I've had a lot of time to reflect recently, and I can't stop coming back to this idea of human resilience.  

Over the last week, I've had time to go through my journals and have seen how I've processed my grief the last several months. I've seen how I've sometimes been stopped cold by my good friend and others soared past it. These days, it feels like I'm in a better place. Guilt and hurt make fewer cameos while perspective and empathy play the staring roles.  

I used to often wonder why. Why did he have to die? There are so many people that are in worse condition, and he was the chosen one. But the truth is, I don't know how bad it was because I tried to stay out of his life. Although I still cared about him after our break up, I know that he still loved me, and I felt like being an active participant in his life could keep him from moving on. I wanted more than anything for him to find someone that loved him how he loved me. Someone who could give him the children he so longed for. 

Instead, I was given complete freedom from him. I was taught to truly put my well-being before anyone else. And I was given opportunities to change the course of my life from the black abyss I often saw as my only future. 

I found a passion for running which led to some weight loss and being physically active in a way I hadn't been in years. When I was heavier, I remember getting motion sickness in the swimming pool. On the Fourth of July, I swam back and forth several times in my sister's pool and chased around four giggly girls who claimed I was a shark for at least twenty minutes and didn't feel a rumbling of motion sickness. I've seen my mile/minutes time decrease as the year of running has progressed. I like how when I look in the mirror before my shower; my belly is where it was when I used to suck in my gut. And when I smile real big, you hardly see my double chin. When friends suggest doing something physically challenging, there's no longer that fear that maybe I'm too fat to do it. My last doctor's visit was very positive. She was so happy with my weight loss, and all my labs came back normal. I find myself standing taller and looking brighter with a healthy glow from all all the sun I get. If it hadn't been for Daniel, I don't know that I would be so committed to my running. 

In early May, my oldest sister's husband passed away. Like Daniel, he'd had an illness that he chose not to taper with consistent doctor visits and lifestyle changes. The time we spent in El Paso with her was a blur. My other sister and I were there for everything from the moment we arrived--the meeting with the funeral home, the meeting with the people from the cemetery, the visits from family and friends asking "what happened?" I hated having to see her retell the story every time. Part of me wanted to record her telling it, so she didn't have to do it every time someone new came by. I didn't want to see her break every time. It shattered my heart when my niece came home from work crying because so many people had gone into the store where she worked to tell her they knew her dad and were sorry for her loss. What I remember most clearly from that time was the overwhelming feeling of helplessness I felt at the funeral because there wasn't anything I could say or do to make the process easier for them. They are going to be broken for a long time because grief hangs around as long as it feels like. It annoys me to see people comment their sadness on my sister's status when she posts something about Joe. I always want to tell them that they just need to love and support her. She doesn't need to know how much they are hurting because it really can't compare to what she and her girls feel. Had I not had a recent experience with it, then I don't think I would know this. 

So, I keep moving through this with my shoulders squared back and my head a little higher because that's the only way. I see these life challenges as an opportunity to learn and lead a happier life. And right now, I think that true happiness is most certainly going to be a constant in my life because my spirit is resilient.   



Search the internet, and you'll find a lot of advice on how to overcome grief. But the truth is, you can't. In an interview with NPR, Patton Oswalt said, "You can say you're through with grief all you want, but grief will let you know when it's done."



The day I found out he had passed, I was on my way to a U of H football game. We bought season tickets because of him. He loved football. As I took the exit toward the university, the radio screen on my car displayed his mom’s name. I quickly answered her call to be greeted by his aunt. She asked how I was and then said, “I have some bad news for you honey. Daniel passed away.” I asked what happened and how his parents were and we hung up.

After we got off the phone, my friend called me, and we talked for a bit. I tell him almost everything, but I didn’t tell him about Daniel. I couldn’t. I knew that once I did, it was going to be real.

I got to the place where I park and sat there for a bit. Then, it all sank in. I texted my sister, and I called another friend to tell her. I cried some. And then, I got out of my car and walked to the stadium. I was grateful that it was bright out because my sunglasses could help cover up the tears.

When I got to the stadium, I sat in the stands, where he always liked to sit, and tried to keep calm. It was hard because all I could think about was how his aunt said he’d been dead some time before anyone found him. And although I never would have wished for this to happen, a part of me kind of expected it. Being at the game helped me feel closer to him. I know he would have wanted me to make it to the game. It felt like the best way to honor him was to be there.

In the coming days, I couldn’t understand how the world could go on as if he had never existed. I would go to the park and get on the bike path I like to run and feel the tears just stream from my eyes. Once I’d get back to my car, I was so exhausted that I didn’t feel anything anymore.

At his funeral, the minister didn’t really know anything about him. He shared stories Daniel’s family had told him, but he didn’t really honor his life. He didn’t talk about how patient he was when Gabi asked him about football. Or how he loved to surprise people in any way he could. How he had wanted so badly to be a father. How he had loved me so much even after I had broken his heart.

He was buried in an Eagles jersey which was fitting because he was their biggest fan. But he looked nothing like I remembered him. I touched his chest and it felt hollow. The only thing that felt the same was his big beard that I never cared for. But I was happy to caress it one last time.

It was hard to go around town because everywhere, there was a reminder of him. The pizza place he loved. The place we’d go get shaved ice from. The store where he worked. The movie theater we always went to. The hospital we were at when he was diagnosed with diabetes. The park where I was so angry with him and decided I was done. The store he went to buy crappy food he could fix because we were broken up.

