Dear Dad…

Dear Dad,

Today is your 67th birthday. Today is also the 4 year anniversary of your mom passing away.

This is the first birthday you will be spending in Heaven and the first birthday you won’t be here with us.

I miss you, Dad.

I thought after 6 months I wouldn’t be this torn up.
But I am.

I went to church on Easter, to the service we used to go to together, and within 5 minutes one of your friends came up to me. It was then that I realized I hadn’t been to church since the day after your service. So within 5 minutes of being at church, I was in tears. I cried throughout worship and during some parts of the sermon. I kept thinking, “Will I ever be able to come here again without crying?” I don’t want to find a new church. This is my home; I grew up in this church. But if the memory of you lingers every time I sit in our spot, I don’t think I can take it.

I don’t know what to do today.

Before Grandma passed away on your birthday 4 years ago, we would do fun things. I’ve taken you to Disneyland, the Reagan Library, a tour around La Jolla, to name a few.

After Grandma passed away, you said you wanted your birthday to become a celebration of her. So we started our family reunion. We used to hold it on your birthday or the weekend before/after. This past year we did it in August so more people could come.

But now, I’m feeling a little lost.

Should I go to the beach and eat donuts and coffee like I did in October for Grandma’s 100th birthday? Should I go to Tony’s and eat 2 beef tacos with lots of hot sauce and guacamole? Should I go to a baseball game like we did last year?

I still haven’t decided and part of me doesn’t want to decide.

I still have to remind myself every morning that you’re no longer here. So me celebrating your birthday without you just kinda makes that part worse.

So I guess I’ll just say thanks…

 For raising me.
For making me put school first.
For teaching me how to play baseball.
For teaching me how to drink wine.
For going on road trips with me.
For helping me move into my dorms and apartments.
For teaching me how to drive a manual.
For teaching me how to grill.
For teaching me how to be self-sufficient.
For teaching me about our family history.
For telling stories.
For coming to visit me in Ohio and in OC.
For supporting my high school drama department.
For sending me care packages during finals.
For holding me when I cried.
For encouraging me to go to law school.
For letting me vent about whatever was on my mind.
For giving me an example of how a father should be.
For telling me I was better than the boys I dated.
For loving Bret and our relationship.
For teaching me how to build and fix things.
For exploring San Diego County with me.
For going to church with me every Sunday.
For telling me I will pass the bar exam.
For always being there for me.
For believing in me.
For loving me unconditionally.

Words cannot describe how much I love you and wish you hadn’t left so soon.

I hope you’re having a blast in Heaven with Grandma and Jesus.

I can’t wait until I see you again.

Love always,
Lizard

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It’s a Girl!

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We couldn’t be more excited to announce that we’re having a girl!

It honestly is kind of a shock that we’re having a girl. Literally, everyone we know except maybe 5 people thought we were having a boy.

Bret & I were convinced it was a boy, too.
But for different reasons.

Bret wanted a boy because he wanted to be able to play sports and be all rough and tumble with him. I thought we were having a boy because of my Dad. (There’s a myth that if someone in your family dies & then someone gets pregnant the genders will be the same). So because of that myth, I was convinced that it was going to be a boy.

But lo’ and behold, we are having a precious baby girl!

I am so excited for the bows and flowers and everything pink and white.

We had a bunch of appointments during March for various reasons, so we got to see our pumpkin a lot. At 17 weeks, I asked the doctor if she could look just to see. While she was looking at the ultrasound, Bret (somewhat loudly) says, “I see a penis!” and my doctor laughed and was like, “nooo, I don’t think so.” After that appointment, he was convinced it was a boy, but the doctor said girl so I was stoked! I went out and bought some cute girl stuff right away (I needed to get the bug out of my system).

Then a week later we had our appointment with the radiologist who had to take pictures of literally everything. We counted toes and fingers, we saw the heart actually pounding in her chest, and he also confirmed that we’re having a girl.

I, honestly, let out a huge sigh of relief because I did not want to go return all the cute girl stuff I had bought a week before, haha.

