Friday, May 30, 2014

A Healing Kind of Pain



I never imagined that I would be a 44-year-old woman, imparting words of comfort and wisdom to my 85-year-old father. Today I called him in Argentina to ask questions about my mom’s final days. If you knew my dad 10+ years ago, you would know that he was always a strong, stoic man who kept his emotions in check. In the last 10 years though, I have seen my father become gentler, softer, more vulnerable, and more willing to express his feelings and emotions.  I believe there is nothing braver than being vulnerable. (Something I learned from my idol, Brene Brown.)  Opening ourselves up, letting things out, exposing our wounds...THAT takes courage. Today my dad demonstrated so much courage in talking about my mom’s illness and reliving the painful memories he had tucked away so long ago. He would have to pause during our conversation to regain his composure and he would hand the phone to my step-mom. But instead of just cutting off the conversation, he would get back on the phone and pick up where we left off. I felt bad for putting him through it but at the same time I felt so proud of him for having the courage to embrace his emotions and not run away from them.


I recently watched Dr. Shefali Tsabary (a psychologist and parenting expert) on Super Soul Sunday with Oprah. I remember she said something along the lines that we are not here to raise our children. In reality, our children are called forth to help raise us. At the moment, I only thought of it in terms of my relationship with my kids. I wondered what my children are here to teach me. What do I still need to learn about myself through them? But today, after I hung up with my dad, I realized that I am also a daughter who is here to help raise my dad. I don’t want to sound like I’m bragging or tooting my own horn but I believe that one of the reasons my dad has evolved and changed in the last 10 years is because of our conversations and his willingness to open his heart to me and take in what I have to say.


My dad and I have a different kind of relationship than he has with my brother and sister. We have deep conversations about parenting, adoption, family, marriage, religion, politics, sexuality, life views, etc. So, our conversation today was not unusual for us. I have asked him about things from my childhood many times. This was not the first time I’ve asked him to tell me more about my mom’s illness but what I’ve noticed in the last five or so years is that he lets his emotions show more now than ever before. Maybe it has to do with his age; maybe it has to do with his awareness of his mortality; or maybe he feels safe being vulnerable with me because he knows I won’t judge or shame him. Instead, I show him support, encouragement, warmth, and love. Today, as he wept on the phone and continually apologized for it, I reassured him that there is absolutely nothing wrong with letting his feelings out. I told him that crying is good for the soul. It’s therapeutic to release what we aren’t even aware we’ve been holding in because holding things in is toxic. I told him that even though it’s painful to remember, it’s also healing to see how far we’ve come. He listened to me and said all he ever tried was to do his best.


As I mentioned, today wasn’t the first time I’ve asked my dad about my mom’s illness and her final months in Argentina, but each time I manage to learn something new. This is what my dad told me today:


My mom was diagnosed with Cirrhosis in approximately 1984 during one of her hospital stays. She never received a diagnosis of hepatitis NANB (or hepatitis C as it is now known). That is something that my dad later figured out on his own because there was no other explanation for the Cirrhosis. (My mom was not an alcoholic.) He figured it had to come from a contaminated blood transfusion. Anyway, her health started deteriorating from that point on. She started having intestinal problems and other health issues related to the Cirrhosis. He doesn’t know for sure if my mom knew her diagnosis. He does believe though that she did know she had little time left. He said that they never really talked about her illness and prognosis. Only on a few occasions when they were alone in the bedroom, during that trip to Argentina, she made some comments about how unjust it seemed that just as they were making plans for their future, this had to happen (A year prior they had purchased an apartment in Argentina for our vacations there.) My dad told me, as he cried, that my mom just accepted this was what she had been dealt and allowed doctors to do whatever they needed to do to try to help her. My dad wept as he remembered how my mom never complained about any of the poking and prodding the doctors put her through. He said she suffered a lot but remained quiet about it; she just accepted whatever was happening to her. He told me about how much she adored me and how I was her treasure and her life. He said there weren’t words to explain the amount of adoration and love she felt for me. He said there isn’t a name for what she felt for me.


