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the end

there is nothing to say.

there are no words.

no words can change what has happened, nothing can change what i am feeling.

i am empty.

i see my legs move beneath me, climbing the stairs, walking here and there, but i do not really move. i am frozen in this spot.

i hear my voice leave my mouth, the words float up into the air. i don’t know what i am saying. i can’t remember.

i am a shell.

i wince with pain changing positions, turning, coughing, shifting. a swift reminder that this nightmare is real. my belly is swollen, it’s scars re-injured. this isn’t our first rodeo, you would think it would be used to this by now. but it hurts nonetheless. however the small bloodied incisions that appear on the surface don’t tell the real story of the hurt that lies beneath.

i can’t make any more tears. i will them to come but nothing happens.

i am empty.

the end started sunday night. i was at a dinner party with amazing husband when the pain began. what started out like cramps quickly turned into that all-too-familiar steady pain, and my old frenemy, rectal pressure.  in the back of my head, i already knew it was coming, i just refused to give in to the truth until it was staring me in the face. i was scared. rectal pressure was the give away in my last 2 ectopics. you see, when blood starts pouring into your belly, gravity helps it settle into a small space between your bowels and your uterus = rectal pressure. i felt like i had to go to the bathroom so very bad, but of course, that was not the problem.

i told amazing husband we needed to leave, and embarrassingly excused myself from the party after only being there maybe an hour. we walked to the car in silence. we had been “here” before, and we both were too scared to say it.  we drove home, and called best friend to come over and talk me down from the ledge. i was panicking. the pain was not abating, it was coming in waves, but not as bad as last time. i tried to talk myself out of it but there were 2 too many sensible people in the room. they were right in arguing for getting to the hospital sooner rather than later so i acquiesced. best friend made some calls to our friends in the hospital and when we arrived they ushered me right into the ED triage (there are bonuses to working in the hospital you frequent).  i explain to triage nurse what’s happening, they know my history from last time so they waste no time and before i can blink i’m in a bed waiting to see a doc. more friends show up in my room to show support. i have the best friends.

i get an IV, blood is drawn, and doc comes in.  i know him (hell, i know everyone in this ED), and when he looks up to see my face he is taken aback. “do you want someone else?” he asks. i laugh. “it’s all good, i know you’ve always wanted to know my insane infertility history.” my blood work shows baby is growing appropriately, HCG is 1557. (wednesday’s result was 327, that’s doubling every 2 days). he orders ultrasound. i ask for pain meds, the pain is not going away.

the pain does not go away, despite multiple doses. morphine. dilaudid. they just lessen it but it never disappears. i know something is wrong. my parents show up. god bless them, they are so nervous.

ultrasound time. i will summarize here, tech couldn’t find anything that showed an ectopic nor could she see anything in my uterus. she admitted with an HCG at that level she wasn’t surprised to not see a baby yet.  incidentally she found a 1.8cm x 1.8cm spot of free fluid next to my right ovary that she attributed to a ruptured cyst.

my sister in law is here now. i am feeling the love but inside i am dying with fear. doc calls on-call OB, they go through my labs, ultrasound results, vital signs, etc. and he says at this point there is no intervention to perform; there is no real cause for the abdominal pain. watch and wait they say. come back if pain increases or you start bleeding they say. plan is for repeat HCG and ultrasound on tuesday.

we live to see another day. i literally said that to husband. i am a fool. we left the ED breathing a tiny bit easier. i prayed to god harder than ever before. please show me mercy. please bless us and this baby. please don’t make me suffer this again.

i couldn’t sleep all night. every turn made me wince with pain. the pressure was growing, and i tried to sleep it off. i’ll be fine. the ultrasound found nothing, it’s going to be okay.  we woke up to start the day but i stayed in bed, exhausted. i had already told boss i was taking today off. amazing husband got amazing son ready for school and as he walked out the door to take him to school told me he loved me and would be back soon.

