Fear, does it scare you? If yes, what is your greatest fear in life? Name just one.
Fear makes thinking hurt. Sometimes it hurts so hard I can’t breathe. I often fall to my knees …in silence.
Fear is real.
Life. It can blindside a family in a blink. Fear, what do we most fear in life? This one has been inside my head for a very long time. It sits quietly inside my soul, hibernating until something triggers panic and suddenly it all bursts!
Memories of the past are constant, my mind spins in circles, it vibrates and vibrates all day every day. It’s torture to live this life without one of my children.
Fear is real.
As a Mother (or Father), we have children, raise them with every ounce of love in our entire being. We create beautiful memories over the years, we talk to them about life and all the beauty it has to offer. We also talk to them about the dangers and how bad people are out there and to always be cautious. If you have to think twice about doing something, uncertainty, then don’t do it because it’s probably a bad decision. But, nobody’s perfect, we teach our kids to learn from those mistakes. Not fear them.
Fear is real.
Do we ever think it could actually happen? Could our worst FEAR in life as a parent really come true? I’m here to tell you ABSOLUTELY it sure can and it happened to me. One day my son is here laughing, loving, giving, living…saying I love you Ma I’ll be home later. Then, the next day he is gone. Forever. Just like that….gone.
Fear is real.
Hold on to your children and loved ones, embrace their love and love more. Forgive more. Enjoy the tiniest of things more. Put your cell phone down more. Listen more. Be in the moment more. Slow down more. Turn off the television more. Checkin more with your kids even if it annoys them. Ask questions more. If you can “feel” something isn’t right with your child, then it probably isn’t, so keep on …more. Let them know whatever is going on..it’s fixable, say it more. Say I LOVE YOU AND APPRECIATE YOU more, out loud every day.
Fear is real.
Yes, Fear is real. But so is Courage, and Strength, and Determination, Joy, Confidence, Bravery, Love, Fearlessness, Faith, Happiness, and so much more. If Fear is haunting you, change it before it’s too late.
I woke up this morning (6/30/2020) at 4:00 a.m. and couldn’t go back to sleep. My mind began racing. I picked up my phone and looked at the date, 764 days. It’s been 764 days of life without our Son, Joseph. Feels like 7 hrs. 64 minutes, or 7 minutes-64 seconds, what it doesn’t feel like is 764 days. My mind keeps racing, I cannot seem to calm it, so I begin to read bible verses and I pray. Suddenly, I’m feeling relaxed. Unfortunately, time doesn’t slow down and it never will. God, I wish you could give me a moment to catch my breath. But, it doesn’t work that way. Not today. So I pray.
After 764 days, I still cry before I go to sleep. It’s become my new nighttime normal. I hold on to my tears most of the day, I don’t want to worry those I love most. So, I save them and every night they flow slowly down my face, alone with my own thoughts at the end of each day. Tears also flow as I think of all the beautiful blessings in life; my husband of 35 years, my 27 years with Incredible son, Joseph (not long enough), my beautiful Daughters who are healthy and thriving and make me so proud, my beautiful Granddaughter who gives us all so much joy, my soon to arrive beautiful baby Grandson…we can’t wait to see him, my amazing family, my lifers, my Joe’s friends and my new friends who walk this journey of grief with me. My tears are bittersweet, but I am thankful.
There is a time to cry and a time to laugh. There is a time to be sad and a time to dance. There is a time to throw away stones and a time to gather them. There is a time to hug and a time not to hug.” Ecclesiastes 3:4-5 NCV
After 764 days, my heart still hurts, it will hurt forever until my last breath. My soul has a missing piece and my body cannot move sometimes, but life keeps going and I will keep trying. I will always keep trying. I am thankful.
After 764 days, I continue to leave Joe’s room the same. The hats on his wall, his desk, his dirty clothes in his hamper, his dresser with his clothes in each drawer, his nightstand with my picture he placed so carefully on the side so he could look at me. What was he thinking when he stared at my picture? I tell myself he was thinking, “Mehh, I love you so much. Goodnight Mehh.” I am thankful.
After 764 days, I can still smell his scent every time I walk into his bedroom. It’s not as strong, and I know it’s fading but I can still feel his scent of funkiness! It is the best funkiness of air. His dirty footprints remain on his walls where he would put his feet, I treasure those dirty wall prints and they will remain there as long as we are here. Every night I take his aftershave lotion and I pour a dab on my hands so I can smell his favorite scent. Then I close his bedroom door to savor it until the next morning. I am thankful.
