I woke up and saw your picture and wondered, what were your dreams of back in that little apartment in Bronx?
I always think of the first day of my consciousness and believed it began when I followed you from a dark bedroom into the light of the living room in that apartment. The majority of my memories of you were in that place of your death. Your face, as it was lit by the warm light of the cathode tubes from the television that you were tinkering with and how quiet, serene and happy you appeared in my eyes. The smell of the soldering gun as it touched the flux turning it into a small liquid ball and that small wisp of smoke as it rose past your face. The night when I sought you and found you sweeping up the small mound of roaches that you killed in the kitchen while I slept in that dark room of my unconscious. I remember holding those things that were yours, a doodle in a small black address book, that I took as my own and redrew at one time or another for the rest of my life.
The long absences.
Those days when you came home, you would lift me and I would go through your shirt pocket, looking for that small toy, that I somehow knew would be there. The photo of you standing next to me as I sat on the nickel ride mechanical horse. The faint smile on your face as you stood protectively at my side.
That day that I saw you at the hospital, I couldn’t go inside, I could only see you from the street as you waved to me from your window.
The day that you died.
I watched you gasping on the coach in that room in which I had first saw your face, struggling for each breath and the noise of my mother getting dressed in the bedroom getting ready to look for help for you. That sound you made as you hit the floor and the screams of my mother telling you to get up. She ran out the apartment yelling for help and she found a man who tried. The look of sadness in his eyes as looked at me and my mother because there was nothing that he could do. The look of the cops when they came, they matched that man’s eyes.
The last time I saw you was at the funeral home. Your brothers brought me some toy cars and I played on the carpet aware of my family being around me but somehow I was in my own world until that moment when someone, (maybe my mother?) who took me over to see you for the last time. The coldness of your skin on your face as I dutifully kissed you.
All I have is these photos, all that is left of you passing through this world. All I have is memories that place that include no one else but me and you.
What were your dreams of Papi, as you laid dying on that floor in that small apartment in the Bronx?