@Joseph_Gomes

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Name Change

So.......it's been awhile, I know.  I have decided to try and post more frequently. 

Lately I have been thinking a lot about my name change...no, not from Floyd to Gomes, an even better one.

In my women's bible study group a couple of years ago we read an amazing book called "Hinds Feet in High Places".  If you have not read it, I would highly recommend it.  Short synopsis:
         
       A sad, crippled girl named Much Afraid decides to follow the Great Shepard (AKA God).  He
       takes her on a long, treacherous journey up to the High Places.  On this journey she encounters  
       her fears and her set backs, while learning a lot about herself and the beauty of the Lord.  Long        
       story short, she completes the journey and changes into a new person.  The Lord transforms her   
       from Much Afraid to Grace and Glory.  

Throughout the study our amazing bible study leader, Ali, asked us to pray for our new name, but also wanted to know what our current name was...what did we call ourselves?  Wow!  How do I see me, how do others see me?  I actually woke up on New Years day in tears (don't worry, that happened quite often then), and with an amazingly sucky light bulb. 

Abandoned.

That's exactly how I saw (sometimes still see) myself.  It started with my Grandparents.  When I was young I had it in my head that they chose alcohol instead of me (and though it still burns, I understand that it is a disease).  From then on I could see it with friends and family...even my mom, as completely unfair as that seems.  Nobody stays, I'm not good enough for that.  Or even worse, I knew that they were not going to stay, so I closed myself off so I didn't feel as much pain with the loss.  But there was so much pain...there is so much pain.

As I worked through a lot of these encounters, I slowly realized that change MUST happen.  In order for my growth there will be loss, there will be trials and there will be hurt.  But, there will also be so much good!  So many blessings.  Every time I felt like I was "abandoned", the Lord showed me that this was not only an opportunity to grow in Him, but also a chance to look at things differently.  I like the idea of seeing something and then moving to a different place to see it from a completely new angle.  That's what I have learned to do.  Change the angle, see things from a compeletly different perspective.

So, that's what I did.  With that perspective change and the growth through my grievous journey, I learned my new name.  No longer do I view myself as abandoned (most of the time), but as Loved.

I am surrounded by so much love - we all are!  More than I can even ask for.  Not only am I loved by those in my life, I am loved by those that I feel "abandoned" me!  But, most importantly, I am loved by God. 

I have a letter that my mom wrote to me when I was 8 years old, I'm not sure what she saved it for, but I didn't get it until she was gone.  The end of the letter says "God is Love".  She knew it, she just needed to get it through my thick skull.  Damn, I love the shit outta that lady!

So, I challenge you...how can you change the perspective on your life?  What will be your new name?


Sunday, October 13, 2013

Oh baby...

I debated with myself for a long time as to whether I should write this post or not...well, here goes.

Joe and I arrived on St. Maarten on April 13th this year, and as some of you know from previous posts, it was quite of a bumpy ride.  Well, two days after arriving we found out that I was expecting our first child.  We truly didn't know how to respond.  We were happy, but so overwhelmed by everything else that was also going on.  Every time I thought about it my heart was so full, but we were both very careful to get too excited.  Life just seems to work in strange ways for us, so we tend to tread cautiously.

After a couple of weeks we started to tell friends and family.  Everyone was really happy for us...they even started buying baby stuff already.  Now, I know most of you would say that it was too soon to tell anyone, but I am in the school of thought that it is better to have loved ones there for you if something goes wrong...and it did.

It was a Sunday morning before two consecutive holidays on the island (the Queens birthday and Independence day, I think) when I noticed some very light pink blood.  Right away I was worried, but I knew nothing could be done that day.  So we waited.  The next day the blood got darker and there was a little more of it.  At that point I was freaking out, I knew something was wrong.  I was trying to make myself feel better by reading information that explained how normal it is, but in my heart I knew.

No doctor offices were open for the next 2 days, it was truly torturous, but then again, there was really nothing that could be done to stop it.  On Wednesday we went to an OBGYN and told him the issue (after waiting for 2 hours in the waiting room).  He did a regular ultrasound and a transvaginal ultrasound...he could not find a heartbeat and he could not find the fetus.  Our worst nightmare had become reality, I lost the baby.

