All posts by debbie413

Hello and welcome to Debbie's Reflection. This blog is about my grief journey, spiritualism, healing and everyday life. I began journaling in 2007 after my 20-year-old son’s death. It was a way for me to release my emotions without being judged. My life was drastically altered after my son’s death. But in a spiritual moment, I realized that I needed to change. Then and there I knew that I had a choice, I could sulk and go down the path to depression or I could live for my son. I chose the latter. I chose to set the path to acceptance, peace, and healing. It was not easy and it doesn’t mean that I no longer cried or felt sad. That’s far from the truth. I had my sad moments and crying bouts but I did not let it define my life. I wanted to live for my son by honoring his memory by doing the things that he wanted to do but could not. As a grieving mother, I understand the feeling of hopelessness and despair and would love nothing more than to open my heart to others going through this difficult situation. I am in a good place in my grieving process right now. If I could help at least one person reach that place of acceptance, peace, and healing, then I am happy. I welcome you with open arms to read my story and how I reached the place of acceptance, peace, and healing. I jotted down all my feelings of sadness, anger, happiness, despair and all relating to my grief in a book in memory of my son. The book is titled, "Diary of a Grieving Mother's Heart" and can be found on Amazon. Thank you for visiting my blog. I hope to keep you coming back for more stories.

Always Look For The Positive in Bad Situations

My 2018 Reflection

The year 2018 is coming to an end. It is time for me to reflect on what I’ve done and accomplished. As I reflect on this year, I can either view it positively or negatively. Granted I didn’t get to travel but it was in my best interest not to.

Not A Great Beginning

You see, 2018 was a rough one for me. I began the year with two torn tendons on my left foot. Since this was an injury from 2017 which was not properly taken care of by the then podiatrist, I decided to begin the year with a second opinion. My first appointment was in early February 2018. The new podiatrist, suggested I get an MRI to compare with the one previously done by the prior podiatrist.

How It All Began

Let’s backtrack a little to understand where I’m coming from. In June 2017, I underwent a partial left knee replacement procedure. The surgery went perfectly well. I was feeling great, except for my left foot which was swollen. When I asked the surgeon about it he said that it was because of the surgery and I just needed to give it time. It made sense to me so I didn’t worry much about it. But, when my knee healed perfectly and my foot just got worst, I began to worry.

It Wasn’t Getting Better

One Sunday morning the pain was so unbearable, I had to visit the Urgent Care Clinic. At that point, I knew there was something more. The x-rays taken showed no broken bones, so the diagnosis was a sprained ankle. Beats me how I sprained my ankle when all I had been doing was resting my foot and cautiously walked with a walker and a cane. But okay, I accepted the diagnosis and began to treat it as such. However, it did not get better, it got worse.

Finally a Diagnosis

I decided to visit the same orthopedic group where I had the knee replacement surgery and have the podiatrist take a look at my foot. After more x-rays and no broken bones (of course), he ordered an MRI and gave me a steroid injection. I had the MRI done a week later and returned to the doctor’s office to discuss the results. The doctor confirmed that I had two torn tendons and placed me on a CAM boot for six weeks.

My first CAM Boot

No Hope or Relief

Once on the boot, I followed instructions to a tee. I was determined to return to my normal routine as soon as possible. So after six weeks on the boot, I was ordered eight weeks of physical therapy. The therapy was horrible and the pain excruciating. On my sixth week of physical therapy, I went for a follow-up. The doctor looked at my swollen foot and asked me, “How is it feeling?” I lifted my foot and while pointing to it replied, “As you can see it is still swollen and painful.” He got up from the chair and while walking towards the door, padded me on the shoulder and said, “Good, I’m happy with the progress. I’ll see you in three weeks.” And he left the room.

Sometimes We Need a Second Opinion

“Wait, what? Did I hear that correctly?” I thought. I was in shock so I put on my shoe and walked to the reception area to exit the premises. The receptionist asked me about the next appointment, and all I thought was, “Are you crazy? That nut didn’t even listen to what I said! Heck no!” But I only responded that I didn’t want to schedule it because I was going for a second opinion. That was the last time I visited their office. It was already December 2017 so I waited for the holidays to be over before scheduling an appointment with a different podiatrist.

Is There Any Hope For Me?

