Dreams That Comfort and Are Full of Sorrow

I had a dream. It involved 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 with her big sweet cheeks and a tremendous appetite even though she was thin, and my youngest was his loving 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 children 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 in the end, it also brought me sadness. Even though it’s been more than 10 years, I realize 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.


Diary of A Grieving Mother’s Heart

by Debbie Centeno

Ten years of journaling my grief, anger, sadness, and joys now available in Kindle version and paperback on Amazon.

 

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.

My Morning Commute

During my morning commute to work, I leave my windows down – not because I want to but because my a/c broke so I don’t have a choice. I don’t mind though. I learned to take in nature and enjoy it. The smell of morning dew, the aroma of freshly mowed grass (until I approach the maintenance guy with the mower spewing the smell of gasoline), the cricket’s screech through the dense grassy areas, the bird’s early morning song and the fresh breeze that hits my face while driving on Hwy 27. I just love nature!

Every time I stopped to wait for the light to turn green, I glanced around from car to car to observe humankind. I saw a young lady putting on her lipstick, a well-suited man sipping his coffee, a couple eating their breakfast, a man that was yawning, about 6 or 7 people on their cell phones, a woman who appeared to be arguing on the phone. I wonder what upset her so badly that made her face beet red – or is she naturally a beet-red skinned person? And then there’s the “texter” texting away at the stop lights while the impatient driver behind her honks his horn 1/8 of a second after the light turns green. It’s like if he already had his hand on the horn ready to blast it. Heck, I think he honked even before the light turned green, not at me but at the “texter.”

Ah, but my favorite character is the one I saw through my rear view mirror, the young man in the green Honda erratically driving, cutting in front of everyone from one lane to the other and blasting his music. I wondered what his rush was? His desperation didn’t do much because somehow I caught up with him at the light and I didn’t even go the speed limit! I guess he likes to be the first at the stop light. The light turned green, and he accelerated just to be standing at the next light for a more extended period of time than the rest of us. Does he not realize that? Lucky him that the police officer that we passed was too busy giving out a ticket to another desperate driver.

So, I drove on observing humankind and their acts while still catching a glimpse of the erratic Honda lunatic swerving left and right, speeding through traffic blasting his music. I finally reached my left turn. Just 5 more minutes and three more stop lights and I would arrive. That was a nice drive. Then I realize that the lunatic in the green Honda has turned down his music, was in front of me, and was turning onto the Big Lots parking lot. What do you know, I didn’t even have to speed, and we arrived at His destiny at the same time. Lol! Sending lots of love, light, and peace to you my dear lunatic. Maybe we’ll meet again tomorrow.

Ugly Cactus Type Plant With Large Limbs

A few years ago, my Mom gave me a plant that she could no longer keep.  It was growing too big and climbing up the walls of her apartment complex.  I accepted the plant and brought it home.  It was planted in a 12” green planter.  It’s an ugly cactus type plant with large limbs that look like tentacles which attach themselves to whatever is nearby.  I placed the plant at the very back of our yard out of my sight.

One day, while working in the yard.  I looked at the plant and thought of throwing it away (see photos below).  It is so ugly, and the limbs are just dangling everywhere.  I did not know what to do with the plant.  I figured that I’d at least let my Mom know I didn’t want the plant, so I left it where it was until I spoke with Mom.  However, later that day while browsing through Facebook, I came across an article on a Dragon Fruit plant.  The article caught my attention because the plant on the photo looked a lot like my ugly plant with tentacles.

The plant in the article was called a Dragon Fruit Tree.  Dragon Fruit is an exotic fruit which is difficult to find and quite expensive.  Ancient Chinese legends say, “The Dragon Fruit was created thousands of years ago by a dragon in battle.  During the battle, a dragon blew a burst of fire containing the fruit.  The Chinese believed that those who consumed the pulp of the dragon fruit were given the strength, and immortality of the dragon.  The health benefits and delicious flavor of this exotic fruit are legendary.  Dragon Fruit plants are easy to grow in containers as long as you provide a strong support structure.  Dragon Fruit offers excellent nutritional and health benefits.  It is packed with high concentrations of antioxidants that boost the immune system.” (http://dragonfruitplants.com/index.html).

After reading about the Dragon Fruit plant, I decided to keep it and changed its container.  I re-potted the plant into a larger 22” pot and had my husband build a trellis for it.  From that moment on I began caring for it differently.  I was curious to try the fruit. I had never seen the fruit before, nonetheless tasted it until my trip to Spain.  While in Barcelona we visited La Boquería market which is known as one of the best markets in the world.  While strolling through the aisles of fresh fish, meat, vegetables, and fruits, there it was, fresh-cut Dragon Fruit ready to eat!  Of course, I had to taste this exotic fruit that I had the privilege to own in my backyard.  I was so glad I kept the plant.  The fruit was delicious and refreshing.  What a delight.