We talked about her doctor visits in Argentina. My dad said that he and my cousin used to have to carry my mom up and down the three flights of stairs of the apartment building where we stayed because my mom had become too weak to walk. I don’t have any memory of this (thankfully) but I’m sure I saw it because I was with my parents 24/7. My dad said that we were taking my mom to weekly appointments to be injected with radioactive chemicals. He didn’t remember exactly. He knew that the doctors were tracking the chemicals and monitoring her for any change. Something like that. His memory is rusty on what exactly they were doing to her. Another doctor my mom would see weekly was a pulmonologist. He would aspirate the fluid that was accumulating in her lungs with a big needle.  Again, my dad reiterated that my mom just took it all, never complaining. He also said that she was not all there mentally. He said that the Cirrhosis had started affecting her brain too so her lucidity wasn't always 100%. He feels that sometimes she wasn’t fully aware of what was going on and what was being done to her. During the last visit to the pulmonologist, the doctor aspirated an entire bucket of fluid from my mom’s lungs. The doctor told my dad that there was no end to the fluid and that it was time to admit her to the hospital. My dad knew the end was near. He said that he wanted her to die just to stop the suffering she was enduring.


On August 27, 1986, I wrote in my journal: “Tomorrow early in the morning my mom is going to the hospital. Damn it! Why does she have to suffer so much? Why God? What did she ever do to deserve so much suffering? Please God, take care of her cuz I need her more than anyone else in the world. Please God, keep her safe at your side and don’t let her get any worse. Make her better, for me, please!”


On August 28, my dad and my cousin carried my mom down to the car for the last time to take her to the hospital. She spent the whole morning and afternoon in the Emergency Room because they couldn’t find a room for her. A relative brought me home early from the hospital because my dad wasn’t sure if my mom was going to be admitted. My dad came home around 8:30pm or 9:00pm without my mom. He said they had finally gotten her a room.


The next day, August 29, my dad left early in the morning for the hospital. He left me sleeping at my aunt’s apartment. At 11:00AM, my aunt woke me up and told me to hurry and get dressed because we had to rush to the hospital. She said my mom was in grave condition. In my bleary-eyed haze, I asked “What does that mean? What is grave?” My aunt sternly screamed “She’s GRAVE! She’s GRAVE.” I quickly gathered from her tone that grave meant something very, very bad. I began to cry as I hurried to get ready to see my mom.


In the meantime, my cousin called my brother and my sister in the U.S. to tell them to get to Buenos Aires as soon as possible. When I heard that my siblings were coming, I knew it had to be pretty bad. But despite knowing all this, I still didn’t realize just how bad my mom was until I walked into the hospital room and saw my dad crying. THAT told me a lot. Up until that point, I had only ever seen my dad cry one other time. When I walked over to the hospital bed, I kissed my mom hello. She didn’t really recognize me though. I started crying. I walked out of the room. I thought to myself “She didn’t know it was me! She didn’t know it was me! How could she not recognize her baby?” I was so upset and hurt by this. I, the person who mattered the most to her, was not who she was asking for. Instead, she was asking for her sisters and her mom. She was talking about her childhood and naming people unfamiliar to us. My grandma died in 1971 so it was confusing to me that my mom was asking for her. My aunt (my mom’s sister) was by her side, holding her hand, stroking her hair, while going along with my mom's conversation about childhood.


That same day, she was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). The ICU had very strict visiting rules, which only allowed us to have one hour in the morning and one hour in the evening to be with my mom AND only one visitor at a time! I get so angry just thinking about it again. It infuriated me then and it infuriates me now that my poor mother had to lie in a strange bed, in a strange place, with strangers around and not her loved ones for the great majority of her days there. The nurses were all “bitches and witches” as I referred to them in my diary. I hated them. They were rude, unkind, uncompassionate, cold, and just disgusting to me. It was apparent that they didn’t give a shit about my mom or any of their patients.


