Goodbye doesn’t mean burying a loved one when they die.
Goodbye means forgetting a person once they die.
It’s different for Diana Lozano; she lost her daughter Melissa “Gumby” Flores in a car accident 16 years ago.
Lozano’s anger at losing her loved one was a constant reminder of her daughter not being there anymore. Somehow she eventually found inner peace.
Lozano coped with Gumby’s death not by mourning her loss but by celebrating her daughter. She set up a Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) altar at her home each of the first four years after the tragedy. Later she set up an altar for the community, the last two at the V. Salazar Building.
Kingsville started celebrating Dia de Los Muertos as a community in 1996 when high school students created an exhibit called “Through the Eyes of Youth.” The exhibit was displayed at John E. Conner Museum. It remains on display today.
Dia de Los Muertos is a celebration to honor the death and life of loved ones who have passed. It is believed the gates of heaven open at midnight on Oct. 31, and the spirits of all deceased children reunite with their families for 24 hours. On Nov. 2, the spirits of adults come down to enjoy the festivities.
Lozano’s holiday altar featured photos of her daughter as a baby, keepsakes and special mementos. Gumby’s graduation photo sits inside the installation, too. She died two months before graduating.
Dia de Los Muertos altars change each year. They are decorated very personally, are often colorful and are assembled with loving care. Creating the altar is one of the most important traditions during this day in Mexico and in Mexican-American communities around the globe.
An altar is usually arranged on a table top. Sometimes stacks of crates are used to set up three-tiered altars. The table is covered with tablecloths or drapes and an arch of marigolds is often erected over the top. Whether simple or sophisticated, Day of the Dead altars and offerings all contain the same basic elements. Offerings laid out for the dead can include candles, marigolds, incense, salt, photos, a bread called pan de muerto, sugar skulls, fresh fruit, and foods the deceased liked to eat.
Gumby’s altar was set up with three tiers covered by a table cloth. Photos of her were displayed along with her cherished cheetah print personal items. Her favorite snacks were also part of the offering, The altar was well lit, sitting in front of a window for people to view.
Lozano posed for pictures waiting for the clock to strike midnight. Her lasting hope was that Gumby’s spirit would make the journey and feel the love Lozano poured into her creation.