Scrubbing the Tub

As I knelt in the bathroom today, scrubbing the tub, my roots came to mind. I’m one of those Latinas. Not the ones that were born in a Latin country, but one of the ones that were born here. My parents were born in Puerto Rico and raised in 2 worlds, there and here. I, on the other hand, was born here. Only visited the island once in my life. Our familial ties to the island having long been stretched too thin by the hands of time.

My parents were progressive. My father being the first in his family to graduate college, law school and go on to become a lawyer. My mother graduated high school and went on to work full time in Corporate America for 30+ years. My father was the primary nurturer to us and my mother cooked, sometimes when she felt like it anyhow. Other times, it was every person to themselves to find dinner. I am no stranger to cereal and eggs for dinner. That was normal, part of life. My mother washed her own clothing and at some point so long ago that I can’t remember when ceased to wash all of ours. I washed my clothing. My sister washed hers. And my dad washed his and my brother’s.

My husband is one of those Latinos. Not like me, but born on the island. He didn’t come here until he was 19 years old. He still struggles to speak English. His mother doted on him, his father, and the rest of his brothers and sisters. She never worked outside of the home as far as I know. Her days were filled with nurturing their family. Cooking, cleaning, washing, she does it all. When my husband came to the US, he had never lifted a mop, washed a dish, or his own clothing to say the least.

And somehow, my husband and I met, fell in love, and got married. If he had known how un-domestic I was, he would never have married me. He sees me “serving” him as an act of love and devotion. I see “serving” him as being demeaning to me. So we often get mired into the same vicious circle of an argument. Him questioning my love for him because I don’t want to jump up and serve him dinner. I mean for God’s sakes, I’ve been taking care of the kids all by myself all day. Could he serve himself and give me a break? And me questioning whether he appreciates the sacrifice and the commitment that being a Latina wife and mother every minute of every day entails.

I was raised to be independent and now here I am being forced into a mold that I wasn’t built for. How do you just become the quintessential Latina when you were not raised by one? No one else seems to understand how I feel belittled, how I feel less worthy when my husband comes home and I have to jump up to serve him. Then continue to clean, help the kids with homework and so on while he sits in his boxers scratching his balls on the sofa watching ESPN. And I’m supposed to be happy. How do you find happiness in that? I look at my daughter, who is only 2 and being formed now for her future, and wonder what the future holds for her. A life of servitude for her family under the guise of nurturer? A husband who pitches in and cares equally for the children and the house? And my sons, will they do the same that they see my husband doing to their wives one day?

In the mirror, I see the marionette strings tied to my back and wait for the familiar pull of my husband’s hand. For him to guide me in the direction I should be going. For me to jump up, the happy puppet that I am, to cook, to clean, to smile, to laugh, to be reigned over. A lump forms in my throat; I swallow a tear and go back to scrubbing the tub.

The 3 Day Breast Cancer Walk Philadelphia

So what can I say about the 3 Day Breast Cancer Walk in Philadelphia?  I had such high hopes and expectations for the weekend.  A journey of 60 miles.  A chance to make a difference!  To raise money to find A CURE!  I signed up for the challenge in January of this year. 

It was a walk 10 months in the planning.  Months of meetings, fundraising, planning, training, tears, loss, hope with our small team called the Pink Bees.    



I had pinned so much on the walk.  I thought that during the walk I would feel Melody there with me, her presence somehow.  After all of the planning, all of the equipment, the packing, the making plans for babysitters – the day before the walk, a Noreaster blew in and they canceled the first day of the walk, Friday.  Shortly thereafter they canceled the 2nd day of the walk, Saturday, as well.  And then we were left with one day, Sunday – just 15 miles.
 


On Sunday, we were so excited, the day had finally arrived!  Shortly after we arrived at the walk, I was briefly overcome with emotion when my team mates and I lined up at the start of the walk.  I had registered so many long months before to inspire Melody, but after she passed away in the end of May, I was now walking in her memory. And all of the months of preparation and holding off of tears, it all had culminated to that moment.  As far as we could see in front of us were a sea of pink bunny rabbit Energizer bunny ears.



The walk was difficult, after all it was cold and rainy but I know none of it compared to anything that Melody had gone through in the 8 years of the fight for her life.