After 764 days, we still say Joe’s name. Allie, Julie, Izzy and I will find ourselves all together in his room or in the living room or eating out for lunch and every time it feels like Joe is right there with us. We talk about moments that make us laugh, make us cry, and make us laugh again and again. It’s as if we can literally feel his presence in the room with us. It feels good when we are all together, because Joe’s there too. I seriously feel his spirit laughing with us (or at us!). I am thankful.
After 764 days, I have slowly found my way back to my faith. The anger at God has subsided and I discovered an extremely critical part of grieving…I cannot do this journey alone, it’s absolutely impossible without God. God has placed so many people in my path that help me, pray for me and my family, it’s an incredible feeling to be surrounded by so much love. I am thankful.
“The LORD is your protection; you have made God Most High your place of safety. Nothing bad will happen to you; no disaster will come to your home. He has put his angels in charge of you to watch over you wherever you go. They will catch you in their hands so that you will not hit your foot on a rock. You will walk on lions and cobras; you will step on strong lions and snakes. The LORD says, “Whoever loves me, I will save. I will protect those who know me. They will call to me, and I will answer them. I will be with them in trouble; I will rescue them and honor them. I will give them a long, full life, and they will see how I can save.”” Psalms 91:9-16
After 764 days, I feel ready to share Joe with everyone who loves him. I never thought I would be able to do this, but, I had a moment one day and I acted on it. My heart strongly feels like this one spot by the Grace of God “suddenly” became available at the Fountain of Chimes was actually chosen by Joe. I just have a feeling and now I’m going to make his wish come true. Took me a while to get it, but I believe our bond continues and I heard him loud and clear. It’s his place, his Fountain of Chimes. I am thankful.
After 764 days, Joe’s close circle of friends still remain connected to me. I know it’s hard for them, because they miss him too. He touched so many lives. I love when I get a text or phone call or an “I love you Momma Suarez” it’s a beautiful feeling! They are still here, by my side, even from a distance. I am thankful.
After 764 days, I’ve learned that life really is fragile. Every moment we share with those we love is truly a blessing. I take nothing for granted and I continue to keep trying to find my way thru this uninvited journey of grief. Doing what I absolutely know without a doubt, its what Joe would want me (us) to do. His love and joy lives in all of us. I am thankful.
After 764 days, I think healing is here, just a little bit. I can honestly say, if I move forward we all move forward, together. The best part is Joe moves forward with us too! I am thankful.
Dear Senator Shannon Grove, (Email: email@example.com)
My name is [Insert Your Name] and I reside at [Insert Your Address] in [Insert Your City], California.
On April 19, 2019, Demi Dominguez and her newborn son Malakhi both tragically died as a direct result of negligence, while under the medical care of Dr. Arthur Park. He carelessly cared for, treated and rendered medical services for Demi and her son. The State of California Medical Board is currently investigating this case.
Demi Dominguez was a 23-year old, young, vibrant and beautiful, educated woman. She was at the prime of her life; as a daughter, sister, new wife & mother, ready to graduate from CSUB with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology on June 1, 2019. Her life came to an abrupt and shocking end on April 19, 2019. Demi had faith and trust in Dr. Park but he failed her, the hospital failed her, the nursing staff failed her, our U.S. medical system also failed her.
I am asking that you please hold the State of California Medical Board and Dr. Arthur Park accountable for these tragic deaths. I am requesting the following:
1. Dr. Arthur Park has his medical license revoked, permanently. 2. The State of California Medical Board to be held accountable for the leniency of Dr. Parks negligence. (He was given probation for prior deaths. Had they chosen stronger repercussions Demi & Malakhi would be alive today, as well as many other Mothers.)
Thank you for your time and considering my request.
As I wake up to this day, I can hear my phone pinging one after another. It’s Mother’s Day. Text messages are coming in to wish me a beautiful day. I look at my phone there’s 23 text messages, I look forward to reading each one, somebody’s thoughtful words sent my way gives my heart so much joy. I smell coffee brewing downstairs and I hear Juliana talking in the kitchen. I close my eyes and fall back to sleep. When I wake up there’s a freshly brewed cup of coffee on my nightstand, a toasted bagel with blueberries perfectly placed one by one around the bagel. And, an envelope with “my wife” written on front. This Mother’s Day has begun and you’re not here.