Fast forward a few months now, I saw that my Dragon Fruit tree was blooming.  I anxiously waited for the flower to open and every morning walked outside to check on it.  Then one night I happened to glance towards the Dragon Fruit tree, and it had the most beautiful big white flower.  It turns out that the Dragon Fruit tree will open its flower during the night.  I only saw it open for two nights though.  I’m not sure if it had been opening before I caught a glimpse of it.  Right above the flower was a bump where the fruit began to grow.  Every day it became larger and started ripening from a beautiful green to a bright pinkish-red.  And, every day I checked to see if it was ready to harvest.

The day finally arrived when the Dragon Fruit was ready to be picked.  It was soft to the touch, so I tucked on it a few times, and it came right off.  I rinsed it out and carved into to it.  Its rubbery red skin peeled off very quickly.  Its soft white flesh was full of tiny black seeds, and it was just as I expected – a delicious sweet taste that melts in your mouth.  It was well worth the wait.  Lucky me there were four more on the plant ready to blossom and ripen.

My little ugly-looking plant with tentacles turned out to be a beautiful Dragon Fruit tree which I am proud to own.

 

After transplanting into a larger pot.
The first bloom
Dragon Fruit in full bloom
Close up of Dragon Fruit bloom
Bloom gone, fruit bearing
Beginning stages of ripening fruit
Mid stages of ripening fruit
Fully ripened Dragon Fruit
Ready to eat!

 

How Hurricane Irma Tormented Me

 

It was Sunday, September 10, 2017. Hurricane Irma is a category 5 storm expected to hit Florida. I live in Central Florida. The expected time of impact for my area is roughly 2:00 a.m. We prepped as best as we could – plenty of water, non-perishable food plenty for a few days, batteries, flashlights, and so on. Our roof was in the beginning stages of repair so the roofer’s placed a tarp over it to avoid any further damage. We cleared the patio terrace from all furniture, plants, wind chimes and any other potential projectile as recommended. It was very calm – no birds flying or chirping.  A clear sign of what was to come. They knew to steer clear from the monster that would creep in.

Besides my family and my myself, we expected to have my mom and a friend of mine with her 4-year-old child to weather the storm at our home.  We were 8 people, two dogs and a cat. The wait was endless. We tried to make the best of it by playing board games, talking and watched some TV even though most of the television time was spent watching the news. Some of us were anxious, bored or worried.

The rain began at around midday with some wind gusts of about 40 miles. It seemed like a long day. At around 11:00 p.m. I was ready to shower and head to bed. The winds began to pick up as soon as I got into bed. Chewy, our 25-pound dachshund/chihuahua mix, was trembling with fear. I allowed him onto our bed instead of his.

I heard the winds pounding on our windows and what sounded as if either the shed, roof of the outdoor kitchen or the fence was ready to come off. It stopped for a few seconds followed by silence, which was just as terrifying as the howling wind. Irma was not happy. I tried to sleep, but as I was about to doze off I heard a text message come in. It was my sister. She was giving me her accounts of the storm. We texted back and forth for a little while when I decided that I’d prefer to wait it out in the family room. I got up and walked into the family room. The double glass doors vibrated from the winds force. I walked towards the other side of the house and knocked on the door to the bedroom where my mom was but she didn’t respond. I opened it slowly and called out to her a couple of times. She was fast asleep. I wished I had been able to sleep like that while the hurricane stirred outside. I returned to the family room and sat down for a little bit with my friend.

My husband, son and son-in-law all stepped outside the front entrance – crazy guys. Just then the power went out. It was 2:00 a.m. and just as the news anchor predicted, the winds picked up. My sister sent me another text. It seemed to be winding down in her area so she was going to try to get some sleep. I could hear the clanking of flapping roofs and the tossing around of flying debris. I could hear the flapping of the tarp on our roof. It sounded as if the roof was about to give in and fly away. I didn’t know what category the storm was by now nor the speed of the wind. I really didn’t care. I just prayed to God to spare my family, friends, neighbors and Florida from any catastrophe. I headed back to bed even though it was so hard for me to fall asleep. I dozed on and off as the wind pounded on our windows like a mad man, in this case, a mad woman wanting to come inside. She grunted, howled and pushed with all her force and no mercy. She was relentless.

It was now 3:45 a.m. I still couldn’t sleep. I grabbed my iPad and logged onto Facebook and read how my local family and friend’s status depicted their Irma experience. Like I, many were terrified of what was going on. It was surreal. In between Facebook posting I maintained communication via text with my brother and my cousin. By now my husband was oblivious of what was going on as he slept peacefully with Chewy between us trembling. I got up a couple of times and peeked out the window towards the pitch, black night torment of Irma. The last time I glanced at the time it was 4:37 a.m. Irma’s furry was still thrashing away at the windows and everything outside. I was so tired but every time I dozed off I was awakened by Irma’s winds. It finally began winding down just enough for me to get a shut-eye.

