I was at Prince of Peace this past weekend and the homily spoke of the Fruits of the Holy Spirit: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Generosity, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self-control.
I start to feel accomplished and then it silently creeps up on me after several good days, weeks, or even months. Trauma triggers and I feel myself spiraling down again. Depression is living in a body that fights to survive, and a mind that wants to die. Anxiety isn’t something that goes away, but something you have to learn to control.
I am still learning to speak up more when I am sad and taking more care of myself. I have to remind myself that the bravest thing I ever did was continue my life when I wanted to die. I find my safe place to close my eyes to breathe and find strength to get up again tomorrow to start over. We all need to surround ourselves with people who remind us that we matter because the comeback is always stronger than the setback. Mental illness is not a choice, but recovery is. I accepted that I am depressed, but I’m not giving up.
My Mom had always been youthful and outgoing. She would love to dress up and take me around town with her when I was younger. I always admired her as a young girl (and I still do). I always wanted to grow up to be just as independent and graceful as she was. I would mimic her makeup and get my hair stuck in the curling brush trying to get my hair to be just like hers. She was beautiful; my Dad made sure to remind her each and every day.
In recent years, we noticed a sudden change in my Mom. She was weaker, her skin lost color, and she wasn’t the same. It took a lot of convincing to get her to admit to the hospital; only to find out that both of her kidneys had failed on her. That’s when her tough journey with the dialysis treatment began.
I wasn’t living at home at the time, but when I visited every month, it choked me up to see the endless amount of pills separated in that plastic container for her to take each day. I would take her to the dialysis clinic and wait with her until she was done. My Dad always told me to act normal so that Mom would feel safe. We never wanted her to feel sad. We never wanted her to be scared. Sadly, I was scared each time.
The end of 2010, my brother married his wife. My mom was too weak to walk down the isle with my Dad and it broke my heart knowing that it was one of my Mom’s biggest dreams to see one of her kids get married. The end of 2010 was also one of the roughest times in my life. I lived away from home and dealt with a lot of personal issues. I use to drag myself out of bed each morning and let my depression take over me. I remember my room being so cold, I felt so alone, and I would cry just to fall asleep.
January 5th, 2011. I was in Houston visiting my parents for the week. My cousin and I had gone to the market to pick up some things my parents asked for. My phone rang and my Dad had told me to rush home because of an emergency. Pins and needles went through my body and my mind went crazy thinking that something happened to my Mom. By the time I got home, Dad was rushing out the door, holding Mom’s hands, and she was hanging on to her hospital bag.
“We got the call! We got the call! They have a match!!”
I watched the doctors and nurses take my Mom away into the surgery room and I just stood there holding my tears as she looked at me, smiled, and said, “Stay strong for Mommy.”
As I was in the waiting room, I prayed. I prayed for my Mother’s health. I prayed that this will be the one. My Mom had been on the waiting list for a kidney transplant for a few years. There have been close calls in the past, but complications always occurred.
We were all restless, but we were grateful and relieved as the doctor came out to tell the family that the surgery was a success. At that moment, I realized that I should never take life for granted and live life happily. I should never let anything negative bring me down and always strive to live a positive lifestyle. A lot of people don’t understand why I try to be so positive, well here is my tell all. This is my reasoning to why I live the life I live now. I learned to never waste a day being angry or sad. I learned to appreciate every breath that I take. I see the good in people and separate myself from all negativity. I can’t drown myself in sorrow and I can’t waste my time on people that make me sad. We need to make time for things and people that matter. Every day is a gift, and it could be all taken away. Because of my Mom, I finally learned to live life for me. I write my own stories and my future is in my hands.
I still can’t believe that it has now been 6 years since we received the call that would change my Mom’s life. I thank God everyday for her second chance. She still has many restrictions and daily obstacles, but this enabled her an extra push to make it through the day. She stays strong for her husband, children, and her grandchildren.
I am thankful for the stranger who donated. I am also thankful for all the people who donated and funded the research to make this all happen. You saved my Mom’s life; I owe you my everything.
If there is one thing I have learned through this experience, is that life is precious. My family has always been blessed with everything we needed in life; through hard work and dedication of course, but also through the power of prayer. Mom is this key piece to holding our family together, and we are thankful each day that we still have each other.
Thanks for reading,
A prayer for: when you feel hopeless. when people think they understand how stressful it is to explain what’s going on in your head. when you only want your loved ones to remember that you gave it your all. Or you worried too much. when you can’t even fake a smile because you get so sad that you completely shut down. everyone who try their hardest to be good enough for everyone. who spend hours listening and dreaming. who deserve so much more than they get and are willing to fight for so much more.
Here’s a prayer to those who think everyone has the same heart that they do. Because that is the fucked up part of life. We put our all in people and things we love so much that we forget the one true motherfucker we look at every day in the mirror. You have to make your wellbeing a priority. But what’s the point in self happiness without your family?
Self love is the greatest middle finger of all time, but being a family means you’re a part of something wonderful – and that’s a whole lot of middle fingers to the world. Family isn’t just an important thing; it’s everything.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone– cheers to another year, and cheers to another year I am ever so grateful.
It’s been a little over a year, but I was still so hesitant to visit you today. The sadness I felt looking down into the dirt where you laid to rest, doesn’t even compare to the pain I saw in your eyes during the last of your days. You filled an emptiness I didn’t even know I had until I laid by your tiny little grave wishing I could still hug you and thank you for curing my soul.
If there are no dogs in heaven, then when I die I want to go where they go — until I see your cute button nose again, you and Puppy need to watch over me and the family. Thank you MaggieBear for teaching me that love is unconditional 💔
A lesson Maggie taught me about life:
If you love something, love it completely, cherish it, say it, but most importantly, show it.
