The Dance

I have been navigating a minefield carefully orchestrated dance. It's called grief during the holidays. If I had to put music to it then it would have to be Valse Triste by Sibelius. In this dance, I have 2 dresses. One is colorful and bright. The other is a muted gray like the puffy clouds on a rainy day.

I pirouette and leap, softly walking, hands outstretched. I search and sway. Moving carefully to not tip toe on the eggshells that look like a broken map thrown across the floor. As the music lifts and the notes heighten, my colorful skirt is seen and my twirling makes everything bright. But then I step on a shell and have to stop. Which brings the gray dress back into place.

Battling depression has not been easy. Juggling school and a tough schedule this term has been far from relaxing. Add to that the blog, trying to get a business off the ground and the possibility of rekindled love and what you have here is at least 3 Samsonites full to the brim.

And yet, here are the holidays. Mami's favorite time of the year. It brings a seesaw of emotion that is almost inexplicable. Happy about the season, heart full of joy one minute and heavy heart the next.

I am grateful for it all, though. One Thousand Gifts taught me about hard eucharisteo. The thanking during hard times. The joy during grief. Yesterday I posted this status:

Joyful and deflated all at once. #grief

That's the best way I can describe it. I'm raw with emotion. And exhausted with the teeter totter of grief and joy. Thankful for all that I have. Praying for others because I do realize how blessed I am. Crying out with an ache that only the loss of a mother can bring. And all at once turning to my daughter and holding her hand while we dance and sing.

I was given a big GIFT last night. Looking through my phone I found videos that had been transferred over from Evangeline (the Evo). As I was going through the list, I found a video of mami talking to the frog princess. And I can almost remember that night.

Where had I gone? Where had I been? The frog princess was in bed with her and mami was talking for the baby. About how she was going to go home and not read tonight (mami loved the fact that we read every night). That she was too tired and would just be taking a bath and watching tv. That maybe the dog could read tonight instead. Just simple every day things. And wow. How full of joy was my heart when I saw this? When I heard this? Less than a month from this video we'd be given the diagnosis. But that night, it was just my baby girl talking back to her namesake.

And I am joyful and deflated. Dancing with joy and sorrow. And grateful for it all.


I'm grateful that I can share this as part of Shell's Pour Your Heart Out.

Mami Mondays: Thanksgiving

I was going to vlog today to show you my FANTABULOUS hair thanks to The Hair Diva especially after I vlogged the other day with the Lion King "do". But, to be honest, I'm not up for the camera. It's been a rough day and currently, I am sporting my sexy hair WITH puffy red eyes and the Rudolph nose.  It's been a rough "missing mami" day, what can I say? I will make this short and simple (maybe) and in no particular order. Here's my list:

1. I'm thankful to God for never leaving my side, giving me subtle and not so subtle reminders He's around and for sending people my way to steer me in the right direction and encourage me. This leads me to

2. I'm thankful to you! I so appreciate you stopping by and reading my blog. Most days I have no clue why you do it but, there you are, commenting, tweeting, making me smile and generally reminding me that this thing I love to do so much, this writing, is actually read

3. I'm thankful to projects. I'm  a project manager, so, how could I not be! I'm especially thankful to those of you have that have given towards Terri's trip to the Dominican Republic in order to help bring better birthing conditions to the hospital where she is going to be working at.  This is a very special project because it is the country in which I was born.  I'm trying to figure out how I am going to make welcome packets for all the babies that Terri will be delivering. I may not have a job but hopefully, God will help me make a way.  My dad used to say that babies are born with a loaf of bread under their arm. Initially I thought: what am I yeasty or something? Hmmm, that may have worked better on the vlog than in print. Go ahead and read it again then laugh a little harder to make me feel good.

In any case, I soon realized that the meaning behind the phrase is that babies are not only blessings but they come with blessings as well.  I know I experienced that and many of you have as well. I'd love to renew hope in these new mamis by showing them that their new little bundles of joy bring with them a loaf of their own.  I am skipping Christmas presents for myself (so, please don't send them ;-) ). Instead, I will try my best to make as many welcome packets as possible during the holiday season. If you want to help me make that happen, check out the blog and my intentions and reach out to me.

