The Girl in the Picture

It's November again. Another year has passed by in a hazy, reckless, unfathomably painful blur. 

Almost every single second, I find myself not only longing for this girl in the picture to exist, but for her to show up, take me by the hand, and lead me to wherever and whatever reality that allows me to be who she is. 

Who I was. 

She'd arrive in a triumphant blaze of assurance and calmness. She would rehook all of the things that have come unhooked and unbreak everything that's been broken. She'd teach me what it really is to feel a hope and a happiness so deep and genuine, that it would be visible when you looked in my eyes. She would tell me exactly how to achieve a contentment and confidence so pure, it could be palpably felt by all who'd come in contact with me. 

A year ago this girl was REAL and even though I know that to be an undeniable truth, this girl seems like such an obscure, abstract, unattainable, impossible concept. It is a dilemma so deeply incomprehensible for me to grasp that I am wholly unable to reconcile myself to it. It's as surreal and far-fetched as time travel or sprouting wings to fly, or princesses in castles, guarded by dragons, being rescued by perfect men they've never met but who somehow, inexplicably, always manages to be their true love. 

I'm not some incredibly intelligent person nor am I someone destined for greatness and legacy. I don't know a lot and I'm not sure of most things in this world but I know enough to realize and admit that there is no rewind button and there is no possibility of a Me from the past coming to the Me from now's rescue. 

The struggle to exist, to continue to be a reality in this world, is not easy. Life is messy and relentless and painful. It takes and it destroys and it leaves nothing untouched. It's a terrifying dark abyss that we all must dive into, head first, not knowing or being able to see what awaits us at the bottom. 

We humans are an inherently weak and selfish species. We attack our own and stand idly by, as we watch evil happening around us. We are gluttons for punishment, rarely seek out or take advice from others, and have it deeply ingrained into our very beings that 'looking out for number one' is the thing to do. It's in our nature to do whatever it takes to survive and come out on top. As with all things, there is an opposition, a flip side. Even with all of the inferiority and defectiveness that means we're human, we also have the capability to be the very essence of good. We can love fiercely and form opinions and feel things so intensely we lose all sense of reason. Yes, we humans are a fickle, irreverent bunch but we are also blessed and thankful and unique. The best things about what it is to be human however, are also the things that allow our naivety and foolishness to abound. It is this innocence and ignorance that leads us to accept and believe things blindly, readily. 

The notion that if you just carry on in spite of the million and one hurdles thrown in your path, you'll not only be a brave and strong individual worthy of praise, but you'll also have done something that actually matters and is worth remembering, is one of the biggest lies that has arisen and been fostered and preached since the dawn of time. 

There are no right answers. There is no such thing as a period of time that heals. The only certainties in this life, any life really, are pain and guilt and suffering and the fact that there are no magically foolproof formulas to follow in order to achieve the highly coveted and most desired level of achievement. 


Pure, unadulterated, invincible happiness sounds good but it's a lie. A farce. The only thing we can do is breathe in and out and will our hearts to continue pumping our blood through our bodies. I know it's true like I know that the sky is blue and the sun sets in the west. I just really, really wish that this girl, the one in the photo, could come to me and tell me how to keep doing that. 


Another Year Gone. This Day Still Stands.

Geez. October 15th. Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day

Well, this day is here yet again. Time is funny like that. No matter how you feel or what is going on in your life that seems so altering and appalling, time still moves. Its an inescapable fact and yet I never find it easier to accept. 

I spent the day away from all of the attachments we humans have formed to maintain constant connectivity with everyone. I drove South down the Pacific Coast Highway with my incredible husband, exploring some of our favorite beaches and discovering new ones. 

No cell service for 7 hours was blissful. 

No Facebook posts to read or Instagram pictures to scroll through. 

No way for me to give in to my slightly masochistic tendencies by reading articles and blog posts and comments about everyone's angel babies. Trust me, I never stop thinking about those losses. I have far too many of my own to stave off those thoughts and feelings forever, but today it was what I needed. 

I really, truly needed to step away and live in the moment. I needed to be out in this insanely gorgeous world we live in and FEEL something other than the grief and pain and confusion that's been surrounding me.

It's been 5 weeks and 2 days since we found out we had lost our baby and its been 5 weeks and 1 day since that baby was taken from my body. 

Even though stepping away was good, I knew I needed to acknowledge this day and what its for and what it means to countless moms, dads, entire families, and all of the babies we've lost. 

We now have 5 Angel Babies waiting for us. 


{{NOTE: Reposted from 10-15-2013}} 

Today. October 15th. 

October 15th....

It's the middle of the month.

