He Taught Me to Live

On January 8 and 30 years ago, I became a Mom for the first time. My angel in heaven Richie, would’ve turned 30 years old this year. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about him, miss him, or talk to him. I’ve learned a lot from his passing and about life. Even though I miss him I do feel that I’m in a good place in my life. I only have God to thank for that. You see, because even though he took his child back, he made sure I understood that Richie’s earthly life was not eternal; however, his spirit is. He made sure to send me a good child and stood by me while I raised him. And his child taught me lessons I wouldn’t have otherwise known. God never abandoned me – even when I was angry at him for taking my/his child.

Richie taught me that there’s always a reason for why things happen. “There is no such thing as a coincidence,” he would say. I don’t know where he got that from but he was always saying that.

Richie taught me that a positive outlook on life could change our lives. He was a very positive person and even in the adversity he would find something positive to cling on to.

Richie taught me to appreciate every second of the day. He didn’t like to waste time and felt that waking up at 9:00 a.m. or after was a waste of day. When he walked out of his room he was fully dressed with sneakers and all ready to embark in whatever came his way.

Richie taught me to enjoy life. I once asked him what did he want to do in life and he responded, “I want to live life to the fullest.” I raised this young man and somehow his outlook in life was more defined than mine.

Richie wasn’t concerned about money. He would say that one hundred dollars was just pocket change and always thrived to enjoy life with what little he had.

Even after his death Richie taught me that life is a gift and we shouldn’t take it for granted. We should live life to the fullest and not stress over what we can’t control. He was a special soul.

I recall the day God, through Richie, woke me up from my lala land state. It was his birthday, Tuesday, January 8, 2008 – just 1 day shy of 6 months from his death. I requested the day off from work. I was grieving heavily. I was alone that morning and was getting ready to take the prescribed Xanax and Paxil – one for depression and the other for the anxiety that the depression pill would cause. As I held them both in my hand I heard a whispering voice say, “Mom, you don’t need that.” I felt it was from Richie and responded that he was right, I didn’t need those and I dropped them in the sink as well as the contents of both bottles. I broke free from my hypnotic “didn’t give a crap for life” state and was finally able to take charge of my life.

I decided to continue journaling about my grief journey which I anticipate releasing as a book in the future. I also thought a lot about our conversations and started to see life like he did. Therefore, I try to post positive affirmations on a daily basis. I feel those affirmations come from Richie and if they make me feel good, they will most definitely make others feel good.

I’ve gotten quite far in my journey and I’m proud at how far I’ve gotten. I continue to miss him and sometimes cry and that’s okay. After all he was my firstborn son and the feeling of a broken heart will accompany me to my grave. So please don’t try to help me or any grieving mother by telling us to get over it, let them rest in peace or to move on. You’re not helping. You’re only making it worst. We write and talk about them because we don’t want them to be forgotten. I know I’ll never forget him for he lives in my heart and my mind.

Yes, this year he would’ve turned 30 and I wonder if he’d be married by now, or if he’d made me a grandma; who would he look like or what he would’ve done in life. Nonetheless we still love and miss him every day  and will never forget him.

We love you Richie. 💙


Our Trip to Venice

Our first international trip was to Venice, Italy. However, we didn’t exactly have a budget for this kind of trip. My only hope was to research and find something that would be budget friendly. Then it occurred to me, if only there was a way that I could place a trip on lay-a-way. Out of curiosity I googled, “vacations on lay-a-way.” Jackpot! There it was – a travel agency that allowed a deposit and a 10-month payment plan for the vacation of your dream. I was ecstatic! I immediately researched the agency, read the reviews and began to explore the website.  I was ready to book the trip of my life. I chose an 8-day enchanting Italy trip including Venice, Florence and Rome. So, on October 20, 2013, my husband and I embarked on our first international trip.

It was a long tedious trip which departed at 5:05 p.m. from Orlando and arrived at 11:20 a.m. in Venice, Italy. We had a layover in New York with a connecting flight to Spain and then Venice. The airline to Spain (Iberia), though decent, had the most uncomfortable seats ever. I didn’t think of choosing or upgrading so we were stuck with what was given to us. They were the last seats right before the bathrooms at the very back of the plane. There was no overhead compartment for those seats and leg room was very limited. The only thing that kept me sane throughout the trip was the Puerto Rican baseball team who were traveling to Spain. They were not disruptive at all but made us laugh so much. They walked back and forth the aisles. I don’t think they slept during the entire flight. My husband jokingly said, that they literally “walked” to Spain.

Between the layover in New York and in Spain it took us roughly 24 hours to travel from Florida to Italy. But I was so happy to have arrived at magical Venice. Yes, for me it was magical. The weather was in the mid 50’s, the sun was shining, the water shimmered, the breeze carried the scent of the ocean… indeed it was magical. I was in awe and kept whispering to myself, “this is for you my son,” whilst keeping him in my mind and heart.