I woke up at 6:08 a.m. still tired but relieved that the hurricane had moved on. I lived in Puerto Rico until 1996 and had been in many hurricanes back then and a few here in Florida. But I don’t recall any of them being as terrifying as Irma. It was the longest night of my life.

The Spunky 5-Year-Old’s Gift

I Met A Little Boy

Every time I switch out purses, I come across my dingy old crucifix.  It’s a silver and gold colored crucifix with green gemstones, and it’s made of some sort of plastic material.  It is missing one of the gemstones.  This crucifix was given to me by a spunky 5-year-old Caucasian little boy with beautiful green eyes.  His name was Timothy.

It was the year 1981, I worked as a cake decorator in Baskin-Robins.  Timothy came in with his Mom every day and ate a French vanilla ice cream cone.  Neither Timothy nor his Mom spoke Spanish, so I would tend to them since I was fluent in English.  Timothy was not shy at all and asked all sorts of questions about ice cream.

Timothy loved the cake decorations and complimented my cake decorating skills.  He especially enjoyed the ice cream clown cones, which were nothing other than a vanilla or chocolate upside down ice cream cone with a cherry as its nose, icing as its eyes, mouth, and decoration.  His Mom didn’t buy those since Timothy liked French vanilla and I never made French vanilla ice cream cones.

One time on their usual visit, I said to him, “Wow Timothy, you are so lucky to have a Mom who brings you to get ice cream every day!”  Timothy replied, “I sure am,” while licking away on his ice cream cone and chatting as he usually did.  There was something about that little boy that made me stop what I was doing just to listen to him talk.  Whenever I was swamped, his Mom would prop him on the counter closest to my decorating area, and he’d continue to talk to me while I worked.  He always made me laugh and smile.  Timothy made me happy.

Unexpected News

I had not seen Timothy in about a week. One day, Timothy’s Mom dropped in by herself and purchased a pint of French Vanilla ice cream.  I asked her about Timothy, she responded that he was ill.  I thought maybe he had a cold or something like that and asked.  Her response left me in shock.  She said, “Timothy has cancer and doesn’t have much time to live.”  She told me that he knew but didn’t understand it too well.

She told him that he could have whatever he wanted in the world and all Timothy requested was a French vanilla ice cream cone every day until the day he went back home to God.  I was speechless and other than “I’m sorry” I didn’t know what else to say.  She smiled, thanked me and told me that most likely she would be able to bring him on Friday or Saturday if he was feeling better.

Anticipating to see him that weekend, I made a single French vanilla clown cone for Timothy and wrote his name on the clown’s hat.  It would be my little gift to him.

Friday came along and in ran Timothy with a massive smile on his face.  I could hear him yell “Hi Miss Debbie” in his sweet child voice.  I turned around from my decorating area and went to greet him.  He asked for his usual French Vanilla cone, and while he ran to the fridge where the cakes and clown cones were, I told his Mom about the clown ice cream cone I had made especially for him and asked if it were okay.

When she gave me the authorization to give it to him, I walked over to where Timothy stood and asked him if he knew how to read his name.  He responded that he did, so I motioned for him to look towards the clown cones.  When he saw his name, he got very excited and asked if it were for him.  I responded that it was and gave it to him.  I will never forget that look of happiness on his face over an ice cream clown.

The Old Dingy Crucifix

The next day, Timothy and his Mom returned.  Timothy had a gift for me.  He brought in an old worn-out, thin cake decorating ideas book and a small gift wrapped by him.  He handed me the book and gift, and I proceeded to unwrap it.  It was the crucifix.  He told me that he wanted me to have it so I would never forget him.  For the first time since I knew Timothy, tears rolled down my cheeks.  He was the sweetest little boy I had known.  I thanked him, he ate his usual French vanilla cone, and they were on their way.  That was the last time I saw Timothy.

A few months went by when his Mom dropped in by herself.  I didn’t need to ask.  I already knew that she wasn’t there to buy ice cream.  She was very sad.  She looked at me and said, “I just want to thank you for your kindness towards my son.  Timothy passed away a month ago.”

The rest of my day was a sad one.  I didn’t know Timothy that well, but he was such a delight that it was easy for anyone to feel love for him.  Remembering that the crucifix was on top of the counter where I decorated cakes along with the cake decorating booklet, I walked towards it.  I took the crucifix in my hand and vowed that I would never part from it or forget Timothy and I placed it in my purse.

So as of today, every time I switch purses, I make sure to transfer the crucifix into my new bag.  And every time I come across it memories of Timothy flood my mind. With no doubt, I will never forget him. Thank you, Timothy, may you rest in peace.  With Love Miss Debbie

Life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we react to it. ~Dennis P. Kimbro

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