It will be 5 months since she’s been gone on the 27th and it still feels like a punch in the stomach every time I remember that she is actually gone. I don’t know if I thought I would catch a glimpse of her along the way or really actually feel her but none of that happened. And I went home and felt so disappointed and my loss felt so much more real. I actually feel selfish thinking about myself, because my loss is nothing compared to her son’s, her mother’s, or her father’s. Now theirs is a loss that I don’t even want to begin to imagine. 



All in all, I was pretty uninspired by the 3 Day.  From the 2 canceled days, the disorganized chaos of the day, to the rain and the mud.  I knew it wasn’t going to be perfect and I was looking forward to it really kicking my butt.  But I think the biggest disappointment was not seeing her at the end.  And that’s something the 3 Day never could have given us.  But for some strange reason I almost expected it. 



To make up for the upset that all the Philadelphia walkers felt, we were given the option to walk in any other walk in any other city in the US through the remainder of this year.  But for me, I would then need to fork out money for travel and babysitters again and being recently unemployed, that’s not really an option for me.  We also were told that our $90 registration fee would be waived for next year if we wanted to participate again next year.  But we’ll again have to raise the $2300+ per person to walk in the walk.  So although the walk was for a wonderful cause and it felt good to be there and to have contributed to the over $8 million raised by the Breast Cancer 3 Day Walk Philadelphia, all in all it was a real let down to me.  I hope Melody is proud of me anyhow.  I know I’m definitely proud of her, probably more than ever now.  And I still miss and love her so much.  I’ll have to find other ways to honor her memory going forward. 

Breast Cancer Awareness Month – should Young Latinas be concerned?

Where do I start!? It has been SO long since I have blogged. Too long honestly. If you are a writer, truly a writer, you need to write. Just as much as you need to eat and breathe. My writing is how I think. It’s how I feel things. How I know how to respond, or what to do next (yes I love lists too). But now here I am. It’s so good to be back. So I have a couple of pieces that I’ve been working on at home, for the past few weeks. And those I will post soon once they are complete. But now, this is just strictly a piece from the heart. To clear the cobwebs in my mind so to speak. I could just cry right now I feel so free.

There has been so much that has happened in my life over the past year. So much. I fasted for 40 days during Lent. Abstained from food completely during the day. And I made it through! I decided to inspire one of my dearest friends who was battling advanced breast cancer by signing up for the 3 Day Breast Cancer Walk that is happening October 16, 17, and 18th in Philadelphia, PA. I signed up for it in January, began fundraising in February, and in May my friend, Melody Charen, she died. She was only 32 years old. She had been diagnosed with Advanced Breast Cancer at the young age of 25.  She didn’t fit the profile of a woman with Breast Cancer, after all she was young and Latina, she had a young son at the time.  But what’s in a profile anyhow?  Can one hold up the “profile” for someone with Breast Cancer as a “Get out of Jail Free” pass when one is diagnosed? No.
Today, after almost 8 years of fighting for her life to the last moments, after all of her struggles, Melody finally is at peace. When I signed up for the 3 Day, I did it to inspire her. I needed to do something. Because I saw how much she was going through I needed to do something. Melody was always the kind of person that never let you know how bad it really was. She always saw the silver lining in the clouds of gloom that were ahead. She took one day at a time and appreciated each day for what it was.

Melody and I had been friends since grade school, all through high school, but when she got sick we started talking a lot less. She distanced herself because she didn’t want people to pity her. She never wanted anyone’s sympathy. She wanted to be seen as normal above all.

I went to her son’s 9th birthday celebration the summer of 2007. I was pregnant then and it’s funny because I still remember this as if it were yesterday. And anyone who knows me knows that if I don’t write something down, write about it, my memories float away like dried up fall leaves on a strong autum wind.  I remember talking to her about the pregnancy and telling her that I was so worried because I didn’t have someone to watch the baby for me when I went back to work. I remember Melody sitting and watching and listening to me as I talked and after a minute, she suggested her own mother. I would never have thought of her, but afterwards her mother and I talked and everything just fell into place.

So when I went back to work her mother did watch Carina, my baby, for me. It was so great. I thought having the baby there was such a positive infusion for them in their lives at a time that was so difficult. I thought that the love that they felt for my daughter would somehow help Melody and her family. At the time, Melody was actively fighting the cancer that had returned to other parts of her body. But never once did she complain. Never once did she say, “why me?” The past couple of years, we became so much closer. Melody became Carina’s “Titi” (Spanish for Auntie) and Melody’s mother, Elsie became “Mom-Mom”. And we became more than friends, we became family, through this bond of love that we all shared for my daughter.  And love her they did.  They all doted on Carina as the newest member of the family.  Carina would at times confuse me and Elsie and call her “Mom” and me “Mom” as well.  But I was never jealous, I always felt blessed that my daughter had so many people in her life that loved her so much. 