We walked to the Amadeus Hotel but were not able to check in until 2:00 p.m. However, they were nice enough to keep our luggage behind the counter so we could explore around the vicinity. We stopped at Ristorante Roma on the corner of Per San Marco and Cannaregio for lunch. We had our first pizza in Italy. I would not recommend this location though. The pizza was stale and tasted like a frozen pizza, the service was bad and it was too expensive for what we received. It didn’t faze me at that moment though. I was so happy to be there and really didn’t care much about it. After lunch, we walked around a bit and snapped a few photos until we were able to check-in to our hotel.

The hotel was small and old with a charming decoration appropriate for its time period. The hallway was narrow and was decorated with beautiful art from its era. The decorations consisted of lots of reds, flowers, crown molding and chandeliers giving the sense of being in a 1960’s.  The room was quite large with two large windows. We requested a double bed but instead got two twin beds pushed together, which we didn’t even notice until we looked at the photos upon arriving home. There was also a chaise in the room. We didn’t spend much time in the room. We freshened up, placed our valuables in the safe and left to stroll around at our leisure.  At that point, we had gone over 30 hours without sleep but figured it’d be best for us to continue than take a quick nap. We needed to make sure we got accustomed to Europe’s time.

We strolled the Venetian streets and famous bridges until our welcome dinner time around 9:00 p.m. at the Sivoli Ristorante in Hotel Principe. I don’t recall what the dinner consisted of, most likely because it wasn’t much to brag about. Our welcome dinner continued until about 10:00 pm. We then made our way back to our hotel, showered and finally went to sleep in a bed!  We had never traveled so far and were not sure what jet lag was until this trip. That night I experienced chills and dizziness. I don’t know if it was jet lag related or because we slept with the windows wide open in 50-degree weather or if it was all the wine we had! All I knew was that I was extremely tired, so I took Tylenol and slept well afterwards. My husband experienced the same as well.

The next day, we were awakened by the 7:00 a.m. wake-up call. We had a good night’s rest so woke up refreshed and energized. We showered and went downstairs to the hotel’s restaurant for a well-deserved breakfast.  The hotel had a full breakfast buffet which was very good. After breakfast we were to meet with our guide, Simone, in the lobby and at 9:00 a.m. depart to our first destination.

Our first stop was the Murano Glass Factory where we attended a glass blowing demonstration. Afterwards we were invited to tour their store.  While they allowed us to snap pictures at the glass blowing process we were not allowed to snap pictures in the store. I guess I missed the part where they mentioned it because I was caught snapping pictures at their beautiful glass chandeliers. In less than a minute there were three men dressed in complete black suits surrounding me. They told me that photography was not allowed in their store. I apologized and put my camera away but that was not enough to send them away. As I walked through their store I could feel them behind me. If I turned right they were there, if I turned left, they were there. We purchased a few goodies and headed back to meet with our tour group. They watched my every move even following me back to the vaporetto. I felt like a convict and so embarrassed but didn’t allow it to ruin my vacation.

Our next stop was St. Mark’s Square where we had a guided tour of the beautiful St. Mark’s Basilica. We also visited Doge’s Palace, Porta della Carta, Rialto bridge, the Bridge of Sighs and had some leisure time to shop and explore at our whim.

For lunch, we decided to explore on our own instead of the tour guide’s recommendation.  We had lunch at Rossopomodoro Cucina e Pizzeria Napoletana. Our lunch consisted of pasta bolognesa  which was delicious. We accompanied it with red wine and finished the meal with a delicious tiramisu a la Nutella. Afterwards we had coffee at a small quaint cafe by the gran canal.

Of course, we could not leave Venice without the traditional gondola ride through Venice’s winding canals accompanied by music.  We shared a gondola with two couples that were in the same tour with us. It was the perfect ending to a beautiful trip to Venice, Italy.

To be continued. . .

I Had a Dream Last Night

I had a dream last night. The dream was with my husband and three children. In the dream my children were still young – about 9, 8, and 7 years old. They looked just as they did back then. Richie was just as curious and extrovert, my daughter and her sweet big cheeks and a tremendous appetite even though she was thin, and my youngest was his sweet and hyper self. I don’t know what the dream was really about. All I remember was that we were happy to be together and that my husband and I enjoyed watching our children run around, play and then come running to us with big hugs and kisses.

