The Literal Grapes of Wrath

2019 sucks. It has been a hard year and it’s only April, so if that’s any indication of how the next 8 months are going to go, I will just go throw myself off a bridge right now and save myself the trouble. Obviously, I wouldn’t really do that, but God almighty, it’s been rough these last four months.

I am by no means a superstitious person, but I’m tracking all of this horrendous bad luck to New Year’s Eve. As part of Spanish tradition, we eat 12 grapes in the last 12 seconds of the year on this night; starting at 11:59:48, if you get all 12 grapes down, you are supposed to have good luck all 12 months of the new year. In the past, I of course have not been able to eat all 12, and some years I’ve eaten them all and didn’t win the lottery or anything. There was one year where my mom bought grapes that were the circumference of silver dollars, and needless to say, we all almost choked and got nowhere near finishing 12 grapes. We’ve done this every year, even on years when we’re apart or at a party somewhere (yes, I’ve taken a sandwich baggie of 12 grapes over to people’s houses for NYE parties). You just don’t break tradition.

This year, Timmy and I celebrated at our home in St. Pete after a winter break of driving all over the place, like always. We began December with a trip to the Bahamas with our good friends who were escaping the Chicago winter. I ended up having a 24 hour stomach bug the last day there.

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Then over the winter break in Atlanta, I had a terrible cold and needed my weight in Sudafed and went through 2 boxes of tissues. We took a quick trip to NC with our good friends Mathew and Lucie and enjoyed a lot of time with family.

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Then NYE came upon us when that terrible thing happened and it’s been a rapid descent into hell on earth since then.

Timmy and I both do the grapes tradition on NYE. Usually I can at least get them in my mouth, if not fully swallowed and digested, which is close enough. This year, I wasn’t able to get 4 down. They were just sitting in the sandwich bag, mocking me. I immediately said (after swallowing the 8 I had been able to eat), “Shit, I’m going to have a really bad 4-months in 2019!” 

No truer words have ever been spoken in the history of ever.

A few weeks into January, I got a concussion. I was in our work break room, moving food for an event from the freezer to the fridge when I stood up and my head went right into the bottom of the freezer door. I’m almost passed out and immediately felt nauseated. The next day, I had a conference in DC. My second day of the conference, I started to slur my words, speak slowly, and had basically no ability to focus or concentrate, so I made my way to the ER. 45 minutes later, I was diagnosed with a head injury (no shit) and was discharged. That lovely bill came later and with insurance, I (now my worker’s compensation) owe nearly $700…for 45 minutes. Insane. I did get to see some of my friends so there was a wonderful upside to that trip, but the conference was kind of a bust. 

The next few weeks, we were able to see some friends at Disney and Anna Maria, and finally got to see Hamilton for Timmy’s birthday (which totally lived up to the hype, it was that incredible). Honestly, I’ve been so underwater this semester from working full time, teaching class, and taking 6 credits online, I can’t really remember many details from visiting with our friends in the first place. Add in that concussion, and let’s just say it was all really fun.

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I recovered over the next few weeks and in February, nearly a month to the day of the first concussion, I got yet another concussion.

I’m not kidding you. Timmy and I were attempting to go paddleboarding but it was an extremely windy day. I was on the driver’s side of the car when Timmy tried to lift the top paddleboard off my car and the wind took it from there, right into the backside of my head. In what should’ve been complete whiplash, I fell to the ground and couldn’t really move much. A kind stranger witnessed the whole thing, and while Timmy rushed to secure back the paddleboards so they didn’t fly off again, she stayed with me and eventually helped me walk back, very shakily, to the car. I didn’t have to go to the ER then because I was still recovering from the first concussion, so any additional symptoms would’ve been same ole same ole at that point.

My immediate reaction on the car ride home was, “God, I don’t want to be dumb.” After all the concussions and CTE news, I was and am still pretty concerned that after surviving an entire childhood with no concussions, I have had 3 in 6 years (2 from paddleboards, oddly enough). I can’t deal with memory loss, lowered intelligence, and random bursts of anger, y’all, I got stuff to accomplish!

Then the last Monday of February, which was the beginning of Spring Wellness Week, a week of wellness-related events that I’m completely responsible for, I woke up at 3 am with what I thought was food poisoning. As the day wore on and I was unable to go to work, I realized that something about this was different.

