We were the closest family possible. Our world was turned upside down on 05/03/09 when my best friend, the person I love most next only to our children, my sister Trina was diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer. Her body gave out on her on 01/09/10 but she will ALWAYS be a part of our daily life and will continue to be in my posts. I started my blog to chronicle our daughter's international adoption from Guatemala and have continued to use it as a journal.

What you will find is my family trying to adapt to our new lives that were handed to us.



Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Top Chef Spoiler????? ----- EDITED -----

Top Chef All Star's Finale is tonight. I've been scouring the net trying to find a spoiler. However, I don't think I needed to, all I had to do was watch the Today Show and let Matt Lauer accidentally spill the beans..... I think. First off I am ACHING for Richard Blais to win. Mom is going to be mad if Mike Isabella doesn't win. Both Mike and Blais were on the Today Show just now, each doing their rendition of lasagna. At the end, after the screen had already gone to the Today Show logo you could hear Matt Lauer say "Richard, congratulations." IhopeIhopeIhopeIhopeIhopeIhope



YAY!!!!!!!!!!! I'M SO HAPPY FOR RICHARD BLAIS!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

I HATE CANCER!!!!!!

I hate cancer.

I hate what cancer has done to my family.

I hate what cancer has taken away from my family.

Most of all I hate that cancer has stolen my children's innocence.

Asa has severe fears of being left behind/alone/forgotten but other than that he doesn't have a fear of much else because he's already experienced one of the worst things that can happen to a child, his mom has died.

I've been preparing Valentina for her tonsillectomy, telling her that we'll go to the hospital, I will be with her, she'll have her bear with her, they will put a mask on her, she'll go to sleep, when she wakes up I'll be next to her and then we'll all go home. She has seemed a little skeptical of things but tonight she told me she was afraid. She whimpered to me that she was scared. I told her there was nothing to be afraid of, that I would be there with her.

Valentina - Beya too?

Me - Yes, I'm sure Beya will be there too.

Valentina - But you'll be with me?

Me - Yes honey, I'll be there the whole time.

Valentina - But like TT? Then you will come home?

The lightbulb went off in my head. I had never once thought that she would associate the two things. I never told her that her surgery will be at the same hospital. It broke my heart that she thought we would take her to the hospital and then come home without her. The remainder of our conversation went like this:

Me - No honey! We'll all come home together! You aren't going to die like TT.

Valentina (her face getting brighter) - You mean I'm going to come home? You won't leave me at the hospital?

Me - Of course not! You don't have cancer. TT had cancer. TT was really sick and there was nothing anyone could do. You are just having your tonsils out. LOTS of people have their tonsils out, it's no big thing. We'll go early in the morning and be home by bedtime. We'll all go together and we'll all come home together.

Valentina - But TT died. TT had cancer and went to the hospital and died.

Me - Yes. TT died.

Valentina - Why did she have cancer?

We discussed again how it just happened, it was nobody's fault, TT just got cancer and couldn't get better but that having her tonsils taken out was NOTHING like cancer. I explained that most people go to the hospital and come home, that it's not normal to go to the hospital and die but it did happen to TT.

I hate cancer.

I hate what cancer has done to my family.

I hate what cancer has taken away from my family.

Most of all I hate that cancer has stolen my children's innocence.

I cannot say that enough.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

More About You Monday

I thought this was a pretty cool idea that Jen did on her blog on Monday. Yes, I'm a bit late, I realize it's Wednesday but I'm going to ask you to post a few things about YOU.



1. If you had to be stranded somewhere (NOT your house), where would you choose?

2. If you had an unlimited amount of ONE food, what would it be?

3. You had only one album on your iPod to listen to at this place, what is it?

4. You have one tv show you can watch, which one?

5. You have one book you can read, what do you pick?


There. You're stranded in one place with one item of food, one book, one tv show and one album.


