Request Granted….

Oye Vey!!!!!

What a roller coaster this move to Japan has been and we haven’t even left the states yet.  As the time to leave is approaching fast we began to realize how much we had to do BEFORE we left.  This realization hit us hard TODAY.  We went out to spend time with family and de-stress a little.  When we arrived home my husband said he would call to ask for an extension so that we can get things done around here.  He said he couldn’t promise anything but that he was going to aim for a leave date of December 29th.  I thought, PERFECT!  One more Christmas here in the states with my family and friends.  Then I thought (to myself) man, it would be nice to bring in the New Year with all the people I love but that’s pushing it.  The poor guy is already dealing with all my emotions about this trip just be thankful for what he can get.

He goes to make the phone call and says they are granting our request.  I am extremely happy but what TOTALLY made my day was when he said our new report date

JANUARY 12, 2014!!!!!!!

 

Yup. 2014 BABY!  Not only do I get my Thanksgiving and Christmas but I also get to bring in the New Year here.  I am beyond STOKED and BLESSED.  I am so sorry to all of you who keep planning going away parties and get together for me.  I thank you all for your patience and understanding.

I LOVE YOU ALL….. woot woot!!!

A time of healing…

Today is International Survivors of Suicide Day.

sos

The American Foundation of Suicide Prevention hosted a Survivors of Suicide Healing Conference today on the beautiful campus of USD in San Diego.  There were 83 Survivors of Suicide in attendance.  Some with recent losses within the last 2 months and others with losses of over 20 years.  There was also survivors that had attempted to take their own life at this conference and that were willing to share their very deep and personal experiences with a room full of strangers.

I was nervous about attending this conference as I am still highly emotional over my nephews 1 year of passing.  I was lucky enough to be accompanied by a good friend who is also a Survivor of Suicide.  Upon entering the conference center my nerves were put at ease as we were welcomed by many people with a sincere “hello” and smile.  What was different was the smile.  It was a smile of healing, one that told me “it’s going to be ok.”  I immediately felt like I NEEDED to be there.

The emotions throughout the room were that of sadness and healing as we all shared a little bit as to why we were there.  It was an amazing feeling to just look around the room and with just a look we all understood each other.  We understood the grief, the pain and the confusion.  For the first time in a long time I felt like people REALLY understood me and my emotions.

We watched an amazing video which I think everyone should watch even if you haven’t been through the loss of a suicide.  This video is powerful and raw with emotion. I will post the link to the video at the end of the blog.

We stepped outside to what I would say had to be the most appropriate setting for this conference.  We stepped out to the Reflection Garden.

pano

All 83 perfect and complete strangers gathered around a fountain, held hands and had a moment of silence for our loved ones.  At the end of this moment of silence we all hugged each other and offered words of encouragement.

refl

It was truly amazing to see the love and support from complete strangers.  It was as if we were just one big family that understood each other.  The end of the conference consisted of breakout support groups for different losses, ie. loss of siblings, loss of a child etc.  This had to be the most healing part for me as I for the very first time spoke to strangers about my nephews murder-suicide.  I was not judged.  HE was not judged.  There was compassion and genuine understanding.  It was a very overwhelming feeling and it was exactly what I needed.

flower

I will now share with you how I healed today:

1.  I will no longer dwell on the loss of my loved but instead be thankful for what my loved one gave me.

2. Time does NOT heal all wounds.

3.  My grief is MY OWN personal grief.  No one can experience my grief because my relationship with my loved one is and was different from the relationship that he had with others.

4. There is no answer to the WHY questions and I have to accept that my loved one did not want me to know how he was really feeling.

5.  Most importantly I will stop saying the “should’ve, could’ve, would’ve” and just cherish the moments that I did have with him.