If you’ve ever had food poisoning, you know it’ll be gone in 24 hours and it has you wishing for death. A trip anywhere other than the bathroom is not to be attempted nor could it be without you vomiting and/or shitting your pants. However, I ended up in the ER again for what we think now was a stomach virus that had me in tears, doubled over in pain from muscle spasms in my upper abdomen due to all the heaving and purging. The entire week after, I couldn’t eat anything but bland foods and soup (which I can’t stand) and my intestines were so distended, I looked 5 months pregnant.

All of this should’ve been enough, right? Like any normal person would’ve been greatly affected by just one of these things happening, let alone all 3 in 2 months.

But I’m not done yet.

Two weeks later, we went to Panama with my entire family for spring break. We were able to see so much of my dad’s side there, and honestly it was a great trip. The timing was horrendous though because I had been spending most Sundays up until then back in my office, trying to catch up on schoolwork, and Timmy really needed to be in the states for his work. But all in all, throw in hotel upgrades in Panama City and again in Buenaventura (this time, to a 4 bedroom villa that could’ve housed everyone), it really was a super fun time.

We took a 9-hour tour that took us on a boat on the Panama Canal, fed some monkeys on Monkey Island, saw the Fort of San Lorenzo, walked across one of the locks of the Panama Canal, and witnessed a large ship crossing through the Agua Clara locks of the Canal. I remember when I was much younger watching the Panama Canal ship crossing and not really being super into it, but now as an adult, that thing is an engineering marvel and really interesting to see in person.

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The rest of March passed by hitting my allergies HARD. I have never bought so much Sudafed (and I’m talking the meth-making kind), Mucinex, and tissues IN MY LIFE COLLECTIVELY than in the last 6 months. I couldn’t breathe, sleep was a distant memory, I was sneezing every 5 minutes, and then the drainage…Oh the drainage.

Then April hit, and the shitstorm just kept rolling. I am on Marco Polo with a bunch of my grad school girlfriends and while they were all marveling at my ridiculous string of bad luck, I told them, “What’s the worst that can happen from here on out? A bone break?”

OMG I WAS SO WRONG.

Two weeks ago, someone hacked my Amazon account and reloaded my gift card balance using my credit card to $100, no doubt to use the gift card balance themselves. I caught this, and Amazon removed it. I went on a few days later after changing my password and bought a few things, not realizing that those items had been charged to my newly uploaded gift card balance AGAIN. Apparently, they rehacked my account after the password change, but I used up the balance before they could.

Then, I woke up last Tuesday morning to 25 emails from Amazon, each thanking me for purchasing Playstation gift cards in various amounts from $25 to $50 through the night, totaling almost $400 worth of charges. Even though this dumbass dude (and yes, I’m saying it’s a man) used my Decatur billing address AND the fact that I’ve never purchased anything Playstation related in the close to 15 years I’ve been on Amazon, the dude got his gift cards and spent the amounts quickly because you receive the redemption codes upon purchase.

Another thing this asshole did was use my account to upload trade-in items. I guess when you trade-in items on Amazon, you get paid immediately for them, which is what he used to transfer to my gift card balance and used them right away. I started getting emails saying that I had 16 days to send in the trade-in items, but guess what…I don’t actually have any of those items. So I had to spend an entire morning with Amazon, making sure my account was labeled as unauthorized use, and closed down temporarily for 2 days, after which I could create a new password and start using it again.

I have to admit, the hacker used a brilliant tactic to ensure that he got free stuff and never had it tracked back to him because guess what is nonrefundable on Amazon? Gift cards and gaming purchases!

At this point, I’m sure you’re thinking, “God damn Victoria, that’s enough! I hope your string of bad luck has ended!”

BUT YOU WOULD BE WRONG.

Last Thursday, while Timmy was traveling for work, I was really really wanting ice cream so I got in my car with Floyd to satisfy my late evening craving. As soon as I started the car, I, without thinking, reached down to close the garage door as I was backing out. Yes, I have sensors to stop the door, but my tires hadn’t reached them yet. By the time I realized what I had done and quickly put my car in forward drive, the garage door clipped the top of my car and bent the bottom panel, pulling the door off the tracks.

Almost about to cry, I thought to myself, “Fuck it. I already broke it. Ice cream, I’m coming for you!”