i figured it was time to get up and moving. all i had to do was make it to tomorrow, tuesday. tomorrow i would know for certain what was happening. i stood up, took a few steps, and the room started to spin. i quick sat back on the bed, took some breaths, and it righted itself. i stood up too fast, that’s all. i haven’t eaten much in the last 12 hours. i walked to the bathroom, brushed my teeth, went downstairs and plugged my phone in to charge.  OB called me, she got the message i was in the ED last night. she was concerned the HCG level wasn’t doubling like it should. wait, what? (she shared with me friday’s result was 1176) and she wanted me to re-do blood work ASAP at the same lab i always go to, and then come right to the office for an ultrasound. i told her i felt a little dizzy and the pain was still there but i could do what she asked. i walked back upstairs to change and i felt the blood drain from my face. something is terribly wrong. sweat started to drip down my back. i need to get my phone, i need to call for help. where is my phone?? 

it was downstairs. i had to walk down the stairs, holding onto the walls, and nearly collapsed and fell. i crawled to the kitchen, got my phone and crawled onto the couch to lay down. i called amazing husband and asked him to come home right away. he could hear the panic in my voice.  i text best friend to please come over and bring her blood pressure cuff. i need to know if i should call 911 or if i could make it to OBs office. i wanted so badly to believe everything was going to be alright. i was a fool.

within minutes they both were at my side, my blood pressure was fine and i told them what OB said. husband wanted me to go to ED but i convinced him i was alright and we should do the blood work and go to her office.  i’m not sure how i managed to stay upright for the next hour, walking and functioning, while i was bleeding into my belly. we waited an hour in OB’s office to have the ultrasound. for an hour i watched belly after belly walk in front of me, listened to these women ooh and ahh over their stats, and the only thing that saved me from face punching them was the fact i would’ve passed out if i stood up. i even had the pleasure of walking into the ultrasound room to see a nice healthy 13 week old fetus on the screen. congratulations to the chick who laid on this table before me. fuck off.

the tech inserted the probe (aka dildo cam), it had suddenly grown cactus spikes on it. i cried out in pain. and in an instant i saw a ton of black areas on the computer screen. black = fluid. she sighed, and that was enough to confirm our worst fears. we had lost the baby. there was about 400cc of blood in my belly. i couldn’t hear anything else. my ears plugged up, my eyes filled with tears and everything went black. amazing husband put his arms around me, his tears falling onto my face, and we were swallowed up in grief.  i said i couldn’t do this again God, what did i do to deserve this?? 

i was whisked to a room to speak with OB. i heard things like “emergency surgery”, and “remove your tube” and “dangerous”. i didn’t hesitate: i told her to take it out, that way i would never be in this situation ever again. i won’t ever do this again. you won’t be able to do this to me again God. we headed across the street to the ED to be admitted for emergency surgery.

the rest was a blur. more IVs. more blood work. more pain meds. doctors. anesthesiologists. surgeons. friends. tears. more and more and more. again, you think i’d be used to this already, but it was another lesson in pain. each time is exponentially more difficult to bear. the OR suite was frigid, i was shaking uncontrollably (chills and from fear) and the tears wouldn’t stop. they were going to take my baby. going to take my tube. the mask was placed over my face. “take some deep breaths”. everything went white.

some hours later i woke up, groggy and queasy. quickly scanned my surroundings and with relief looked over and saw amazing husband right next to me. he had tears in his eyes. we stared at each other silently.

it was the end.

there was nothing to say.

and here i am today. in a paradox. i am filled with emptiness. i move but i am frozen in place. i breathe but am not living. i am here. but i am not. whatever did i do to deserve this. where is god now?

all is lost

i will keep this short. the anesthesia and pain meds are still barreling through my veins and my thoughts are fleeting, foggy, at best. and i can barely muster the energy to type these next words.

the baby is lost.

my right fallopian tube is lost.

that one shred of hope i held deep down in my heart, it too, is lost.

though i am grateful this time to have not been faced with life-and-death gravity of previous ectopics, i am still living a nightmare.

i am beyond broken. and all is lost.