Most of these life changing pieces came from the video.  Please take your time to watch it.

http://www.afsp.org/coping-with-suicide/international-survivors-of-suicide-day/watch-previous-programs/past-programs-English

I hope that my posting brings light to those who are grieving and awareness to those who don’t know about suicide and mental illness disorders.  Always remember that some one, some where loves you and that you can not be replaced.

Gone but Never Forgotten…

              “God grant me the serenity
                to accept the things I cannot change; 
              courage to change the things I can;
              and wisdom to know the difference”

Exactly one year ago today I had just finished getting out of a boot camp class and noticed that I had over 20 missed calls and text messages that read “where are you?”  “Call me now.”   immediately began to worry.  As I was looking through text messages my phone rings and it was my oldest sister.

She says, “Mija, where are you?”

I answer, “at the gym what’s going on?”

Sister:  I need you to come to my mom’s house right now. ( I can hear her crying)

Me:  What’s wrong?  What happened to my mom?

Then my brother gets on the phone and says, “mom is fine just come over here right now please”

I call my husband crying, I knew something was wrong.  I asked him to investigate.  He calls me back a few short minutes and reassured me that my mom is ok but that I have to go to her house right now.

I drove frantically to her house which seemed to take forever.  Upon my arrival I see all of my siblings there, even my sister from Temecula was down here.  I scan the room for my mom, she’s fine, I inhale a deep breath of relief.  I ask “What’s going on?”  and brother says take a seat by my mom.  I sit down next to her and then he says, “Tony’s Dead.”

I felt like someone had taken all the air out of my lungs and immediately begin to cry.  I knew at that moment that he had taken his own life.  I call my niece to get more details but she can hardly speak because she is sobbing.  She mentions to look it up in the internet and at first I thought “they don’t cover suicides on the news” I start googling and read what was being said.  I’m in disbelief.  It was a murder-suicide.  There is too much of the story to cover but that day November 21st, 2012 the day before thanksgiving my nephew took his life along with the life of his best-friend.

tony1

He was just 22 years old.  A father of two beautiful daughters. A U.S. Army Soldier.  He had just moved into a new apartment and had just passed his highway patrol exam.  Everything was looking up for him and out of no where, this happens. It has been a year of whys? and what ifs?  There are so many unanswered questions. So many tears.  I cry and I scream but no matter what NOTHING will bring him back.

Both families STILL wonder exactly what happened that day and there are just answers that we will never get.

I pray for him, I pray for his soul A LOT.   It is the most complex grief I have ever had to deal with, not only because he took his life but because he took the life of someone else as well.  Today, marks a year that both men have been gone.  Both very young and both fathers.  My heart aches for both families.

On the anniversary of their death I have accepted that I will never know what happened that day between both men.  I have to stop asking my nephew for forgiveness because in all reality no one knew his pains and troubles that he hid so well.  I have learned to let go of the anger and of the fear of what people may say about him.  Most importantly I have learned that my life must go on and that the pain will always linger but day by day it will be a pain that subsides.

beach

“The past cannot be changed, forgotten, edited, or erased.  It can only be accepted.” -anonymous

headstone

I miss him and love him. I wish I would have had the chance to see him grow as a father and as a kick ass Highway Patrol Officer but for now my peace comes from knowing he is no longer fighting his emotional demons.

If you or a loved one is suffering from depression and/or has thoughts about suicide please get help.  It is ok to ask for help.

Here are a few links to refer to.  There are people out there that care for you and love you and would be devastated if you were gone.  Please, PLEASE do not chose a permanent solution to a temporary problem.

