Thursday, November 8, 2018

Mourning Vanessa Marquez

"Ever has it been that love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation."
(Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet)

It has been ten weeks since the worst day of my life. It was on that day that my beloved Vanessa Marquez was killed. My parents had me when they were older, so that while I am only 55 I have already experienced the deaths of many loved ones in my life.  My parents, all of my aunts and uncles, many of my cousins, and even one of my best friends has died. None of those deaths caused the amount of grief I have felt in the wake of Vanessa's death. I can speak in cliches about how I felt about Vanessa. I can say that I love her more than anyone else in my life. I can say that she was my best friend, my soulmate, the girl of my dreams, and the love of my life. In the end, however, words are inadequate to describe how I feel about Vanessa. When she died it felt as if part of my soul was torn away, and it still feels as if a part of me is missing.

The night before she died, I had made a post to Instagram stating that as Stand and Deliver (1988) was 30 years old, it was now a classic movie. This naturally meant that Vanessa Marquez was then a classic movie actress. What is more,  I named her as my favourite classic movie actress. When I told Vanessa that I had posted my favourite classic movie actress, she guessed it was Ann Blyth. I told her it was another actress who was pretty and petite. She was very happy to learn it was her. She was also surprised, although there was no reason she should have been. It had long been obvious how I felt about her. There was nothing that night to indicate what would follow that next day.

That next day Vanessa was having very bad seizures. She had me contact the paramedics. Someone else, apparently her landlord (about whom the less is said, the better), had called the police. I had to go to our local historical society's museum to work that afternoon. I texted her when I got back. After waiting for a reply I ran a search on the internet. It was about 8:00 PM Central Time that I learned that there had been an incident involving an unnamed 49 year old woman at the address of Vanessa's apartment. My worry gave way to panic. It was a little before 11:00 PM Central Time that I learned from The South Pasadenan that the woman was my Vanessa. I notified some of our mutual friends with the sad news and then posted the news of her death to both Facebook and Twitter. Not only was I in shock, but I was in more emotional pain than I have ever experienced in my life.

I also broke down crying immediately and, although I went to bed, I did not sleep at all that night. I continued crying throughout the night. It was in the early morning that the thought occurred to me that it would simply take an overdose of my blood pressure medication to put an end to my suffering. I dismissed the thought because a) I did not want my friends and family to go through the sort of grief I was experiencing; b.) it occurred to me that I had to remain alive to see that Vanessa received justice and to protect her reputation; and c.) I knew Vanessa would be very angry with me if I took my own life. Please do not worry about me. I never had suicidal thoughts before, I have not had any suicidal thoughts since, and I know I won't ever again, but the fact that I had those thoughts at all is a mark of just how much I was hurting.

I continued crying well into August 31 and would not stop until around 1:00 PM Central Time. In the meantime my Twitter feed had blown up with condolences from many. There were also requests from reporters for interviews and a few loathsome tweets from trolls (all of whom I reported and blocked--apparently one of my tweets made the news sources). I did not respond to the reporters, as in the early morning of August 31 I was still crying so hard that I probably would have been incomprehensible, not to mention I worried that they might figure out the true nature of my relationship with Vanessa. I have always been very selfish of my privacy and I was not yet ready to become known as "the boy who loves Vanessa Marquez" (which I think will be my epithet now and it doesn't bother me at all). It was later in the day that I consented to talk to Amanda Lee Myers of Associated Press as I am familiar with her work and I knew she would be sympathetic. Even then, it was difficult making it through the interview. Several days later I would talk to Daniel Vazquez of The South Pasadenan, who was also very sympathetic.

I didn't eat anything on August 31 and I continued to eat nothing on September 1. I simply had no appetite at all. In fact, I wouldn't eat anything until the evening of September 2. I did get some sleep, but not much. I awakened on both September 1 and September 2 crying. While I would resume eating, I did not sleep well for much of the month of September and it was not unusual for me to have nightmares when I did sleep. I cried every single day, usually multiple times. I don't know how many times I listened to "Paint It, Black" by The Rolling Stones, "Gone Away" by The Offspring, "Don't Go" by Matthew Sweet, and "I Don't Believe in Love" by Queensryche. I talked with our mutual friends. It felt good to talk to people who loved Vanessa and who loved me, and who were the only ones who realised just how important Vanessa was to me.

Another thing that comforted me though the month was that I was able to take part in the memorial for Vanessa held in South Pasadena after a fashion, even though I could not attend. I wrote a short piece about Vanessa for the memorial. I also chose two of the songs performed there: "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" (it was The Wizard of Oz that made Vanessa decide she wanted to be an actress) and The Beatles' "In My Life" (Vanessa was a Beatles fan and she loved the song--I always identified it with her as well). The cast and crew of Stand and Deliver held a memorial for Vanessa in October at the Los Angeles Theatre Centre, and they requested that the piece I had written for Vanessa be read there too.

Of course, given how Vanessa died I was and still am very angry. I feel as if the woman I love was taken from me due to gross incompetence, criminal irresponsibility, and possibly even malice. I am not alone in believing that what happened to Vanessa was wrong, and there are those of us who are still seeking to get her justice. Until such time as the parties responsible for her death are brought to justice,  I will harbour a good deal of anger towards them.

Regardless, I am much better than I was in September. As September became October I stopped crying every single day, although I do still cry on a somewhat regular basis. There are still certain songs to which I cannot listen without breaking down crying, and I know there are certain movies that I probably can't watch without doing so (The Apartment is my second favourite movie of all time, but given I always thought of Vanessa as my Miss Kubelik, I don't know if I am quite ready for it...). Every day I watch Vanessa's videos just to hear her voice, and I talk to her every night before I go to bed, whether she can hear me or not. While I am making it out of my grief and I know that there is one day I will be free of it, I also know that until the day I die I will always miss Vanessa.

I also know that there will never be another woman in my life. I know many will want to tell me that I will find someone else one day, but I know for a fact that this is not true. Vanessa was a singular woman. She was beautiful, intelligent, thoughtful, generous, and warm hearted. We had a good deal in common and got along perfectly together. We both knew secrets about each other that no one else knew. She would have been special even if she had never been a star of movies, television, and the stage.  I always wanted to move to California to be with her. I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her. I wanted to marry her. I have had girlfriends in the past, but I can honestly say that Vanessa was the only woman I ever truly loved. There really isn't any woman who could ever compete with her and it would be unfair of me to ask any woman to compete with a ghost. And, to be honest, I am perfectly fine with spending the rest of my life alone. After all, it is not every Missouri farm boy who can say that he fell in love with a beautiful Hollywood actress and had that love returned. Vanessa Rosalia Marquez was and will always be the only girl for me.

I know the coming months won't be easy. Vanessa would have turned 50 next month and I know her birthday will be difficult for me to get through. My birthday this coming March will be difficult to get through as well. In the end, however, while I wish Vanessa had not died, especially not the way she did, and I will always miss her, I am thankful to have had such a special relationship with her. I was closer to Vanessa than I ever had been to anyone in my life, and I will always cherish our time together. And I know that when I die, I will have someone very special waiting for me in  the afterlife. While in the end I wish things had gone differently, I think with Vanessa I had an experience that only a very people ever have in life.