Como Coco or Como Coco Racío…. Sweet or Bitter Sweet moments in my life. I’ve had my fair share, however, the one that stands out the most, is when my mother died on my birthday. Yes, you heard me right, my mother died on my birthday. Just think about it, let that emotion sink in, so can you imagine for those that have had or have a caring and loving mother. Envision your mother dying on your birthday? Well, it sucks, just putting it mildly.

I know what you are probably thinking. That is just tragic that your mother passed away on your birthday. That you will always remember for the rest of your life, your mother died on your birthday. You will never be able to celebrate your birthday again.

After, wallowing in my grief with a double whammy. I would start to think that, I’m not the only one that has experienced something tragic. “It could be worse.”  Those thoughts “It could be worse.” somehow would ease the discomfort and lessen the pain for me. Sometimes “It could be worse” would help me lift up my spirits or I better yet, I would think. I should count my blessings because I could be living in the worst circumstances.

Yes, I do realize people have had and are experiencing far worst in their life. The notion of someone else having it worst then me… would help me get out of my funk. However, it happened just the other day someone said, “It could be worse” after hurricane Florence just recently swept through our area in N.C.  I thought of those words “I could be worse” and had an Aha moment… that is what people say to placate their emotions.  I thought how messed up is it, to think that way. You ask, Why?. Saying “It could be worse” is messed up thinking because I shamed myself into thinking that I shouldn’t feel sad about my mother’s passing and that I should get over it, and be strong.

I would then begin to think how my daughters will never get to experience my mother’s love, and the feeling of sorrow would wash over me again. I then would proceed to spiral downward into the deep rabbit hole of depression.  I would think my mother is in a better place now, she is no longer suffering in pain. I would ebb and flow and experience a roller coaster of emotions.
The thoughts of how dare I or I shouldn’t celebrate my birthday. I would shame myself into not feeling the pain of my loss. Losing my mother and the loss of not being able to celebrate my birth. It was one of my bitter-sweet moment. However, I’ve had the choice, to choose to feel the pain and let it ride its wave or I can hold on to the pain and shame myself through life.

I can attest to you, you do come out on the other side a stronger person. However, don’t shame yourself out of your emotions. Don’t say “It could be worse.” or I shouldn’t feel this way because essentially you’re shaming yourself. You have to allow yourself to go through all the stages of grief. Which are Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance. Not necessarily in that order.

How you experience your grief, is unique to you. You have to allow yourself to go through every emotion before the healing of grief can begin.

I thought initially, I’d never be able to celebrate my birthday because my mother died on my birthday. Well, it’s been several years since my mother has crossed over to the other side. I can honestly say I can celebrate my birthday and relish and honor my mother for giving me life. I can say if my mother’s friends were to come up to me and ask me how I was doing I can say with a resounding  “Como Coco”… the last words that my mother said, that shocked my spirit and embedded in my soul.

“Como Coco” Two simple words. A Puerto Rican expression for saying that you’re strong and robust. If the juice of the coconut is sweet inside that means life is sweet because, if it isn’t you would say “Como Coco Racio,” which means the coconut juice is sour inside.

I would say with a resounding “Como Coco.”

You can read on page 204-205 of my book Como Coco: The Journey to find out more why I titled my book Como Coco or you can get a sneak peek into my book on Amazon with the link below.

 

My Abuelita ( my grandmother) isn’t what you would see in a typical American commercial today….with short gray hair, fair-skinned sitting next to her grandchild on the sofa reading a book or baking cookies. My Abuelita was a petite dark-skinned woman with long black hair that she always combed back in a ponytail or bun. She never read to me. I don’t know how much formal education she had, but I do know she liked to drink her strong black coffee every morning. I don’t know if it was Puerto Rican coffee such as Yaucono, Pilon or Café Bustelo. What I do remember is her kitchen would smell like Starbucks. One whiff of that robust coffee was enough to waken all my senses.

When it was time for supper; my abuelita wouldn’t go out to the local market and pick out a chicken that she wanted to add to her arroz con gandules. (rice with chickpeas) a staple in a Puerto Rican household. My Abuelita….instead would walk to her backyard grab a hold of one of her chickens and slay it. YES! you heard me right. She would slay the chicken with her small bare hands. She would SNAP the chicken neck swiftly. I was told you had to kill the chicken quickly so that the animal wouldn’t suffer. I know….I know… That sounds horrible. I realize that. I couldn’t stomach her doing it when I was a kid. I was just feeding the chicken grass clipping just a few days ago. I would walk into the kitchen when the deed was done, Thank God; but….that is how My Abuelita would start preparing her dinner.