Life is finite and fragile, and just because something is there for one day, it might not be the next. Never take that for granted.
Say what you need to say, and say a little more. Say too much. Show too much. Love too much. Everything is temporary but love. Love outlives us all.
July 13, 2016
I stopped at Big Lots to grab breath mints for the restaurant and a store employee stopped me amidst my shopping trip to randomly ask, “Are cookies or cakes better for you?” Before I could conjure up the words to ask why, she added, “I’m a diabetic.” OK, now why on earth would I even suggest anything processed, sugary, or sweet after hearing that; despite myself being a customer in her store? “My boss said I could pick one out for my birthday today.” My heart sank… I told her it was also my father’s birthday and showed her silly snapchat photos I took with him and Ethan at midnight. I grabbed a $20 gift card to the restaurant from my backpack and invited her down the street after her shift for a few goodies prepared by the chefs. I learned that she takes the city bus and was oblivious to anything in the area other than her workplace (I’m guilty of that too!) So I wrote my phone number on the back of the gift card and asked her to call me after work if she decides the venture out. She was beyond thrilled and hid my card in her pocket, “My shift is over around 5!! I’ll find my way there!!” A little skeptical since learning in my retail career about making connections with customers (which a lot of times lead to conversations beyond the point of sale lol), I reserved a table for her anyways. I got a call close to 6pm and it was an excited lady, “I’m on my way!!”
I never heard anything after as I was catching up on paperwork, so I stepped out into the dining room only to see Ms. Angela happily settled in all by herself at the table I had set aside for her. She had already ordered the simplest menu item from my server – ready to celebrate her 49th birthday with the $20 gift card…all by herself, and all smiles. I walked over and couldn’t even reintroduce myself or welcome her in… she had jumped up out of her seat to hug me. My entire staff read her emotions and without question helped execute an unforgettable dinner together. I respectfully asked to join as a guest to her table, thankfully she agreed (hehe), sat down with a bottle of red wine to share, food enough to feed a family, but best part of the dinner was able to hear and be inspired by her story. That’s how my Dad taught me growing up, to never judge or have prejudice, yet listen and learn about one another. Everyone felt Ms. Angela’s radiant energy that evening, from my serving staff to guests stopping by the table to wish her a Happy Birthday after realizing the beautiful moment from across the dining room. She embraced every second, thanking the entire team for every meticulous detail every chance she could, and thanking God with tears building up as she spoke to her daughter from Chicago on the phone. I couldn’t have been more proud of my team, and their rebuttal was actually wanting to thank Ms. Angela for inspiring happiness for all the little things in life.. They even payed for an Uber ride home instead of letting her take the bus!
It was God’s gift to have my family celebrate my Dad’s birthday at the restaurant this very same night. It’s been hard to be present at family dinners or even special occasion and holidays ever since I started my career in the hospitality industry. You have to commit in serving guests, endure long unrecognized hours, all while creating memorable experiences despite the unappreciated efforts. After seeing my family eat and enjoy themselves before my very eyes, it took all of me to not cry for all the guilt I felt for not being around as often like I should.
I was so excited to introduce my Dad to Ms. Angela, but she hugged him before I knew it, “You should be proud of your daughter, I just met her today and it was God’s blessing that I was even acknowledged by a complete stranger and treated like a queen without a crown on my birthday. I’m all alone here. I wish my kids were closer. She made me remember that I didn’t need to be surrounded to feel loved, I felt loved by complete strangers today.”
Today also helped reissure it was my best decision to move back to Houston two years ago. I entered my twenties lost in a new world trying to prove my independence, with countless failures but I picked myself up each time craving that euphoric feeling of self worth. I remember walking across the stage to grab my art degree, smiling as I envisioned my quirky family cheering for me from across the stadium. Good things never last forever, even if it looked perfect on the outside. My mom was unable to travel far and I was always imagining my family’s presence to keep me from depression and missing home so much. I realized every accomplishment, dream, and aspiration wouldn’t amount to anything if I couldn’t share my happiness with my family and true friends. I always had relentless love and support from them and am forever grateful. I only wish to pay it forward for the rest of my life to serve others. Happy Birthday Dad, to the man who has everything. Every random act of kindness is dedicated to you. I just want to make you proud. I wanted to blog this moment so I could look back, inspire, and thank God for sending me a complete stranger to remind me what life’s all about.
Thanks for reading ❤ -Ter
The terrifying innate fear of figuring out self purpose soon incorporated itself into my life-long battle with anxiety – only to leave me feeling more helpless, hopeless and powerless. I distracted myself by focusing on the things I had to do and got so caught up trying to exceed expectations to improve myself – later realizing; who was I really trying to win over?
It wasn’t until I started focusing on setting my own expectations that I realized: who were important, what were my priorities, and why it mattered. If you don’t love why you’re doing things or can’t explain why it’s important to you — then it’s not worth doing is it? It starts with finding reasons for what’s important and meaningful rather than investing time with what I felt I should be doing. What mattered was the choice I made for myself – to be a great daughter, sister, auntie, significant other, or mentor at work. It all started with why. We we’re all born to live not to merely exist.
The purpose of life is a life of purpose. Have a great day <3, ter.
It’s all about evolving and being better tomorrow than you may have been today ❤
I struggled earlier in life to fight for happiness and stressed over the horrible things that could happen and it prevented me from enjoying all the good. After questioning myself, “what would happen if I wasn’t so afraid?”, I was able to discover an answer to my pursuit of happiness and wish to inspire you to do the same. To my lovely ladies: don’t lose sight of the future because it could be better than the present because you, my dearest, have the power to make life beautiful. Don’t give up and never wait because life passes faster than you think ❤