Monday, February 19, 2018

Where do we go from here?

Week #7

 As I write my gratitude summary this morning, I can't help but think of the parents, brothers, sisters, and loved ones and the victims of the horrific school shooting in Florida. I imagine them opening their eyes this morning and wishing, hoping, praying and begging God that it was all just a nightmare that none of it really happened! I cry as I type this, as our own nightmare is in the forefront of my mind. My heart aches for each and every one of them. 

The new normal; learning to live each day without your child, is a long and painful road. Learning to find gratitude, love, understanding, tolerance, and forgiveness in the aftermath of violence is my practice now. 
Holding my little grandson has made my journey both easier and more difficult at the same time. What kind of world is he going to grow up in? How will I protect him from the violence that continues to hover over us like a thick blanket of darkness?

 My answer...I will continue to step up and make a difference when and where I can. I will remind Ansel that good people live in this world also. I will continue to practice gratitude, love, understanding, tolerance, and forgiveness.

I will listen to our future leaders; these young people who really do know more than we give them credit for.

 God, Clear my mind and heal my heart. Give me the eyes to see, the ears to hear, and the words to speak. Guide me to where you would have me go. Help us all. Amen

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Twenty-six days ago today

I know, I know, these past 26 days I've only written, posted, talked, ate, slept, and breathed, Ansel. I literally can not help myself, and I don't want to.

Our lives have been incredibly blessed. I thank God and Matt for the gift of a clear mind and an open heart.

Most assuredly, Matthew's death has been the most horrific and devastating life experience ever. The unfathomable circumstances of Matt's death; murder; presented me with choices and decisions that I never really thought of before he died.

Making the decision to live each and every moment with gratitude. The decision to see the good in every situation.  Deciding to see the glass as half full instead of half empty. These are choices that I have the opportunity to make in every minute of every day; if I choose to. And honestly, some days I choose not to. The point is, I have choices; as we all do.

Today, because of the choices I've made, my heart is opened more than it's ever been. I feel things on a  much deeper level than I did before Matthew's death. I have compassion and empathy for others that was always there; but not like it is now.

My children are my world. I love the three of them more than words could ever say. I also know that I could have done better. I will always hold onto some guilt that I wasn't a better mother to them. I don't allow those thoughts and feelings to overtake me, but they are there nonetheless; a part of me.

Now, I have this incredible opportunity to be the best grandma EVER! The love that I have for our new grandson is like nothing I've felt before. I'm crying just writing about the love that fills my heart.

I have many things in my life that are still out of sorts. I can fret over them, or I can choose to see all the wonderful gifts that are here now right in front of my face. Today, I choose to love and see the gratitude at every moment.

God, thank you for clearing my mind and healing my heart. Thank you, for giving me the eyes to see, the ears to hear, and the words to speak. Amen

Friday, January 12, 2018

I don't want to miss a moment

It’s nearly 9:00 am, and I’m still in bed. Raymond opened the blinds in our room, and I can see the thick fog outside. I remember when I was little growing up in Fairfield and when the fog rolled in we knew it was winter time. I’m not sure why but for whatever reason this memory has stayed with me.

I have been spending my days and several nights since December 30th, 2017 with my daughter, Briana and her husband Will and their precious newborn son, Ansel. My heart is beyond full of love for this amazing baby boy; my first grandchild. He is perfect!

Today at 1:23PM Ansel will turn thirteen days old. He has already changed so much since the day he was born. When he came out of his mother, and she placed him on her chest he was already raising his head.

I was astounded by his strength and alertness. Today he is even stronger and more alert. I don’t want to miss one moment of him.

I needed to have time off work to help Will take care of Ansel because Briana was so sick after her labor and then she caught a virus. I’m very grateful for my job that affords me this opportunity. I am blessed for sure.

I have to go back to work next week, and I know that the days, hours, and minutes will fly by. Ansel will be growing and changing at record speed. I don’t want to miss any of it.

I don’t want to take anyone, anything, nor any moments for granted. I want to breathe in each and every minute with openness and gratitude. I want to use all my senses to see, hear smell, feel, and taste all that this life has to offer.

I know that things are not all roses and rainbows. Trust me; I do realize this, as we all do, from our own life experiences. I found out last night that my brother’s step-daughters baby died. Our hearts ache for them. There are no words to bring them comfort. This is a loss that "time" will not heal. 

I also know that because of these very life experiences my world, my mind and my heart have opened more than ever before. I’m ready and willing to look for and be open to the beauty and grace that is all around me. It’s easy to see the chaos and havoc; it’s everywhere. The challenge, which has now turned into a practice for me, is to see the love, the beauty, the sacredness, the gratitude, the compassion, and the empathy that is everywhere as well.

