Thursday, February 28, 2019

Bother Your Friends

I really had to think about how I wanted to write this post today.  I had this other idea but then I started writing and this post came about.  Here is the thing.  I think that as humans we are meant to live in relationship with other people, but other people piss us off.  Go ahead and process this information.  When I think about the people that had the power to really mess with me, they are the people that are closest to me.  Why should I care as much about a stranger?  A stranger doesn't call me and I'm okay with that.  But if one of my friends doesn't call me back or reach out to me then I start getting worried.  Makes sense?

I love you so I'm not going to let you shut me out.  My son, he gets upset and he wants to be alone.  I'm the same way.  The apple doesn't fall far from the tree.  When he goes to his room and is upset, I go with him.  I have sat there in silence with him until he feels good enough to talk to me.  I tell him I love him and I fight the wall that he puts up to show that I'm not going away.  He thinks I'm a pain in the butt but I'm the pain in the butt that will love him through his rough patches. 

Back to how this applies to my life.  When I was in the worst of my mourning, I felt that people wanted to give me space.  I don't know if I wanted the space.  If anything, I think I wanted community.  I think this was the reason that I went to every church related event, even if I was tired.  I think it was community that had me at work when I could have been falling in a spiral of depression on my bed when things got too dark for me to bear.  I had a few friends that were brave enough to step into the mess with me.  One of those wonderful friends is no longer with us but I think about her.  I think about how brave she was to risk my wrath and the ugly parts of who I am to just sit and be with me.  To sit and be my friend.  I want to be like her.  I want to push through the politeness of space and be a real friend.  I want to bother you and ask how you are doing and give you the squinty eyes when you tell me you're fine. 

I have lost friends.  They were friends one day and the next day they were gone.  What happened?  I didn't recognize when they were putting up walls.  And here's the thing.  I do the same thing.  I put up my walls and then wonder why no one has asked.  I test the love of my friends.  Let me see if anybody sees if I withdraw?  I have done this in the past.  I don't do it as much now because I want to value my friends and be present in this time that we have.  I want to be honest with myself and others as I try and forge new roads and have this opportunity to confront the parts that need to be exposed to the sun.  I'm finding that people relate to my brokenness.  People are messy and broken and we are all in need of a Savior (of course I'm going to talk about God in my blog!).  Maybe I can shine my little light and shed some light on people who have been living in their darkness too long.  Wish me luck!!!

Wednesday, February 27, 2019


Today I have no concentration.  Today the paperwork seems endless and the time seems short.  I don't know if you have days or seasons like this.  When all that needs to be done, has to be done... today.  These are the moments that I miss having a partner in crime.  I would call him and tell him that I was having a bad day and he would tell me that he would pray for me, my sweet guy.  Today, I must pray for myself. 

I'll tell you what the problem is: Stress.  I am stressed.  I am.  I think about what I'm dealing with.  What is stress?  It is a strain.  It is allowing the floodgates of what can not be controlled unloosed and now I am sinking beneath its waters.  This is what it feels like.  If I can write about my triumphs, I need to be able to write about my challenges too.  It's just one of those days.  I have an idea of what started this spiral.  I know what is adding to it.  I know what I should be doing.

I am forgetting.  I am forgetting in this business of busyness that I am the daughter of the Most High King.  I am forgetting that everything is in my Father's control.  I am forgetting that He is sovereign even when I am overwhelmed.  God is on His throne.  The war is won.  Death and sin no longer have any power over me.  I am brought to mind Romans 8 especially verses 18-39.

18- For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
25-But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
26- Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.
28- And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
31-32-  What then shall we say to these things?  If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?
37-39- No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

So I take a moment and I breathe.  I feel the effects of stress on my neck.  I feel how I have been holding this stress on my shoulders.  I slow down my breathing.  If I don't finish everything what will happen?  Will I lose my salvation?  If I don't get what I want, what will happen?  Will I be a less than person?  No!  If nothing special ever happens to me again, does this mean that I am a nobody?  Does this mean that I lose who I am?  If I am never seen by anyone ever again as attractive or unique, does this mean that I am not worth loving?  No.  I continue, even now- with stress attempting to bite my ankles and bring me down into a dark abyss, to be the daughter of the Most High King.  I am not pained or hurt.  I don't think less of myself because I didn't do something or someone didn't respond to me.  I will sleep.  Tomorrow, if tomorrow shows itself, I will continue to be me. 

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Regarding the New Normal

I have spent years being a private person.  This death, this change, this occurrence, has changed me so much.  There are days I don't even recognize who I am.  In the beginning, when everything was fresh and new and raw, I kept on hearing the phrase, "new normal." Because we have to change we have to create a new way of being.  This is a lot bigger than it alludes to.  It could be hard creating this New Normal.  I don't let my children linger on the way things used to be done.  Why?  Because it's traditional?  I want my family to do things that make sense for who we are now.  If something needs to change then it needs to change.  I have been accused of not being sufficiently sentimental.  I disagree.  I think that I am sufficiently sentimental but I don't let my sentimentality get in the way of a rational plan... most of the time.

People have asked me if I intended on doing something to honor the death of my husband.  That's the question: Do I celebrate my husband's death-a-versary?  So morbid!!!  My father's death day has just passed and I remembered it but I didn't say anything about it to my children.  On my mother's death day, I got married to change the meaning of the day.  My son's birthday is the day before my husband's death.  I want to celebrate my son's day.  I want to celebrate my son's birth.  I don't want it to always be associated with the death of his father.  So... going forward, I don't think I will celebrate Santi's death day.  I will let the day go on as if it is any other. I will remember and reflect in my heart the passing of my husband.  I will try to absorb the sorrow of the day and I will talk about it with my children, but only if they bring it up. 