I finally visited the new podiatrist and as I stated above, before proceeding with anything, she wanted to know if the six weeks on a CAM boot and eight weeks of physical therapy improved the tendons in any way. In the meantime, I was back on a smaller CAM boot for six more weeks.

Me and my CAM Boot

The CAM Boot and I Are Becoming Close

I had the MRI done and unfortunately, the results were not good. The second MRI revealed that my foot was worse. According to the doctor, it was at a surgery stage. Tears rolled down my cheeks. I couldn’t believe all the time in a CAM boot and physical therapy was just wasted time. I asked her if there was anything else she could do, besides surgery. She said laser therapy might work but there’s no guarantee that it would. I didn’t want to go through another surgery so I opt to do the laser therapy. I was on my way to seven sessions in three weeks of laser therapy treatment. I followed all the instructions given to me by the doctor and even slept with a Night Splint on my foot. I missed many days of work or sometimes left work early whenever my foot swelled too much. I spent many days with my foot elevated high. I was becoming an expert on foot elevation. 😊

Night Splint

Worst Part of the Treatment

It was now April 2018, the laser therapy sessions were completed, however, the treatment seemed to work about 50%. There was still some inflammation and needed more time to completely heal. The doctor didn’t want to take any chances of further injury so she had a non-walking cast placed on my foot. It was very difficult for me to walk on crutches. Heck, it was difficult to do anything. My poor husband had to work around meeting my needs. I felt useless and so hopeless! After three weeks on a cast, I could no longer take it so I called the doctor and asked if we could do another round of laser therapy. If it worked about 50% of the way, maybe it’ll heal completely with another round. She agreed to remove the cast and the second round of laser therapy.

Temporary Brace

It Was Finally Looking Better

The doctor removed the cast in early May 2018. While I went through the laser therapy, I had to continue using the CAM boot. So here I was with the boot again for the next three weeks. It was beginning to grow on me. 😊 Frankly, I preferred the boot to the cast. After seven more rounds of laser therapy, it was finally over. The sonogram revealed there was just a little bit of inflammation. Leaning on the cautious side, the doctor ordered a pair of custom-made orthotics and custom-made brace. Meanwhile, I continued on a temporary brace until the custom-made brace and orthotics arrived.

Final Stages

It was now mid -June 2018 when the orthotics and brace arrived. I was to wear the brace for eight weeks before using the orthotics. I then graduated to alternating between orthotics one day and brace the next day for six weeks. Little by little, it began to heal. I am now using orthotics alone. In the event that I’d be walking on uneven terrain or for extensive periods of time, I need to wear the brace.

My 2018 Shoe Collection consisted of a tall heavy black CAM boot, a short light CAM boot, a temporary brace, a Night Splint, a custom-made brace, and custom-made orthotics. Hey, don’t criticize. I don’t know if I needed all this but the doctor needed to make money somehow since I opted for no surgery 🙂

I Am Healed!

Yes, I endured a lot of pain and difficult moments but I won’t say it was a bad year. Amidst all the pain and difficulties, I was able to do a few things I had been wanting to do for a very long time. I enjoy writing and had been putting together my diary notes from my journey through grief which I wanted to convert into a book. I also thought about starting a travel blog. But my busy schedule would not allow me the time to write. This was the opportunity I was looking for. I was finally able to complete and self-publish my book, Diary of a Grieving Mother’s Heart, and began my blog, Traveler Wows, which launched in March 2018, and travel agency, Traveler WOWs Agency! I also continued writing for this blog. Come to think about it, I did do a lot!

A Blessing in Disguise

So, I didn’t get to do fun things. Most of my year was spent sitting down with an elevated foot. But I’m not complaining, I am healthy, alive and happy. I didn’t get to travel and you see why it was in my best interest not to. But, I traveled within my imagination when I wrote about all the wonderful places and experiences I had through my previous trips. Therefore, I’ll say that 2018 was a great year for me and that 2019 will be even better and will allow me to travel again. My advice to you is to always look for the positive in bad situations. Sometimes it’s a blessing in disguise.

I wish you many blessing and hope you have a Happy New Year. May all your dreams come true in 2019!


Diary of a Grieving Mother’s Heart

Diary Of A Grieving Mother’s Heart is a compilation of my grieving journals, rants, sadness, and joy. I’ve been through many different scenarios – both good and bad – which have helped me reach the place of peace that I now have. I invite you to explore my journey and I pray that, as it helped me, it will help you. You can find it on Amazon in paperback and in Kindle version too.

