It’s been one year ago today

…that my mom passed away.  People keep asking me, “How are you feeling about it?”, or “Are you going to be okay?” In all honesty, I’m completely fine. It’s because I’m happy with every decision I’ve made over the past year or so. I also have a genuine group of friends out here on the west coast that I can confide in, and who support me. When my mom died, everything seemed to change. The way I look at life, my relationship with others shifted, I was able to see people as they truly were; all of these things happened very quickly after my mom passed.

When my mother was alive, my family consisted of my dad, sister, 2 aunts, 1 uncle, grandmother and 1 cousin; this are my immediate relatives. The people who I call “family” after my mother died, are my dad and my sister. My mother was diagnosed with MS in 1998, and had been confined to a bed for the last 6yrs of her life. So, her death was a surprise at the time, but we knew the path she was on. I was extremely sad, but at the same time, happy that she wasn’t in the bed anymore.  Allow me to explain.

The evening my mom died, I was in Las Vegas and everyone else was in Beaumont, Tx. I called my dad sobbing and asked him if he and my sister were able to hold off the funeral for a week. I was going out of the country for the first time and my mother was so happy that I was going. He said, “Yes, of course. It’s okay with me and your sister. We’ll have the funeral when you get back and you can fly down.” Perfect!   The next morning after I got out of yoga class, I have numerous texts/phone calls from my aunts and my sister. I called Jesika (my sister) and she told me, “Maw maw just called me and said, ‘If you hold us hostage with this funeral, we’re never speaking to you again and you’re out of the family'” I can’t BEGIN to tell you how angry I became. I then called my aunt Jeanette and spoke to her because the other two women wouldn’t answer their phones. She began to lecture me on how this was not my decision; who am I to tell them, who am I to say, etc….

Okay, it had been less than 24hrs since my mom died. MAYBE it was a little insensitive of me to have everyone waiting; I wasn’t thinking clearly. So, I told her, “Have your funeral, do what you need to do. Because, I’m not going to see my mother in some box.” Even after I told her this, she kept trying to pester me about how wrong I was and that I should be showing more support to them, etc.  So I told her, “Jeanette, Shut UP! Shut the FUCK up! This is not about you!”.  She then quickly hung up on me. That was the last time I spoke to either aunt.

My grandmother told me how disappointed in me they all were and they weren’t sure if they could forgive me for such an outrageous comment. They all tried to make me feel bad that I wasn’t sobbing my eyes out nonstop like they were. They didn’t understand that I had already made peace with everything, and that it wasn’t out of disrespect. They didn’t get it. I don’t regret cursing at my aunt because I did nothing wrong. I had strong emotions, and I expressed them. It was weird how they made my mother’s death about them. They never once asked how my sister and I were doing. Not once. After the funeral, apparently they had their own gathering at my grandmother’s house and left my dad, the widower, at his home with 3 other people. But, I was the disrespectful one.

Death can bring out the worst in people sometimes, and people will show their true colors. Just you wait! I can honestly say that I am no longer angry with these women anymore. I haven’t spoken to them for a year now. I still wish them well, but no longer call them my family. Relatives or not, I made a decision a long time ago to not surround myself with negative/bad people. And you shouldn’t either! They’ll only bring you down.

Family doesn’t just have to be blood relatives. I have friends who know the real me more than my relatives ever did. And, for that, I am grateful.

I love you mom, dad and Jes. And the rest of you….You know who you are!




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The not so Happy Holidays, pt 3

Let’s just say that I was on my mat A LOT during mid December 2010. My mother had gone into the hospital due to a urinary tract infection that caused her to be septic in her bloodstream, which the doctors were treating with antibiotics. She was in ICU for about four or five days. Back in Vegas, I was still packing up my home to prepare for my move back to Los Angeles. My last day of work was the 15th and I was planning on moving back to LA that afternoon. Between that, work and all my yoga time, I was pretty busy. My mother had been in and out of the hospital several times before, but no one seemed to be very concerned about it. That is, until…she wasn’t getting any better.  I knew it was pretty serious when I spoke to the nurse and she said, “If it was my mother, I’d fly into town.”  So, I did. I flew into Beaumont on Friday, Dec 10th and went straight to the hospital.

