Updated: Dec 3, 2019
With a slight smirk, I write this piece unsure how I can possibly fully convey the extent of emotions I felt that day. In truth, I’m not sure I really can. So I’m just going to allow myself to be immersed in my recollection of events that day and allow myself to be open, once again, to every emotion I experienced in that life-changing moment.
So here we go…
2018, MLK Jr. weekend, I just found out I was in jeopardy of losing my “stable job” because of my perceived inability to work with authority figures and intimidating presence. (can you read my eye roll?) - but, I’ll get into the challenges and lessons of being an unapologetically strong woman of color in the workforce at a later time. I was frustrated to say the least. Unbeknownst to me, however, this was a blessing in disguise, but you couldn’t tell my ego that at the moment.
This was also the day I found out that I was pregnant with my daughter, Khloe Grace Carter. I remember being in serious denial because I was sure that tracking my ovulation through an app I registered for a while back and emergency contraceptive was a reliable enough birth control measure...oh, was I wrong! I took a home pregnancy test with my partner standing right over me.
The first line appeared, the line that told you that the test is working. Then shortly after the second came to view, albeit faintly. Anyone who has ever taken an at home pregnancy test knows that even a very faint lines indicates you’re pregnant. At that moment, I remember feeling numb. I didn’t know what to feel, what to do, I was just stuck.
I know that this may sound a bit dramatic, but I felt like my life was flashing before my eyes because I knew “Miss Independent” was no longer “independent”. I remember saying that an abortion was not an option for me because I had my fair share when I was younger. So what do I do now? Do I suck it up and be a responsible adult? Nope, I opted to not feel anything at all at that moment. Mind you, while I sat there void of any emotion, my partner was ecstatic. He’d always wanted to start a family and I thought I was on board until it became a reality. All I can think about was, do I even want to be someone’s mother, do I want to have this level of responsibility?, do I want to be “stuck” in this soon-to-be family? So while he is in his own blissful state of wonder and excitement, enjoying a celebratory drink for one and dancing while the celebratory music blared, I was sitting there struggling with my suppressed emotions.
A couple of hours later, reality hit even harder. I received a phone call from my uncle, telling me that he was at my aunt’s house and she wasn’t breathing. Right away, my immediate response to this news was, “which hospital are you taking her to?”, not fully grasping the finality of the situation. My uncle quickly responded, “no honey, Gachi isn’t breathing, she’s gone”. I LOST IT!!! And screamed, “what is happening right now”. My life had completely changed in a matter of a weekend.
The woman whom I adored so much and whose opinion I valued so greatly. The woman I was nervous as shit to tell that I was pregnant because I was “Jus”, her career-driven, strong independent niece whom she had always encouraged to live, travel, and not tie herself down, was no longer with us. As I grappled with the news, I remember feeling angry. I became upset and thought to myself, how can she leave me, how can she leave her soon-to-be grandniece when we needed her the most? Who was going to pass her wealth of knowledge down to my child? Now, at this point I didn’t know what or how to feel. Or what to do. I was in utter disbelief. All I could manage to do was cry that inconsolable cry. Numbing myself with alcohol was not an option so I allowed myself to feel, allowed my emotions to take complete control and cried and cried until I couldn’t anymore.
When I woke up the next morning, I was still in a state of shock and still felt the weight of the world on me. I laid there for some time and thought about the timing of everything. Thought about how strange it was that my aunt passed away around the same time I learned of my pregnancy. I had to ask myself if this was a sign. Is my aunt living through my daughter? In my mind’s eye, these events were connected. I knew, without a shadow of doubt, that I had to and, more importantly, wanted to honor this pregnancy. I wanted to protect this life growing inside of me. My child chose me to be her mother and I wanted to honor that. I knew my child would be protected by her strong, intelligent, tough love giving, beautiful grandaunt, Gladys Altagracia “Grace” De La Cruz. And I knew I wanted to raise a beautiful young woman my aunt would be proud of.
Reflection: Was Khloe her blessing?
To be continued……..
Dedicated to my beloved aunt and Khloe’s protector, Gachi