reflection: year five

November 29, 2012

in a week it will be five years since my hysterectomy.

fact: i haven’t healed.

accepted truth: it will be a lifelong process.

renewed hope: i will still be a Mami.

the following is a part of a much longer monologue. i’ve learned that i can “give birth” in so many other ways. i write to heal myself and others who can connect to my story. this is my medicine. here’s to continued healing.

My Uterus used to live here.

Right around here.

The uterus is the major female reproductive organ.  The main function of the uterus is to accept a fertilized ovum which becomes implanted into the endometrium.  The fertilized ovum becomes an embryo, develops into a fetus and gestates until childbirth.

I miss my uterus.

I DO NOT miss my periods… but I do miss my uterus.

You see I had plans for it.  It was going to be the proud womb of two beautiful children.  Who already had names and would one day become artist, activists and writers.  And my womb was going to be a vehicle for change.

My girl was going to be named Sarahí Elis.

My boy, Diego Rafael.

I like strong Latino names.

They were both carried out full-term.  Fairly uncomplicated pregnancies; with the exception of morning sickness the first two months and my enormously huge breasts.  Sarahí Elis was tiny at birth.  She weighed almost 6 lbs.  But she was healthy.  And she slept soundly.  She loved to sleep on my chest.  We would fall asleep on the couch together watching Yankee games on mute.

She would be lulled by the rise and fall of my chest.  And I would sing to her, “Contigo Aprendí, a ver la luz del otro lado de la luna.  Contigo aprendí, que tu presencia no la cambio por ninguna.”  She loved when I sang to her.

Diego was strong on his way out.  The little guy was not so little.  He had a big head.  And he put me through some hours.  And when he came out, he came out roaring.  Screaming and yelling like he was mad at the world.  At home, he would only go to sleep if he was between both of his moms.

They would learn to speak Spanish first.  They would know their history and their herstory.   They would be culturally conscious humans.  My little boy was going to look just like his father (my friend Hamlet had already volunteered to help the cause) AND Diego would have my father’s heart: BIG with unconditional love pouring out of him.  My little girl was going to be JUST like me, in every single possible way.

And I was going to nurture their every minute-lasting dream of being a famous singer in the morning and changing that to a veterinarian by mid-day.

I had already seen their first Christmas.  I hoped Los Reyes were able to get them all the toys on their wish list.  I saw them open Tio David’s gift and say, “What the hell is this?”  I was their first kiss on New Year’s Day, their first hug on Valentines; they loved Easter chocolate bunnies but didn’t care much for egg hunts.  They made the BEST mother’s day cards.  They never forgot our anniversary or our birthdays.

I washed their little clothes in the gentle cycle.  I stood in awe when they grew two shoe sizes in less than 3-months.  I helped them clean their rooms, do their homework and tie their shoe laces.  We went on walks together.  We talked about everything.  We played hide-and-seek every day.

I wondered what our house would look like with their smiling faces hanging from picture frames in our living room and their report cards on the refrigerator with that oddly gigantic magnet they made for us in pre-school.  They loved when I made my famous Dominican chicken.  I saw them in their favorite torn-up sweatshirts and those tired jeans -that on their own could make it all the way home.

I told them to get off the phone ‘cause it was too late.  I told them to call their grandma every day.  I taught them about family; about keeping in touch and never forgetting to call each other.

I talked to Sarahi Elis’ teacher about her chattiness in class.  “She’s just very excited about life,” I would say in her defense.  I never got complaints about Diego; as much noise as he made on the way out, he was pretty quiet growing up.  I attended all of their activities.  Diego was into martial arts and playing the bass and Sarahi Elis was all about softball and writing poetry.

I wondered what their moods would be like… I could see them playing with each other one minute and then fighting the next.  I saw them play with our old dog and get excited about the new puppy.  I saw them with their cousins on vacations.  And listened to their countless stories about eve-ry-thing-they-did.

Diego was going to be strong …but gentle.  I was going to teach him how to be a true gentleman.  And Sarahi Elis, well… she was going to be very much like me. Stubbornness included. That is how life was going to show me what it was like to raise me.

I saw them off to their first day of school and cried with them.  I cried with them when they scraped their knees.  I cried with them when they fell off the monkey bars.  I cried with them when they lost their first tooth …when they lost their first love.

I tucked them in… snugged like little bugs in rugs. They jumped into our bed when it thundered.  We hung dream catchers on their windows to keep the nightmares away and left a night light on to keep “el cuco” out of the closet (yes, he too is gay).

I took them everywhere.  We did museums, amusement parks, beach trips, baseball games and movies.  I flew them to Dominican Republic to meet Papote.  I took them to Puerto Rico to meet abuela.  My mother was crazy about them… especially about Sarahi Elis.  And Diego was my sister’s favorite nephew.  My brothers were going to take them on the weekends to play with their kids (who am I kidding; I’d probably end up with all of them).

I saw them graduate from high school.

I helped them with their college applications and got excited with them when they were accepted to their first choice.  I balled my eyes out every time I brought them to their dorms.  We went to visit them when they studied abroad.

I knew they would grow up to want to save the world.  I saw them graduate college.  I saw them fall in love and surely one of them would make an abuela out of me.

I wanted to see my children grow up to be just like me.  I wanted them to be warriors.

…because only a warrior survives a hysterectomy at the age of 29.

On December 7th, 2007 between the hours of 8am and 3pm, Sarahí and Diego’s crib was removed.

The surgery took about seven hours.

They removed my uterus, my cervix and my ovaries.

Once the gynecologist was done… the urologist came in and reimplanted my ureters which had been damaged… he had to cut my bladder, extend it to the top part of the ureters and reconnect them.