The next day, I had one of those national garage companies come to give me an estimate, and as soon as I saw these young, smug, white dudes walk up, I knew they were going to tell me I needed a new garage door. They quoted me $1000 for a new door that would’ve looked nothing like Timmy’s garage door, which obviously wouldn’t have worked, especially because of our HOA. So in essence, they were telling me I needed to pay $2000 for 2 new garage doors. I told them no, and as soon as they left, I called this other guy I had used once before when I bent the upper panel of my garage door (it was right after we moved in. Again, my fault, because I didn’t park my car in far enough). He came 1 hour later, fixed it in 1 hour and it was $175.

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My quick thinking at least saved me from a moronic sales pitch. I like to imagine that without 2 concussions, I would never have broken the door in the first place, so let’s leave it at that.

I left my Amazon account alone for nearly 6 days, and then I changed my password this Monday. Lo and behold, not even 5 hours later, during my evening class, I got an email thanking me for the $10 Xbox gift card purchase and redemption I had done! So yet, again, I had to spend more time with Amazon doing the exact same thing as before.

Suffice it to say, I haven’t gone on Amazon since.

April, you have 2 more weeks. GET YOUR SHIT TOGETHER. These grapes of wrath have taken their toll on me, and I’m the most overwhelmed, moody, and stressed I’ve ever been in my life (wedding planning not included bc I wasn’t also hit with a bunch of medical issues during it). Like I said, I’m not superstitious, but 4 grapes not eaten, 4 horrific months of 2019…there has to be a connection and I’m over it.

I turn 36 in two and a half weeks, and all I’m wishing for at this point is no more head injuries. Happy. birthday. to. me.

♥, VB

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The Horror of Today

I would say 75% of my friends on Facebook are parents. I know because all I see are a never ending parade of pictures of them with their children every time I’m online. Pictures of teeth lost, of birthdays and swim lessons and first and last days of school. Memories and love all documented for the world to see.

Now, I’m not assuming that many of them don’t care about what’s going on because of their lack of comment on FB. However, the lack of commentary in a public forum on the abhorrent practice that is going on right now is concerning enough. One would think that something as relatable as having a family would be something that could unite parents into doing what’s best for the child.

I’m not a parent and I’m quite frankly sick to my stomach.

Lately, I literally cannot decide what I need to be more outraged by with this current administration and I’m starting to get pretty fatigued, as I’m sure you all are. But we can’t just stop caring, especially when it’s as fundamentally a human rights violation as SEPARATING PARENTS AND THEIR CHILDREN. Whatever you believe on immigration and the rights of immigrants, this practice is WRONG. Christian-defined wrong, Islamic-defined wrong, Judaism-defined wrong, ALL RELIGIONS-defined wrong.

There is no middle ground here on deciding the morality of this practice. IT IS WRONG.

Dozens of “Families Belong Together” rallies are planned for Thursday, June 14, to protest the Trump administration’s practice of separating children from their parents at the US-Mexico border. Above, a rally on June 1 in Manhattan. Spencer Platt/Getty Images 

The fact that something that is also fundamental to our country, like separation of church and state, is also being ignored by this current administration is killing me. How dare our Attorney General use the Bible to justify any piece of this atrocious practice. HOW DARE ANY OF YOU TRY TO JUSTIFY THIS BY SAYING IT’S ABOUT DEMOCRATS AND LOOPHOLES IN POLICY AND RELIGION AND IT’S JUST ENFORCEMENT OF LAW.

Seriously, Fuck You.

I’m getting to the point where I’m feeling ready to shut down entirely. I’m sensing that depressive fog start to take shape and hover over my body and when that happens in full, there is no hope, no fun, just a vast sense of nothingness. I’m clinging to my job like there’s no tomorrow because at least through my work, I get to help, I get to connect students to their community, and I get to see first hand how knowledge can change lives.

If you’re a parent, I hope that you stop to think about if you had been born a different race, a different SES, in a different country with a different language, how separating your child from you could damage everything and everyone. I hope just as a human being you can and want to put yourselves fully in someone else’s shoes to understand their struggles and challenges. The ability to do that is called empathy, and the world could use much more of it.

We have survived as a human species this long because of our ability and desire to co-exist. Our earth is absolutely not going to be around forever because we’ve clearly already destroyed that. I hate to think our collective recognition and appreciation of our shared humanity is also on its way to extinction. Some of my colleagues, friends, and loved ones are rightly horrified about the state of current events and want to do something, anything to help. But my main concern is that not everyone is as deeply enraged as they should be.

I thought we were all better than this.

