Sunday, October 11, 2009


Looking back through old photos always gets me very emotional.

I have always held back the urge to get too personal on my blog since this is supposed to be a bright and cheery place for you to come and visit :-). But the truth is that this is in fact my journal of sorts, my way of "capturing life's journey" as my blog header reads.

A LOT has happened in my 33 (almost 34) years. Illnesses, tragedies, abuse, death, abandonment, estranged relationships, depression, marriage, divorce, and other very personal matters that I will never speak about. But in the midst of all the bad in my life, there was always one constant "good." This helped shape who I am, what I've become, and it's the fabric of my life. That one constant was always my Mami. She raised me, taught me values, and saw me through my toughest days. She was always by my side, looking out for me and inspiring and encouraging me to reach my goals. I owe it all to her. Together, my Mami and Papi loved and nurtured me and cared for me like no one else. I miss them dearly. Every day.

Mami in 1962

That's not to say that I don't have other family members that have loved and cared for me, but they had their own families and priorities. To my Mami and Papi, I was their world. And they were mine.

Papi passed away in 1996 after a brave battle with colon cancer. Before that, he had recovered from prostate cancer. He was so strong till the end. I'll never forget his last days. They were living in California at the time and I was here in Miami married to my ex-husband. I had already made a couple of trips to see him, and I wondered if I should go again when they told me that he was in his final days. I was scared. Terrified, actually. I didn't know what to expect. And I didn't want to remember him like that. But I knew in my heart that I needed to go and see him and be there by his side. He was at home when I arrived, but he was bedridden and unable to take care of himself. He went into some sort of coma, but I still spoke to him, cried beside his bed, held his hand. Before he passed away, he came out of his coma, looked at me and smiled. "The adoro, mi hija," he said to me. I will never forget that. I believe he passed away that night (when everyone had walked out of his room), and I am so glad that I had this final moment with him.

Mami and Papi in 1995

My Dad, who I never lived with, had many children before falling in love with my Mom. They had a crazy, happy, adventurous life together from what I hear. He was married to my Mom for a short time and she became pregnant shortly before their separation. My Mom was not prepared for this. Needless to say, I was raised by my grandparents. My Dad would always come and visit me through the years, and I remember those happy visits and family outings. He would pick me up and take me to the beach, or to grab a bite to eat, or to see his family. I always looked forward to seeing him. My Mom always tried to be a part of my life and she did the best she could to come and see me and take me for the weekend, etc. She was a busy career woman. She had good intentions and I know she loved me. (I secretly always wished that my Mom and Dad would get back together again!) My Dad was killed in a car accident caused by a drunk driver in Puerto Rico. This happened in 1992.

My Mom and Dad (circa 1983)

I loved my Mom very much. She wanted to give me the world. I just wanted a Mom. She tried, unsuccessfully, to win my affection during the two years I lived with her (5th and 6th grade). So I ended up with my grandparents again, much to their content. At the end of my teenage years, my Mom tried to get close to me again, but I didn't let her. I always had this "wall" up when I was around her. It was very difficult for me. We continued like this for many years. My step dad, Jorge, brought her stability and unconditional love, something I think she yearned for her entire life. They were so good together, and I grew a bit closer to her over time, but there was always something that stopped me from getting too close. It was almost like I was afraid. Afraid of what, I don't know? Maybe I was angry, hurt, disappointed. Maybe it was all of the above. She was so happy when I married Richard in 2004 because she loved him a lot, and she was there on our wedding day even though she was already very ill. After winning her fight against breast cancer, she developed many other ailments, and in 2005 she passed away suddenly from complications that led to a septic infection. This was a shock to me! I arrived at the hospital too late to say goodbye. Too late to say "I'm sorry" or "I love you." Too late to mend our troubled mother/daughter relationship. And although I try to not blame myself, I will forever live in regret. I miss her very much and I wish she was here today driving me crazy!

My Mom with me as a baby (and my cousins and aunt, from left to right: Butchie, Gigi, Andy and Millie)

One year ago this month, I was in California for Mami's funeral. She passed away in Miami, but we flew her ashes down to San Diego so she can be buried next to Papi. Yes, there are things I wish I would have done or said to her throughout the years, but I loved her with everything I had and I was there with her till the very end. She knew that I adored her and I knew that she adored me. I know that she was weak and sick and she needed to go, but it doesn't make it any easier to say goodbye.

This goodbye meant that I was not only losing a piece of my heart with her, but that I was also saying goodbye to the last of my parents. How could that be? What would I do? It's been an emotionally trying time for me, but I am doing my best to try and come to terms with this huge loss. Little by little, day by day.

So why get so personal, you ask. I don't have an answer. But maybe, just maybe, it's good for me to mourn (and cry as I write this!). This may just be one small step toward emotional healing. October is a good month, but it's also a month in which I especially remember Mami, Papi, my Mom and Dad.

If you made it this far, thank you for reading...



Balou said...

this is wonderful, Vane. your opening up and speaking so honestly about your parents and grandparents is a beautiful tribute to who they were, and the person they made you into.

love you!

Maritza said...

Thank you for sharing. What a rollercoaster of emotions. I wish I could be open but I'm not proud of my thoughts; maybe someday.

Ady said...

Wow, I know this story but to see you write is a big step for you and I'm very proud that you are writing it. It really does help in the healing process. I love you lots...

lawrenbc said...

I am SO glad I read your heartfelt thoughts on your touching! You are so well-written, about both sad and happy times. So many things I'd love to say, but I'll sum it up with a WOW, THAT WAS AN AWESOME POST!

Anonymous said...

It takes a woman of great strength and courage to open up the way you have done. Not only to face your past and present - but to allow yourself to vulnerable to those who care about you.....This will allow you to pave a beautiful path of your future. You are one of the strongest women I know Vanessa and I continue to be awed and inspired by ALL that you do, ALL that you give and ALL that you LOVE. With your grace and beauty (both inside and out...) all the love will come back to you ten-fold - and you deserve ALL of it :-).
With a giant hug and several tears..... I am PROUD to call you my friend....