The End of aN ACTIVE Society To A Technological One


Those Days are Long Gone

Times have changed a lot. I live in the suburbs in Florida. It’s a nice neighborhood where my own children grew up in the late ’90s and early 2000s. Back then, children played basketball outside, rode bikes, roller skated, and spent time with other neighborhood children. We are living the end of an active society to a technological one.

Where Are the Children?

Today is Christmas Day and as we walked out to visit my mother, we realized there was not one child playing outside – no roller skates, no bicycles, and no basketball hoops. Why aren’t there any children outside playing with their new toys? It’s not cold outside, nor hot. The weather is perfect at 73 degrees (22.77 Celsius), therefore, the weather is not to blame. So, where are they?

The Technological Trend is Here

I have a hunch am sure the children are home playing with their new gadgets. Yes, their new smartphones, tablets, laptops, desktop computers, and video games; which they received as gifts for Christmas. They are busy with their little fingers on the keyboards or joysticks of these expensive gifts which do not benefit anyone’s intellect. Technology, which seemed as if it were here to enrich our lives has actually crippled us.

Smartphones vs Dumb Brains

Technology has taken over our entire lives. We depend so much on all these gadgets that we have forgotten what it is to socialize and enjoy life and nature. Take for example last nights, Christmas Eve, party. The teenagers and some adults were glued to their smartphones as if their lives depended on it. Smartphones everywhere, which to me, do not make us any smarter, but dumber and lazier. Dumber because we no longer need to memorize phone numbers or correctly spell words; speed dial and spell check will take care of that. Lazier because we don’t need to walk, run, or do any physical movement – other than to twiddle our fingers – to use our gadgets.

Where Will We End Up?

So, what’s there for us and our children next? Will it ever get to the point where we yearn for the good old times of socializing and enjoying the outdoors? I guess not, especially for those who grew up in the technological era and experienced nothing on socializing and playing outdoors. Where will this technological trend take us to? We will never know. Yup, times certainly have changed.


{Debbie’s Reflection is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.}


Diary of A Grieving Mother’s Heart

Diary Of A Grieving Mother’s Heart is a compilation of my grieving journals, rants, sadness, and joy. I’ve been through many different scenarios – both good and bad – which have helped me reach the place of peace that I now am at. I invite you to explore my journey and I pray that, as it helped me, it will help you. Diary Of A Grieving Mother’s Heart is available on Amazon, paperback and in Kindle version.

I Shall Wait

Photography by Gratisography

Desperately Waiting

This wait causes desperation. It seems like as soon as you’re told you need to wait, the minutes go slower and time sits at a standstill. My mind begins to play unpleasant scenarios of what could be. Unfortunately, none of the scenarios are good. My sleeping patterns are altered and I began having nightmares of the unpleasant scenarios.

The next Day

The next day rolls in and what was supposed to be an 8-hour sleep seemed like an entire 24-hour day. With a new day rolling in and slowly creeping by it feels like it was a 48-hour day instead of 24. When will this day end?  It drags by so slowly. My anxious mind is reeling with all those unpleasant scenarios. I am sleep deprived, I feel unsettled, afraid, and nervous.

Photo by Raw Pixel

This too Shall Pass

Waiting brings out all my insecurities, fears, and negative thoughts. What if it’s bad? Why can’t I shift my thinking to a more positive note? It’s traumatizing and brings back unwanted memories. It makes it difficult to breathe. I can’t focus, I can’t think. I want to know now! What can I do to calm this anxious and desperate feeling of the wait? I’ll get through this. This too shall pass. Hopefully, it’ll pass soon enough. Just one more day. Let me get through just one more day before I know and the wait will end.


Diary of a Grieving Mother’s Heart

Diary Of A Grieving Mother’s Heart is a compilation of my grieving journals, rants, sadness, and joy. I’ve been through many different scenarios – both good and bad – which have helped me reach the place of peace that I now have. I invite you to explore my journey and I pray that, as it helped me, it will help you. You can find it on Amazon in paperback and in Kindle version too.

Does a Mother Ever Stop Worrying About Her Children?