 

Suicide hotline: http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

Suicide hotline for Veterans: http://www.veteranscrisisline.net/

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention: http://www.afsp.org/

Yellow Ribbon Program: http://www.yellowribbon.org/

You Matter to Me: http://umtr2me.org/

 

13.1 MILES

On Sunday, November 17th 2013 I ran my first official half marathon.  From Coronado California to Imperial Beach California.  I had previously ran 13.65 miles during a very hilly training run that I properly named “my own half marathon” because I thought that by now I would be in Japan.

ss

This half was so important to me because it was exactly 4 days before my nephews 1 year anniversary from taking his own life. The reason I started running was because I didn’t know how to grieve.  I didn’t have an outlet.  Losing someone to suicide is the hardest grief I have ever experienced it is so complex and you never really get an answer to any of your questions.  I felt like I was going CRAZY!  So, I began to run.  I couldn’t even run a mile without stopping.  One day I was so emotional and feeling at an all time low that I went for a run and ran 3 miles non stop.  The feeling was incredible that I continued to run.  On my runs, it’s just me, God and, my thoughts.  I was able to cry and scream and laugh during my runs.  Sure I looked like a crazy person but it was my time of healing.  Some of my best grieving has been on my long runs.

I always imagined my first half to be an AMAZING experience.  Picking up my bib, feeling great during the course and of course crossing the finish line and getting my medal.

So here was the Silver Strand Half coming up and I get sick with a terrible cold and cough.  I had already been super emotional because my nephews 1 year from passing was coming up and now this?!?!?!  Like really????  I’m getting sick 3 days before the most meaningful (to me) race.  You see I had dedicated this race to my nephew and I was on a mission to accomplish and finish it. I was feeling like the odds were stacking up against me.

shirt

 

In the following days I go and pick up my bib and I get a bib that’s says Silver Strand Skate…. yup SKATE.  I immediately panicked thinking I had signed up for the wrong category. You see what had happened was that they ran out of the white half marathon bibs so they gave me what they had left a pink one that said skate (odds against me #2).  Was I disappointed? Yes.  I wanted the bib to keep as a momentum of my first half but oh well what can a girl do?! At least it was pink 😉

bib

The night before the race I prayed and I cried that I would awaken in good health and that this half marathon would be an amazing and healing experience.

I wake up get ready and head out the door to find this.

poster1 poster2

Posters that my husband had put up the night before.  The emotions were kicking in.  I get to the start line and I’m not nervous.  I’m ready!  I’m here with a mission and a purpose. I GOT THIS?!  I start my race turn on my music and BOOM I lose reception and internet. I ran with NO MUSIC for 5 miles (odds against me #3).  I was feeling good the first 3 miles and at mile 4 I started having difficulty breathing.  My nose was runny then it would get congested then runny.  My throat was dry (although I had cough drops) and I was getting cough attacks left and right.  By mile 5 I was worried that I would pass out because I could not catch my breath, I felt defeated.  I felt like I was letting my nephew down and  I started panicking but kept going.  I saw my family drive down the course honking and that kept me going with tears in my eyes.  At mile 6 I was ready to give up and began crying.  My lungs were not getting enough oxygen and I was feeling dizzy and I had developed a fever (odds against me #4,5,6).  I kept going knowing that some of my running teammates had a support station at mile 7.  When I got to them I let them know I couldn’t catch my breath.  They all told me to take a deep breath and I did.  I stopped to use the restroom (I didn’t really need to use it I just needed to sit down) and I literally hyperventilated in a porta-potty.  Mile 8 comes around and I text my husband that I am hitting a wall and that I can’t breathe.  He tells me to pace myself.  I felt as if though I was going slower than a turtle.  Mile 9 my knee popped (like I needed anything else to happen right?!) odds against me number ….. oh forget it I lost count.  Miles 10-12 I can’t even remember.  I remember seeing my husband on the last mile before the finish line…he had walked on the course to make sure I was ok.  I just wanted to finish.

I began to run faster and I see Yvonne and Jimm Greer from the UMTR2ME organization.  I hi-five them and give them hugs (strangers that come out to support me and believe in my healing through running).  Then I hear loud cheers, more like hollering 😉 MY GIRLS!!!!  The bestest friends a girl could ever ask for all lined up with signs right before the finish line.  I could not look up as I was in tears.  I was almost there.  I keep running and the finish line begins to look blurry, I cross the finish line and I did it.  They had run out of medals so I did not receive one but I finished and I had an amazing support system.

