There comes a point in our human experience where life seems to take on a different feel, taste and look. Some of us may experience this as we learn to meditate and practice conscious thinking, give life to a new baby, have a cultural experience, adopt a child or marry the love of our life. These can all be powerful moments of awakening, although, sometimes you are forced to rise and see what you’re really capable of when you may least expect it. My ashes fell in November of 2014.
I have previously lived and loved in San Francisco and Los Angeles. From a young age I had an interest in becoming an attorney. Family and friends often suggested how great I was at arguing, so why not? Once I chose to embrace the chaotic world around me, something changed. Maybe it was seeing innocent souls struggle for life, a young child hungry for love and attention on the streets. The idea of being an attorney shifted, I was searching for something more fulfilling, more human. Eventually, my heart and mission led me to help mothers, families and troubled teens within the communities in which I lived. This world that they call "nonprofit" is beyond rewarding and it created something special in my life. I was helping others, while experiencing an awakening every day, and that made me feel alive! After spending 7 years living in these energetic cities, traveling with family, and listening to my inner voice, a small baby bump brought me back to my family, my roots and my future. I grounded my feet and started my adult life, or so society calls it.
I’ve always been the one in the family to help get things done, fix something, figure something out. When you live your life like that for so long, you almost become reliant on the need to continue that behavior. For me, it was starting to become unhealthy. Where is the line between enabling and helping? It’s hard when you love someone and you want the “perfect” life that so many people portray all over social media. Well, mine was not that, and I finally gave up trying to portray it as so. Pride is another thing. Why on earth do we allow it to run over our ability to be honest? What the hell are we afraid of? For me, the idea of divorce was terrifying, but inevitable. So yes, I am one of those statistics. Mark me on the chart. But the beauty in it was the door that opened for someone else, who shared my strength and love for life, to help get me through this next phase; the ashes phase. Sometimes the life you consciously create comes crashing down around you, and you have nothing left to do but rise.
November 3, 2014, my daughter, my beautiful Francesca, “Frankie Bean," at the age of 3, was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, better known as ALL, or better known as, CANCER. The BIG word you never want to say out loud, especially when talking about your baby. Last year, while resting by her bed at Loma Linda Children’s Hospital, I began reading a book titled, Light is the new Black. I’ve read variations of books about working your light, leading with love, soul’s calling, etc. This time was different. Everything I read made me feel different, I could feel the emotion of the words as I was read them. I guess sitting next to your child being pumped with chemo might make you look and sense the world differently. I recall reading the author's intro, and it made me feel ok that my world was flipped upside down. I now didn’t have a job, I was about to give birth to a third daughter and my second daughter stopped talking. This was my new life. She writes, “When your soul is heavy and your heart broken in two. Rise sister rise. When you’ve been beaten and defeated, and feel so far away from home. Rise sister rise. When you find yourself in a thousand pieces with no idea which bit goes where. Rise sister rise. When you finally beg for mercy to your calling, but have no idea where to start. Rise sister rise. Rise for you. And rise for me. For when you rise first you make the path brighter for she.” It was as if this book was written for this exact moment of my life and for the moment I allowed myself to feel again, cry again, and live again.
Some people say our children choose us before they are born. Maybe my Frankie chose me. Regardless, I am the perfect mother for her, and she is the perfect daughter for me. Since becoming a mother to Frankie, I have birthed 2 powerful and beautiful daughters: Emmersan, age 2 and Augustine, age 1. They, along with Frankie, challenge me every day, they make want to scream curse words and they are my daily dose of life. These three animals have inspired me to be somebody I wouldn’t have recognized five years ago. They helped me rise.
So there it is. My ashes, my raw, vulnerable pit of despair, and I am surviving it. I’ve been blessed to have had my eyes opened to all the beauty surrounding us every moment of every day. My life, this life, is real. I will not pretend that raising three girls is easy. My tangled hair and grey roots are beautiful indicators of how I have chosen to set an example to my girls and other moms, women, sisters, aunts, grandmothers and friends to not try so hard. I trust it’s within my calling to help other women recognize that it’s ok to not feel ok. It’s ok to say "fuck it" for a day, fall apart and try again tomorrow. This was how my ashes fell, and I share this because it’s what makes me real. Screw the societal norm and just live life.