Awaiting my daughter’s fate

Five years ago, my daughter was rushed to emergency surgery.  I was also in college at the time and was working on a poem for my creative non-fiction class. I wrote this poem while waiting to learn my daughter's fate. I am not the same person I was five years ago, but I wanted to share another part of my writing.  Poetry is not my forte, but this poem did represent what being a single mother feels like during a crisis; and sharing my poem helps me knock down the walls that still surround me.
Five years ago, my daughter was rushed to emergency surgery. I was also in college at the time and was working on a poem for my creative non-fiction class. I wrote this poem while waiting to learn my daughter’s fate. I am not the same person I was five years ago, but I wanted to share another part of my writing. Poetry is not my forte, but this poem did represent what being a single mother feels like during a crisis; and sharing my poem helps me knock down the walls that still surround me.

The Inferno Within

I stared into the empty waiting room,

Awaiting my daughter’s fate.

Two hours went by

Since they rushed her to the operating room,

The sound of the ticking clock

Pounded in my anxious head.

My young son was the only one around,

Seated innocently by my side,

Reading a book with his headphones on.

I did not dare burden him with my despair.

I sat alone with hope in my eyes and dread in my heart.

Years before when I dreamt of motherhood,

I never envisioned the loneliness and isolation I live now.

I imagined one parent to bandage our children’s “owies”

And a second to kiss them;

One to listen to their prayers

And another to turn off their light;

One to walk them down the aisle

While the other tossed out the rice.

Hand in hand, we would guide them through their life,

Proudly letting go as they headed toward their dreams.

Never did I conceive an empty house,

An aching heart, and three broken children.

What kind of man abandons his family?

I cook meals, help with homework,

Run them to appointments, wash their clothes,

Hold them tightly while they are sick,

And desperately struggle to make ends meet.

What dream of his could possibly replace

The needs and hearts of his own helpless children?

Don’t get me wrong,

There’s no other place I would rather be,

But it is nights like this that stir up my contempt and anguish.

I cannot help but believe my children deserve more.

The guilt sets in when I see my tired, weary son

Sleeping in the university library,

While he waits for me to complete my studies;

Or when he wants to watch a movie or play a game,

But my eyes, like a steel trap door, struggle to stay open.

I do my best to move on and leave the pain behind.

But a crisis or a trigger from the past will bring it all soaring back.

It’s the angst of knowing my children are scared and are hurting,

While knowing their father is too selfish to discern.

Every day as I grow strong, I hold their hands in mine,

And I realize it is all worth it, as I truly love them so.

I could never fathom leaving them behind;

Yet, my repulsion toward his apathy is profound.

And just like my daughter’s cyst,

I fear I, too, may begin to rupture.

I hold on tight and fight back the tears.

If I let go, I am afraid of what happens next.

But I must let go of these chains that bind me

To a coward and a louse.

The surgeon finally appears before me.

Good news! She is safe and sound ….. Relief!!!

As I walk into hold her hand and kiss her softly on the cheek,

I cannot help but see the other patients in recovery

With their friend and family gathered round;

And in my heart I am joyful and reassured,

But still somewhere deep inside me,

The toxic cinders from the past seem to smolder on,

Waiting for time to eradicate any embers left behind,

Opening the chimney for fresh air and healing to wander in.

Dancing in the Rain


Words of wisdom from my son today. #TBT of our 2012 Christmas trip over Snoqualmie Pass, Washington. I remember that we had a horrible blizzard that week, and they had just re-opened the highway. Friends warned us about driving over; yet, when we got to the top of the pass, hardly anyone else was around, and it was just so beautiful everywhere we looked.

Hours before our drive, I had learned my brother had taken his own life. I felt like darkness was looming all around; yet, when we reached the mountain pass, I can still remember the warm glow of the light, as if he was telling us that he was okay – he was at peace. I wish I could have saved him from his darkness, but I will always remember the beauty of the light I saw that cold, December day, and I will always remind myself that when navigating through darkness, light will eventually start to appear.

In the meantime, I will always try to learn lessons from those darkest moments. The light will then be more rewarding once it arrives, and I will be able to share its incredible warmth with others journeying down the same path. I know it’s cliche, but I have always enjoyed life more by dancing in the rain.

In my Father’s Image

fathers and sons

Recently, my son became very ill, and as the doctors asked me about our family health history, I found myself becoming angry again at my ex-husband.  The anger wasn’t because he deserted me and his children (though I find that seeping back in once in a while); the anger was due to how he left us. He made it impossible for me to ever find out if the symptoms my son is having could be related back to his family history; therefore, there is this big unknown part of my children’s history that I would like to access, so I can help them be healthy for themselves and for their future children.

I took this photo of my son and husband (at the time) right after my father’s funeral.  My husband said that my losing my father reminded him of how quickly time passes and the importance of cherishing every precious moment we have with our children. The portrait symbolized to me the relationship between a parent and their child and how important it is, as parents, to guide our children to the future that is waiting for them.  I never thought that my own husband would disregard the gift’s God has bestowed upon us.  I no longer try to understand what made my husband do the things he did, as it is out of my control and is time wasted. Yet, inexcusably I still witness daily the internal pain and damage he left behind. I always thought that maybe he was too damaged from his own childhood to ever be a parent, but three years after deserting his own children, he had another one.