My eyes begin to fill up with tears, I tell myself, don’t ..no, no, no, no I don’t want to cry. If I cry it won’t stop. My mind starts racing, I feel like I can’t catch my breath. I take a deep breathe in and out several times. God please make it stop!This goes on for several minutes and it feels like several hours. Calmness starts to flow slowly thru me, little by little everything in me starts to calm down. I close my eyes again, lay down, and begin to doze back to sleepbut tears are rolling down my face. I cry quietly. You’re still not here.
You were always the first one to give me a Mother’s Day card, hug,or a kiss on the cheek. Always the first to say Happy Mother’s Day out loud. Always the first to give me my gift. You were always first to wish me a beautiful day. As I look outside, people in cars drive by and the noise is loud from the street. Tree branches and leaves from my prayer tree whoosh from side to side. I turned around and crawled back into bed. You’re still not here.
Juliana comes into the room and loudly shouts, “Mom! C’mon get up it’s gonna be 11:00! It’s Mother’s Day! You have gifts to open!” To my surprise there’s flowers and a gift bag. She went out of her way to buy me the perfect card and a bag full of my favorite things. She is my one that loves each holiday and loves giving gifts. Her heart is so big, I thank God for Juliana. She gives me a purpose. We need to get out for a little while so we leave to visit Papa & Kika and eat breakfast with everyone. It was nice. But, You’re still not here.
It’s the end the day and Jordan BBQ’s a fabulous dinner for us. It was nice, we sat around talking and the best part of the whole day was that last moment. Dad, Allie, Julie, and I were sitting in the living room talking and laughing as we shared our beautiful memories about our life on Kamloops Dr. and Walnut Grove Ct. We had a good life all of us together. Everything was normal, no tragedies had hit us yet and every holiday was beautiful. Every Mother’s Day was a blessing as I would read each card that had been carefully picked with heartfelt words that meant so much to me I would cry every time.
THAT moment with all of us together laughing and remembering moments of joy together as a family, THAT was the perfect Mother’s Day gift. We are still a family, we still have moments of joy, we have to for You. You’re still giving us your love. You may not have physically been here, but I felt your spirit with us at that moment. YOU WERE HERE.
Monday, Memorial Day, May 28, 2018, it was an ordinary afternoon. It was a good day, I had no complaints and life was feeling absolutely peaceful. remember thinking how good I felt, no complaints. We were happy as a family, everyone was healthy and I was looking forward to a huge celebration on August 31st. I was retiring from my job of 25 years and Joe was turning 28. I wanted to celebrate my retirement and give Joe a great big birthday party too!
Then, at exactly 11:14 am on May 29, 2018, I received a phone call from Joe’s cell phone. I had been trying to reach him constantly the day before, he never called me back or answered my texts and I had not heard from him all night. That was not the norm for usand I became frantically scared. I answered my phone relieved it was Joe, but it wasn’t his voice on the phone. It was a woman and I had no clue why a stranger was calling me from Joes phone. Then she identified herself, but I couldn’t hear what she was saying, it was like a buzzing sound coming thru the phone. Then I heard her say four words, “your son has died.” And, just like that in a matter of less than 2 seconds our life changed, it would never again be the same. Our first born and only son, Joseph Anthony (27) was gone. His life had come to an abrupt and devastating end. Our entire world collapsed minute by minute after that phone call.
On June 7, 2018, we celebrated the life of our Son, Joseph Anthony Suarez. Remembering all the beautiful moments he gave selflessly to each one of us. That huge, beautiful smile and his infectious personality that lit up a room the moment he entered. His love for life, for us, and everyone who knew him. Standing room only in church that day and it was over capacity (900). I looked behind me and all I remember seeing was a huge sea of people. It was the most unforgettable two hours of our life, yet the most amazingly beautiful at the same time. Joe’s made a difference in the 27 years of his life, he made people feel good, and he never walked away from a friend. His love had no end and he may have physically left this world, but his spirit is way too big and his presence if felt everywhere.