I cried and cried and cried, but only for a day, maybe a day and a half.  I watched my body expel my baby for about 10 days, it was truly horrifying, but I told myself that I had been through worse and I just needed to move forward, and I did.  But, the last couple of days I have been flooded with grief.  I can't even explain the longing to have what could have been, the loss of so many dreams for the future.  I am so angry and disappointed.  Angry for feeling like we had done all the right things, but still got f'ed.  Disappointed that we will never have a family here with that baby.

Recently I have been thinking about my mom holding my baby in heaven, so happy.  That picture warms my heart, but at the same time it makes me remember that I don't have either of them here with me.  My heart breaks every time I think about it, I literally feel like my chest is going to explode.  Nothing can stop the tears.

I know I will get through this, but I am hurting.  Little did I know that the 15th of this month is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day.  I ask that you just pray for all the women and families that have lost pregnancies and/or babies.  It is an excruciating event in so many lives, mine included. 

I try to find comfort knowing that Jesus was the first face that our baby saw, and that my mom is holding him or her in her arms right now.  I miss you both so much and I love you with all my heart.  I am now an angel mommy.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Angel of Hope

Six years go today heaven gained an angel, but I lost a best friend and my mom...all in the same day.

For me, it all began when she went to doctor for the first time in years.  She was diagnosed with diabetes and was given blood pressure medication, though she did not have high blood pressure.  She took her first dose and subsequently her blood pressure dropped too low, way too low.  Apparently she was experiencing acute renal failure.

From this point she was in and out of the hospital for months.  No one knew why or what was going on.  Finally, in the Spring of 2007 they gave an official diagnosis.  My stepdad called me at work and asked me to come over for a family meeting that evening.  I showed up, but it was only the 3 of us, not the whole family.  That's when she told me that she had been diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a bone marrow cancer.  Up until then, it was the worst day of my life.  It was like I was not myself, I was on the outside looking in.  I just remember shaking my head and saying "No" over and over again. As I look back on it now, how horrifying is it that a woman suffering with cancer had to comfort her child...I should have been comforting her.

The plan was four rounds of chemo and then a bone marrow transplant.  We were all very hopeful.  Chemo began the very next week.  Those weeks were really hard.  The first couple of days were so good because she was doped up on steroids, but then there was the devastating drop...the fatigue, the nausea, the despair.  At this point she couldn't even walk on her own because the cancer was eating away ate her bones.  She had to either use a walker or a wheelchair.  This woman that has been my source of strength and life needed my strength.

She had lost so much weight already, and then in June she lost her hair as well.  I remember her saying how she always hated her hair, but now that it was gone she wanted it back.  She did not wear a wig, she wore head wraps and hats, she looked so beautiful.

In late July she came down with pneumonia. She was in the hospital for about a week and then moved to ICU.  She was so weak she could not cough the fluid out of her lungs.  The doctors had to suck it out with a tube.  On August 3rd she asked where I was, so I went to her room.  Then she asked for my stepdad.  I saw that she was starting to look panicky and asked the nurse to give her something to calm her down.  That is when she looked at me and the light left her eyes.

The nurse called some sort of code and a whole lot of people came in to attempt to revive her.  They put a central line in and put her on a breathing machine.  That was the last thing she wanted.

Joe and I went home to rest and I got a call in the middle of the night from my stepdad...he wanted me to come back and help make the decision.  I knew she was gone, I saw it that last time she looked at me.  The doctor said that there was so much acid in her blood that her organs were starting to shut down.  We decided to unplug the machines.  I could not watch.  Once she took her last breath I came into the room and kissed her goodbye, forever. 

That day, August 4th, was also the day that my Aunt had planned a fundraiser for my mom.  She was so excited about it, and kept telling the doctors she needed to get out of the hospital so she could go, no one knew that this is how that would happen.  For her fundraiser she chose the theme "HOPE".  Hope for recovery, remission, a cure.  Now I know that she left that hope for my family and I.

These last six years have been filled with such a tangled web of grief (my doctor called it complicated grief), abandonment, PTSD, depression and anxiety.  I have been in and out of programs to help me get better, on and off medication, and on disability several times.  This has no doubt been the most defining event of my adult life.  I cannot explain the depth of my loss, my feeling of complete despair and hopelessness.