It's the day after the 14th and the day before the 16th.

It's 16 days away from Halloween.

It's right in the middle of Autumn weather coming into full swing.

There's usually leaves on the ground in different shades of red, orange, and gold. The air is crisp and chilly in the morning and brisk and cold at night. It's cold enough for boots and cardigans but there's no snow sticking to the ground yet.

Pumpkin is everywhere.

It's in recipes on blogs and in your Facebook feed. There's countless pictures of pumpkin this or pumpkin that on Instagram. They're in the grocery store, being sold at the stand on the corner, and sitting on your neighbors front porch. Most of the popular pins on Pinterest right now either incorporate or center around this big orange member of the squash family. There are crafts! And decorations! And GOOD LORD it's even in your coffee!

All of these things are a given when it comes to the general public and what pops in their minds when thinking about October. 

Everyone knows when October is. Everyone is more than familiar with the things that are usually going on in October. To most, October 15th is just another generic day of the week in another month of another year. This year, October 15th happens to be a Tuesday. Last year it was a Monday and back in 2007, on October 15th, I was rushing around tying up loose ends and calming nerves for my wedding that was just four days away.

Do you know what else October 15th is?

National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day.

You see, for countless women, October 1st begins the lead up to the one day a year that their pieces of fractured souls and broken hearts are recognized by others rather than themselves alone. Their babies who are now angels are even more present in their hearts and minds today, than they are every other second of every other day because of this day.

October 15th.

Prayers are said. 
Candles are lit. 
Hands are held.
Hugs are given. 
Memories are reflected upon.
Tears are shed. 

All of this and more for the babies who never got to make it out of the womb, the ones who were stillborn, and the ones who were taken much too soon back to Heaven.

For most people, October means Autumn has arrived and Halloween, orange and black, witches, pumpkins, and spooky stories are here. For others though, it's something much more and most won't ever know.

Growing up, October was something I anxiously waited for all year. I loved the feelings I got going outside in the mornings and seeing the trees slowly become more bare as the leaves fell. I always went all out on Halloween when it came to my costumes and I looked forward to the neighborhood bonfire we had every year. It was the month that brought my Mama's birthday and on its heels was Thanksgiving. I loved it.

In 2007, October became even more fantastic! The 19th was the day Loverface and I became husband and wife and it was just one more thing to celebrate!

Each passing year since then brought on more and more of life and the struggles that accompany with it. It seemed as if everything kept happening around the same time of the year and it all made me morph into someone who felt increasingly sad and angry as October drew closer. No matter how I have tried, I haven't been able to regain my untainted and unabashed fondness and enthusiasm for October.

October 4th, 2009 was the day I was raped and nearly killed. It was an inexplicable nightmare and to this day I can't really face the details of it all without flinching away.

October 19th, 2010 found me 8,000 miles away from my husband. Instead of it being the day we celebrated 3 years of marriage, it was the day that began with me testifying against my rapist in an Article 32 Hearing and ended with me alone at an Urgent Care, being told that I was in the midst of a miscarriage. Our 3rd loss.

The next year, October 2011 was a bit of an emotional blur. Loverface was on 12 hour night shifts and I was trying desperately to not drown in my grief and anger surrounding the events from the last couple of years. I tried to shove it away and hide it which in the end did nothing but set me up for a much bigger fall. 

Last year, we were still settling into our new civilian lives in Salt Lake City, Utah and even though we did get to have a day together to celebrate our 5 year wedding anniversary, I couldn't help but feel utterly bitter

Bitter that we had 3 Angel Babies but none here on Earth. Bitter that after 5 years, we were no closer to our goals and dreams. I was angry and bitter that the person who raped me had not only been let off all civilian charges but also all military charges and was free to live his life without a second thought of what he had done to me. I was bitter that I had received notification that this person wasn't content enough with brutally abusing me but was also attempting to serve me with legal papers, notifying me that I was being sued. 


The beginning of this year brought with it a change. Our circumstances and environment didn't undergo some magical transformation nor will they anytime in the near future. Regardless, something had clicked. A flip was switched in me and without telling anyone or declaring that it was a New Years Resolution, I made a decision. 

I was going to let it go

Everything that I was clinging to that made my life that much more difficult or unhappy was being set free. If I didn't have any control over it, it was gone. 

Getting on Facebook and seeing that yet another person, was having yet another baby wasn't going to ruin my week. Of course it would still be difficult and it would still tug at my heart but I wasn't going to be the girl that couldn't paste a smile on her face and say a simple, "Congratulations." 

No more. 