Speaking of More About You, Asa's teacher grabbed me after school today to tell me something. Yesterday they were discussing something about history in a different country and she wanted to show them where the country was so out came the globe. The teacher tells me "wouldn't you know, it's right next to Libya!" I covered my face and started laughing because I knew exactly what was coming next. Yes, Asa taught his whole class about what is happening in Libya, that the leader is killing his own people so we have to go in and rescue them. Then she added that one of the kids made the remark that he didn't want to go to Japan. Asa then informed them that they DEFINITELY would have not wanted to be in Japan in 1948 when there were other bombs going off (Asa knew the dates and more detail, I'm just paraphrasing what the teacher told me) and how England used a Tomahawk missile. I was laughing so hard and explained that Asa had spent Sunday with Joshua where the TV is permanently set to CNN. His teacher was laughing too and told me that she wasn't going to bother watching the news anymore, she would just ask Asa every morning what is going on in the world.


So that is More About Asa and here are the kids with their Pillow Pets.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Misc

I feel like writing today so I'm going to blog. You may have to bear with me as I have no idea WHAT I'm going to write and this will probably be all over the map but I'm going to write.

Speaking of being all over the map, I'm hooked on "Off The Map." I thought it started off kind of slow, just like "Modern Family" but I hoped they were just fleshing out the characters. Lo and behond they were so now Beya and I watch it every week.

My U2 concert is coming up in less than three months. If you remember correctly they were scheduled to play last year at the same time and I was in such a quandary as to if I should go or not. They are my FAVORITE, FAVORITE, FAVORITE band and I identify so closely with them. Not just on a musical level but politically and now to a lesser extent, spiritually. They were the ones who really got me to question God and religion back when I was about 10 or 12. I became involved with Amnesty International because of them around the same time too so I really credit them with opening my eyes and viewing things and what I could do on a global scale. That said, the last time I saw them in concert was 12/19/05 with Sissy. It was just the two of us and we had such a perfect time. I was on the fence about going last year since it was only six months after she died. Do I go? Do I not go? I was so torn but the decision was made for me when Bono injured his back and the show had to be postponed for a year.

What is my decision this year? I'm going. Had they actually played last year I don't think I would have gone and I also don't think I would have regretted my decision. I have never once regretted my choice to not see Coldplay when sissy was so sick with chemo. But I am going to see U2 in less than three months. However, one of their songs is on my do not play playlist, "Beautiful Day." I was in charge of composing the music for sissy and Josh's wedding. Trina gave me a list of songs that they definitely wanted played and I had to put everything together, decide which song went where, etc.... I picked "Beautiful Day" as the first song after they got married. It was so...well.... beautiful. As soon as they were pronounced husband and wife the song started playing and everyone came up to congratulate them, pouring rain and all. It was a perfect moment. BUT I have devised a plan to have my iPod all ready to go with a different song so as soon as they start playing that one I can put in my earbuds and listen to something else. But I AM going.

That said, I had originally planned on using the concert as an excuse for Norm and I to have a weekend getaway. We'd go up there, spend a few nights, relax, have a fun time and come home refreshed. The closer it gets to having to leaving the kids and Beya for the first time I start to think "well, we don't have to be gone for two nights. We only need to be gone for one night. Actually, we don't even need to spend the night but we should anyway. Can I do this? I have to. I CAN do this. It's not that far from home, if something happens I can be home in three hours. Should we fly? That way it's only an hour from home. But what if something happens? Then we'd have to wait for a flight home. Maybe we should just go and come home the same time. No, we need to get away. I can do this. I can spend one night away from everyone. Should we spend two nights?" It becomes a vicious cycle of what to do, what to do.

What is even more hilarious is the fact that I've been planning a two night, three day trip to Cabo for Norm and me later in the year. We love Mexico and Cabo is the only place where we haven't been with my family, i.e. with sissy. There would be no memories of "I remember when sissy and I came here" or "we had so much fun when we all went there" like there would be with Puerto Vallarta or the Mayan Riviera. I don't think I can ever go back to either place. With the help of therapy Norm and I have worked on our marriage and are at a new place in our relationship, a much better place than I think we've been in 10 years. I feel like we owe it to each other to have a quick, romantic trip to Mexico. Then I think about the anxiety I'm having of just being three hours away for the U2 concert and I think "how the hell did I trick myself into thinking that I could actually leave the COUNTRY for a weekend?" Even though Cabo is just a three hour flight I seriously doubt I can actually pull it off.