But... how do we honor those who have gone before us?  My parent's tombstones are in New York.  We do not go visit every year on their birthdays as I used to do with my father.  Whenever I went as a child I would end up talking to my mother, as if she would be able to hear me. I used to tell her things sitting on the cold dirt looking at a headstone ala Forest Gump talking to Jenny at the end of the movie.  These conversations may not be beneficial.  My parents are not waiting in their coffins for me to come to talk to them.  This idea, this construct is only in my head.  Why talk to the dead?  James was cremated.  I have his urn in the house.  At times I find myself referring to the urn as "him."  That urn is not him.  In the urn is his remains.  I am not ready to allow the ashes to find their own way in the world as he would have wanted.  I find that I need that urn yet.  I find that my children may need that urn.  I'm not opposed to them sitting with the urn having a conversation as I used to have but I need for them to understand that the urn is not a person.  The essence of the urn is not their father.  Their father is in a better place.  I would rather have my children do, as I did, when I realized what I was doing.  I would like them to talk to a Father who can hear them.  I would like for them to pour out their hearts to their Heavenly Father who longs to have a relationship with His people.  I think this is a much better strategy.

I still ask: how do we honor those who have gone before us?  I'm thinking of getting a huge tattoo on my back of my husband's face... Just Kidding!!!  I am thinking of writing a note and putting it into a helium balloon to send to him.  He won't get it.  The balloon will fall back to the earth and it will be trampled or destroyed.  This act in the new normal is for me.  It will be for my children.  I want to make sure they understand it is commemorative act. 

As for my new normal, we are all liquid and changing.  I will continue to do what we need to do and what we like to do as we change.  God is good to us. 

Monday, February 25, 2019


I was talking to Glenda.  We commented on the nature of this particular spring.  It has been cold here where we live.  Over drinks and fries this Sunday, we talked about this past year and about next steps.  There is peace in my life.  I'm always amazed at this peace that I have.  I expect to be emotional or frazzled and there is but peace and a sense of purpose.  As this cold winter starts turning to spring, I am hopeful.

My hope is for my children to always follow the path.  My hope is for my faith to grow in God.  My hope is to be content.  I pray to finish what God has put before me.  But even now, I am hopeful that even in my midlife, my future is safe and filled with happy moments yet to come.  I swear I hear him.  I hear my dear husband telling me not to linger in the pain.  I could almost hear him whisper that God is good and has a good plan for me.  I can barely remember a time without him.  It feels like he is woven into my very fabric.  I expected him to be expelled much like the way Magneto pulled all the iron out of the security guard and escaped his plastic prison (Always a Marvel nerd).  But Santi stays with me.  I look for him in our children.  There are traces in the way that they laugh of his smile.  I can hear his sense of humor and mannerisms in the way they interact with each other.  There is nothing but hope floating in the embers of loss and pain, floating upward in a glow. 

Isaiah 61:1-3
The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion- to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he may be glorified. 

How encouraging is this passage to me!!!  Talk about having hope!  This is proof that God is with me.  I was reminded yesterday by a dear old friend that I am a delicate flower.  I call myself this.  I acknowledge that in myself I may not be able to do anything.  But rather than a temperamental orchid, I am the perennial rose coming forth each year strong and beautiful with thorns, wild and persistent.  God calls this delicate flower an 'oak of righteousness.' How can I not feel hopeful for tomorrow?

Friday, February 22, 2019

Love is All That Remains

Today it's a rainy Friday.  It is a day of remembering for me.  I was talking about how my father was so proper.  Talking about him made me recall his voice.  I could hear him saying my name in the way that only my dad said it.  I could hear his thick accent when he spoke English.  I could hear the refined Colombian accent that said usted, instead of the more familiar tu.  My father and I didn't always have the best relationship.  I remember being at odds with his more conservative thinking in my adolescent years.  But when I needed love, when I needed someone to love me through all of my craziness, my father was there.  I can only remember the good.  The lessons that I didn't want to hear.  I remember the act of pure kindness and the way he joked around.  I remember his generosity and incredible intellectual reasoning.  I think that's what is left when all is said and done, love is all that remains. 

I Peter 4:8
"Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins." 

My pastor preached on this and other verses this Sunday.  I know that I'm taking it out of context but this is what I think of when I think of love covering a multitude of sins.  I think of how love forgives our sins the way that God loves us despite the fact that we are covered, like grime in sin.  I remember my loved ones fondly, not remembering any of the bad, but only the good.   "So now faith, hope, and love abides, these three; but the greatest of these is love." I Corinthians 13:13

I think back farther to my mother.  I remember how she loved to laugh.  I remember that she was kind.  She taught me how to endure pain by smiling, even when she was in intensive care.  I loved the way she would hug me.  I loved how she was cool.  She was beautiful without even trying.  She was not afraid to be who she was.  She was funny.  My mother made people feel special, me being her only child and daughter, she made me feel like I was a princess even before that was a thing.  

Of course, I will talk about Santi.  I know that there were days that he would drive me nuts.  But I don't remember any of that.  It's like a detail in a photo where only the love and the good can be seen.  I remember his hands.  I remember his voice.  I loved his voice and the way he spoke.  I liked the way that he was on my side first.  I loved that he was stubborn and would stick to what he believed in.  There was so many things about Santi that were good.  There were so many things about him that I loved.  I'm so blessed to have these wonderful memories.  They don't haunt me.  They keep me warm.  I look back and remember that I had that.  I had someone wonderful for a while.