The next morning, on August 30, I went to the airport with my cousin to pick up my brother and sister. Despite their reason for coming to Buenos Aires, I was happy and excited to see them after more than two months apart. We drove straight from the airport to the hospital. My sister was the first one to go in at visiting time. When she came out just a few minutes later, she had a severe breakdown. She began screaming, crying, shouting things like “That’s not mom! What did they do with mom? Where’s mom?” Seeing my sister fall apart, caused me to fall apart. I started wailing and punched a window with my fist as I screamed at the top of my lungs. My mom’s best friend was with us. She slapped me hard across the face to snap me out of it. My lip swelled. I didn’t care. I just wanted this all to be a really bad dream.


After I calmed down, I worked up the courage to go in by myself (as we were forced to only go in one at a time). This is what I wrote in my journal about it: “I almost fainted when I saw her. That person lying there didn’t look like half of what my mom had looked like a week or two before and even less than what my brother and sister had last seen of her. Mom couldn’t talk and she could barely nod her head or squeeze my hand. When I came out of the room, I broke down and cried. It was a horrible night of a lot of crying and suffering but it was only the beginning.”

*****


After I hung up with my dad today, and I remembered Dr. Shefali Tsabary’s comment about children raising their parents, I decided to Google her, hoping to come across something inspiring in relation to the conversation I had just had with my dad. I found a piece where she was talking about transforming pain into wisdom. She wrote: “We run from pain little realizing that it’s shadow will eventually run us over. We believe pain will break us down little realizing it actually breaks us open. Pain is the ultimate portal to higher consciousness.” My dad doesn’t it realize it, but today while facing the painful memories of my mom's illness, he took steps toward reaching his higher-self and I am proud to have helped raise him along the way.


~ Mid to late 70's ~
I'm posting this picture of my mom today
because I love it. It shows her in a maxi dress (her favorite)
as well as her sassy side with a "strike a pose" hand on her face.
My mom was the most confident person I knew. She truly loved herself.
She thought she was beautiful and that she had
the greatest legs in the world. Her self-esteem was pretty high
when it came to her looks but she wasn't stuck-up about it. I loved that about her.
This is how I like to remember my beloved mami.



Thursday, May 29, 2014

Difficult Journey, Beautiful Destination



In preparing for the part of my life I’m about to write about next, I’ve been reading my old journals and looking through old birthday cards from my mom. You may be shocked to learn that I have every single birthday card I have ever received in my entire life. My mom started saving them for me starting with my 1st birthday and I have continued the tradition. If you are reading this, please know that if you ever gave me a birthday card, I have it. Unless you are my former step-mom…I lost those cards…in the…ahem…trash. Anyway, not only have I been reading a lot but I’ve also been crying a lot. It’s one thing to remember things in your head. It’s another thing to read them and re-live the memories and the feelings behind the memories. I’ve been dreading writing about this time of my life because I knew it was going to be hard on me emotionally. My husband questions why I’m doing this to myself. Because I enjoy reliving painful memories? No, not particularly. So what do I get out of it? I guess I feel amazement at my resilience and my strength to move forward despite being thrown one of the most difficult curve balls a child can face. (And I do believe that a 16-year-old is still a child.) I read a quote today by James Van Praagh that inspired me to sit down and start writing despite my dread. It said “Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations.” It reminded me of something I wrote last September for myself. I wrote “Although the journey has not been easy, I am grateful for every step it took to get here.” So instead of looking back with only sadness, I need to look back with gratitude as well and think of my presently beautiful life.


Courtesy of James Van Praagh
While I was growing up, we made five trips to Buenos Aires, Argentina to visit family. I immediately fell in love with everything about Buenos Aires. I loved the cobblestone roads, the old architecture, the “weird” cars like Fiats, Renaults, and Citroens, the shops, the restaurants, the food…the divine, delicious, decadent food. I fell in love with the lifestyle, the people, the humor, the fast-talking accent. I loved using public transportation to get around – subways, trains, buses, taxis…we used them all. Buenos Aires was like nothing I had ever experienced yet it felt like home to me from the very first time I visited at the age of eight. My parents used to say that I was the most Argentinean of their three children even though I was the only one who had not been born there. I was deeply proud (still am) to be Argentinean.

