Letter from an Erasmus student to the girls’ parents.
“A vivir que son dos días”. In Spanish this means that life is short and you’ve to try to take advantage of every single opportunity you’re given, because you could lose it just one minute later. This is what tragically took place yesterday night in Tarragona. Those girls were probably sleeping peacefully on the bus, coming back to Barcelona from the Valencia “Las Fallas” traditional celebration.
Hearing the news of this tragedy destroyed my day and yet still I can’t stop thinking about those girls and of my mother, who lives far from me. I am a young man; no matter my age, no matter my name, no matter what I’ve done in my life. The only important thing is that I could’ve been one of them because I am the same kind of person as those girls were: I am young, I love traveling, I love learning new languages and that’s why I went on Erasmus.
I’ve been Erasmus once, twice, thrice and I will be Erasmus forever. This is why I feel as if a little piece of me died with them. This is why I can’t stop thinking of this tragedy, of those thirteen beautiful young princesses dancing in the Beauty of Life. Someone said that when the young French composer Maurice Ravel wrote the “Pavane pour une infante défunte” (Pavane for a Dead Princess), he described the piece as “an evocation of a pavane (a dance of the Renaissance) that a little princess (“infanta”) might, in former times, have danced at the Spanish court”. Well, I can’t delete that image from my mind. I keep imagining those girls smiling, singing, dancing, hugging each other, radiating off the world with their youth and carefreeness.
I perfectly remember the day I planned to go to Las Fallas, three years ago. I was living in Barcelona and the ESN (Erasmus Student Network) had organised a daily trip to Valencia. I had bought my bus ticket, but I missed the bus because I had to be at the bus station at 6 am but I had fallen asleep 10 minutes before.
Now I keep imagining myself taking that bus, going to Valencia and never coming back to Barcelona, never coming back to my country, never coming back to my family. I keep imagining my family and my friends families regretting the moment they decided to allow us to go on Erasmus, to travel alone (maybe for the first time) far from home. I imagine myself, dead, looking at everything from somewhere and not being able to tell my parents, my brothers and my friends how I feel. Death is cruel, because it doesn’t give you any possibility to reply and the people you love are left without any possibility to know and understand the last part of your life and your last feelings. That’s why I am writing now, because I perfectly remember how I used to feel when I was on Erasmus and I perfectly remember what I said to my mother once and I hope that this could maybe help console the victim’s loved ones, if possible.
This is what I would say to my mother,
“Hey mummy… I am sorry. I am sorry because all this made you cry and the last thing I want is to make you suffer. Oh, I love you so much and I already miss you so bad. The worst thing of all in this situation is that we won’t have time to talk about how happy I have been and how happy I am. Seriously, I am so happy. So I have to tell you “sorry” but also “thank you”, because you’ve given me the opportunity to experience the best time of my life.
Since first arriving in Barcelona, I’ve begun a totally new life: I’ve discovered that I am able to live alone in a foreign country and that I am able to learn a new language. I’ve learnt that people will help you in exchange of just a smile and that they enjoy doing it. I’ve been offered help with all the bureaucracy stuff and I’ve enjoyed the laughter of the native Spanish when I mangled words. HAHA Mum, I remember this one time I made the biggest mistake and everybody was laughing at me.. But I can’t tell you any more about that, you know, we don’t speak about “dirty things”. I’ve also discovered that I love beer, you know? Aaah, Spain.. I love this country so much, I love my people here so much. They are already like a family to me. Please, mum.. Do try to get to know them.. It’s incredible: I met most of them at most six months ago and they are already my best friends.
Mummy, being an Erasmus student is amazing, I loved it and, seriously, yesterday night, when I fell asleep next to my friends, I couldn’t imagine being in a happier place. And believe me: when you are this happy death cannot be feared because you are complete.
Well, now I have to go, but remember that life is unpredictable and often unfair and youngsters like me should never die, but I hope that knowing that I died at the peak of my beauty, youth and happiness will help you to live on in my absence. Keep traveling, mum, I’ll be always with you.”