When Tragedy Strikes part 2

*Edited: it’s been a year March 31 I started writing this at the 6 month mark and could never fully finish it or articulate my feelings, thoughts and emotions*

It’s been 6 months. Her 60th birthday was October 5.

I wanted to share what happened during that last week of her life. It was a shock to a lot of people. When you called and spoke with her she never let on that she was pain. When you came by and visited she never let is show that she was in pain. She joked with you. She kept life pretty damn normal. She would tell me “I don’t want to be a burden” I would roll my eyes and say “Mama that’s what we are here for, lean on us.” I know we couldn’t take the pain away but we could help life be easier and comfortable.  I would fuss at her from Kuwait on the phone. I would call and tell on her to Chris. She would call and act fake mad. I appreciate everyone who she was able to lean on in her time of need. I was her daughter and didn’t know the extent of her pain. I knew she was in pain but not how much until I got home and saw for myself.

Elise happened to call mama the day she got her results back. I rushed Elise in the shower after she said her piece because I needed to focus on what was being said. I get the phone and Betty is acting all nonchalant like there ain’t a purpose for this call. Mama didn’t you have a doctor’s appointment today? What did they say? My mama’s exact words “a lot of things” Me mentally eye rolling because we are video chatting and I was not gonna for real roll my eyes. No matter how far away I was, I wasn’t stupid. She then tells me “I have been released into hospice care” I hold the phone away and compose myself I will not let her see me cry. Then she says “don’t do anything rash” Mama I am coming home. “you don’t need to do that” Mama I am coming home. I am coming home while I have a choice not when I am forced. “oh that makes sense” Mental eye rolling again. “don’t post on Facebook and don’t tell Elise. We will tell everyone when y’all get here” Got it.

I went to work the next day and told them I need to leave and don’t ask me when I’m coming back. Let’s aim for after spring break. My mama is being released into Hospice care and that is my focus right now. I cried in every office I went into that day. I started with my VP. Then I had to go to HR. Final stop was my Principal. Then I went to my team. I was offered to go home but Elise didn’t know what was going on and I just couldn’t deal. So I let work distract me.

I flew out that Saturday morning. March 24. I landed in Charleston Saturday night. Longest flight of my life. I get to the house and she’s sitting up waiting like she normally does. She informs me about her alarm going off to her remind to take her medicine. We all go to sleep. She seems pretty darn normal.

Sunday I do not go to church because no one is supposed to know I am even home. Let’s not ruffle feathers and cause a commotion here.

Art and Regina come over after church for their version of church at the house. I get kicked out of the room like I still sit at the kid’s table. I legit had to take Elise in the room and “play” with her. Really I am 37 years old. How rude. But I get it. No way she was going to be able to hold an adult conversation AND Elise stay in the room the WHOLE time. I heard snippets of the conversation. She told them she was in hospice care and she has made peace with everything. She is tired of being in pain. She is not suicidal. Keep us in prayer. She asked Art to be the song leader at her funeral. They let her know they were going on a cruise in April for Art’s birthday and she politely told them she won’t be here for that. Of course they all laughed it off. Said good-bye and left.

Monday we go to therapy and have the leg massaged and re-wrapped. This is when I got my first glimpse of how much pain she really was in. The struggle to get in and out of the car. How uncomfortable it was for her to sit in the car.

Tuesday the Hospice nurse came over to wash her and she politely in her own way declined. I ask her how many people know. She says “you, Chris, Dee and Runette” Mama are you serious? Again I don’t want to be a burden. I don’t want Naomi changing her plans. Mama?!? How Jin didn’t know is beyond me. Well mama I think you need to tell your brothers and sisters. They have a right to know what is going on. You can’t just die on them without letting them know what’s going on. Besides I told Freddie and he’s on the way. Hop to it. I’ve already spilled the beans and do you really think Art and Gina are gonna stay quiet. Don’t let your family find out at church from strangers.

She calls family one by one. Those who are able come by and visit with her. Doesn’t look like anything is wrong right? She’s sitting up being normal Betty.

Wednesday we miss the eye doctor appointment. She just couldn’t get going that morning. Once she did get up, she didn’t want to sit in the car for the 25 minute ride West Ashley.