Whenever my parents would announce that we were going on vacation to Argentina, it was like they were telling me I had won the lottery. I was always so happy and excited – especially to see my family – my aunts, uncles, cousins, and second-cousins. It’s funny, even though I hardly knew those relatives, I felt very close to all of them. I loved them just from hearing about them so much from my parents. It made me feel like I knew them. It also helped that they treated me with love from the very first day they met me. They embraced and accepted me into the family like they had known me all my life. 

March 1986 - My 16th and final
birthday with my mom
June 15, 1986 - My mom's 61st Birthday and just
nine days before our trip.
She was a huge Laker's fan hence the cake.
I didn't notice it then but I see now how very ill she looked
For some reason, we went three years without visiting Argentina, from 1983 to 1986. (Hmm…now that I said that, maybe it was because of my mom’s health?) So when my parents informed me in May 1986 that we would be spending our summer vacation there, I was beyond elated. I had grand plans for myself too. I wrote in my journal that I was going to get myself three boyfriends while I was there. Funny thing is that I had never had even one boyfriend yet and…oh ya, I wasn’t allowed to date. So, I have no idea what made me think that I would be able to score three boyfriends in one vacation. The good news was that our vacations weren’t just a week long, so maybe I did have a chance for at least one boyfriend. You see, whenever we went to Argentina we stayed for a minimum of a month, but usually two or even three months. This trip was scheduled to be a little over two months. We were flying out on June 24 and returning on August 31. YIPEE!

It never occurred to me that we could be going to Argentina for any other reason than to visit family like we had always done. So when I found myself sitting in doctor’s offices during our first or second week there I was surprised and being a typical, self-involved 16-year-old, I was annoyed too. I had places to go and people to see and boys to meet. I did not have any desire to sit for hours on end in old, run-down, ugly, doctor’s offices in the boonies, far from where my aunt lived (and where we used to stay). But my mom was sick and we were making trips to various specialists. I didn’t know it at the time, but the purpose of this trip was actually not for pleasure. It was to see if doctors in Argentina could “fix” my mom; maybe someone there knew some way of curing her that the doctors here had not. That was what my dad told me years later. 

July 1986 - Buenos Aires at my Aunt's house

As I’ve mentioned before, I never knew what was wrong with my mom other than her platelets and white blood cell counts being abnormal, her legs swelling, and her history of hemorrhaging and then requiring blood transfusions. I was never given a talk about my mom’s condition. Honestly, I don’t think my mom knew her own condition. I remember just a month before our trip; something happened that caused me to become extremely upset. It was completely unrelated to my mom. I was sitting at our kitchen table, crying profusely; unable to communicate to my mom the reason I was so upset. My mom got very worried and scared seeing me so distraught and her very first comment was “What’s wrong??? Am I dying?! What do you know?!” I became irritated that she assumed it was about her although I laughed with her about it later. So that is what makes me think that she wasn’t aware of the details of her own condition.

Blood screening in the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s was not what it is now. During one of my mom’s various blood transfusions, she contracted the hepatitis C virus which turned into chronic hepatitis C which can lead to Cirrhosis or Liver Cancer. My mom had Cirrhosis, a diagnosis I didn’t learn until after she died.

While writing this, I decided to do a little research online as I am completely uneducated on this subject. Here is what I learned:

  • Effective blood screening for hepatitis C virus (HCV) did not become available until 1992.
  • The name hepatitis C didn’t even exist at the time my mom had it. It was called Non-A Non-B (NANB) hepatitis. “It is now believed that approximately 90-95% of cases previously classified as NANB hepatitis were actually hepatitis C.” (news.medical.net) It wasn’t until 1987 (a year after my mom died) that the CDC discovered the hepatitis C virus.
  • The Veteran’s Affairs government site says “Disease course is slow, with the majority of patients showing few signs or symptoms during the first 20 years of infection.”
  • Per the CDC site “Chronic hepatitis C is a serious disease than can result in long-term health problems, or even death.” And this…”the majority were likely infected during the 1970s and 1980s when rates were highest.”
  • There wasn’t any type of treatment available at the time of my mom’s illness. From what I read, the first treatment approved by the FDA for hepatitis C didn’t happen until 1991.  The first real breakthrough in treatment though wasn’t until 1998.