“A mother is always a mother.  She never stops worrying about her children, even when they are all grown up and have children of their own.” ~ The author had to be a mother

Worrying Senseless

I don’t know what kind of mother I am. All I know is that my children are my world. If my children are sad, I’m sad. When they are happy, I’m happy. If they are ill, I hurt. I worry if they get sick, I worry if I don’t hear from them for more than two days. Whatever it may be, they and their feelings are a part of me. It’s not that I want it to be that way. It just is. Maybe it’s because I have experienced the loss of my son. I don’t know, or maybe it’s just part of nature. Even though, I do know a few parents who could care less. But not me. I want them to be happy, safe and well always and I’m sure I’m not the only one.

Are All Moms Overprotective?

As a grieving Mom, I do have emotions that seem a little over the top – a bit overprotective probably – even though my children are adults. But, when you’ve experienced the loss of one of your children, it seems that anything related to your surviving children will trigger the “worry” button. Not that I’m a worrier. I believe that when you have a problem if you can’t fix it, don’t worry about it. But, when it comes to my children, it’s different. And that’s okay. Even though they might say, “Mom you worry too much,” they’ll understand once they become parents.

A Wise Woman Once Told Me…

I’ll never forget something my mother-in-law once told me when I was pregnant with my first child. She said, “Once you have a child, you will never sleep an entire night in peace again.” At that time, I didn’t understand what she meant. “What are you talking about?” I thought. “I sleep so well that I could sleep through a thunderstorm.” Well, that was many years ago before I ever became a Mom. She was right. I don’t regret, not for a minute, the sleepless nights I had because the most wonderful thing that happened to me in this life was becoming a Mom and I’m thankful for that.

What Kind of Mother Am I?

So, I still don’t know what kind of Mom I was or am, but I do know that my children are my world and I wouldn’t trade those moments – worries and all – for anything in this world. 

What kind of mother are you?


Diary Of A Grieving Mother’s Heart is a compilation of my grieving journals, rants, sadness, and joy. I’ve been through many different scenarios – both good and bad – which have helped me reach the place of peace that I now have. I invite you to explore my journey and I pray that, as it helped me, it will help you. You can find it on Amazon in paperback and in Kindle version too.

Diary of a Grieving Mother’s Heart

Getting Into the Christmas Spirit After the Loss of a Loved One

It is nice to see all the beautiful holiday decorations and how people are so jolly during the Christmas season. I try to do my best to hide my grieving emotions and to convince myself that someday, eventually, those emotions won’t come around. But, while speaking to a Mother, which I’ll call Emma, who lost her daughter in a car accident more than 20 years ago, I realized that is not the case.

Emma came into my office and commented on the photos and quotes on the frame with the clothesline I made. I told her that I try to do as much as I could in memory of my son. Including the Christmas tree which we put up every year as a gift to him.

I explained that we decorate Richie’s tree with 3×3 picture frames which hold photos of Richie throughout his life. I was able to place some of the photos inside clear glass ornaments too. And, every year when I travel abroad, I bring an ornament for Richie’s tree. 

She gasped in surprise and told me, “How did you do that?” “How were you able to get past that you had lost a son and put up a tree?” “It’s been more than 20 years for me and I haven’t been able to get back into the Christmas Spirit!” “I haven’t decorated or put up a trip since then!”

At this point, I was a bit taken aback and told her it was our way of giving Richie a Christmas gift from us – my children, husband and myself. But, I do understand where she’s coming from. Especially since her daughter, along with Emma’s father, died during the Christmas season. I don’t blame her. I  can honestly say that I am at a good place in my grieving process. And, I wish I could help others who grieve find that place of peace that I’ve been able to find. It wasn’t easy but I managed to get there and my sincere wish is that other grieving parents reach that place.

To all those who are grieving the loss of a loved one, many blessings to you and may you find that peace in your grieving process. Merry Christmas to all.

The true spirit of Christmas is love…

Diary Of A Grieving Mother’s Heart is a compilation of my grieving journals, rants, sadness, and joy. I’ve been through many different scenarios – both good and bad – which have helped me reach the place of peace that I now have. I invite you to explore my journey and I pray that, as it helped me, it will help you. You can find it on Amazon in paperback and in Kindle version too.

Diary of a Grieving Mother’s Heart

A Christmas Miracle Right Before My Eyes

A Christmas Miracle

The holidays are fast approaching and for those of us who grieve the loss of a loved one it stirs up emotions. It’s been my case for the past few days. On a particular day last year, God performed one of His miracles, a Christmas miracle, which I want to share with you.

What Is An Angel Tree?