Joe had a dream, it was to start his own business some day. For many years it’s all he talked about and I knew he would be successful, but it would take time to build his “Brand.” Time was not our friend and Joe’s life was suddenly cut short. Nobody saw this coming, he was this uplifting soul who made immediate friends with an Uber driver, or a guy at the gas station, or a successful business owner, he just had that vibe and he wanted to share that with the world. He came up with the name, NineTNineD. He created a different format to spell out the year he was born (1990). As a family, we decided to honor Joe’s life and keep his dream alive and move it forward. It’s been an extremely difficult task, as we still struggle at the fact he’s really not here anymore. It’s still unthinkable, how can Joe not be here? He was the center of our family, and I don’t know if we will ever get to that place of acceptance. It’s still too much to comprehend. But, we try, and we take one step forward each day and live loving life in the moment ….just like Joe. His online business is officially here, reality has arrived and we hope Joe’s Story gives others that “vibe” of living life to its fullest, everyday.
In addition, a portion of these funds will go towards starting a Foundation In Memory of Joseph Anthony Suarez, by bringing more attention to the heart disease Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy. Joe had this undetected heart disease, we had no idea he had this heart problem. This was a contributing factor to his passing. His spirit was so big, his love for life will never leave those of us who were blessed by his presence. Joe will never be forgotten, that’s a promise we made to his life.
Today is our second Thanksgiving holiday, it’s quite obvious this feeling I woke up to comes from the absence of Joe. It’s every day I feel him not here but this second year holiday it’s painfully powerful. My thoughts are running fast and I’m thinking all over the place. He still not here. Self-talk kicks in and I’m telling myself “try try try Elaine, you gotta keep trying. “
I wanted to stay in bed all day and sleep. But, that wasn’t an option, so I got up and stepped into the shower. As I stood there as hot water hit my skin, I closed my eyes and imagined hearing hearing Joe’s footsteps walk up the stairs and him knocking on the bedroom door, asking me “Momma, what time are we headed to pops & kikas?” I could hear his voice as if he were literally standing right there by the door. Me telling him, “probably like 2 pm Jehhhh.” It’s really difficult and somewhat crazy to think I have to pretend I’m talking to him, I hate pretending! But, I guess it fall’s back to that mindset of “whatever it takes.” I cried in the shower, I cried a lot. I just sat there with my face in a bath towel, tears kept coming down quickly and nonstop. Once again consumed with grief, I felt absolutely nothing. The bathroom had filled up with steam and I looked at my skin, it was a slight reddish color and suddenly I began to feel light-headed. I didn’t want worry anyone downstairs, so I hurried to grab a bath towel and stepped out. It felt like my entire was burning. I laid down for a bit and here it comes, my eyes began filling up with tears again. God, help me please, give me strength today. As I laid on my bed with my eyes closed, I tried really hard to remove the deep sorrow and pain throughout my body. Self-talk; be strong Elaine, you can’t fall apart today, pull yourself together! I threw my head in my pillow wanting to scream! Once again imaging Joe telling me, “Momma, get up! C’mon get up Ma, I love you!” He would often come upstairs while I slept and kiss me on my cheek or my forehead whispering “I love you Momma.” God, I miss those moments, I miss every moment about Joe.
Our Thanksgiving plans were to go visit Papa & Kika around 2 pm. I went downstairs, made coffee, then began making the fruit salad. One by one Allie and Juliana woke up and soon we were all in the kitchen. The girls were actually making their first apple pie! I begin to imagine again, I imagine Joe walking into the kitchen his hair all messy and kissing me on the cheek to tell me Happy Thanksgiving Momma. I love you. I can see him asking his sisters, what’s all this? Am I really seeing you two actually bake a cake from scratch? Wow, and laughing as they throw food at him. Then watching him kiss and hug them both with an “I Love You” and “Happy Thanksgiving my beautiful Sisters.” Am I crazy for imagining these things? This happens to me a lot but it’s all pretend thoughts, I wish it was real, it won’t ever be real again.
We were late to Papa & Kikas, as usual. We missed prayer, but I stopped us from being on a time schedule anymore. Once everything happened with Joe, time seems to not be an issue anymore. I basically stopped the clock, period! I have made it a habit now to not flip out on time in life anymore. We do our best to be timely, but today (Thanksgiving) was a day we all struggled to do, but we have to keep moving forward as a family. We have to keep trying every single day. We just do.