It makes sense to me why my dad decided to take my mom to see doctors in another country. It was a last desperate measure to maybe find some answers for my mom’s heath. I don’t remember (and don’t have written record in my journals) how many doctor visits we made during our trip but I know it was many.

On August 19, after being in Argentina for nine weeks and just 12 days before our scheduled departure date, my dad informed me that we were extending our trip for one or two more weeks. I don’t think he gave me a reason and honestly, I probably didn't ask. I was just excited to have more time in Buenos Aires with my new boyfriend. Yes, you heard me. I actually did find a boyfriend during that trip. (I will call him Robbie.)

As strict as my mom was in California, she was the opposite in Buenos Aires. I think one of the many reasons I loved going to Argentina was because my mom treated me differently there. She gave me liberties I didn’t have here. Back home, she didn’t even let me go alone with friends to the mall. In Argentina, when I was 12, I was allowed to walk 10 blocks to a neighborhood “athletic club” with my cousins who were my age and younger. When I was 13, I got to spend an afternoon of shopping with my parent’s friends’ daughter who was only five or six years older than me. I also went to the movies alone with that friend. When I was 16, I got to spend an entire day as a visitor at another friend’s school. That same friend had a big Quinceñera and I was at her party until 4:30AM without my parents. It’s no wonder I loved Argentina so much. So, when my aunt’s neighbor, Robbie, asked me out, my mom and dad said yes. And I wasn’t even all that surprised. Because in Argentina, my mom let me have a different kind of life.

Just five days after Robbie asked me out, he asked me to be his girlfriend and I accepted with my mom and dad’s blessing. Part of me has always wondered if my mom agreed to all of this because maybe she knew she was dying. I have often thought that it was her final gift to me and maybe to herself too. She got to witness her little girl’s first boyfriend and how extremely happy that made me. She was letting me do some growing up; a wish I knew she had said many times over that she hoped to live to see. Maybe she also sensed how much more growing up I was going to have to do so suddenly, so soon.

This post has definitely not been easy to write. I’ve had tears in my eyes and a knot in my throat for most of the time writing it. I’ve had to take breaks, get up, walk away, and come back to it over the course of two days. I keep thinking “Crap. If I’m this emotional for just these parts of the story, what am I going to be like when I actually have to write about her last hospital stay, the ICU, her coma, the day she died, her funeral, and the aftermath. Do I really truly want to continue with this story? What am I gaining by doing this? It all seems so frivolous.” I talked to Maggie (my BFF) about it. She told me she was proud of the work I’m doing. She knows it’s hard. She said that after reading my last post (about her) I inspired her to write a letter to her daughter in her journal. And then she said something I hadn’t thought of…that I am helping every person who reads my blog. Wow. That hadn’t occurred to me. She then told me that I’m the bravest person she knows. (I could cry right now just writing everything she said.) So, I will continue on with my story because I have courage and I know that ”although the journey has not been easy, I am grateful for every step it took to get here.” And 'here' happens to be a beautiful destination.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Coincidence? I Think Not.



I admit it. I play Candy Crush. I started playing about a year ago and I became instantly hooked. My addiction ran a good six months until I got to cursed Level 147. I played for two months straight every single day trying to pass it to no avail. I finally gave up for a while, refusing to dole out any cash to buy a “life” or a “booster” or whatever trickery they use to get your money. After a three month hiatus, I returned for one more try and after another four or five weeks, I finally passed that nightmare of a level and now continue to play off and on during the week, late at night, after everyone is asleep and when I don’t feel like watching TV or reading. On Friday, I found myself stuck once again on a level for longer than I cared to be. I am not ashamed to say that I have resorted to Googling “Candy Crush Level ### Tips” on a few occasions. So, that’s what I did once again. This time for Level 158.


