BY ASSADOUR DERDERIAN
It has been almost a year that you passed away, but it seems like it was yesterday.
And I know the fact that “yesterday” is the name of a famous song by the Beatles, it is the name of a movie mimicking the Beatles, and its Armenian transcript scribbled by a painting hanging on my wall.
And it was like yesterday when we played cards when it took fifteen minutes for you to begin to play.
And the amount of time it took to tell me a story with no plot or meaning but still frozen in my mind.
And we never agreed on anything; we always had a different viewpoint, but we loved each other endlessly, and that is making a year of you passing away seem like only yesterday.
And at your funeral, I cried more than I should. Surrounded by many but felt like one.
I remember waiting for you on a playground bench at the school and checking all those who exited the door, hoping that it was you.
And it was not your chair or position; you were merely a teacher, that of our native language – Armenian. And everyone knew that you were the strictest to those who could learn, offered a leeway for those who couldn’t.
On the verge of being thirty, I had a bicycle accident. I preached that everyone should wear a helmet while bicycling; even though it did not make sense, my accident was the proof that it did make sense.
I had several surgeries that lasted for many hours, and in that process, a part of my brain sliced away, which altered the nervous system on the left side of my body. I was in a coma in the first six months (and thank God that I was), but the information I got from others was that my percentage to live as close to 1%. The doctor that took care of me suggested that my body parts be donated to those who needed them.
And when I woke up, I was a piece of stick that could not bend or walk; I could not speak and was stuck in a wheelchair.
The only thing constant in the length of that process was my friends (and that is where I knew who my friends were) and my family.
And that constant was what made me live again.
Bab, you, and mom, were in the hospital(s) and health care centers every day, with no exception. To others, you were a dictator, to me, an angel.
You stretched my legs from the time you could stretch my legs. In comma, post comma, it did not matter.
You made me walk with a walker at first, replaced with a stick afterward. A year and two months later, when I came home, you took me to YMCA during the day and made me walk at nighttime.
Love equals sacrifice, and you sacrificed everything for me.
There is nothing that ever lasts in the universe, not even the universe itself. Everyone is born and lives a certain amount of time and dies afterward.
We said our last goodbye during a covid season, where things are canceled to protect the lives of others, but the cemetery was full of people of all ranks and opinions.
They Strolled by and shook hands and say their condolences.
As I watched from the sideline, I heard your voice – there is no “me” or “you” – There is just “us.”
“So now do not worry, take what you have, and do your work and you will have a long life and a very merry one.”
― Ernest Hemingway, For Whom the Bell Tolls
Rest in peace Bab