It hasn't been until the past year or so that I have started to become me again (whoever that is).  I feel like the time that I was supposed to find myself (in my twenties), I was busy just trying to stay alive.  Now I am putting things back together.  I am remembering the good times, which were abundant!  I see her face and I smile.  But, I miss her more than I can express, more than anyone will ever know. 

Today, again, I will celebrate the abundant, beautiful, amazing, hopeful life of my Mama.  For those of you who knew her, you know what I am talking about.  I am leaving you with a video of pictures of my beautiful Mama.  Please make sure to watch the whole thing because there is an actual video at the end that captures the pure essence of her.

Thank you for listening and letting me share my story.

video

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy 50th Birthday Mama!

Today is a sad day, but it is also a day of joy and reflection.  Today, I celebrate my mom's 50th birthday, a birthday that she will never see.

At the young age of 44, my beautiful mother lost her battle to multiple myeloma, a debilitating bone marrow cancer. 

Born on July 4th 1963, Dee Ann Devany was abandoned and sent to the local orphanage.  As my grandmother would tell the story..."Walking into the orphanage there were many children just dying for a real home.  But, as I got closer, there was a ray of heavenly light shining upon a bassinet that held the most beautiful baby I had ever seen."  The story seems like more of a fairy tale, but if you knew my mom, it may not have been far from the truth.

That heavenly light followed my mom throughout her short life.  Later it was coined the "Dee Essence", as she could even charm herself into first class without trying.  My beautiful mom would fill any room with her light, her smile, and her amazing curly hair. 

She was not only my mom and my best friend, I feel as though we were put on this earth to guide each other.  She felt that she needed the love she lost when her mom passed, and I was what God had provided.  We walked through life side by side, experiencing everything together...feeling everything together.  There were some tough times, but most of the ones I remember always involve her laugh (which was just as crazy as mine), her beauty, her unbridled kindness and gentleness, and our love. 

Though I understand the importance of the Fourth of July, in my heart it will always be the celebration of the most amazing woman I have ever known.  The woman who showed me how to love others and see them without judgement, to make mistakes, to laugh hard and to cry hard.  She taught me kindness, patience, the power of a smile, and that "if the worst thing that happens to me today is that someone cut me off, it's been a pretty good day."

For me, my mother embodies everything that a person should be (though sometimes she was called "too" nice), and everyday I strive to be like her.  I strive to have what she had, to light the world and make others smile.  I strive to have the heart of gold that had so much compassion for those around her.  So, everyday I live with HOPE on an earth that has lost a little bit of light, but gained a beautiful angel.

I love you to the moon and back Mama, Happy Birthday!







Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Why Do You Hate Us St. Maarten, Why?

With a clean house and clean bodies (we had not showered and were in the same clothes for a good 3 days, and had no razors...that was interesting) we felt on top of the world.  Today the student that sold us her car was going to bring it to us!  At that point we had been driving a rental and were ready to get acquainted with our new car.

She pulled up with the ugliest car I have ever seen (that is probably an exaggeration, but it was really bad).  There was a large dent on one side that was not visible in the photos, the donut was on, there was a crack in the windshield, one of the door handles was missing, and you can't open the passenger side door with the key.  Then we got in...it too was filthy.  There was dirt and sand everywhere, she did not even attempt to clean it for us.  Whatever, she already had the money and it was all fixable.

Joe and I drove her back to her apartment and then went for a little joy ride.  Five minutes into the fun, the car would no longer turn.  The steering wheel was turning and turning, but the tires were not moving.  We were stuck.  Thank God it was in a parking lot.  At this point it was just getting comical and blatantly obvious...the island hates us.

Luckily, we had not returned the rental car, so a cab took us home and we were still able to get around the island.  Getting a hold of the student was a different challenge.  No internet, no local phone.  Joe had to go to the lobby to attempt to communicate with her as well as and family and friends.  Once we finally got in touch she seemed shocked, apparently it had never broken down on her.  She contacted her mechanic and said she would pay for the repairs...duh!  But, we still had to pay for a rental car for five additional days (island time).

That night the spouses organization was having a pasta and cupcake sale at the school.  It was a good chance to meet them and for Joe to see his school for the first time.  It was pretty exciting.  We met some really great ladies and had some really good food.  Things were looking up!