I think of that song, "The Way You Look Tonight."  
Some day when I'm awfully low,
And the world is cold. 
I will get a glow just thinking of you,
And the way you look tonight.

I'm living with the glow of love so good and warm that I know it will last me for the rest of my life.  How can I complain?  How can I think of myself anything but the most blessed of women, because God in His goodness has allowed me this love so that I can love others.  I can love kids who need someone to love them the way that I was loved... even if it was just a little while. 

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Cleaning up the Clutter

When my husband died, I made a decision for myself and my family.  I got rid of most things that were his.  What was I going to do with them?  I gave all of his shirts to my best friend, Glenda and she had her wonderful mom, Helen, make me and my children these beautiful quilts made of his shirts.  We got them for Christmas.  I cry when I look at mine.  My children hold on to this beautiful piece of their father.  I needed to do this to create our new normal as quickly as possible.  My room is one of the last hold outs.

His stuff is different than the stuff that he gave me.  I couldn't change the time on the alarm clock for a while because he was the last one to set it.  I'm lousy at decorating but he loved that stuff.  He would like to arrange tchotchkes I collected around the room.  Sometimes it isn't that he bought me anything but that he was the last person to touch that ballerina that my father gave me.

In the beginning when he first died, I would try and attack my room.  This would be the day and then I would start only to find a card or memento or think of him and I would end up as I have always feared, crying in a little ball on my bed with a mess around me.  I may have not said it lately but grief is exhausting.  I would be tired for the rest of the day and I can't afford to be that tired.  So my room is a mess.  My son comes in and looks around and just shakes his head.  He's my neat child.  He's waiting for the day that I tell him, "This is the day!  Let's clean!"  I have started donating some stuff.  We try to donate every month or so.  I am selling my purses.  Selling them isn't like giving them away.  I can sell them and collect the money to do something with it.  I am determined to have a vacation with the money that I collect from the purses that I sell.  I've sold 7 so far.

Minimizing your stuff is making a decision on who you will be.  It works with your identity.  I've listened to Marie Condo's book.  I haven't watched her show but it doesn't matter because she can't tell me who I am.  This is a decision that I have to make on my own.  I need to be active in forming the identity that I am going have as I go forward, understanding that identity is liquid and changing.  I understand that my identity is found in Christ.  I am a Christian, first and foremost.  I do Christian things.  All these things that I hold on to will disappear but God will never leave me nor forsake me.  It's easier to say than to do.  I think I'm ready.  I think I'm trying.  It may take longer than I'd like but this is part of grieving.  When you have people trying to change around you, be kind.  What may be so easy for you may be very hard for them and vice versa.  That's all for now.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Just a Blade of Grass

I Peter 1:24
For, "All flesh is like grass, and all its glory like the flower of grass.  The grass withers, and the flower falls off."

I don't know why but I have clung to this notion of being "just a blade of grass."  I know it is a Biblical concept but really I don't know in what context I have found it.  This is how I use it: I am just a blade of grass, here today, but gone tomorrow.  This signifies that life is fleeting and I am not important in the grand scheme of things.  Elle, how could this be?  Well, I just came across this song that has been playing on Christian radio that sort of supports my idea.  It is by Casting Crowns titled "Only Jesus."

You see, I'm just not that important at the end of the day.  I am temporary.  I come.  I leave and there is every possibility that I don't leave a mark on this world at all.  That's okay because at the end of the day, I had something to live for.  At the end of the day, my life had a purpose.  This purpose is to glorify God and point to Him.  I am nothing.  This flesh that I am living in today will be gone tomorrow.  Does remembrance make you great?  When I am done with this world, I will go home.  I don't know why but instead of being upset that I'm not that important, it makes me feel better.  It's not about me.  This whole time it has been about God. 

In that same vein, I have meditating on Luke 9:23, "Then He said to them all: "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me." I think admitting that I'm just not that important falls with denying myself.  I have made a choice and now I am following it to its conclusion.  I have chosen to be a disciple of Christ.  Believe it or not, this gives me my peace.  Every day I do the best I can with what I have.  There are some days that are better than others, but for the most part, God continues to bless me into the person that He wants me to be for His glory.  Praise the Lord.  Thank you, Jesus. 

Here are the lyrics to the song:
Make it count, leave a mark, build a name for yourself
Dream your dreams, chase your heart, above all else
Make a name the world remembers
But all an empty world can sell is empty dreams
I got lost in the light when it was up to me
To make a name the world remembers
But Jesus is the only name to remember
And I, I don’t want to leave a legacy
I don’t care if they remember me
Only Jesus
And I, I’ve only got one life to live
I’ll let every second point to Him
Only Jesus
All the kingdoms built, all the trophies won
Will crumble into dust when it’s said and done
'Cause all that really mattered
Did I live the truth to the ones I love?
Was my life the proof that there is only One
Whose name will last forever?
And I, I don’t want to leave a legacy
I don’t care if they remember me
Only Jesus
And I, I’ve only got one life to live
I’ll let every second point to Him
Only Jesus
Jesus is the only name
Jesus is the only name
Jesus is the only name to remember, oh
Jesus is the only name
Jesus is the only name
Jesus is the only name to remember
And I, I don’t want to leave a legacy
I don’t care if they remember me
Only Jesus
And I, I’ve only got one life to live
I’ll let every second point to Him
Only Jesus
I don’t want to leave a legacy
I don’t care if they remember me
Only Jesus

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Living in a Bubble

I know I said I would write about being a just a blade of grass.  I even have the post ready but on my heart, last night and today, I couldn't stop thinking about the bubble.  What bubble? I know you are thinking about it.  The marriage or couple bubble is what I'm referring to.  If you are married or in a couple, you are in a bubble.  Yes, you may still be in the loop when it comes to certain things but marriage and children have a way of bringing you deep into the nucleus of this bubble.  Your world consists of children, domestic chores, and relationship with your family.  It's not that we become bad friends or everything that our single friends complain about.  It's that we are in a bubble.  We place ourselves there as we prioritize what we want.  Right?