♥, VB

Hi There

Long time, no talk to. I just wanted to stop by and say hi and say I’m sorry for being MIA here. It’s not you, it’s me. It was 2017, it was politics, it was anxiety, it was exhaustion, it was everything. I had and still have a lot to say about the things that transpired last year, but whenever I sat down at my blog to write, I found myself tired. Unmotivated to share. Unwilling to talk.

Believe me, I had those conversations in person, but not often and not with everyone, because honestly, I just didn’t have the stamina. There was so much about last year that bothered and hurt me and kept me so angry and scared. Personally, it was a wonderful year; I taught my two classes, had a lot of fun with family and friends, and really cemented my bond with my husband after a shaky first year of marriage.

But the world, man, the world just grinded me in its teeth and I felt all the negative emotions.

I donated, I read, I got off of social media for about 8 months (except for Instagram). I did the small things I could to keep my sanity, but every time I even briefly looked at CNN or Washington Post or NY Times or BBC, I just felt my resolve crumble and I would have to build myself up all over again. So I just stayed focused on my small world and turned inwards.

I know the cycle of life pretty well by now: personally and professionally, those waves usually don’t coincide because when one is up, the other is down. Not so this past year! My relationship with Timmy made amazing strides forward and now I can finally see what people mean when they say marriage is fun. It is now and it’s definitely something I treasure more than anything. Professionally, I made even more strides towards my overall career goals, and as soon as I felt myself start to lag or bore with my routine, fate intervened and has provided me with even more amazing pathways.

I won’t share it all right now because it hasn’t all transpired and I don’t want to jinx myself, but let’s just say, if things go the way I would like (and have planned for), god, 2018 may be my best year ever, which is hard to say after my 30th year.

So I guess what I wanted to say is I’m sorry I cut you out. It really wasn’t you, it was me. And in 2018, I’m going to use this blog how it was intended: to fill you in on our lives in FL, and the quirky, ridiculous, fun, infuriating, amazing things that happen to Timmy, Floyd, and I on a constant basis. Stay tuned my friends, and let’s make 2018 a fantastic year (which let’s face it, after 2017, can we say there’s no where else but up?)

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♥, VB

Motivation

No, I haven’t felt particularly motivated to update this blog in a long time. Part of it was I had too much to say and the energy required to write it all down was too much. The other part was that life has been more difficult than I’d like to admit this past year and while everyone around us has been like, “Oh great, life milestones, amazing, be happy, you’re going places,” for us it’s felt stifling, stressful, and oh so not amazing a great majority of the time.

I know it sounds like I’m complaining or ungrateful, but the reality of my emotions is far from that. But stress is stress, and in one year, we planned a wedding, got married, bought a house, renovated the house, moved, and tried to find our normal again. Which is so hard when for nearly 2 years straight, you haven’t had a real normal. Timmy moved from Lake Mary to my tiny apartment last January, we were on top of each other all the time, he traveled a lot, and between the wedding planning stress, the house hunting stress, the house buying stress, the renovation stress, the money stress, and then the moving into said house stress, I had literally used up all my coping methods.

I was a ticking time-bomb that went off in January.

The reality of our life is now more normal, more settled, more calm for sure. But that reserve of emotional mess that I had been carrying around and stockpiling just became too much and I broke in a very real way. I was ready to run away and leave this all behind. Which is not at all a very adult way to handle everything, but I was struggling big time. And my partner was struggling in his own way too, and we just weren’t clicking.

I absolutely sank around election time. Trump and the racial hate and misogyny and general hopelessness became the weight that sank me even further, as though the stress of everything else in our lives wasn’t enough. I cried for nearly two weeks straight. I have been off of Facebook since November, about a few days after the election because I simply couldn’t take it anymore. I miss it a little, but after the withdrawals wore off, I’m good without it.

I took on an additional class, Human Sexuality, to teach this semester, so my life is really busy and full, but emotionally, it’s been challenging to catch the happy ride back up the downward slope. My back pain has been worse than ever, and after a failed radiofrequency ablation (where they burn the nerves in a particular area), I’ve been depressed about my back and wondering if life can ever feel normal when all I think about is my pain.

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Maybe it’s the January/February/March blues that get us all. Maybe it’s a combination of our stress, Trump for me, and the winter meh that got us. But we’ve been in a dark place, and we keep wavering in and out of it. Lately, more out of it than in it, which is definitely progress.