SUPORT

So you see my first half was the complete opposite of what I thought it was going to be.  Everything that could go wrong did go wrong.  In fact it was pretty terrible in the sense of half marathon “experiences” (BESIDES MY AMAZING SUPPORT SYSTEM THEY ARE JUST AMAZEBALLS) But let me share with you what I learned and what I believe God taught me with this experience.

There were many moments during this run that I broke down.  That I felt defeated.  That I had let down my nephew, my family and my friends who were waiting for me at the finish line.  I felt embarrassed and like a failure.  Every single time I would feel that way I felt this warmth inside of me and would get a push to keep going.  I wanted to quit but I didn’t!  Through all the struggles and thoughts during this race I realized that these were all the emotions I had been going through since my nephews passing and in life in general.

Nothing in life is easy.  We have to feel pain to experience joy, sadness to know happiness, heartbroken to appreciate love.  No one can get you to where you want to be except for yourself.  You are in competition with NO ONE, EVER.  You only compete with yourself.  You have the power, strength and courage to overcome any and all obstacles in your life. Have confidence in your abilities and have faith in God because when you fall he will either catch you or teach you to fly and this weekend I feel like he caught me and gave me wings to soar to the finish.  I battled with my emotions, I screamed, I cried, I feared, I loved and most importantly I healed and I learned that no matter what I am never alone.  MISSION COMPLETE!

ME

 

In case you missed it… here’s a recap.

Since I am starting this blog, I figure I would just give a quick recap of what the other blog consisted of and continue from there.

In September my husband announced to me that he was given a promotion at work in JAPAN!!!!  Yup!  Way to drop a bombshell on me.  He had applied to jobs overseas not thinking that he would actually get hired for them.  He figured he had nothing to lose but instead gained so much more.  Naturally, I was scared and I didn’t want to go.  After a lot of back and forth I decided that we will be relocating our family of 4 to Japan for his promotion for two years.

We were given a report date of November 3, 2013.  At that time we had 4 weeks to do way too much.  We headed to  Vegas to get married because after 8 years of being together and 2 kids you would think it was time right?!  So we got hitched!

Luis & Vanessa Urea 026

Everything after that was happening so quickly.  Friends and family wanted to spend time with us and host dinners, we had tons of paper work to fill out, everything was just total chaos AND THEN…. the government shutdown happens and we didn’t hear from anyone for 2 weeks.  By the time we were finally contacted by someone from Japan we were one week away from our report date.  Needless to say that report date obviously wasn’t going to happen.  Our HR went ahead and gave us an extension to December 1, 2013.  I was totally stoked because I would get to spend one more holiday in the states with my family.

Since then we have been contacted by our sponsor in Japan, we have our lodge booked in Japan for our arrival and we have begun to fix up our house to get it ready for new tenants.  I quick my amazingly awesome job which I had just started and I have begun the de-cluttering and organizing projects.

Seems like everything is going smoothly right?  WRONG!  We have yet to receive official orders.  Without orders there is NO JAPAN.  Without orders we can not have movers come and pack up our house because we do not have an address for Japan.  Without orders we are at a stand still yet we still have a report date of December 1st so in anticipation of receiving these orders at the very last-minute we will continue what we are doing.  Our hope is that if we get orders at the last-minute that we will be granted an extension to get everything ready to be shipped to Japan.  If for what ever reason we do not get orders and the promotion is retracted, yes we will be bummed out but at least our house will be nice and remodeled and I know for a fact that when one door closes another door opens.

Yes my friends, that’s where we stand.  I highly doubt we will leave by December 1st.  Our frustration is as grand as everyone else’s.  I have been through many good byes already, yet I am still here.  What can I say?!  This situation is completely out of our hands.  I’m letting go of my stresses and anxieties and letting God do his thang!

Much love and light to all.