Without him…

The boys and I went to the beach alone today, my mom decided to stay home and nurse her sunburn back.  It was kind of cathartic, we had not been alone at the beach yet.  It was us, just the three of us, and it sunk in, for me and Josh at least.  

Not long after we were at the beach, Josh came to me and asked if we were going to do “the picture” this year.  You see, every year, since Jake was born, I’ve taken a picture of Aires and the boys at the beach, they’re facing the water and I take a picture of their back.  It has become my favorite picture of the three of them, I look forward to taking it every year.  But this year, I didn’t know what to do, I didn’t want to make the boys take a picture that would hurt them, because they would be doing it without daddy.  And so I hadn’t asked them about it yet, I wanted to take the picture, because we have to keep moving forward, and our traditions don’t stop because daddy’s no longer with us, they just change.  

Having my sweet boy ask to take the picture was so nice, he understands, he knows it’s important to me, and he knows that life goes on.  I have given him enough confidence to know that we’ll be okay, he is inspiring me.  We took the picture, and some other ones we also used to do as three or four, and now did as two or three.  Being alone at the beach was what we needed, we did what we needed to do, to move forward, to say that it was okay to keep going, just a little differently.

I took a picture of just the boys, and then I took one that had daddy’s space there, empty, but there…  hoping that in spirit he’s still there with us.  Though we’re without him, and we know it.

This started a without him theme for me, and the rest of the day, all I could think about were scenarios, our daily life, our forever life, without him.  Many times I wanted to lose it, many times I went to the bathroom, and I took a really long shower tonight.  The day is approaching that we’ll go back home, where everything is the same as when Aires last left to go to work.  The clothes and shoes are in the closet, the bathroom stuff is all in the same place, everything is in place.   The thought of going back home, without him there, is unbearable.  I have five days to make it bearable.  It’s forever without him, time to start getting used to it…

Let me know what I can do…

I’ve struggled hard on whether or not I should write about this.  I don’t by any means want to come out of this as if I’m ungrateful or rude about all the help I’ve gotten so far, and for all the offers I’ve gotten along the way.  Please do not take this the wrong way, but I do have to write about it.  After all I’m doing this blog for me, right?

When someone says “let me know if there’s anything I can do”, it’s very very very appreciated, but when I have lots of people saying it all at once, it becomes a little overwhelming, and everything else around me is already so overwhelming…  I have no idea what I need help with, sure, there are a lot of things I need help with, but a broad statement like that, just overwhelms me and I will not ask for anything, because nothing will occur to me.  Maybe in a few months, this will change, but right now, it’s just what it is.

I myself am guilty of doing the same thing, while having the best of intentions, and really wanting to help someone, not realizing what it feels like on the other side.  But at one point, I stopped just offering, I still would, but I started doing.  I’ve dropped off food and gift cards without identifying myself, I’ve just pick up and done something, without being asked, something I thought the person in need would appreciate having done.  Later I read this article, and it made a lot of sense to me, since I had started to “do”, and not just offer.  http://pauldazet.com/2015/01/07/we-need-to-stop-saying-let-me-know-if-you-need-anything/

Please don’t get me wrong, don’t think me ungrateful in the least, it’s so not what this is about.  I don’t know how I could have survived the last few weeks without all of you and your comforting words and actions.  I love you all for all you have done for us, and for all the little notes and comments that have come our way.

And if you say it again, I will not in the least take it against you in any way, and I will appreciate the offer just the same.  I just want you to understand that right now, with everything else that is still going on, my life is just a little too much to handle.  I will not be able to respond to your offer to help in any way, because I won’t know what to ask you.

When I do have a need, I will for sure ask for help, and I know that you all will be right there to help in any way we need you.  And for that, I’m more thankful than you can ever imagine.  I hope you all understand what I’m trying to say and I hope I didn’t offend anyone.  


Why am I still wearing black?  Is it some crazy Portuguese tradition?  Is it a certain amount of time?  Is it a religious thing?

No, none of the above.  I’ve asked mysef the same thing, every time I go to pick clothes, I move towards the black.  When I packed to come to the beach, all I packed was black, or black and white.  It’s not because I have to, it’s apparently because I want to, need to.