Our families were very excited when we told them!

The best reactions were from Layla, my niece, and Bret’s Mom and Grandma.

Bret has all brothers, and when we were in middle school, his Mom used to joke about how she wanted to take me home so she could find out what it’s like to have a girl for once. So ever since we found out we were pregnant, his Mom and Grandma have been praying for a girl! So they were really excited!

Layla, oh Layla, was the cutest.
She made up a song to the tune of “You’re Welcome” from Moana all about how she wants a girl because they wear dresses and boys don’t. The first time we told her it was a girl, she texted me a bunch of emojis. At the same time, my sister texted me saying, “She just screamed, ran into her room, grabbed her pillow, and screamed again.” When we confirmed girl a week later, she basically did the same thing over again.

IMG_6147[This was one of the outfits I got the day we “kinda” found we’re having a girl. I’m obsessed with the embroidery detail.]

Even though, as a parent, you learn different things from having a girl or boy, I think right now, having a girl is what’s best for Bret and I.

He has so much to learn about being a father to a girl. It’s so different than how he was raised and what he knows. He grew up in a very traditional masculine family so he has a lot to learn about women and all that women can do. I’m really excited for how this baby girl is going to change our lives, but I’m just as excited to see the transformation he’ll go through over the next few years.

Me, on the other hand, am excited for so many reasons. My Mom is one of my favorite people in the entire world, and she has been since I can remember. As a child, I loved that my Mom was (and still is!) a working mom. I loved that she was involved in my life by taking me to theatre practice or volunteering at school. My Mom and I have a very close relationship, as a result, and I’m excited to take all the lessons I learned from her and apply them to my daughter’s life. I will be a working mom but I’m going to strive to have a balanced work/home life so I can still be there for her when she needs me. I’m praying that my daughter and I have as close of a relationship as my Mom and I do.

The next few months are going to be an exciting time for us!
We are already starting to gather clothes and decor, and figuring out how to rearrange our apartment and decorate her nursery.

I’ve been praying for this baby since December 12 and I will continue to pray that she is kind, generous, strong, and that she knows how much Bret & I love her and how much God loves her. I pray she will be an amazing woman with big dreams and an even bigger heart. I can’t wait to meet her!

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These Adidas are special. My Dad’s favorite shoes were white Adidas with a hint of green. He wore them everywhere and bought several pairs a year. When he died I went and bought myself a pair (and found that I actually love Adidas). So I thought it was only fitting to get Baby some white Adidas too.

Where is the Sun?

Where is the sun?

I laid in the bed, stripped of my clothes and dignity, waiting for something to give way that would free me from my entrapment.

But there was nothing.

Only the sound of my muffled screams and his heavy breathing filled the room.


St. Patrick’s Day was a big deal at my Catholic college. It was a day where everyone dressed in green and took to the student neighborhood for a weekend of drinking.

I knew early on in my college career that I wanted to go to law school. So I never really participated in the St. Patrick’s Day festivities because I didn’t want to get in trouble. The cops were out like swarms of bees the weekend of St. Paddy’s Day, so the chances of getting caught doing something bad significantly increased. I didn’t want that on my record, so I stayed inside or didn’t drink I went outside.

My third year of college changed the way I saw this holiday. Before then, I always liked St. Paddy’s Day because I got to celebrate my Irish ancestors.
But this year, everything changed.

My friends were having a house party and invited my roommates and I. My friend was like a brother to me so, of course, I had to go. I didn’t drink, but instead made sure my roommates and other friends were okay. [I did this all 4 years of college whenever we went to a party and it got me the nickname “Mama Mary”]

One friend in particular, my best friend, was drinking quite a lot. That wasn’t really a big shock for me, since I had taken care of his drunken self so many times before. However, this year, he was the most drunk I had ever seen him.

To give some context, he drank almost an entire fifth of whiskey to himself, plus several cans of beer and cups of mixed drinks.

By the time my roommates and I were ready to leave (mainly to go back to our house and order pizza), my best friend was so drunk, he could barely walk in a straight line.