God, continue to clear my mind and heal my heart. Thank you for giving me the eyes to see, the ears to hear, and the words to speak. Thank you for guiding my thoughts, my feelings, and my perceptions.


Friday, December 29, 2017


On this 29th day of December 2017, I can’t help but to reflect on the most significant and beautiful thing that has happened this year. Our eldest daughter and son-in-law became pregnant with their first child.

His name is Ansel. He was supposed to be here already. His due date was December 21-26th.  He is taking his sweet time to make his appearance. We will continue to wait for this precious little boy. What other choice do we have?

Nothing prepares you for the emotional toll it takes to watch your child go through pain. It’s tough, as her mother, to witness my daughter hurting. Her pregnancy has been a difficult one.

I must also say that it’s been amazing to watch her as she maneuvers her way through each new obstacle. I’m proud of the woman that she is.

Being powerless to help my child is not new to me. It’s the most painful place to be. The difference between this life event and the one nine years ago with our Matt is that Briana will be ok. We will have the gift of a new human being to hold, care for, and love when this is all over.

I am beyond proud of the three amazingly loving, healthy, and beautiful children that God allowed me and my fantastic husband, Raymond, to grow with.  I thank God every day for giving us the honor of being parents to the three of them. 

Soon, I will be given the gift of being a grandmother to baby Ansel. Oh My God! I’m so excited and grateful <3

Thank you, God, for clearing my mind and healing my heart. Thank you for giving me the eyes to see, the ears to hear, and the words to speak. Please continue to guide my thoughts, feelings, and perceptions. Amen 

Monday, December 18, 2017

Beautiful new adventures await

It's Monday, December 18th, 2017. I am currently sitting up nestled in my warm, cozy bed drinking coffee while thinking about my daughter, Briana who is about ready to give birth to our first grandchild. My heart is overflowing with excitement and joy at the thought of what our lives will look like on this beautiful new adventure.

Briana's due date is Thursday, 12/21/17 but for some reason, today's date; 12/18/17 has been on my mind for weeks now.
I texted Briana this morning to ask her how she is feeling. She feels like she is going to be pregnant forever. I remember feeling that way three separate times; Matthew, Briana, and Tearae.  Anyway, Ansel will get here when he is ready.

Saying this may sound kind of weird, but I have a picture in my mind of what I think Ansel will look like. I did the same thing when I was pregnant with our youngest daughter, Tearae. My prediction with her was reasonably accurate. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not psychic, although I do have a strong intuitive side. 

Here is how I envision Ansel's features; Olive colored skin, dark hair and lots of it, round face, small nose, beautifully defined heart-shaped lips (just like his Aunt TeaRae), big brown eyes, long fingers, and toes and a little pudgy body. He is simply adorable! : )

The holiday season has been rough for our family since the murder of our son, Matt in September of 2008.  My mother passed away on December 23rd, 2011 which made this month even more difficult.
 Ansel's anticipated December arrival has filled our family with a beautiful sense of hope and joy.

We are grateful to our beautiful daughter Briana and her fantastic husband William for choosing to bring this precious baby boy into all of our lives.

The emptiness that we feel for our loved ones who are not here to celebrate with us will never go away. We can't change what has happened. We are not able to go back and undo the devastation.  I do believe though that our loved ones are helping to ensure beautiful new adventures and special memories for us to cherish.

For this, I am eternally grateful.

Thank you, God, for clearing my mind and healing my heart

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Thanksgiving 2017

I want to begin by writing how incredibly grateful I am. I woke up this morning, and I instantly started making a mental list of all the people, places, and things that I am truly thankful for.

The first one was waking up in my nice comfy bed next to Raymond and our eighty-five-pound black lab named Drake. Drake thinks that he has to sleep in between us because Raymond is his master and I'm just the lady that feeds him.

I never wanted the dog, but after Matt was killed Raymond needed him. It has taken some time for me to adjust to having Drake. Now, eight-plus years later, I can't imagine our lives without him.

Raymond opened the blinds after he brought in our morning Zeal and our coffee. I'm grateful to have a husband who brings his wife coffee to bed every morning and has done so for the past twenty-six years. As I sipped my coffee, I can see out our window that this Thanksgiving day is beautiful. I can see the sun shining through the many trees which surround our house. I am in awe of the array of fall colors I'm witnessing from the comfort of my warm bed.

My thoughts are filled with gratitude and love for my girls. Oh, my God, I can't even begin to describe the love and admiration that I have for them. The never-ending jokes and love that they have shared with us have been my saving grace. Our baby girl, TeaRae with her serious but very affectionate self.  Our eldest daughter, Briana with her loving yet blase' attitude. They literally light up my life just thinking about them.

Today we will spend Thanksgiving with TeaRae, her boyfriend Colin, and his family. Again, the gratitude I have for Colin and his family is overflowing. Colin continues to be a huge supporter of The Matt Garcia Foundation, but the most significant gift is that he loves our daughter.

