Mommy Monday

Mya is my sister’s best friend. She is a busy Mommy who is doing her very best to raise two beautiful daughters. She is a full-time teacher and in her spare (ya right!) time she tends to her “subdivision garden” and her illegal chickens.

Girl!! I’m so excited to interview you!! Although, I guess I’m a little nervous, I’m sure there are a TON of grammar errors in this interview…ha!
How are your girls? Two teenage girls in the house at once?? I know they are good girls..but how many fights have you had over the bathroom mirror..hahaha:)

My girls are completely awesome! They are fun to be around! And they can talk just as much as I can! But that bliss is not without its occasional ripples or tidal waves. In fact, just the other night I was in my bedroom doing something amazing (folding laundry) when suddenly, I heard screaming, running, and then a huge THUD. I meandered out of my bedroom and found my youngest daughter sprawled out on the tile floor in the kitchen. My oldest daughter was standing over her sister with a look of, “Oh, #*%#!” written all over her face. The reason for this lovely altercation? An Ipod. Enough said.

You met my sister while living in Maui, talk to me a little bit about that time in your life and what brought you to Maui.

~Maui allowed each one of us to blossom into who we are supposed to be. We were completely blessed there. Initially, I didn’t want to go. I hated the idea of leaving home. The only hometown my husband and I ever knew, South Pasadena, California (So. Cal.). However, moving to Maui was so freeing. No longer were we consumed with the affluence of the town we grew up in. Suddenly, people were accepted or rejected based on character rather than wealth. It fit perfectly because my husband had been diagnosed with brain cancer, and long story short we lost all of our monetary indulgences. Keeping up with the Southern California lifestyle (snobby), was no longer something we could participate in. What a relief! A relief I didn’t even know I needed at the time.

How many years was Mario really sick, and when did the reality of having to raise your girls on your own really hit you?

My husband was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor when he was 26-years-old and I was 18-years-old. Out of the blue, he had a gran mal seizure. Because he didn’t have a history of such things, his doctor did extensive testing to figure out what was wrong. Mario had radiation and recovered completely after eight months. He lived completely healthy for nearly ten years. The doctors gave him one year to live, what do they know anyway? Not much! God had a different plan. We were married after dating for three years, had our first daughter after being married for three years, and when I was pregnant with our second daughter, he began to have a chronic seizure disorder. Signs that the tumor was probably active again. And it was. Damnit. Slowly but surely our life began to completely unravel. My husband could no longer participate in his career as an accountant effectively, we had to pull out of a house we had put an offer in on in Laguna Hills, and we were living off of our savings which was running out…so we went to Maui! After moving, he was feeling well for several months, but then the tests showed that the tumor was growing. He went through chemotherapy and continued to do well for nearly five years. But those five years were a constant battle between feeling good and feeling bad, yet he never once complained (never). I don’t mean to imply he was arrogant about it or living in denial, he just didn’t want the focus. He was busy tending to his wife and raising daughters, there was no time for cancer. However, he cried once. He sat in a green rocking chair in our living room and completely broke down. I went to him, of course, so stricken and so badly wanting to help him in some way. He rubbed his face and laid his head in the palms of his hands and said, “There’s nothing you can do, baby, I’m in this alone.” And he was right. I was right there beside him, helping him, loving him, all of it, but I wasn’t sick, he was. He was alone.

I don’t think I have yet accepted the fact that I am raising my daughters on my own. I know that sounds crazy, and I don’t mean to imply that I think he is here with us right now. But, I think that if I truly accept that I am alone, I will be terrified of the responsibility. My husband was the dearest friend I have ever had, he filled me completely, blessed me beyond adequate words, and I was full. I feel like that experience has left me feeling capable, not alone.

How did you move on from that point, and how did you move on after his death?