He was planning on going to our house to eat pizza too, but on the way home, he decided to take a left turn and headed to his apartment. Me being “Mama Mary,” I felt like I couldn’t leave him to fend for himself. Who knew what kind of trouble he would end up in.

So I chased after him and helped him up to his apartment.

We got inside and none of his roommates were home, but that wasn’t anything new (especially during St. Paddy’s Weekend). So, like always, I got him water, handed him a towel after he threw up, and tried to get him into bed. Every couple minutes my phone would go off with texts from my roommates updating me on the status of our pizza.

When I finally felt like he was in a good enough position where I could leave, something happened. It was like his demeanor changed.

I was thrown into his roommates bed and my back hit the metal bed frame. He kept doing this and I could feel my back starting to give way.

He stripped me of my clothes, throwing everything in different directions, including my phone. Then he threw me onto his bed.

He slapped my face if I yelled, he tightened his grasp on my arms if I squirmed, and he put every pound of his weight on me so I couldn’t move.

I cried and tried to free myself. I pleaded with him to stop. I prayed for someone to hear me and come in.  I prayed for the sun to come up in hopes that might make him stop.

Nothing.

Finally, he collapsed on me, loosening his grip and weight. I slowly wiggled out from under him and tried to find my clothes in the darkness with only his idle computer illuminating the room.

As I reached for the doorknob, I felt his hand close in on my arm.

I almost collapsed then and there, thinking I was not going to leave this room alive.

He told me not to go and I, not bringing myself to look at him, told him I could not stay.

He let go of me and I ran out of the apartment with what little strength I had left. I ran the four blocks back to my house and collapsed in my kitchen when I finally got inside.

That is when I finally looked at my phone. I had dozens of texts from my roommates asking where I was and that was when I realized the time. It had felt like I was in that room for a brief period of time, 30 minutes or an hour tops, because everything seemed to happen so fast. It had actually been four hours.


I didn’t tell anyone for almost a year. I couldn’t bring myself to say the words out loud. I cried every time I thought about it.

The following year is also when I started cutting.

I couldn’t handle the pain but I couldn’t find any other way to let it out. I knew it was wrong but I just couldn’t find a way out of the deep hole I was thrown into.

My Mom was the first person I told about the sexual assault and about the cutting. I could tell she was heartbroken but was trying to appear strong for me. She was the one who urged me to get professional help.

Therapy was the best decision I ever made.

Therapy helped me confront all the mental scars the assault had left on me. I couldn’t go to a bar without feeling anxious, I was depressed whenever I felt alone, and I deflected the subject whenever it was brought up.

Now, although I still don’t like bars (but that’s mainly because I don’t drink a lot to begin with), I don’t feel so alone when I’m in a group or a crowd, I don’t feel anxious all the time where I feel like I need to look over my shoulder, and I do not deflect the subject when it’s brought up, I confront it.

Talking about sexual assault and self harm has brought me to a place where, since I have reflected on my own past, I can be of help to those who are just now going through this. It’s brought me to a place where I don’t feel uncomfortable talking about it and teaching young women about it.


I decided to finally tell my story today because this is something that affects everyone, whether you’re a man or woman.

1 in 5 women and 1 in 16 men are sexually assaulted while in college.

Let that sink in.

I am in a sorority and that means, on any given Sunday during chapter meetings, 25% of my sisters were sexually assaulted while we were in college.

That woman who was sexually assaulted is either your mother, daughter, sister, aunt, wife, girlfriend, or friend.

This. Effects. Everyone.

I have a mother, a sister, a sister-in-law, a niece, and a baby on the way that could be a girl.

How are we supposed to educate and protect the younger generations of women if we cannot talk about it?

That is why, when my niece is old enough (meaning, when my sister thinks she’s old enough to hear it) I will tell her my story. And if it turns out I have a daughter, I will do the same.

Because growing up, I was given the rape/date-rape/sexual assault talk by my Dad. But he told me to watch out for strangers. He said nothing about the fact that most women who are attacked are attacked by someone they know.

I was attacked by someone I know.
I was attacked by my best friend.


