Nothing is the Same


The vicissitudes of life remain the same. The daily routines continue, the must dues remain – bills, appointments, work deadlines, household errands – and the sun and moon continue their ever presence. Nothing has changed. Yet, everything is different.

Sure, things haven’t been the same for the past three years, beginning when my wife was first diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer in September of 2015. Still, we tackled and wrestled with the change together. We carried each other throughout the journey. Now that she is gone, all is not the same. Her passing has altered my entire universe, leaving a void in my heart.


JM and Lari

I am indeed grateful to have the support of family,  a wonderful network of friends and incredible people that my wife left behind for me to tap into, but I do stand alone now. I no longer have my partner to discuss decisions, share news, laugh together or just talk about this and that.

The mornings, evenings, hours, days are just not the same. I am not the same. I am more sympathetic to people, but less patient for self-pity and for people dwelling on the small stuff. If my tolerance for that was low already, it’s even more so now.

I am calmed and find comfort at knowing that she is no longer is suffering. Yet, I feel a wave of anger festering inside me – anger that she is no longer here; anger for not anticipating things; anger towards the disease that took her; anger at the things we didn’t get a chance to do together; anger at her for not telling me what do with all her stuff; anger for just wanting to live a normal life; anger at my own anger; and just anger towards the unfairness of the world for giving me these cards to deal with.

I miss her, terribly! I hate not being able to see, touch, kiss or hear her. She is gone forever from this world, a fact I am still trying to grapple with two months later. Yes, she is constantly with me in my heart, mind, and soul. I do feel her presence, but it’s not the same. She was a whole of me and now that’s gone.

Rationally, I know others in the universe have it worse than me, but I am entitled to my anger. A line from “Fight Club” comes to mind: “I felt like destroying something beautiful.” Well, sometimes I feel like a punching a wall, taking a bat and breaking glass bottles or a nice car… destroying something beautiful.

No need to worry, though. Not that I would. Instead, I am taking that energy of anger and putting it into focusing at work, lifting weights, jumping rope, journaling, practicing yoga and tackling and creating projects for myself. Instead of destroying something beautiful I rather create something beautiful.

If I don’t have the patience for self-pity, I don’t tolerate my own. As I said, I am less patient for many things now. I need to be proactive rather than destructive.

This doesn’t mean I am suppressing my anger. Just channeling it in other ways. Or so I tell myself.

I look into the vastness of the world ahead of me and I just try to take it one day at a time, conquering and dealing with whatever comes at me the best I can. I know I am not alone.

I am blessed to have my kiddo who is just an incredible source of inspiration and strength. If my wife was my guiding star, my kid is my rock. He has been ever since he was born.

I know together we will continue to carry each other as we move forward in this journey……

Gabriel and jmm - stone mountain










Be Grateful and Enjoy

Is this thing on? Hello?


Thank you for the birthday wishes.

Thank you for all the love and positive energy.

Thank you for being part of my life in one way or another.

I welcome this age of my life with grace and lots of denial. Just kidding.

I am not in denial. Nor do I have any grace or words of wisdom. All I know is that life is precious.

Enjoy each moment. Enjoy the friendships that you have. Enjoy your family. Enjoy your health. Enjoy the activities that you love. Enjoy, if possible, your body by moving, dancing, exercising, or performing any physical activity that brings you happiness. Enjoy this very moment as tomorrow is not guaranteed.

(sound of microphone dropping)IMG_20180606_013638_993

Keep your word

You know what’s one quality that I truly appreciate?

When people get back to you and keep their word. This applies to friends, family, services, companies, et al.

Truly appreciate when people say they will do XY&Z and then they do it. I have had people – friends, acquaintances, family memnbers, companies – faulting on their word. So, makes me be appreciative when folks do as they say.

I know I have been guilty of not following through but I really try to keep to my word.

In many respects, do not be cavalier with your words and promises. Each time you do, you make a withdrawal. Eventually, reaching a zero balance with your reputation at stake.


Keeping Strong

My regular loose fit shirt felt tight around my neck, shoulders, and biceps. Finally, I thought, this workout routine is paying off, filling myself with pride.

And just like a prideful roster, I took strides with my chest puffed up, like I owned the place. That dream came crashing down pretty soon.

I took a look at the mirror to admire my gains only to realize that my shirt was inside out and the back was facing the front.

Did I rush to the bathroom to make things right? No. I finished my set and then I slowly walked to the bathroom with my pride hurt but with a good laugh at my expense.


