Wednesday, November 1, 2017

God, clear our minds and heal our hearts

On October 24th my husband was informed that his position had been eliminated. He was laid off after nearly 19 years of serving our community. I know he is in shock. Me not so much. I could feel in my gut that things were not right there for some time now.

I'm incredibly grateful for the teachers that I have had along this life journey thus far. I'm thankful for God and the people that HE placed in my life.
I am by no means a perfect person, none of us are. Although I was taught long ago if I'm talking all this love, faith, hope, and forgiveness, then I darn well better be doing my best to walk it too. That is all that I am going to say about that!

Raymond has a heart of gold and meets people where they are. He is the biggest optimist that I've ever known. He reminds me that everyone has a story. We all need help at times; even those people who have claimed to be friends for years. But for some reason were unable or unwilling to communicate what was about to happen.

We know that people will fail us. I fail people, and you have or will fail people also. My hope and prayers are that in that failure we all learn to communicate better.

  My husband will be just fine. Raymond is and always has been a go-getter. He is such a go-getter that he was ASKED to raise money for his former place of employment, just weeks before he was blindsided. Raymond did just that and raised a significant amount of money. Because raising money and helping those less fortunate is what Raymond does.

I don't want to bash a  place that has helped so many people. We love the help and changed lives that we have watched over these many years. Hell, they even named a building after our son, Matt Garcia. I just hope and pray that the new leaders take a good long hard look at the way they treat people.

 I don't have the answers to the many questions in this life? I don't know why tragedy strikes? I don't understand why so many have to suffer? I don't know why some people are in the wrong place at the wrong time while others are in the right place at the right time? Nor do I understand why innocent young children die?

 The only thing I do know is that we have to find ways and means to make life a little better every day. Some days are much harder than others. We have to keep moving forward in the most positive way we can. While at the same time trying our best not to hurt others in the process.

Sometimes, the most positive thing I can do is to rest my mind and body for a day or two. I pray for a clear mind before I speak or write. I ask God to give me the eyes to see, the ears to hear, and the words to speak.

 I don't have the answers for what YOU need to do in YOUR life nor do YOU have the answers for ME in mine.

We just have to trust God. Walk our talk and be the best we can be one day at a time. Oh and do our best not to be assholes.

Friday, October 27, 2017


“The darker the night, the brighter the stars, 
The deeper the grief, the closer is God!” 
~ Fyodor Dostoyevsky

I resonate the most with this quote. I have cried out to God on many occasions in my lifetime. Many times when I was young, struggling to get out of harmful situations. The numerous times I wanted to stop putting poison in my body but couldn't. I knew God was there. I just thought that I had done so many terrible things that He really didn't want anything to do with me.

All that changed on April 6th, 1990. At twenty-three years old I had come to the end of my rope, and I knew it. There would be no turning back. My mind was confused, and my body was dying. I weighed less than one hundred pounds. I was incapable of taking care of myself let alone the two beautiful babies that God entrusted me with.

I felt darkness and despair consuming me as I walked through the cemetery with my two little children. I had no more manipulation left in me to use. I could no longer blame my life situation on anyone else. It was crystal clear that I WAS MY PROBLEM! My innocent babies were suffering because of ME!

The one thing that I knew for sure was that I desperately wanted a better life for my children. I knew that I wasn't able to give them that with the lifestyle that I was living. I had to do better and be better.

I had a moment of clarity as that small still voice inside myself whispered that its time to get MY SHIT TOGETHER! I had a profound and deep knowing that THIS WAS MY LAST CHANCE! It was ME who was going to have to change EVERYTHING.

I'm so very grateful for the women in my life who helped to pick me up and show me the way. I was blessed with a fantastic mentor and beautiful friend, Laura. She has contributed hugely to guide me physically, mentally and spiritually for over 27 years. She has walked every step of this recovery life with me.

Laura took me under her wing like a mama bird caring for her hurt baby bird. I didn't even know how much I needed that. She reminded me that I had been harmed and what I needed was love. She would love me until I could learn to love myself.

She helped me understand the importance of reaching out to ask and receive the services that were available to a single mother; parenting classes, therapy for myself and my babies to break the cycles that I had become accustomed to.

Laura was there when I married the love of my life, Raymond. She was in the delivery room with Raymond when our little bundle of joy, TeaRae came into this world. Laura was there in intensive care at John Muir when my son, Matthew was shot. She was there as we buried him and has been by my side always.

Life is so short and I never fully realized it. I get it so profoundly now! I want to breathe in every second of life today. I thank God for never leaving me even when I let go. Thank you for blessing me with incredible people all along this journey. I look forward to remaining open to receive even more blessings with each new day.

