The day we had our the last cigarette.

It was Easter weekend 28 years ago. My parents were living in the countryside because of my father’s job and I traveled to visit them.  But let me start with what happened the night before this trip.

One of my best friends had a party at her house, I think it was for her birthday if I am not mistaken. I was having fun as usual, and another friend told me to go with her to smoke a cigarette , we walked to the entrance of the house, sat on the staircase and she said take a long sip, I am going to read your cigarette. She was a very funny girl I remember laughing and said ok “tell me my future” she took the cigarette from my hands after I took that very long sip, looked at the ashes and she said “oh shit, be careful! I don’t know what is it but there is something really bad that is going to happen, please be careful” she looked very serious but I didn’t take it serious at all.

I arrived to the town, and went to my parents house (Now that I think about it, I don’t remember how did I get there, whatever!) I remember that we had lunch, prawns, and  I also remember that I wasn’t happy to be there, I wanted to stay in Caracas but I had to go visit my parents. I asked my father for the car keys, I wanted to meet up with some friends from University. I was wearing my new Levis and new brown Neutroni boots, I remember that clearly because I wanted them for so long, I also got a new bikini. I got into the car a red Toyota Corolla and left. I recall getting to a place but my friends weren’t there and I decided to go to another place that was a bit further away. I stoped in a red light and I started smoking a cigarette, the light changed to green I put my foot in the gas, I remember being angry (not sure why) and I remember thinking that I had enough of smoking “I have to quit”, opened the window and threw the cigarette out, put my hand on the steering wheel and suddenly I totally lost control of the car. It was like sliding or flying. It felt like it had its own life and it is doing what it wanted, I couldn’t gain control back. I knew that if I didn’t find a way to stop it I will end at the other side of the highway and I might kill someone, I had to do something, it was fractions of second! I saw a light post and I knew that I needed to hit it and most probably will die but it was better than going to the other side of the highway. I used the manual brake but I didn’t see the crash happening, I might have closed my eyes but that noise haunted me for too many years, even now sometimes I can hear it clearly. It was the sound of death and pain. I remember opening my eyes and feeling trapped inside the car, I realized that I was alive but trapped, the pain was so strong but then it went numb, I couldn’t feel anything, I also remember that it was hard to breath, it felt like having a very heavy weight on top of my chest. I don’t know how much time passed but I remember random faces, I remember people trying to take me out, then I fainted, then I got back but fainted again, then I felt my body lying on a very hard surface, I realized that they put me on the side of the highway they might have thought that I was dead because when I opened my eyes there was a young guy looking at me, I cannot remember his face I would love to remember it but it is all so foggy! He said “she opened her eyes, she is breathing”, He, I guess with the help of others, put me inside of a very small car I think I can remember a Chevette. His voice was sweet and gentle, very sweet, he wouldn’t stop talking he told me to please do not close your eyes, to not fall asleep, and I tried I did try for him because he was so sweet and gentle, but I couldn’t keep my eyes open. I promised him that I wont fall asleep but that I couldn’t keep them open. I felt the car stoping, I saw myself lying down in a very tiny bed, but then I saw trees and they were on top of me and now I am lying in the bed looking at the trees from that bed. I asked where I was, I thought he was taking me home, but his voice wasn’t there anymore and I instantly missed him he made me feel safe and he wasn’t there anymore, now I am surrounded by voices that I can not see their faces I felt scared because he wasn’t there anymore and he was so sweet and gentle, now it is a very cold voice that answers “you are at the hospital”, I just said “shit” and thought “I am fucked”. Now I see my body from above lying on a X-rays table, but then I don’t see it anymore I feel it, I am lying on the X-rays table and I can hardly breathe, it is so hard to breathe. There is a guy sitting on my right side but I can only see his back. He is asking me what my last meal was, I told him “prawns” and thought “really, How is it important???” at that point I realized that I peed my Levis, and I felt so embarrassed and humiliated. Now I just want to cry, I just wished for my dad to be there with me, he was my personal hero I knew that he will fix it, he always fixed everything!. I asked him to please call my dad and I gave him my father’s office number. He said “this number is not from here it is from Caracas (another city)” I told him my father’s name, everyone in that little town knew the name of the admiral in charge of the town. He started screaming, calling names.

Now I seriously can’t breathe, and I am trying to fully relax and to not panic because every time that I feel scared less air comes inside of my lungs, so I have to stay calm… and then I hear his voice, “vamos Caraotica tu puedes, tu puedes” (come on “Little Bean”, you can do it, you can do it). He always called me Caraotica when I was a little girl, and I loved it, I loved it when my dad called me Caraotica. I agreed with my head.

They took me into the surgery room, I see my mother’s face and doors closing on her face she stayed out, she is panicking. “shit! and it is because of me, it’s my fault”, I tried to give her a smile, but I think that I failed, I don’t know. My dad is on my side, he wouldn’t go, the doctor gives the order of cutting my Levis, I said “no! don’t cut my Levis!”, he said that if they take it off I will be in so much pain , it told him that I didn’t care about the pain, they took it off, my dad kisses me he said “pelea Caraotica tu puedes!” ( fight Little Bean, you can do it) they took my arm, I can see the needle going in.

I don’t know where I was, but i wasn’t liking it, I was trying to come back, it was dark and on my right hand side is the entrance to the place I am in which looked like a tunel and this lady, friend of my family is at the entrance looking at me, I thought “I am gonna tell her to pray for me, I don’t want to go”, but is she reading my mind? she looks at me and says “don’t worry, don’t go anywhere, stay right where you are.”

I feel like I am spinning, spinning very fast, but there are only colors, I am color, I know that I am getting recharged. I know everything, is like I do have all answers inside of my head, there is no pain, no sadness, I have so much peace.

Now I am in the room, I am looking down, I can see my dad besides my body standing on my left side, he is caressing my leg where I have a huge bruise, I can see my body in that bed. But I don’t know if I want to get back in, I have free will, I can choose, and getting back into that body is gonna be so painful, I don’t know if I wanna do that… but love came through, I see my dad and I see that amazing wave of love coming from him, and suddenly I can not only see it I can feel it, this amazing amount of love towards me, it is so warm and profound, and I can not do this to him, I can not leave him.

I hear voices screaming, they always repeat the same “wake up, fight”, “we cannot do anything for you, you have to fight” “wake up Renata, wake up” But I cant open my eyes or move, I have so much pain. Finally I open my eyes and can see my aunt besides me, she is so pretty, she looks so sad, I press her hand and she is all smiles and tears, it made her so happy and I feel happy for her, I really loved her so much! She said “Now I cannot smoke anymore” and laughs.

My aunt is not in physical presence anymore, but I know where she is. I was there. Now she is the one that knows everything, she has all answers inside of her head, she is not in pain, she isn’t sad, she is at peace. We can still feel her love.

She made a promise that day of easter weekend, she promised that she will quit smoking if I stay alive.

And those were the days, the days when I died but stayed alive and we both had our last cigarette.

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