The Quintanilla Family

Juliana’s dad and Griselda’s ex-husband, Rolando, died suddenly in 2015. Juliana reflects on celebrating life’s milestones without her father. Griselda shares her struggle to provide answers to her daughter’s questions about death and loss.

Griselda: My ex-husband.

Juliana: My dad.

Juliana: I was nine when my dad died. I thought it was a joke. It took a couple hours to realize that my mom was actually telling the truth.

Griselda: I was totally lost when I find out that because I couldn’t believe it, and I called my brother and I ... and I told him that Rolando died. And, I say, What I’m going to tell Juliana? He didn’t know. I didn’t know either. “Whenever you say it, is gonna hurt.” Juliana didn’t wanna talk. If you ask Juliana, “Juliana, are you okay? How do you feel?” “I don’t want to talk about it.”

Juliana: I would not really show it, but I would end up going to my room and cry. My mom, she would cry, but she wouldn’t want to tell me she would go to her closet in the night.

Griselda: It’s hard because some people that, they don’t really understand. We stay in marriage and know each other for almost 20 years. Even though we got divorced, I still love him. It was hard for me, but, you forgot about yourself. You just wanna take care of your kid because the mom suffer when they see their kid suffer. I was like zombie in the day like- drinking coffee to wake me up. Because I have to drop my daughter to school, because I have to pick her up, I have to go to work. It doesn’t matter how I feel.

The day, it’s okay. The problem is the night. When the nights come, everybody is quiet and you and there alone and you, and you say like, “Oh my god. Am I’m gonna make it?” But my life has to continue. I have to be strong to keep my daughter up and to take care of her.

Juliana: I didn’t think that I would be mad, but I mostly was angry at why he had to leave. I was crying almost every day, and now when I go to his grave, that’s mostly the only time that I cry. The hardest day for me would be my birthday. I’m going to have a quinceanera at fifteen, and an essential part of that would be the daughter dancing with her father. But, I told my mom and she said, “Don’t worry, we’re gonna do it together.” And that made me happy.

Play Video placeholderGriselda Quintanilla: The Holidays

The first years, we never really feel like going nowhere and ... and I still feel the same way. I don’t feel like doing nothing because I feel, like, kinda alone. I feel out of place. I feel like ... Sometime I feel, like, why the ... the life treat me that way that I don’t really have my ... my family together. But after all, I become and say, “Well” - Julianne and I, we are the family, but it’s hard. It’s really hard those days. I think all ... especially all the holidays is ... They’re not good for me, but, like, they ... Everything as far is for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and ... and New Years is ... Those are the ... the part of ... that I feel is so bad.

Play Video placeholderJuliana Quintanilla: Grief At School

Lots of people would talk about how their dad was this and their dad was that, and I just felt a rush to leave the room when they would talk about their dad, ’cause it made me really sad. My teachers, they all knew, and my classmates knew, and they would tell me, “I’m so sorry for your loss.” Most people at my school, I think that they would wanna do more, but some people I didn’t know at my school, they probably didn’t want to do much, ’cause they didn’t know me as well as others did. I wish people would have said, do you want to talk about it? Not just saying “I’m sorry for your loss” and then just leaving.

Juliana Quintanilla poses in front of a cameraman with a little white dog
Close up shot of Griselda Quintanilla smiling
A concrete and mosaic block with shiny tiles and heartsreads Rolando Quntanilla Love!

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