The kiddos are good. After spending the day at Grama's house one day last week Valentina came home with a picture she had drawn of the family. She was pointing each person out to me, "this is you. This is my dad. This is Beya. This is Papa. This is Asa. This is Joshua. This is Grama and this is Grampa!" I asked her if she had drawn TT. "No. TT isn't on here because she's up in heaven waiting for us!" She always talks about sissy in such a loving, beautiful way and is so excited and happy that her TT is "all better with long hair, no more chemo hair! She's in heaven with Jesus and God waiting for us!" Obviously Asa and the rest of us are unable to have the same joy that Valentina has about sissy no longer being with us but it does help to see things through Valentina's eyes. And her personality! Oh my gravy (yes, I love the cowboys on The Amazing Race), her personality is like a mashup of Trina and me. She has my stubbornness and always having to have the last word (me?) but Trina's absolute love of life and squeezing every last drop of fun out of each day. Sometimes it's painful seeing Valentina do something that I know Trina would have loved and would have laughed at but there's not a damn thing I can do about it. Valentina is learning how to write her name and she is getting pretty good at it. She can write all the letters of her name but not quite in order. She does have the VALE down and every time she gets that part done she stops and says "look! That spells Vali! That was TT's special name for me!" and then she continues writing her name. It is becoming time to go through her drawers and put away the clothes that are too small for her. I've been putting this off as there are clothes that Trina bought for her that I will never put away. Valentina will be 16 years old and still have shirts and pants that are a size 2T in her drawer. Or pajamas that are 18 months. Or shoes that are a 10 but I want her to always have those with her. Or maybe it's just that I want them there and cannot bear to box them up. Either way I'm keeping some of her clothes in her drawer.

Asa boy. Oh my dear, sweet Asa boy. He was sick Thursday so I kept him home from school but we had so many errands to run so I had to drag him with us. My poor boy threw up twice in the car (I had the foresight to bring a big puke bucket). Luckily one appointment was to the doctor for Valentina's four year checkup (yes, I am aware that her birthday was two months ago) so I was able to ask about Asa's symptoms. Turns out there is a virus going around and Asa was feeling fine Friday. It was also my day to volunteer in his room so I was able to keep an eye on him. Asa loves school and is doing so well. I think he likes the social aspect of it more, just like his mom. There is a new student in his room and I had it out with her. Yes, I fought with a Kindergartner and I'm not afraid to admit it. I was working with four of the kids (Asa being one of them) and one of the boys told Asa that he had gotten hit the day before at recess. Asa asked him if he cried and the boy said yes, he cried a little bit. This new chick, a total know it all and Miss Bossy Pants stated "you aren't supposed to cry. You don't cry." Oh no she di'int! There ain't no way in hell I'm letting a five year old brat undo all the work that I've put in, telling Asa that it's ok to cry! I set her straight! It went something like this:

me - It IS ok to cry!

her - no it's not.

me - yes it is! There's nothing wrong with crying.

her - well only if there's blood.

me - no, it's fine to cry! Everyone cries and that's ok.

her - well my mom says you don't cry.

me - well your mom can say whatever she wants and in your house you can do whatever you want but it IS ok to cry.

By this time the other two boys were just staring at me, they had never seen me argue with anyone before. Asa was just continuing to glue on his Fruit Loops like nothing was going on because he's heard me say this all before, albeit not with one of his classmates. In the end, I won and got the last word in :) Later on in the day I told the teacher that the new girl was something else. She agreed and called her a diva.

Speaking of diva behavior, I am such a bitch. Seriously. That one chick, the mom of one of Asa's classmates who I have likened to a piece of shit on the bottom of my shoe that I can't scrape off, brings out the worst in me. I turn into a total snob when I'm around her. It's like I hear the words coming out of my mouth and I think "that is such a bitchy thing to say" but I can't stop myself. Part of it is that she's just plain annoying and part of it is that she keeps copying me! I cut my bangs a bit differently about two months ago and literally three days later she shows up to pick up her kid with bangs exactly like mine. She even remarked to one of the other parents that it had been more than 10 years since she had bangs. Hmm.... wonder where she got the idea. Another reason she pisses me off is the fact that she's always bitching about her back and neck. I've told her flat out that I've seen real pain. I've had to watch someone I love die from cancer and THAT is real pain. Anything else is minor and I don't want to about it. AND SHE STILL WANTS TO HANG OUT WITH ME AND HAVE PLAY DATES WITH ASA!!!! Do you see how I try to scrape her off my shoe but she just doesn't budge?

