As I melted into violent sobs on the shower floor, the puddle that was now me was safe from view by the rest of the family. It had been “a day,” and my momma heart now refused to be comforted… There was no stopping the river of pain—even though I try to avoid these type of break-downs like the plague. It is not that I do not want to express my emotions, but I become so physically and emotionally drained when they happen. I simply do not want to expend what little strength I have in this way; Will and Maya still need me here. My heart cannot withstand the beating…

Struggling to breath, my insides seemed to contort in every which direction—feeling as though I would burst… In fact, I wanted to burst. The heartache is just way too much; I simply cannot keep going. My entire being feels done—ALL USED UP.

This is when my Boi comes to my rescue… “Get up momma,” he gently says. There is so much love and compassion in his voice—perhaps an honest amount of shared heartache, too. Then, with a tremendous calm, he tells me, “You don’t belong down there.” How can I not stand back up?!! For him, and with his help, I am able to pull myself up off the shower floor, and once again renew my resolve to keep going—keep pressing on… For him.

I do not know how my Boi developed such incredible strength and resilience, but all I need do is look to his example, and I can find my solutions to not only cope, but to thrive!!! My son is amazing; he is remarkable! I would do anything for him… even get up out of my “puddle” if that is what he expects of me. This is how I choose to honor him—by following his example as I endeavor to overcome my obstacles and ride the ride that I have been given. For him.

My Boi was a fighter. He faced many painful and difficult challenges his entire life. Even now, there are those that mourn his death, but never truly comprehended what or who he was really all about—frequently misunderstood, and often underestimated!!! My Boi was the best son a mother could ever hope to have, and the best brother and friend you could ever imagine. He was tender, sweet, and kind, but also protective and strong in the face of injustice. He would never let a loved-one come to harm on his watch without putting up a fight… Fiercely loyal, and honest to a fault, Julian’s goodness was something that could not be helped; he was naturally that way. It was who he was and continues to be—even now!!!

Pioneer Trek 2017 (Julian pulling his friend in a handcart)
Big Bro—Little Bro

When he was little, we lived in the rugged Chilean side of the Patagonia. The weather was harsh, and our living conditions were “rustic.” Hard work was required in order to survive. Julian and Josie learned patience, perseverance, and gratitude at a very young age; food in their bellies and the joy of having visitors—whether friends or family, was often the highlight of any day or week. Relationships were always what mattered most, and brought the greatest joy…

ALWAYS Time for Family—Julian is the little bundle in his abuelita’s arms, Josie is in the brown, woolen jacket.
My Smiling Boi—no matter what!!!
Born by the sea… His love of the ocean came honestly!!!

Even though Julian was not quite two when we moved back to the States, his Spanish was already blossoming. The journey was a bit frightening for me and the two children, because we had to leave Pápi behind for a time… The uncertainty of being separated was heart-wrenching. We went from being a family that slept all together in one big bed every night for years, to suddenly sleeping thousands upon thousands of miles apart.

Big Sister always at his six…

Traumatic might be an accurate description of this transition we endured. It was a move we made by choice, but not one that we made lightly—we loved our home and family in Chile. It just seemed necessary at that point in our lives…

Adjustments in the States included nearly every aspect of our daily-living—from bathing, to cooking, to culture, to everyday chores, and even visits with family. The children quickly adapted to the “modern comforts” of American living, but there was also a sadness that I believe never left them. How do you reconcile the desire to be in two places at once because you have family and a home both here and there? There is no fix for this dilemma—just like in death.

Part of our decision to move back to the States was so that the children could have more resources and opportunities to develop their gifts and talents. We basically subsisted in Chile; there was little extra to spare for hobbies or extracurricular activities—these things were all but non-existent. We lived a quiet, humble, happy life, but we feared it was not enough to help prepare our children for their futures.

Our cabin in the Chilean countryside felt a whole lot like camping—except it was an “extended stay” of nearly four years!!! My husband grew up there, so he always felt quite at home, and the children did not know any different, but for me, there were times I suffered from severe depression due to the isolation. Josie and Julian were my constant little companions, and also my sole motivation to keep pressing forward…

Beautiful, but isolated.