When I wear clothes, they ususally reflect my mood, on a busy day, I will wear shorts and a plain t-shirt, when I’m not so rushed, or feeling a little better, I’ll wear a nicer looking t-shirt, when I’m feeling good about myself, I’ll wear a dress or a skirt and even heels.  Of course for date nigth or girls night, I’ll get all nicely dressed.  But now, my mood is a constant sad, which is automatically taking me to wear black.

I don’t expect to wear black forever, but if you ask me how long I will wear it, I will tell you that I don’t know.  I will wear it until the day that I wake up, shower, walk to the drawer and pick orange instead of black.  For now, black is what I wear, because my mood, my sadness, doesn’t feel like orange, or red, or yellow, or anything fun.

It means nothing other than my heart is heavy, my soul is crushed and I’m sad.  Black it is, for now.


Today we stayed home the whole day, other than to walk the dogs, we were home.  It was supposed to rain, and then it didn’t, but I just had no will power to get everything ready and go to the beach.  So we played in the pool, both in the morning and the afternoon.  This is new to me, Aires was always the one to play with the boys on vacation, because it was my “vacation” and his time to finally spend all day with the boys.  It was a win win for us. But today I sat out there, I played with them, for as long as they wanted to, and they were happy, it’s something different, they enjoyed it.

In the midst of all this, I decided that I should take some pictures, with the real camera, not just the phone.  Every year I take countless pictures at the beach, and anywhere for that matter, their whole lives are documented in pictures from day one.  But this year, the big camera hasn’t come out as much as it always does, and when it does, it’s like today, because I should do it, not because I’m excited to do it.   Not at all because I don’t want to take pictures of my babies, not at all, but because there’s such an important person missing in those pictures…  

Of course I will continue to take pictures and document their lives to the littlest detail, but it’s going to be a while before I have the same joy I used to have in taking all those pictures.  They feel lonely now, even when my babies are in them, smiling, they’re just nowhere close to the happiness and joy that they used to be.  But I will take them, because without them we wouldn’t be the same, and we will continue to be the same.  I will document our lives of three like I did our lives of four.

And now that we’re talking about pictures, take a lot of them.  Of the little things and of the big things, and not just one or two, but a lot.  With my picture craziness we have a LOT of memories to hold on to.  Because time does erase memories, and I will not let that happen.  We have 23 years of a wonderful and well documented life.  I can show the boys all about us before they came along, and all the love and joy they brought us from the day they arrived.  God forbid a tragedy happens to any of you, or even when old age takes you, leave your family with lots of pictures, they are the memories that the brain forgets, but once we look at them, we right away remember.  Aires will live forever in our hearts, and with all the pictures, in our memories as well.


Everyone says that they can’t imagine.  I used to say the same thing, it was just unfadomable to me what it would feel like to all of the sudden not have your partner in life, the one person who shared everything with you.  I’ve unfortunately been rudely made aware of what this loss feels like.  And it’s very hard to explain, but I think the closest I can get to make you understand is this.  Remember when you were pregnant for the first time?  And you loved that baby inside your (your wife’s) belly with all your might?  But then once that baby was born, you had a crazy new amount of love for him/her, a love you had no idea existed, but once you saw that perfect little face it all came pouring out?  

This kind of loss feels the same, except in the opposite way.  You think you can sort of imagine it, because you try to think about what it’s like for us, but you have no idea of how much worse it is.  And you never want to find out, it’s not something anyone should have to live through.  Just know that it feels better when you say “I can’t even imagine”, then when you say “I can only imagine”, because you can’t, and you don’t want to, you really don’t.

Now, lots of people have gone through loss, I myself had only experienced the loss of my grandmother, when I was 8, she was like a second mother to me, and her loss shaped my life from then until today.  And the loss of my great grandfather (my grandomother’s father) when I was 10.  I was very close with him as well, and his suicide was hard to deal with, but I have.  Those two hurt, a lot, but I was a child, I dealt with it, and I moved on.  I have not experienced a huge loss as an adult.  And I’m sure that losing a parent hurts a lot, losing a child has to hurt to the core, once again, I can’t even imagine.