From the moment I walked into her ICU room, her eyes lit up and her face started to glow. She always got so excited to see me no matter how she felt. I told her, “Move over, I need more room on this side of the bed to lay down”. She tried to move over for me, but couldn’t because she was so weak; this broke my heart. I squeezed my butt in the bed and laid with her for a long time, combing her hair, and telling her stories of how I used to get beat with the belt growing up. This, for some strange reason, made her laugh. :-)  My mom had this contagious laugh that I’d always love to hear. I still can hear it. Over the weekend, my family and I were always by her side and she seemed to be improving. Sunday came and it was time for me to go back to Las Vegas to prepare for my move back to Los Angeles that Wednesday. She said she was happy that I was happy and going to be moving back to LA. She was also really happy that I was going to The Galapagos because I got to ‘See all the pretty animals’. She wasn’t keen on me leaving, but I told her that “I needed to go on this trip so I can tell you all about it when I come back.” I couldn’t kiss her enough or rub my hands through her hair.  I knew this would be the last time I would see her.

Monday came and they moved her to a regular room to be with the family.

I went to one of Karen’s classes that night and dedicated my practice to her. That evening, I had wine, cheese, great conversation AND crying with Karen and her husband. When I was leaving to go home, my sister called me crying and said, “Mom just died.”  I started to tear up and said, “Good for her. Good for her.” I was surrounded by people who loved me the moment she passed. I couldn’t ask for a better place to be. She just went to sleep and was never in pain. What a better way to go? She’s not confined to the bed anymore and is finally free. I cried all that night, but was on my mat the next morning, dedicating my practice to her once again.  She’s not gone. She’s all around me. I am a part of her and that makes me smile a LOT.

There’s one thing you guys have to know about my mom. If she thought for ONE SECOND I was in a deep depression or wasn’t living my life to the fullest because she was gone; she’d get “Big Bertha” (The Belt) from the closet and whip my ass!

I love you mom.

The not so Happy Holidays, pt 2

To say that my mother and I were close is a bit of an understatement. I’d like to think of myself as a reflection of her. Or at least try to bring happiness to others as she did for me. She was always on the go and wherever she went, my sister and I weren’t far behind. She traveled through life pretty lightly and was always laughing. On several occasions I can remember my dad getting irritated with her because he thought she wasn’t taking him seriously sometimes. What does she do? Point at him, and laugh in his face! Lol. I don’t recall a lot of things that would get her too upset. I think my dad, in some ways, lived vicariously through her. Having his reservations about certain things, I think she helped him see them in different ways. Karen told me recently, “Maybe spreading your mothers’ joy to others is your path. Sending out joy to others is a way to be more connected with her.”  She was right.

My mother was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis back in 1998, I believe. There are variations of MS. Some have remissions for 20yrs, while others end up in wheelchairs. Unfortunately, my mother had the latter. It began slowly with her falling, then becoming weak. And, before we knew it, she was confined to a scooter and then, ultimately the bed. This woman who used to tell me, “Home is where you go where there isn’t any other place to go.”, just…stopped going. It didn’t make sense to me. From a medical standpoint, I understood the disease. However, at the same time, it was MY mother. Which, didn’t seem fair. She was confined to the bed for the last six or seven years of her life, which was not easy for the rest of the family to see. Remarkably, she still had an amazing outlook on life.

I remember wanting to move out from my hometown for the first time; I was 22. I went to her room and told her, “Mom, I really feel like I want to move out of the city and see things; experience life. However, if you want me to stay and help dad take care of you, I will.” To my surprise she replied, “No baby, you have to go. Your daddy and I have already lived our lives. You have to live yours.”  This is how this woman was ALL the time. Even while confined to a bed, she always remained happy and optimistic. I think it’s a great way to travel through life.

Those are just a couple of reasons that I am proud to be her son.