I woke up around 4:30pm.

I remember waking up, moving my hands to touch my stomach.  And I felt the gauze pad covering my entire pelvic area.  And I asked if everything went ok and if I could see my gynecologist (who was also a friend of the family); but she had already left.

And I couldn’t see my family yet… so I was alone with an empty crib, thinking about Sarahí Elis and Diego Rafael and with a million questions for God or anyone who could answer them.

I rubbed my abdomen gently… and I talked to them as if they were there.  And I apologized,

I am sorry.  I am so sorry. 

I am sorry I didn’t have you sooner.  I am sorry I had set a date for your arrival.  I am sorry I was so selfish when I was younger and thought that waiting might have helped me provide a better life for you both.  I am sorry we never had the chance to meet, to play… to laugh.

I am sorry I won’t make it to your karate tournament or your softball game.  Sorry that I couldn’t make your recital, that I had to cancel the trip to DR, that the movie is sold out.  Sorry that your Christmas stockings won’t hang from our fireplace and that I am left with a memory that never took place.

But what I am most sorry for… is that I never got to hold you in my arms.

And still, you weigh so heavy in my heart.

The nurse walked in and saw me crying.  She asked on a scale of 1 to 10 (1 meaning no pain, 10 meaning it’s unbearable) how much pain are you in?  I looked at her and said, “100.”  She looked at me and said, “All you have to do is hit this button.  You can hit it every five minutes and it will give you a dose of morphine.  This will alleviate your pain.

I hit the button… and drifted.  Hoping I would forget everything… hoping this was all a dream.  The pain of not being able to see Sarahí Elis and Diego did not go away with Morphine.  In fact, five years later, time hasn’t healed it either… it is something that will be A PART of me and APART from me, for my lifetime.

And so all I can do now, is give birth to these words…

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November 28, 2012

the memory of
your breath
in the small of my back
arches my spine

my torso
shoots upward

faltan palabras

November 19, 2012

ni las palabras del famoso Shakespeare
ni la inmensa poesía de Neruda
podrian expresar
toda tu dulzura.

y es que…
faltan palabras.

aun no exísten aquellas
que puedan condensar
este sentimiento
en un simple abecedario.

níngun lenguaje
se atreve a traducir
por temor a perderse…
o peor, a no hacerle justicía
a esta delicía.

donde faltan palabras,
es donde vive el sentimiento
mas profundo.

de mis padres

November 15, 2012

yo tengo…

el cabello de mi padre,
la piel de mi madre.

mis manos se mueven como las de mamí,
mis uñas brillan como las de papí.

las pecas… de los dos.

tengo el cuerpo de ella
y camino como el.

soy chistosa como el,
pero tengo la voz de ella.

mi poesía es del viejo,
y me enamoro como mi vieja.

mi alegría es de los dos.

yo tengo…

los dedos largos de mis pies son igualitos a los de mamí,
mi barbilla hace punta con papí.

mi ojos miran como los de mamí,
pero reflejan los de papí.

mi oreja lleva el “piquito” de papí,
mis cejas imitaron las de mamí.

de papí, saque lo de cariñosa
de mamí su paciencia.

de papi saque el amor al beisbol,
de mamí el Amor a la lectura.

de los dos este corazón.

y aunque el tiempo y la vida no los tiene juntos,
…su Amor vive en mi y se hace eterno.

 

carmen

November 9, 2012

…y de la nada, te apareces.

like houdini, poof!

you just show up.
via email.

“hey, how you doing? how’s life? love?”

tal vez no entiendes. que esta no es la relación
que quiero contigo. pues para tener una amistad
se necesitan dos.

one should be available to the other.
at any time. no en secreto como si fuera
lo nuestro un pecado que lleve pena de muerte.

that’s what relationships are, no?
un toma y coge. a give and take.
an, i got yo’ back. estoy aquí pa’ cuando sea.

asi que, cuando quieras una amistad sincera,
show it. y no en un marrrrdito email
que luego borras para que no sepan que aun
te comunicas conmigo.

y no, esto no es poesía.
it’s a direct message to you.
yo estoy vieja ya,
to be playing hide-and-seek.

you dishonor the memory
of the relationship
y me insultas.

a tu “intento” le falta
corazón y coráje.

desentierro

November 2, 2012

llevo meses de poesía guardada…

esta poeta guerrera
tiene una batalla interna,
nadie levanta bandera
ni grita “me rindo.”

nadie gana. todos pierden.

y queda un cáos
de silencio
que revienta tímpanos.

en esta tierra
no se puede guardar poesía.
por definicíon
ella se desentierra
y quiere ser compartida.

hoy.
me desentierro.

queens v. jester-kings

November 1, 2012

i was born a Queen.

a long beautiful
lineage of Queens
who had to be kings
in castles
filled with jester’s
who played at being kings.

jester’s who silenced their voices
with side splitting punch lines
no jokes.

jester-kings who forget the strongest
piece on a chessboard is the Queen.
but who know…
that we are so powerful
it scares them enough to castle
behind three pawns.

while they dictate our moves
tell us where we need to be
how we need to play by the rules

check.

i am Queen.
the game starts and ends
when i say it does.

you have for too long
thought this game was about you.
setting parameters
trying to restrain
my strength
my voice
my choice.

jester-kings
your days are counted
the game is changing
Queens will rule again.

but don’t worry
we won’t pay you less for equal work
we won’t put viagra up for legislation
hell, we won’t even expect you to cook and clean.

trust.

this game
is about to get real.
so get your crooked rooks
and your bullshit bishops.

all i need is a few Queens
to do all the work
you and your pawns
have failed to do throughout
the history of your existence.

check. mate.