It has taken me almost a year to be able to write this post because every time I tried to write it down, it hurt too much. Love is painful.
One of my friends died almost a year ago. A sudden death. She was pregnant with her fifth child. She went for a walk with some of her children and was stung by an animal. She had an allergic reaction and went into a coma. Later it was discovered that she also had an aneurysm which gave her a death sentence.
I saw her a few days before she died. I was returning some books that she lend me. She returned some of mine. I think she loved reading as much as I did. We became closer when she had a child with disabilities. Our friendship was growing. That day, we agreed to see each other a few days later. That was supposed to be two days before the incident happened. I never saw her conscious again. I put my busy life before that get- together. Oh my goodness, I still regret it.
The accident happened on a Sunday. I saw a post on Facebook from another friend. She was asking for prayers for a young mom that was not breathing and was on her way to the hospital. I never fully understood the praying for other people part until that day. I still had trouble accepting that prayer is an act of love; accepting that we need help and that there is a God that cares about me and is waiting for me to ask. After all, we make our own decisions. True love is not forced.
I went to church and prayed for that lady. I didn’t know why, but I did. After Mass, I stayed there, still thinking about that her. I felt a connection that I couldn’t understand. I then saw one of my mom friends walking towards me. She looked sad. She came to me and said, “Our friend is in the hospital.” I instantly made the connection. I remember how I started crying. I wanted to scream. How could it be? I just saw her a few days ago.
I was allowed to visit her at the hospital, so I thought she was going to get better, but when I arrived, I was told that I had to say goodbye. Only a miracle could save her. Sometimes a miracle is not what God wants or should I say what is better. It is one of those hidden truths that so many people have trouble accepting, including myself. It is difficult because we long for control over our lives, but so often what we want is not what we need to be happy. I would never have had so many children. Probably only two. I “accepted” to have as many as God wanted. I now see how my children changed my life for the best. I would have missed so much happiness and love.There is a God that knows better. Still, it is difficult to accept it.
I wish she had not died, but she did. Nevertheless, thanks to her death, I learned not to take anything for granted and to appreciate life. I still struggle doing my best, but I don’t want to live with any more regrets. I now pray with love for my beloved ones and for those that I do not know because at the end, we are all going to die. Everybody is looking for happiness. Money, fame or whatever pleasure fills our lives doesn’t make us completely happy. Only loves does. Even when it hurts.
Depression is a living Hell. You see life moving around you, but you cannot be part of it, at least the way you want to. I wished to finish my Master’s, but I couldn’t. It is a completely desperate feeling.
My first-born son didn’t stop crying. Many family members came to help the new parents, but nobody was able to console him. The pediatrician said it was colic. With what I know now, I think he had sensory problems. The fact that I was depressed didn’t help him. It was a horrible experience that I want to forget, but there is something to be learned from it. What?, you may ask Well, keep reading.
In the worst moments of my life, I have always seen how my whole little world can be turned upside down and there is nothing I can do about it, at least in earthly terms. These are the times when I have to decide whether if I am going to keep on living that way or whether I am going to let God take care of everything. Of course, I am stubborn and get angry at God. This has not been the “perfect” life that I had always imagined.
Time passed and the post-partum depression faded away. I became pregnant with my second son. Oh boy! Little did I know how this baby was really going to shake my life, but to new heights. I was already expecting to have a baby that cried all the time and to feel miserable. What else could be worst than that? If you are asking yourself why I didn’t see a psychiatrist, well I didn’t know I was suffering from post-partum depression at that time and I didn’t want to accept that I needed help. That is a common symptom in people that suffer from mental illness.
Well, this new baby slept and barely complained. It was the opposite from the first one. Then, when we started waiting for the baby to reach developmental milestones like crawling and sitting down, he never did. That is how our life changed again to one full of doctor visits and therapies. Everything was a struggle for the poor baby. When he turned one and a half, he was still having trouble walking and spoke no words. If you have read articles in the newspaper or watched the news, you may have an idea of what else was wrong with him.