As we are walking up to the front door of Kika & Papa, I feel that feeling every time we pull up to their house. We’ve been coming here, every Thanksgiving since the birth of Joseph, Allie & Julie. It’s always been the 5 of us, until now. Now it’s us 4, plus my son-in-law and granddaughter. Its not the same walking up to their front door, everything is different. As we are all approaching the front door there’s this quiet noise. If that makes any sense. As I turned to look thru the garage window on my left, I see everyone inside at the tables eating, talking, smiling. We have a new baby in the family, great grandkids who were once little babies are no longer small tykes, they’re grown and tall, new family members too. As in years past, food is on the table by the window, desserts on a separate table and the warmth of Papa’s heaters giving everyone comfort. But, as we all walk into the garage where everyone is sitting, we don’t hear the sound of Joe going to each family member giving his hugs, kisses and handshakes. We don’t hear his voice yelling “hey Pops! Happy Thanksgiving!” It’s more like a quiet sound that enters the room with us, and it follows us everywhere we go. I call it the “absence of sound.” We each walk throughout the room hugging our family, and try to enjoy the moment with family.
Earlier that morning, I had received a message from Jess, one of Joe’s closest friends. I told her I was going to be in her area that day and invited her to come by before she left back to LA. She often will message to tell me “I love you Mom” or “I’m thinking of you.” A lot of Joe’s close friends will often send me a hello or I love you or I’m thinking of you message. It’s a wonderful feeling and I’m very blessed and grateful for each one. They are all family now. Jessica came by, such a beautiful surprise as I had not seen her for a while. We stepped out to the backyard and caught up on how she’s been and her wedding plans. It was a nice evening, chilly and yet a very still evening. No wind or rain (it had rained the previous night so the air smelled clean and fresh. As we sat on a chair in the backyard, I couldn’t help but think of all the memories our kids & family created over many many years in Papa & Kikas home. So many cherished as I’m looking around. I never imagined I would be sitting there one day grieving the loss of our only son! I noticed Jessica had grabbed Joe’s picture and held it tightly across her chest as she walked over to sit with me. Then her eyes start to swell and fill up with tears, heavy tears. She tried to smile but i felt her heartache the moment she stepped out of her car. It was coming, that huge thing that consumes every ounce of anything living inside your body. It was a long time coming, I knew that for sure. We sat and talked for a few minutes, she told me how much she loved Joe, he was like her big Brother always watching out for her in those younger days. They had been friends since kindergarten and remained very close their entire life. I had yet to see or hear Jessica cry, she held strong every time I spoke to her or got a beautiful text to tell me “I love you.” Suddenly, a tsunami of tears came pouring from her pretty blue eyes, i wrapped my arms around her and I held her like a Mother holds her child, with complete love. It’s okay honey, just let it out I’m right here. My heart aches for her pain, it’s that thing that takes over your entire body that crumbles every bone in your body. I looked up and suddenly a puff of wind turned into a rush through the trees, blowing the leaves back and forth.
All Kika’s wind chimes began to ring what seemed to be upwards towards the clouds. It was the most beautiful sound I’ve ever heard. The wind and singing wind chimes. It was if someone was trying to get our attention! Listen Jessica, do you hear that sound? She looked up and around us then spoke out loud, “Joe! I miss you so much Joe!” I continued to hold her in my arms and we both cried together listening to the most amazing sound in the air. I love you, Son! I love you so much! Finally, our tears slowed and so did the wind, trees, and chimes. Everything in the air became quiet again. It stopped. And we both sat there in complete disbelief of what we had just experienced. This is real, I told her and this is what happens to me all the time. It’s how I know Joe is telling me he is right here with me and tonight he was with US both. I could see the relief in her eyes, she had just witnessed the spiritual power of something so much bigger than us here on this earth. We walked inside the house where everybody was gathering for a family picture. She was our photographer and it truly was the most amazing joy that night. An absolutely perfect moment.
Life feels blurry at times. I’ve learned things about death recently, it doesn’t scare me but I know it’s never too far away. Death has taken away people I love and one day I too will be gone from the living world. I have lost many loves in my life. My Father died on 10/26/1963, I was 3 months old. My eldest Sister died on 10/26/1997, I was 35 years old. My Mother died on 3/25/2008, I was 45 years old. And, my only Son Joseph died on 5/28/2018, I was 55 years old. My nephew recently died on 10/20/2019, I’m now 56 years old. Why does death seem to come around every 10 years or so? Since 1997, someone I love very much has been yanked out of my life! But, nothing compares to the death of my Son. Losing Joe, left a giant hole in me and there are no words to describe how this feels, absolutely none. Every day is a new day, I have to keep moving forward and I’ll do whatever it takes to survive, even if it means imagining he’s here. One day I’ll no longer pretend, but not today.