How to Save a Life

You can’t. Unless you’re a doctor, you cannot even try to save a life. Not unless first you have saved yours, in whatever way you can or need or want, whathaveya.

My friend Milton Giron, whom I met at Trader Joe’s, died last week, on July 30, aged 59. Just like that. I don’t have any details about his death, other than a GoFundMe fundraiser has been set up to help his family offset the unexpected expenses headed their way.

I just saw Milton, just a few days prior to Mission Local running its feature on him and how he relished his job at the store, especially during this COVID-19 moment; “In a pandemic, work can seem like home for some” was published on July 26. He was such a light, always happy and always down to work and to work hard. We talked, sometimes, about where we came from; I from Peru (and Miami), he from El Salvador. A few times, his stories shocked me because it sounded to me like he’d experienced the violence and machismo and bullshit that comes with being Latino (here, there, wherever we go) in acutely more severe ways than me. We’re all surviving, but his tale impressed me. I’m grateful he saw fit to share a little bit o’ it with me.

When I last saw him, I noted how much thinner Milton looked, as we air-hugged on the fly (he was about to start his shift). I also made a mental note to follow up and check in with him, naïvely wondering how I could help him (I thought I should cook for him – because I’m Peruvian and food’s kinda like our go-to, when it comes to this type o’ thing). But then, just like that, he left us.

Not before getting his story out there, though. I’m so happy and inspired that he did.

There’s no rest for us in this world. Life is what happens. And Milton’s life didn’t need saving. Death is part of the journey. It’s harsh, especially right now, not knowing what happened, whether I or anyone could have done…something more for our friend.

Today I celebrate him, that our paths crossed, that we saw and made each other smile. I shall try every day to honor his humility and his joy.

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