My phone rang several times before I finally found it at the bottom of my purse. “Where are you?” Santiago, my youngest brother, asked. “I’m at Esteban’s having dinner with friends, Why?.” He calmly said “ Come home”, and without further explanation hung up the phone. It was odd to me that my brother was calling me on a Friday night inquiring about my location, but wasn’t odd enough to make me rush out of the door of my friends house. My phone rang again “Are you on your way? Come home NOW and bring Esteban with you.” It was then when I knew it. Something was going on, something was wrong. On December 22nd, 2006 something was about to change in my family, and I had to be there with them.
My friend’s house is up on one of the many hills of Medellin. The drive from his house to my parent’s house usually takes 15 minutes without traffic. The road is wide and curved, and offers great views of the valley that make up most of the city. I used to enjoy that drive, but that night, it was less pleasant and longer than ever. Esteban offered to drive, which was good because I was too anxious with racing ideas on why it was necessary to bring him, a lawyer, to my house. Why had my brother called me? Was someone into legal problems? If so, what or why?.“ I’m sure there is nothing bad” Esteban said trying to calm me down.
My parent’s house is a big ranch style house on a quiet hill. There is a driveway to the garage door, which is connected through five stairs directly to the bedroom’s hall and the rest of the house. Pushing the remote control, Esteban opened the garage door and parked the car in the garage while I jumped out and rushed inside the house, entering to the bedroom hall, which is wide and open space. There was a big old desk against the wall where the computer sat. Santiago was sitting at the desk chair while my mom was standing against the opposite wall, crying. “Did something happen to our dad? Or Agustin?” I asked. The silence was heavy as a rock. I heard Agustin, my older brother, crying and cursing in the distance. Something was happening, something was terribly wrong “ WHAT HAPPENED!?” I asked again, this time with fear and a shaking voice. “Maritza”, my mom murmured between sobs. “Julie, Maritza is dead” Santiago finally said, in his calm and unique voice.
The ground moved around my feet and I felt how the earth was swallowing me. Everything started to turn around, fast, faster than a tornado, in which I was at the quiet center seeing all was happening to some one else. She had just called that morning from Peru. I had just talked to her that day. She was happy. I was just getting back home after living in Israel for six months. The family was complete again. She had just sung happy- birthday to me two days before. I had just driven her to the bus station and asked her to bring me some damn goodies. This was a joke. It was a real bad joke. “Liar!” I said to Santiago, even though I knew it was the truth. I stared to cry. I hugged my mom, and we cried more. My dad arrived minutes later and started to talk with Santiago and Esteban about making the arrangements. Her body was in Peru. We had to bring her home. Soon after, extended family and friends arrived quickly to our home to offer company and comfort. Bad news always runs like the wind.
We sent Santiago with a cousin the next day to Peru for take care of the arrangements and bring her body back. It took a lot of press, time and money to finally finished the arrangements and had her back. Almost a week later after her dead, we finally have a funeral.
A combination of food poison and lack of medical attention took Maritza’s life away. She was 33 years old. The smart, brave, energetic persona with magnetic charm, oldest child of the Maya's, had vanished. My oldest sister was dead. She was the only sister I knew, whom being 8 years older than me was my best friend. I loved and adored her. I still do.