It may seem cruel, but I sometimes view my ex as created in Hitler’s (interesting enough, he liked his employees to call him that) image because when our marriage became the darkest is when he could not handle his youngest son (in this photo) being different from other children.  I’ve mentioned in my blog before that my son has Asperger’s Syndrome, and my ex-husband had no patience or empathy for the symptoms that developed from my son’s diagnosis. I almost think that he kept having children until he could create the perfect specimen of himself.  My heart aches for his new child that he had with his new wife, and I pray for the innocent boy’s safety every day.

This photo has been hidden in the back of my closet for years in fear of it bringing back the pain of the past for my children. However, this week as I have been filling out medical forms for specialists for my beautiful, kind-hearted son, I looked back at this portrait and realize that it doesn’t have to represent the father that walked away, but it reminds me of the characteristics my son shares with his maternal grandfather that I sadly lost that Thanksgiving week in 2000. My son grew up not having the guidance of either a father or a grandfather, but I have kept my father’s image alive within my son, by sharing his stories, his morals, his ethics, his love, and so on.  As I look into my son’s eyes, the eyes that trust that I will find him the best care and answers this week, I see my father’s soul looking back at me.  My son may have been born from a man who has no soul, but that doesn’t mean that’s how my son’s story ends.

My son has a heart of gold and carries his grandfather Jim’s heart and soul with him everywhere (that is what I see in this portrait now), and as long as I bring him up with wonderful people surrounding him that also share those similar ethics, morals, and love, my child will take that into his future and it will continue to touch the ones fortunate enough to come into his life. I will never be convinced that blood defines a family, but instead family is defined by the incredible people who lift us up and encourage us to live each day being better than we were the day before.

Mary Lambert: From tears to laughter



I had the fortune in attending Mary Lambert’s concert Friday night.  I learned about Mary’s music after hearing her perform with Macklemore on the VMA’s.  Her voice was incredible, but I could also sense a spirit about her that I connected with.  I met another woman recently that I also connected with in a similar way.  Without words we both knew that somewhere in our lives we had encountered abuse.  We never talk about it, but we can see it in the way that we both embrace and look at life.  I felt that same kinship when Mary Lambert walked out on the stage; she had yet to sing, but I could feel it in the aura she exuded.  Sometimes when others learn I suffered from domestic violence, their faces turn to sadness, almost pity.  Yes, I would never wish an abusive husband on anyone, but I don’t choose to live my life as the poster child for domestic violence; rather I would prefer to be the poster child for perseverance.  Having walked out of the darkness, I want to dance, I want to sing, I want to laugh- as if I won’t wake up again tomorrow. 

I realize it may seem odd to others, but having been held down for almost twenty years, as if a pillow was constantly held over my face, I learned how to breathe again and I now want to savor every breath I take in.  I laugh at silly things, I laugh at how Anchorman 2 paid homage to Ice Castles – that made me laugh hysterically even to the dismay of my teenage children sitting next to me.  Everyone needs a little cornball in his or her lives; yet, I even laugh at the darkness.   That was my favorite part of Mary Lambert’s concert – she could leave us in tears with a song about rape, but in between she would have us laughing at the most random things.  I didn’t walk out of her concert feeling sad for her; instead I walked out knowing I had just witnessed a strong woman who had turned her own darkness into beautiful art.  My laughing at the darkness doesn’t mean I am minimizing it.   My laughter and my perseverance are sending the darkness a clear message – it won’t control or hold me down ever again.  The darkness is isolating and gray, but my light is full of potential and hope.  I am not naïve that the darkness won’t sneak in, here or there, but I refuse to allow it to ever take me over again.

Immediately after Mary sang her first verse about abuse, I was drawn in, but I never had a chance to really take in what she was singing because out of the corner of my eyes, I noticed my friends and family on both sides of me sneaking glances with their watchful eyes.  They were worried how the song would affect me.  I loved their concern, but what I wish others could see is yes, maybe the song would have made me cry, but tears are okay, they are therapeutical, but no song or words will ever break me again.   Instead I was overcome with joy that a woman would be brave and stand on a stage and sing about abuse and rape and body image. 

Darkness wins when we stay silent.  Abusers, rapists, bullies win when our voices are hushed. Laughter, joy, support, happen when silence is broken, and each of us stands up and throws off our chains of oppression.  My abuser no longer hurts my children or me; it is the complacent people who walk by with blinders on that cut me to the core.   Yet, it isn’t my job to judge them either; we all grieve or heal in our own way and time – maybe they aren’t ready to walk into the light yet – until they are, I can only hope that women like Mary Lambert will continue to light up a path to freedom for all who are oppressed, whether it’s due to race, gender, sexual equality, political freedom, and so on.  Holding hands, our light will out shine the darkness; my hope is that it will shine so bright that in turn the darkness will learn from us and walk away too.