Entertainment

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

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

5-Year-Old Girl Who Lost Her Parents In El Paso Mass Shooting Asks: ‘Is he going to come and shoot me?’

Things That Matter

5-Year-Old Girl Who Lost Her Parents In El Paso Mass Shooting Asks: ‘Is he going to come and shoot me?’

A 5-year-old girl’s mother was shot and killed this past weekend during the El Paso, Texas mass shooting and now she’s left wondering whether she’ll be next. Skylin Jamrowski lost both her stepfather and her mother during the El Paso massacre that left at least 22 people dead. After she was given the devastating news she asked, “Is he going to come and shoot me?”

That’s a question you never want to hear anyone ask. Let alone a young child. 

According to CNN, who spoke to the family of her deceased parents, the 5-year-old asked her grandmother if her father had died following the news of the shooting. 

For hours, the family didn’t know whether Skylin’s parents had survived the shooting. 

Skylin has a younger sister, Victoria, and a baby brother, Paul Gilbert, 2 months old. She’s the eldest of the three. According to reports, the baby miraculously survived when his mother, Jordan Anchondo, protected and shielded him with her body when the gunman shot her. Their father, Andre Anchondo, died the same way when he tried to protect both Jordan and the two-month-old baby. 

Relatives of the family told CNN that “the shooter had aimed at Jordan [and] Andre jumped in front of Jordan. And the shooter shot Andre, and the bullets went through Andre and hit Jordan.” 

Now, three young children and the rest of the Anchondo family are left to mourn the death of Jordan and Andre at the hands of a gunman who was motivated by racism in the slaying of at least 22 people. 

Skylin who is seemingly old enough to comprehend what happened to a certain extent is also left to deal with the trauma of losing both of her parents at such a young age and also left with knowing the brutal way in which they were killed.

Andre and Jordan Anchondo’s parents also told CNN that Skylin was not with them at the Walmart when the shooting occurred because she was at cheerleading class. Her parents had gone to Walmart, like many of the victims, to shop for school supplies for Skylin’s first day of kindergarten. But despite her not witnessing her parents lose their lives, the effects of trauma will still linger. 

ABC News, who looked into how communities recover from mass shooting trauma, spoke to Robin Gurwitch on the after-effects of a harrowing incident like this. The professor of psychiatry at Duke University, who studies how children process trauma and disasters, said that mass shootings can impact individuals and communities differently and always require specific responses to get past the trauma. 

The psychiatrist told ABC News, “When you mix death and trauma together, it becomes particularly hard. The mourning, the bereavement, as well as the trauma can make it particularly difficult for survivors.”

Despite Skylin and her younger siblings having a strong support system to raise them and be there for them after the death of their parents, her grandparents believe that “the sad thing is, is that even with all of us… it’s Mom and Dad. We can’t replace Mom and Dad. It’s just something you can’t replace.” 

According to Gurwitch, though, it’s still extremely important and positive to have this strong support system around them. Children who survived or witnessed mass shootings need to be able to see these examples of resiliency and positivity in order to not lose sight of these qualities for themselves. 

“We need to make sure that adults provide good role models. So even if we are anxious and worried and upset, that we can present to our children that we can cope with this, that we will get through this,” Gurwitch tells ABC News

The American Psychological Association also states that long-term outcomes for survivors, witnesses, and those who have been affected by mass shootings are improved with the help of community connections. 

The topic of how children and students cope with the trauma of mass shootings after bearing witness to them or after surviving them has become a prominent topic of discussions after the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting–which left 17 dead.

Since mass shootings began to happen in school’s, affecting teens and the like, active shooter drills have become a lot more commonplace. But experts say that high-tech surveillance, tactical gear, and live drills are actually doing more harm than good. According to an article on Medium, active shooter drills can also be traumatizing for students.  After the El Paso shooting, some schools across the country have also responded by holding active shooter drills (one occurred in a high school in Costa Mesa, California on Monday, August 5). 

Now, after the El Paso shooting, Walmart will continue its computer-based active shooter training that launched in 2015 for its employees. According to USA Today, in 2017 Walmart made its workers take the training on a quarterly basis instead of annually and last month they began incorporating virtual reality technology in its active shooter training. But despite, their deadliest mass shooting in the El Paso location, the retailer will not stop its sales of rifles and other firearms. 

Here’s What Those Mourning Over Victims Of The El Paso And Dayton Shootings Can Takeaway From Toni Morrison’s Death

Fierce

Here’s What Those Mourning Over Victims Of The El Paso And Dayton Shootings Can Takeaway From Toni Morrison’s Death

Today, Toni Morrison, the first Black woman to receive the Novel Prize in literature died at 88. 

Known for her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel Beloved, Morrison meant a lot to many communities. She reshaped American literature, she gave a voice and paved a path for future generations of Black women writers, she was unapologetically herself, she flawlessly wrote about the complexities of the Black experience in America. Above all, she didn’t just write for writing’s sake, she transformed American thought and others’ way of being with her words that still ring true today.  

