I’ve written all this last night but I had some problems with the Internet connection and I couldn’t post… so here it is:
Someone told me that I write in English in order to use the language as a filter to people who wants to read. Yes, that’s true! It is unconscious, but sometimes I prefer writing in here and in English, for that reason…
For you, who are reading this right now, do you consider me (I don’t know the word to express it…) someone who is like obsessed with death? As I’ve written many times of it and as you read my writings you get to know that I think often of death… Well, if you’ve noticed that, you might think that I’ve suffered some tragical deaths of close people and that’s why I can explain things and I talk about it… but it’s not! It’s just that death is one of the topics that inspire me. Thanks God, the people who died were not so close to me. But that was until today… =S
Today I’ve had an experience with death, and from the people who died in my life, the one who went away today is the closest of them to me. One of my grandparents died when I was a baby but I don’t remember him. Two uncles (not direct uncles) also died when I was little, but I remember only one of them, and I never understood that mysterious disappearance, as I was a child. Then two friends of my parents died and I was shocked with it because I was starting to understand the essence of death and I insistently thought that I was not going to see them again here on Earth… and they were close friends. A year and some days ago a friend’s father died and I was really shocked. It has been like ‘my first death experience’ and it marked me a lot although I didn’t even know the man. In one afternoon and the morning after I had lived the strongest experience of all my life, seeing for the first time a dead body, being in that horrible room full of pale faces and seeing people cry when a coffin was being pulled down into a hole. After that I neither eat nor sleep for three days. I had a recurrent abstract image in my mind which came back every time I tried to sleep and whenever I managed to close my eyes, it woke me up all covered in sweat. It was terrible. Two friend’s grandparents were called by God then, but for one reason or another I couldn’t be with my friends in those moments. Last Monday I went to a burial of a friend’s grandmother, who I didn’t know, and I think that’s why it didn’t shock me that much.
Today I’ve experienced the death of a person close to mine and loved by many people. The logic and philosophy teacher, Horacio Héctor Campero, died today.
I still have in my mind the moment when I was told the news. I and four friends were in the school’s kiosk and the bell rang. Some seconds after the bell rings teachers start appearing and walking through corridors trying to make the students enter to class again. Today no teachers were out in the corridor, just you, Charlie. You were arriving school I think, and I can perfectly remember you there, the only teacher of school out of the teacher’s room; the only one we could see. In my mind I was wandering why I could see no teachers out there, but I never commented it with my friends. Despite being no authorities there we started our way back to our class and in our way some teachers appeared. Laurita Carracedo stopped us, and asked for Anto and Laurita Yanotti’s e-mails and told them that they weren’t having classes at noon. The girls asked why and the teacher said that there we were not having IB classes that afternoon. Happy, we all asked why and she turned her head down. Laurita Carracedo silently said that we were on mourning. We all jumped in a single: ‘What happened? Who died? Ana Inés?’ We only could think about her, who is the sick teacher now. Her eyes went glazed and said ‘No’. In that moment we all look at each other and almost shouted a ‘What?! Who?!’. ‘Horacio’ she answered. In that moment we really shouted: ‘What happened?! You’re joking! It can’t be possible! Campero? Horacio Campero died?’ And she told us not to say much because we had to be announced by Maria Elena. She went away and continued her way. All we could do was to put a hand in our mouth, look at each other and then we turned around to see a huge group of people. All 5th form was there surrounding Maria Elena. It was true, we couldn’t believe it.
Susy appeared from behind the mass of serious faces and some pair of eyes turning red. Hers were completely red and her mouth swelled. We entered and we sit down. Susy told us briefly what happened, but she didn’t know many details. We have been fifteen minutes there each one on his sit, looking to the front in silence. Ones crying, others shaking, some praying, others with their hands on their eyes. I remember clearly that horrible fifteen minutes, all of us sitting there, in silence, looking to almost anything, Susy in the front doing the same. Suddenly Mariano interrupted the silence: ‘Susy, how old was he?’ ‘53’ ‘Ah…’ And silence again. Depression ruled the horrible atmosphere, we couldn’t believe it yet. When that horrible moment had ended the bell rang – the same bell that saved Leo yesterday, at Horacio’s class, of speaking in the front – and we went to the yard. Ricky said some beautiful words in Horacio’s honour and we prayed.
So many memories came to my mind… I remembered the time when we did the ‘living chart of truth’, in which we placed the chairs as a big chart and each one of us was a symbol or a letter. We placed where we should be and if the answer was true, the one answering had to place himself in the right place and lift his hand. If it was false, he had to leave his hand down. I remembered how we laughed that afternoon, last year. I also remembered when he tried to convince us about something and we had to use good arguments to defend our posture. He talked about a great monster, and nonsense things, but we always stayed with our mouths closed after arguing for a long time. Then all those long letters he always left in our works and tests. The great vocabulary he used, the poet in him. I remember those tedious problems we had to solve which had a great familiar mess: ‘the father of the uncle of the son of the sister of the mother of the aunt of my mother. Who is he?’ (Don’t try to solve it because it is nonsense, I’ve just invented it).