After Melody passed, I was deeply shaken.  Although all of the signs were there and I was preparing myself for it, her death shook me to the core.  The 3 Day gave me something positive to turn and focus my energy on.  And now as the time gets closer for the walk, it’s about a week away now, I know she’s going to be with me every step along the way. I know she’s going to walk those 60 miles with me. And I’m not going to give up. I’m not going to quit, because even though she’s not here with us anymore. I still want to inspire her. I miss her so much to this day.

So I’ve taken that love for her and turned it into an advocacy of sorts for Breast Cancer Prevention. I want everyone to know that you don’t have to be older to get breast cancer. And young Latinas, we get breast cancer too. So take a moment, do your own self breast exams and if you feel something wrong, get to the doctor. If he tells you it is nothing, go to another doctor. But don’t stop until you are satisfied that everything is really okay.

So over the next 1 ½ weeks, I’ll continue to prepare for the walk. Sleeping bags, rain gear, you name it, I have to think about it and probably pack it. And for a city girl like me, who’s never been camping a night in her life, this is no small task. But I’m going to do it. I’m not going to complain once and I’m never going to ask “why me?”. Melody never did, why should I?  I’m just going to thank God that I can do the walk and keep on walking until the 60 miles are done and I’ll listen to see if i hear Melody cheering for us.

When Tomorrow Starts Without me…

When tomorrow starts without me,
and I’m not there to see,
If the sun should rise and find your eyes
All filled with tears for me:

I wish you wouldn’t cry
The way you did today,
While thinking of the many things,
We didn’t get to say.

I know how much you love me,
As much as I love you,
And each time that you think of me,
I know you’ll miss me too:

But when tomorrow starts without me,
Please try to understand,
That an angel came and called my name,
And took me by the hand.

And said my place was ready,
In heaven far above,
And that I’d have to leave behind
All those I dearly love.

But as I turned to walk away,
A tear fell from my eye
For all my life, I’d always thought,
I didn’t want to die.

I had so much to live for,
So much left yet to do,
It seemed almost impossible,
That I was leaving you.

I thought of all the yesterdays,
The good ones and the bad,
I thought of all the love we shared,
And all the fun we had.

If I could relive yesterday,
Just even for a while,
I’d say good-bye and kiss you
And maybe see you smile.

But then I fully realized,
That this could never be,
For emptiness and memories,
Would take the place of me.

And when I thought of worldly things,
I might miss come tomorrow,
I thought of you, and when I did,
My heart was filled with sorrow.

But when I walked through heaven’s gates,
I felt so much at home.
When God looked down and smiled at me,
From His great golden throne,

He said, “This is eternity.
And all I’ve promised you.
Today your life on earth is past,
But here life starts anew.

I promise no tomorrow,
But today will always last,
And since each day’s the same way
There’s no longing for the past.

You have been so faithful,
So trusting and so true.
Though there were times
You did some things

You knew you shouldn’t do.
But you have been forgiven
And now at last you’re free.
So won’t you come and take my hand
And share my life with me?”

So when tomorrow starts without me,
Don’t think we’re far apart,
For every time you think of me,
I’m right here, in your heart.

Author Unknown_______________________________

I found this poem on line today and it touched me. I thought I would share it with you all. It is especially fitting today. Today is Veterans Day and it brings me memories of my uncle who passed away this year, he was a Veteran. I thought I would share it with you all in case any one has experienced any recent losses of a loved one, or may be losing one slowly, like we lost my uncle.

Last Night I Drowned in my Sleep…

I had a dream last night that I was picnicking at a park with my family. We were sitting on an embankment of a lake. My husband had taken the kids canoeing. The lake was surrounded by trees. And the water in the lake, was murky and brown, as if it were muddy. My husband came out of the canoe, but I think he left something in the canoe that I wanted to reach over and pull out. So I walked to the edge and reached over and somehow I fell in. All of a sudden I was surrounded by the water. And it was so murky, I could feel myself falling. I could hear my aunt screaming that I had fallen in telling my husband to save me, but he didn’t come. I looked around to save myself. I had to find the light and swim in the direction of the light, but the light was below me and I was confused. I was suspended. I wasn’t sure if I was upside down or not. I was surprisingly calm especially when I realized that I could breathe shallowly in the water. But it came to me then that I was going to die. And I relaxed and let myself go.