I have been in this bubble.  I placed myself there.  I met someone when I was 22 years old and I walked into that bubble with him.  I remember some of my single friends complaining about spending so much time with him.  We were layering our space together.  I changed to accommodate him.  He changed to accommodate to me.  Toward the end of his life, my dear sweet bubble mate told me that he wouldn't have changed a thing.  He was always very generous and sweet with me.  It was a sweet bubble that we had created. 

When he died, that bubble popped and I fell to the floor. 

Do you know in the movies when someone blacks out and through the camera we experience what they are experiencing.  Sometimes we hear voices first and then as we open our eyes things are blurry.  It is clear right away that we missed something.  Sometimes there is someone there waiting for you to open your eyes and make sure that you are okay.  At times we are embarrassed.  We ask, "What happened?"  It's like we are waking up.  We are disconcerted that the rest of the world kept on going while we were out.  Now we have to assimilate and acclimate to the world around us.

This is me now.  I really don't know how to talk to people.  I have tried to explain all of this to some friends of mine but they really didn't understand what I was talking about.  I mean, I'm Puerto Rican!!!  We are by nature happy and playful folks who enjoy being personable, even an INTJ like myself.  But what exactly am I going to talk about.  The last time I was single, Seinfeld was on TV and my favorite show was Friends.  Well, some things don't change. I don't understand the obsession with avocado and toast.  I don't have Netflix and I'm not sure what to do all of the time with the social media that I'm on.  I've missed a lot being in that bubble. 

Some friends have understood. I'm better at writing than at talking so I'm so very happy that I have this forum.  Here is the other thing, I have been in a bubble for a quarter of a century, more or less.  Except in professional or religious contexts, I don't know how to talk to the opposite sex.  Just writing that last sentence was hard for me. The last time I spoke to 40 year old guys as a single woman were my father's friends back when I was younger.  The guy friends that I have had were couple guy friends.  Conversations were those that you have as part of a couple.  Topics that are discussed are music, movies, the weather and other harmless topics.  Men knew me through the lens of their wives as it should be! I don't follow sports much.  I don't know about cars.  I'm going from someone who knew everything about me to explaining all of my Seinfeld references.  It makes me feel like I need to take a class.

I don't have to really talk to men. I can stay with my mantle of widowhood for the rest of my life.  I can create a bubble of one that would greatly resemble the inside of Jeannie's bottle (from I Dream of Jeannie).  I don't know that I want that.  I don't know if that is what God has for me.  I am shaking off the fog of falling.  I am taking a look around and I'm figuring things out. Let's see what happens...

Image result for i dream of jeannie

Monday, February 18, 2019

The Joy Counterpart

I have been remembering Santi.  I wrote that each events reminds me of what I was doing last year at the same time.  All of this year has had Santi interwoven in all the events.  I remember last year's All Church Hike.  I thought Valentine's Day was going to be the worst but my friends made sure that I was good for that day.  It was the All Church Hike that did something.  In all honesty, I also have a pinch of PMS so there's that. 

I want to talk about how we met.  I want to tell about how he got the name, "Santi." I want to tell you about our marriage and our relationship.  I want to tell you about how we got engaged.  We had a million inside jokes.  I spent more than half my life with him.  We spoke the same way.  We understood each other even when we weren't talking. A part of me looks back and thinks, "What could I have done better?"  Then I remember the sovereignty of God.  It was Santi's time to go home.  This is my truth.  God is in control.  I will rely on His Providence. 

People ask, "Was it expected?"  Don't ever ask anyone that.  Death is never expected.  There is this implication that if someone knew the death was coming, then it is easier to handle.  Death is not easier to handle no matter what the circumstances are.  I had a grandparent who cried in my office recently over the death of her demented mother who died having reached triple digits.  She cried and mourned because death is personal.  Santi's death was not expected.  I knew he wasn't doing well and he was struggling but I didn't know he would pass.  People deal with death in different ways.  Sometimes it isn't even about the person who died but about who we are without them.   

Santi didn't go with us last year on the All Church Hike.  Somehow we wound up on the other side of the mountain and another group ended up on the other side.  We ended up doing the Shaw Butte trail off of 7th St. in Phoenix.  Yes, you can hike in this city.  The hill was practically vertical.  I did it with just me and my kids.  I wished that Santi was there with us but I knew he would hate it.  It took us four hours to climb up the mountain and back down.  We were exhausted.  We ended up going to Denny's and I remember calling Santi to let him know how it went.  "I want Denny's!"  I remember him saying.  We got him a sizzling platter to go and he loved it. 

This weekend I was in the parking lot of the same Denny's telling the story to my kids and I started to cry.  The Denny's was closed for maintenance which is just as well.  We found a much better one to go to and then we went to the movies.  We are forging our own way, a new way. 

