Sunday, October 13, 2013


Hi Everyone.

I love the fall. I really do. I love the crispness in the air, the smell of the fallen leaves, the warm of hot tea or cider. I love eating soup and going apple-picking. I really love the fall. As I said once before, the fall reminds me so much of Manny.

Some people think it's sad when I say things like this. It's not sad for me. It's not sad for me to remember my brother. I am so grateful for these moments. For the chilly wind that makes me remember when I would see him walking home from the bus stop, for the crunch of the leaves that reminds me of times when we would be playing basketball outside, for the fall decorations that bring back Halloweens and Thanksgivings and all of those everyday autumn rituals that we so often take for granted because we never really imagine that they could end. I am grateful for my memories. I like to believe that when I am remembering Manny in these moments, he is remembering me too, and for an instant, we are doing something together again.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Nothing much

It's been another of those long stretches in my posting. I have found it hard to find the time and things to write about lately.

To be honest, work takes up the overwhelming majority of my time and by the time I have a moment for other things, the idea of sitting down in front of a computer and writing proves challenging.

I will be writing more soon. I am working on some new "projects" that may prove interesting. They are in the self-improvement vein so I who knows...

I will keep you posted. In the meantime, I hope you are all well. What would you be interested in reading about?


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Honoring Ylaria

"They left me with your shadow, saying things like Life is not fair & I believed them for a long time. But today, I remembered the way you laughed & the heat of your hand in mine & I knew that life is more fair than we can ever imagine if we are there to live it" ~ StoryPeople

I do not like January 16th, not at all. Because ever since Ylaria flew away, January 16th reminds me of how very unfair life can be. I was thinking that tonight as I was walking home and shedding some tears. I miss my little best friend. And then, I remembered this quote, and I knew Ylaria was trying to send me a message: that despite all of the sadness and the missing her, I was so incredibly fortunate to have her in my life and that life really is more fair than we can ever imagine, if we are there to live it. In honor of Ylaria and the many ways in which she showed me how to live life to its fullest, I wanted to share some of (and there are MANY) my very favorite Ylaria moments with you. I settled on 5 because Ylaria was 5. It seems fitting.

1.  Gingerbread House making: One of my very favorite Ylaria moments was getting to make gingerbread houses with her and her family, my family- on December 4, 2010. I had flown into Vermont on an impromptu visit for the weekend and on a spur of the moment comment, I said that it would be fun to decorate gingerbread houses because I had never done it before. It was beyond freezing outside and we were going to be spending a lot of time indoors. I figured this would be a great activity. And boy was I right. From the competition going on between Belen and Gino about who had the best  gingerbread decorating skills to my incredible inability to use a frosting bag (ask Belen) we laughed so much we cried, our stomachs hurt, and we almost couldn't breathe. Life should be full of moments like that, where you are surrounded by love and laughter. Every time I was with Ylaria these were in abundance.

2. Getting a time-out: Once, when Ylaria was still in treatment in NYC, I spent a night babysitting/hanging out/having way too much fun. Gino had gotten free tickets to a Yankee game and at the very last minute, Ylaria refused to go so I stayed with her in the Ronald McDonald House and just hung out. We watched TV, played a game of hide and seek, and she decorated my arms with Dora band aids and laughed every time I said "meeermaid". We were having a wonderful time. And then it happened. I got in trouble. To this day, I still can't remember what I did, but whatever I did, it was NOT good. At. All. And, Ylaria made sure I knew it. I was quickly put on a time-out. Literally. I sat in a corner on the floor with Ylaria giving me a stern look, shaking her finger saying : "No talking." I said: "OK" and laughed. (Cut me some slack, it was funny.) She got even more serious and said: "No laughing." At which point I, again, said, "OK" and laughed even harder. It went on like this for a while. With Ylaria saying "No laughing", "No talking" and me just agreeing and cracking up until there were tears falling down my face. I still laugh at this memory. It was so very "us". Ylaria ran  the show. I was simply her side-kick and we both knew it. I wouldn't have changed our arrangement for the world. I loved being her side-kick.

3. The "Seven Seas": I shared this story with a friend of mine recently and to not forget it, I will now share it in writing here. In one of my first visits with Ylaria, we went down to the Ronald McDonald House playroom to read. When Ylaria and I first met, she was 2 years old and very quiet; she never really said anything. (I am convinced she was just sizing me up.) She selected a Dora the Explorer book and I began to read it to her. I don't remember what the story was about, but at one point, we came to a page where Dora was talking about the "Seven Seas" and they showed a picture of a sea with 7 waves, each wave having a number. I read the numbers out loud to her while pointing to the numbers in the illustration, "one, two, three, four, five, six, seven". We turned the page and they had the same picture again, at which point Ylaria pointed to the numbers and said them out loud. I can't even describe how I felt in that moment. I was so proud of her that I was practically in tears. I loved reading with Ylaria and over the years of our friendship, we went from me reading to her to her reading to me. I still remember her sweet voice and how very seriously read her books to me. She was simply brilliant. Had she been able to grow up, she would have been able to do so much. At 5 years old, she had already changed the world by simply being in it. 

4. "I love you": As I have shared before, I met Ylaria in November 2007. I soon became a frequent visitor. What can I say? I was hooked. Any Ylaria time I could get I took and I treasured. One night, about a year after meeting, I was having dinner with her and Gino in the Ronald McDonald House. We were being goofy at dinner and she started whispering "secrets" in my ear. It took me a moment to realize she had said "I love you". When it was my turn, I whispered the same to her, at which point she looked at me confused and said, "No, I love you." And I replied, "I love you too." Apparently, this was not acceptable because she turned to me and said in a loud voice, "NO, I (pointing to herself) love YOU!" (pointing to me). It was priceless. I laughed. And simply agreed with her, "Ok, Ylaria, you win. You love me." That memory still makes me smile and feel so incredibly special. If only everyone could have a friend like Ylaria, this world would be a much better place. 

5. January visit: By January 2011, Ylaria's cancer had spread and it was clear that her time was limited. Belen and I were in almost daily contact at this point. I began to debate whether or not I should go to California. I was torn. I didn't want to bother or be in the way but I really wanted to spend one last moment with her. Belen finally convinced me to fly out there and I booked a ticket to leave the next day, January 4th. It was the best decision I ever made. When you love someone, no time is ever enough. Not 75 years, not 100 years, and most certainly not 5 years. Having the time to say goodbye and share in one last magic moment with Ylaria means more than I could ever explain. We watched movies, ate Chinese food, drank bubble tea, and did some arts and crafts. I got to hold her hand. I got to hug her. I got to tell her that I loved her. I got one more moment.

Tomorrow, I am going to celebrate all of Ylaria's magic. I'll start by taking a long morning walk and leaving Dora band aids in special places. I'll buy flowers. I'll hug my friends. I'll look for pink and yellow. I'll read a good book. I'll listen to songs until the very end. I will honor Ylaria's life by living my own; it's what she would want. 

If you are reading this, I encourage you to create your own magic moments tomorrow. Do something you love, tell your family and friends how much they mean to you, remember to be grateful for all of the small moments that make your day. And when you do all or any of this, remember Ylaria. Her magic lives in all of us.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Christmas Lights

Colored Christmas lights remind me of my brother. Did I ever tell you that? I saw a picture of colored Christmas lights flash across my screen a moment ago and all of a sudden, my heart hurt. Because I miss Manny.

I told you once that I try not to think about my brother too much because it's too hard. The truth is that sometimes, like right now, I spend a lot of time trying to remember him, trying to make him more real in my mind because he feels so very far away. Colored Christmas lights help. I see them and I remember our last Christmas together. I remember decorating the house and how Manny convinced my dad to put up more lights that we ever had. I remember how excited he was and how he led the charge on where they would all go. I remember how he laughed. I remember how he joked. I remember him. And, I love the remembering. For all that it can be sad. For all that I can then sit, seeing a random picture of colored Christmas lights and feel my heart hurt from missing him so much.

I doubt this post will make sense to very many reading it. It must sound strange and definitely depressing. It's hard to explain the point of this writing at all. It's  not meant to be sad. I am ok with admitting I feel sad thinking of my brother; it's my reality. I suppose, the point is that I thought of Manny just now and I wanted to share in my remembering. I want to share and need to share because it's all I have left now- moments like this one where I sit and remember and Manny is so very here with me that I can practically feel him sitting next to me.

Manny, I loved seeing the colored Christmas lights with you. Thank you for giving me that moment.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

An update

As I mentioned in my last post, I have been making some changes to my diet. While not down to 100% yet, I have for the most part I have taken gluten, dairy, processed sugar, and processed foods out of my diet. I have even stopped drinking coffee this week. It really hasn't been that hard (with the exception of today when I went to happy hour with some coworkers). I have felt so much better. I am still having a lot of trouble falling asleep and staying the time of this post might indicate, but I am working on that.

I am going to work tomorrow for a bit and then to my Coro leadership class. After that, I am heading home to Whitestone to hang out with the family. We might go wine tasting on Sunday which would be fun!

I hope you all have a great weekend!


Sunday, September 30, 2012

I'm back!

It's been quite some time since I have posted on this blog! Several family members have been bugging me to post and I finally found the combination of time and motivation to do it. I am also about to embark on another "project" (to be discussed at the end of this post) which will require regular updates for at least the next few weeks.

I had a really great weekend with my family. On Saturday, we went bridesmaids dress shopping for Ana's wedding (next May!). It was a lot of fun. As with any Nunez excursion, the trip could not be complete without some food. After dress shopping for the bridesmaids (dress found!) and for the mother of the bride (currently debating between 2 great options!), we went to get some food.

I am really lucky- I have the best family ever. It doesn't matter what we are doing- we always have a great time just being together. So when there was no table for us, we gathered at the bar, shared some appetizers and toasted to Ana.(We asked the bartender to take this picture). Next weekend, I am going back for more family fun; this time, apple picking!

As for that "project" I mentioned earlier. I am doing this detox/cleanse/healthy eating thing for 3 weeks (in the beginning prep stages for the aforementioned wedding). My cousin, Cristina, shared an interesting detox plan with me a few months ago that I really want to try. I think it's interesting how the body responds to different foods and am eager to try this plan for a few weeks. It requires eliminating a lot of common allergens/sensitivities (such as gluten, some nuts, dairy, and sugar). It will definitely be a challenge, but I am (oddly) excited for it. Plus, it's only for 3 weeks- so it's not forever!

More tomorrow. I hope you all had an awesome weekend!


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

An Ylaria Letter

Dear Ylaria,

I am going to Bakersfield soon. I am so excited for the visit that I have already packed my suitcase. I can't wait to see your mom and give her a big hug, and to laugh at how silly your dad can be, and to go to a bookstore and read with Belen, and to play with Yoly. I know you'll be with me throughout this trip too. When I was writing these vacation dates in my calendar, I wrote "YLARIA TRIP". Because that's how I still think of it.

I have been thinking about you a lot lately. I was feeling sorry for myself earlier because I hurt my foot and I haven't been able to run in months. And then I saw this picture your mom had of you running for the last time and I knew it was your way of telling me to stop being such a baby. If you could fight like you did, I can get through a few months with a fractured foot. You still inspire me. Every day. (And, you still put me in my place when I need it!)

Tonight, I found myself remembering my last trip to Vermont to see you. I am not sure what exactly sparked the memory, really, but all of a sudden, I remembered making gingerbread houses together. I miss making gingerbread houses. I was in CVS the other day and I saw all of this Easter stuff. It reminded me of the last time I was in CVS getting things for your Easter basket. I miss that too. I just miss you. I am ok with admitting that. I can miss you and still be happy. I can miss you and still laugh at how ridiculous things are or how silly I am. I carry you with me in everything I do and most of the time, I am happy, and I laugh, and I work, and I have fun. But sometimes, like tonight, I sit in bed and my heart hurts from missing you, and the selfish parts of me see only the empty spaces that I long for you to fill again. And, I am ok with acknowledging that too.

I am going to get some sleep now. Thanks for listening and for being my friend. Thank you for sharing your family with me. You gave me more than you'll ever know.

Love & hugs,