The other day we were waiting for the kids to get out of school and I was doing my usual trying to ignore her but it's kind of difficult as we are usually the only two people waiting by the door. She made some sarcastic remark about it being another day in paradise and I told her "actually I've had one of those. It was when the seven of us spent a week in Cancun. Well, on the Mayan Riviera, an hour south of Cancun. It was the most beautiful resort on a private white sand beach with crystal clear water." After I said it I knew how snobby it must have sounded but the idiot had no idea that I meant it that way. She then had to one up me, as is normal for her, and told me that they are considering moving to Cypress, along the Greek coast. I tried to keep my eyes from rolling as she went on to say that it would be great for her son to live in another country and that he could teach her Spanish since he'd have to learn another language. "Asa's on his third language" I blurted out. Again, SNOB! It's like I have verbal diarrhea with her and not just normal but uppity verbal diarrhea. Again she didn't hear that part but just asked me what other language Asa spoke other than Spanish. "Oh, he's learning Hebrew. And Valentina knows sign language." It's like that scene in "Real Housewives of OC" where the two moms are trying to one up each other with how great their kids are. Or on "The New Adventures of Old Christine" and the two snobs at the private school are always putting down old Christine. Whenever I act like this I always come home and tell mom about it. She cracks up because I DO come off as a snobby bitch. Again, it's like I see the words come out in a balloon above my head like in a comic strip but I'm powerless to stop being a snob around her. I think another reason I hate her is that she plays the victim card. I HATE it when people act like the victim. Yes, there are situations that are out of our control but to blame everyone else for EVERYTHING bad that happens to them, especially when they can choose to look at all the positive things in their life, well, I can't stand those people. I have no patience with them and have cut them out of my life. I really don't want to listen to you bitch about all these minor shitty things (like I just did a few blog posts ago, lol) when you have SO MUCH to be thankful for! So yes, I can be a bitchy snob but at least I can admit it.

That is what is going on with us in a very large nutshell. Like I said, my post was going to be all over the place and I think I covered almost everything. We are surviving and the kids give us happiness. I'm beyond grateful to have my parents with me and my marriage is getting better. I miss my sister so much it physically hurts. There are times when it seems like a dream that she was ever even here and times when I reach for the phone to tell her something. I am decorating for every holiday and try to make them fun for the kids. I have crafts and gifts for them to make for their 937 family members. Mom has gout, is in a lot of pain and I feel so bad for her. She and I have our Thai Food Takeout Tuesdays since it's painful to go out to eat with just the two of us when there should be three. Both kids finally got their Pillow Pet that they have been wanting for over a year. Mom helps me so much in every way possible and I'm clinging to her. There are times when it think I can do this, I can continue to live without sissy and there are times when I break down and feel like I can't make it through the next five seconds. I never know what kind of day I am going to have, or what the next hour will be like. I can go through every single emotion five times a day or I can have a full day where I can laugh, albeit a hollow laugh.

One thing I know for sure is that life will never the same without sissy and I will never have the pure joy I had when our family was complete.

My best friend Holly who lost her dad when she was 15 described the process perfectly. Things never become ok, you just become more used to it being shitty.

Monday, March 14, 2011

My Baby Girl

Valentina has been sick for about the past 9 days. Her low grade fever left about five days ago but she's still had a sore throat and a bit of a cough. She does pretty good during the day but by evening she's worn out and tired. She had me up around 3am a few nights ago so I laid with her and she asked me, with her eyes closed and so tired, "mama, when am I gonna stop coughing?" She asked mom yesterday (who was up with her at 4am and rocked her) "Beya, when am I gonna be well?"

