$300

JJ Cords' real name was Julieta Juliana Cordoba. Her blonde hair was born brown. Her take charge, type A demeanor was about as real as her newly bought and paid perfect breasts. She enunciated her english exercises every morning to the slightest tinge of an accent, only noticeable to her. Working for her, while engaging and dynamic was exhausting and I couldn't take it anymore. She used to pay me $300 a day which was so not worth it. Trust me. No amount of money was worth it. She was erratic. One second you did a great job and the next you had to do it all over again. Nothing was ever good enough for her.

Jules Cords was a poet. I met her in college when her blonde hair was red. She could write love songs with the best of them, but for some reason never pursued the spotlight. She never knew she was good enough. I remember one particular open mic night. Only four people were there, but those four people were mesmorized. We weren't very serious, so when she got pregnant, ending it was the only right thing to do. I gave her $300 and she asked to never see me again.

Julieta Cordoba was a mess since the time she was five. She ruined her beautiful brown hair when she threw a bottle of hydrogen peroxide on it and ruined it. A mess. She always meant well, but she was never as talented as the other kids. She was always just barely good enough. She just barely made the soccer team, she just barely played guitar, she just barely kept relationships. I didn't even know she had a boyfriend or boyfriends at all until...well, until Jamey was born. She was very good at keeping secrets. She kept Jamey a secret from us for four years. To this day I don't understand what kind of person does this. Only a selfish person would have. I'm not sure that I can forgive her for all the problems she caused in her life. I'm not sure that her father can ever forgive her lies. Through it all, I always loved her. When she left home at the age of 16 she left with $300 in her pocket. God knows what disgusting things she had to do to make it. Somehow she put herself through college, somehow she had a job. God only knows. I don't want to know.

JJ Cords was a liar. She disregarded her family completely. She didn't care what we said. She didn't care how hard we tried. She never thought for a second that we might want to be a part of Jamey's life. I called her by her ridiculous americanized name that completely turned its' back on her culture. In business she was even worse. She rode her employees hard and lacked any creative bone in her body. She was the most results driven human I ever met, steamrolling through everyone and anything to achieve her goals. When she lost it all during the market crash, we were shocked. I was her sister for Christ's sake. I didn't know she was broke, I didn't know how far her deception went until her dealer showed up at the funeral and charged me $300 that she owed him.

My daughter. I cannot even say her name. We have this common. She was just a child. She was just a child and I was an older man. I was her father. God help me, I was her father. I put a gun in my mouth that following July.

Jenny wasn't her name, but it was my name for her. JJ seemed too severe and the truth is that behind that ridiculous tough facade she was vulnerable, she was wounded, she was mostly broken yet still kind. Jamey was just two years old, but the perfect baby. We enrolled her in a coop preschool that I taught at. "Oliver, she looks like you", she would say, and you know what's crazy is that she kind of did. She wasn't even my kid and she did. She was a tough kid, much tougher than her mom ever could have been. I can't help but think that if I could have loved her sooner, if I could have helped her better, she would still be here with us and we'd be a family.

JJ-C was my daily customer. I didn't know her much, it was all business, but as far as my H clients go, she had her shit together, almost made it look good for you. She didn't seem like she was unraveling, she didn't seem like she was far gone. She always paid on time. I dont know what her dal was with her kid. I never once met her, but I saw her things always around the house; perfectly tidy, perfectly neat.

JJ Chords. My mother. I put an H in her name because she was a chameleon, always changing. While I did not know her, today on the thirtieth anniversary of her death, I praise the five years she was my mother. She was always reinventing herself, not afraid of holding her own hand, of beating her own drum. She was unstoppable which made the people in her life feel trampled, but if you ever knew her in the way that I did for those short five years, you would know that she was on a constant mission to find herself. It didn't always come kindly, it didn't always make sense. When she took her life she left me an envelope with her last $300 and the phone number of an investment banker named Julian. She had apparently met him in college and they played in a band. Julian did invest that money for me and within a few short years, I had made $30,000. I don't know what it is about him but something seems familiar; something seems kind about him. He's even invited me for picnics with his wife and children who treat me like one of their own. I know I should hate her, I know she was far gone, I know that she is the last rolemodel anyone should have, but she gave me a great five years. She kept drugs away from me. She gave me Oliver. He was patient, he was kind and when he passed a few days ago, I mourned him more than JJ Chords. It's easy to take pity on a child with no family, but their kindess seems genuine, unlike my grandmother Marta who can't even say JJ and insists on calling her Julieta, a name she despised; a name that her father used to call her when he would sneak into her room at night. She was a warrior. She was my mom.

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