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two down… 999,998 to go

every other day this last week i found myself in a cold (very freaking cold, like an arctic tundra) waiting room of Quest Diagnostics. and every time i got the pleasure of going there, there was a massively pregnant woman waiting as well. in fact, this last time there was a baby sitting 3 chairs away from me, pregnant with her own baby. okay, maybe she was 15. MAYBE. still, a child having a child. wtf universe. when i see pregnant women i try my best to pretend they don’t exist, literally. i avert my eyes. try to look around them. if i have to look at them (god forbid) i look THROUGH them like they are a ghost or something, not real… they don’t exist. i walk the other way even, i have to get away from them, for my own sanity. you see, the big belly is a huge trigger for me. it’s a symbol of what will never be again: a miracle living within my body. so further down the rabbit hole i go in this insanity… i conjure up all kinds of things so i can almost hate them and not feel bad for pretending they are thin air. i tell myself they don’t realize how lucky they are and they are taking their pregnancy for granted. the envious voice in my head whispers terrible things and then i start to see red. another reason why it’s a good idea i steer clear of them, as i imagine face-punching pregnant strangers is frowned upon. the big belly is a huge trigger. it makes me cry, it makes me so very green with envy. and it is everywhere. the worst was going to OBs office after every miscarriage i endured. sitting in the waiting room literally SURROUNDED with massively pregnant women, hearing them complain about swollen feet, or the crib sheets they bought aren’t the right shade of navy, and whatever will they do now that this fourth baby is coming. fuck that noise. they really should make a separate waiting room for people like me, to save us from further suffering. i hate the OBs office. it too, is very cold. why are all waiting rooms so damn cold?

every two days i’m having blood drawn and holding my breath for the call. i’m in denial that this outcome will be different. i started cramping last night, feeling like my period was about to come, and i immediately felt the rug getting pulled out from under me. here we go again. but every time i went to the bathroom half-expecting to see blood gushing out, there was none. this will surely make me insane. my friend talked me down for the ledge and i managed to put myself to bed early and sleep off the negativity. i woke up this morning and prayed for a miracle, that my blood levels would be doubling and i would live to see another pregnant day.

Monday’s level was 90.

Wednesday’s was 372!!!!!!!!!!

it QUADRUPLED in 2 days. not just doubled, QUADRUPLED. dare i do a little happy dance right now? OB was feeling good about the number, telling me perhaps i ovulated later than i thought and that’s why the first number was so low. crossing all my fingers and toes although my luck is crap. i confessed to her i had started taking progesterone supplements after the first draw was incredibly low (5) (i told you this stuff makes me insane) and promised her i wouldn’t pretend to be a doctor anymore. all i wanted to do was help this baby with whatever i could and if shoving hormone supplements up there was the only thing i could do, so be it. she laughed and said she wanted me on them anyway. maybe i am a doctor after all. i also mentioned the cramps to which she said as long as i am not bleeding and the pain isn’t severe (like with my ectopics) she’s not worried. and then she said this: “it’s probably your uterus stretching”. um… i’m sorry, can you repeat that? does that mean baby may actually be in my uterus!?!?? why else would it be stretching right? oh my god, i can’t let my mind go down that road yet but there may be, just *may be* hope here that it’s in the right place.

the plan: next blood draw is tomorrow however i won’t know the results until Monday. what kind of sick joke is that! it’s going to be the longest weekend of my life, but today i’m pregnant and i’m going with that until told otherwise. two down, 999,998 to go.

one down, one million to go

this weekend was unbelievably stressful.

i went for blood work on Friday to check the level of HCG (the hormone produced by pregnancy). oh man, the nerves, i was shaking. my doc’s PA called me to tell me the good news. “with a level this low this is likely a chemical pregnancy; let’s see what happens this weekend and we will recheck on Monday”. HCG level was unbelievably low at 16. you guys, 16 isn’t even technically pregnant. <5 is definitely not pregnant. >25 is definitely pregnant. those numbers in between are “equivocal”, meaning… meh, you may or may not be having a baby. Fuck. cue emotional breakdown. I HATE YOU UNIVERSE. it should’ve at least been 25.

all the anger, sadness, despair… came rushing back as if i was re-experiencing every miscarriage all at once. why is this happening? enough already, this is much too much to bear. i literally got on my knees and prayed to god to please make it stop. mercy. i can’t do this anymore.

on saturday naturally i peed on allthesticks and the test line was darker. well, that’s not supposed to happen if it’s a chemical pregnancy. on sunday my line was even darker. wtf universe, enough of the mind games. and monday morning it’s even darker. boobs are hurting. this is definitely not a chemical pregnancy. went in for STAT lab work and on arrival came to find out doc ordered a blood type and crossmatch as well. well i guess i know where she thinks this is headed (read: ectopic). waited all damn day for the results. ALL. DAMN. DAY. and no one called. 5 minutes before the office closed i found out lab messed up the order and i wouldn’t have a result until the morning.

you ever see a toddler lay on the ground and cry? just totally lose control of themselves and wail? that was me. the stress was unbearable. i’m literally dying here.

