A New Orleans Lesson in Mourning

by Katya Mazon (United States of America)

The last thing I expected USA


When I received news of my brother's passing, the energy that bounced in me faded. I forcefully dragged my body into each new day and quarantined myself from the world. There was an impermeable coating around my pain, and I refused to let anything in or out. October loomed with supplemented venom as it reminded me of my brother's birthdate. With hopes to create a distraction, I planned a trip to New Orleans for the Halloween season. However, as my departure date closed in, I began to dread it. I felt guilty I would be having new experiences while my brother would not even experience a new birthday. With significant difficulty, I made it to New Orleans. Grieving and being on vacation felt like dichotomies. My first morning in New Orleans; I woke up to the news that the beloved Fats Domino had passed away. New Orleans was in mourning, yet I could still feel vibrant energy bouncing around. Every night, as the sun set, the music on Frenchmen Street grew louder and livelier. Musicians and performers remembered Fats Domino. He was gone but continued living in the music that endlessly flowed through instruments and bodies. During my last full day in New Orleans, I made my way down to the Bywater District to witness Fats Domino's Second Line parade. I walked down the street and looked up at the palm trees catching the day's last sun rays. Green and purple beads on a fence swayed with bursts of wind. Parasols and a sign that read "All Fats Days" waved in front of me. Every colorful movement was a reminder of my brother and his active spirit. As my brother began making consistent appearances, it felt as though I had gained a travel partner. I watched as people dance, sang, cried, laughed, smiled, hugged, and celebrated into the night. I began to understand how to heal painful wounds through celebration. As I danced, I wiped a tear away. Enjoyment in my life did not mean I had forgotten my brother: these were the cracks in which he felt touchable. I had wanted New Orleans to distract me from the loss of my brother. Instead, New Orleans allowed him to reappear in my life. I felt him in the breeze and saw him in the bright colors of costumes, beads, and homes. I remembered him as I, along with many others, remembered Fats Domino. Traveling to New Orleans brought me closer to my brother. Although the pain of losing him has not disappeared, he has not disappeared either. Carlos now exists amongst my memories and with those memories, I celebrate him and his life.