Exercise… My Abuelita didn’t stroll around the block briskly to get fit. She would walk up and down the steep hills of Jayuya mountain streets to the local market to purchase items that she didn’t grow in her backyard. That could be the reason why she was so thin or she was so thin because she was a chain smoker. I remember her yelling down the hill at my mother. “Julié!!! tarjame cigarrillo!!!.” “Julié!!! bring me back cigarettes!!!”

My Abuelita also didn’t have the modern conveniences like washer and dryer, dishwasher, ice maker or even a toilet. I had shared my experience with my Abuelita’s outhouse. If you haven’t read it yet. Check it out the chapter “Abuelita’s House” in my book Como Coco-The Journey, but getting back to my grandmother’s modern conveniences she had none. Hell…she didn’t even have hot water.

I just remember my grandmother being a strong petite woman. She didn’t smile very much. she wasn’t really affectionate either. She raised 4 children by herself. She was a single woman who never got married. Unheard of in those days. When My Abuelita suffered a stroke my mother convinced her to move with us to the States along with my sister, my mom, and I. My Abuelita lived with us for a short while because she was too independent. She said. “She lived all her life by herself and she didn’t need anyone to take care of her now.” My mother didn’t agree with her. My mother wanted to take care of her in time of need, but she respected My Abuelita’s wishes. My Abuelita went back to her home in the mountains of Jayuya, Puerto Rico.

Como Coco and Como Coco Rancio (bitter and sweet) all wrapped up, in my life moments.

When I was in high school and found out I got the role of Glenda, the good witch, in the Wizard of OZ; I was thrilled to have the opportunity to have a lead role. What an incredible Como Coco moment; however, my mother didn’t come out to see me perform because of her religious beliefs. She felt (or the church felt) it was worldly, not a religious event so she wasn’t allowed to attend. It was a sour moment for me…a Como Coco Rancio moment; however, I had my oldest sister come to see me perform along with her daughters… a Como Coco moment.

I was nominated homecoming queen… a Como Coco moment. I didn’t tell my mother that I was nominated because I was bitter that she didn’t show up for any other school event…many Como Coco Rancio moments. I finally told my mother that I was nominated for homecoming queen. She did show up at the corner of the street to wave at me, while I rode by in the limo… a sweet moment, a Como Coco moment. I also won Homecoming Queen… another Como Coco moment.

I went into preterm labor and ended up in bed rest with my first child. That was a difficult time for me because I didn’t know if my baby girl would make it. It was a Como Coco Rancio time for me. I had it in my head I would be healthy. The baby would be healthy. I would be active. I would continue at my job working at the bank. I’d continue working out at the gym all the way to the very end of my pregnancy. I struggled many times to keep my spirits up. I had many sorrowful moments thinking about the outcome. All those thoughts came tumbling down until I gave birth to a beautiful healthy baby girl… a wonderful Como Coco moment.

I’ve recently been awakened to something traumatic that happened to me when I was a baby. I have a lot of bitter sweet moments in my life, but I try to hang onto all the Como Coco moments in life. Don’t get me wrong, some of my Como Coco Rancio moments were and still can be very challenging when I think about what happened to me. I still think about it now and again and I have emotional wounds that I’ve had to release in order to heal. I’ve released a lot of pent-up, harmful emotions just recently. I still have them bubble up now and again. With my faith, I’ve gained strength. I’ve gained wisdom on how to heal myself.

Embrace whatever tools you have to help you through the emotional and physical pain. Do what you love doing! I do Zumba because I love it. I meditate when I can. I practice yoga when I can. I pray often and write often in my journal. I try to eat well. I use all the positive tools available to me to help me. Once again I want to stress, use positive tools that are available to you to get you the through the tough emotional pain. Sing in your car loudly when you’re driving alone. Dance in your kitchen by yourself or with a loved one. Go for a walk. Take a hike. Talk to a good friend or a trusted family member that will support you. Hug your children and your grandchildren. Play with your pet or pets. Listen to music you love. Soak a warm bath with sea salts or Epsom salt. See a Holistic Counselor. Get a massage. Visit a Chiropractor. Receive Acupuncture. Receive Reiki. Get a mani or pedi or both. See an Energy Healer. Use all the healthy tools to help you release the emotional pain that’s pinned up inside. 

Life is constantly changing. I’ve grown and I’ve learned so much, even after I published Como Coco-The Journey. I’m currently working on the next book subtitled Spiritual Discovery. I can’t wait to share my newer experiences with you soon. Until then I leave you with: 

Embrace all the precious memories. All the good that has happened in your life. Give thanks every day. Count your blessing every day. When I count my blessing.  My life is Como Coco.