My husband finished his federal clerkship and applied for a job in Washington D.C. He got the job and we moved to Virginia with a two- and- half- year- old and a one- and- half- year- old. My little one became more immersed in his world and he wasn’t interested in communicating with us. The oldest one became extremely active and prone to accidents. He was always looking for that sensory input. He couldn’t be left alone for one second. Yes, toddlers are active little things that can kill themselves in an instant. Naps were taken on the floor with me by their side and the door locked. You get the idea!
I have to say that God is good. Even when I didn’t want to have anything to do with him, he was always there. I will explain why. I took a job as a preschool teacher, so the kids would be able to socialize. There I met many wonderful people who recommended a nearby pediatrician. This doctor just retired a few years ago, after seeing my boys for more than 8 years. He was always there for me. He gave me the referrals to the best specialists. He is the reason my second son was diagnosed with autism at an early age in one of the best places that knew how to deal with the condition 10 years ago, when there wasn’t enough information about it. So yes, God is good and is always with you, every step of the way. Especially during those hard times when I hated him and asked, “why me?” When things get hard, I whine like a little toddler!
This is a phrase that I hear almost every day since I am the mother of 7 kids. Most people give me the are you crazy? look. Others show me their complete disapproval by staring with an angry face. Men ask me if I had them with the same man. I think it breaks the “I cannot be faithful to one woman” or the “doesn’t your husband gets tired of you” argument. I can understand, in a way, where all this comes from. My mom is my dad’s sixth wife. Yes, sixth.
Women, on the other hand, ask me how I do it? I just tell them that I didn’t have 7 kids at once. That I don’t think about it, I just take care of them and do what needs to be done. I also tell them my little secret for “success”. I go to Church every day. I need the extra help or graces, as we Roman Catholics call it. Everyday? Yes, every day of the week, not just on Sundays. I will tell you why.
For me, getting married was a completely crazy idea in the first place. I simply was never going to get married. I wasn’t the type of woman that needs a man to live life to the fullest. I was going to have a prestigious career and I would have enough money for traveling and to buy a sports car. Yes, I inherited my mother’s side love for fast cars and racing. During college, I was on my way to this dream. I had two prestigious internships. One with a U.S. Senator, in which I was the first Hispanic to do so. The second internship was with a Puerto Rico state senator. I was also in the Honor Roll and the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi. Then, at 20, I got married. No, I wasn’t pregnant, in case you are wondering. My husband is more competitive and ambitious than I am, so I was mesmerized. That’s when my life changed. He re-introduced me to the Roman Catholic faith and life.
I was Baptized a Roman Catholic and received First Communion, but rarely practiced my religion. I attended a Catholic school, just because it was one of the two schools rich families sent their kids to. Yes, I grew up in the upper middle class. I had a beach house, a jet ski and all kind of nice toys. The only thing I had to do to enjoy all these privileges was to work with my dad in his business on Saturdays and help with cooking and cleaning during the week. My dad is a Cuban small business entrepreneur. His favorite phrase was: “The one who doesn’t work, doesn’t eat.” So, I have been working since I was 9 years old, but I didn’t mind. I had money and many material things which were my life at that time. By my senior year of high school, I have to admit that I hated anything related to God. God and religion were just another subject in school. I never learned to love Him, so I didn’t see why I need Him in my life.
So, I finished my college degree and went to Law School. The idea of being a lawyer wasn’t for me, so I dropped out after the first semester which I finished with straight A’s. It took my dad many years to forgive me for dropping out. I then went to work and to figure out what I was going to do with my life. I ended up almost finishing a master’s in Speech-Language Pathology. Yes, I didn’t finish that either. I had one semester to go, but had my first baby. A year before, I had a miscarriage. I struggled with severe post-partum depression which left me barely able to take care of my son. I t was the first time that I faced failure.
El tomar fotos de mis hijos me provee una gran satisfacción. Igualmente, mantiene mi vida en perspectiva. Me recuerda que el tiempo vuela y no puedo hacer nada para detenerlo.