~I move on day by day, inch by inch, breath by breath. After his death, I sat in our comfy leather chair in my jammies staring out the window at the horizon. I held a cup of coffee in my hands that was always cold because I never actually drank it. One day while sitting in that chair, I suddenly became very aware of the fact that my oldest daughter, Bella, was standing in front of me. She was staring at me and the look on her face was worry. I had never seen her look at me like that before. I felt sorry for her, for the little girl whose mom was burdened with unbearable sadness. She didn’t know what to do. She was eight. She had her life ahead of her. This voice inside of me said so clearly, “Okay, Mya, it’s time to get dressed. These girls have their entire lives before them, they have to know that just because great sadness strikes a family, it doesn’t have to redefine and demolish that family.” I was suddenly aware that they were babies. They hadn’t had their fairy tales yet, they hadn’t dreamed yet, and I didn’t want their experiences to be stifled by my sadness. So, I looked at her and conjured up a smile and said, “Hi, baby girl, why don’t you go and tell your sissy to get dressed and we’ll all go to Keokea Park, and we’ll stop at Gramma’s Coffeehouse for a cinnamon roll.” Her face lit up. She was so happy. I knew that I had to continue doing all of the things we had always done for my girls. I knew I would eventually feel happy again. I didn’t realize it would take five years. I don’t mean to imply that there weren’t happinesses along the way, but sometimes I felt disconnected, like I was going through the motions for them, but I didn’t really feel anything. I was relieved when one day I realized I was happy. Really happy. Blessed. Content. I was happy I could feel complete again.

Talk to me about how your girls did during these years? Looking back now, what do they remember about when Mario was alive?

Our girls remember different things. Bella, our oldest, remembers the most. She remembers how he laughed, how he ate his cereal. She remembers that he loved to watch Marlon Brando movies. She remembers laying with him and reading and sharing ice cream from the same bowl. They are so much alike. Same mannerisms, facial expressions, tilt of the head, and gentleness. She remembers laying in bed with him and talking to him during his last few days with us. She remembers touching his cheek and telling him that she loved him.

Our youngest daughter, Helana, was six when he died. She doesn’t remember as much. She recently said that she has a hard time really remembering her Papa. That makes us both sad. But she does remember him reading to her and her sister every night from a Father and Daughter Bible stories devotional. She remembers he used to tickle them like crazy when he was supposed to be putting them to bed. She remembers he liked to play games and make them laugh. She remembers he liked ice cream. And they both remember that every day when they would come home from school, he would have a sucker in his pocket for each one of them. I found a stash of them in his nightstand after he passed away. They both remember how much he loved to spoil them and how much he loved them. They remember that he was gentle and kind.

What does your life look like today? And what is your very favorite part about it?
The bird’s eye view of my life now is pretty awesome. I am a blessed woman. I love my daughters, and more importantly, I like my daughters. They are my best companions. I am an awesome teacher and I adore my students (Chase, one of my students, is watching me type this, and he is really starting to get on my nerves). I have great friends. I love tending my “subdivision farm” which is a name I totally made up (I think). I always wanted hens, so I got some! Even though, I’m pretty sure my HOA would tell me that that is a no no. I love to host gatherings and serve food and drink. I love to talk, talk, talk, so friends are over all of the time. I love listening to really loud 80’s music (& I’ve Gotta Feeling by the Black Eyed Peas and Train and…). We take road trips every summer, compete in 5K’s (we have one this Saturday!), laugh, cry, fight, you name it. Life is good.

My favorite part about my life is that I have been blessed to have been loved by a great man. Because of him I am full. I am content. He gave me children and a purpose. He showed me how to love and how to be kind. He showed me how to be understanding and how to be humble. He showed me how to laugh and not take everything so seriously. The best part…having him as my best friend and having my girls. The rest is still unwritten. question..

One is not an object..what would you do??

I would go back to Maui with my girls. I would rent a house on the beach on the north shore and an old VW bus. I would buy gobs of sunscreen and a cute bathing suit. I would drink cocktails in an adirondack chair on the beach with Johnna by my side. We would laugh and watch our children play in the surf.

You can follow Mya and her illegal chickens here...go give her some blog lovin:)


Anonymous said…
Oh my! Mya! - I knew part of your story but not from your own lips/finger tips. Somehow you are able to take a life that has been spattered with loss and focus on your blessings. I'm so glad that you have a blog because as I was reading I thought, 'this girl needs a blog...I would read it every day!'.. ;-)
Random Thoughts said…
Best post ever. I so loved to "meet" this mommy. Thanks Amber!
Our Family said…
With tears in my eyes...what a true inspiration!!!
Lateda said…
You are AMAZING Mya... and I cannot help but think of this scripture!

"Her children rise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her."
Proverbs 31:28

You are a Good mamma.. and your hubby was a blessed man to have you a part of his life... what a story!
Johnna Sutton said…
I love you Mya. I'm so glad you got to share your story :)

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