I saw a man today. He was lying face-up on the ground outside of the National University. There was police tape around his body and I could see blood seeping in pools around his arms, under his neck… in the moments I took to walk past the policemen to the security gate, I wondered whether the red on the wall behind him was blood or graffiti.
I found the press release. His name is José Caleb Durán Gonzalez. He was 28, stabbed to death outside the main entrance to the University. He was a vendor – he sold jewelry to students as they walked by.
But all I can think is he has family. He… I don’t know him. I don’t know what he was like, or what he dreamt about or what his favorite food was. I only know it doesn’t matter anymore. But it should. He should be alive.
I feel empty. As if only now I’m realizing every news reel, every novel, every Hollywood film – essentially the social world I swim in – has been a lie. Because it made me believe I could handle seeing a dead body. It made me believe that when I finally came face to face with someone my age, someone dressed like my brother, lying there in the street, the victim of some brutal attack and left in the open for the public to observe, to walk by, to gape at… but just left there, nameless, breathless, and unequivocally dead, unequivocally murdered… that I wouldn’t feel much. And it was one big fat lie.
I curled up on the bathroom floor hugging my knees, wanting to scream but instead I just cried, harder than I’ve cried missing my mom or my friends, harder than I’ve cried when I’ve been frustrated, when I thought someone didn’t like me… I cried because I don’t understand. I don't want to understand, to accept this like something that just happens. To make jokes about it or mask it as something other than it is. So instead, I am just going to share. To share what I saw, what I feel, and hope in some small way we stop taking these things for granted. So when they put up numbers in the newspapers totaling thousands, hundreds of thousands of deaths, we grasp them not as numbers. But kids. Sons, vendors, people with lives. Not bodies.