4. I am of course grateful for my frog princess! Some days (like today) she is the only thing that will put a smile on my face. The sun rises and sets on her. I cannot remember or imagine what life was like before her.  In the midst of the intense sorrow that this year has brought there has been equally intense joy and for that I am humbled and grateful

5. This year more than ever, I am thankful for the many lessons that this life has brought.  I have had the most devastating loss I've experienced in my life (and still, I stand). I walked away from a relationship I once thought would last forever (and still, I stand).  I have lost my job and realized that perhaps I am here for a bigger purpose though I'm still trying to get creative with the bill-paying (and still I stand).  All these things have brought with them valuable lessons and wonderful people that have reached out to me in my time of need. Oh, I've also learned that I can't do it on my own and that it's okay to ask for help.  I'm not saying I'm practicing that yet but, what is it they say about knowing the problem?

In other news: I really wish you could see this hair. It's making me want to get dressed up and go out dancing.  But, for some reason, although I have days where I'm up til 3 a.m. here at home, the minute I think about being out that late, I get an intense tiredness deep within that cannot be fought (hmmm, perhaps I should start using this when I can't sleep at night).

I only have 5 things on the list because as you know I can talk type and if I had 5 more things then I'd need about 3 more blogs (that didn't add up, did it? It's why I'm not writing equations people! Work with me!).  So, what awesomeness are you thankful for? Where will Thanksgiving Day find you (spiritually, emotionally, physically, metaphorically)?

What's the Matter?

It's Easter Sunday. I got no basket for the frog princess. I didn't make a ham. I didn't bake a pie. I made meatloaf but find my stomach is not willing to have anything in it at the moment. The frog princess had a true meltdown on the way home from church after the pit stop for breakfast. I stayed calm even though it appeared as if she'd been possessed. Overtiredness can do that to a toddler. I am grateful that this was the very first meltdown like that. It's the little things that catch my attention these days. Like the cute little girl sitting next to us at church who'd clearly lost her hair to cancer. She was dressed in blue and had the coolest mani and pedi to match (adorable, I tell ya!). I didn't get her name. Didn't wish to be intrusive. But I've been praying for her all day and hope that if you're the praying kind, you throw some prayers up for the cutie pie with the fabu nails.

I dreamt about mami last night and it was so nice. Or maybe it wasn't a dream. I don't remember all of the specifics but I remember her by my bedside smiling. I saw her clearly because ever since the frog princess came home, I sleep with the closet light on and she stood between the bed and the closet. I knew she was "gone" but man, it was good to see her smiling face.

I've had a tough week. And a tough day today. I wanted to go to the cemetery but the meltdown shifted the entire day and then at home, the silent tears shaped the hours in an oblong manner. There are so many changes going on. So many realizations. Like, did you know that I put people ahead of me all the time? I make concessions for them. I make excuses. I insist on caring for people even when they don't care for themselves. Right as service began I had a realization that was at once deep and simple.

"Worry not. You know what you need to focus on. Let Me handle the rest."

I've had a crazy sense of peace all week. I have my moments of "aaaahhhh" (and by that I mean moments when I want to run screaming from a room, stop talking and slap sense into someone or take my adorable shoes and fling them at someone's head) but generally, I have been concerned with not polluting my space. That's my phrase for the week. I don't want to have any negativity in my space. Shit happens. And I can't control others. Moreover, I learned a long time ago that sometimes, I'll never know what happened. Never know the details of the demise. The purpose for the deceptions. That's a story best reserved for a bestseller and not a blog, my friend. The general lesson is: some things don't matter. I think as women we spend a lot of time worrying about things that are not important. And advertisers have caught on (do you really need pajama jeans?!). So now, I have my mami filter set up in my head.

See, mami experienced her own trials and tribulations. When I'd go to her with a problem she'd tell me, but that doesn't matter. And it used to annoy me. "Of course it does!" I'd say, indignant! That person betrayed my trust or that person misused my friendship or that person is not being fair. Whatever the reason, most times she'd look at me and say in a dismissive tone and with the appropriate hand gesture, sound effect and eye roll, "leave that". I see now the strength behind that. The force that it can create in your life. See, most days we spend our time worrying about the wrong thing. Focused on how someone has wronged us or how something didn't work out how we'd expected. Ask yourself, does it matter?