Tuesday morning. no call. ain’t nobody got time for this. i call the office like an insane woman, voice quivering, making no sense, pleading can someone please just tell me if this baby stands a chance. this shit makes you insane people.

HCG was 90. NINETY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The level should double every 2-3 days in early pregnancy, and mine doubled in 19 hours.

and just for good measure, you can get out your pee stick spectacles and observe for yourself.

that line tho 😍

<<<<<
rything is puppies and rainbows? hell to the no. this is one obstacle down, one million to go. levels still need to double appropriately. tentative ultrasound on 12/26 to visualize if baby made it into my uterus. in my last 4 pregnancies i've never made it to the ultrasound. so today i'm just taking it one day at a time. that's all i can do.

insanity

i’ve heard the definition of insanity is repeating the same thing over and over and over again, but expecting different results. the dictionary says it’s also extreme foolishness or irrationality. in fact, going further, it’s the state of being seriously mentally ill,… madness even.

well, infertility will drive a person mad. anyone who tries to argue that has never walked a minute in an infertile’s shoes. the constant highs and lows. the inflated hopes and the dashed dreams. it’s easy to go insane having your end goal be a baby. infertility treatments can bankrupt families. it can cause arguments, despair, affairs, and divorces. it can easily destroy your marriage. it will test your strength as a spouse, a woman, hell, even a human.

if i’m being totally honest here, i have toed the line of insanity… peeingonallthesticks. ladies, you feel me here? those home pregnancy tests, they created a monster in me. positive line or no line, i won’t believe it and have to try another brand and compare results. hold it up to the light, squint eyes shut just so… angle it just right. analyze. remember that scene from Knocked Up where Katherine Heigl peesonallthesticks? that shit is real folks. it just occurred to me the writers likely knew an infertile woman who jokingly told them how the pee sticks drove her insane.

the doubt that comes with peeingonallthesticks will drive you insane. is that a second line? is it just the dye running? is that a ghost line? compare pee sticks day to day. is the line getting darker!?! because that’s the only proof you have that 1) you’re still pregnant (no, you haven’t lost it yet), and 2) it’s all you can do to pass the agonizing time waiting for your first ultrasound.

the pee sticks drive me insane. after above-mentioned regimen of pee/squint/angle/open new package at some point i have to go to the store and BUYALLTHESTICKS. the checkout girls side-eye me as they ring up five, ten, (who am i kidding, twenty!) Dollar Tree home pregnancy tests. lay off me. i know i have a problem. they aren’t infertiles. the infertiles would be patting me on the back and saying “i think you could stand to get a few more, dontcha think? those won’t last you 3 days.” insanity i tell you.

over the last year i stepped away from the insanity. amazing husband and i decided to take a formal break from trying (internal hemorrhaging will do that to you). i stopped BUYINGALLTHESTICKS at the Dollar Tree. i enjoyed getting smiles instead of side eyes from behind the register. i felt some weight come off my shoulders every month. it’s never a happy moment to have your period arrive, but in a strange way it was a welcome relief that i didn’t have to step back on the gut-wrenching rollercoaster of “will this finally be my take home baby?”

and then this happened.

to say i am in shock is an understatement. i didn’t plan this. and truthfully i am not happy/blissful/excited, there’s no room for that. i am a realist – i am fastening my seatbelt and bracing for impact. my odds are terrible. lucky #7 wasn’t lucky, in fact it may have been the most UNlucky pregnancy for me. pretty sure my luck ran out years ago.

luck or no luck, i will be saying hello to insanity, my old friend. there’s no getting around that for the next few days. i’m getting blood work done today and we’ll go from there. excuse me while i go BUYALLTHESTICKS now.

