Growing up with Bereaved Parents

I was my mother’s sixth pregnancy, with that information alone you’d assume I’d come from a big family. But I don’t. I’m the youngest of three.

The one question I hate being asked is “how many siblings do you have?” When I was a kid, I always through my teachers off when they’d ask that because I’d always retort with “alive or dead?” To me, that question was always so complicated to answer. I mean I have one brother, I grew up with one brother. But I also have a sister. She existed in a span of time where I wasn’t there, and even though we never met her absence leaves an ever-present emptiness within my family. A piece that is forever missing.

Growing up, every kid sees their parent as these unshakable pillars. They are these superheroes that are invincible. But, I grew up seeing my parents bawl, broken, empty, somehow trying to pick their pieces.. and as much as they were grateful that they had my brother and I there’s nothing that they wouldn’t give to have my sister here too. I learned that tears to others are a sign of weakness, but to me it was a sign of healing, it was strength, it was power.

While most kid’s bed-time stories were that of princesses or fairy tales, mine were of my sister. Her life and legacy. Her likes, her dislikes. Her characteristics and mannerisms.

Something that has always stood out to me when we go to visit my sister’s grave is how my parents, mainly my dad but both of them do this, is how when we visit her they are always cleaning her gravestone. They make sure that the flowers are in the perfect place and that the dust and dirt is swept away. I always thought it was weird, because in my mind it was just going to get dirty and messed up as soon as we leave. But over time I’ve come to realization that in that moment, they aren’t moving dirt or fixing flowers. They are taking care of their daughter. It’s like when you have something on your face or a hair is out of place, your parents are the first people to take care of it. It’s the same idea put into action in two different types of ways.

I would sit there as I would hear my dad cry saying he would have rather to have been the one to go through that pain, that it would have been easier that way. He wish he could save her.

Growing up with a bereaved parent you learn about loss in the deepest depths without ever going through it. You see the joys and the sorrow.

My parent’s parenting was forever affected by losing their first child. I didn’t get my ear pierced until I was 18. Some people think it was because I grew up in a Pentecostal Christian home, but it wasn’t that. My dad said that he saw his daughter (my sister) get poke and prodded with needles so many times, so why would he do that to me unless it was absolutely necessary?

I remember when my brother had to sign for his shots for the first time (because he had recently turned 18.) My mom made a big deal about it, my brother told her to chill out. Others thought she was simply being over-dramatic. I can understand where someone might think that, but she wasn’t celebrating him signing his own shot. She was celebrating the fact that she had raised her child to be old enough to do “adult things.” She’d never reached this point before, it was a big deal.

Growing up with a bereaved parent is celebrating life, celebrating accomplishments big and small. Celebrating who we are and who she was.

My mom was afraid that when my sister passed that everyone would forget her, but no one has. And even if everyone else does, the four of us will always remember. March 9th will always be spaghetti dinner, another date we will never forget is May 21st. We will always remember her life. She existed and left her own distinct mark on this world.

Growing up with bereaved parents, teaches you to find value in every moment because in one moment your whole world can be turned upside down. It taught me that people change people. That true love can truly make it through even the darkest of times. My parents will forever be the most strongest, most invincible people I know. Not because they weren’t broken during hard times, but because despite being broken they were able to pick up these pieces and be the best parents they could be.

 

MTMM: You’ve Got a Friend

“You’ve Got a Friend” by Carole King and James Taylor

My earliest memory I have of this song is when I was probably about 12 or 13. My dad was watching the Live at the Troubadour episode and this song come on.

“Right, babe, this is our song,” my mom says “right, babe?”. My dad just nods his head. “Babe, let’s dance.” He gets up and they sway back and forth until the song ends.

Once the song is over, my parents tell me the story of the relationship. They told me how they always knew they could call on each other no matter what.  They told me that there beginnings as friends carried on to ever part of their relationship and how it just made their bond stronger.

From that moment, this song was engraved in my mind as my parent’s “song.” It reminds me that in their darkest of times their bond as friends carried them through everything together. It reminds me of the sweetest part of their relationship and how they’d do anything for each other, at anytime. It reminds me of their love.

Favorite Lyrics:

“If the sky above you should turn dark and full of clouds
and that old north wind should begin to blow,
keep your head together and call my name out loud.
Soon I will be knocking upon your door.
You just call out my name, and you know where ever I am
I’ll come running to see you again.
Winter, spring, summer, or fall, all you have to do is call and I’ll be there.”