I took her in to the doctor today and he told me what I already knew; Valentina needs surgery to remove her tonsils. They are so big they are causing her kiddie sleep apnea.

I'm dreading it but the past few weeks I've been telling mom and Norm that once her cold cleared up I wanted to get going on having her tonsils removed.

Ever since Valentina came home her doctor and I have been having this discussion. There was a small chance her little body would catch up to her massive tonsils but I knew this would happen.

I know it's a routine surgery but I still hate the thought of it. The fact that we'll be having it done at the same hospital sissy died is not fun either. Asa has had three surgeries but they weren't as invasive. He was born with a clogged tear duct so he basically had to have it roter rootered. Next came a cyst removal on the top of his ear. The cyst grew back so he had to have it removed again and that did the job. Trina didn't want us at any of the surgeries because she wanted it as low key as possible and didn't want to freak Asa out by having all of us there.

For a split second today I thought to myself "yeah, I bet Trina won't stay home when Valentina has her surgery! I'm sure she'll have to be there!" I'd like to believe she WILL be there, watching over her Vali but I don't know what happens after someone dies. Half of the time I think you just die and that's it, you don't go anywhere, your soul dies too. The other time I want so badly to believe her soul did go to heaven and she's up there with Jesus and our grandma who she loved so much. Here's the bitchy part of me coming out; any time someone says to me "oh, she's up there all right" I want to say "yeah, and you also told me 'Trina will be fine, she'll beat this cancer, I KNOW it'."

So that's it, Valentina needs surgery. I'm waiting to hear back from the ENT. I would like this done ASAP so I can just get it done and over with so Valentina can finally breathe normally and she won't have to deal with a sore throat all the time or struggle to breathe when she gets sick.

Award


So, the amazing and unbelievably strong Jen gave me this award. She is seriously one of the most, well, I can't think of the right superlative right now, but she's super cool and the way she fights for her Aviana is just awe inspiring.


One of the rules of this is that I'm supposed to tag seven people. Jen's blog is pretty much the only one I read so I don't really have anyone to tag. BUT I'm supposed to write seven things about me. In keeping with Jen's theme I'm going with light and airy bullshit stuff about me.


1. I hate Rachael Ray (or however dumb way she spells it). Hate her. She's so annoying and fake.


2. I watch "Real Housewives of OC", "Atlanta" and "Beverly Hills". Pretty much every single woman makes me want to vomit yet I can't turn away. The Atlanta one cracks me up the most because they are all so ghetto but think they are "high class". Kyle and Lisa are my favorite ones from Beverly Hills because they seem the most "normal" and I was devilishly happy watching Kelsey Grammer leave that plastic bitch Camille on national TV. Tamra and Gretchen are more alike than they would ever admit to, both skanky.


3. I love Gummi Bears. Those and Laffy Taffy are my favorite candy, but only the green and red Laffy Taffy's. I buy them in bulk and rifle through them to just get the red and green ones. I'm ashamed to admit that the kids each got a giant Gummi Bear for Christmas and I hid them for myself. Watching tv one night with mom I needed some sugar so I broke one of them out. Mom just happened to look at me at the exact time I decapitated him with my mouth. I don't think she'll ever be able to erase the horror of what she witnessed.


4. I'm an HGTV slut. Saturday and Sunday's were made for HGTV. I come up with a million ideas of what I want to do with my house and make all these plans that I can't afford and have remodeled my house probably 729 times in my head.


5. "Know your land, know your prey." Mom got me sucked into a "Mantracker" marathon one Saturday during a brief HGTV break.


6. I think I've already mentioned this one but I find Karl Pilkington very attractive. I'm so bummed "An Idiot Abroad" is over.


7. I'm obsessive about always having my kitchen cupboards shut. I hate it when one of them is left open. I get that from mom because she was the same way when we were growing up. I used to go into the kitchen and "turn" the cupboard doors open and pretend I was Vanna White on "Wheel of Fortune."

Friday, March 11, 2011

Kameo's Korner

I'm tired, and I'm sure everyone else is too, of posting about my one big problem that nobody can do anything about. I miss sissy. I abhor the fact that she's gone. I despise that our lives have had to change so drastically.