#momofboy

honestly, i don’t even know if they were brothers. or boys, for that matter. they very well could’ve been all girls. but likely, they were a mix of sister and brothers,… after you lose as many as i did, chances are that 50% were probably girls and 50% were boys, right? because,… odds. but i’ve always dreamed i’d be a mom of boys, and for this reason i told him he had brothers.

i always dreamed i’d be a mom of boys. #momofboys was to be my forever hashtag. i envied every single one of the women who added it to their shocking-yet-hilarious facebook posts of boys doing stupid crap. i knew what i would do: i, too, would post it proudly at the end of every single one of my IG perfectly-filtered posts of my two sweet tiny “men” loving on each other, or maybe wrestling in the yard, or standing awkwardly in matching little league jerseys.  i’d be able to join that elite club of moms who wear lululemon activewear 24/7 at the baseball fields, while they scratch their heads marvelling at these crazy humans. i would easily fit in, throwing out comments like “i know right? i can’t keep these two from killing each other!” and then laugh that perfect “i’m just kidding, they are angels” laugh. while i silently wanted to down a box of wine, yes, a box, and hide in a corner.

i always dreamed i’d be a mom of boys. i pictured the early months where my older one would lovingly gaze at the baby in my arms, doting on him and wanting to be my helper… my big boy.  i envisioned myself chasing them all over the house, in one hand a bottle of 409 and a rag, and the other perhaps legos left on the stairwell needing a home, or some half-eaten snack discovered hiding behind a chair. i would have to wrangle them to stand still for the christmas photos, annoyed the entire time because we can’t get the f*cking shot, but later on that night chuckle to myself with a full heart at the comedic scenes that unfolded earlier.  a full heart who’s only problem that day was too many tiny humans needed extra love and hugs in that moment.

i always dreamed. that is the take home message. i dared to dream. dreams are important, they are extensions of your heart, your psyche. representations of your deepest desires. you should have dreams, it’s healthy to dream.  as a 20-something and even early-30-something you believe your dreams are absolutely within your grasp. this is your prime time, these are your years to find yourself, find a partner, and find a purpose in life. many women dream of having children. it’s innate: i am woman, i make the babies. we are born to create life and carry it. but we aren’t prepared, at any age really, to hear that we are broken. i wasn’t ready to hear it. and then hear it again. and again. there is no manual, no self-help book, no script to follow when you learn firsthand, that your body is more likely to kill your babies than nurture them.

there is no lesson in life harder to learn, than losing your own child.

i always dreamed i’d be a mom. and with that, a mom of more than 1 child. my dreams actually did come true – i am a mom of more than 1 child. seven children, to be exact. but only 1 that lives and breathes today.  i never thought i’d be the mom i am today.  the one who doesn’t talk about her other children. do you know how hard it is to answer the question “how many children do you have?” or “is he the only one?” … you don’t go “there.” you don’t freely open the jagged raw discourse of miscarriages and emergent surgeries.  it happened the other day at his after-school program. the director was telling me how much she enjoyed having him and his funny personality (cue proud mom moment) and followed it up with “will you guys have another?”.  you never go “there” with people, they aren’t buying tickets for your crazy train. so you smile politely and say “no, he’s all we ever wanted.” which is true, he is everything we hoped and prayed for. i don’t talk about my children that died. i write about them, sure. i try to honor them in whatever way i can. but i actively avoid leading any conversation with “let me tell you about my miscarriages”. that’ll ruin a good time, every time. i keep them locked away in a necklace, next to my heart.

i never thought there was the right time to open up pandora’s f*cked up box of pain. and then i told him about his brothers.

it was so natural, the way it came out. i had no intention of telling him at this age (5)… he’s too young. he probably was/is. i’m sure i’ll regret it somewhere down the road. but his question was the same one he’d asked a million times over and i’d always put it off, or distracted him so as not to have to answer it. it’d be bedtime, and we would be laying in his bed, cuddling. the conversation light, maybe talking about the events of the day (what happened at karate, who went on time-out today at school, because allll the kids know who went on time-out), or what lie ahead of us in the coming day. i’d stroke his face lightly, and sing to him gentle lullabies. his hand would reach for the locket around my neck, and he would hold it between his little fingers, bring it close to his face and inspect its contents.

over and over he’d ask me what’s inside the necklace. over and over i’d tell him “your brothers”.  i never could lie to him about this, i wouldn’t deny their existence, especially not to him. they were real. whether they took a breath or not, they lived… they existed. to me, to us at least.