God, clear my mind and heal my heart. Give me the eyes to see, the ears to hear, and the words to speak. Guide my thoughts, feelings, and perceptions. Amen

Saturday, October 14, 2017

We are all just one phone call from our knees

I'm shocked and saddened, as we all are, by the destruction and devastation created by the recent fires. Thousands of people displaced because their homes have burned down.The death count continues to rise. Many people are still searching for their loved ones, who are missing, as the fires continue to rage in many areas of our state.

We haven't even been able to wrap our minds and resources around the horrific hurricanes and floods which have killed many and demolished thousands of homes and businesses in several states and countries. Next, the deadly shooting in Las Vegas where many more innocent people lost their lives. Our hearts ache.

We are all just one phone call from our knees. I heard that lyric in a song recently, and it resonated with me to my core. That one phone call, for me, was on the evening of September 1st, 2008 at approximately 8:30 PM. Within seconds our lives were changed forever.

My son, Matt had been shot in the back of his head. He would not recover. Matt was kept breathing on a machine for as long as needed to donate seven of his organs to people who would surely die without them. Matthew gave life to many others as we watched his life fade.

I can’t explain to you, in words, how the murder of my child has affected my life.  I can tell you that I became a different person; our family became different people from that day forward.

Because I would much rather be positive than negative, I will begin there. My heart has opened in a way I never expected. I am filled with compassion and empathy as I had never had before, even though I “thought” I did. Every moment of life means another opportunity to reach out my hand, give a smile, and help someone.

At this moment, many people need help. Many have received the one phone call. Many are suffering the loss of a loved one. Many are without a home due to hurricanes, floods, and fires. We have a purpose today to collectively come together and help those who are in need.

 Today, I’m not allowing the pain, sadness, grief, and devastation to keep me isolated from the world. I'm aware of this extraordinary gift of compassion and empathy. For these, I am eternally grateful.

Having a grateful and open heart does not mean that I deny my grief, sadness, anger, and pain. I feel my feelings today. I talk and write about them often.  What does happen for me is when I allow all of my feelings to come and move through me, I’m also letting the love, compassion, forgiveness, and gratitude to move through me too.  

I used to think that the grief would swallow me alive. It felt like it was going to literally kill me. I had to ask for help. I had to realize that I would not survive this horrific life experience unscathed. 

My world would forever look different now. It was also up to me as to how “different” I wanted it to look. I can make my new world hostile, scary, angry, and sad all the time. Or, I can choose to see all those things along with also seeing how beautiful and loving people are when negative things happen.

Every day is new and different. I don’t want to carry all the anger, sadness, grief, and pain into each new day. Trust me; all of those feelings have not left me. They are still here, lurking behind quiet spaces in my mind. They are waiting for the perfect moment, the moments when I’m tired/frustrated, to latch and hold on for dear life.

For me, it’s about balance; something I have never been great at doing. It’s about not denying but allowing my feelings. I have to practice allowing “ALL” of them to come and move through me with ease and non-resistance. 

It’s in my nature to want to push away, shove, eat, and smoke or whatever, the feelings that I don’t want to feel.  I had to realize that if I don’t practice and learn how to allow them here with me, I will have a more difficult time allowing those “Good” feelings to come. That’s the Balance!

I am by no means an expert at grief nor feeling my feelings. I had an urge to write about my experience thus far. I have had nine years to practice using these tools that were shared with me by various professionals, and other grieving people that I have met along this long winding road. Thank you all <3

Dear God, Clear my mind and heal my heart. Guide my thoughts, feelings, and perceptions. Give me the eyes to see, the ears to hear, and the words to speak. Amen

Thursday, September 21, 2017

As I Lay Here

As I lay here in my warm comfy bed with my window slightly
opened I can hear and feel the air coming through. In this moment I feel safe and content.
I begin to scroll through the feed on my phone and quickly shift my thoughts to the hundreds of thousands suffering loss and devastation. My heart breaks for my dear friends who have lost their children. The pain is unlike anything that I have ever encountered.
It’s easy to become callous and bitter by the world. I have to remain diligent in MY pursuit for peace. It’s not easy. It’s a daily practice. I know for ME, that if I don’t look for the beauty and the good in this life; I will live a life of fear and anger. I refuse to allow MYSELF to live in that state.
After Matt was taken from us, my world was turned completely upside down. I had no sense of anything anymore. I was totally lost and off balance. My heart had been shattered and there would be no putting it back together in the same way it had been before he was killed.
It took a couple of years for me to even begin to come out of the fog that I had slipped into. I look back now and am amazed by all the ways that I distracted myself, to ensure I didn’t FEEL anything about what had actually happened. As I look back now, I’m positive that all the distractions saved me.
I’m forever grateful for the countless family and friends who have been by our side before, during, and still. Thank you for just being with us. I want to just BE for my family and friends, as well.
There are no words to speak that will lessen the pain and grief. It’s a never-ending new “normal” which will never be “NORMAL”. I’m grateful for my life. I’m grateful for my amazing and beautiful family and friends. I’m grateful for recognizing the good people and love that is all around me even in my deepest despair. Thank you.
God, clear my mind and heal my heart. Guide my thoughts, feelings, and perceptions. Give me the eyes to see, the ears to hear, and the words to speak. Amen
I found this on my Facebook memory page from years ago:
Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery that it is. In the boredom and pain of it no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it because in the last analysis all moments are key and life itself is grace. ~ FREDERICK BUECHNER

Friday, September 1, 2017

September First

I can't even believe today marks nine years since I heard you laugh, watched you pace the floor while you talked on your phone. My heart hurts just as much today as it did then. Can I just erase September first from the calendar? It wouldn't make much difference though, you would still be missing from us.

