Friday, April 12, 2024
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Moment's Notice

Reluctantly opening the box

Maria A. Montalvo's friend Pilar.
Maria A. Montalvo's friend Pilar.
Maria A. Montalvo
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“I carry you with me into the world, into the smell of rain and the words that dance between people. And for me, it will always be this way, walking in the light, remembering being alive together.”

I now truly understand the paradox of Schrödinger's cat.

I thought I understood it before, even writing about Erwin Schrödinger and his theory of quantum mechanics in a column  a few years ago. His premise, made easier to understand with the analogy of a cat in a box, is that multiple possible outcomes of reality exist simultaneously until we observe or experience one, aka, we open the box.

But it was not until I sat staring at my phone, unable to unlock it because in that moment, two very different possibilities existed simultaneously for one of the kindest and most beautiful human beings I have ever met.

Later that day, as I stood outside my mom’s door, waiting to tell her that this wonderful person had passed away, I realized that our friend was still alive on my mom’s side of the door and no longer alive on my side of the door. The metaphor of the cat became stunningly and painfully clear.

This woman, our neighbor and friend – Pilar – was a dancer, a mother, an innovator, a businesswoman, a friend, an inspiration, a caregiver, a wife, a community leader, and so much more. She was exquisite, elegant, strong, and had an ease to her.

She defies most words I attribute to her since any descriptor is inadequate. She could make anyone feel like they were truly important to her because people were truly important to her. Pilar, like her name implies, was a source of stability for so many.

She filled a room with her spirit and shared her love of community in many ways, but most often through dance. To her, anyone can dance, and she innately understood that humans thrive when we are aware of and connect all of the parts of ourselves (heart, mind, body).

Pilar and her husband, a musician and bandleader who was her partner in all things, are at the center of the vibrant music and dance scene in Albuquerque, New Mexico, a community that brought my parents deep friendships and joy.

As I sat with my mom, I noticed the Storypeople figure that I found for her after my dad died. It is a drawing of a figure in motion and says, “I carry you with me into the world, into the smell of rain and the words that dance between people. And for me, it will always be this way, walking in the light, remembering being alive together.”

From now on, there is only one outcome that we can move forward with, and that is the one where Pilar is illuminating another place.

I do not know why, in the midst of all of this emotional distress, my mind went to Schrödinger and that cat.

Perhaps I had to remain connected to the rational since my heart was overwhelmed by the thought that someone who was the personification of light in this world could be taken so suddenly and unexpectedly.

Perhaps I knew that when thinking of Schrödinger's cat, I always chose to believe in the reality where the cat was alive.

Perhaps I wanted to exist in the outcome where our friend was still here.

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