Today marks two years since my father’s death. These 24 months have convinced me more than ever that, if we loved well, we leave behind an almost physical presence when we die – an influence on the minds and memories of others that continues to affect the way they move through the world for years to come.
That’s why the No Estamos Todas project (Not All of Us Are Here) and its account on Instagram or Facebook is both heartbreaking and unmissable. It takes the faces of women whose lives were cut short and brings them into our day-to-day existence: the Mexico-based project invites artists from around the world to create illustrations of the victims of feminicides and transfeminicides. Yendry, from Limón, just 16 years old. Jessica, from Puntarenas, 36. Alejandra, from Cartago, 27. And on and on they go, from Costa Rica, from Mexico, from place after place and town after town.
It’s brutal, and yet: scrolling through No Estamos Todas reminds you of the love that remains. The fact that so many talented artists, some who knew the women, some who didn’t, have pored over their stories and worked hard to capture their essence, is in itself an antidote to the feeling of helplessness that is so dangerous when it comes to this issue.
Some of the portraits are solemn, but not all. Look again at Nicole, from Argentina, just 21. She makes me want to cry, but she also makes me smile. She makes it impossible to wallow. She makes the viewer want to do something in her honor. Tramp through the streets in the next protest. Hike over mountains and see the world.
It is comforting, somehow, to know that these women left something behind. Inspiration. Gumption. Most of all, love. But these portraits also show us the power of the living, and the responsibility we bear every morning that we wake up, still breathing. Because if love can be this powerful after death, imagine what we can accomplish while we are still here to paint, draw, write, speak, shout, march and vote.
That’s what these artists are reminding us. They are building a sisterhood where none existed. They are choosing to show love to people most of them didn’t even know.
That’s what all of us can do when, with every day that passes, we choose the people we honor, even through as something as small as a pause in our scrolling, a smile, a little prayer. A vow to a woman holding flowers in the same valley where I live with my daughter. A promise to an Argentinean, barely more than a girl, charging forward into the world with a bravery we’ve seen in our own children’s faces. A scrambling, passionate resolve to make this stop. To remember them. To love on their behalf, knowing love’s our only legacy.
I’m a writer in San José, Costa Rica, on a year-long quest to share daily posts on inspiring people, places and ideas from my adopted home as a kind of tonic during a rough time in the world. Sign up (top right of this page) to receive a little dose of inspiration every weekday in your mailbox; tell a friend; check out past posts; and please connect with me on Instagram or Facebook! Each month in 2020 has a monthly theme, and February’s is marriage equality, so scroll back through the month to see several posts highlighting people and organizations working on behalf of this issue in Costa Rica.