I clicked on the third or fourth site down on the list of results. I found myself reading a blog post and not really “How To” instructions for my game. In the second paragraph the author compared Level 158 (a level based on luck) to infertility treatments. That’s when she really grabbed my attention. It was so unexpected to see the word infertility when all I was doing was looking for tips on crushing candy. I ended up forgetting all about Candy Crush and feverishly reading through this woman’s blog. I am embarrassed to say that I have never been a regular blog reader or blog follower. I’m completely new to this blog thing. The only time I’ve read blogs has been when I’ve stumbled upon them – like this one – or when my friends have posted links to theirs on Facebook. Otherwise, I’m kind of a Blog Virgin. One of my dear high school friends (who has a blog) had recommended that I network with other bloggers if I want to increase my readership. I haven’t done squat in that area since she gave me the advice - not for a lack of desire, but mostly because I don’t even know where to start. “Hi blogger, I’m Jackie. Would you like to network with me?” 


But here was this blogger who had a section called "The Blogroll". Whether this is a common thing or not, I have no idea, but to me (the Blog Virgin), it was a new concept. She had a catalog of links to blogs upon blogs upon blogs for any and every imaginable topic related to Adoption, Infertility, and Pregnancy Loss. All of my specialties in one place! I couldn’t believe the coincidence of finding this blog while looking up Candy Crush Level 158 AND learning about this Blogroll concept. All purely by accident! Anyway, her instructions were that if you want to be added to her Blogroll, just email her and she will do it. WHAAAAT??? That easy? Really? OK! But then the shame gremlins (as my idol Brene Brown calls them) started yapping in my head the next morning. “You can’t email her. What have you written about any of those topics? Nothing! All you’ve written about are your lame-ass childhood stories and your mom. You don’t belong on that list of blogs. Besides, you’re not even a real blogger. Shit, you don’t even have a custom blog. You just used a free template on Blogger. You’re not good enough for that list.” I know the shame gremlins aren’t right, but they sure are loud with their opinions and I kind of think they have a strong case. (For the record…I do not have schizophrenia and do not hear actual voices in my head.)


And now back to our regular scheduled programming…


Freshman year of High School was pretty uneventful. I spent the first half of my Freshman year thinking that I would try to transfer to Mater Dei for my Sophomore year. But as the school year progressed, I became attached to my new group of friends and by the end of the year I had lost my desire to go to Mater Dei. I really loved Connelly, my new friends, and the overall culture of the school. Best of all, I had not brought over with me any kind of reputation. It had been a nice, clean, smooth new beginning with classmates who could draw their own conclusions about me without knowing my Holly Hobbie-Motorhome-Accordion past. My mom still managed to embarrass me but it was on a much smaller scale. The worst I remember is her waiting for me, parked in the front of the school with her Latin music blaring for everyone to hear (or dance to if they wanted). In comparison to the embarrassment I had endured previously, this was peanuts.


I was also still dealing with a not-so-well mother. She hadn’t been in the hospital anymore (not that I can remember), but we were constantly going to the doctor to have her white blood cells and platelets checked. That’s all I knew at the time and the only reason I knew was because I remember hearing those words a lot. The other thing I knew was that my mom’s legs started swelling a lot. Sometimes it was so bad that she needed help walking. At my Quinceñera during Freshman year, I remember her being upset that her legs were so swollen that she needed help walking into the church for my dedication mass. I don’t really remember asking questions about her health. Now I wonder though if I just didn’t want to know. Would my parents have told me? Probably not.

1985 - My Quinceñera- My mom's swollen legs

In the meantime, I had become a “rebellious” teenager. I begged to date. I begged to wear more make-up than just pale pink lipstick and blush. I begged to go to the mall alone with friends. I begged to go to school dances. But I was rejected on every request. In my book, I had the world’s strictest, meanest mother EVER. It was not an easy time between us. We fought a lot. We didn’t see eye-to-eye on anything. There was a lot of screaming and yelling on her part and a lot of screaming and crying on mine. Some arguments were pretty ugly and mean on both our parts. Mother’s Day 1985 was a terrible day. I don’t remember what transpired between us, but I can recall her crying in the car and saying that she couldn’t believe what I had said to her on Mother’s Day of all days and that I was a terrible daughter for doing such a thing. I remember I felt awful and cried and apologized up the wazoo but as was typical of her, it took a huge dog and pony show and a whole lot of tap dancing to get her to forgive me.