Not saying that it never does. But most times, it's not important. Most times, whatever is going on is a distraction or a tool you can use to learn a lesson. And here I am on resurrection Sunday after seeing my mami in my dream standing by my bedside last night, quietly smiling and with the same peace on her face that I've been carrying around in my heart all week. Writing a blog that at best is a rant. Trying to find the meaning behind it as I type. Trying to think of an appropriate and catchy title. Praying it comes to me and thinking back to that quote that I felt was delivered to me on a silver platter this morning. Thinking also about that cute kid in service and my mami. So much doesn't matter. I am incredibly sad for those that cannot see past the distractions because the day will come when the distractions are all that's left. At the same time, I am so incredibly blessed to be reminded of what does. Not that I'm all in a pedestal, at peace and holy. But, I surround myself with people that, when I need it (notice I didn't say if) will gladly pull me aside and "gently" remind me (the crew runs the gamut from politely and quietly nudging me into the direction I need to go to a verbal slap in the face complete with "colorful" language).

I don't have much more to say (can you believe THAT?! There's your one miracle for the day. Well, your second!). I pray you've had a blessed weekend. And I pray that you are anointed with enough grace to keep an eye open for all the things that truly matter (they're not that many, trust me).

Dear Mami: If Heaven Had an Inbox

Dear Mami: You have been gone almost 3 months now. It's unreal to me that you are truly no longer a being on this earth. I struggle most days because you were such a big part of my life. How does one go on without a limb? I still feel you here, near me in the same way that an amputee feels phantom pains.

So much has changed and yet not much is different. As I navigate through the decisions in my life, I remember conversations of the past where you shared some nugget of wisdom, reminded me of something important I needed to keep in mind or just reiterated my worth. Invaluable thoughts, all of them. Now I stare at serious decisions that must be made and I can see them from your perspective. From a place of peace. The most frequent phrase I hear in your voice as the thoughts race through my head is this: forget it. That doesn't matter.

I am your child so you know this is one of the hardest things for me to do. But I believe that I am getting better at it. The perspective of losing the stronghold of my life, the bearer of my soul, will do that to you. In focusing on those words I am feeling a certain level of peace I had not yet experienced. Yes, there are flare ups and there are annoyances because I am human after all. But mostly, I smile. Because it's taken me so long to see exactly what it was that you were trying to teach me. I wonder. Did you know my life would come to this crossroad? Did you perceive it (after all, moms know everything, right)?

One of the things I loved most about you (and not just because you're my mami) was your ability to be clear and concise and yet be impartial. If I was arguing with someone else that you loved and told you about it, that never changed your relationship with that person. It is a difficult thing to do when you are a mother and all your heart wants to do is protect your child. But you did it perfectly and seamlessly. In that manner, you taught me that everything I do should come from a place of love. No matter what someone else has said or done. I am to act from that love that is in my heart and I am to let whatever that is, go.

In death, you remind me that most things that we worry about are not important and that in giving them thought, emotion or words we, in fact, breathe life into them. I picture your knowing smile as I type this. The one thing I absolutely adore about you (besides how perfectly you loved me) is how proud you are of me. I choose to use the present because I like to think you are looking down on me now from your place in heaven where everything is much clearer. Now you look down and your heart fills with pride because I have arrived to the place where you so lovingly walked me to. To myself. With all my flaws and imperfections. With all of the things that you loved most about me. With all of the worth that you prayed for and instilled.

And I realize as I take each and every step, each and every day that every action you took in steering my heart and actions (whether intentional or not) was to get me to this place. To remind me of how I am loved and therefore how I need to love. How I am valued and how I need to value.

I am moved to write these words because, unfortunately, there are still moms and daughters out there with a less than perfect relationship. And I know you wish them to know that the bond is never broken. Not even after your child holds on to your hand and watches you take your very last breath.