Thursday night she falls in the front bathroom. I go across the street to get the neighbor to help me. She refused to push her help button. She fell she is fine just get her up. Mama it’s okay I am here and so is the neighbor. We get her into the bed.

Friday Chris is on his way down from Greensboro. I tell him come straight home.

I go check on her that morning. She hadn’t taken any medicine and she’s asking about me and Elise going to church. Mama what medicine do you need to take cause it’s Friday and we don’t even have clothes for church. We finally take the medicine and she goes back to sleep. Chris gets in and tell him what has been going on. She finally get up and Chris helps her down the hallway in time for the hospice nurse to come. We pull this lady to the side and tell her everything. She’s being too nonchalant for my liking. We get a bedside toilet and I am asking about what happens when Chris leaves with getting her in and out of the bed. Again too damn nonchalant. (looking back on it they knew more than what they were telling) We eat our Easter dinner. She tries out her wheelchair. The kids push her down the hall in the wheelchair. She says it’s uncomfortable to sit in for church so it was a good idea but not gonna happen. We help her get ready for bed.

I get up that night to go to the bathroom. I hear her alarm go off but don’t hear her get up to take her medicine. I can hear her coughing. I go in and check on her. Mama you alright. “I need to go to the bathroom” I go get Chris. We each take a side……………………….

I will warn you NOW this is when it happens.

*I think I can finish this.*

It’s now been a year since she’s passed. As you can see I can’t finish writing what happens that night. I think I’ve only told one person what actually happened. It’s a memory that will live with me forever.

I can’t say life has gotten easier. Nor can I say it’s gotten better.

There are days I am drowning in grief. There are days I walk with my grief and I’m okay.

When my daddy passed away he was at the hospital and I came home to find out what happened.

When my mama passed I was in the room.

This year I have felt like an orphan with both parents gone. I haven’t felt like I have a real purpose at life. I’ve been winging it.

Grief is cruel.

Grief with a child is torture.

I am grateful for therapy. I am grateful for those that take a moment to check in on us. It’s hard.

This will always be my favorite picture

October 5, 1958 to March 31, 2018

Gone but never forgotten.

Dating Abroad

So I’ve had several conversations and laughs about dating abroad.

So I’m gonna share those conversations and hopefully you will have a few laughs along the way.

Let me introduce myself. My name is Melissa Holmes. I am from Charleston, SC (Summerville to be specific) I am currently 38 years old with a 10 year old daughter. Never married. Desire to be married. Been in love a time or three.

I came abroad in August 2016 as a single parent in Kuwait. Moved to China August 2018 as a single parent.

When I was stateside I had a boyfriend or two. Dated seriously and dated for fun and dated because I was bored. So this whole dating game I am not new at. Ive dated the bad boy type who wouldn’t meet family. I’ve dated the good guy who my mama would approve of. I’ve dated guys who went to church and a the guy who only went to church for funerals and weddings. I’ve dated damaged men, well put together men, single parent, divorced, older, younger, etc. Look I’ve got all the bases covered and I’ve stories to tell.

Got into the latest trend of online dating and swiping right and left. I did OKCupid when I lived in Maryland. Meet a few cool dudes on there. Most went no where because of a lack of a follow through or inconsistency or just lack of interest.

Came abroad to Kuwait and was encouraged to download Tinder. I meet one guy with a follow through. Neither one of us were looking for anything serious. He became a cool friend to hang out with. I meet a guy through friends who tried to run game on me with a whole wife back home and a girlfriend who was in and out of Kuwait.

Tip 1: ask questions and ask around. The level of game playing has reached a whole new height abroad.

Tip 2: please know what you want BEFORE attempting to date and create a profile on ANY dating site

Tip 3: be open minded

I am too old to be further limiting my already limited dating pool.

Like I can’t make half this mess up.

Now I’m in China

OH. MY. GOD. this is whole new circle of hell.