It certainly helps that all the boxes and wedding gifts have been unpacked. Our house is beautiful and we still have a few more projects to go, like painting a few spots, rescreening our porches, redoing the floors in our garage, but those weren’t necessities to getting settled. We’ll be getting started on those soon enough.

We love our neighborhood and the quiet nature that surrounds us. We are starting to fish on our fishing pier with the addition of new fishing equipment, courtesy of Timmy. My parents came to visit a few weekends ago (which was so needed) and they brought my bike. So the other night Timmy and I biked close to St. Pete Beach (and stumbled through a ridiculous argument, again), then to a local restaurant for drinks and games.

It was awesome and it felt like us.

The sun is out more, and it’s warmer, so me likey. I can’t wait to start spending afternoons after work paddleboarding around the waterways, and really soaking up the mood-improving Vitamin D. And we’ll get there soon.

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But Timmy misses Jake and his dad and James, and I’m missing my friends and family a lot. Timmy and I working on our connection harder than we have before, but we need our support system around us to help ground us. So friends and family, come visit us! We have space, and it’s close to everything. It’s honestly like being on vacation all the time, living in our new house.

It’s just now starting to sync for us. Just now. If we haven’t been reaching out to you as much, be patient because the ground is just now starting to solidify underneath us again. That’s just life, I guess, and I know we’ll get back. It’s always ups and downs, and we just have to have faith and put the work in.

Winter sucks. Trump sucks. Hate sucks. But we will rock again.

♥, VB

 

The Days We Remember

There are moments in your life where you can remember your youth incredibly vividly, as though it happened yesterday. Time moves on yet it’s tinged with sadness as you realize that every day that passes is one more day that separates you from that time of innocence. Then without warning, there is a moment where you realize without a doubt, the door to your youth is closed, never to reopen again.

My last remaining grandparent died in September at the age of 101 and with her, she took my youthful days of no responsibilities, never ending fun, and joyful naivety.

There is something that happens deep inside when you lose your last grandparent. It’s like the ties to the past have been ripped off and that’s it, the link to your history has been irrevocably severed.

As Timmy and I were on our way to a close friend’s wedding on September 25, I looked down at my phone and saw 8 missed calls from my dad. I knew then it had happened.

I have had moments over the last month of incredible mood swings, moving from sheer joy to a sadness that feels deep and unsurmountable, like even if I had the will, the tears might never stop.

Three weeks ago, Timmy and I went to a Mark Knopfler concert in Clearwater. Timmy had seen him the night before in Melbourne and wanted to see him again with me, even though I wasn’t really that familiar with his music. These were emotional nights for him as he remembered his father and their bond over his music. We sat down in a theater that hadn’t been updated since probably 1992. Clearly being the youngest in the room, I looked around and made a passing comment to Timmy, “Look at this sea of white hair.”

Within seconds, I felt the rush of sadness move up my spine, into my throat, and out of my eyes. Overwhelmed. Despondent. Inconsolable. I cried for hours, and as the music played, all I could hear was the sadness in the notes, in the voices, in the harmonies.

I of course have lost people before, some suddenly, some with more preparation. I never knew my mother’s father, but I remember when I was around 2 years old, probably one of my first memories, my mother answering the phone and collapsing into tears, my father rushing to hug her. What my mother ended up sharing with Timmy and I before we left to go to Spain for my Yaya’s funeral was that the phone call was from my uncle telling my mother that her father had died days earlier and they had already buried him.

Imagine coming home from your family’s first trip to Disney World and having that be the first call you take. Before cell phones, emails, instant ways to connect. He hadn’t been able to contact my mother and so the family had to move forward with arrangements. I can’t even begin to understand the depths of grief and guilt my mom went to then.

We lost my father’s parents when I was in college, one right after the other, 9 months apart. My Abuelito had been sick for a few years, colon cancer, and I was able to see him over Christmas break my first year at NYU. He remembered me briefly, one of the few moments of clarity for him, and I’ll never forget his smile as he looked up and recognized me.

But I’ll also never forget his frailty, round the clock assistance, diapered and incoherent, looking so infantile and old at the same time. He passed and without reason or explanation, my sister and I missed his funeral.

My Abuelita, who hadn’t been separated from him since she was nearly 14 years old, was damaged after that. Never again to be the Abuelita I remembered growing up, who so doted on me and at every waking moment, tried to fill me with food and love. She moved through the world slowly and painfully, as though the weight of my Abuelito’s passing hung on her like a heavy cloak.