Even though I enjoyed my dream and was happy, I realized that it was just a memory, a beautiful memory that will always live with me. My heart feels partially happy but there is an inevitable, non-healing hole where sadness seeps through. The part that Richie took with him when he left this world and that I know will never seal again. Whenever I enjoy a moment of happiness, it becomes bittersweet because my thoughts always turn to, “If only Richie could enjoy this,” or “ Richie would have liked that,” and sadness takes the place of the hole. I can’t patch it up because nobody will ever be able to take his place. I know my two other kids and husband feel the same way.  We only have our memories to live by. While many say that I should think of the good times we spent with Richie, it doesn’t mean that those memories will make us happy because sadness will immediately follow.

I had a dream last night that brought me happiness but at the end of the dream it also brought me sadness. Even though it’s been 10 years I realized that it doesn’t matter how long it was.  My son will always be in my heart and I will miss him forever. Rest in peace my son. Mom loves you.

Bullying Among Adults






I often hear about children being bullied in school by their classmates and sometimes among siblings. I never heard about bullying among adults in the workplace. I once experienced a bullying situation among adults – more specifically – elders!  I did the bookkeeping for an elderly community some time ago. I’ll call the bullied elder, Jane. Jane was a volunteer at the elderly community. Jane was a sweet, compassionate lady in her 80’s, about 5’ tall, porcelain white skin, beautiful blue eyes and a smile that brightened the office every time she walked in.  Jane came in on a weekly basis to help the office manager (the bully which I’ll call OM) with her daily chores. OM was sometimes a sweet elder in her mid 80’s, but most of the time a scornful, perfectionist who was always looking at other’s flaws but never found any within herself.

One day, when I arrived OM was in the office with her abhorrent self.  I did not allow OM’s negative attitude to disturb my day.  Most of the time I brushed off her comments.  Every time a community elder approached the customer service window OM received them with a scornful face.  Most would look at me but all I could offer them was an apologetic smile.  Many had mentioned to me how rude and obnoxious OM was.  Other than let the board know, there was nothing I could really do.  OM treated the elders as if they were a plague and had no sympathy for anyone.  She seemed to intimidate them and no one dared to stand up for their rights.  I didn’t personally know the elders in the community but it did bother me to see OM’s treatment towards them.

However, none was as hurtful to me as the treatment towards sweet Jane.  Jane arrived at about 10:00 a.m. with her glowing smile and warm greeting.  I’m not quite sure what the issue was but OM apparently was waiting for Jane to arrive to discuss a recent “issue” of wrong doing by Jane.  Apparently, Jane mistakenly gave out wrong information and OM jumped at the opportunity to reprimand Jane.  Remember, Jane is a volunteer helping OM.  OM’s voice did not conceal the anger and frustration that she held inside because of Jane’s mistake.  Jane giggled a bit.  I could tell that her giggles were from nervousness.  Jane apologized and vowed to ask OM next time before offering any information.  But OM’s emphasis to make a point did not hear the apology or preferred not to accept the apology because she continued to accost Jane until no one else’s voice, other than hers, was heard.  No more than an hour after the first rant came the next one and all because Jane stapled the documents in the wrong spot.  OM was adamant that the documents be stapled on the top right side of the documents and the staple needed to be straight.  Jane stapled the documents on the left.  Frankly, I don’t know why Jane continued to volunteer her time to help OM.  I took the opportunity to talk to Jane and let her know that she didn’t have to tolerate such belligerent behavior from OM and encouraged her to speak up or just stop volunteering her time.  I mentioned to Jane that OM’s behavior, for me, is sort of an adult version of bullying.  I asked her if she wanted me to speak to OM about it.  Jane was so sweet that all she did was hug me and said she would be fine.

To make the story short, in the 2 ½ hours I spent there, OM tormented Jane 5 times for petty things.  Even though I tried not to let OM get to me I was already a bit upset at the attitude towards Jane.  Oh, don’t get me wrong, OM was as rude to me as she was with everyone else.  I just chose not to let it bother me – until that particular day.  Om’s constant badgering at us took a toll on me and I stooped to my lowest level.  She was surprised at my reaction and asked me why I was giving her an attitude.  I replied that I was giving her the same attitude that she had with everyone during that morning.  I let her know that she would benefit from some meditation and told her that there really was no reason for her to be so stressed out at work.  After all, it’s not like if it were a Fortune 500 company losing millions of dollars.  She just looked at me and did not reply.  I had not anticipated losing it but I did.  I then left the premises.

What compels an adult person to be so obnoxious?  It’s not an age thing.  I’ve had the privilege (and continue to) spend a lot of time among elders and more than 98% of them are as sweet as can be – at least with me they are.  I really wish that OM would take my advice and find a place that offers meditation so that she can find that sweet person within herself.  It’s no wonder her daughter’s live up north.  I pray OM to find peace and happiness in her life.  Lord knows she needs it.

A Full Body Massage

There I was waiting…waiting for Carlos to be ready. Carlos, a young, tall, thin, well-built, muscular Costa Rican male with dark, long, black hair pulled back, green eyes, and a skin so tanned that it shimmered like gold. He wore white sweat pants and a tank top shirt that contoured his well-built six-pack abs and muscles. And his low, strong, sexy voice just made it all too perfect.