All I can tell you is that losing a partner, a husband, your one true best friend, the one who knew you inside and out like no one else, the one who was there for you everyday no matter what, the one who was one with you, the one who was the father to your children, the one you created these two beautiful beings with, and created a life with, and had dreams with, I can tell you, it’s hell on earth losing that one, and having to keep on living, having to keep on dealing with life, because like the saying goes, “life goes on”.  

But above all, the grieving is not just for me, for what I’ve lost, I’m also grieving for my boys.  They have lost their father, their role model, their anchor, and to see them suffer is more than I can handle sometimes, but I have to handle it,and I have to confort them, and assure them that we’ll be fine.  I have to tell them that everything will be okay, that we will be fine, and I have to believe that we will, or we won’t.  

We will hurt, a lot, for a long time, forever I would imagine, but we will make it, I will make sure of it!


Today I woke up moving slow, I walked the dogs slow, I got ready slow, made breakfast slow… you get the idea.  Slow and Raquel don’t go together.  But lately, I have had a lot of slow days.  I don’t like it, it doens’t feel like “me”.  But then again, I supposed the me who used to be will never be the me that is from now on.

One of the activities we had planned for this vacation, was for all three boys to learn to paddle board.  I asked the boys at breakfast if they wanted to do it today.  I want them to know it’s okay to still do the things we had planned, even if daddy is not doing it with them.  I could see the hurt in their eyes, and the indecision of whether they wanted to do it or not.  I pushed it and took them out to do it.  They enjoyed themselves, and they did something we had planned, just the two of them, and they were okay.  I could see it in their eyes, they were sad, they were missing daddy.  And my heart hurt for them, and it hurt for all of us.  I got us back home, and I let them just play in the pool and video games the rest of the day, we didn’t go to the beach.

When we got back, it just hit me, I’m tired, physically tired.  I’ve been sleeping, because I take either an Advil pm, or a muscle relaxer every night.  I sleep, but not the way I was used to sleeping.  I feel exhausted, today I felt like I could not keep going one more minute.  I needed time alone, time to move through some emotions.  I took a “nap”, I slept some, I cried some, I thought about things some, I slept some more, cried some more, I was in bed for about three hours.  Emotionally it didn’t resolve a lot, but physically I felt better.  I felt more rested than I have in a long time.  I guess I need to take better care of myself when it comes to resting.  I need to try to get back to sleeping without any helpers.  I need to be okay with the fact that if I can’t sleep on my own, I just have to stay awake and deal with my brain and cry all I need to cry to then fall asleep.  I have to take care of myself in order to be able to take care of my boys.  I guess the prospect of laying in bed alone (except for my doggie babies), is too much for me to deal with right now, it was easier to take a sleeping pill.

I’ll probably be slow for a while, a long while, I just have to get used to that idea, get used to the new Raquel.  If I can’t do fast, then I can’t do fast, as long as I can deal with life, take it one day at a time, that is what matters right now.  One day, Raquel will hopefully return, maybe, most probably, never again exactly what she used to be, but hopefully a little more Raquel than the current Raquel.  Slow it is for now, slow is okay as long as everything still moves forward.  


Love of a Lifetime

Right around the time that Aires and I started dating, this song was a hit, all over the radio.   From the first time that we heard it, we related to it, and it became “our” song.  So when we got married and had to pick a song for our first dance, it was a no brainer.

Love of a Lifetime

I guess the time was right for us to say

We’d take our time and live our lives

Together day by day

We’ll make a wish and send it on a prayer

We know our dreams will all come true

With love that we can share
With you I never wonder – will you be there for me?

With you I never wonder – you’re the right one for me?

