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You live in me and I live in you

The journalist Renata Piza writes a loving and brave report about the sudden death of her husband Daniel Piza, at age of 41, and tells how long it took for her to discover the experssion "Ubuntu" - I live in you, you live in me, “the awareness and comfort I needed, as she says, to ‘double size’ and move on with him inside her.

My ex-husband, probably the most brilliant person I met, was fired a few times, which always seemed suspicious. I did not understand how someone so good, so smart, such a good character could have been neglected by a boss. I thought, intimately, it was his strong personality, if he was “guilty” of it. Silly me. He laughed. He didn’t really care and told me that many people are fired simply because they have bad bosses, not for being a bad professional.

It’s been 4 years, 3 months and 9 days (when I write this text) that my husband turned into an ex-husband and I couldn’t say anything about it. Where did I sign ?! I never agreed with it. It is very strange to become an ex like this, without fighting, without arguing, no judge, no pain.

Daniel and Renata Piza

Until very recently I have struggled with the word. Ex? Is that right? We are not separated, not divorced and even when I started dating someone else, I felt kind of betraying him like “Dona Flor e seus dois maridos”. But my therapist was decisive: “Death is the greatest of the separations, Renata. Do you remember… till death do us part.?”.

Daniel, my ex as my therapist wanted to convince me, was not just my husband. He was the father of my children. My friend. A little bit like a father to me, because my father had died when I was 19 years old. My counselor, life coach, professional coach – although he hated all these classifications. He was the good guy…the best on earth. In everything he did he was good because that was a condition so ingrained in his heart, it was impossible for him to be different.

But he was not “just” good. He was intact, whole, wether people liked it or not. It was not the kind of people who make concessions to please here or there. He was known to some as Dani le rouge, because of his hair, but much more because of his posture. Many called him Piza, too. I called him Chéri, because I never have never met such a beloved person in the whole world. Such a partner.

When he suddenly passed away, on December 30, 2011, I spent some time out of myself, as if I were dead too – only stuck here. As if my soul had left and had not warned my body. I wanted to wake up from this grotesque script that I had not written – and I was so sure he also hadn’t. I remember crying a lot, eating a little, getting my haircut, and getting my skin cut, fighting with God. A God, I confess, I was not so close to, that I got to know later on, all in the right time, I guess.

I remember glimpses. The noise when he fell in the bathroom floor. The light going out of his retina. The muted breath. The zebra blanket that wrapped around him to try to warm him up . He was so cold. We were in the mountains, but of course, the cold was something else. I remember the endless hours for the funeral home people to arrive. I remember going to see the casket and finding the suit he was wearing so ugly, so unfair … We cling to small details.

I remember Bia, my best friend, that in all that mess a la Conrad, could stand on her feet and calm the children down. I remember Micky, who left the kids and her husband, and spent December 31 with me in the cemetery, so generous, so human I remember my mother and her husband. Renato, Dani’s brother, who also did not leave the place. We were 5 people between two dimensions, waiting for the daybreak and the others to arrive in order to celebrate the funeral, all these rituals that seem to expand the suffering.
I remember looking at the Daniel’s hand and realizing that it was in the same position he used to leave it when he was alive. Almost surreal. I remember Fred, kneeling on the grass, at the time of burial, such a painful vision, that it seemed my reflection in the mirror. I remember coming home with two children, no job (we were moving to another country and I had resigned) and without the slightest idea of how to get up from the bed the next day. How to say to my lungs, “Hey, buddy, keep breathing.”

But there is a mechanism in life, Newton was right. Even if you do not want, the air goes in and out; the blood flows, the heart still beats; the eyelids open; birds, insist on singing. A friend drops by, a good boss offers you the job back (thanks, Lenita and Dulce), face your children, remember they need you, even if you do not know how to help them, how to say that everything will be ok.

For a long time things are not well, I lied a little for them, but I will not lie to you. For a long time, maybe forever, you feel like your soul was raped, that a part of you was ripped out. In my wanderings, by the way, I thought of bargaining with God. Take one of my legs, an arm, and leave Daniel. Silly me.

Accepting death is probably the only guaranty we have in life, and the most difficult one. It is just like to saying the obvious: we don’t control anything, there isn’t always justice or, we are not able to see the whole picture. Why does a healthy person,  with three kids,  in love, a great job, so many friends, readers and life has to die at the age of 41?

It doesn’t.  He didn’t die, he is not underground. Energy, strength, compassion and maybe a bit of intelligence and Daniel’s lion heart are with me, with our children, are in his books – read them, they are good, I guarantee. A breath of lucidity in these uncertain times.
It took a while, a few years for me to figure out what the Ubuntu expression meant – I live in you and you live in me. It was Lourenço who told me, one of those friends who comes up suddenly and that, even not being so close, are like angels, spreading the right word at the right time. Ubuntu was a snap and the comfort that I needed so desperately.
After that, as Valter Hugo Mae would say, I doubled in size, because somehow, never again whole, I carry Dani with me, her strength, North warrior, his pride, his sweet look, just like Bernardo .

Now, if you lose my job or something that seemed valuable leaves the scene, I can almost see him smiling inside me and reminding me that sometimes it’s just a bad boss, an unloyal friend or injustice, a system bug. But that the best answer is to get up from the bed and “shake it up”. As he said, “living well is the best revenge.” Always.