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‘Amor Eterno’ Has Become The Song I Carry With Me In Love And Loss

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The strings of the mariachi’s violins began to play the opening notes of “Amor Eterno,” and my arms were immediately covered in goosebumps. I began to cry. I tried to stifle my sobs with my hand, but there was no holding them back.

I looked around and saw my friend Priscilla was doing the same, and like a domino effect, the rest of our group began to well up with tears.

Here I am sobbing my eyes out to “Amor Eterno.” Photo credit: Shawna Ghafouri-Wehrley

A couple of years ago, eight of my girlfriends and I took a trip to Mexico City. While there was plenty of good times had, the highlight that has come to define that time is all of us drinking micheladas aboard a colorful trajinera in Xochimilco and crying to the mariachi playing “Amor Eterno.”

Over the years, that song has grown to signify something greater for many of us, providing a poignant soundtrack to our individual grief. For Priscilla, it’s her sister. For me, it’s my dad.

To say “Amor Eterno” holds a special place in my heart would be a gross understatement.

Written by arguably Mexico’s greatest composer, Juan Gabriel, the song is a first-person account of someone mourning the loss of a loved one who passed.

Como quisiera / que tu vivieras / que tus ojitos / jamas se hubieran / cerrado nunca / y estar mirandolos / Amor Eterno / Inolvidable

It was first released in 1984 by the legendary late singer Rocío Dúrcal on her album “Canta a Juan Gabriel Volumen 6,” a collection of her renditions of Gabriel songs. Gabriel himself would go on to perform it. The album and song became a massive hit, with the album being introduced into the Latin Grammy Hall of Fame.

While urban legend says the song is about Durcal’s son, who died in an accident in Acapulco, Gabriel wrote “Amor Eterno” in honor of his mother, who died in 1974. He received the news of her death while on tour in Acapulco, which is referenced in the song. El más triste recuerdo de Acapulco.

Dúrcal herself was not Mexican, but rather from Madrid. However, thanks in large part to her career-defining work with Gabriel, she has become one of Mexico’s biggest icons. Her remains are even divided between her home in Torrelodones, Spain, and Basílica de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe in Mexico City. The song is perhaps the crowning achievement in their body of collaborative work and became a vital piece in Mexico’s cultural canon.

Because of this, “Amor Eterno” lives in my blood. It rattles my soul with its achingly beautiful strings, melancholy words, and the longing in Dúrcal’s voice. It’s there in every important moment, regardless of if it’s a joyous or tragic one.

Credit: Christina Henderson

Even so, the song has reached beyond Mexico’s borders. Last year, an all-woman Guajira Son band played the song for me and my friends in Havana. The singer even held her hand to her chest and said “Canción hermosa! Viva México!”

Just as its title suggests, the song speaks to love that is eternal, love that isn’t limited to the physical presence of the one you hold in your heart and continues after our bodies turn to dust. “Amor Eterno” holds this power for many, particularly those who have suffered a great loss.

Coming from a culture that reveres death and the spiritual world makes the song even more meaningful. We even have a holiday dedicated to honoring the dead and giving them a bridge to return to Earth for a single night to spend with their loved ones. We mourn our dead openly and emotionally, and this song encompasses that intrinsic part of the culture.

Durcal’s sweet voice drips of yearning, twisting your heart into a knot. Funerals and memorial services often include a playing of “Amor Eterno” for weeping families and friends, sometimes played by a live mariachi plucking their guitars in the middle of the cemetery amongst all the other lost loves.

Growing up in Tijuana, baby showers (pronounce beybee chow-werrss by mom and tías) and despedidas de soltera always included the father- or groom-to-be arriving with a mariachi to serenade his beloved with “Amor Eterno,” perhaps as a promise that his devotion will be undying. If they break up, and many in my family did, the song is there again to kick them in the gut, even in the middle of a party – something I’ve definitely witnessed.

Just as Gabriel wrote this song to honor his late mother, the song has become the way I honor my dad. When he passed away in 2009, we decided not to have a mariachi at his memorial service, nor play Rocio’s singular version of the song, knowing we wouldn’t be able to handle hearing it in the presence of his photo and the marble urn that now contained every trace of his physical being.

