Este post es una traducción del anterior, porque quiero que cuando alguien busque por Valentina Rotar en Google, en especial sus amigos de todo el mundo, encuentren esto.
Today I got the news that Valentina Rotar, a dear former co-worker of mine, had passed away a few days ago, as a result of an accident while BASE jumpingin Switzerland. She was single, a few years older than me (about 36), and without children. We had worked together in the same workplace (not at the same area, though) for more than three years.
Valentina was a self-admitted “adrenaline junkie” (sic) and for many years she lived and breathed skydiving. To me, she appeared to be a total geek of that world. You know the type — those that treasure their jumps, have only skydivers for friends and partners, who drive every weekend to some friendly airport to go up in the air and throw themselves out of a plane, and whose only possible holiday is going somewhere cool to, what else, skydive like crazy for days on end.
It goes without saying that Valentina and I never really had much to talk about, or at least not on the subject of her passion.
However, or maybe because of that, I believe my relationship with her must have been different from the majority of people who had the pleasure of knowing her. I’m sure that my being open against skydiving and all other extreme sports meant that we were never ‘close friends’, but still, one ex-coworker called me immediately after hearing the news, because somehow he very well knew that I would be very much affected by it, and would do my best to be present at her funeral.
So, as some sort of ‘in memoriam’, here’s what I recall from my years as co-worker and friend of Valentina Rotar.
Valentina was pretty. Scratch that, she was hot. Young, blonde and blue-eyed, she always wore her honest smile to work. I was really taken when she first came to the office for the job interview, and when the boss told me she had been selected, I didn’t hesitate in teasing him about it, because to me he had obviously chosen the prettiest girl! I mean, hello! Anyway, it would take me a while to get used to working in the same office with a girl that in my home country would’ve landed a job in modelling just like that (eventually however, I found out that in Slovenia she was average, beauty-wise, and among skydivers, she was just one the guys).
Back in January 2006, Valentina was the first person at work who decided to speak to me exclusively in Slovene, without resorting to English. I thanked her many times for that, in private as well as in public. Even when her English was fluent enough, she had as it were resolved I would have no trouble in understanding her quaint, laid-back Slovene (similar to my wife’s), and therefore never ever ever spoke to me in English (her voice was a bit raspy but not quite low in pitch, and she laughed often). Which means she had a lot of patience with me: if I wouldn’t understand something, she would repeat or re-elaborate it till I’d get it (I wonder if she’d ever realise how good a teacher she could have been). For months I spoke only in English to the rest of the office, but thanks to Valentina I was encouraged to take my first baby steps in Slovene at work.
Valentina was a Harry Potter fan. The books of course, not the movies! When everybody was panicking to get their hands on Deathly Hallows here in Slovenia (me amongst them), Valentina was busy reading it, because she had preordered it on Amazon months before. What’s more, I read the end of the Harry Potter series from her copy, which she lent immediately after finishing it. The book, by the way, was given to me bound in magazine paper. Why? Because Valentina didn’t like other people to know what she was reading (something absolutely alien to me, I LIKE people to know what I’m reading!). That’s just a bit of who she was.
Every Shrove Tuesday Valentina would come in donning a huge afro fuchsia wig, and she wouldn’t take it off for the whole day. Unfazed, she would run errands, receive clients, and even change her Messenger picture to one with her wig on! You know, personal branding and all that jazz…
Slovenes do not generally speak of personal issues (at least not while sober), and Valentina was no exception — except for a couple of times, when we’d be alone in the office after hours, and conversation would just start (she in Slovene and me in Slovenglish). We’d talk about life, the universe and everything. Books, movies, art, design and -lo and behold!- also personal matters. Valentina opened up like that a few times to me, and I listened intently. Maybe because I was not her typical skydiving friend, or maybe not. I guess we’ll never know. Later on, however, I found out that this type of contact was not shared by anyone else in the office.
I think Valentina’s death is not a tragedy in the same sense as if she’d been hit by a bus, or succumbed to cancer (but a tragedy nonetheless). She died the way she lived, and I’m pretty sure her colleagues will take care of her memory, up in the blue skies. Valentina knew very well that if anything should fail at the time of opening the parachute, “you’re a pancake” (sic). At every jump, be it from a plane, a bridge, an antenna, a crane or any damn stupid thing she chose to throw herself out from, Valentina must have been ready to meet her death. But of course, we were not, and here we are, in shock.
Yesterday I had a solid day of work from home, but she was with me the whole time. I took some breaks (to cook, shave, tidy up, boring things like that) and I thought, how odd it is that the second thing I thought about after hearing the news was ‘how should I write the commemorative post?’
Because of you, Valentina, yesterday I went back to write after a month-long hiatus. And today I wrote again this re-elaboration of yesterday’s original Spanish text, because I think your many friends from all over the world would appreciate reading these (to me) meaningful ramblings. Thank you for everything, and especially for this last and necessary catharsis which I’ll take as your parting gift to me.
My sincere condolences to your parents, your sister, and the rest of your family.
Until we meet again, Valentina. Forgetting you won’t be easy.