1. There are like no black people in China. Ok I’m exaggerating. There are black people but one China is like the size of 18 countries. Yep exaggerating again. Okay. Picture the United States. Imagine you live in Florida and the next black person you will likely see lives in Ohio. Now add the next black man you will see lives in California. So Tinder becomes your life just to meet another black face alone. Yes there are WeChat groups

*wechat is like this jacked up thing with Facebook and phone and messaging combined. You can only access groups of you are invited (Facebook groups) and you message each other in these groups (like a group chat) then you post pictures in your moments( like Instagram). You can text individual people and make phone calls as well. Let’s add you can pay for anything via wechat.* look wechat is another post.

So I’m in WeChat groups with other black people but remember I’m in Florida and they are in Ohio.

Now let me explain black people. It is not limited to African Americans. It’s Africans (like 90%) British, Australian, Canadian and like one American. And I won’t even touch these new Moor people. I. DO. NOT. HAVE. THE. ENERGY.

Here’s the extra fun thing Mother Africa got jokes with her men. These babies and yes I call them babies because they are under 30 at university working on degree number 1. Baby what is we doing cause it can’t be me.

So I go back and forth. I uninstall and install again. I swipe right. I swipe left.

I just don’t even know anymore. I try. I really do

But lord you can only good morning me so many times before I lose interest. I am not up for idle chit chat. No solid plans are made.

Then I have these dudes out here trying to recuse me because I’m a single parent.

“Your daughter needs a father” sir you have sent a few good morning texts and we have not seen each other in person, I don’t know your birthday, I met you 3 seconds ago….You have not been upgraded and selected to be step daddy. Sir there are steps to this.

I don’t get it. I really don’t. It baffles my mind.

I had one dude get salty with me because I didn’t tell my child who he was and introduce them. Sir I don’t like you. I don’t have tell that little girl one thing. She don’t pay my bills and you ain’t sticking round. Matter fact you can leave for the night sir. And this was the dude that ended up with a whole wife back in his home country.

and lord don’t get me started on the roommate situation. Sir go away.

I hate dating but yet I keep doing it. I keep trying. I keep hoping and praying. If nothing else I have loads of laughs to share about dating abroad.

Maybe just maybe I will have my happy ending. I’ll keep you dated until then I have stories to share and laughs to give.

Real conversations:

Him: I have a surprise for you send me your location(address)

Me: okay

Him: shows up with jiffy cornbread mix and bacon

Me: you are my new best friend I think I love you

I lived in Kuwait and bacon was not gonna be found. I told him I wanted to make cornbread and he got me jiffy mix. He worked on base and he listened to me. He was one of my better dates.

Different guy

Him: why didn’t you tell her who I was

I had just put Elise down for the night and he was sitting on my couch after hours. He must have thought I was gonna give him some sex. Well after this conversation that option left the table.

Me: because she don’t need to know who you are

Him: why not

Me: because I said so. I don’t even know who you are and she don’t pay no bills

Him: but that’s not how this works you are American

Me: and?

Him: you are supposed to tell her because you tell your children everything

Me: look I tell her what she needs to know and she does not need to know who you are until I decide who you are. I’m a single parent and I don’t go around introducing her to every body that says hello or that is trying to get in my pants. I don’t know what you’ve been listening to but that’s not how this American mama rolls.

Him: okay I apologize

Me: good night you can sleep on the couch or you can go home

Him: you aren’t gonna keep me company

Me: no I have to work until the morning and I’m going to bed alone. There’s a blanket.

I leave him on the couch and that was the last time he came to my house.

Next conversation

Him: let’s meet

Me: okay

Him: you wanna come here

Me: no I prefer to meet somewhere public

Him: like a hotel

Me: goodbye

Random social media inbox conversation

Me: where are you from

Him: Africa

Me: sir Africa is big continent which country

Him: Nigeria, have you heard of it

Me: if I didn’t know any countries in Africa I would not have asked you to be specific. Why are you in my inbox? What’s your purpose? What’s you intention?

Next conversation different guy

Him: how’s your family

Me: my daughter and I are fine

Him: where’s your husband

Me: never married don’t have one

A few follow up questions about Elise and then

Him: so I’m part of the family now

Me: excuse me no that’s not how this works sir

Him: you don’t need me, she needs a father

Me: and who promoted you to this position. Sir there are steps to this. I haven’t even met you in person

Tip: Married folk stay married don’t come out here I these dating streets.

