Newspapers reported that in the early morning of September 12, 2010, Adolfo “Fito” Celedon Bravo died shortly after being shot on this spot at Emerson and Adeline during an armed robbery as he walked home with his fiancée Amber Daniela Nelson after a night of dancing at Ashkenaz on his birthday eve. Nelson uses a different verb – he transitioned.
I have written two posts about Fito and Amber – their love, his death, her traditions honoring him. In the first post I told their story – love and death.
My second post about Amber and Fito – Amber took a photo of the painted Imagine on Emerson above Adeline almost every day for two years. The photo was the last step in a daily ritual: look over the garden and marvel at the growth since yesterday; chose the best of the decaying matter already fallen from the plants; arrange a mandala on the mosaic; thank Fito and kiss the spot where his blood had spilt; and photograph it. Here is that post.
This weekend marked the tenth anniversary of the shooting, of the transition.
Amber reflected on it all in a recent e-mail.
In times so uncertain such as these, I’m teaching my girls that when someone transitions into the next world, it’s a form of freedom. That the person is no longer bound by the physical confines of their tangible body, but is instead free to be anywhere and everywhere, at any moment. It’s just that we can’t see or hear them with the same instruments that we are used to in our bodies. And so, as we arrive to the day that marks 10 years since Fito “became spirit,” as my daughter Ramona says, who is now four years old, I remember all of the things he taught me, and all of the places he still lives, around me and around the world:
He lives in Berkeley, at Fito’s Place, which is where he took his last breath, and where myself and the community returned time after time to turn hatred into beauty. And a place that persists still today, as a garden and community gathering place, because of Fito’s presence and bravery.
Of course he lives in Chile all over the place, with his family, all of his friends and the innumerable amount of people that he touched, that perhaps never even learned his name or have forgotten his face. But they surely have taken his lessons of “Todo es posible” along with them for the rest of their lives, and their children’s lives.
He’s here in Brazil, at Maracanã Stadium, the football temple in Rio de Janeiro. He’s on my fridge: a photo of him taken in San Francisco, with two hands on his cheeks and his mouth wide open as if to say “OH MY GOD WHAT IS GOING ON?!?” That picture’s travelled with me everywhere since I printed it, probably 9 1/2 years ago.
He’s in my children, as anytime they see an actor being goofy or declaring himself passionately, we remind them that it’s “Tio Fito.” That you can become anyone that you want to be, as long as there is love and passion involved.
He’s in Peru, where he and I discovered dignified humility in simple people who live within their means with respect to all of the complex intermingling of all life’s creatures.
And he’s with every single person who have taken him along on their journeys as they proceed through their lives. I call on them now to raise their voices to explain how it is and where it is he is living with them, so we can all understand.
But for me, he is alive in the music he listens to through me, he’s alive in the adventures I take out into the unknown with friends I’ve yet to meet. And every time I have a deep conversation with a stranger, I have him to thank.
And in every full moon he is there, saying hello, and that he is watching, nearby, showering us with soft blue light.
Amber sent a photo of her family.
She also sent a link to her website, a business featuring virtual tours in Latin America.
Amber visited Berkeley three years ago with her daughter Ramona. I met her. We fiddled around at Fito’s Place. I asked her questions. We talked.
That remains one of the most sacred moments that I’ve had in all of my Quirky Berkeley adventures. I am glad to have heard from Amber, and to hear of her life and her undiminished love for a saint who is now ten years transitioned.
My friend has been going through a rough spell. I will explain soon. But fear not – he took a look at this post and spoke his mind about it.