So! Today I will bitch about trivial bullshit like everyone else. Today I will attempt to be just a regular bitch instead of a grieving bitch. Today I aspire to be like a Charlie Sheen except I will post everything that is not WINNING! in my life.





1. My kids can drive me crazy. Seriously. The constant asking for more of something, not listening to anything I'm saying, my always catching them in the act of leaving the bathroom without washing their hands, etc... I love them dearly but sometimes I feel like I'm going crazy. Which brings me to......





2. My bipolar brain. Okay, this might not be a typical mom complaint but it's my complaint. Again I'm so grateful for my mental health medication, I cannot imagine my life without it and hate to think of what my family would be going through without me on them but it still sucks having this. I saw my psychiatrist this week and explained to him that I feel like sensory overload sometimes. It's like when you walk into a casino and all the bells and music and NOISE is just blaring. I've compared it in the past to having a bingo ball cage in my head and all those balls bouncing around. If I'm asked one question I feel like I'm being asked five. So when I have five things going on at once (which is normal) I feel like there are 20. Studies show that bipolar and it's traits get worse as you get older. Throw in a severe trauma and voila! Perfect storm for feeling overwhelmed! Yay!





3. Clingy, idiotic, know it all people. Now I know I'm super cool to be around, just look at the above notes to see what a joy I am (sarcasm!) but seriously, this one chick at Asa's school is just plain irritating!!! She's like a piece of shit on the bottom of your shoe that you try to scrape off and it just won't budge and once you've finally kicked the last of it off you can still smell it. That's her. I told mom I'm requesting that Asa NOT be in her kids class next year. I've complained about her in the past and I know I'm giving her entirely too much credit to have such an impact on my life but damn she's annoying!





4. Being sick with the cold. We've all had it for the past week or two. It sucks. Oh, and it makes me even funner to be around, if you can imagine that.





5. Bags under my eyes. I was getting ready the other morning and mom gasped at me. She told me I had big dark circles under my eyes from lack of sleep. I looked in the mirror and I looked like a junkie. Mom said it looked more like I had a black eye. I showed Norm when he came home and he said "you need to get this cleared up before we see our marriage counselor next week!" Maybe that's why my other doctor asked me if everything was ok at home.....





6. Going to the bathroom. This one I've had for years. I always used to complain to sissy that I hated going to the bathroom. It's such a waste of time.





7. Realizing I'm out of Tylenol Meltaways at 7pm.... and finding out the store across the street doesn't have them so I have to get back into my car while it's pouring down rain and go to another store twice as far away from the other closest store because I can't go to the other one because that's where Trina and I always went to.





8. Dry lips. I have about five lip balms but no matter how much I use my lips are always dry.





9. Tripping over shoes/legos/toys/mini chairs/stools/anything that is in my path that shouldn't be.





10. Dropping things. It seems like whenever I'm rushed for time, which feels like all the time, I always drop something. I drop my phone, a utensil, a glass of water, a dish, a piece of food, hell I just dropped one of the kids' Polar Express bell that I didn't even remember I had! Yes, I found myself crawling around on the floor in my gynecologists office trying to retrieve it. I hate dropping things.



11. Constant pain. I try really hard not to bitch about my neck/back problems but they really suck. I had a two level cervical fusion in April 2003, the second level didn't fuse and one of the six screws drilled into the titanium plate that is is holding my neck together broke. On top of that I have three herniated discs AND a piece of bone all pressing on my spinal cord. I'm on permanent weight restriction which means I can't lift anything over 25 lbs ever again. I can't do anything repetitive like loading or unloading the dishwasher and stress makes it worse. I have to take pain meds and muscle relaxants every 2-3 hours. The muscle spasms are so severe that they have actually changed the curve of the neck. There are times when I can't get a grip on the pain and I have to lay down which really sucks because that's not really conducive to raising two kids and then I have to rely even MORE on Beya which I hate. I hate feeling useless. I always say I'm lucky because my pain isn't trying to kill me like the unbelievable pain that sissy had with cancer.





Since I'm not posting anything cancer related I'm leaving off items 12-937,205,791,468.