Tip: don’t be afraid to push the conversation along. You gotta weed out the bullshit and quick or they will waste your time and WYD you to death. Or kill you with small talk.

I have been chatting with a guy who lives in another country for a solid year and I cannot tell you his birthday or favorite color or nothing significant because we talk about nothing and I get irritated with the idle chit chat. I’ll go days without responding because I’m pissed. Sir make moves. Make plans. Use your big boy words. I work with 5 year olds all day. My attention span is nonexistent. My patience is gone. I need a real conversation. I need depth. I can’t guide a grown man on how to converse. I do that all day.

KNOW WHAT YOU WANT BEFORE YOU SETUP YOUR PROFILE.

When attempting to date someone from another culture know the norms. Mess around and have a husband in a week.

Dating is fun and dating is not. One day I will date my husband for the rest of my life. Until then…..pray for me. I’m getting weary

38 Things

As I embark on year 38 of life, I have to pause and reflect.

First life doesn’t look anywhere close to what I thought it would be at 38.

Lets start here. Who remembers playing MASH to determine your life? Let’s just say it is a setup for failure.

Growing up all I really ever paid attention to was getting married and having kids. Never gave much thought to a career. I was going to get married and have kids. Work? Why? My husband was going to work and provide for the family.

Please don’t even ask me where I got this idea from both my parents worked.

I toyed around with being a lawyer….that was 8 years of schooling I did not want to do. I was too squeamish to be a doctor or a nurse. I wanted to be rich and live in a mansion. I even thought about a singing career and can’t really sing.

Lets have some laughs at the child’s mind.

So high graduation comes and here I am off to college.

Let’s face it College is not for everyone and I had no clue what I wanted to do with my life.

Wanted to become a teacher but there was no money in that field.

Went and obtained my cosmetology license

Got a job at a call center…QUIT

Got a job in retail….hung out there for a while but quit TWICE….nope wait THREE times

Alright Melissa time for a heart to heart.

1. There is no such thing as a knight in shining armor coming to rescue you and sweep you off to your mansion

2. You gonna kiss a whole bunch of frogs and only God knows when the frog will turn into a prince…. meaning you gonna have a lot of dating woes to the point of questioning your sanity.

3. Find your passion and make a career out it.

Here’s my heart to heart conversation with myself

Melissa what is the one thing you want to do no matter what?

Self: damnit I wanna be rich and live in a mansion

Melissa what could you see yourself doing for the rest of life

Self ugh I don’t wanna

Melissa stop denying your calling and get right

Self looks up schools for early childhood education

I start with my associates and working in daycare.

Got pregnant and instantly realized I can’t feed two people on minimum wage goes back to school to obtain my Bachelors degree.

Enter into the public school system.

4. Life is not all pretty and laid out. It’s a bunch of ups and downs and curve balls. You gotta learn to roll with the punches. If plan A don’t work there are 25 more letters in the alphabet. Don’t give up

5. Having a child will make you grow up real fast.

6. Being a single parent makes you grow up even faster.

7. you realize your parents were and are right and you have pretty much “wasted” 27 years of your life

8. Becoming a mother is a challenge you are never prepared for. Look playing house with doll babies and toys is bunch of lies.

Yes babies are cute but they don’t stay babies forever and they cry A LOT. Yes they can make doll babies look like real babies but a real baby requires, demands attention. Breastfeeding, yeah don’t stress over that. If you can, great. If you can’t, don’t trip. Organic go for it. Hand-me-downs, no one cares. We will all parent our children differently. What matters at the end of the day is that you loved your child and you prepared them to be adults. Humans who have to function in society with other people. Teach them manners. Teach them kindness. Teach them about integrity. Teach them about their reputation. Teach them all the things you wish you knew while not forgetting the things you do know. Our parents weren’t all idiots and fools. There are things that they taught us that are useful and wise. Provide your children with a firm foundation to hold them strong in this cruel world. I guess that’s number 9.

10. Associates, Friends, and Family
I’m gonna quote Madea on this one “there are people who come into your life for a season” you better learn QUICK who those people are. 