Workout feeling




A Piece of Myself

I lost a piece of myself the other day. It all began with a woman telling me to get down to my boxers;I had no choice in the matter as I had already decided to put myself in this predicament. Next thing I know I am faced down with a needle prickling the middle of my upper left lat. What transpired next only took seconds. So much so that I never felt the hands shaving off part of my skin. The good news is that it was a benign mole

By the light of the moon

By the light of the moon, I saw tears rolling down her face. I am to blame for her misfortune. All I wanted was to be with my lover so I had to do it, not knowing the consequences. As soon as the moonlight hit the beach sand, I got a glance of my soul’s shadow as I faced north. In that quick instance, I cut my shadow in half with the dagger my lover had given me; she said it was the only way and so, drunken with love and the promise of being loved, I separated myself from my soul, forever casting my shadow and myself into an abyss. That was twenty years ago since I saw my shadow shed tears. I now realize she was crying not for her but me….Moon

In remembrance

I didn’t know her all that well. I can probably recall the number of times I saw her over years – no more than twenty, for sure. These were at family reunions, short and

Mariela Ramirez Mejia de Escalante
Mariela Mejia Ramirez (1926-2018)

not conducive to building strong bonds between a kid and his aunt. Most of the time I found her stoic, distant.What I can tell you for certain is that my aunt Mariela Mejía Ramírez de Escalante was a terrific storyteller. She had a knack for converting daily, trivial occurrences into phenomenal, spellbinding, comical, larger than life tales. You knew that a family gathering with her entailed a recounting of some sort, from a mugging experience she had to a misadventure at the street corner. She became a whole different person when she began retelling her anecdotes.

Among the many tales she was fond of recounting, was that of the trials and tribulations of the Mejia-Ramirez clan, giving us new generations a glance to the lives of great-grandparents, grandparents, and uncles.


Grandparents and my aunt Mariela
Grandparents: Braulio Mejia Ochoa  & Maria Ramirez Bedoya with daughter Mariela Mejia Ramirez

Tales she passed down include that of my great-grandfather seeking pre-Columbian treasures, acquiring massive amounts of lands and being one of the first settlers in a Colombian region now known as Risaralda, Caldas; or that of my father and grandfather traveling through different towns in Colombia selling their own brand of band-aids and having to flee some of those towns because the adhesive on the band-aids proved faulty.


Her stories brought ghosts of the past to life, inspiring our imaginations and desire to find our own treasures, figuratively and literally. Like, recently, I heard that some of my first cousins once removed have actually visited the town where the family roots began in search of hidden treasures – the pots of gold and jewels my great-grandfather apparently buried under that one tree, back in the 1800s.

Braulio Mejia
My grandfather – Braulio Mejia Ochoa


On a less Quixotic search, her passing at the beginning of this year has set my oldest sister in a journey to trace the Mejia-Ramirez family saga, finding old pictures and discovering some of the histories of the ancestors I owe my existence to. 

In addition to the stories, another important legacy my aunt leaves behind is that of her children and grandchildren, aka my first cousins and first cousins once removed.

Her two daughters, Estela and Maria Emma, and son, Gustavo, are much closer in age to my two older siblings. So, I didn’t grow up sharing childhood memories with them as did my older brother and sister. I was just a kid when my first cousins were already living adult lives with families of their own.

What I do remember is them being generous and attentive to me whenever the opportunity arose, visiting the family miles away from where they lived, inviting me to their homes when I was visiting their city, giving me gifts and hand-me-downs, and treating me to ice-cream and other goodies. My understanding is that my father had been kind and generous to them when they were growing up facing their own challenging times.

In keeping that tradition, I have always been appreciative of my cousins and, despite the difference in age, I have made my own attempts to pay forward their kindness by keeping in touch with them over the years, and by establishing links with and, if possible, helping their kids – my first cousins once removed. 

Over the years, circumstances and proximity, have led the way for me to establishing a close relationship with my cousin Maria Emma’s two daughters, Natalia

Me with my cousins: Natalia and Ana Maria

and Ana Maria, and with Julian, one of three sons my cousin Estela gave birth to; we have shared holidays and get-togethers, and regularly keep in touch. Also, they have been supportive of me during these last few challenging years in more ways than I can possibly list.  

I might not have been terribly close to my aunt but the kindship that I have with her kids and grandchildren are a direct link to the legacy she leaves behind.

Only one of my father’s siblings remains alive, my uncle Gonzalo. With the passing of my aunt Mariela at the begining of this 2018, the generation of Mejia Ramirez is closer to ending its life cycle. Fortunately, her stories, along with the pictures she has passed down, are keeping her lineage and the ghosts of the past alive for a few more generations of my time.

The talent and uncanny ability to magnify and give stories humor, also continue, embodied in her daughter Maria Emma and granddaughter Ana Maria. They have that power to amuse and hold your attention as they tell you their own adventures and misadventures.  

This and That