 

My momma

Being a teenager, older people often tell me “one day you’ll see how amazing your mom is.” It’s always rubbed me the wrong way because the thing is, I’ve never once thought my momma was anything less the most incredible human being I’ve ever met.

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My mom is a ball of joy. She works to always spread it everywhere she goes. There’s always laughter in my home because she’s here. My mom is a constant beam of positivity, sharing her light everywhere she goes. My mom’s smile is my favorite feature of her and I’m lucky that it’s always painted across her face.

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My mom is so giving. These past couple of years, I’ve seen my mom take on responsibility after responsibility. My mom sees a problem and immediately searches for the solution. She sees a need and fills it. There’s no mountain too high, no task too hard for her to conquer. My mom will go to the end of the world to help anyone.

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My mom can do anything. Like, literally anything. As I have grown older, I have only become more certain in the fact that there is absolutely nothing that my mother can not do. Cake decorating, she’s got it. Floral arrangements, she can do it. Party planning, consider it done. Choir directing, she’s done it. Sign making, Shirt designing, singing, backdrop designing, cooking, calligraphy, piano playing, decorating, teaching, she’s a pro at it all. I’ve been blessed to grow up watching my mom doing what she does best, which is everything.

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My momma is resilient. She has been through some tough stuff. She’ll tell people her story and they’ll often say “I don’t think I could make it through what you did, I don’t know how you made it,” but I do. She’s strong, strong emotionally, mentally, and most of  all spiritually. Although, she’s small she’s mighty.  She will not be shaken easily. 20160501_185723.jpg

My mom is funny, loving, silly, smart, fun, adventurous. I could keep going all day long, but I think you get my  point. My mom is all around the best person you’ll ever meet. I’m thankful she’s mom (she’s a pro at that too, btw.) I love you, momma. There’s no one on this earth I’d rather be celebrating today.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Function of Beauty Review

One day in my Multimedia class, I was sitting on the floor and this girl who was standing near me asks “is that glitter or dandruff?” Luckily enough, for me glitter in your hair was a fashion fad of 2009.. But she and I both knew it wasn’t glitter, “oh well.. that’s a lot of glitter.” My jet black hair and the black sweatshirt that I practically lived in at the time didn’t do much to help me, either. Even as my style and hygiene pattern changed (both for the better, thankfully,) I was never able to fully get rid of my dandruff.

So I landed upon this video about someone trying a personalized shampoo. She said she has a dandruff problem and long story short, it helped. I watched another video, same thing.

The videos really made me consider buying. I was a bit hesitant, $34 for 8 ounce for two bottles of shampoo and conditioner is a bit steep. But I figured if it could help my everlasting problem it was worth a shot, at least once right?

I took the quiz and ordered it. It was then that I was plagued with the never ending waiting period… Well it wasn’t actually thaatttt long but when you’re that eager to receive something just one day feels like an eternity.

I order it on the 25th and I got it on the 29th, so in reality it was pretty quick. The same night I got it, I used it. I loved it. The only things I didn’t like too much was how the lavender smell took over everything else (but it was an ingredient use to help my hair so that’s okay) and that when it gets in my eyes it burns (but beauty is pain, right? Also, there’s barely any shampoo that doesn’t burn when it’s in people’s eyes anyway.)

Overall, I WAS IN LOVE.  My hair felt good. It was softer. Typically my hair is constantly itchy, it wasn’t at all. There was no signs of dandruff (or rather what actually was my dry scalp.)

I went into my hairstylist to trim my bangs and get a wash that month. When she saw me, she said that was the best she had seen my hair in a long time. She’s been my hairstylist since I was in 8th grade and I’m a senior in college now, so she when she says  a long time, really does mean a long time.

So it felt good, it looked good, it was actually good. What more could I ask for?

I think, although it is expensive if you have a chronic unresolved hair problem giving the Function of Beauty is definitely worth a shot. If you want to treat yourself or a loved one, I totally would recommend this… On that note, my birthday is in 15 days so if you just dropped this on my door step I wouldn’t cry… Well maybe I would but it would be tears of joy.

If you decide to purchase Function of Beauty be sure to use this link so you can get $5 off and I get $5 off, too!

 

Brunt Orange and Broken-hearted

Growing up, every Saturday in the fall was filled with burnt orange, hoot, hollering, and Longhorn football. We’ve always been a Longhorn family. I often say I knew the “Eyes of Texas” before I knew my ABC’s. 

My dad went to the University of Texas and my brother goes there now. I’ve spent countless days roaming Austin. Going to and frow, without a care in the world. I never felt unsafe, I never felt like there was a need to worry. 