Giggles and Hugs (and a pinch of sorrow)

There are a million things to do.  A million tasks that must be completed.  But, I would be missed if I did not pause for a moment and reflect.  First of all, I must say that the tasks are all bullshit.  On my death bed, I won't think: shit! I wish I'd had time to scrub that toilet that one day of that one month of that one year so long ago! But perhaps, I might remember the giggles of my little girl as we played this morning or how ecstatic she got when we jumped in the shower (it's like a water park to her!). I am stressed.  I sat down tonight to get working on some flowcharts.  But to be honest, my mind is packed with thoughts and feelings that are not letting me concentrate on the task at hand.  I am reading a book called Focus at the moment which I hope will put me on the right track.  But, it's more than just not having focus.  You see, today is the 2 month anniversary of my mami's death.  I sit at my desk surrounded with images of her.  And I remember so much all at once.  Her smile, her greeting to me (she'd always say: hello little one).  Her spirit.  I also remember her work ethic but most of all her very clear perspective on priorities.  We were always it.  No questions asked.  No stopping to pause and wonder if that was the right answer.

One day I hope my frog princess can say the same about me.  That she was always the priority in my life.  It's making me rethink the Evo and the iPhone.  Making me wonder if I should really get that iPad2.  I want my child to remember my eye contact, not the sight of my phone or whatever other distraction I might find in the course of a day.  All I want is time with my child and time to get through this grief.

To say that I miss my mami is the understatement of the millennia.  I have so much going on and her advice was always readily available to me, no matter what.  As I walk through situations I hear mami's voice in her dismissive tone usually saying: leave it alone or let it go, but I still want her words. Her presence.  Yes, I know she is "with me". That she's in a better place.  But to be honest, that shit doesn't bring much comfort.  I mean it does but at the end of the day, it doesn't make me miss her less.  It does not, by any means of the imagination, buffer the pain.  Don't let anyone fool you into thinking that it does.

Every night, the frog princess and I pray.  And I always start thanking God for whatever it is that I am thankful for on that day.  I always thank him for my baby girl.  And some days, that's all I got.  My gratitude session is followed by prayer and petitions.  I don't wish for my mom back (Stephen King made sure of that because all I can think of is Pet Cemetery and who wants a crazy zombie mom, you know?).  I don't pray for anyone to take her place (that's all kinds of impossible).  Some days, all I can pray for is help and then a quick thanks.  Tonight, I should've prayed for a miracle on this flowchart.  I think I'll go pray for some divine intervention on this after I post.  I pray for God to ease my pain and the pain of those closest to my mami.  I pray for God to help me understand her absence and accept it.  I pray for other people afflicted by cancer.  Pray for health and all kinds of other good stuff.  It's important to me that I continue to pray for others. Some days, I just have the thought and strength to pray for God to let me make it through another day.  I cannot imagine what things would be like if I didn't have my frog princess. Can't imagine the additional hollow I might feel. I am so thankful and blessed that my mami got to meet her granddaughter.  Before she got sick we were driving one day and mami said: I always have prayed that God would let me see my grandchildren.  Though I could not have predicted what was coming, I remember thinking: why didn't you pray for more? But, that's the character of my mother.  She was content with what she was given and pleased when her prayers were answered regardless of what was to come.  Mami didn't want fancy cars, a big house, expensive things to fill it.  Mami wanted her family.  More and more I find myself thinking that that's the route I want my life to take as well (not that I have ever been a materialistic person, mind you).  My mind is filled with so much emotion right now, I can't pluck the thoughts so perhaps I will call it quits for the time being.

In the meantime, I will not regret choosing to spend time with my child today instead of tackling the task list.  Tomorrow, I may do the same.  Who can resist giggles and hugs, especially when they so efficiently ease the sorrow?

The Correlation Between Diapers and Wine

...there is one, you know. Let me tell you how. Last night I rush over after work to pick up the frog princess who is out of diapers. Now, normally "out of diapers" for means that there's a half dozen in her bag and at least 3 in my house and at my parents (where the nanny watches her). Well, this week, out of diapers meant, I may have 2 at home and one in the bag. So off I go to CVS, too close to her bedtime for me to be comfortable.

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