For most of my life, Cinco de Mayo barely made a blip in my awareness as anything other than an excuse for people to get drunk on margaritas and nachos. I knew nothing about the origins of the holiday but, thanks to one year of high school Spanish and my love of Mexican food, I was pretty sure Mexico figured somewhere in the equation.
Cinco de Mayo’s meaninglessness transformed into a yearly exercise of painful irony when my mother died on that day. While most of the people around me have a rowdy good time sucking worms out of tequila bottles, I can’t seem to help myself but wallow in shitty memories of my mother’s painful death 20 years ago.
The initial shocking emptiness of her absence mutated into a dark, hideous monster that emerges every year since her death. As I became aware of the holes in my personhood and the role she had in creating them, the emptiness and guilt evolved into a stew of anger, hate, and resentment.
Now, while everyone else seems to be out doing the Mexican hat dance around a taco salad while juggling Jarritos and singing “La Cucaracha”, I’ve struggled with the pain of knowing I’ll never have the relationship with her I would have liked to have.
Regret dominates my thoughts about her. It’s the rice and beans on the buffet of lousy feelings I feast on during the first week in May. It makes me long for the days when Cinco de Mayo meant nothing to me.