Every time he had to put his name, to sign, whatever, he always wrote HH Campero. That’s why his nickname has always been ‘Achiachi’. He laughed a lot when we called him like that! And what a good person Horacio was! We’ve learned so much of him… not only logic, crazy philosophers, charts of truth, “falacias proposicionales” and all those strange words, we’ve learned to live, we’ve learned spirituality. The main message Achiachi always gave and the one which is stuck here in my head since the first time that I saw him and his glasses, is that happiness has nothing to do with material objects. Happiness is in our family, our friends, our people, what we like doing, what we like studying, the people we love, sports, religion. He taught us that smoking is harmful and he was so happy when he told us that he no longer smoked… I still remember the day when one of my partners said: ‘Horacio, you smell of tobacco! Stop smoking!’ ‘Someday I will, now I can’t…’ And he did it, he stopped smoking, he recovered from the heart attack of last year and he has always told us that smoking is bad since that time.
Horacio, such a good person, such a happy man! I never saw him without energy to lead the class, without a smile to share. How the guys bothered one of them with Wittgenstein, which ended been ‘Viget’… ‘Lobito’ he used to call Ramiro Lobo, and he always laughed at what he said. We studied the whole Betty Argañaráz case and we had to invent possibilities that could be approved logically, for example, that Beatty had always dreamed of living in the Amazonas and she had gone there and what people were saying was untrue and it was all made up. We laughed at those stupid but ‘logical’ suppositions. And he laughed too. He laughed of his own mistakes, of his own words, of our jokes, he smiled, he smiled to everybody, he was a happy man.
People say that the ones who are about to die know that and say goodbye to everybody, but unconsciously. They know it inside of them but they can’t express that, they don’t really know. I had heard this before, but never heard of a concrete example. Achiachi is one. Susy told us that yesterday he went, as always, saying a ‘general goodbye’ with his hand to all the teachers there. He went, and a little time after he came back and gave a kiss to everybody. Leti told me that he had talked a little bit with almost all teachers. He had told her that a lot of time had passed since the last time they had seen, that he missed her, how was everything in her life… Then Diana told me that yesterday too, he had told her that in his life he had three graces: the first one was to have had a son, the second that his son was up in Heaven with God now, and the third one that he knew that when he would die he would go with his son again. Yesterday… we saw him so happy yesterday!! He has always been a happy person, but yesterday it was a different happiness. He gave us a good class and then he said that it was a real pleasure to have had classes with us. Wasn’t all that a goodbye? I think that people about to die are called before by God, without consciously knowing, and He gives them a little while to say goodbye to their relatives. Now that I know all these goodbyes he said I can relate it, but no one would ever have imagined that this could happen.
I still remember when we did the raffle at the ‘Family’s Day’ and he won a big basket full of sweets, chocolates, a wine, and things like that. He bought the raffle with the only proposal of helping us - he told us – and never with the desire of winning. But he won. He said that he wanted to share the price with us, and we felt very happy with that, but we told him that we wanted him to share it with his family, his loved people, and he answered: ‘You are the people I love’. We were all moved by this.
Horacio, I don’t know if we will be able to remember always what Plato thought, but I’m sure we will never forget the great times we spent together, your happiness, you strength to go living, your desire to stop smoking, to get better. Our great classes, the times we saw you in the corridor and we all went to say hi to you. I will never forget your religious talks, our long discussions about legalization of abortion and the forum we’ve left incomplete. We will try to make it happen, we will tell Ricky that we were organizing it, and we’ll make it in your honour. I feel happy of being able to send you the e-mail I wanted you to read about abortion just two days ago. And I know you’ve read it because you answered me.
I will never forget your lessons and those so many times this year, when we said while crossing our fingers: ‘Please, Lalo, don’t come today. We want Campero to come.’ Or whenever we saw you round school it was the classic: ‘Hey! Campero is here! Maybe Lalo is absent and we have classes with Achiachi!’ And we were all so happy. Your classes were so funny…
I still hear your voice yesterday, telling me to go to the board and complete the chart about Homo Sapiens: ‘Mrs Vale, come on’. ‘No, please, I don’t understand that’ ‘Come on’ you repeated friendly. I still have the image of you walking through the corridor and a lot of students of 5th form choiring: ‘Achi achi!! Achi achi!!’ And your bright smile on your face.
I won’t continue with this because my eyes are with storm on them, trying to get out (the same metaphor you once used on an e-mail you sent me). I just can’t explain how sad I feel now that I know that you won’t walk through that corridor with your black jacket anymore, your chamois leather shoes, your smile, your nose. And now I remember once you drew yourself in the board and you told us that you drew that big nose because you had it! Horacio, we all love you, and are extremely happy to having known you and learning so much from you. We will miss you so much… But as you said, you are now with God, with your son, in a better life, to which we all will go. So we’ll meet again. The ones who suffer are the ones who stay here, who will not have that great and funny teacher anymore near us, but I know you’ve gone happy. And I’m sure that now you are happier than ever.
Wow… I let everything get out, I think! Everything… yes. Now I’ll go to bed and surely think of all this. We’ll see if I can sleep…