The next morning I woke up, fed the girls and took them potty.  Since we got to the island we were letting Hope and Jasmine out on the large lawn in front of our condo off of their leashes.  Everything was going well.  They were able to run and play, it was perfect.  This particular morning another resident was also taking her dog potty...Hope began barking, which prompted Jasmine to bark, and then all hell broke loose.  Jasmine followed the dog (Gabana) and his owner down to the street.  I told Hope to stay and ran after Jasmine.  She just kept going and wouldn't listen.  I chased her up and down several streets until I was able to herd her back to the house.  I cannot even imagine how it looked.  I had just woken up, my hair was all over the place, in pj's with no bra.  Crazy American lady alert!

Now I know that the only danger was her being hit by a car, but there is not much traffic in our complex and she could not have gotten lost.  But, if somehow she did get out of the complex she would have been screwed because this island is teeming with wild dogs...packs of them.  She is most def not equipped for that.

So, at the end of the day we have no car, no wifi, no phones and none of our boxes of stuff had arrived.  But, we did have each other, our girls and and island to explore!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Welcome to St Maarten!

Oh St Maarten, we have waited so long to meet you!  Though, no amount of expectation or planning would prepare us for this!

As the plane began to ascend, the waters below were glittering in the sunlight and the excitement in the plane was on the rise.  No one could wait to begin their adventure, whether it was a vacation, coming home or beginning medical school.  As we gathered our carry on luggage and began to walk down the stairs onto the asphalt, the swass (that is sweaty ass, thank you Allie) began...instantly.

Going through customs was not an issue, they simply asked how long we were staying and for what purpose.  Not once was the paperwork for Hope and Jasmine requested, but who cares, we were all here!

The girls and the luggage were taken to the curb (picture an island in the middle of a two way street - with absolutely no shade), where they went potty and waited for me to get the rental car, SUV actually, as there was so much stuff...didn't we just have a garage sale and get rid of everything?  Why do we still have so much stuff?  We decided that every time something was brought into the house, something of equal or greater size has to be removed from the house...we are still working on that.  I digress.

Getting the rental car was our first true experience of "Island time", which is like "CP" time, but on a much larger scale.  A shuttle picked myself and two other couples up from the airport, and transported us to Budget car rental...that took about 30 minutes though it is only 3 minutes away...I could have walked there faster!  The shuttle arrived at Budget and I was the last to be helped.  Mind you, everything took a lot longer because they don't use computers.  Everything is hand written.  Very strange.  Anyway, I got the paperwork and walked outside to get the car...45 minutes later I was driving back to the airport.  What should have taken 20 to 30 minutes ended up taking about 2 hours, with Joe, Jasmine and Hope baking in the St Maarten sun.  I felt really bad.  Joe thought something had happened because apparently a cop (the few that they have here) and an ambulance drove by when I was gone.  The relief on his face was apparent.

Joe loaded the car like a boss, he made everything fit.  Hope was on my lap in her crate and Jasmine was in the backseat in her crate.  No amount of air conditioning was cooling them and I was getting nervous.  It didn't help that I took us the wrong direction for about 15 minutes...so much for that innate sense of direction that I thought I had!  Once we passed the second pharmacy and casino (which were the landmarks I was told to watch for because there are no street signs), we turned around.

Finally on the right track we found the pharmacy, turned right and made our way down Amazone Rd.  Terry, the guard, informed us that he didn't have the keys to the condo because we were expected hours ago.  Slight panic started to set in.  Exhausted, smelly, two dogs...what now!  But, he went to the office and was able to locate the key...Thank the Lord!

I let the girls out of their crates and was so excited to see our beautiful new home.  Joe unpacked the luggage while the girls and I went up to to the house...The door opened to a complete disaster!  The floors were disgusting, it reeked like gross boy, all of the dishes had a greasy film, the bedding and towels were dirty, there were nasty stains on the couch, chair and mattress pad, and the bottom of the tubs were covered in black grime.  We were completely horrified.

Moving somewhere is so much different than vacationing or visiting.  When you get to your destination there is no food in the refrigerator, no cleaning supplies, no complimentary soap, no toilet paper, no wifi, no telephone, no consierge to assist...nothing.  We had to leave our scared girls in this new, scary place to get essentials and feed; anytime wifi was needed, we had to walk to the lobby and use the office phone, if necessary.  Thank goodness we came so early.