I used to be afraid. I used to be very afraid to go on dates, to go somewhere I had never been, to have a drink around someone that wasn’t family, to even tell my story.

I am no longer afraid.

Besides therapy and finding a man who understands what it’s like to be broken,
one thing saved me: Jesus.

I felt ashamed when I couldn’t bring myself to tell anyone about the attack. I felt broken and questioned what was wrong with me when I broke down and cried for days. I felt like no one could love me, but Jesus did.

So while I prayed that night for the sun to rise, it was a different son that I encountered. Where is the sun turned into where is the Son.

Jesus was with me, He got me out of that situation, and He carried me to safety, just as He has carried me for the last four years.

It’s been four years since that night.
It honestly feels like yesterday.

Except today, I am not weak and I am not afraid.
I am strong and I fight back.


LORD my God, I called to you for help, and you healed me.
Psalm 30:2


Shout out the my friend, Kelly, author of MI Mentality. She has been so brave in sharing her stories and she inspired me to share one of mine.
#KeepRecovering

Ash(craft) Wednesday

I’m not Catholic, but my Dad was raised Catholic.

Even after he was no longer a practicing Catholic, he still participated in Lent. One of my fondest memories from my childhood was my Dad giving up Pepsi every. single. year. for Lent. You’re probably thinking, “So what? It’s just Pepsi.” But let me tell you a little something about my Dad: he lived off Pepsi. He drank one cup of coffee in the morning and Pepsi the rest of the day (even late at night).

So each year he would give up Pepsi and each year his doctor would be astonished by the dramatic drop in his cholesterol level. His co-workers would tease him by putting ice cold cans on his desk while he was eating lunch. But, like a good man, he never gave in.

Lent was always a weird concept for me and I’m not exactly sure why. I grew up in the church so I knew about Easter and Ash Wednesday but we didn’t really talk about Lent.

It wasn’t until my first year of college that I learned exactly what Lent was all about:
dirt on your forehead.
(kidding, but this is how I found out)

I attended the University of Dayton in Dayton, Ohio for my undergraduate career. UD is a Catholic Marianist university. UD has a beautiful chapel on campus, crosses in every classroom, and you are expected to uphold the standards they set forth.
The Catholic faith is the root of what UD is all about.

Welllll during my first year, on Ash Wednesday, I woke up and went to class. I had an early class and was very tired so I didn’t pay much attention to the people I was passing on my way to class. However, when I reached my classroom, something was off.

Everyone had dirt on their foreheads. I was confused.

No one said anything about it. They all acted like nothing was different or out of place. Not even the professor said anything. So I sat in class wondering if there was a patch of ice somewhere that everyone slipped in and hit their heads in a pile of dirt.

When I got out of class, I headed back to my dorm, but noticed that so many more people walking around also had dirt on their foreheads. I started wondering if I was imagining it because I was so tired…

As I was relaxing in my dorm room, my roommate comes back with (you guessed it) dirt on her forehead.

I gave her a weird look and she stopped, “What?”

“Why do you have dirt on your forehead? Did you and everyone else on this campus fall down somewhere?”

The look on her face was priceless. Her facial expression went from being confused to finding the situation very amusing.

“It’s Ash Wednesday!”

“…so?”

“So? These are ashes! We all went to Mass!”

It was a definitely face palm moment.

So she explained to me how the whole process worked and I felt really ridiculous for the rest of the day.


Lent is a period of religious observance starting on Ash Wednesday and ending on the Thursday before Easter.

Many Christians observe Lent by giving up some sort of luxury (which is why a lot of my friends give up candy or chocolate). Many Christians also have some sort of Lenten spiritual discipline that they follow to become closer to God.

While in college, I had several roommates who are very rooted in their Catholic faith. They all gave up some sort of luxury, followed some sort of religious discipline, and did something each week to give back to the community.

Learning more about Lent and seeing how my roommates observed it changed my perspective completely.

While I may not be Catholic, or part of the other religious groups that observe Lent, I still observe Lent because of my Dad.

