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Josefina, Josť to Us

Silicon Valley Debug, Commentary, Melissa Vargas Posted: Mar 30, 2010

They say that family is not the one you share blood with, but the one who would give their last drop to save your life. I agree. Josefina Esquerra Aviles was not a blood relative, but that wouldnít have made us any closer than we were. Josefina or, as I called her, Josť, met my grandmother for the first time in the San Diego jail in 1986. They became the best of friends. When my grandma got out, Josť promised to look for her when she got out. They were inseparable ever since.

Josefina or, as I called her, Josť My grandparents got divorced, so my grandma was a single mother of six children, including my mom. Thanks to Josť, my aunts and uncles and, most importantly, my mother, had the father figure they lacked growing up. Josefina and my grandma raised the six of them in Tijuana in Baja California. Josefina loved them as if they were her own. From doctorís appointments, parties, days at the park, to my first day of school, Josť never left my side. For as long as I can remember, she was the one who stood by me day and night, rain or shine. Josť attended my school events, she potty trained me and scolded me when I would act out. Josť was the one who taught me right from wrong, she taught me blue and red, yes and no, hot and cold. Josť taught me to love but not hate. She taught me to like those who disliked me, and to even love those who said they hated me, because those were the ones who were in desperate need of it.

Josť bought me clothes, shoes, my school books and my favorite vanilla ice cream. She would wake me up with a bright smile and with a warm kiss tucked me in at night. Josefina worked to support my grandma and her six kids for many years. As the years passed, my aunts and uncles got married and started their own families. Eventually, it was just my grandma and Josť. They lived happily together. Josť worked and my grandma would cook for her when she got home, have her clothes ready and sandals at reach. It was a mutual relationship, one that I admired and missed dearly when my mother decided to move to San Jose, Calif. My heart tore apart having to leave Josť. I still remember how much I cried the day of my flight. Though I was only seven and didnít understand much, I did know for a fact how much I needed Josť and how much I was going to miss her.

I visited Tijuana every vacation I had, never missing a chance to be with her and my grandma. Though I didnít spend every day with her like before, the days I did spend with her were the best. I was getting older and my relationship with Josť only grew. I was able to admire her more and value her as the woman she was. Josefina was the tomboy type: very short hair, T-shirts and shorts. She was fun, active, funny and intelligent. She was a math teacher at a university for a couple of years and a nurse before that. We would go to the park and talk and joke for hours. Never was there a dull moment with her. In my days of sadness, she was the only one capable of getting that smile out of me. She was there when I cried and when I laughed. Josefina gave me the best years of my life. She gave my grandma the best life she could, as well as my mom. Josť gave us the best of her.

On Jan. 27, 2005, Josefina passed away. What do you do when someone you love is no longer present? How do you cope with the hurt and guilt of not having had the chance to say goodbye? How do you deal with the never-ending agony of losing someone who took half your life with her? I still donít know the answer to that. Josefinaís death marked all of my family, but scarred me for life. Josefina was a warrior, a fearless fighter. She was strong, and a leader. She is responsible for all I know about being a person. She taught me the essentials of life. What hurts the most is that her time ran short. She didnít get the chance to see me fully grown. She didnít get to see me learn and succeed. She didnít get the chance to hear what I had to say. She didnít hear me beg her to stay. Josť was like my mother. She was the best friend you only find in the movies.

I remember Josť every day. Thereís not a day when her face doesnít pop up into my mind, or her voice doesnít guide me. I know she is with me. Josť is gone, but always in my heart. That is why I thrive to do my best in life. This is why I do well in school, thatís why I try to be the best daughter I can be. I do this so that when that when we meet again, I can look straight in her eyes and say, "Thank you. Thank you because thanks to you, Iím someone in life. Thanks to you, I know what being a woman is. Thanks to you, I became the best woman I could be."

Josť taught me that being a woman is not determined by the size of your chest or how much make-up you use. Itís not determined by how low your skirt is or how high your heels are. Being a woman is when you know what it is like to go to work and take care of a home. When you put your kids and loved ones before yourself. When you give your love unconditionally. When you are capable of laughing when you feel like crying, when you make a difference in someoneís life. A real woman is a strong individual and so unique who shares her wonders and beauty with the world. That is a woman. Josefina was a great woman. I cherish and value her, and forever thank her.

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