But this time last year, for the first time since 1966 there was a homicide.. Now 13 months later, another. 

I start to question is this place that I’ve practically grew up in safe? Is it those place that would protect me like I always thought it would? 

I’m sad for the families, for the friends. My heart aches for them. How can you go on when something abrupt happens like this? How do you find peace? I pray that they find comfort in whatever they can during this awful time. 
It could have easily been my brother or at a different school, on a different day it could have been me. We hear these stories about college homicides, but you never think it’ll actually happen near you. Logically, you know it can.. But you’re absolutely certain that it won’t.. Then it does, where do you go from here?

People are trying to affiliate this with one political stance or the other… I think that’s just wrong, let the boy rest in peace. Don’t let him be something you throw in people’s face. “See, this is why…” “See, this is just proof…” No, stop it. It is not your place to use this kid as a ploy for your own political propaganda. Just let the family mourn, give them space to breath. Be respectful.

And as always Hook ’em Horns.

MTMM: September

“September” by Earth, Wind & Fire

I can imagine it now. It’s a hot summer day, we’re driving down the highway, jammed pack into a rental car, hopping from one state to another on our annual family road trip. My brother and I are snacking  on whatever we could get our hands on. My mom is searching on her phone for our next adventure, then this song comes on…

My dad is driving and as this song comes on he’s messing with the dials to make the perfect mix of bass and treble. My mom, my brother, and I are dancing and singing without a care in the world as my dad calmly bobs his head.

“C’mon, dad. Dance with us, dance with us.” We would plead until cave and groove his head ever so slightly more. He’d tell us, this is what real music. When I was younger, I don’t think I believed him. But now, I firmly agreed.

This is real music. It’s joy. It’s groove. It evokes emotion. It makes it impossible to forget. The bass, the rhythm, the melody. You know the moment that song comes on, that’s your jam.

This song has become a part of the soundtrack of my life. An irreplaceable part to the story telling of who I am. Just a girl dancing through adventures basking in the summer sun with my family.

Favorite Lyric:

“There was a
Ba de ya – say do you remember
Ba de ya – dancing in September
Ba de ya – golden dreams were shiny days

Ba de ya de ya de ya
Ba de ya de ya de ya
ba de ya de ya de ya
De ya”

Music That Made Me

Music is an influential part of my life. It’s a way of connection. Connection to feelings, situations and people. I want to start a new series where I open your eyes to my connections. These songs that are close to my heart. Maybe you’ll learn more about who I am, and what has shaped me into who I am today.

Not Your Average Anything

The day my parents decided on naming me Kristan, instead of the average Kristin/Kristen they should have known, I would always be destined to not fit any mold society place on me. 

Growing up, I never fit in. I was never a girly girl, I never wanted to be a princess. I loathed the idea of shopping, and my Barbies were only touched when other little girls would come over. 

I was a highly opinionated kid that often had an adult way of thinking. I would give advice in “adult conversation” and when my parents would apologize for me butting in to the conversation, they would be met with “no, but she’s right.” My mom would rarely catch me hanging out with kids my own age. I just didn’t fit in with them. 

As I got older I felt that my list only got longer. Not only was I not your average girl or child. I wasn’t your average Mexican-American. I wasn’t your average band kid. I’m not your average teenager. I’m not your average college student. I’m not your average cisgender heterosexual female. I’m not your average liberal. I’m not your average millenial. I’m not your average Christian. I’m not your average anything.

Not being average, made me be a confident in who I was. No matter how hard I try, I knew I would never be “average” so after awhile I didn’t even want to be it.. I didn’t even try. 

People assume things because of what categories I fill, but quickly I show them that stereotypes and prejudices are often wrong. We are all different and meant to stand out. 

We crave so badly to be “average,” that we forget that be us is what really matters. 

The things I learned from college

I’ve seen several of these kinds of list. I didn’t see anything I related to, but knowing that everyone has extremely different experiences, I wanted to write this in hopes that I provide a different perspective.