Each year, I plan out how I am going to spend my time during Lent. And each year, no matter how well I go about planning it, I still end up faltering in some way. But I’ve learned over the years that it’s okay.


How I plan on spending my time during Lent this year

Similar to my Dad, I plan on giving up a food/drink item that seems to be my life.

Anyone who knows me could probably guess what it is….

Hot Cheetos.

I know these things are not the greatest thing to eat, but they are so delicious! Even now that I’m pregnant, I find myself still wanting to eat them (but not as often as I used to).

So this year I plan on giving up Hot Cheetos and commit myself to eating more healthier foods. It’s hard for me to eliminate a food group or something I eat often because I’m pregnant so only certain foods sound good, haha.

As for my spiritual observance of Lent, I started following She Reads Truth‘s Lent study. This is a daily study, and I subscribe to SRT anyways, so it’s sent to my email each morning and it’s available on their app.
If you’ve never heard of SRT, I encourage you to check it out!

I also plan on watching more of my churches sermons online. Since I haven’t been driving down to my Mom’s house that often, I haven’t been physically going to church. I’m hoping Lent will help me get back into the swing of things.
If you’re looking for some great sermons, check out North Coast Church!


Whether you religious or not, I hope you enjoyed this blog post. It’s a little different than what I was usually write about but I was feeling inspired (and was missing my Dad).

[I called this post “Ash(craft) Wednesday” because my Dad used to call it that; he just thought it was so funny. Now that he’s gone, I find that that’s the only way I refer to it too. I am a little jealous that he gets to spend Lent and Easter (and every day, really) with Jesus. And while I miss him terribly, I know he is right where he belongs.]

As an added bonus: here’s my Dad and I on the last day of Move-In Weekend!

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One Very Special Announcement!

I have taken a lot of time away from my blog, but for a good reason! Well, actually, several reasons, but one reason in particular.

In November when my Dad died, I took time away because, honestly, I didn’t want to do anything. I was very happy not thinking about what my next post would be or getting dressed up for pictures. Let’s be real, I’ve worn makeup 3 times since he passed…

In December and January, I took time away because I am busy with school (one semester left!!) and because…drum roll please….

I’m pregnant!!

Yes, yes! You read that correctly!

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How I found out

Mother Nature visits me each month like clockwork and I use an app (Pink Pad) to help me remember when it is. I’m usually within a day of the projected start date. I was supposed to start on Dec. 10, which also happened to be the day of my Dad’s funeral. When it didn’t come that day, I didn’t mind because I was really stressed that day and that was the last thing I wanted to worry about. However, it didn’t come the next day or the next.

I decided to take a test on Dec. 12 at 1:30pm when I was home alone. Bret was at work so I figured it would be the perfect time just in case it’s negative. Well, it was positive.

I immediately freaked out a little…or rather, a lot! I texted my sister and my best friend, and my sister was the first one to respond. I freaked out for two reasons: (1) I have to take the Bar Exam in July and according to my calculations, I’d be 9 months preggo; and (2) my Dad wasn’t here and he would’ve been one of my main supporters during this time.

My sister helped calm me down and helped keep my spirits up. I wasn’t freaked out about actually being pregnant because I’ve always wanted to be a mom, it was just more about timing, lol.

How I told Bret

How I told Bret wasn’t anything too special to write home about. He walked in the door after work and I was standing in the living room waiting. He could tell I had been crying, but figured it was about my Dad.

I blurted out, “I’m pregnant” kind of loudly. He just looked at me and said, “What?”

The look on his face was priceless.

The first five minutes were of him not believing I was actually pregnant. Then he got over it and was super excited. (Since then, he talks to my stomach every night because he wants that baby coming out knowing he’s Dad).

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How I told my family

I’ll slip this in here because I think it’s the cutest story.

My niece Layla has been wanting a little sibling for years. So we figured having a baby cousin would be the next best thing and decided to tell her (and the rest of the family) at our annual Christmas Eve dinner/presents gathering.