I have been showing my kids old movies in order to have a well rounded movie history.  This is what I tell myself but I just like the old stuff better.  This weekend, we saw two movies that reminded me of Santi.  Santi loved The Terminal with Tom Hanks.  It was one of those movies that only he would love.  He had a thing for so many movies but every now and again he would favor this type of movie.  Another movie that he loved was Dan in Real Life.  This weekend I introduced my daughter to An Affair to Remember (this is all me.  I love Cary Grant!!!), The Terminal and The Sixth Sense.  I couldn't even finish The Terminal with my daughter but in the evening we sat down to watch The Sixth Sense.  I wasn't thinking when I put it on but when I first saw it, with Santi, I remember telling him that Bruce Willis was dead like 10 minutes into the movie.  He was so upset with me.  He set out to ruin every movie for me the way that I ruined this movie for him.  It was one of our 'things.'  He would tell everyone how I ruined the movie for him.  He was funny that way. I remember the story as I watched the movie and I thought, "How could he not be here?  How could he not be the one to tell the story of this movie?"  I didn't think when I put it on about how there was a widow, missing her husband in the movie.  I didn't think about how the movie dealt with death and grieving.  I found myself crying in the end... again. 

I am healing.  I am talking about my loss.  When trauma happens, it's like a wound really.  You don't even want to look at it.  Eventually you check to see where the pain is and how bad it is.  Eventually, with healing, you dig deeper to see if there even is pain.  There will always be the scar there, throbbing when the storms hit.  The wound may have affected muscle, bone or nerves.  It may take longer to heal than you thought.  Healing requires rest and sometimes therapy.  There are days that I don't know what I'm doing.  There are moments when it hurts but I know that I am not alone.  God, the Creator of the universe is with me at all times.  I also know that I am healing.  I choose joy at what I have and not look at what I don't have or what I have lost.  I am thankful.  Every painful point has it's joy counterpart. 

Tomorrow I want to talk about how I'm just a blade of grass.  Until then... God bless.

Friday, February 15, 2019

The Children

I have these two wonderful blessings in my life.  I have a son who's 13 years old and a daughter who is 11.  You should know that I am constantly amazed by these two people.  It seems like only yesterday when I was holding them in my arms and just nuzzling them.  I would smell their sweet baby heads and would love to rock them to sleep and now, my son is taller than me and my daughter is not too far behind him.

They look to me to see how to live and to behave.  I hear my son talking to my daughter and I hear my words come out of his mouth.  They watch even closer than I can imagine.  I don't lie to them.  I try as best as possible to answer the hard questions based as much as possible on the Bible.  When I tell them to do things, I explain why I'm doing it.  I tell them to be kind.  I explain to them that God fights their battles.  I watch them carefully and I ask them about their day and their lives.  They tell me their stories.  They are tweeny stories.  I ask what they like.  They like memes and videos.  They have strange references.  They send me pictures on my cell phone they think I would like.  They are sweet.

They like going out for FroYo and going to the movies.  They like kid movies still.  They are conscious of not making me sad.  (Ex: Let's not watch this movie.  It might make Mom sad.)  My son tells me that when I am an old lady, I can come to live with him and his wife (once he gets her permission).  My daughter then stakes a claim on me.  They think of buying homes where I can have a room.  We like to stay out for Arizona sunsets and twilights and watch the way the sky makes patterns.  They like to take pictures of the sky.  We live a peaceful life.  They establish their new norms.  They have taken ownership of chores on their own without me having to tell them much.  We work on homework and cook dinners together in the evenings.  They like to snack during the day.  They eat constantly.

I have friends that ask me how the kids are doing.  I'm always amazed.  The kids are fine.  I tend to be the mess in this scenario.  The kids are secure in the fact that God has their back.  I don't know why I am surprised.  This is what I have taught them all along.  This weekend we are going on a hike with our church.  We will hang out and go to the movies then go to church on Sunday.  My advice to you is to spend time with your kids as much as possible.  They grow up too fast.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Valentine's Day 2019

This is not the time to start lying.  I worry.  The truth is that I was worried.  In the distance I could see today coming.  You see, you can’t predict what will make you cry.  I can no longer predict when I’ll be crying.  There is something liberating but most of the time, it elicits those looks you work so hard not to get.  The ones that accompany the side turn and half cringe.  It’s a look of… sympathy, you hope, but to me it’s a look of pity either way.  Did you know that your face talks whether you say something or not?  Well, be careful what your face says when you are talking to people, especially when they are faced with sadness. 

I have been keeping track of the year by comparing it to last year.  Every major thing that happened this past year, I have spent thinking about what I did with my husband the year before.  Valentine’s Day and my son’s birthday are the last two things before the year is complete.  It doesn’t help that Valentine ’s Day is a day of love.  I thought I would be sad thinking of all the love I am currently missing out on.  I imagined being covetous and upset to see the couples that are still in love and still whole.  Well, God has protected me because it didn’t turn out like that at all. 

First of all, I get a Happy Valentine’s Day from one of my absolute dearest friends in the world.  Then, I walk into my office and I see flowers and chocolates and even a bag of Doritos.  My best friend here brought my chocolates and flowers.  She even brought something for my daughter.  My other friend brought me a beautiful pink rose and best of all, my Bible Study Babes (BSB) brought me a beautiful bouquet of flowers, a card and Doritos.  I received via mail a Valentine’s from one of my wonderful sorority sisters and a beautiful card from my dear friend from church.  A friend texted me that she hopes I feel loved.  I do. How blessed am I?

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

My Path of Grief

Grief is a funny thing.  It happens when you lose someone or something.  You should know that I am no stranger to grief.  My mother passed away when I was 10 years old.  I don’t believe that I was overly spiritual or religious at this age.  I went to church.  I understood the message of the Gospel.  I knew the Bible stories.  When people told me to read the Bible, I would read the parts that appealed to me, like the Psalms.  I remember sitting by myself and understanding that my life as I knew it would never be the same again.  I remembered Psalm 27.  I had a Good News Bible that my father had given me.  The verse that I leaned on was, “My father and mother may abandon me, but the Lord will take care of me.”(27:10) I know that my mother didn’t deliberately abandon me but this is what I felt.  I felt abandoned nonetheless.  But regardless of these feelings of abandonment, I knew that it would be okay because God will take care of me. This is what I needed to hear.  They talk about the blind faith of children.  It was this blind faith that lead me out of that dark time.  I asked God to take care of me and He did.  How could I not trust him for everything else?

