Dia de los Difuntos - Remembering Mama Juana
It's Dia de los Difuntos in El Salvador, so today I am remembering my Mama Juana who passed away at the age of 92 in 2011. Mama Juana never learned to read or write, but that never stopped her from being witty, sharp and funny. She made the best handmade, perfectly thick and round tortillas and her pupusas were deemed the most superior in the family. Her laugh was more of a high-pitched giggle, and every now and then, when I laugh, I hear her, not me.
When she passed, I was so angry at myself. I had grown up listening to her stories, eating her food, spending time with her and even when I was a child, I knew, I should be writing these stories down. I should be documenting these things so that I never forget where she came from, and ultimately where I came from, but I never did. When she passed, it felt like I had lost myself.
For a long time, I didn't know how to deal with my grief. I cried, I studied her smile in the pictures I had of her, but what I wanted most, was the chance to hear her talk and record her voice.
It was in this pain, grief and loss that caused the seeds for SalviSoul, to germinate. Mama Juana had taught me so much about growing up Salvadoran, how to tortillar, how to care for family, how to braid hair, and even at the very end, she taught me how to say goodbye.
Now she is still teaching me. Her passing woke me up and it gave me the courage to begin to dream about SalviSoul. An invitation to to others who don't want to forget, but instead want to hold on to our loved ones in a way that honors them and celebrates their life.
She was the first inspiration for SalviSoul, and I will continue remembering her. We are connected forever.