Each year my Dad gave us cards that said, “Ho Ho Ho, Shop Shop Shop.” When I was cleaning his house I found his stash (he had lots of them). So I wrote inside “for baby clothes” under the “Shop shop shop” and added “I can’t wait to meet you in August cousin! Love, Baby Taitingfong.” I made these cards for all my siblings and it was the last present anyone opened.

Layla sat on the floor of my Grandpa’s house for almost five minute trying to figure out what it meant. Finally we had to help her out by process of elimination because only one person in the room had the last name Taitingfong. Once she realized we are having a baby, she freaked out and immediately asked if she could babysit. It was the cutest thing!

Where we are now

I am 13 weeks and 4 days! It literally feels like time is crawling by!!!

Up until this point we’ve told our families and a select group of friends. We didn’t want to tell too many people, because I’m a worry wart and think every tiny pain is the start of something bad happening.

Everything is going along as planned. We’ve already had some friends and family give us some adorable baby things. My best friend sent a huge package full of clothes, wipes, blankets, and art. I am so incredibly happy knowing this baby is going to have so many people around it that love it and support it.

I have a box full of stuff we’ve gotten already, but the few things I am most excited about are Pua and my old baby clothes. If you haven’t seen the new Disney movie, Moana, go see it! One of her sidekicks is a little pig named Pua. We found a stuffed animal at the Disney store and about fell in love!!! I still have my baby blankets and Barney, so I’m hoping this little Pua becomes the baby’s version of that.

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Also, when my family was cleaning out my Dad’s house and storage unit, my Mom found a plastic bag full of some of my baby clothes. The two most notable pieces were the sailor suit I worn for a ton of family pictures when I was a baby, and a Concordia Cobbers shirt my grandparents got for all the kids (we have some great pictures of the five of us all matching, haha). I seriously cannot wait to put my little one in these two outfits!

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When are you due?

I am due mid-August, which is kind of crazy timing. The Bar Exam is in the last week of July so I’ll have about three weeks after that to relax before baby comes.

Cravings & Aversions?

Yes….I have those. My biggest cravings are Taco Bell, Buffalo Wild Wings, and pizza! The pizza one is weird for me because I hate pizza. I do not like tomato sauce at all, but when that craving comes, I’m basically like “Give me all the pepperoni and sausage pizzas you can find!”

The only thing I’ve had an aversion to is breakfast foods, specifically eggs. I want to go hide in another room when eggs are around, which is odd because that was my go-to breakfast before I got pregnant. Go figure.

Final Thoughts!

I plan on posting some bumpdates throughout the pregnancy to keep everyone informed. Now I’m really glad I started this blog because it seems to be the easiest way to communicate everything with my friends and family that don’t live nearby.

Everyone we’ve told so far are really excited! I am thankful to God every day for this baby because I honestly thought that 2017 was going to be a really crappy year after my Dad dying and having to go through probate. I feel like this was God’s way of looking out for me and my family and letting us know that everything is going to be alright.

2016 in Review

2016 changed my life in more ways than I can probably comprehend.

I’ve taken some time away from social media, including my blog, to focus on family and myself. But it’s 2017 and I’m back. While I still have a lot going on in my life, it’s time to get back to blogging. After all, the whole reason I started this was to give myself an outlet.


JANUARY

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In January, I started the second semester of my second year in law school. But more importantly, my Grandma Mary passed away.

I got a call at work saying she had been rushed to the hospital and I should hurry home (an hour away from where I work). I stayed the whole night with my mom and grandpa until she finally passed around 5am the next morning.

I thought this would be the worst pain I would feel this year…clearly I was wrong.


MARCH

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In March my sister got married!! It was a long time coming, let me tell you. Her and my brother-in-law have been together for over 14 years and have my adorable niece together. My sister planned the wedding by herself and it was held at the San Diego Zoo’s Safari Park in Escondido, CA. It had an animal/pirate/adventure/Indiana Jones vibe to it. It was truly a beautiful wedding!


MAY

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In May, I started dating the love of my life, Bret. We’ve known each other for 12 years and have had a crush on each other since we met in middle school. It took him 12 years to ask me out on a date. I knew from the moment I stepped inside his house and watched him make me dinner that he was the one for me. When you know, you know.