As he approached me, I noticed his strong, big hands. His finger nails were short and well-groomed, yet very masculine. I sensed his eagerness to begin the session as he handed me a clear glass of white, sparkling wine. I, too, was eager to begin. The wine was succulent and felt cold against my lips as I sipped it little by little. But its sweet, delicate taste kept me wanting more. I loved it.

The atmosphere completed the scene. There was soft music that filled my ears, the dimness of the room glowed with the flickering of the candles, and the aroma of the scented candles filled the air. It was the perfect stress-free environment. The smooth wine was just the last touch to make me feel at ease – no worries at all.

Carlos signaled for me to lie down. I felt blissful. The fragrance from Carlos body was intoxicating, but it was a sweet intoxication. It, too, made me feel relaxed. He slowly poured the warm oil over my skin. I moaned softly as his fingers penetrated my skin. His soft, smooth, long fingers stroke my neck slowly, but intensely. He followed a circular motion throughout my shoulders and upper back. It felt so good – like a caress. Slowly, he continued to my lower back. Soft, gentle, circular strokes caressed every inch of my back and arms.

I moaned with delight as he reached my thighs and legs. I felt the warmth and scent of the lubricating oil on my skin. His circular strokes were tender – yet strong enough to feel the power of the effect. I did not want it to end. It was just perfect – so invigorating and refreshing. He continued towards my calves, ankles and feet. His fingers caressed each and every toe in just the right way. With his circular strokes he reached the heel of my feet. Oh, that felt so good. Every inch of my body tingled with his touch. I was in pure ecstasy and nearly falling asleep.

Then, all too soon, I felt it. It was feathery-like, yet strong enough, to jolt me up from my blissful state. The feeling of Carlos fingers massaging the arch of my feet as if he was tickling me. I just could not contain myself. Laughter disturbed the peacefulness and joy of my massage at the spa, and all too soon, it was over. Had I let Carlos know that my feet were very sensitive and ticklish, he would have not gone that far. Had he not touched my feet I would have enjoyed it just a little bit longer.

Hurricane Maria Reflections

I’ve done a lot of reflecting in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. I am a Puerto Rican who lived in the island until the age of 33. I love Puerto Rico, the food, the culture and the people. Even though it hurts to see the devastation that hurricane Maria left on the island, I know the flowers will bloom again, the trees will grow and the buildings and homes can be rebuilt. But, the hurt I feel the most is for the people of Puerto Rico. I am sad, angry and appalled by the actions towards humanity both, here in the U.S. and in Puerto Rico.

I am sad at the devastation the island has suffered. I’m also sad at the situation my fellow Puerto Rican’s are going through – their hunger, despair, the lack of medicine for the ill, clean water and the loss of homes for many. It hurts to see them going through such pain. It hurts to see the destruction of the streets where I once walked through and the establishments I frequented.

I am angry at the response of many who feel they have the right to comment on something they are not experiencing. I have watched videos of others criticizing and belittling the people of Puerto Rico and it is a shame. My fellow Puerto Rican’s have just gone through a horrific experience. Many lost all their belongings, including homes and autos. Most don’t even have a way to communicate with their own loved ones and remain in the dark about each other’s whereabouts. Many may be jobless as well if their employer’s businesses have succumbed to loss too.

I’m appalled at the reaction of government organizations and their slow response to the situation at hand. It’s not a matter of politics, it’s a matter of lives.  My beliefs are with humanity. I belief that in a humanitarian crisis rules and regulations should be thrown out the window. People come first.

But through it all my people’s spirits are always high. They have faith in themselves and in the higher power of God. I’ve watched video after video of people in my beautiful island lending a hand to each other, feeding each other, and sharing what little they have left. I have watched video after video of people in good spirits, playing music, playing domino’s in the middle of the street in about 2-3 feet of water, picking up trash and debris to clear pathways or just sitting around each other’s company to chat.  Their effort to make the most of it and be in good spirits even though many might be traumatized, confused and not know where to start or turn to, is inspiring and makes me proud to be a Puerto Rican.

I believe that if we’re not going through the situation ourselves, we have no right to comment. We do not know what is going on, what is being done or not done. Only those in the situation can comment about it. In my opinion, those who take the time to judge and criticize my people are just emitting a reflection of themselves. And that’s exactly what is wrong in this world. Instead of sending out love there’s a lot of hatred from everywhere and it is sad. There’s not one soul in this world that is better than the other because we are all the same if you turn us inside out. I believe in respect and love for every human being in this world and I strongly believe that every life matters. I pray that in this humanitarian crisis people will finally be awakened. Love and light to all.