When I first made the decision to write this blog, I did so with a few rules. I was going to be completely candid and vulnerable documenting my feelings in regards to EVERYTHING having to do with cancer and how it affects me and my loved ones and EVERYTHING having to do with my promise to Sissy and running a marathon for her… which later turned into triathlon and cycling. However, I would never write about my family.

Today, I’m going to break that rule.

My rule breaker might surprise you. It surprised me. You see, deep down inside, I am probably the biggest mother hen you’ve ever met. I’m protective of my family to the point that I should be leased out to the CIA for lessons on how to do this stuff. I am also very proud.

Each family member has their way of making their mark on me. One, in particular, stood out this week.


As an adult, watching your parent take their last breath in your arms is devastating enough to the point that it whittles you back to the age of three. The torment made upon your heart is numbed only by the useless gasps made in a temper tantrum with God desperately trying to negotiate just a few more moments. I was a forty-some year old grown, professional, civilized, well-mannered woman reduced to the likings of a toddler. On that beautiful Easter Sunday afternoon, I was so focused on the loss of my mother that I was blind to my two boys in the next room with their Easter baskets. We never did the Easter Egg Hunt nor did we go to church that day.

If this loss affected an adult in this grandiose manner, how must it have affected my young sons?

(present day)

Two years have passed. My eldest is now away from the nest of this mother hen but my eyes have awakened to the respect, courage and bravery that lies within him. I am still unsure of the reasons behind it but my two nephews have returned home and I can assume that three angels above, all the rosaries my Momma prayed and the Grace of God had a little to do with it. I was finally able to see them and have dinner with them. Nico, my eldest nephew – and Godson – and a teenager that looks identical to his daddy, shared with me that he had recently re-read the letter that my son wrote him while he was at ACTs retreat. This touched me. How special was that letter that it was saved for this long period of time? Most teenagers trash all that stuff. It must have meant a lot to him. I don’t know what words were in that letter but just knowing it was kept told me that it was pretty special. A few days later, I received a text from my Aunt Letty in San Antonio who said her son had just received a letter from my son at boot camp. Again, I was touched and proud that my son was thoughtful enough to handwrite letters to his family and friends… I had already received two letters myself 🙂  And in those words to me, I immediately recognized what was important.

But it wasn’t until I sat down at my computer to print out my sponsor request letters I told you about two posts back that it hit me… the love and respect I shared with my mother is probably pretty identical to that of the love and respect that is shared between my son and I. I found an old essay he had written while he was in middle school that was backed up on my hard drive and I was pummelled to tears. I’ll share a little bit of both with y’all and hope to God it doesn’t embarrass him when he returns!!!

In his letter to me from the military, he repeated over and over again for me not to worry. That he was fine and that there was even a saying going around that was flattering to him. “Be like Barajas!” He said all the officers there were scolding the recruits because they weren’t busting their butts like he was. He said everyone smiles now when they say his name and it makes him feel real good. #belikebarajas 🙂

And the essay

Bright and cherry red, the newly installed play set beckoned me to play on it. New, with no bite marks, dog prints, or melted spots that you seem to find on every run of the mill play set, which almost comes standard on every public recreational institution for children. No, this rivaled the discovery of the Garden of Eden, the discovery of the Americas, and the discovery of the Ark of the Covenant in my young, ravishing eyes. Of course no child could touch it, for it lied on the other side of a four foot tall safety net fence. I though in my head “It’s already done! Why should we wait for the supervisor to give approval?!” I knew of course that the supervisor delayed the approval just to taunt us, he absolutely despised children.

I had enough. As my mother chatted and conversed with the usual soccer moms I eased my hand away from her maternal grip. Now free, this granted my chance to do something great. Soon, I will topple the playground reputation, I shall be known as “Orange Tape Tearer” and all the children will know what I accomplished. Then I realized, I couldn’t share it, no then it would just resemble the other play sets the loomed just a few feet away. This had to be for myself, for no one else. I peeled away the orange safety net when all the others were busy playing and dug myself into the deep twisted metal tendrils until I reached the heart of the play set, where I hid myself from the outside world by metal rods and plastic walls. In the middle of the play set the evening sun pierced through the red plastic walls, creating a red aesthetic aurora that went unappreciated to a small child’s eyes. No I proceeded to pull out my toy cars I had lugged around all day in my tattered pockets.

I built tracks for my cars on the wood chips the littered the playground, I started to drive them on the roof, then on the wall, and soon I realized that the red glow had gone away. “Oh, no!” I thought.  Chills went through my blood at that second. I scrambled to pick up my toy cars like they were jacks and I peered outside only to find a sight of pure dusk.

“Mom! Mom!” I yelled, only a tiny high pitch squeak seemed to be leaving my mouth. Oh, how much I’d do to be with my mother that second. I felt my way out of the dark and twisted metal to find myself at the foreground of the playground. I decided to climb up the slide to get a good vantage point of the park to see if anyone would help me. I went up the steps like a toddler, on all fours until I reached the top. This is where I noticed that some if the guard rails were missing, “Maybe this is why the supervisor never approved the playground…” I thought.

“Michael! Michael!” I heard a faint yell of in the distance.

“Michael!” I heard my mom!

“Mom, over here!” The small search party led by my mother came towards my direction, their small spotlight flashing every which way. They came closer and closer following my voice. I couldn’t see their faces, the lights covered them, and it looked like holes of light pierced through a dark black sheet. Finally, they were at the base of the playground. One shined a light at me, and it blinded and stunned me. I fell backwards, dazed from the bright light, and fell off the twenty foot high slide. I remember reaching for my toy cars as I fell midair, and that’s it.

My eyes opened, I took a sip of water from my bedside table and got out of bed. I creaked open the door and pitted and patted down the hallway to my parents bedroom. I peeped in and snuck up to my mother.

“Mom, I had a bad dream again.” I whispered careful not to wake up my father. She didn’t say anything, but only motioned to her bed. I climbed up on the bed and snuggled under the covers. I never felt safer until that moment.

This boy, this baby boy of mine, has so much more strength and courage than I EVER imagined he could have. He is devoting his life for this nation so that we have our freedoms. That’s my boy. And I hope to #BELIKEBARAJAS


And I miss him so very much.

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