Morrison was one of the most important American writers of the 20th century and her words will forever stay with the communities she wrote about and the lives of those she touched. 

Morrison, who wrote a total of 11 novels, had a career in publishing before she became an award-winning novelist. Aside from being the first Black woman to receive the Pulitzer Price in literature, she was also the first Black woman senior editor at Random House. In a statement released Tuesday morning, her family and publisher Knopf confirmed the death of Morrison. She died Montefiore Medical Center in New York on Monday night after a brief illness. 

Through her writing, she made a point to not write through the “white gaze” and focused on amplifying the Black experience through themes including “slavery, misogyny, colorism, and supernaturalism.” Outside of her writing, Morrison continued to do the same. In multiple interviews, published essays, and other works, she continued to put a mirror in front of American society and show it its true colors. 

Morrison not only transformed American literature with her novels, but she also transformed American society by reminding us to resist racism and white supremacy.

In an interview with NPR’s Michel Martin in 2008, Morrison spoke about why she doesn’t believe in using the word “post-racial” to describe society. In the interview, she was discussing her book “A Mercy” — her 9th novel that revealed what lies beneath the surface of slavery in early America, following the story of mothers and daughters — which takes place in a “pre-racial” time. 

“It seems to indicate something that I don’t think is quite true, which is that we have erased racism from the country, and that certainly isn’t true — or the world,” Morrison said. “Racism will disappear when it’s: no longer profitable, and no longer psychologically useful. When that happens, it’ll be gone.”

She went on to say that at the moment, people continued to make a lot of money off of it and that it protects people “from a certain kind of pain.”

This sentiment still rings true when we think of 2016, a time in which a racist man with disgusting views and ideals of the world took the Oval Office. It also applies to 2019, where Morrison’s last days saw 2 mass shootings within the span of hours and immigrant children and families continue to be ripped apart at the border.  More particularly it applies in an era where America continues to profit off marginalized communities and thrive off racist rhetoric. So, like Morrison states, we don’t live in a post-racial time.

“If you take racism away from certain people — I mean vitriolic racists as well as the sort of, social racist — if you take that away, they may have to face something really terrible: misery, self-misery, and deep pain about who they are,” Morrison continued. “It’s just easier to say that one over there is the cause of all my problems.” 

This interview was only one of many where Morrison dropped some serious gems about racism and white supremacy in America. 

In an interview from 1993 with Charlie Rose,  she spoke about racism being a moral issue because it had become a quality that defined so many people. 

“If I take your race away, and there you are, all strung out. And all you got is your little self, and what is that? What are you without racism? Are you any good? Are you still strong? Are you still smart? Do you still like yourself?” she said in the interview with Rose. 

The world will continue to mourn Toni Morrison’s death and honor the lasting impact she left behind with her writing. 

Today, everyone who loved Morrison — from readers, fans, to politicians — are sharing what the writer meant to them and the difference she made in their lives.

The Paris Review shared a tweet following the announcement of her death where they said Morrison “influenced just about every English-language writer currently working.” 

Texas Congressman and brother of 2020 presidential hopeful, Julian Castro, Joaquin Castro shared an impactful quote on oppressive language as violence.

The theme of oppressive language resonates more than ever today, especially when the current president of the U.S. uses language as violence to further marginalize and demonize communities of color.

“We have lost a stunning storyteller, unmatched in her imagination and power. She will be deeply missed,” Castro added in another tweet. 

Oprah, who has interviewed Morrison in the past and who also starred in the film adaption of Beloved, shared what her death meant to her on Instagram. 

“She was a magician with language, who understood the Power of words. She used them to roil us, to wake us, to educate us and help us grapple with our deepest wounds and try to comprehend them,” Oprah wrote of Morrison. 

California Senator and 2020 Democratic presidential nominee Kamala Harris also shared a tweet about how we’ve lost one of the greatest voices and storytellers of our time.

“Her work gave us power, hope & freedom,” Harris tweeted. 

Author and “Project Runway” star Elaine Welteroth stressed the path Morrison paved for Black women everywhere.

“Because there simply would be no me if there hadn’t been you,” Welteroth said in her Instagram caption. 

Afro-Dominicana author and storyteller, Elizabeth Acevedo, referred to Morrison as a “curandera” because of her writing.

“She was so many things. Yes, brilliant, but so witty, purposeful, methodical in her gestures, thoughtful in her answers & a seer, I believe. A curandera. She’s left us so much. And I’m not sure she’s left us at all,” Acevedo wrote in her tweet. 

Lastly, former president Barack Obama, who awarded a Presidential Medal of Freedom, also shared a touching tribute. 

In 2012, when he awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom, he called her works “hallmarks of the American literary tradition. “What a gift to breathe the same air as her, if only for a while,” Obama tweeted.

Morrison’s novels and her thoughts on how to resist racism will forever leave an impact on our lives and society. Whether you’ve read her work before or not, it’s never too late to revisit it or to start.