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amazing son, my babies, and the angel wings on which they fly

12/4/2011

3/14/2012 (my rainbow baby)

2/8/2014

10/30/2014

4/9/2015

11/30/2015

1/5/2017

he’d ask why his brothers were around my neck to which i’d always reply “it’s how i can keep them close to my heart.” cue tears on three… two… one… there is no rulebook for this. usually he’d be satisfied with that and we’d go back to singing, or cuddling. tears would stream from my face like rivers, but i’d manage to keep them hidden from him. i’d kiss him goodnight, he’d nod off and hours later i would cry myself to sleep. i never shied away from telling him he had brothers. i just wasn’t forthcoming about where they went.

but not this night… on this night he was not satisfied. “why are they in the necklace and not here with me? i wish they were here with me.” and he looked up at me with these big brown eyes, eyes that pleaded with me to make a miracle happen. to somehow produce a sibling out of thin air. he’s asked for a baby brother or baby sister a hundred times over. but this time was different. choking back tears i decided in that moment to tell him, it just felt “right” when it never, ever, feels right.

“your brothers were too tiny to live with us, i loved them so much but God wanted them to be with Him instead.”

the big eyes only got bigger, i could see his mind racing. “my brothers died?”

shit. should i have said that? i can’t take it back now. i nodded. and followed it up with “dad and i prayed so hard for you, we wanted you so badly and God answered our prayers.”

“i wish i had a tiny little baby brother, but it’s okay.  you and dad wanted me real bad and God gave me to you. He wanted my brothers with him so he could love them. He and Tía Angie can take care of my brothers.” dagger meet heart.

oh sweet boy, you are wise beyond your years.

“yes sweetheart, Tía Angie is up in heaven playing with your brothers.”

dear God, if you’re listening, and you too Angie… please give them all a big hug for me right now. and please give me the strength to bear this. this mom of boy can only take so much right now, and i don’t dare tell him his wish will never come true.

long overdue

i stopped writing. i did. i’m not apologizing for it. it was a mandate, direct from my soul. i retreated into a shell of denial and waved the white flag. just couldn’t bring myself to spew about being “there”. you know, the dark, painful place called “this is your life now – deal with it.” and besides, if i had written, every post would have been the same: i am lost. i don’t understand why this happened. i can’t move on. and on, and on, and on.  being “there”, stuck in this place… it’s awful.  this place doesn’t just suck. it threatens to kill you, slowly, day by day. i can see why (and how) people fall into depression and lose years of their life after a traumatic event. how can you not? your world is suddenly flipped upside down, and yet you are somehow supposed to be able to cope effectively with the loss, (effectively, being the key word here) and also somehow move forward. what in the actual fuck, who can do that? with no training, with no prep work… there is no manual for what to do when your sister suddenly dies, no cliff notes on how to not only keep your head above water but still be a mom, a wife, an employee, et cetera. i could barely remember how to drive to work, the rest of it faded away.  i didn’t know how to deal, and i couldn’t share it with you as i simultaneously tread the dangerous water and held my breath.

there is no rule book for this. there is only time. lots and lots of time.

time to let your mind wander to those places it shouldn’t: the couldas, the wouldas, the shouldas. the what ifs. time to contemplate all the things you suddenly regret now. i should’ve visited her more. i really wasn’t as busy as i thought i was, i could’ve made time for her. i should’ve made time for her.  what that really means is i should’ve made her more of a priority. i am a shitty sister. i wish i had known her better, like… the real her.  towards the end of her life (that is so hard to say, it’s as if i’m talking about a 90 year-old lady) she started sharing with me real grown-up things, like her fears, her stressors, her dreams. things that surprisingly blindsided me. for a long time i guess i had only known the happy-go-lucky angie. angie didn’t have “fears” or “worries”… she laughed those things off, she scoffed in the face of danger. she was sunshine and rainbows, all day every day. she never wanted to bring anyone down with her own crap, because her mission in life was to build people up and shower them with love. there’s no room for your own shit when you are showering people with love. and in the last couple of years, as she allowed me to see her vulnerability, i tried my best to shower her with love and support, just as she had done to me a million times over. i wish i had been able to support her better. in the seemingly infinite time that has passed since she died, i regret this almost on a daily basis.