 Every year, on this day, I think I'm going to be ok. Then my mind is flooded with memories of those last few hours that you were among us, the living.

I remember how I spotted your car at grandma's so I stopped in to see you. You were on the phone, so I said that I would talk with you later. You held up your finger and said, "Hold on, mom, just a minute." I waited for about ten more minutes. You were still talking on your phone about some city council business. I said, "Matt, I've got to go. I will speak to you later. I love you."

Oh my God, How I wish I would have just STAYED until you got off the phone. I can never redo those precious few minutes. These are the incessant thoughts and memories that take over my mind. I am always playing tug of war in my head with the negative thoughts as I try to replace them with the positive memories of the fact that I did stop in to see you. Not ever knowing that it would be the last time I would see you alive.

The trauma of this day haunts our family. I know that we have made it a point to pull out any and all positive, love, and healing that we can muster. I thank God for that.

Our daughters have struggled more than I will probably ever really know. I wish that I could have protected them from the harsh reality of violence, pain, and trauma. We can't. This is what happened. This is going on everywhere and all the time. The violence is out of control.

How can we and anyone else affected by this violence continue to move forward each and every day in such a way that will help us and also be of service to others? With the love and support of family and friends, we have been able to do just that. This has to be the focus for our family.

Yes, we are devastated, angry and sad that Matthew is no longer here with us living his life. Matt was striving and working hard to make a difference in our community. He also witnessed the violence and the trauma it causes families and loved ones forever. He made it a point to step up to the plate and face the scourge of violence in our community. The irony is not lost on him!

So, here we are another year without our Matt. What are we doing to heal? What are we doing to help others?
We have been willing to slow down and really see and hear people. We have opened our hearts and our minds to love and to meet people where they are. Most of the time we are able to find hope and love in our sadness and despair. I'm forever grateful for all the love, support, hope, and comfort we receive on a daily basis. Thank you, all <3
God, clear my mind and heal my heart. Guide my thoughts, feelings, and perceptions. Give me the eyes to see, the ears to hear, and the words to speak. Thank you, Amen

Monday, July 10, 2017

Just do it!

 This past weekend I felt like I should be writing. My “plan” is to write every single day. Unfortunately, I haven’t done that. I have allowed other things to distract me from writing. You know, like laundry, dishes, painting rocks the normal things in life.

 Today, I have to work. So I thought…this is a perfect time to start writing. NOT! But, you see, this is how my brain operates. I’m not sure why it works this way, but it does. So, here I go:

I began reading my blog last Saturday night, starting with my first entry that I initiated in 2010. I want to take the entries and expand on them to create chapters for my book. The only problem I noticed is that I became increasingly agitated, angry, and emotional before I even read through the first four entries of my blog.

I re-read what I had written about the encounter I had with Nicole Stewart. She was the driver of the get-away car, who was never criminally charged in the murder of our Matt. After I had parked my car, that December evening in 2010. I walked up to Nicole Stewart who was out in front of the Target store near my home. Her then two-year-old son was in the basket of the Target cart, and Nicole with her back to her child was smoking a cigarette as she talked on her phone. Never looking back to check on what her toddler was doing. At one point during our five to seven-minute encounter, I had to tell her to get her kid before he fell out of the basket. She never even noticed that he was trying to get out by hanging over the cart head first.

 I remember saying to her that here I am trying to help her protect her son from harm and she let my son die in the street. How did you do that, Nicole? Her response to my question was that she was scared. She was afraid of what would happen to her kids and her not yet born son. She was nine months pregnant with this little boy when they killed my boy. This little boy’s father is the murderer of my son. 

 As I read on, I felt the hostility building up in my chest as my eyes filled with tears. I remember asking Nicole why she never reached out to our family. Why had she not answered me when I reached out to her a week earlier? Her answer was that she didn’t feel that she was at fault in any of this. I felt my mind exploding all over again!  I found it difficult to finish reading about this experience even though I had already lived it.

 I’m wondering, how am I going to be able to do this if I can’t even re-read this shit without having a melt-down? I’m just going to have to buckle up, put my big girl panties on, and write.

God, clear my mind and heal my heart. Guide my thoughts, feelings, and perceptions. Give me the eyes to see, the ears to hear, and the words to speak. Amen