To my beloved childhood dog, Emperor Li…

Eleven and a half years ago, my mother brought home a little wrinkly creature. At first I thought he was ugly but the moment I held him, he fell asleep and the rest is history. Today he died. So in honor of his life I thought I would share some memories with him:

When I had no friends and everyone ignored me, you were always there with a wet nose and a kiss.

When I needed fresh air, you forced me out of the apartment and begged for walks around the neighborhood.

When Mom’s husband tried to attack me, you always stood in the way willing to sacrifice your life in a way that neither of my parents would.

When Mom died, I cried a thousand rivers of tears in your fur and you closed your weary eyes in solidarity for the sick lady who always fed you Twizzlers. 

When Dad drank so much that he became hostile, you made me feel safe. Like it was just me and you against the world.

Together, we made it through constant chaos, barely getting enough sleep or space to heal our wounds. And we survived and at the half mark of your life (in a new space), you began to thrive.

Emp, my dear wrinkly little Sharpei, you were the best protector that any scared twelve-year old girl could wish for. So although my heart hurts, I take comfort in knowing that you are finally free.

Here’s to you, my first best fur friend.

P.S. Tell Mom I said hello.

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Knowing I’m okay without the material things…

Remember last year when my spouse was underemployed/didn’t have steady employment and I was having anxiety attacks practically every other day? 
Well fast forward to this year and things are looking up. He has a full time job and is even  working overtime until Christmas!

 I am incredibly proud of the progress he has made especially because I know it was not easy. Giving up his dream career and working two part-time jobs this summer to secure a bright (albeit different) future for himself and by default us, has only added to the respect I have for him. 

Naturally the best thing that has happened is having leftover money to throw into savings (Note: Being able to save is really a luxury. If you grew up in amongst working class folk like myself, you are all to familiar with how often it ebbs more than flows).

 Yes, I said savings because we never know what the future holds. I graduate next May and I am already having weekly anxiety attacks about my prospects at employment. Add the fact that I’ll have to start paying off my student loans and we end up practically at square one. But…it’s okay. 

Why?

Well…I appreciate the magic of a skein of yarn and a crochet hook. I enjoy taking my dog for a walk around the neighborhood and breathing clean, fresh air. I look forward to cleaning the house so I can have an extra excuse to crank up my music and dance my heart out and I find the simplest joy in sharing a home-cooked meal at the table with my spouse, no phones, no tv, just us. 

And anyways, life is simple when you realize that the things you buy: won’t make you whole if you’re broken, won’t bring them back if you’re in mourning, and won’t erase the struggle if you’re fighting for your life one mental illness at a time. 

Although there are costs to this life, I choose to make peace with myself and journey towards the land of Hope (that is if she still has room for this Cynical Gal). 🤔

Last year I had a baby and all I got was this little urn…

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Today marks one year and three days since the worst day of my life, the day I met my daughter, the day we were given numbers to funeral homes.

All week I pushed myself to be mindful of how my body feels and just give into it. If I didn’t feel like doing something, then I probably shouldn’t do it. If I didn’t feel like talking, I remained silent. To some degree it worked. It worked so well that I was even able to keep myself composed when my partner framed a picture of Marième’s hand for the living room wall.

I successfully glossed over it like it didn’t matter to me, even though it does.

That was until today, this article about a woman who lost not one, not two, but three babies. Three. One at six months like me and then twins at twenty-plus weeks. And suddenly everything that I’ve tried to not think about, things that no matter how hard I try I will never forget, came flooding back.

I will always remember the _ _ hours spent in labor, the unbearable physical agony, and the silent room that followed. The way the midwife swiftly took her away, giving us time process everything that just happened. I think about how cold the room suddenly became, how sad and helpless my partner looked because he could do nothing to comfort me, and the moment they finally wheeled her in. All the while, a chorus of babies’ first cries vibrated throughout the halls. Yet, our room remained silent.

No one complimented her hands, her smile, her feet, or said, “See, it was all worth it”. Was it worth it?

These women all had two to four children and one of the midwives constantly talked about how she couldn’t even imagine if it were her with her three children. Gee, thanks. That makes me feel much better.

We returned home that same evening, baby-less, with a crib that we would never use, boxes of diapers that would never be opened, and mother-daughter spa nights that would never be had. The house was silent. Unbearably silent. He had to return to work and when he left, I contemplated suicide. I figured this was it for me, the universe had finally taken so much from me, that I simply had nothing left to give.

I fast forward to this current moment and I may not be numb but it feels like I’m in a sort of purgatory, where I have so much unfinished business that I cannot fully move on. Lately I’ve been see-sawing back and forth between negative thoughts versus “my life’s not so bad after all”.

Negative Thoughts

I’m so tired of hearing people say, “You’re young, you’ll have more”. Please stop telling me that, please and thank you. I wanted that baby. You don’t make children to replace children. That’s just not how these things called “love” and other human emotions work.

Another thing I’m tired of hearing are these “woe is me” stories from people that have multiple children. Um, your children didn’t just drop out of the sky. Trust me, there are plenty of people who would be more than grateful for just one child.

Speaking of the number one. I knew that if I ever decided to have children, I wanted just one. For some reason, I always thought that I would be the one that decided to have a child late in life and suffer through infertility issues. (I may not be “late” in life but perhaps we speak things into existence?) Anyways, my partner would like two when I clearly can’t even have one. Yup…that fact has done wonders for my anxiety.

Lastly, the “don’t worry about it” from women who have successfully conceived and birthed children without funky complications, really drives me insane. Like who asked you and who gave you a license to be so damned insensitive? Even if I were to become pregnant in the future, it will never be the same as the pregnancy that you experienced. The fear of stillbirth/miscarriage is no longer imagined, it is very much based in reality. A reality that you could never understand. But then I am reminded that…

My Life Isn’t So Bad After All

Just a running list of good things I’ve observed this week,

  1. I have had incredible cuddle and play time with my puppy. She’s almost one now. I cannot believe it. Her excitable personality is infectious and I love coming home to someone who acts like I’ve been away for months. Yes, the love is real.
  2. One night, I stayed up thinking about my impending job search and the stress of graduate school. As the hours passed, I figured I should try to wait up until my partner returned from work (he works second shift). He thought I was asleep under my blanket and kissed my forehead and to his surprise I was still awake. Apparently he does this every night when he comes home from work. Again, the love is real.
  3. Almost every morning I talk to my sister on the phone during our morning commute. Those fifteen to twenty minutes conversations are essential to starting my day. We may live 7 hours away but maintaining our sistership is important to both of us even during the most trying times. Can you guess what I’m going to say? Yup, the love is real.
  4. Lastly, my adopted grandmother called me on Monday because I’m pretty sure she knew what week it was and even though we didn’t have a full conversation, we shared a few laughs. Yesterday she even texted to tell me that she was just thinking about me and that she loved me. Those few moments of laughter and hurried texting reminded me that…yup the love is real.

I may not have thousands of friends, but I have a million and one reasons to smile, and for that I am grateful. So to answer the question if all of that back-breaking labor was worth it:

Marième, it was. And for you, I will always be grateful.