I finally found the love of a lifetime

A love to last my whole life through

I finally found the love of a lifetime

Forever in my heart

I finally found the love of a lifetime
With every kiss, our love is like brand-new

And every star up in the sky

Was made for me and you

Still we both know that the road is long

We know that we will be together

Because our love is strong
I finally found the love of a lifetime

A love to last my whole life through

I finally found the love of a lifetime

Forever in my heart

I finally found the love of a lifetime
Ooh, I finally found the love of a lifetime

A love to last my whole life through, ooh

I finally found the love of a lifetime

Forever in my heart

I finally found the love of a lifetime (I finally found the love of a lifetime)

Love of a lifetime (I finally found the love of a lifetime)

I finally found the love (I finally found the love of a lifetime)

Ooh, forever in my heart

I finally found the love of a lifetime, ooh

Every word in this song made total sense to me/us.  The one word I couldn’t ever really get was “finally”, after all we found each other so young, married so young!  But now it does make sense, it’s like somehow the universe knew that Aires would depart this world too soon, and so we had to find each other as early as possible, like we had been looking for so long, and yet not long at all.  I wouldn’t trade a second of the last 23 years for anything.  Ups and downs, they were all wonderful in the end.  It was true love, and I’m so grateful I got to have the 23 years, some people go their whole lives without ever experiencing it.  He was my first and only love.  

The last thing

Today, at 6:45pm, the boys and I, along with a Pastor boarded a really nice catamaran.  The captain took us out to the deep waters off of Holmes Beach “our” beach and after the Pastor said some nice words, said a prayer and a commital to sea while the boys and I took turns spreading Aires’ ashes in the gulf waters.   I didn’t want to cry, I almost did, but I held it together.  This is where Aires wanted to be laid to rest, this is a place that made him (and all of us) extremely happy, this is a peaceful place, as we always called it “paradise”.  And now, that’s where he is, forever and always.  He would have been happy to be here, and as per his wishes, I was happy for him, no tears were shed, he was finally at peace.  The boys and I went to the store yesterday, we each picked our own flowers to put in the ocean after the ashes.  After I dropped the last few ashes, I said “we love you daddy” and we started to put the flowers in the water, the captain slowly started to move the boat and we had a nice trail of flowers left in the water.  Jake kissed every flower that he threw in the ocean, including every petal that fell off and he sent in by themselves.

Now the eerie thing, and I’m taking it as a sign of Aires’ presence with us there… There was a storm inland, it wasn’t supposed to come out to us in the gulf.  As we were in the water, the storm started to move towards us.  Even the boat captain mentioned how weird it was because all signs before were pointing to the storm not coming this way.  But the sun refused to be covered by the storm clouds, it stayed out and kept going lower and lower at it set, always trying to get out of the clouds.  Now the eeire part is, at the same exact time that the doctors removed the breathing tube, there was this huge storm that hit right above the hospital.  And it went on and on and on loud, as if screaming.  It lasted just about as long as it did for Aires to stop breathing on his own.  He didn’t want to leave us…  Today, this storm came our way, even though it shouldn’t have, and though it looked real threatening, we never got any rain, nor did the darkess ever reach the sun.  In my heart, as if he was talking to me, he once again was telling me he was mad, he didn’t want to leave us, but his sould became at rest when it hit the water.  Call me crazy, this  is what I felt in my heart, and I’m loving the feeling.

Since getting home from the beach, I have started to feel a wonderful peace, a peace and calm  that I haven’t felt since the day of the accident.  I feel that he’s okay, and therefore so am I.  I’m crying as I type this, because still and forever I will love and miss my very bestest friend, my husband, my other half, my one and only love, ever.  But that peace I just mentioned has made the pain a little more bearable tonight.  

And now that we have done the one last thing for our beloved daddy, we will have a wonderful vacation, I’m going to make sure of that.  I also promise to lighten up on the posts for a bit.  I’ll need to keep it “light”,  if I’m to give these boys some fun.

I love you all for standing by my side, leting me do my own thing, and supporting me and the boys.







Anna Maria Island

Even though I’ve been looking forward to our vacation in paradise, I have been dreading all along the new reality of it.  As with everything else in our lives, this too has changed and not for the better.  Jake was crying a couple of days ago that the beach wouldn’t be fun without daddy there to play with them.  The planning that was so much fun to do, is now changed in some instances by  little, in others by a lot, because one of the major people to realize said plans is gone.  The drive down, was fine and uneventfull, but sad, because sitting next to me was my mom, not who I really wanted to  be there with me.  And though the boys had fun once we got here, they played in the pool and then went to the beach with friends, there’s a sadness in their eyes that I can see, but can not make better, I can not make that sadness happy, because the only thing that would make it better, would be for daddy to be here with us.

