demanding, she traveled often and was away a lot. She had an assistant that answered her phone and often acted as our intermediary.

My mother was different from my friends’ mothers. While most moms were baking cakes, my mother was developing the national information system to manage oil concessions. Sometimes my mother would pull all-nighters and look exhausted and stressed out. I fantasized about telling off her boss for making her work late. But she was always joyful about working, perhaps it had something to do with having a chocolate drawer in her desk.

My mother grew up poor. Without a father to give her a name, an illiterate mother and seven siblings, none of whom attended any type of schooling. She says she was lucky to be the last one because there were enough children in the house working already so she got to go to school. I think there was a little more than luck.

My mother always studied. While she was doing her MBA, her second advanced degree, I would sit next to her staring at some bar charts asking questions that she would ignore because she was concentrating. I remember one her books titled “TQM” which in Spanish stands for “Te Quiero Mucho” (I love you very much), but when I read it I learned it was about a Japanese management philosophy that stood for Total Quality Management.

That is how I saw my mother. Distant, smart, resilient, independent, dedicated, positive, strong. In a country that is obsessed with women’s looks, my mother commanded respect for her intellect without discounting her feminine side. I don’t remember a time when I didn’t want to be like her.

As I got older, we became closer. I felt my mother had been waiting for me to grow up to have a relationship with me. She treated me like an adult much faster than my dad did and when I started my career, she became intimately involved. As I got closer, I got to know her for real. One day she told me I was her best friend. And I realized she was mine too.

But it was the birth of my children that gave me the chance to see my mother in a new light. I saw her rock my colicky baby for four hours in the middle of the night. I saw her cringe in horror when I was having contractions. I saw her sing (badly!) and willfully take any chance she could to change diapers. She cuddled me as I cried when I was feeling inadequate as a mom and confessed she felt the same when she had me. She helped me learn how to hold my babies, how to feed them and bathe them. And in the weeks that we spent transforming ourselves in mother and grandmother, she told me about how she gave up a big promotion and got an easier job (college professor) so she could spend time with me. She told me about how my father would have to hold her when I cried and how bad she was at disciplining us.

Mom is still working. She’s not like most grandmas. She has her own company. She goes to the hair salon often and is working through another advanced degree. She’s obsessed with technology and walks around carrying an unbelievable amount of gadgets.

I may not be baking cupcakes for my girls and sewing their costumes either, but I hope to make my girls proud as I have always been of my mother.

Happy Mother’s Day, mom. I love you and cherish you.

Facebook vs Truth

My life on Facebook is an airbrushed and Instagrammed image of my real life”

Sarah Emily Tuttle-Singer

After my “raw” post about death, a friend pointed me to this post on Kevller.com (a parenting blog): We Need to Quit Telling Lies on FacebookIn it, Sarah Emily Tuttle-Singer, retells the her weekend story as it ‘really’ happened. She opposes the instagramifying of life on Facebook by writing the nitty-gritty of her weekend, including zit squeezing and impertinent tampon questions from her son, including the inevitable reference to penises and vaginas. Which according to the books she read, it is a device one must employ when trying to communicate the ‘truth’ of life to our children.

I agree with her. We do try to appear smarter, prettier, and more interesting than we really are on Facebook. I often edit out the sad and boring parts of my life and try to glorify the small mundane moments such as the few sunny days we get in Seattle. I frequently check to see what got likes and comments and every time I conclude that when statuses are happy, uplifting and have a dash of Zen people like them. I also know that photos of my children tend to get the most likes, so obviously, I post more of them. I succumb to the positive biased system that Facebook has built in.

But I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that and nor should we try to change it. The minute you are publishing anything anywhere you are never going to be 100% truthful. It’s the innate property of mediated communication. Allow me to explain:

Facebook is a communication medium. You transmit a message in a particular way using photos, videos, text, etc. and the other person gets the message through that platform which has its own properties, like the bias towards positive engagement (i.e. there is no thumbs-down option). To communicate on Facebook, you are going through a creative process of composing, editing and getting feedback. That process in itself will always result in a version of the truth that is a bit ‘prettier’. And that is true for any medium. When we watch TV shows, apartments are larger, hairs are always done, clothes are new, people are more interesting and consistent that in real life. Of course, the desire to get more ‘real’ content is not new. In TV we have created aberrations like reality TV to satisfy that desire. But it turns out that we can’t really watch reality, so after taping something like 18 hours a team goes and edits it down to 45 minutes… so reality gets pretty much edited out in order to produce a palatable show.