The next thing I knew, I opened my eyes and I was still breathing shallowly, I had awoken from the dream in the bed in my room at my mother’s house. It was my old bed and it was positioned where it was probably about 15 years ago when I was living there. And I realized I was okay. So I got up and left and went to visit an old friend. While I was at her house, I had set up my art collection on a series of shelves. It’s a collection that I don’t even own, but I did in my dream and I was proud of it. But my friend was disgusted by it. She felt it was pornography of some sort and didn’t want to see it. I remember being surprised, and embarrassed, so I gathered all of it together to put away. I don’t remember what was in the collection, except for one doll head. The kind that stands up on the table and you can brush their hair. Later, I woke up and remembered the dream and thought how odd it was that I accepted death in my dream, only to wake up from the dream (in my dream and realize it was a dream) and continue dreaming. So weird. Anyhow, I looked up certain things from the dream dictionary and put them here, the ones that were petinent to my dream. It’s crazy, but I think all the answers are here in what I found in the dream dictionary. What do you think this means?

Canoe
To see or sit in a canoe in your dream represents serenity, simplicity and independence. It is also a reflection of your emotional balance. You are moving ahead thanks to your own power and determination.


Drowning
Drowning in a dream signifies you can no longer hide your feelings about a certain situation. These dreams usually occur when the dreamer is feeling overwhelmed in real life.

Death
Dreams about death are not necessarily bad omens, but they usually represent anxious or angry feelings. To dream of your own death is actually positive – it means renewal and letting go of an old stage of life. This is also a common dream when you are getting over an illness – and it’s a good sign that you are getting better. However, if you dream that you are dying slowly, you need to drastically change your routine and reenergize your life.

Water
Water is the universal symbol for emotions. How water looks and behaves in a dream is very significant. Here are some meanings for different water dreams: Rising water indicates rising emotions. Turbulent, choppy waters, in which a dreamer fears being swamped or drowning, symbolizes that you are being overwhelmed emotionally. Cloudy water suggests lack of emotional clarity. If you dream that you are able to breathe underwater, you are open to unconscious feelings and psychic awarenesses.

Lake
To see a lake in your dream signifies your emotional state of mind. If the lake is clear and calm, it symbolizes your inner peace. If the lake is disturbed and wavy, then you may be going through some emotional turmoil.

Trees
Lush green trees in your dreams symbolize new hopes, growth and desires.

Rescue
Being rescued from danger in a dream means you may need to end an unhealthy relationship or situation in your life

Waking Up
If you dream of waking up while still dreaming, you have a creative nature and are open to new ideas.

Doll
Dreaming of a doll means someone is being dishonest with you in real life.

Doll House
To see or play with a dollhouse in your dream symbolizes your idealistic notions about family life. Alternatively, the dollhouse in your dream may mean that your mind is trying to solve and work out waking problems with family members as you sleep

Pornography
Often, this dream is also symbolic of your fear about exposing some aspect of yourself. For all dreams involving pornography: if your dream was upsetting or unpleasant in any way, it signifies that you need to feel more in control of your own sexuality and romantic life. Don’t let yourself be pressured by any person or by society.

Reincarnated for love…

Have you ever thought that maybe you lived another life before this one? You, but a different you? In a different place, different time, different situations..? I’ve always been intrigued by the concept of reincarnation. Did I ever have another life before this one? If so, what was it? What was I like? Who was I? Was a man? Was I a woman? Well, I have certain fears in this life that are really unfounded, so maybe it could be related to another life right? My fear of the dark and being attacked? Could that be a memory of a past trauma? Anyhow, so today I get on this kick that I’m going to research this whole theory. So I spent a little time on it and read some other people’s memories of past lives. It was very interesting. And I did a search and there are some groups on facebook that are devoted to the subject. The whole purpose of reincarnation, I think is to keep on developing spiritually. If you mess up with something in one life, in the next you might have to be on the other side of the coin to learn from a different perspective. The abuser becomes the abused and so on. Until eventually maybe you earn the right of heaven? Not sure, but it led me to wonder, how could any possible lives that I might have had correlate with my life now? And I think I’ve come up with it. In this life, I’ve been given the cross to bear of unrequited love. So I guess in another life I must have been a womanizer and really broken some hearts. Cause this life, I’ve really gotten the short end of the stick when it comes to love.