A friend gifted me this leather bracelet in August. She conspired to get a sample of Ramón’s handwriting, and my mom had a note from Ramón thanking my parents for everything they’d done to help us since his diagnosis. I first opened the bracelet the day we got back to Atlanta after scattering Ramón’s ashes in Michigan. Seeing his handwriting made me pause at first. It reminded me of when I went to clean out his office in August and saw notes to himself on his desk. When he wrapped up work that day in February, nobody had a clue that was the last time Ramón would wear his “judge outfit” (a term I used to be annoying) or the final time he would exit the building.
I used to incessantly tell Ramón he wrote like a serial killer. I haven’t been in many written exchanges with serial killers, but something about Ramón’s handwriting looked so calculated and methodical – like he had a strategy. And you know he usually did. Mr. Particular. I would often try to mimic his handwriting by adding bizarre items to the grocery list. Then I'd eagerly wait for him to notice at the store. Handwriting aside, this bracelet reminds me that Ramón was a serial lover – a giver who felt things so strongly that, even during his hardest days, he sought opportunities to be kind.
The night before his cardiac arrest, Ramón thanked me for everything. It’s eerie to think about now, but I’m grateful for the content of our last substantive exchange. Ramón told me how lucky he felt and explained that I help him without ever acting inconvenienced; I told him it was an honor, and I meant it with every ounce of my being. It was a revelatory moment for me because, historically, I’ve viewed myself and my health as a burden to those who love me. This final conversation with Ramón shed new light on thoughts that had been taking up residence in my head for way too long.
I have accepted more help over the past 6+ months than I have in my entire lifetime. I can’t say I’ve always done so graciously, but I’ve tried. So, if you’re reading this, thank you for helping reiterate this important lesson – that people give because they care. Thank you for checking in and sending cards or gifts. Thank you for sending meals for humans and treats for dogs. Thank you for selling random belongings for me and moving items into storage. Thank you for cancelling Comcast for me and for having an electrician hang light fixtures. Thank you for selling my car and our house. Thank you for stepping beyond your comfort zone to talk to me about the hard stuff. Thank you for reaching out, even if we’ve never met. Thank you for giving me the courage and confidence to keep moving forward, despite the most difficult year of my life. Thank you for everything.