I wasn't going to fear my attacker. Let his lawyers try to track me down and serve me with papers. I wasn't going to hold onto so much bitterness that I didn't have room for happiness. Thinking about and talking about my attack was still going to be incredibly difficult. It would hurt like hell but all I had control over was continuing to bravely share my story and show others that its possible to pick up the pieces and get back to your life. 

Try my best.

This was all something that just kind of occurred to me one day. I don't remember what I was doing or where I was but I remember feeling a sense of excitementhope, and relief.

October was still going to be a month that held a lot of emotion. That was inescapable and even if I could, I wouldn't want to. The best part of human existence is experiencing and feeling. Without the bad there wouldn't be good and vice versa. You can't have all the chocolate without the calories but sometimes, the chocolate is just so damn worth it.

I'd decided and I dove in. 

In February, Loverface and I discovered I was miraculously pregnant. We shared it with the world in hopes of all the extra prayers and good juju would really help that bun stay in my oven. We were very cautiously starting to allow talk of the future and started slipping into, "When"s instead of, "If"s. I was insanely sick and growing at a fast pace. 

Then it all happened. Again. Our hopes were dashed, our baby was gone, and we were left empty in every possible way. Regardless of how difficult it was, we pulled ourselves back up and got back into our routines. By July it seemed as if I really had managed to grieve and tuck the heartache away more easily than in the past. It didn't hurt any less and I wasn't any less broken but I was able to handle it better for some reason.

Until today.

You see, today is October 15th

It's National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day.

It's October 15th.

It's the day that was supposed to be for our Angel Baby #4.

October 15, 2013.

The due date that never happened.

Today I am feeling broken. The words grief and sadness don't seem anywhere near adequate and the thought that this awful, huge, gaping feeling could be put into words that would come close to describing what it is to hurt like this is incomprehensible.

I have hope that hope will return to me soon and I love that I know what it is to have a man who loves me the way I am loved.

Its October 15th and I am feeling fractured, hollow, blank....

But I know I am blessed.


When Dreams {{NIGHTMARES}} Become Reality

Monday night I couldn't sleep.
Not really.

Every time I closed my eyes, images would begin swirling and as they collided with my exhaustion, reality would drift far enough away for dreams to begin, but not so far that I didn't know I was dreaming. 

I was standing in line at Starbucks when he walked in and called my name. 

How are you? 
You look great!
It's been so long...

My eyes fluttered open, I kicked off the covers and got up to get a glass of water. Settling back into bed, scenes of downtown Tempe began to fill my mind. 

It was a Friday night and we'd just finished dinner at Oregano's. The sounds of people laughing and talking loudly mingled with the smells of food and cigarette smoke that surrounded us. It was exactly like every other night we'd spent walking down Mill Avenue. The only difference was that when we crossed the street, he didn't make it. Once I stepped up onto the curb and turned around, I saw him lying in the street.

I jerked awake that time and had to take several deep breaths to calm myself. My husband was sleeping soundly next to me and I wished I was too. As I rearranged my pillow, I concentrated on matching my breathing to his, focusing on all things calm.

There he was again. Standing there in a black t-shirt and jeans, along with his regular black Vans and sunglasses tucked into the front of his shirt, the weight of them pulling the neckline down far enough to see the top of a slightly raised pink line down the middle of his chest. I knew it was nearly 6 inches long but that's only because I'd seen it in its entirety.

Hey you!
Are you going to come to the hospital?
The doctors are saying this may be the last surgery I'll ever need. 
I'll be fixed!
Please wait there with my mom...

This time when I opened my eyes I had to talk myself into believing that the conversation I'd just had with him wasn't real. We'd always hoped one day the doctors would indeed tell him that he only needed one more operation and then his heart would be better but after 9 years of knowing him, I knew it was a long shot.

This was getting old. I had work in 3 hours and I hadn't managed a stretch of sleep longer than 20 minutes. Sighing in utter frustration I lay my head back down again.

I was holding his mom's hand while we sat in the freezing cold waiting room. The sterile smell of hospitals had always turned my stomach but combined with my apprehension and terror, the nausea was threatening to overtake me. We'd been waiting only 2 hours. Even still, those 2 hours had felt like 20 and when I looked up and saw the doctor walking towards us, mask pulled down around his neck, scrub cap in hand, and blood on his coat, I knew instantly that something had gone terribly wrong.

He's gone.
We tried everything.
Sometimes this happens.
I'm so sorry for your loss.

My eyes flew open and as I realized that my face was indeed wet with real tears, I could still hear his mom screaming.

This can't be happening!
Not my baby!
Please, God, no!

Seriously?! Why did I keep seeing him? I hadn't talked to him in 6 weeks and yet every time I attempted to get the sleep I so badly needed, there he was.