JUNE

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In June I said goodbye to my internship. From August 2015 to June 2016, I worked as a legal intern for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. This was, by far, the greatest job I’ve ever had. Not because I got to work at the stadium and go to games, but because of the experience I gained. I learned more in this job than I have in law school. It made me realize that school only teaches so much and a job teaches you the rest.


JULY

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From about the end of April to the end of July, I spent every spare moment making a costume for the San Diego Comic Con. My groups theme was Star Wars! We had Rey, older Luke, Maz, BB-8, three Queen Amidalas, and three assassins who tried to kill her. We were a band and our costumes were re-imagined versions of Queen Amidala and the assassins. We performed at Masquerade in front of thousands of people.

It was also during this time that I realized you really need to be careful when using a heat gun…it burns…

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AUGUST

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In August I started my final year of law school. It’s crazy to think that this journey is almost over. It seems like the first two years of law school flew by. Now I have to actually think about taking the bar and looking for jobs (insert the Home Alone face here).


NOVEMBER & DECEMBER

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I seems like just yesterday that my sister called to tell me my dad died. I figured my life would have adjusted to my new normal after his funeral, but it hasn’t. There are still days I wake up in the morning and have to remind myself my dad is gone.

Grey’s Anatomy is one of my favorite shows and I started to rewatch it again from the beginning hoping it would cheer me up. I recently watched the episode where George O’Malley’s dad passes away. George and Christina have a conversation where she tells him her dad had died when she was a kid. He tells her, “I don’t know how to exist in a world where my dad doesn’t.” Christina responds with, “Yeah, that never really goes away.”

It’s funny because that is exactly how I feel. I’m still struggling to find a way to exist without him being just a phone call away.

Growing up, I saw my dad as the guy who talked a lot, told stories nonstop, taught me how to throw a baseball and ride a bike, and took me golfing every weekend so I wouldn’t lose my swing. But, I had never realized how much of an impact my dad had on others until his funeral.

There were people there I had not seen since I was a kid: grown-up kids that my dad had coached in little league, old friends who were integral in my dad’s life when he moved to Vista, neighbors who are like extended family, and the people from church my dad would talk to after the church service.

I was overwhelmed.

I have never been so grateful to see these people in my life.

If you are reading this and you were there: thank you. Because of you, your love, and your support, I was able to make it through that day. You made it a celebration of his life, not a funeral. You told me stories about what my dad meant to you. You helped, and in this time where life seems a little more fragile, I am eternally grateful.

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2016

There is one thing I have to say to 2016, and it’s this:

You were my challenge year. 2016 challenged me and made me grow in so many different ways. I don’t feel like the anxiety-ridden, constantly depressed young girl I had started 2016 as. I am confident, I am strong, and I am resilient. I don’t cower in a corner afraid to talk to people I deem to be out of my league (whether in the workplace or socially). I feel like part of me has been renewed, and I blame my dad. Part of me thinks he left me a part of him when he died, the social butterfly part.

2016 sucked. It’s something everyone keeps saying and I agree. This has been one of the worst years of my life, but it has also been one of the most rewarding.

2016 is that friend that you dislike but are secretly thankful for because it reminds you of all the life lessons your parents tried to teach you (and finding out they were right).

Goodbye, 2016. We won’t meet again and I am very happy about that.

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Be Thankful + Rejoice

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“Are you sitting down?”

The words that follow this question do not usually deliver good news.

I’ve never heard this phrase before. That is, until November 17 at 12:30 pm.

My dad had been sick with the flu for a week. His sister had been worried about him all week because he wasn’t responding to texts and calls, and wasn’t calling off work.

November 17 was the day she went to his house and found him.

No one dies from the flu. I didn’t believe it, my sister didn’t believe, and my aunt didn’t believe it. But he had gone to the doctor and had been treated for the flu so we just figured he was malnourished and dehydrated.