Whereas Josie had always been a very serious and observant little soul, Julian came into this world with a radiant smile and belly full of laughter that soon had me singing, “You Are My Sunshine.” Both children, however, were incredibly sweet and tender, and needless to say, they were also each other’s best friend throughout their short, but well-lived lives…

The States proved to be a harsh environment at first for the rugged little campesinos. People did not understand our customs nor appreciate our unique ways; because we spoke Spanish, they assumed we ate tacos and tortillas every day!!! Even though there are plenty of Spanish-speakers here in the States—our Spanish sounded funny and different to the largely Mexican population… Hence, where to fit in?!!!

🇺🇸Passport Photos—Julian and Josie had dual citizenship with Chile🇨🇱

Josie and Julian adapted fairly quickly, but the tight-knit family that we were never changed. Much of our Chilean lifestyle stayed with us—even though we seemed odd at times to onlookers. Meal-times were always like a special celebration—even if it was just bread and lentil soup… !!! It was the highlight of our day, as we would all gather together. Even as teenagers, and then young adults, the children would always congregate in the same space of the house when we were home—unlike many other families here in the States. We thoroughly enjoyed and valued our precious time together.

Enjoying the Quiet Moments
Mountain Time

I could have easily been happy having my children live here with me for the rest of their lives… In my mind, there was no reason for them to ever go!!! That is a momma’s heart, though… However, I always tried to support them in living out their own lives and dreams; I did not want to EVER hold my children back in ANY way whatsoever—even though it always pained me!!! It was right that they should live for their own goals and dreams, because that is precisely what makes life sooo worth living!

Comparing Muscles…

Julian and Josie always had each other’s backs—always. Josie especially looked out for her little bro. He meant the world to her, and she protected him like a lioness!!! I know when she died, he continued to feel her helping him along. In those moments when he was barely able to carry on, she would assist in lightening his load—like when he told me he could not even feel the weight of his pack when he was climbing the Reaper to earn his title of United States Marine!!! He mostly found it hard to talk about his feelings after she died, but it was not necessary—I always knew exactly how he was managing. My momma heart worried non-stop because of this special intuition I always had with him. He was hurting. He longed to be with her again…

My Lovely Goofballs
Josie & Julian—always up to something!!!
And always the ocean…

Maybe he was ready to go “home,” or maybe he was not… I do know that he NEVER gave up on his lofty aspirations. If it was not going to be a MARSOC Raider, it would have been Ranger school, or SFAS, or if not military—he would have become a smoke jumper, or perhaps a rally car driver…!!! Life would never have been “boring” for my Boi; his spirit was far too vibrant and brilliant to lag in the “slow lane.” His heart may have been shattered after his sister’s tragic death, but he would not quit. It was not his way.

At home in the ocean… He could never seem to get enough!!!

I have witnessed him down innumerable times throughout his life, but somehow he would always miraculously bounce back with more strength than he ever before had. He was so humble, that if he experienced a failure, he would study out why it had happened, and then he would simply try again—as many times as it took to acquire a success. If people were unkind, or unjust, he did not hold on to the negativity for long—it was not worth his time; he would let it go and not look back at the offense or the offender…

Riding for Julian

As I traipsed back up the mountain a month after my sweet Julian’s death, I nearly turned around at every corner—I wanted desperately to just go back home and tuck myself away from it all. I did not want to ride any ride. But, I made myself keep going… When I finally arrived, a dear coworker greeted me with a huge hug—along with some lasting encouragement. He said, “From now on, you ride for him!!! Every time you ride, you will RIDE FOR HIM!!!!! (~Thank you, Wendell!)

I think I can do that—for him… ANYTHING for my Boi!!! If he tells me I “do not belong down there,” then I will take his word for it. I trust him completely, because I know his love for me is infinite—just like mine is for him. He desires to see us ALL “get up,” because that is exactly what he did in the face of disappointment and even failure. He did not fall into self-pity or despair when things went badly in life… He always got back up, and he always kept going or tried again.

I believe Julian wants us ALL to keep going, and to live our lives to the fullest—to not only ride the ride, but to ENJOY the ride!!! No doubt about it, he would tell every single one of us, “Get up!!! You don’t belong down there!!!!!” I hope that when I see him again, he will be proud of the ride that I RODE FOR HIM…

4 thoughts on “Get Up, Momma

  1. I love you to the moon and back, Michelle. “How are you doing?” she asks. No, Michelle, “How are you doing?” One sees riches the other sees adversity. Having a friend like Michell I am rich beyond words. I saw your soul last night missing your babies and you taking care of everyone else’s babies. Thank you!

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