Having had one parent die.  I looked at my father.  At first, I believed that I would not survive another death of someone close to me.  I became convinced that I would have a short life.  At some point, I realized that the natural order of things would be that parents should die before their children.  I looked at my father.  He was an older dad.  I came into his life while he was in his mid-forties.  I knew that he would leave me within my life.  I wasn’t wrong.  I went to work one day and then I got a call from my husband that my father had passed away.  I remember riding the subway and wanting to break down and not being able to.  I stayed with Joanne, my childhood best friend (she’s the one with the blackmail stories).  Again, I leaned on God.  He took care of me before, He would take care of me again.  Even though I was 26 years old, I still felt like an orphan in this world.  I’m thankful to my husband who let me lean on him and we went through that death together. 

Now, here I am.  I’m 46 years old.  My husband has died.  Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day.  My mother would have been only 76 years old.  It was the day that she was born.  My father left February 24th to go home.  If you do the math, you will find that my mother’s birthday, the day of the year dedicated to love and my father’s death day are 10 days apart.  My husband’s death day is 20 days from Valentine ’s Day.  No, there is no pattern.  I just find it interesting. 

There is no doubt that God would take care of me.  I know without a shadow of a doubt that my family is in a better place.  Yes, I miss my husband but I rest in the knowledge that I’ll see him again, after my time is done.  But for now, there is work to do still.  God is not done with me here.  This world is a war of souls and I am but a soldier constantly waiting for orders.  I don’t know what people expect of widows.  I think that people are surprised that I’m not more… broken.  Last year when I was going through the worst of it, I covered myself with God like a blanket.  I couldn’t see anyone but Him.  I brought my children under that blanket with me.  I told them my truth, God would take care of us.  God would always take care of them.  My sweet children didn’t even think to question my wisdom.  They believed me with that childlike faith.  When I would forget or get lost in the What Ifs and If Onlys, I need only look at them to see that I had to believe like they believed. 

I have been called strong.  I laugh. I’m not strong.  I have a small group of friends that I heavily lean on, God bless them.  And they let me.  I constantly thank God for them.  They help me process my thoughts and they have seen me blistered and broken.  It will be a year sooner than I liked to think.  I think that the year marks something that I may not be ready for.  It feels like it’s time to pack up things and put them away in the recesses of my mind.  Maybe it’s time and maybe it’s not.  I’m playing it all by ear.  Until then, I’ll let God take care of me.

Monday, February 11, 2019

To date or not to date

Missed me over the weekend?  Well, I'm not blogging on the weekends.  I'm spending time with my children.  However, I came across this post on Facebook that I can not stop thinking about.  My dear friend is amazing and single.  She is stunning beautiful.  She owns her own house.  She has a Masters degree.  She is a restaurant recruiter for over 100 restaurants.  I know her.  I consider her a friend.  She is funny and real and a wonderful positive individual. She has not found a guy yet. 

She posted about meeting with a professional matchmaker.  The "matchmaker" recommended that she lose weight because she didn't have "a skinny waistline."  She's not even chubby!!!  She's thick the way that you wish your steak comes served with a side of potatoes and broccoli.  Okay, so maybe that isn't exactly appropriate to say but women come with their own brand of beautiful.  Well, I was really shocked about this post.  And I'll elaborate more on it in a moment. 

I don't know what possessed me but I scrolled down to see the comments.  I needed to know the response that people were having to this post.  I love that so many women supported my dear friend in her wonderful attributes.  They expressed sentiments similar to the one I mentioned above.  Well, there was one guy who commented who agreed with the matchmaker.  He stated something that I am now currently wondering about because it makes so much sense to me.  He told her that despite men verbally affirming that they like their women independent and successful, women such as her are less likely to find that someone because men are insecure (I'm paraphrasing but I promise you that I'm sticking with the facts.). Men are insecure!!!  Is that true?  I may need to talk to more men because I can't imagine men rejecting wonderful women because of insecurity.  Maybe I'm being totally naive.  For me, if there is a bargain on a purse, I don't feel insecure about buying it.  I just know that I'm getting the better deal.  What are men afraid of?  What do they have to feel secure about?  Because if this is really true then my young adult single life makes a lot of sense. 

This guy then goes on to wax on about being physically attractive and this is why the matchmaker's suggestion is an honest one and not offensive at all.  Then he hits something else that just may be on the nail.  He said that the dating pool is very skewed.  There are a lot of great single women but not a lot of great single men.  This means that great men have the opportunity to have the pick of the litter.   The insinuation is that mediocre men have great options as well and that women have to settle because of supply and demand. 

I texted my friend to ask permission to write about this and she thought I shouldn't buy in to what her friend was saying.  She gave me many reasons why this one guy is not a credible source, but regardless, his comments merit thought.  You see, I have options.  I can stay single and be a loving mother to my children for the rest of my life or I can date.  I don't have any idea what to do because being single is a good option.  Paul in his letter recommends the single life for widows of a "certain age." I can see my days filled with peace and comfort surrounded by my sweet children.  I see myself becoming more of who I am.  I can see the service that I could provide to my family and to my church through my singleness.  I have only God to answer to.  I can bask in the love that my dear husband left me.  I can walk in the memory of his love and know that I had it great for a while.  I was so incredibly loved. 

