Today marks the one year anniversary of my uncle’s passing and I can’t even fully describe how difficult it is to describe that he’s gone. I will always remember him as my energetic, down to Earth uncle who would say the realest, craziest, and funniest things ever. Even though a whole year has passed, I still think about him everyday. When I hear the word “deuces” or listen to Frankie Ruiz, my uncle’s image will pass through my mind. It’s even harder when I meet someone who has his same mannerisms or resembles his appearance, but it’s part of life. None of us are meant to be here forever, so we have to learn to cherish our time with the people we love. More importantly, we have to be grateful for that time. I’m grateful for every second I spent with my uncle and I am grateful to have such a close relationship with his children. I can honestly say that I trust his sons with my life and having them as family is something I will never trade for anything. All I can do now is look back at the moments with my uncle with a smile on my face, while also appreciating the time I have left with what he left behind for me and the rest of his family. Love you Tio!
Labor Day is one of those days that people aren’t sure of it’s origin, but nobody questions why they have a day off. I at least know that I never thought too much of this holiday, but I must say it is a good time to measure all of the work that you’ve done throughout the past year. From what I know, Labor Day is meant to celebrate the accomplishments and contributions of American workers. This day off serves as a sort of reward for people who work on a daily basis, mainly, because that work contributes to our economy and the general benefit of our country, but this day should also be an opportunity to celebrate the work that everyone does, even if it doesn’t directly affect the rest of the nation.
Personally, I try to do something productive everyday. I work on my writing projects, I help with my brother’s business, or I reach out to my students. The point is I always try to keep my day from being wasted, even if it means just going to the gym or meditating to work on myself. I truly believe that the different forms of productivity found within each person is important to society and should be celebrated, so I hope everyone enjoyed their day off from work and classes. I had a great Labor Day weekend with my closest friends and family, while I know a few other people who made the most out of their long weekend. I can only imagine the many ways that people took advantage of their day off.
However, I hope everyone truly understands the value of work and productivity. Knowing how to work and experiencing the journey of working for something is one thing that everybody needs to go through. Without that, a person is liable to grow up with the inability to be independent, appreciative, and understanding. Labor Day is meant for those who have worked to finish their education, to maintain a job or career, and to help support others, so they have earned a day of rest.
I look back at my year and I see that I’ve graduated from college and am working two jobs, while nurturing my career. I look at the people around me to see people who have raised kids while working and going to school, worked their way through college into careers, and have developed successful businesses virtually on their own. I commend every person who has worked for something or is currently working for something because I know it’s not easy, so I truly hope you had a great Labor Day and remember to always take care of yourself in the process.
Just yesterday I received the news that my grandfather passed away. He had been fighting in a battle with cancer and, after numerous surgeries, countless treatments, and many long years, his body gave in and it was too much for him to bear. Considering this loss in my family, we at least have the consolation that he passed away in his own home with many of his loved ones around him. Personally, although I wasn’t with him when he took his last breath, I got to see him when he came for my father’s college graduation just two weeks ago. It had been three years since I had last seen him, so seeing him one last time counts for a lot. I can only imagine what it meant for my dad and his parents to share that moment of graduation together, but I am thankful to have personally witnessed those memories. Yes, my grandfather had been struggling in his fight for a long time, but it doesn’t make his passing any less difficult or shocking. If anything, it seems like it came out of nowhere, but then again that may be a selfish kind of mindset. Instead, I should be grateful for the moments I did share with my grandfather and for the moments that I will spend with my family in Puerto Rico within the next few days. I am grateful that I got to hug him and tell him I loved him that one last time. I am grateful that he is no longer suffering.
With that being said, I hope my grandfather finds nothing but peace and love all while knowing he will never be forgotten.
Even a year later, it’s hard to think that you’re gone. There will be no more opportunities to learn more about each other, no more chances to create memories together, and no more moments that we’ll share. There’s no more time to think about what could’ve been. What’s done is done and all I can do now is appreciate the time I did have with you. I can only hold on to what I did learn from you and the stories about you that I will one day tell my children. I’ll always remember the positives you brought to my life and be happy for those positives. Despite what many claim, you did bring a lot of that into my life and that of my family, which I will forever be grateful for. Because of you, I am a Ramirez and I’ll always be a piece of you. Espero que estes gosando con tu querida familia en el cielo y velando a tus queridos en la tierra, pero sobre todo te deseo mucha paz.
It has always been impossible for me to listen to Frankie Ruiz without thinking of my Tio Edwin and today is no different. Today, as I listen to this salsa, I can’t help but think of my uncle that left us just two days ago. It has been a hard year for my family, but we’re Ramirez and we’ll make it through. It’s times like these where you can only focus on the good to overcome the bad. My Tio Edwin was always the salsero of the family, the one who never stopped being 25 years old, and the uncle who could put a smile on anyone’s face. I feel blessed to have been able to know him and share some very happy memories with him. It’s sad to know that I won’t see him anymore and that he left my family so soon, but the only comfort we have is that he is no longer suffering. One day we’ll see him again and, for now, we have to accept that he will always be in our hearts. If I know my Tio Edwin, then I know that he wouldn’t want us to cry, even though it’s hard not to. He would much rather have us celebrate his life and remember him for the good moments that he brought into our lives. I am grateful for that and in your honor Tio… que siga la fiesta. I love you and I always will!
Three years ago on this day, the music world lost a legend that I don’t think can ever be replaced. At 50, Michael Jackson died unexpectedly, leaving all of his fans in a state of shock and grief. He was on the cusp of embarking on his world tour and everyone was preparing for his big comeback, but, before we could all watch it unfold, he was gone. Michael Jackson was undoubtedly an inspiration for musicians, dancers, artists, and humanitarians, serving as an irreplaceable icon for so many people. As the most-awarded recording artist in popular music, it is virtually impossible to overlook his impact on the world and to not know what MJ’s legacy means.
I, personally, have a strong connection with Michael’s work and, like many others, grew up as a big fan of his. It was hard not to when my mom loved his music, even emulating his notorious style back in the ’80s, and when my brother was always trying time and time again to master the Smooth Criminal lean. Not to mention that Halloween where I helped do my brother’s make-up for his zombie-Thriller MJ costume. But Michael didn’t just bring me good music, he also heightened my love of dance. His dancing talent was incredible and I’m not sure how my dance career would have ended up without his example. My first year in my high school’s dance company we even did a tribute to the legendary king. The first duet I ever did with my Capitan was to MJ’s “The Way You Make Me Feel.” (Of course, we killed it!) That was just the first of plenty of dances that I performed to his many great songs… and trust me the routines to his music just keep coming. (We’re currently conjuring up a dance to “Dirty Diana.”)
Say what you want about Michael Jackson, but there is no way you can take away the outstanding success he experienced throughout his career and the iconic talent that he possessed. After so many years, Michael still holds world records for album sales, award wins, and charitable donations. Also take into account the fact that his music and life continues to inspire today’s individuals. He’s still being recognized in new songs and he is still being named as the inspiration of many. Now with the Cirque de Soleil tour honoring him, it is clear that MJ is not going anywhere. He may not be here in person, but his spirit is still with us all. MJ will forever be the King of Pop. To all of the supporters of Michael Jackson, let us take today to celebrate the many great things that he accomplished throughout his life that ended way too soon.