Baby on Board

I wrote this on New Year’s Eve but wasn’t quite ready to share it yet. We realized that TODAY everything is going perfectly and that should be celebrated without fear. My heart is full. Enjoy…

Reflecting on the past ten years and oh what a decade it has been!

In 2010 I graduated with my master’s and Ralf and I got engaged. I began my career as a speech-language pathologist.

At the beginning of 2011, we bought our home and at the end of 2011, we got married.

2012 was mostly a year of just enjoying each other and being newlyweds.

I think it was the beginning of 2013 that we bought our boat and started enjoying our sunset cruises around the lake.

I had a health scare in 2014 when I got diagnosed with my lymphoma that turned out to be a lot less serious than we originally thought. We decided to try to get pregnant shortly after and Mason was conceived.

The beginning of 2015 was the absolute hardest time of my life. I lost Ralf suddenly to brain cancer while I was 7 months pregnant. My little man made his debut in May of 2015 and saved me in more ways than he will ever know. He was the force that kept me going and hoping for a better life for both of us. Toward the end of 2015, I met Vinnie in person after connecting through a Facebook group for young widows and widowers. Our connection over similar losses sparked a friendship that grew into more.

In 2016 Vinnie moved down from New York to be with us in Florida. At the end of 2016 we decided to move to a new town where we could start our own story together.

We suffered through our first miscarriage in 2017.

In 2018 we had another miscarriage shortly after we decided to get married. We had a perfect, intimate, and very emotional wedding in September.

The beginning of 2019 brought a wonderful job opportunity for Vinnie. We decided to try again and had our third miscarriage. It was devastating. We underwent testing to search for some answers and received none. Everything was absolutely normal. Mason started asking for a sibling incessantly and so we decided to try one more time, despite being very scared.

Now at the end of 2019 we find ourselves 9 weeks pregnant with a baby whose heartbeat is very strong. This pregnancy has looked healthy from the beginning (as evidenced by my nausea and fatigue). We know so very well that nothing is guaranteed in this life, but we are ending this year full of gratitude and hope.

In my heart I believe that 2020 will be the year that we become a family of four.

2020 will be the year I get to witness Mason become a wonderful big brother.

2020 will be the year that I will get to welcome a new life into this world with my husband at my side, holding my hand, as it should be.

And with all the surprises, new blessings, and challenges that are sure to come our way, the one thing I know for certain is that we will get through it all.

Cheers to 2020!



From Ashes to Beauty

You were never supposed to happen to me.

This is a love that was not part of my plan.

But then life happened the way it did.

It shattered.

Into a million jagged pieces on the floor.

Fragments of broken dreams that could never fit back together the way they once did.

And they don’t.

But that’s the point.

Somehow you helped me revive the remnants of my heart, by intertwining them with yours.

You gave me the courage to dream again.

To hope for the future.

I can’t promise you that it will be free of pain, but I can promise to hold your hand through every challenge and rejoice with you through every blessing.

I can’t promise you that loving each other will always be easy, but I can promise to always fight for us.

I can’t promise to be the perfect wife, but I can promise to always have your best interest at the core of every decision I make.

I can’t promise that I’ll be here for the rest of your life, but I can promise to love you, to cherish you, to be loyal to you, and to honor you for the rest of mine.

And together, hand in hand, we shall continue to build beauty from our ashes.
Photo by Michelle Guzman

A Family Portrait

Ralf died just two days before our scheduled maternity photo shoot. It ended up being the day of his funeral instead of the day we were going to have our first family portraits taken.

Those that know me well can tell you how much I love pictures. I always used to make elaborate collages of my favorite snapshots as a teenager, and still have more picture frames around my house than the average person. I think it’s amazing how a camera lens can capture a moment and freeze it in time forever. Since losing Ralf, my appreciation of the art has grown even more. Our wedding photos and video are so beyond cherished.

During my last two months of pregnancy, and then once Mason was born, it broke my heart to think that we would never have the type of family pictures I’d always wanted.

I hoped to find companionship again one day, but I never imagined finding a man who could love me so deeply, despite my brokenness.

A man who would take Mason into his heart without hesitation and love him the way I know Ralf would have.

A man who could make all of our future family photos whole again.

I never truly believed we could find that man…until we did.

This is OUR family picture.

The faces and participants are different from what both Vinnie and I originally envisioned, but the bond and love captured are exactly what we’d always hoped for.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but they could never adequately describe the value of this one.

Thank you, Michelle, for doing what you do.



Imperfect Love

I posted this picture on Instagram last night. It was taken by a friend on the night we celebrated turning 21 (our birthdays are just five days apart). The picture gained a lot of likes and comments, one of them being “true happiness” – and it made me realize that there was more to this picture that I wanted to share.