The next day we went to the medical examiners office and his work to pick up his personal items. At his work, we were greeted by his coworkers who had known us since we were toddlers. Tears flowed and hugs were given.

When we finally got to his house, we were overwhelmed.

My dad had just bought a condo so he had barely unpacked. However, he was planning on hosting my siblings and I for Thanksgiving, so it was obvious he had started cleaning and unpacking. He had even ordered a turkey and bought the fixings.

I stood in the living room in disbelief and shock as tears flowed down my face.

The mantle was full of pictures of my siblings and I as babies and toddlers. He even had pictures of us in the pantry.

My dad was the best dad I could have asked for. He loved his kids more than life itself, and looking around his house showed that.

But no one dies from the flu.


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It is extremely difficult to believe he is no longer here on Earth. It still feels like I’m asleep and about to wake up from my worst nightmare.

We were already bracing ourselves for the holidays because my mom’s mom (my grandma) had passed away in January. Now, the holidays are a wash. Part of me wants to skip them.

However, as I sit here on Thanksgiving Day thinking about my dad, I remember the reasons why we celebrate this day.

To give thanks.

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
His love endures forever.
Psalms 106:1

In years past, I have given thanks for various reasons: being healthy; having a family who loves and supports me; having the opportunity to go to college, and now law school; the list goes on.

This year is different.

Today I give thanks because God blessed me with a dad who loved me more than I could have ever imagined.

Today I give thanks because I knew my dad, not as a dad, but as the great human being his friends and family knew him as.

Today I give thanks because my dad is in Heaven and is no longer with me. He is surrounded by his parents, his stepparents, his brother, my mom’s mom & brother, and his family and friends who had passed before him.


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Over the past week I have struggled with weeding through so many emotions: grief, anger, loss, regret, and joyfulness.

Every time I make a phone call telling one of my dad’s friends he had passed, I struggle to get the words out. Every time I make a phone call to make service arrangements, I am in disbelief that I am doing this so young. Every time I walk around my house and see pictures of my dad, I feel every emotion I am even capable of feeling.

My heart now has an emptiness that cannot be filled.

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
Psalms 34:18

I know, as well as my siblings, that there is only one way to make this all better:
to bring him back.

It’s hard to wish he could be back here on Earth, because I know the second he got to Heaven, he would never want to come back to Earth again.

So in the midst of my grief, I try to rejoice.

I rejoice that I knew him.
I rejoice that I loved him and he loved me.
I rejoice that he tried to be the best father he could ever be.
I rejoice that he is now in Heaven with our Heavenly Father and Jesus.


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The ME did a full autopsy since no one was with him when he died: bilateral pneumonia.

Pneumonia in both lungs where, if left untreated, it would become fatal.

In some ways, I feel better knowing exactly what caused my dads death. It wasn’t the flu, it wasn’t a heart attack, he was just sick.

But then it dawned on me that knowing his cause of death is not as satisfying as I thought. He had seen the doctor. It was treatable. He could have been saved.

These thoughts have flooded my mind for the last week. He could have been saved. He was too young, only 66 years old; he could have been saved.

But dwelling in the “what ifs” is no way to grieve, no way to remember him, no way to live.

Every day I have prayed that Jesus lift this heartbreak and grief from my shoulders, that he cradle me in his ever-loving arms as I mourn, and that he blesses my dad in Heaven.


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This past week has been the most difficult thing I have ever been through.

To lose my dad at 66, and then turn around and have to plan a service and figure out the details of his estate, is overwhelming.

This is something I didn’t think I would have to go through for another 30 years.

So instead of focusing on the fact that we had so much unfinished business, like my law school graduation, the bar exam, my wedding, and my children being born, I will focus on Jesus, giving thanks, and rejoicing.

I will give thanks in knowing & loving my dad, and I will rejoice that he is now with his Heavenly Father!

This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.
Psalms 118:24

I love you, Dad, and I miss you a lot. I’ll be sad for a long time that you’re gone and I can’t call you anymore when my car breaks down. But I know you will always be with me wherever I go,  I’m just so sorry you have to watch from afar.

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