My husband and I would have conversations.  You know the ones, the "what if" conversations.  He would tell me to remarry.  He didn't want me to be without a companion.  He was sweet that way.  His recommendation for me was Justin Timberlake or a Tom Hardy type of guy.  So when I think about dating.  I have to think of it from a different perspective than my husband.  I already talked about developing identity.  This identity is used in order to meet different people and answer the question, "Who are you?"  I don't exactly know all of the time.  Then I need to think about what I want and what I'm expecting if I am to date.  It may be like going to an outlet store hoping to find the perfect item and finding only disappointment and resentment.  It may be like getting to the clearance sale an hour before it ends and finding nothing usable.  I'm being harsh.  My friend, the one with the original post is younger and thinner than me.  I want to think, "If she can't find someone what chance do I have?" 

My answer?  The sovereignty of God.  If God wants me to fill the rest of my days with solitude and calm then so be it.  If He wants me to find someone to be a companion and a helpmate to then so be it.  I'm not going to worry about being attractive.  I already know that I'm beautiful.  I'm not going to worry about being too big or too much.  I know that I am healthy and loved just as I am.  I am thankful for my life.  Yes, I am a hot mess but let's not make any mistake, I'm God's hot mess and even an omelet with its eggs scrambled together with olives, ham and cheese (another type of hot mess) can nourish and satisfy. 

It's hard being without my other half some days but I'm not without joy.  I believe God sends you who you need when you need it.  And sometimes He tells you that His grace is enough. Either way, I think that I will not stress about being enough.  I will be who I am and let God be enough for me and for whoever else comes along.

Friday, February 8, 2019

Attention! Attention!

Okay, so there are some things on the horizon that give me pause.  There are many thoughts that I am currently exploring.  You already know about identity but there is also the issue of reaction or action.  I'll attempt to explain it by saying that when I was younger, I would go to these Spanish clubs.  They played Spanish music and most of the dances were danced with a partner.  This differs from American clubs in that you can just go out by yourself on the dance floor and dance.  You don't have to follow any rules.  Well, there were rules.  You could go out and dance by yourself but it was sort of frowned upon.  Women would line up around the outskirts dressed to the nines and wearing their best faces.  They waited.  What were they waiting for?  They were waiting for a partner to dance with.  The unspoken social norms of this environment included having females chosen by a male partner to dance with.  Some women came with their partners to avoid this situation.  Others would lend out their partners to their friends in an act of trust and friendship.  I detested this practice when I was younger but that didn't stop me from going.  There is a restlessness in waiting.  It was some type of game.  This whole practice reduced you to just appearances.  Guys picked girls that were physically attractive.  What did this mean if you weren't chosen?  There was this idea of hierarchy.  Those who were chosen meant something.  It suggested that you had value.  You were worthy of being chosen.  The more attractive the man, the more worthy the girl.  The girl's worth was found in the man.

I could probably speak ad nauseam about this situation and the subsequent implications but that wasn't really what I wanted to spend my time talking about.  This practice warranted being seen and getting attention.  My Senior Pastor spoke about losing his wife.  I'm not at a place where I would like to talk about it now but he posted about "being seen" by his wife.  And that's the thing.  It's not about being attractive, pretty or beautiful.  We all aren't wonderful to look at all the time. It's about being seen or even acknowledged for being who you are.  This sentiment ultimately leads to validation.  God has chosen me.  My validation should lie with God and Him alone.  And yet...  I find myself wanting attention.  I recognize those moments of restlessness.  I have to identify this emotion and then follow it to where it lies in my psyche.  I was seen by my husband.  He knew me.  He loved me.  And he didn't stop loving me.  That wasn't the issue, the issue was that he stopped living.  This concluded our covenant.

In an attempt to build relationships (because relationships should alleviate some of the problem) I struggle with words when I'm speaking to people.  Oral conversations require topic, patience in the ability to listen and timing.  I'm awful at this.  It can be hard to talk about pleasantries.  I like the truth all the time.  I prefer written language where I can read and reread and interpret and analyze.  This speaks greatly to my personality.  [Aside] which leads me to think about how people perceive me.
I love this idea of editing and taking my time to communicate looking over the words and picking the exact ones to speak for me precisely, like making a beautiful piece of jewelry.  There is an artistry in it.  Because of this, I find it hard to communicate sometimes.  How do you make friends?  How do you let people in?  How is there dialogue?  How do people meet other people?  In a community like church it's easier.  You just introduce yourself in the hopes that you have Jesus in common.  Out in the world, it can be problematic.  As an adult female of a certain age, I find that I may limited.  Who do I want to talk to?  Whose attention matters?  Are we all in some planetary dance club where the beautiful people pick each other and the rest stay alone or settle? There are moments when it is hard to convince ourselves of the truth in light of humanity. The truth is that we are loved by a Good God.  The truth is that we are already validated and redeemed.  The truth is that only God's attention matters.  But then we look for attention in unworthy mediums.  Further proof of how dumb I really am.  So what's the remedy to attention seeking behavior?  What can be done about the restlessness?  What are we expected to do?  Wait and continue living until we are seen?  I want to believe that the answer is to wait on God and trust that there is a good plan for me.  In the meantime, remember that life is short and I am just a blade of grass, here today and gone tomorrow.  In light of eternity, I should work and do as much good as possible before the coming of our Lord.  Is it hard?  Yes, but this is what I have right now.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

All About Me

I'm an educator.  One of the best part of being an educator is getting to know the students.  What is implied is that the students get to know me.  In order for people to know you, you should have an idea of what kind of package you're selling.  I make no excuses for my life.  I'm a hot mess.  You would think that I have some things figured out but the reality is that the more I find out, the more I realize how much I need Jesus.  The more I find out, the more I need to dig deeper.  I love learning.  I am an advocate for education.  I believe in the power of knowledge and that knowledge is power.  I guess you can say that I am a lifelong learner and I'm okay with not knowing things sometimes.