Thank goodness!

The truth is that our true lives are too long, uneventful, chaotic and plain inexplicable to communicate to others in ANY medium. Only we can experience it directly and in its whole truth. So by all means, please continue to be the smarter, prettier, happier version of yourself on Facebook. I am way more likely to ‘like’ you.

Mirrors: Talking death over Skype

My best friend just told me that her father has terminal cancer. I know why she tells me this. We no longer have much in common. We rarely talk. But she knows I understand. It’s been almost a year since I lost my own father to cancer. And yet, I sit there staring at her, on Skype, unable to find a reassuring word.

Kenny was always the light one. I remember her coming to me in third grade, holding her Barbie, inviting me to play with her group of friends that had been together since Kindergarten. I was sulking, feeling embarrassed that I could not remember the word ‘sentence’ in Spanish (my native language). Not only was I the new kid with an unfortunate Argentinean heritage, perhaps the most hated country in Latin America, I was a fake-Gringa. I couldn’t speak well my own native language. All this drama was quickly dismissed by her. Come play. We’re 9.

This is going to suck, Kenny”

“How can I get prepared for something like this?”

“There’s no way to prepare.”

She cries. I look down to my keyboard. I mutter,

“I wish I could hug you. I’m sorry.”

I try to run through the catalogue of condolences, words, advise and support I got last year. I cannot recall anything I deem remotely helpful. Is she expecting me to generate some incredibly long winded analysis of the situation as usual? Rationalization is the best antidote to emotions, in my book.

Take care of your mother. No matter how hard this is for you, it’s way harder for your mother”

“Yes, I know. She’s not in good shape. But she’s so strong; researching, looking for options, medicines, treatment, diet. I tell her to be strong in front of dad.”

“That was the only thing dad asked me to do. To take care of my mom.”

“Your mom will fight till the end, she won’t accept it. She’ll fight for his life. You and your brothers need to fight for his death”

Kenny cries in such a composed manner. When we were little, her father put her in modeling school so she would ‘learn to be a lady.’ I begged my father to enroll me too. He said he would not be paying money to make me into a prostitute. Our fathers were perfect opposites. So Kenny has a perfect pose. All the time. In every picture she crosses her legs, she arches her back, she turns to her better side. I slouch.

I’m so angry, this (^#!^*!&!(#(^!*&&### illness”

“I know. It’s fucking unfair.”

“Take care of the paperwork though. Turns out dying is a crazy bureaucratic process and if you want your mom to be ok, make sure your dad passes all his assets to you. If you don’t do while his alive, even bank accounts can get frozen. Even if they are shared with your mom.”

“That’s ridiculous. I’ll talk to my brothers”

I don’t tell her about the screams. Or about the psychotic breakdown of the last weeks. I don’t tell her about the absolute destruction I felt when my dad stopped recognizing me. Will it help her? Would it have helped me to know? There’s nothing —NOTHING— sublime about this dying process. I get so fucking angry when I see movies/people saying that cancer gave them some sort of enlighten sense of being and fuller last minute life. Sorry, I know people need hope but I am passed that. It’s horrible. It’s torture. My dad was tortured to death by cancer.

And also take care of his pain. Get pot, vicodin, morphine, everything. The doctors in Venezuela were reluctant to give pain relief and pain is the worse of it all. One of you need to advocate for the most humane death possible. Only the nurses were more compassionate, because doctors are not caregivers”

I have been wondering why don’t feel compelled to run marathons or donate money or take pictures of myself saying things like, ‘end cancer.’ There’s only one thing I feel like saying is that we need to have more support for humane deaths. When dad was lucid he told me he was afraid of the pain and that I had to help him find a honorable way out. I failed, dad. Turns out we are more compassionate with our dogs than with our family.

Remember when we got drunk for the school christmas party and we both got grounded and your dad decided you were not allowed to be my friend anymore because I was bad influence? In spite of my bad behavior, my dad went to talk to yours and he convinced him to let us play together again.”

“Hahahah, I remember that! How old were we?”

“13, maybe 14. Do you know what my dad told your dad?”

“No idea.”

“Me neither.”

Suddenly Kenny drops off Skype and I get a text message: “Lights are out in this shit hole.” She’s referring to the recurrent electrical outages in Venezuela.

I have to put Alma to sleep. Talk later?”

“About death?”

“Yes. I love you.”

“I love you too.”