Growing up I had a whole bunch of “friends” and all of sudden “friends” had to pick a side and I was left on the outside looking in. I learned at the tender age of 13, keep my circle small and keep real friends close.

All you really need in life are one maybe two close friends who end up becoming family. We don’t always get to choose our family but that moment you do, choose wisely.

11. Do your job and go home
I probably should have put this up around my career advice but whatever.
Look not everyone you work you with is your friend. Don’t date where you work. Do your job and go home. I have been fortunate to have at least one co-worker I could go and talk to and not worry about it getting around. You need one person who understands your career. One person you can look at during staff meetings and roll your eyes with. One person you can ask for a reference. Don’t be that person at work who can’t hold water and knows all the gossip.

12. those who gossip with you will gossip about you.
watch who you tell your plans to, watch who you vent to. Everyone is not in your corner. Some are gaining your ideas and plans to fuel their own. They will snatch it and not even mention your name.

13. sometimes you gotta move in silence. Tell people of your plans once it is completed.

14. Mental Health is important.
I cannot stress this one enough. That whole strong black woman is utter nonsense. Being strong does not mean you don’t ask for help or even seek help. You were NOT built to carry the weight of life on your shoulders ALONE. I don’t care if you can or you have done it. STOP and STOP it now. You are killing yourself and don’t even realize it. Get some sleep, a full 8 hours if you can 7 hours is good as well. Turn off your phone. Silence the ringtone and notifications. Say NO. Mediate. Journal. Pray. Relax. Release. Relax your shoulders. Smile. Fix your face. Wear some different colors. Do something different every once in while. Let go and forgive. Talk to someone. Do NOT be afraid to seek professional help.
*bonus you can be a Christian believe in God and still seek professional help. Guess what you can also mediate and do yoga too.* I’m making this 14-20 cause I dropped some real life nuggets just now.

21. Get your passport. Leave your city. Leave your street. Leave your state. Stop letting other people tell you what do and see.

22. guess what you can travel and not go broke. You can travel and not be rich. It’s called budget and plan. Take those vacation days. America is the only….okay one of the few places where people legit work to death. Every company will give you vacation days, sick days and even personal days…..USE THEM!!!!!

23. don’t believe the media hype about any and everything. The media is there to play on your fears. I’m talking about traveling. Every country is not evil and guess what America ain’t the best place out there.

24. that thing you are afraid of doing, DO IT.

25. Cherish people while you can. I can’t even begin to explain what it is like to lose a parent. It’s crippling. I loved my mama and my daddy. My daddy I have some regrets because I was a bratty teenager when he died. When my mama passed away I just wasn’t ready and my days are filled with what if’s. You don’t get a second chance at life. Love those who love you. Repair relationships if you can while you can

26. Life is what you make it. You can do ANYTHING you want. I didn’t always believe this. But with faith and stepping out of our comfort zones you can legit do anything. I would have never thought I would live and work internationally but here I am.

27. Real talk: are parents aren’t complete idiots. I find my parents coming out of my mouth daily. Some of the things they taught us make sense and we realize they were protecting us from ourselves.

28. Live within your means. I can’t stress this enough. If you don’t have a desire to travel, don’t. If you can’t afford a BMW, then don’t. This leads me to point 29…

29. Don’t go into debt trying to keep up with the Joneses. I have never wanted a house. Guess what I don’t have one. I want to purchase land and build a house, guess what I will. I have friend who have land in Ghana, Jamaica a few with property on Thailand. None of those places are my dream. So I’m not jumping on it. I want I fly business every flight but my wallet and budget say NOPE. And that’s OKAY. My dream ain’t your dream. My reality and your reality.

30. College debt is a lie and bullshit. You do not and repeat you do not have to go into debt for a college degree. Research and research and research some more on how to attend college for free. If you don’t want to attend college then don’t. Find your passion and go forth.

31. Everyone can’t be that straight A student stop stressing your child(ren) out. Know your limits and your child’s limits.