I work part-time at a church. The church is one of the sponsors for the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree Program. One of the church volunteers was looping a string on the Angel Tree tags to hang them on the tree. Curiosity got to me, so I asked what she was doing. She explained the program and how it works. Each tag has a child’s name with information such as age, favorite color, their needs with sizes and their Christmas gifts wish. The tags hang on the Church Christmas tree in the narthex for members and friends to select, purchase the gifts, and return the gifts to the Angel Tree. 

A Great Cause to Participate In

I returned to my office and called my husband where we talked about the Angel Tree Program and what a great way to help less fortunate children. We both agreed it was a great cause and decided to participate.  After that call, I thought about my angel in heaven. He is always on my mind but with the holidays approaching, it seems to be more. God knows how much I miss him and so I thought, “I can’t get my angel Richie a gift, but I can get a gift for a young child and make their Christmas a happy one.”

My Angel Tree Tag Is My Angel

I returned to the reception area and asked the volunteer, “When can I grab my Angel Tree tag?” and there it was. Just as the volunteer fumbled her fingers through the tags searching for a little girl, my eyes caught sight of the one on the top pile. The tag read “Ricardo. Not Richard or Ricky, but “Ricardo.” It was staring right at my face, I just stared at it in shock. The volunteer was oblivious of what was happening. She said, “Well I found a little girl’s tag if you want it.” I responded, “You know what, I’m going to take this one right here.” Look at the name, it says Ricardo. My son’s name was Ricardo” and I proceeded to explain to her what had just happened.

It Was God’s Gift to Me

She smiled at me and said, that’s God’s way of letting you know your son is always with you and that you can indeed get a gift for Ricardo. Tears were already filling my eyes. I felt that God was listening to me and letting me know that Richie is always with me. God always has my back. Thank you, Lord, for such a beautiful message.

Diary Of A Grieving Mother’s Heart is a compilation of my grieving journals, rants, sadness, and joy. I’ve been through many different scenarios – both good and bad – which have helped me reach the place of peace that I now have. I invite you to explore my journey and I pray that, as it helped me, it will help you. You can find it on Amazon in paperback and in Kindle version too.

He Was God’s Child and I Was Chosen as His Mom

I Found the Book

While clearing out some clutter in our home office I came across a book called, Food for the Soul – A “Best of Bereavement poetry collection.” I opened it to the page that affected me the most and began to read. The one that answered my questions and made me realize that I was very much-loved especially through my grieving. So I decided to share my story with you.

The book came in the mail during the first few weeks after my son’s death. It had no sender name or information. At that moment, I was grieving heavily and was upset that God had taken my child from me. I questioned God why did He take my child? What had I done wrong? My tears were tears of desperation. These tears came from within my heart and soul. The cry that was heard from afar as the pain tore through my entire body. I needed that cry, I needed to let it out. It was within that time frame when I received this book.

Personalized Memoroal Jewelry

I opened the book wherever – not at the beginning. It happened to be page 44 where there’s a poem by Edgar Guest called,  To All Parents. As I read, I felt the hand of God touch my soul and I understood many things. Even though I was still grieving I was able to understand many things in my life and my anger diminished. The more I reflected on the poem and compared it to my life, the more the anger diminished. My selfish attitude began to transform into one of gratitude. Yes, it is hard to understand how could I feel gratitude after my son’s death. Maybe, after you read the poem, you too will understand.

To All Parents by Edgar Guest

I’ll lend you for a little time a child of mine, He said.
For you to love the while he lives and mourn when he is dead.

It may be six or seven years, or twenty-two or three,
But will you, till I call him back, take care of him for Me?

He’ll bring his charms to gladden you and should his stay be brief,
You’ll have his lovely memories as solace to your grief.

I cannot promise he will stay since all from earth return,
but there are lessons taught down there I want this child to learn.

I’ve looked the wide world over in my search for teachers true,
And from the throngs that crowd life’s lanes, I have selected you.

Now will you give him all your love nor think the labor vain,
Nor hate Me when I come to call to take him back again?

I fancied that I heard them say, Dear Lord, Thy will be done.
For all the joy Thy child shall bring, the risk of grief we’ll run.

We’ll shelter him with tenderness, we’ll love him while we may.
And for the happiness we’ve known forever grateful stay.

But should the angels call for him much sooner than we’d planned,
We’ll brave the bitter grief that comes and try to understand.