Since then, the song has been there to simultaneously upset and console us, with Rocio’s voice speaking all the things we wish we could say: Y aunque tengo tranquila mi conciencia / Yo sé que pude haber yo hecho más por ti.

Every Christmas and Thanksgiving, when we put Rocio Durcal on during dinnereveryone inevitably falls to pieces, our tears salting our mashed potatoes. This past year was the first time no one broke down thinking of our dad, which later sent me down a guilt spiral thinking we’ve started to forget about him. So I listened to “Amor Eterno” alone in my car and brought him back.

Listening to the song is almost masochistic, and after this last Christmas, I realized that I continue requesting it from any mariachi within a 10-foot radius because of the pain it inflicts.

In listening to “Amor Eterno,” I ensure the hurt returns, and in doing so, my dad’s memory is still alive. If it keeps hurting, he’ll never be all the way gone.

Credit: Armen Manukian

When I begin to think about hearing the song when my mom passes, well I can’t. I can’t think about it because it’s just too much to handle.

A few years back, I took another step in commemorating this song’s importance in my life, and ensuring my dad’s lasting memory. Covering a large portion of my upper right arm is a skeleton hand holding a glass of red wine, all surrounded by pink roses. Rosas Mexicanas, vino, and skeletons are all symbols of life and death in my culture. And beneath it, in swirly cursive, is the song’s title. Now it’s an even bigger part of me, and the constant reminder of all my amores eternos.

READ: If You Grew Up In The ’00s, You Definitely Dedicated One (Or All) Of These Latina Jams To Your Crush

These Shows And Movies Will Make You Feel Like A Superhero Just Because You're Latino

Entertainment

These Shows And Movies Will Make You Feel Like A Superhero Just Because You’re Latino

The Gifted (TV Series) images The Gifted Season 1 - Marcos Diaz/Eclipse Official Picture HD

Growing up, we didn’t often see ourselves represented in superhero roles. It was always a white savior combatting a Latino drug lord or violent gang member. We often saw Latinas play the love interest trope, doing nothing meaningful except prop up that white savior’s ego.

A new era of POC empowerment has slowly started infiltrating Hollywood, and Netflix is probably the most progressively representative platform around. (Unless you know what they did to “One Day at a Time.”) If you’re going to Netflix and chill, you might as well subconsciously balloon with empowerment, no? These are the Latino-centered shows that will get you there.

“Marvel’s Runaways”

CREDIT: @Runaways_Fans / Twitter

This show tops our list because not only is the superhero gang majority female, it’s also majority POC. Of the three Latinos cast, two of them aren’t even presented as Latino characters, giving more normalized roles to Latino actors. Plus, we get to see Ariela Barer mind control a pet dinosaur. Sounds kooky, but the show writers are so good, it just makes sense.

Plus, the star Latina’s superpower is brute strength.

CREDIT: @AllegraAcosta / Twitter

Mexicana Allegra Acosta, who is just 16 years old by the way, plays Molly Hernandez. We see the whole troupe come to terms with their powers through her eyes. She was the first to realize she was different, and she spoke up, even though she was the youngest and most often condescended to.

Netflix’s “Umbrella Academy”

CREDIT: @ivonne_r1 / Twitter

Based off an alluring comic series of the same name, Netflix used the same premise: 43 women around the world spontaneously gave birth and an eccentric billionaire ‘adopted’ 7 of them to create a crime-fighting “Umbrella Academy.” Netflix makes it interesting by fast forwarding to their adult lives, and by casting hunky David Castañeda as Diego Hargreeves. Superpower? Holding his breath for an inhuman amount of time and superlative knife throwing abilities. We heart him.

FOX’s “The Gifted”

CREDIT: @TheGiftedonFOX / Twitter

This is just the casual tale of two parents realizing their children are mutants, so they join an underground community of mutants. Venezuelan actor Seane Teale plays a key role in leading the newcomers to a life of normalcy.

Superpowers: He can absorb and manipulate photons (i.e. light).

ABC’s “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D”

CREDIT: @IEarths / Twitter

That’s right. You’re looking at heartthrob Gabriel Luna starring in a Marvel adaption. In it, he plays Robbie Reyes, the Latinized version of the Ghost Rider. His performance will get your heart racing in all the ways.