32. Encourage and uplift. You never know what people are going through. A warm friendly smile goes a long way. Call and check on your friends. Be consistent. Treat people like you want to be treated. Spread some love and cheer

33. When a child is talking LISTEN our children are going through some things and they need to know we are there for them. They need to know someone cares. Be their advocate

34. Can we bring back the village? Can we support one another? Can we truly be there for one another? it’s something about living away from home that forces you to create real and meaningful bonds with people you don’t know but you get to know. When someone looks at you and says “hey you are not okay, let’s go out” or they let you just cry it out or vent it out….that’s a village. That’s support. I have been fortunate enough to always have a village wherever I live but some people don’t have that.

35. Love yourself. Take care of yourself. This goes back to mental health. Stop carrying life on your shoulders thinking you have to do it alone. You don’t and guess what NO is a complete sentence. Stop apologizing for things you aren’t sorry for. Stop saying yes when you mean no. Stop giving excuses. Take those Ls and learn from them

36. De-clutter your life. De-clutter your social media. De-clutter your phone. I clean my social media often. What is popping up on my timeline? Is it positive uplifting helpful, do I actually know you? Do I use this app? Why do I have this number? When was the last time I wore that? Do I really need that? Why am I paying for this subscription?

37. Children and pets will make you question your sanity.

38. Birthdays mean something totally different as you get older.

Life ain’t easy and it doesn’t come with a handbook on how to live it. We make mistakes. The important thing to remember is to learn from that mistake or you are bound to repeat it again. Don’t feel like you have to live this alone. Bring along a few good friends. Have some laughs. Do something daring. Do that thing you’ve always wanted to do. I’m living my life one day at time. Some days it’s one moment at time.

I made the switch

When I moved abroad it was highly common and popular to have two phones. Your American phone and your local phone.

After a while this became a pain. I mean really why put myself through this. I had a dual SIM Samsung but I didn’t like it and it was a downgrade from my current Samsung S9. So when I traveled I would get a local SIM and essentially I had 3 numbers, again was it really necessary?

Then I moved to China where EVERYTHING is blocked and monitored. Here’s where having a Samsung became a pain in the ass.

So I had to do some research on Apple and iPhones. I have a MacBook . Elise has an iPad but I LOVE my Samsung. I am loyal to Samsung. Even have a Samsung watch and Samsung wireless earbuds. I would buy stock in Samsung. I even bought a Samsung TV once.

iPhones are internationally friendly meaning who hasn’t spotted an Apple store when traveling? iPhones can sync across devices I already have a MacBook. I prefer iPads to Samsung tablets so maybe just maybe I will like an iPhone. So I booked a flight to Hong Kong to get a real iPhone not the blocked up Chinese version. I settled on the iPhone XR because it comes with a dual SIM slot. The other iPhone XR have a dual SIM but one is an e-chip and I can’t risk that not working when I travel or where I live.

I popped my T-Mobile SIM inside and BAM it works. I waited until I returned to China to put my Chinese SIM inside. BAM it worked

So I’ve been using the iPhone XR since December. It’s now February

*update it’s March*

I still don’t get the hoopla about iPhone. It’s a phone.

Yes it syncs across all my devices.

I enjoy the use of two SIM cards and only having one phone.

Honestly if you travel a lot and ever cross into China I would suggest getting an iPhone.

There are things I like and things I don’t.

I miss swiping my fingers across the keep board to type.

I miss being able to customize my ringtones and notifications. Somethings are just set to default and there is nothing I can do about it.

I miss the silly filters on my camera.

I miss not having a home button

I like the Face ID

I do like I don’t always need to have my special blocker on to access normal things like Facebook. It will move slowly so I just turn it and save myself the headache.

I do feel like there are more app options because most people create apps for iPhone before droid.

Apple maps translates nicely into English

I do like my notifications flashing across the screen and I can swipe down and not leave my current app

Never used a lot the functions on Samsung to miss them. I think I used the multi screen option twice.

I do like the syncing option across devices

I do like the Bitmoji

A phone is a phone if you ask me. Maybe an iPhone user can tell me the difference. I will more than likely get an Apple Watch but I like my Fitbit and really just want to track my steps. Not really concerned about the rest of things.

As long as my phone works and I’m not stuck without access to the rest of the world I’m good.

would I be in a rush to upgrade when a new one comes out? Doubtful

I’m still team Samsung but for now I have an iPhone.