First of all, if we look incredibly happy – one too many vodka cranberries may have had something to do with it. (I mean, 21st birthday celebrations usually involve alcohol, right?)

Secondly, while it was mostly an epic night, it ended with Ralf and I getting into one of the worst and dumbest fights of our entire relationship. (Yes, once again, vodka cranberry. If you asked me today what the fight was about, I couldn’t tell you.)

Here’s the point I’m trying to make: there is no such thing as a perfect relationship. They simply do not exist. If that’s what you’ve been searching or waiting for, you will never find it. I promise you that.

We were truly happy – most of the time.

Then there were times that I wanted to wring his neck or that he wanted to throw me off of our second story balcony.

And now, I’m very happy in my relationship with Vinnie, but it isn’t always rainbows and butterflies. There are days when the very ugly parts of grief surface for each of us, and it takes a great deal of patience and understanding.

Don’t look for someone to love you perfectly. When you find someone who will love you despite your own ugly imperfections – that’s who you should hold on to.

The one who will still see your beauty and your worth even when they are buried under irrational, unwarranted anger brought on by too many vodka cranberries.

The one who will see past your irritability and depression caused by grief and wait for you on the other side with open arms.

And if you’re lucky enough to find that, remember that the length of your time together is impossible to predict.

So cherish it.

All of it – even the unpleasant moments. Because working through the hard stuff is when your relationship will have the potential to grow the most.

Fight and argue if you need to; air out your dirty laundry.

Then,  remember that you must always fight for each other.





Never Say Never

I’ve attempted to sit down and write multiple times over this past month, but on each occasion the words have eluded me. March is filled with many difficult memories and milestones. There has been so much on my mind and heart, many thoughts and tears that need to be “let out” to avoid allowing them to fester inside of me. But until this very moment, I guess I haven’t had the strength or the energy.

On the 24th, it will mark two years since Ralf passed away. I know it sounds totally cliché, but it really does feel like just yesterday and yet like a lifetime ago. So much has changed in two years- losing my husband, becoming a mom, returning to work full time to better provide for my baby, selling a home I thought I’d never leave – just to name a few. Sometimes when I have a moment to just sit and reflect on the changes I’ve endured over the course of twenty-four months, I wonder how I’ve managed to keep my sanity. If it hadn’t been me, if my life hadn’t completely veered off the path that it was expected to take and I were hearing about some other young wife and mom-to-be whose husband died unexpectedly, I know I’d be imagining myself as a total basket case. Yet here I am. No straight jacket. No room with padded walls. Not only still breathing and surviving, but managing to enjoy life.

We all think we know how we will react in certain situations. I know I myself am guilty of saying “I will never” too many times in my life, especially shortly after I lost Ralf.  The truth is that you don’t have a clue how you will respond, or exactly how you will feel, until you actually find yourself in those predicaments. I’ve since realized that I shouldn’t set unrealistic expectations for anyone, and that I must reserve my judgment on myself and on others because none of us really “know” what we are doing as we navigate through grief. I’m learning as I go, listening to my intuition with every big decision, and it’s working for me. I’ve learned that it’s okay not to have all the answers up front, AND it’s okay to sometimes change my mind along the way. The one truly certain and inevitable part of life IS change – circumstances, perspectives, people are continuously evolving.

My biggest “I will never” proclamation after Ralf died was when I vowed that no other man would ever be allowed to carry the title of “Dad” for Mason. His dad was in Heaven, plain and simple. I even remember writing a post about it, and a very wise man commented on it. I didn’t know him personally, but I believe his name was Ivan. He said he wanted to respectfully remind me that it would be okay to change my mind at any point, and that if that moment came, I shouldn’t be too hard on myself. Ivan was right. Mason did not choose to be brought into this world, much less without a father. He was robbed of the opportunity to meet Ralf, who I have no doubt would have done a damn good job at earning the title of “Dad” – anyone who knew him would agree. But Ralf is no longer here and he isn’t coming back, as difficult as that has been to accept. To have found a man not only deserving of the title, but also wholeheartedly yearning to step into that role is an absolute blessing. Knowing the type of unselfish person that Ralf was, I now realize that he would have wanted this opportunity for his son. Mason will always have his “Daddy in Heaven” (who he recognizes well in pictures) and now he is blessed to have a daddy on Earth, or “Dada” as he has chosen to call him all on his own.

As I deal with everything that March symbolizes for me, as I continue grieving the loss of a great love, I have new blessings that fill my heart with gratitude. I pray that I continue to allow my heart, which has a limitless capacity for love, to continue to heal, continue to forgive, continue to expand to accommodate yet more love. Anything is possible.