She passed quickly, had a stroke and was gone by the morning. This time, my family went to Panama together to celebrate her life. She had an open casket, which I refused to see as I knew I would never remember her any other way than dead in a coffin. I could do without that visual.

Looking back, I remember being sad at their passing, thinking how fast they both went. But I also remember not feeling the sadness, not grieving,  but instead saying I was sad, saying I was in grief. At the time, thanks to the antidepressant I was on, I was numb to everything and everyone, unable to shed a single tear for anything. For being homesick. For missing my friends. For 9/11.

And now, I was unable to feel anything for my grandparents, the ones who had sat through my dumb dances and performances in the living room before bedtime. The ones who would play dominoes and copas with me, and who would tell their stories about family and love and history. The ones I saw only a few times every 2-3 years because they lived so far away.

I always had the sense that my father was angry with me for a long time afterwards because of my lack of emotion, which I’m sure he and my mother took for apathy at my grandparents. I had assumed that they realized that due to the antidepressants, I simply couldn’t feel. I hope my dad knows in his heart that I miss them greatly, a void in my heart that can never be patched.

I am grieving over my Yaya in a very different way. First of all, I am actually grieving, which is a huge relief to be able to feel anything at all. But it has also felt like a dam breaking, one from which all of the emotions I couldn’t feel for my abuelitos is hitting me all at once.

Sitting there, in that concert hall with Timmy, I felt like I was drowning.

Grief can sometimes feel like a light breeze, swirling around you and reminding you of its presence. Other times, grief can feel like a lead smock, the kind you wear in an x-ray machine, a weight so heavy that it cements you to your seat, cutting off oxygen, and making you immobile.

My Yaya’s funeral started with an open casket viewing, which I wasn’t prepared for after having spent 7.5 hours in the air, straight to my aunt’s to change clothes, straight to the funeral home. I also chose not to see her so that I could remember her the way I always knew her: white hair in rollers, dressed impeccably, nails done, makeup spotless, ready to impress, even if she was staying home to crochet.

She would come stay with us in Atlanta usually 4-6 months at a time while I was growing up. She would be there, cleaning the house, crocheting, or watching Univision when we got home from school. I remember she always said a prayer before sleeping and she never took her wedding band off.

She had the best stories, like the nudist who constantly invited her to a nude beach in Spain, but to whom she always politely declined. Or her gorgeous legs she said garnered her nonstop compliments when she walked to the market. She laughed with us when we poked fun at her, always when she tried to say anything in English, a language she didn’t understand. When Santa Claus came out as “Sando Khan”, or Disney World as “Sidney Gol”, or Michael Jackson as “Mickey Johso”.

I remember the way she danced when Spanish music came on, her smile when she saw our friends running to greet her, the way she couldn’t stop laughing when my father would crack jokes with her, her nightly beer because she didn’t really like wine, her love, her light.

And now I think of her absence all the time, like the flamenco show we saw last night at Columbia Restaurant. Our wedding that she won’t be at. The fiance she never met. My twin nieces she never held.

When the attacks happened in Paris last weekend, I had finished my TEDxUSFSP talk and was coming out of the ballroom on a high. I checked Facebook on my phone and immediately realized something bad had happened. It wasn’t really until the next day when I had time to read about the attacks that the fear and sadness began to overwhelm me.

Timmy and I headed to the airport for the Auburn vs. UGA game bright and early Saturday morning, and although I couldn’t care less about football, I was there to support him. But I shed tears in the stadium, sitting in the shade, sunglasses on. The whole time I struggled to put down my phone, to remain present, to be in the moment instead of far away in despair and grief.

Because although I didn’t know anyone in Paris, it was too familiar, this relationship I have with death now, it’s too close and too much a part of me. I began losing people I care about at 19 and it hasn’t stopped. 9/11, my grandparents, one high school friend, my best friend, another high school friend, three high school friends, four, five, my grandmother…it never ends.

I remember the panic attacks after Lindsay died, my first real brush with unexpected death. The inability to focus and move through the day normally.

Now, there are moments during the day where I am gripped with such an intense fear of losing my parents, I lose my breath. The anxiety holds me still and I can almost hear my own heart stop.

I miss my Yaya. I miss my friends. I miss my Abuelitos. I miss my childhood in a real visceral way, which is how I know that the door is closed.

I can’t go back.

The grieving never stops. The crying, however, does.

♥, VB