I'm a woman.  I'm Latina.  I have lived most of my life in New York City and I now reside in sunny Phoenix, Arizona.  I have two beautiful children.  I speak two languages well and I am learning French.  My favorite color is pink.  I love glitter.  I'm messy.  My MBTI is INTJ. I like my personality type.  I like who I am.  I love to read and my favorite thing to read is junk.  Why?  Because I use reading as an escape mechanism, I read things that will help me alleviate my thinking as I think pretty hard during my normal working hours.  I like magical realism (Alice Hoffman) and Young Adult Fiction.  Best of all, I'm a Christian.

All of this monologue has to do with identity.  You see, the reason that I have had a hard year has to do with the loss of my husband.  I am currently a widow.  A WIDOW- this word is very heavy.  I didn't realize that it comes with implications.  I'll give you an example.  A friend of mine was having a birthday celebration.  He invited a few of us from work to hang out with some friends of his that were visiting.  At some point in the celebration, one of his friends had the forethought to say, "Who's single and who's married?"  This led me to think about my own personal marital status.  What was I? Not too long ago, I was married.  I had been with my husband for 24 years.  We met in 1994 and now...  The guy had gone around and he was looking at me for an answer and I didn't really have one.  Was I married?  Well, I was... married but now... Was I single?  Well, I am single.  I said, "I guess I'm single."  This is why you need to process language.  His response was not unkind. "You guess?"  By way of explanation I told him, "I'm a widow."  What did I do?  "Oh my God!  I'm so sorry for your loss!"  Someone else who had overheard the whole thing was like, "You're a widow!  I'm so sorry!"  What had I done?  In just a moment, I brought the party down with my answer.  I'm not sure what to think of widows now but before I was a widow I thought of them as sad.  You are a surviving part of what was once something.  Widowhood is different than being divorced.  I have had this discussion with a few people.  There is something honorable about widows and widowers.  We are the ones that stayed.  We have kept our vows.  Call us Covenant Keepers.  We stayed till the end, till death did us part.  So despite all of the things that I am and that I was, I need to add "widow" to my identity CV.

So how am I handling it?  Well, I'm using a blog to help me process through the magic of words how I feel.  It's been 11 months since everything has happened.  In one month, the day after my son's 13th birthday, it will have been a year.  There has been pain.  Raw, seeping pain that has leaked out of me through a thousand tears.  A smell, a character in a movie, a mention of a location, a thought has sent me reeling into a dark cavern filled with sharp pain of memory.  I have had to put my hand over my chest and hold on in the hopes that the pain passes quickly.  Who do you call at 3 o'clock in the morning?  How can you tell someone that your soul hurts?  I have recently started talking about it with some Bible study friends.  A friend told me that I may have had a wall up.  No, not a wall- I explained.  I told her that I was a broken thing held together with used pieces of tape.  Pull one off and I would have to be reset.  I am being glued together and I'm waiting for it to set.  Another friend said that we are put together with gold so that what was broken is more valuable having been fixed.  I like this idea.

The other thing is that I'm leaning upon God and His promises.  I am clinging to the Rock of my salvation with my fingertips bleeding.  I am held in the embrace of a Father.  I don't need to be rescued because even in my fallen, messy state, I have been saved by my Savior.  For this reason I can say that I am blessed beyond all measure.  A Facebook post that I put up states, "How am I?  Blessed.  The answer will forever be Blessed."  I stand by that affirmation.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019


I have always had a problem with words.  It comes from being an only child.  I remember living in my small house in The Bronx, NYC and being compliant and quiet because I had a sick mom.  My room was my world.  I was lonely at times but then when other people were around I didn't know how to act around them all the time.  My default setting was pleasant.  And then, I could not dictate who and when would be my playmate at any given time.  I wanted to play with Nicole, not Devon.  But Nicole was unavailable and my mother got along with Devon's mother so much better, so I was forced, like we all are, to acclimate.  All of those unsaid things resided in me.  I had so many words that I developed not one but two imaginary friends.  

I understood the power of words at a very young age. Words would help me.  I wanted to know how they would work and how language would help with expression.  Of course, I didn't say any of that when I was a child.  I can barely acknowledge it now.  But I knew and found amazing that c connected to o and a w makes the word cow.  This was the first word I could read and spell with fluency.  I learned it watching Sesame Street at a babysitter's house.  At my house, I didn't watch Sesame Street.  I found the show itself to be a little boring and too babyish for me.  I liked The Brady Bunch and Gilligan's Island.  I liked stories.  

I have had a hard year.  I have sat in silence processing.  There is nothing that I can say, really, of any worth.  Everything under the sun has already been said.  Sitting in my life I tell myself that my voice does not need to be added to the throng.  I'm not writing for other people.  I am writing for myself.  I have to get all of these words out.  They have been choking me for far too long.  I am done being quiet.  I am done holding back the words that seem to choke me.  If I am to move on with my life (and I need to move on), then I have to find a better way to process.  This is it.  I apologize for airing out my self-discovery therapy sessions.  Sometimes it's about me and sometimes it is not.  I just have to do what I have to do in order to grow and this is it.

I will do more for the next post.  Until next time...