William and Briana will spend today with Will's parents. Briana and Will are soon going to be parents themselves. Little baby boy, Ansel is due to be here in just four short weeks. I am ecstatic about being a grandma.

This is the first year in a long many that my husband will be here with us celebrating Thanksgiving. The gratitude that I give to God for doing for Raymond what he wasn't able to do for himself is eternal. <3

The list goes on and on. The wonderful gift of gratitude is that once you begin to make your list, either mentally or by writing it down, it just continues to grow and grow. I love that!

Ever since Matthew was killed, I have been posting my thoughts and feelings to my blog. I have started most of these blog posts with how the loss of Matt has devasted us, Of course, this is and always will be the truth for our family.

On this Thanksgiving Day, I wanted to begin my post with the beauty and love that I see all around me. I want to express the gratitude that I have for each and every person in my life.

 I want our girls to know just how much I love and adore them. I want Raymond to truly feel the appreciation that I have for him and all that he does. I often lack with giving him his props. Raymond is a remarkable man who has literally given someone the shirt off his back and his shoes too. Thank you, honey, for being the type of human being, loving and kind, that I strive to be. I'm thankful for you.
Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Our experiences shape our lives

Today is a new day. I "get" to wake up and choose my attitude. I'm genuinely grateful for each and every opportunity that I am given to do this. The fact of the matter is, I can choose to shift my attitude at any moment. How amazing is that?

I read our meditation this morning which talks about how our experiences shape us into the people we are today. As I was reading this, I began to reminisce about my own life experiences.

 The personal experiences when I was young helped develop me into a person who lived in fear most of the time although I tried to mask that fear by using mind and mood altering substances, which would eventually fail me. 

When I finally surrendered in 1990, those same experiences that once haunted me were now giving me the courage and strength I needed to change my life for the better.

I had no idea what the future held for me, but I was sure that with God and my new found friends, I was now on the road to recovery.

Living life on life's terms has not been easy. In 1999 when my cousin Kathy was murdered I thought to myself, "God, where are you? How could you allow this to happen to Kathy?" God, never verbally answered. Instead, HE placed me on an incredible path to healing. 

It took me a long while to stop being full of anger. We had many court dates that we were not made aware of.  The nightmare of Kathy's murder and her murderer not being held responsible was dragged out for eight long years in our justice system. This did not help my thoughts of injustice and anger. 

My beautiful friends hung in there with me. Helping me, praying for me, guiding me to healing. We started working on forgiveness. I say, "Working on" because it is a practice for me every day. I don't just "HAVE FORGIVENESS,” and then I'm done. NO, I have had to work on it, Practice it, Live it, every day.

In January of 2007, Kathy's murderer was finally sentenced to 15 years to life. There would be no hurrahs. Kathy's dad, Uncle Red had since passed away from cancer. Her mom, my beloved Aunt Judi, was sick as well. 

The positive that did come from it was the fact that "I" for a while now, was practicing forgiveness on a daily basis.  I felt better. I was less angry at the time Kathy's killer was sentenced.

 I now understood the meaning of "the end results" of drug/alcohol addiction; Jails, institutions, and death. Kathy was dead, and her killer was going to prison for a long, long time. There would be NO winners here! 

A year later I received the phone call that would bring me to my knees and shatter my world forever. My only son, Matthew had been shot in the head, and he would not recover.

The one thing that I will never forget from that night at John Muir hospital was me saying out loud "oh my God, this is why we have been working on and practicing forgiveness!' For just that one profound moment, it was crystal clear. 

I didn't stay in that moment of clarity for long. I continue to go through all the stages of grief, shock, and horror still today. The guilt of how I wasn't able to really "be there" for our daughter's as they struggled with the devastation of losing their only big brother to murder.

 But, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that my higher power (GOD) gave/gives me everything that I will need to walk through this horrendous tragedy while helping others as well. God and Matt have guided Briana and TeaRae too.

Thanksgiving is next week. The holidays bring with them, emptiness as we celebrate and Matt isn't here celebrating with us. I will forever miss my boy. I'm thankful that I can also feel excitement and hope for what is yet to come. 

Our eldest daughter and her husband will have their first child next month. My heart is full of love for this little baby boy whom I feel that I already know and love. I'm grateful for an open heart.

 I'm thankful for giving myself permission to "FEEL" everything! I can be sad and happy at the same time. I can be confused and clear at the same time. I can love fully. The experiences of my life have shaped me into who I am today. 

Thank you, God, for giving me the eyes to see, the ears to hear, and the words to speak. Thank you, for clearing my mind and healing my heart. Thank you for continuing to guide my thoughts, feelings, and perceptions. Amen