That night we found some clean bedding to sleep on and opted out of using pillows.  We woke up the next morning and immediately started to work.  I cleaned the kitchen first, as it seemed the least overwhelming, then the chairs, tables, doors and walls that were all covered with fingerprints and dirt.  But, the bathrooms were the absolute pits...The tubs were so awful, the bleach was working reeeaaaallll hard!  While I did that, Joe cleaned ALL the greasy dishes.  I swept, mopped, lit some candles and it began to feel like home.  We also did a million loads of laundry so we had some towels and bedding to use until our tubs of stuff were delivered.

Overall, we felt successful.  What else could go wrong, right?

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Hotlanta

I Was truly nervous when we landed in Atlanta because it was a pretty rough landing and I knew that my girls were so scared. As we exited the plane we just wanted to get to them as soon as possible, but it was a huge airport, we literally had to take a train several stops just to get to baggage claim. Once we got there, Joe went to collect our huge pieces of luggage and I went to look for the girls. When I finally found them, Hope was crying so hard it broke my heart. I took them outside to the pet relief area, which was nice because it was like a small dog park. I was able to take them off of their leashes and just let them walk around after they had been in their crates for so long. Once I saw that Jasmine did not pee and Hope did not poop, I knew that there were probably some issues in the crates.

Now was the hard part, which we hadn't thought about. We had to get our four very large suitcases, four carry-ons, a large crate and dog, and a small crate and dog to the airport shuttle. I had the girls on their leashes and Joe was trying to move the luggage piece by piece about 15 feet at a time, so he could see both piles of luggage. He continued doing this until we realized that it was just ridiculous. I finally went inside and got a skycap to help us take all of the luggage to the airport shuttle. We dished out a lot of tips on this trip, that's for sure.

Once we got all of the luggage and the girls to the airport shuttle it started raining. So much for Hotlanta! The shuttle got there and the driver freaked out about Jasmine, they said she needed to be in her crate while they transported her. Well, that was not going to happen. Her crate didn't even fit with the luggage in the back, so we filled two seats just with her crate and she had to sit on the floor of the bus. It was really funny because the passengers had to step over her and she didn't move. When they finally dropped us off at the hotel the passengers were saying how good our dogs are...we couldn't help but laugh at that point.

Once we got to the hotel we unloaded all our baggage, well Joe did, while I took the girls and checked in. Moving the luggage again was a huge ordeal. We could not even fit it all on the flatbed.

I found the room and straightaway the girls jumped on the bed and fell asleep. Once We got the crates and all the luggage in the room, I looked in the crates and found poop in Hope's and pee in Jasmine's. I took them potty outside and immediately took their blankets to the laundry room.

At this point it was dinner time, so I fed them but they didn't eat much. Jasmine laid down after only eating half her meal and she growled at Hope for getting close to it. That's totally unlike her. So I knew they were pretty stressed out. Joe and I ate some snacks and we all passed out.

We woke up the next morning in enough time to have the free hot breakfast…big ups to Drury for that. Once we got back up to the room we all fell asleep again until noon. We took the girls for a little walk, they went potty, and we really just hung out for the rest of the day. That night starting at 5:30 PM Drury also provided a kickback service. That's like free dinner. Salad, pasta, pizza, nachos… It was awesome.

We woke up the next morning at 5 AM to catch the airport shuttle. At this point we realized that the airport shuttle only went to the domestic terminal...we obviously needed to go to the international terminal. So we loaded the shuttle with our eight bags, large and small crate, and the dogs. We went to the domestic terminal and then unloaded our eight bags, two crates and two dogs, and had to walk over to the international terminal with all of our belongings. Drama.

At the international terminal a really great skycap helped us unload everything, put it on a flatbed and helped us with the girls. We got to the counter with no issue, everything went very smoothly. The skycap helped us take Jasmine and Hope over to TSA where they would be looked over and sent to the plane. She waited there to be tipped, which is totally fine, she most definitely deserved it. But once we gave her what I thought was a great tip, she looked at it, scoffed and walked away. It was so ridiculous we couldn't do anything but laugh.

All in all, we really loved Atlanta. The people were sweet, the hotel was awesome. and we just had a great experience.

We ate breakfast at the airport, loaded the plane, and were now on our way to our final destination...St. Maarten.

To be continued…