Death Hurts More When You’re Far Away

Uriel originally shared this on his facebook page on September 9, 2013. Because this is an experience that has touched so many of us, we asked him to share it with you.

My grandma, Isabel Molina Rodriguez, passed away one week ago today after undergoing surgery in Mexico to remove cancerous tumors. In the very same way that my other grandmother, before we moved to the US, passed away while undergoing surgery to remove her own tumor.

This past week I’ve been mourning in my own way, and thinking about how my grandma lived alone in her little home in Platanillo, Guerrero with her dogs after my Papa Luis passed away. All while her family was thousands of miles away. All while her younger neighbors mistreated her.

I’ve been thinking about life, thinking about my mom, especially my mom, especially my mom, thinking about my dad, thinking about their health. I’ve been thinking about how I will no longer see my grandma, unspoken words never to be spoken. About the last time I saw her.

I’ve been thinking about the few pilgrimages she made to Chicago each year with items from the far away land of Mexico. No more.

I’ve been thinking about the future being forged today and what they’ll mean. Are the ancestors of 10,000 years ago proud today? A time slowly being forgotten with time. I’ve been thinking about the modern idea of wealth in the hands of public medical institutions in the motherland, in this land, in the hands of my family & hers, and how much that would have prolonged something. For many others. I know it all sounds greedy but people deserve it.

I’ve been thinking about one of the earliest and perhaps funniest memories with her, a six year old sitting next to her in a movie theater watching Titanic. A movie both my grandparents loved.

I wrote this on the CTA bus on my way to class, with eyes occasionally watering up. Something I was not expecting. Then again, I was not expecting any of this. I’ve seen death up close and personal. That always hurts, but this hurts even more even when so far away. It hurts.

Most of the people reading this don’t know them, ever meet them, or know of them. But I am here because of them. The inspirations from my family, from the ancestors of the past, the strong children, the resilient men & womyn around me who reflect that everyday, I carry their inspiring power with me too as I move forward with them.

Uriel Sanchez Molina is a founding member of IYJL. And below, is a picture of Uriel when he first arrived to Chicago.


A chubby two year old walked out of the Mexicana Airlines flight arriving from Benito Juarez International Airport. Two hands carrying two brothers and two parents. The day was Thursday August 5, the year was 1993. Barely able to hablar and spit words, he walked into the chilly 70 degree world that waited for him outside of Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. 20 years later to the day, the human being in transit has bared witnessed to similar & fellow passengers of life being neglected, assaulted, abused, tortured, murdered, arrested, detained, imprisoned, forgotten. The day is Monday August 5, the year is 2013. It’s still chilly. — Uriel

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