Diary of a Grieving Mother’s Heart
by Debbie Centeno

The death of my son was the worst thing to happen to me. For the six months that followed, I felt numb, depressed and lonely. I didn’t want to continue living. Even though I had my daughter and younger son, it did not make me feel any better. I did not know what to do to make them feel better. How could I continue on without him? What would I do to become whole again? I had two choices. I could either succumb to depression or live for him. I decided to live for him. I decided that I wanted to do what he could not and so my journey began. I learned a lot from my son through the memories of our conversations. Even in death, he was teaching me what I did not know. I learned to live from my son. And, with this journey also began the spiritual connection between my son and me.

Soul-Searching For The Meaning of Life

“The wise use of intelligence requires more than academic intelligence; we need soul-searching and deep reflection to live a more balanced and meaningful life.” ~  Dr. Paul TP Wong

Life, what is it? Besides breathing and living, what is it? Why are we here? What are we here for? All these questions popped into my mind just a few years ago when life began to change for us.

As a child, it never occurred to me to think about life. I’m sure, like many other children, I was anxious to grow up and be an adult never thinking about the responsibilities that come with it. Then, it happened. I became an adult with everything else that follows – love, children, college, work… is that it? Is that all life is about?

When I reached the “adult” age I didn’t have any of the above questions. I guess I was too busy being a wife, mother, and employee which left me drained enough to keep me from wondering what life is. Then everything changed. From running around every day dropping off children at school, work, pick up children, doctor’s appointments, children’s extra-curricular activities, church, homework, etc; to only go to work. Well, there’s still doctor’s appointments, church, and work but it’s not that running around as before like a headless chicken.  

So now what? Now that I have the time to sit and think about life I began to question it. With the questions arose curiosity. What is there beyond these oceans? What kind of life do other people around the world live? I only knew what I had seen on TV, read in a book or learned in school. All of a sudden I felt like if I were in the Jim Carey movie called The Truman Show. I always thought that I lived in the best place in the world and never doubted it. But, what makes us think such a thing? It was time for me to explore what life is all about so I began soul-searching.

Prayer and meditation were the basis for my soul-searching. I have always believed in God and in prayer. I prayed every day and still do. But, after I began meditating did I realize that, while I prayed every day, I really never sat down to listen to God. So when I meditated I began to silence my thoughts and only listen. That is when I finally awakened. I loved the comforting peaceful silence that goes along with the meditation which has opened up a whole new outlook on life and answered some of my questions.

I began by doing things I had not done before – nothing illegal or bad. I wanted to explore the world, go beyond the ocean walls. I wanted to learn about other countries, their people, culture, and traditions. I wanted to meet new people and connect with like-minded people. I realized that life is not only about living to work. But only if we stop overworking ourselves, complaining, fighting or worrying and think about life will we awaken enough to see all the beauty this world has to offer and we’re missing. There is so much to do in life, so much to see and discover and so little time.

So, if you’ve reached the stage in life where you’ve slowed down, take some time, not only to pray but to meditate and listen to God speak. You will realize that you were not put on this earth only to work, but to discover the beauty of Life.

How Many of You Dream While Taking a Nap and What Does It Mean?

It is not uncommon for me to take a nap when I’m home. It’s a boost of energy for me. Today was no exception. I was off from work and working on my blog when I felt sleepy so I laid down for my nap and fell into a deep sleep. I don’t ever recall dreaming when taking naps but today, I had a dream. The dream was nice but at the same time disturbing. I wasn’t planning on sharing it but since it hasn’t left my mind, I figured I’d share it. Maybe putting it out there will eliminate it from my mind. I don’t know much about dream interpretation but here it goes.

In this dream, I came across various family members and friends which I have not seen in a very long time. The first one was a friend I had more than 30 years ago. Debra was a special friend. We spent a lot of time together, went on day trips, parties and she would sometimes stay overnight at my house. The last time I saw Debbie was between 1990 and 1991. She was the same Debbie I last saw, with her beautiful huge smile, so sweet and impeccable manners. We hugged and talked for a little bit but I don’t recall what we talked about and then we parted ways.

Then I came across a cousin, well my mother’s cousin actually. Lydia was a loud woman but so nice. Her outgoing personality was still prevalent in the dream. She received me with a huge hug and kiss. We talked for a little then we parted ways. Again, I don’t recall what the conversation was about.