Somehow, an hour later when my alarm went off, I dragged myself out of bed and got ready for work. The morning was a rough one. Trying to convince a very cranky and sick 3 year old boy to do the most simple and ordinary tasks was grating on my nerves. My leg got cut by some glass and I got yelled and cursed at by a 70 year old Vietnamese woman. I had forgotten my breakfast at home and hadn't had time for my morning coffee. When my phone buzzed and I saw that I had a new message, I escaped to the bathroom to catch my breath and read the message.

When I saw the sender's name, my stomach dropped.

I felt like someone had kicked me in the gut, forcing my insides into my throat.

It was from her.
His mom.

As my eyes flew over the words shining bright on my phone screen, I suddenly felt as if I was being choked. I couldn't breathe. My head was spinning.

He's gone.
I found him this morning.
I looked but I couldn't find a note.
I wish I could say it was an accident.
It wasn't his heart.
The police are still here.
Had he contacted you?
He still talked about you all the time.
I thought maybe you would know...
He loved you.
I'm so sorry.
Where are you?
Can you come?

This could not be happening.
This was not real.
It just could not be.

I jumped as I heard the irregular rhythm of a 3 year old fist knocking on the bathroom door...

The rest of the morning was a blur. Upon arriving back at our apartment after getting L on the bus for school, it all threatened to crash down on me. I couldn't think about anything but the one thing I knew I shouldn't do. It was an incredible struggle. I forced myself to change and work out. The entire time I focused like I've never focused before. It felt impossible to keep going but as I did, the sweat and shortness of breath pushed down the choking sensation from my throat. Afterwards, I showered and got dressed. I had to meet my husband on campus at the Detachment and take photos of him and the other members of next years Wing Staff. I was angry. So very, very angry. The reasons I gave were irrational but I didn't care. I could not talk about it. I would not talk about it. 2 hours later I was back at home and in my room.

You will not cry.
This isn't happening.
Just keep standing and folding laundry.
You will not cry.
This isn't happening.
Just keep standing and folding laundry.

I kept repeating those words to myself. The next 2 hours were filled with the mundane tasks of folding, hanging up, and putting away 6 loads of laundry I had been avoiding. I did cry but just a little. Never longer than a minute or 2 and then I'd wipe my face, shake my head, and proceed with what I was doing.

5:30 PM found me on my bed, hugging a pillow, sobbing uncontrollably. The door opened and I heard my husband's footsteps as he walked around the bed. The mattress shifted as he sat down.

What's going on?
Please tell me what's wrong?
Rachelle you HAVE to talk to me.
I'm going to get some tissue and then you have 2 minutes to tell me.
Please talk to me.
What happened?

I didn't want to say it. I didn't think I could even manage saying the words. After fighting it some more, I gave in.

He's dead. He killed himself this morning.

I told him all about it. I sobbed.

Another good soul has left this Earth and in doing so, he left from my life. No longer do I have the option of checking up on him. There is no possibility of me running into him ever again. I won't ever have a chance to see him smile again or to tell him how proud I am of his sobriety.

Its completely nonsensical. How is it possible that someone with such a pure heart no longer exists? A heart that had made it through TEN open heart surgeries... How can it be that someone who had been sober and clean for 3 years, who felt like they finally had it figured out, and had a new lease on life, no longer have any life at all?

There are no words to accurately describe what this feels like. I have an actual physical stabbing pain in my heart. It's been 53 hours since I got the news that he was gone and I still can't believe it.

Well, that's not true. The tears and the pain and the sleepless nights are proof that a part of me knows and believes. I just wish I didn't. I wish I didn't have to.

I don't want to grasp the reality that the one good person from my past is gone.

I don't want to understand that the one person from my past that never made me hate myself more than I already did is gone.

I don't want to know that the person who managed to crack my stone-hard exterior after my best friend killed himself is gone.

I don't want to believe that one of the best people and men I have ever known is gone.

Above all else, I don't want to wrap my head around the fact that he's gone because that would mean I'd have to accept and understand that he was hurting so badly and was so blinded by despair and hopelessness and pain, that he felt his only choice was to slip a rope around his neck and before stepping off of the chair he'd planted his feet on, drag a razor blade across his wrists.

Really, truly knowing that would make me hurt more than I can comprehend. 

It would mean I failed.

It would mean I failed someone I had once loved and was still very near and dear to my heart.

It would mean that someone I thought had risen from the blackest and deepest depths of depression and found happiness, wouldn't have and that would mean that the hope his story and life had given me, wasn't ever real to begin with.