i would’ve complimented her more. on her beauty, her one-of-a-kind style. she, like most women, struggled to take compliments. she hated her cuban nose. i can remember clear as day as a girl my grandma offered to pay for plastic surgery to reduce its bridge. in fact, she may have repeated this offer many times over.  so i can see why she had a complex, maybe, just a little? she complained about her butt. ok well, what woman doesn’t complain about their butt.  too big, she’d say. you’re cuban, i’d reply. it’s in your DNA. no getting around that. i wish she was here right now, i’d tell her she’s perfect. big nose, big butt and all.

i wish i could’ve done something to prevent her death.

there. i said it. it’s what we all naturally try to do… look back in hindsight and play the coulda woulda shoulda game. only this particular game gets real dangerous, real quick. because before you know it, you allow guilt to grab hold of you and wrap its hands around your neck.  my brain knows for a fact no one could’ve stopped angie from dying that night. but my heart is non-sensical, purposefully illogical and flighty. it whispers to me that perhaps something could’ve been done, something, anything, and the outcome would’ve be different. maybe if i could’ve done those things i would instead be sitting across from her at a table, staring into her big brown eyes, watching her raise a venti quad soymilk hazelnut latte with 3 pumps to her brightly-colored lips. i would hear her raucous laugh, echoing around the room. i could reach over and place my arm around her shoulder and squeeze her tight.

this game can get real dangerous. i don’t like to play it. in fact, i try very hard not to. but i did, for a while there, and it was not a good situation. i was detached from my life, my family. i couldn’t concentrate on anything, it was like i had amnesia. i “slept” like crap, nightmares all the time. i’d wake up like a zombie. it took months before these things started to fade away, and i watched others, some of my closest loved ones, succumb to this game. some are still in this game. and it’s almost as hard to watch as it was to hear she was dead. because this mind fuck, these coulda woulda shouldas, sap you of everything and leave you nothing in return. they leave you a heap of tears on the floor, they scream in your ear “you weren’t good enough for her, you didn’t deserve to have her”. and when you’re in that nightmare of grief and loss and depression, you don’t have the ability to discern the truth. you believe those words.

it took an epiphany for me to realize something had to give. i was having a breakdown in my room late at night (one of many) and suddenly i felt as if she was right next to me, watching me. i could see her face, feel her there… and she was so sad, so heartbroken that i was grieving her loss so violently, and blaming myself. and it hit me, angie would never want that for me, for anyone. in fact, she’d probably yell at me (while giving me a hug, because that’s what she did) and tell me to cut it out. i don’t know what changed in that moment, but i felt a switch inside. i had this revelation, and somehow was able to forgive myself for the self-imposed guilt and let go of it. it’s okay that angie’s death is traumatic and weighs heavy on my mind and heart, but i realized in that moment, for whatever reason, that it can’t be my everything anymore. mostly because it would cause her pain and i can’t do that to her. i won’t do that to her.

there is nothing anyone could have done to prevent her death. if you are reading this and you too feel the self-imposed guilt, i beg you to let it go. nothing good comes from it, only more pain and unnecessary punishment. she would want you to let it go.

i’m trying to be strong. the holidays are coming and i’m tempted to crawl back in the hole. i miss you so much angie. getting this all out is so very long overdue. i’m not even sure this passage makes any sense. i’m dusting off the cobwebs and taking baby steps. it feels good to get this stuff out. and since it is Halloween for a few more minutes i’d like to share with you one of my favorite Angie costumes, naturally self-made. i can’t explain why it’s my favorite, hell, i’m not even sure what she actually was going for… monster? yellow zombie? regardless, she rocked it and was so proud of it because she made it with her bare hands. of course she did.  and although the hot pants probably didn’t help to minimize her butt, i wish i could tell her she looked amazing and not to change a thing. i love you angie. ❤

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