After Lydia, I came across my uncle Alex. Tío Tinito, as we lovingly called him, looked just the same as the last time I saw him. Young, healthy and handsome. He received me with open arms and greeted me with a hug. We chatted for a bit, said our goodbyes and went our separate ways.

Then my grandfather appeared. I did not recognize him at first since the last time I saw him I was very young – probably a teen but I’m not sure. He did look the same as what I remember. He approached me, gave me a hug and told me he was my grandfather. I do recall responding that I knew who he was. The conversation was short, but just like the above, I don’t know what it was about and he was gone.

The last person to approach me was the wife of my cousin, Ivette. She looked glorious – just her crazy loud self that we all loved. She came over to me hugged me with a loud “PRIMA” escaping her mouth. We talked for a bit and then she was on her way.

So, remember when I mentioned above that this dream was nice but disturbing at the same time? Well, it was nice seeing all these people again and having spent time with them. The disturbing part is that they are all dead. I’m not afraid of the dead, but dreaming with people that have moved on from this life, well, it’s not exactly fun. I don’t know how to interpret dreams, so if anyone of you knows, can you give me an insight into what this means? Or is it insignificant? I’m not worried but I am curious so your feedback is greatly appreciated.

 

We Exhumed and Cremated Our Son’s Body

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Photo property of Angie Radillo

At work, I had a conversation with a coworker. It was an uncommon topic, maybe morbid to some. We talked about death. I told him how I never thought about what I’d do if any of my children died. Would I cremate or bury my child? Of course, it’s not something we, as parents, talk about or even think about! We believe, or should I say, expect that our children outlive us. That’s not the way it is and there are so many decisions that we are not ready for if we outlive our children. My coworker had a different experience when his dad died. He had the opportunity to sit with his father beforehand and write what arrangements his dad preferred. When the time came they were able to grieve and not dwell on the arrangements.

When my son died, we didn’t know what to do or where to go. Granted we were in a state of shock but had it not been for my boss at that time, who happened to be a pastor, we were clueless. From what funeral home to have the wake, to the casket type, color, memorial cards, clothes for the deceased, etc. there were so many questions that we were not ready for. After looking at what was available we made our choices. Frankly, I just agreed at whatever. I was too consumed with grief to focus on those things. I think my husband made most of the choices and I just went along with it.

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After the burial, I felt worst. I felt as if I had abandoned my son in the rain, cold and heat. Many might say it was just a body lying in a grave, but for me, it was more than just a body. He was my son. I felt so tense. The tension ran from my shoulders up towards my head and extended through my arms. My jaws were clenched so tight that my teeth hurt. My chest ached with every breath I took. Nothing helped the pain I felt. The Xanax numbed it but did not take it away. I cried every single day – in the morning, in the afternoon, while driving, while showering, at work, before going to sleep – at any time. I just wanted to bring my son back home.

Almost a year after his death, we, as a family, decided to exhume my son’s body, cremate him and bring him home on the first anniversary of his death, July 9. And, on the year after he was buried, July 12, we brought his ashes home. We had a small gathering with some family and friends to celebrate his life and the Pastor did the blessing of his ashes. We also enjoyed Richie’s favorite meal, dessert, and drinks.

Richie's Urn

I know that many people didn’t agree with what we did. There were too many opinions on the matter, especially from different religious groups. But I didn’t care. The important thing was that I felt at ease and content with my decision. It was as if the weight was lifted off my shoulders. My jaw relaxed, and I was finally able to breathe without feeling the pain in my chest. Plus, I truly believe that the Lord would not have given me the peace I felt once we cremated Richie’s remains and brought him home if it were not meant to be or if it were wrong.

That was when we realized that we needed to have a plan. It’s a gruesome topic for some but if you think about it, it’s better to have a plan in writing than to try to figure things out at the last minute while grieving. Like my coworker said, it helps to avoid confrontation within the family on what needs to be done. Should you be buried, or would you prefer cremation; where to be buried or where to scatter the ashes; what music to play and so many other questions. If we plan these things ahead of time we will spare our loved ones from the agony of having to go through this. In the case of the loss of parents, it will avoid any conflicts that may arise if one sibling prefers cremation while the other wants to bury the deceased parents. The siblings would just have to honor the parents wish, as simple as that.

Yes, it might be a gruesome topic to talk about but for the tranquility of all involved, it should be discussed. What are your thoughts?