The CW’s “The Flash”

CREDIT: @TWDMemesUK / Twitter

This “Arrows” spin-off had the second-most-watched premier in the history of The CW, after “The Vampire Diaries.” In it, we see co-star Candice Patton play the journalist that uncovers the identity of The Flash. She eventually takes on a leadership role with S.T.A.R. Labs and just overall slays.

Netflix’s “Iron Fist”

CREDIT: @TheFinalMan / Twitter

While we don’t see any headlining Latinos in this show, we see Bakuto played by Ramón Rodríguez, and the Internet is heart eyeing.

Caption: “Totally thought #IronFist was over @ 10 episodes… nope! The endgame for this season better be worth it. But at least this Bakuto guy is hot.”

Netflix’s “Daredevil”

CREDIT: @manwithoutfear / Twitter

Of course, this list wouldn’t be complete without the iconic cameo of Rosario Dawson as Claire Temple. Her superpower is being the go to Nurse Practitioner for all the superheroes in Marvel’s Universe.

Life lesson: everyone is your equal.

Netflix’s “Luke Cage”

CREDIT: @MCUExchange / Twitter

If you’re as obsessed with Rosario Dawson as we are, then you should watch her steam up her role in “Luke Cage.” We ship these two.

Netflix’s “Siempre Bruja”

CREDIT: @thegirlmob1 / Twitter

Colombian based “Siempre Bruja” gets it right and wrong in so many ways. Ultimately, we get to see an Afro-Latina claim her brujería to travel to the future to save the people she loves (even if that includes her slave master, ugh).

Netflix’s “La Reina del Flow”

CREDIT: Netflix

Prepare yourself for a telenovela to end all novelas. No, Yeimy Montoya is not a superhero, but her character will inspire you to overcome all obstacles. After she’s framed for drug trafficking by her first love as a teenager, she comes back as an undercover agent to undermine Charly Cruz’s life. We stan.

Netflix’s “Pelé: Birth of a Legend”

CREDIT: Netflix

If true stories are what really make you feel empowered, then this reenactment of Brazil’s Pelé story will get you good. He went from rags to winning Brazil’s first World Cup victory at the age of 17. You can win, too.

“Desierto”

CREDIT: Netflix

Today’s immigration rights crisis is devastating. Gael García Bernal’s role as a Mexican man trying to cross the border will make you root harder than ever before for migrant victories.

Netflix’s “Ingobernable”

CREDIT: Netflix

If you’ve heard of this show and still haven’t been floored by Kate del Castillo’s performance, this is your sign from god. Watch this if you’re in a toxic relationship that you need the courage to leave. At least your boo isn’t a corrupt President.

The CW’s “Jane the Virgin”

CREDIT: The CW

Gina Rodriguez’s role in the Americanized telenovela “Jane the Virgin” will help you realize that whatever bump you’ve encountered in this life might be the start of something beautiful. This is a feel-good show, no doubt, but you’ll also start to feel like you can do anything, mija.

The CW’s “Riverdale”

CREDIT: The CW

While the Latino family in this show are dirty rich, the heiress to the Lodge empire is pure of heart. Watch Veronica Lodge cleverly go up against a very twisted power struggle father-mija relationship to save Riverdale.

ABC’s “How to Get Away With Murder”

CREDIT: @KarlaSouza7 / Twitter

Mexican icon Karla Souza’s superpower in this show is pure ingenuity. She plays a lawyer that seems to know how to work the legal system to her advantage. It gets gooooood.

ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy”

CREDIT: Netflix

You weren’t expecting doctor or lawyer shows to make this list, but we’re all chasing a feeling here. Seeing Sara Ramirez play bisexual Callie Torres as she goes up against her Catholic father with all the emotional strength and resilience we yearn for is contagious. You want these cooties.

“The Fast and the Furious”

CREDIT: @gucciartx / Twitter

My gay self needs Michelle Rodriguez here. Even though she isn’t a ‘good guy,’ we all want to be here. Use her badassery powers for good, mi gente.

Netflix’s “One Day at a Time”

CREDIT: Netflix

The best superhero show of all is the recently canceled “One Day at a Time.” Why? We get to see the most modern Cuban family simply be themselves and that cultural mirroring will reaffirm your very remnant-loving Latino soul. #SaveODAAT!!!

READ: Netflix Canceled ‘One Day At A Time’ And Fans Are Livid With The Network’s Decision

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