*****


During the first couple of weeks of Sophomore year, I met a new classmate in my PE class. She was new to our school and seemed very sweet. I was and still am the type of person that tries to make others feel welcome. (I am certain it has to do with my outcast experiences in elementary and middle school.) Anyway, this new girl and I hit it off immediately. Maggie (not her real name) and I felt like we knew each other from somewhere. We said we looked familiar to one another. We tried to figure out how we might know one another. She told me she was from Uruguay (which is Argentina’s neighbor and the country with the most similar culture to ours). We were sure that it was very possible that our parents had mutual friends and maybe we had been together at a party or gathering. By the end of class that day, we exchanged phone numbers and agreed to ask our parents if it was possible we knew each other.


As soon as I got in the car after school, I told my mom about my new friend. I told her that I had met a girl from Uruguay whose parents were both doctors. Immediately, my mom asked “Are you talking about Maggie?” I was shocked that my mom knew her name! “Yes! How do you know?” My mom said “It’s Maggie!” I didn’t know what she was referring to. She reminded me “Remember Maggie? Your best friend from Preschool!” OH MY GOD! I was SO HAPPY! My best friend was back! It was such an amazing discovery. As soon as I got home, I ran to call Maggie and when she answered the phone we both screamed. She had obviously found out from her mom who I was as well. Knowing us, we probably both cried tears of joy too.


The next day, I brought pictures of Maggie and me at my 5th birthday party to show our friends at school. We told everyone and anyone who would listen that we had been best friends in Preschool. We were both so proud and excited about finding one another and reuniting after 10 years. We became instant best friends again and spent a lot of time writing notes and letters to each other during class (all of which I still have. See one below.) As the months passed, Maggie and I grew closer and although we each had our own group of friends, we felt in our hearts that we were BFF’s. We especially commiserated over our strict, unrelenting parents. Maggie’s parents were very similar to mine in their customs and beliefs so she dealt with a lot of the same rules I had at home.
A letter from Maggie

When school resumed after Christmas Break, we found out that a classmate had lost her father during a ski trip. I remember feeling awful for this girl who I didn’t really know. I pictured what it must feel like to have a parent die. I imagined her to be an uncontrollable wreck, a crying mess…but to my surprise, when she returned to school, she seemed ok. Hmm…I wondered how this could be. Doesn’t a 16-year-old whose father just died walk around crying 24/7? Since I wasn’t friends with her and had never even spoken to her, I didn’t mention her loss. I assume that my classmate losing her father made such a huge impact on me because I was still hearing my mom talk a lot about her fear of dying and leaving me without finishing her job of raising me. It was a fear my mom transferred to me and that I carried around subconsciously. So seeing it happen to someone my age, really hit me hard. I probably contemplated what my classmate must have felt more than the rest of the girls at school.


I’m not sure if I’ve already written it before on my blog, but I say it all the time, so get used to it…I believe that everything happens for a reason. I don’t believe there are coincidences. As I was thinking about what I wanted to write about Maggie in this post, I gave a lot of thought to the day we met. I think it’s odd that we said we looked familiar to one another because truthfully, neither of us looked anything like we did as Preschoolers. Who does? (During Sophomore year, Maggie had Sun-In in her hair and I had a Cup O’Noodles perm.) So how did we recognize each other? My answer today is that our souls recognized one another. It wasn’t our faces that looked familiar. It was our souls. We instinctively knew we belonged together. It’s also funny now, looking back, at our extreme enthusiasm at re-discovering one another. How close could we have possibly been in Preschool??? But it’s obvious there was a strong connection between us that we both felt deep within our souls. There was also a reason why Maggie was back in my life. I just didn’t know it at the time.


So this makes me think…if there are no coincidences and everything happens for a reason, then I must not ignore that blog I discovered. Maybe I really do belong on that Blogroll? Maybe I am supposed to learn something or meet someone through that blog? I didn’t expect to reunite with my BFF from Preschool during Sophomore year of High School. I also didn’t expect to find a blog networking source while Googling Candy Crush tips. I believe that neither were really accidents or coincidences. There must be a reason I came upon that blog. I just don’t know it yet. (I also have to tell those shame gremlins to F-off.)


Sophomore year (85-86) with a Cup O' Noodles Perm.
"He doesn't know it's a perm." That's for one of my HS besties