I almost didn't post this because I know it seems trivial, especially since I just read Jen's blog showing Aviana practicing to become an astronaut and I know how minor each and every one of these rants are.





That, however, is the whole point of this post. I have these trivial, bullshit things that are irritating happening in my life and I just wish I could complain, and laugh, about them to sissy.

Friday, March 04, 2011

One Phone Call

I have become a pretty closed off person, emotionally, the past 22 months. For the past almost 14 months I've been kind of angry too. Okay, very angry if I'm being honest and that is something that I kind of pride myself on. I'll be the first one to admit that I can be a bitch but I like to think that I'm a bitch to your face. Yes, I'm actually going somewhere with this.

When the kids started school I tried. I tried to open up to the other mom's. I tried my best to become even somewhat friendly with them. Hell, I even had a fucking play date with one of them which was painful but the kids had fun so I sucked it up and did it. That mom has since turned out to be something of a clingy stalker. I try to avoid her at all costs but in a small classroom it's pretty much impossible. When I drop off Asa in the morning she literally sits and waits in her car for me to pull up so she can follow us in to the room. She reminds me of that woman in the SNL skit where if you say you had a headache she had a headache that made her head explode. Anything you say, she's had/done it 10X better/worse than you. She's become my archenemy at Asa's school.

However, the person who I want to talk about is the one in Valentina's class. She's quite WASP-y, your typical (and I admit I'm using stereotypes, another part of me being a bitch in public) "good Catholic mom" with four kids, always calm and always seems to talk about how perfect her life is. For the longest time I had no idea what her name was, I just referred to her as "Mrs. Mom's Group" since all she talked about was "in mom's group we did this" or "in mom's group we discussed that" or "in mom's group so-and-so had this to say." She kept telling me how I needed to join mom's group at the church and how fantastic it is. It took everything I had to tell her there was no way in hell I was going to join her precious mom's group, that I took offense to her bumper sticker than says "avoid another Holocaust, choose life" and it takes a LOT to offend me. But again I tried. I tried to smile and bite my tongue until I had almost no tongue at all.

In the six moths that Valentina has been in school I did find out her name and I slowly began to make small talk with her while we waited in the hallway for class to be dismissed. I opened up to her and told her about my situation and sissy. She told me that her dad died when she was four. I began to look at her in a different light and realized we had more in common than I thought. I realized my angry snap judgements were probably wrong, although I still had to try to keep my eyes from rolling when she mentioned mom's group.

Last week when she came to pick up her child she looked different. Her clothes were the same, her walk was the same, her baby that she always brought with her was the same but I could see something different on her face. I asked her if she was ok and she informed me that her dad (obviously her mom remarried while she was young) was in the hospital. They found a tumor in his kidney, removed the entire kidney and the doctors were waiting for the pathology report but it looked like it was cancer. My heart opened up to her and I told her I was so sorry. I told her she could call me anytime but I also knew she had a sister she could lean on, which at one point had been yet another source of my anger towards her. Through no fault of her own I was pissed that she still had a sister and mine is gone.

Yesterday when I dropped off Valentina, Mrs. Mom's group announced to all of us that they had gotten the call from her dad's doctor, his tumor was benign. There was only a 10% chance that it wouldn't be cancer and he was the lucky 10%. All the moms and the teacheer offered their congratulations and praised God for all the answered prayers. I have been in a highly emotional fragile state for the past week to begin with so I just stood there, speechless as she went on and on about their miracle phone call.

My mind raced remembering our phone call. Tuesday, March 5, 2009 while at my house, sissy got her call from the doctor after her liver biopsy instructing her to come back to the office immediately.....and to bring her family. At the office she was told that it was, indeed, cancer in her liver. That was the call we got. Even the call saying her bone scan was clean was short lived. About two weeks later our phone call was that the cancer had spread to her bones.

Where was our miracle phone call?

Why weren't our prayers answered?

Why couldn't we be praising God?

I hugged Valentina goodbye and literally ran out of the classroom, not wanting anyone to see the tears and sobs that had already started. I had started to open my heart but it snapped shut like a Venus Flytrap.

All because of a phone call.