Space Between the Stars
When I was in the third grade, my teacher stood in front of the blackboard and asked each one of us what we wanted “to do.” I answered, “Write.” And I began then “”with poems, short stories, and a diary. Simple. Unpretentious. Through adolescence, through my first heartbreak, while traveling on trains, and after childbirth “”I wrote about it all. It was my way of taking my stuffed-down yearnings and releasing them like butterflies in the sky.
I married at twenty-two, and in the thirty-three years of my union with Carlos Santana, I moved turbulently between two images: the feminist culture of the 1970s that told me I did not need a man to make me whole, and the provincial Christian teachings of my youth that said woman is helpmeet to her husband. While Carlos played music around the world believing that his art could transform human consciousness with positive energy and molecules of light, I studied Spanish and creative writing, managed a vegetarian restaurant, answered fan mail and taught meditation.
When our children dropped like flowers from my womb, I became guide, healer, and teacher, their lives giving me true meaning along the way. I stayed home to raise the lives that had come through us: volunteering in the children’s schools; raising money for music and sports programs; surviving field trips; and watching our three children interact with a young version of humanity. I purchased real estate; took over our corporation, managing twenty employees; sat on the board of a nonprofit before we developed our own Milagro Foundation; and with Carlos, decided on his career choices and direction.
Many people saw me only in the context of Carlos’s life. This concept of being known through my connection with someone famous contradicted all that I value about people as individuals. I was Carlos’s wife, but I was first myself — a body of cells, emotions, beliefs, perspectives and intelligence. Space Between the Stars explains my life, and I hope that what I have learned in finding and defining myself can give voice and hope to other women. I expose the rugged, uneven terrain of my discoveries and glories, as well as the impact of society’s racism on my growth. My story represents the power of every life. Each sentient being has a story, a fascinating journey with family and friends, of awakenings and disappointments. I wrote my memoir because I am interested in this sacred unfolding of life, and I have learned to value myself through introspection and hard work. My goal is to give others encouragement and stamina to soar.
My parents were legally denied the right to marry in 1947 because they were not the same “race” (human race did not count). They were vilified and hated for loving each other, yet they chose to stand in their love. Society evolves by people risking to live what they believe is right for them. Slowly, so slowly, acceptance dawns in our culture because a group of rebels fights for their rights. I still find my parents’ convictions and strength remarkable, and tell their story, with mine, as a symbol of thousands of people who willingly fight to liberate us all. My mother’s amazing acceptance and love of people taught me that each person is unique and special in the eyes of God. Because my father was a professional musician, mom met many well-known musicians during the first years of their courtship and marriage. She was never impressed by fame. Mom’s interest in someone was sparked if they were kind, had faith in God, or said something that allowed her to glimpse their character.
Looking back, I have gathered the beauty and completeness of these years””the strength of my parents and the exquisiteness of my life with Carlos. I have been to Paris, London, Tokyo, Osaka, Barcelona, Madrid, Sydney, Melbourne, Acapulco, Puerto Vallarta, Puerto Rico, Kingston, Tobago, Geneva, Zurich, Moscow, New York, and Taos. I have visited El Prado, the Duomo, the British History Museum, and Zen temples””learning sacred history and cultural customs. I have met famous people and people working in anonymity with great humility and power. Carlos’s musical mission was always our focus, and our experiences have been sublime.
If I had designed my own existence, I may have lit on a course of study, seeking a depth of knowledge in one area, or I may have served as a hospice worker helping children and adults come to terms with the power of their transition from this life to the next. I definitely would have chosen to be seen as an individual.
In writing this memoir, I have followed a labyrinth to my heart and have become aware that the wholeness I saw in others existed in the struggles and triumphs of my life and my marriage, in the loving-kindness of years survived and cherished. The words in this book are my remembrance of what I have lived on my journey, a prayer to my amplified life, nuggets of truth from my soul. May each reader see their own life as sacred, every experience as holy.
“Deborah Santana has blessed us with a precious jewel of a book…She is the whole note, played half or quartered, in the romantic themed soundtrack of her life’s movie…This book has touched my soul…”
LaTanya Richardson Jackson, Actress
“I couldn’t put this book down. Beautifully written, full of fine detail, it breaks illusions about gurus, rock stars, and stereotypes about race. This is a dynamic memoir of an extraordinary woman’s life.”
Natalie Goldberg, author of Writing Down the Bones and The Great Failure
“A beautiful memoir that will delight, surprise, and inspire readers.”
Mark Bryan, co-author, The Artist’s Way at Work
“Cancel the spa, this is the release you’ve been seeking.”
Alfre Woodard, Actress