But something else that I had been wondering about, and didn’t really know how I’d feel about it until I got here, is as I was afraid it would be.  I still love this place, and forever will because it was so important to us, and I do hope to come back at least one more time with the boys, maybe in a few years when we better can afford it, but the joy I felt every time we were here is gone.   This was the joy of knowing that we eventually would buy a little house here, this was going to be where we retired and spent our old age together.  We would have a place here, so we could enjoy the beach and the island, and then we’d have a little condo in Orlando for when we were working at Disney.   That plan is now null and void, that was the plan for “us”, not for “me”, and no, I don’t want to do it alone.  It’s been hard to relive all the fun memories, good wonderful memories that are just that now, and no new ones will be made as a family of four anymore.  From now on we’ll have memories as a family of three, and though they’ll be wonderful in themselves, they will never be the same as they were before.

There’s something missing, someone missing, someone who was a huge part of who we all are.  We will learn to make memories of three and love them and enjoy them while being happy just like when we made memories of four.  But in the background there will always be the feeling of “something/someone is missing”.

I still love this place above all others when it comes to a  beach, and a community, but I will never be able to fully love it like I used to, because the biggest reason I wanted to come down here and enjoy retirement with, is gone.

No worries, I will still make this vacation the best I can make it, and I will make sure to someway, somehow enjoy it, and above all make it fun, happy and wonderful for the boys. 


Father’s Day

Today was rough, very rough, no way around it.  At first I didn’t know what to do, I didn’t want  to “force” the boys into celebrating, because there’s no way around it, we are very sad because daddy’s not here with us.  So I decided to just wait and see, if they said anything, then I would figure something out.  Even with all the commercials on the radio and TV lately being about Father’s Day, neither of them had said anything.  Then on Friday I found Jake on the stairs landing laying down and crying.  He was missing daddy terribly, and very sad that he would not be here with us ever again, and do things with us ever again.  And we didn’t have a daddy to celebrate Father’s Day with… talk about breaking my heart.  I cried with him, held it together as best I could, and that’s when I came up with the idea.  What if we all wrote notes to daddy, attached them to balloons, and the balloons would take it up to daddy in heaven.  Jake really enjoyed that idea and started to feel better right away.  After talking some more, about how we can always talk about daddy, and remember all the fun things we did together, and even talk to daddy because he’s right here with us in spirit, even if not in person.

So this morning, after we had breakfast, all of us went to write our notes.  Josh let me read his, Jake wanted his to be private.  We went out together and bought the balloons, four for each baby, two and four legged, and then we got it all together to send up to heaven.  We went outside, we wanted to send it from home, because this is where we all belonged together, so we went in the backyard, the weather was beautiful, we of course took pictures, each boy individually then together.  All of the sudden, Jake asks to come inside and get his ipad, he wanted me to take pictures with it so he could have it in his photo history forever.  Josh decided that was a good idea, we took pictures with both ipads, then we got together to send the balloons up to daddy.  Josh’s balloon had Josh’s and my notes, Jake’s had just his.  My note also had two doggie paws stamped on it.  They were so happy sending daddy a message, it took all I had to not cry, but to smile with them.

No doubt that this day will be very hard from here on out, not just this year, but this year, being only a couple of weeks after the accident, it’s too incredibly painful.  There’s no way around that one.  But just like Aires has asked for the funeral, when he wanted a “party” to celebrate his life, not mourn his death, he would also want us to continue to love him, celebrate him and remember him the way he was with us when he was alive.  Not crumble and fall apart because he’s gone.  In our hearts he will live forever, though we feel a lot of pain, and we miss having his physical presence with us every day, we will do our best to celebrate him and relive our fond memories.  We will also continue to include him, in spirit, in all our future adventures.  Forever alive in our hearts 🙂 IMG_1608 copy