Here’s my list:

  1. There are stupid questions, ask them any way.
  2. It’s normal for there to be no “normal.”
  3. It’s okay to have only a few close friends… or a ton.
  4. You don’t have to party to have a good time in college, that’s okay too.
  5. There are times when you ace a test with studying a bit
  6. There are time when you gave it all you got, and you didn’t get the result you deserved.
  7. Not all friends make perfect roommates.
  8. Not all roommates will be perfect friends.
  9. Always go with your gut.
  10. Be open to trying new things.
  11. Books over boys
  12. Best friends over boys
  13. Basically most things over boys
  14. Coming home is good.
  15. When you visit home, you never study. Prepare accordingly.
  16. Plan-castinating is key.
  17. Calendars are super important.
  18. Private school is not worth the hype.
  19. Don’t just do something because of someone else.
  20. Microwavable mac and cheese can be brunt.
  21. Soak in every moment.
  22. There are time to speak up.
  23. There are also times to shut up.
  24. Actively choose to be happy.
  25. You don’t choose how people make you feel, but you can choose to not let it define you. Be a duck, let the water roll off of you!
  26. Don’t judge what you don’t understand.
  27. Be open to everyone. Love everyone.
  28. Give second chances, third chances, forth chances.
  29. Different people act differently around different people.
  30. It’s okay to ask for help.
  31. Don’t ever be afraid of hearing a “no.”
  32. Life is too short to care what people think.
  33. You’ll never please everyone, so just please yourself.
  34. Don’t let any one see you sweat.
  35. Check Rate My Professor, before you register for classes. (But also remember #29, that also applies with teachers with classes)
  36. Dreams change as people grow.
  37. Friends feel like they are walking through a revolving door.
  38. Time never will stand still, push through the bad and enjoy the good.
  39. “Advisors” don’t always have the best advice, but they do come in handy.
  40. You will get screwed over, many times.
  41. Nothing is that worth holding a grudge over.
  42. You know who what type of person you are. If you’re not a morning person, avoid 8 am classes like the plague.
  43. Confidence is the key to almost anything.
  44. Find a system that works for you and live by it.
  45. If you’re not completely happy where you are, look for a place you will be.
  46. Group projects are the worst. Online group project is even worse.
  47. If you need extra credit, ask for it.  (Refer to #30 and #31 if you’re still not sure)
  48. Nobody quite knows your situation like you.
  49. Comparison is the true killer of happiness.
  50. Find the good in everyone you meet.

If there’s something on the list you think that I missed, please comment below and let me know! What was/is your college experience like?

-kas

Why I want to adopt my (future) child

When I mention my desire to adopt a child, often people ask me “why?” Why would a girl who is 19 years old have such a strong desire to adopt when there is no apparent reason that would make her unable to conceive, carry, and birth a child of her own womb? Why would I want to put myself through the struggles of adoption?

I’m not afraid of what will happen because I chose to adopt, I am afraid of what will happen if I chose not to.

Here are some fast facts about adoption and foster care:

  • Approximately 2.5% of all U.S. children are adopted.
  • According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, in 2013, more than 23,000 young people aged out of foster care without permanent families.
  • Research has shown that these children who leave foster care without being linked to forever families have a higher likelihood to experience homelessness, unemployment and incarceration as adults.

These kids are not looking for much, they don’t want the newest and greatest toy. They just want stability and love. Don’t get me wrong, I want to have bio kids, but I want to adopt too.

I’m aware of the struggles of adopting. I’ve talked to kids who were adopted, I’ve talked to parents who have adopted. I know that it won’t be easy. I know it might be a long and grueling process. I know there will be days I wonder if I’m cut out for the job. But this is what I want. I want to get a child, I want them to know I chose them. I didn’t get them because I didn’t have any other choice. (Author’s note: I’m not saying that adopting because you can’t conceive is bad.) I just want my baby to know that I picked them, I wanted them and they are immensely loved by me.

People tell me “well you never know what you’re going to get when you adopt.” That’s true, I don’t know if my kid will have dyslexia, ADHD, SIDS, or even cancer. But I won’t know if my kid will have any of those even if it’s my own biological child. I feel like God will prepare me for whatever child I am meant for.

If I only have them for one day or all the days of my life, I promise I’ll give them all the love I can. I promise I will take care of them the best I can. I will make sure they know they are some of the greatest people that I’ll ever get to know.

When all the other girls were dreaming of their weddings, their husbands, the flowers, the cake, the dress. I was dreaming of something different.  I was dreaming of the day I’d adopt the most lovely little soul I’d ever lay my eyes on. It’s something I’ve wanted to do since I was in 4th grade. I know that life is so uncertain, and so many things may change from now to then. But the one thing in my life that I feel absolutely certain that I am meant to do one thing, adopt a kid.

 To donate to my birthday fundraiser to make duffle bags for foster kids, click here!

Other Adoption Related Blogs:

A letter to my future child’s biological mother

An Open Letter to My (Future) Adopted Children