At first, the guilt was overwhelming. But I know I couldn’t have kept him alive. He wasn’t willing to take care of himself. That was one of the reasons I wanted to end things. It was too much to have to take care of him and myself. I just couldn’t anymore.

As is the case with all grief, the sadness started to dissipate. I found things that helped me cope, like jogging. I threw myself into work. I prayed a rosary for nine days. I created a profile on a dating site and went on a couple dates.

But as is also the case with grief, sometimes it catches me off guard. I’ll be walking through a store and hear a song that he liked and the tears come. I hold them back until I’m able to get to my car and let it out.

After his passing, my mom said that his death will forever mark my life. I had to buy a new journal because I couldn’t keep writing in the one that I talked about our breakup and how free I felt. Now, my freedom is tainted with the sadness of his death.

El día de los muertos, I was overwhelmed with sadness. I cried myself to sleep that night. I’m sure there will be more nights like that. Losing someone that was such a big part of your life for so long isn’t easy, even if they weren’t part of your life anymore.


El Final

Things had not been going well for a long time. It seemed that time only exacerbated the issue instead of fixing it. Even when we dealt with the problems head on, we didn't seem to come to a compromise. He wanted more of this and I wanted more of that, but neither of us wanted to budge.

As I was clearing out a shelf on a bookcase, I came across a journal from six years before that discussed the same problem. It was a moment of clarity for me. One that helped me become brave and say the words that I'd been needing to say for years: It's time we go our separate ways. 

Saying these words to him made me sad and angry. I'd put all my chips on this guy, and he failed to believe in the hope I had in him. In the hope that we could make it work and be those people that stay together forever because, despite his fear of marriage, I hung around. Eventually though, those words made me feel brave and liberated, like a true-life feminist. 

Telling people about the break up resulted in heads cocked to the side and looks of pity because most people knew we'd been together for so long and imagined we'd be together forever. I'd always give them my best smile and tell them I was fine. 

When he finally moved out, I stopped by to pick up the key from under the mat before going back to my sister's for the weekend. There were tears when I read the heartfelt note his mom had left, but then, much like Mrs. Mallard in a Story of an Hour, I took a deep breath and imagined the possibilities my life held again.



Hi, my name's Georgina, and I'm fat.

I've been fat my entire life. I came into this world weighing a whopping twelve pounds. I slimmed down once I started walking, but by the time I was in third grade, I was fat again. My clothes came from the husky section of Sears or Penny's. 

I remember my godmother telling my mom that she should really do something about my weight. I remember my mom putting me on a diet, but it only lasted a few days. 

I was signed up for kid's nutrition classes as a kid. I would even walk to them on my own. I remember hating PE, especially when I had to do sit ups because I couldn't even do one. There was that one time in sixth grade where that kid counted them anyway. When he told Coach I'd done 30, she didn't even question him. I still wonder why he did that. 

I remember going to a doctor, when I was in 7th grade, who told me that if I kept going the way I was, I wouldn't be able to walk through the door when I turned 18. Then, as I was walking out, he and his fat wife were scarfing down a pizza. He was also fat. 

After said visit, I took up biking. I would ride my bike against the wind and uphill in hopes of getting him to shut his mouth. I dreaded going to the doctor after that. In fact, I went to see him once more until I was able to convince my mom to take me back to the clinic where I took the nutrition classes.

Sometime in high school, I went to see a nutritionist. She taught me a lot about eating healthy and exercising. I kept up with the plan for her sake. That didn't last long. 

After high school, I really got into fitness. At first, it was because I thought it would gain me male attention. Then, it became a kind of obsession. I started working out--walking and Tae Bo. Then, my mom convinced me to join a gym. The gym membership came with a few sessions with a trainer. I learned a little bit about weight lifting. My obsession grew. I stopped eating full meals, limiting my intake to a PB & J sandwich and an orange a day. I worked out five to six days a week. I had 1,200 calorie days and 800 calorie days which meant I couldn't move on from cardio until I burnt that number of calories. 

During my gym days, I could bench 65 lbs, leg press 260 lbs, calf raise 300 lbs...I felt like a bad ass. I would run, stair climb, bike, row. I remember one day, one of the trainers came by while I was on the stair climber after some time on the treadmill and said, "Wow, you're really fit." I went five minutes longer that day.

And yet, the smallest I ever got to was 190 lbs, a size 16. That's still 50 lbs overweight according to the BMI chart. 

I ended up getting sick--gallbladder. It screwed everything up. Also, I got a full time job which didn't allow me to work out as much. Then, I moved away for college which caused some weight gain. And when I started teaching, I got fat again. 

Throughout all of this, I was never comfortable in my own skin. Even when I was my thinnest, I would pull and prod at my belly thinking if only I could lose x more pounds. Why? Because I was so trained to think that fat=bad.

Now, I'm 36. I'm 5'8" and I weight 278 lbs. And you know what? I don't care. As long as my doc is good with my lab work, I don't fret about the number on the scale. 

These days, I eat better because it makes me feel good. I exercise because I like feeling agile. I wear clothes that I think look good on me and make me feel confident. So, if someone doesn't like my fat body, they can look elsewhere.


Year Eleven: The Year of the Marigold

Today marks the end of my eleventh year teaching. If you had told me during my first year that I would still be teaching after eleven years, I don’t know that I would have believed you.


Coming to Terms

I was looking through an old journal a few weeks ago and came across this: