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Every Silver Lining Has Its Cloud- Losing Love, Surviving Loss w/the Weight of Grief & Heartbreak

Updated: May 2, 2021

All of my "firsts" happened in a 2-year period of life and like a whirlwind, it was all gone, but I was still there. First Boyfriend. First Date. First Dance. First Love. First Pregnancy. First Miscarriage. First Engagement. First Breakup, First Make-up, First tragic loss caused by the sudden death of a loved one. First Bottom. First arrest. #Love #Loss #Grief #Recovery #Reflection

How many decades does it take to understand why the ones we love are taken from us? Time allows pains to ease as memory fades. #RIP

Looking back 30 years and grappling with how I have handled a sudden loss to tragedy. His name was Robert Eugene Arredondo, but everyone called him "Pete"

It was 1991, I was 21 and had never been in a serious relationship. I wanted a boyfriend. After high school, I began to lose weight, and by the time I met Pete I was down about 100 lbs, looking great, and was clueless about most everything. Choosing to completely stop doing drugs, and I was no longer smoking cigarettes. We drank only in social situations, which was going to country and western dance halls. He was a cowboy, a real cowboy to me because he owned horses and cows and he was active in team roping. Lots of dirt, cow poop, outdoors, two-stepping, boots, belt, and buckles trucks and trailers. That qualifies as a cowboy in Texas.

He worked in the same mattress factory where I worked the summer after high school. He and I met on a bet when his cousin bet that I wouldn't go on a date with him and I was always up for a dare and took the bet, plus I had seen him around the factory and he was well-liked by everyone. On our first date took me to see Clint Black at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo and it was the last time I have there since. From then on we spent our time together going to lunch every day to alternating which house we hung out at as we lived 30 minutes apart and the late drive home each night was long and tiring.

He was a team roper and loved to compete so we went from rodeo to rodeo and dance to dance. I was treated so kindly by him and we were in love. Around all new people, none of which even knew what drugs looked like. I was different. I never dressed like the other girls who wore their boots and jeans, I was always a fat girl and those jeans don't really do that well on big girls. This was before the stretch fabric was even a thing. My family loved him and we spent a lot of time with my parents just hanging with them at my family home playing games around the dining room table or putting together giant puzzles, family trips to theme parks. I had changed my life and was loving it, it seemed as if everything in life was going to work out. We were able to laugh and love and spend all our time together without any problems. It didn't take long before we knew we were meant for each other. He asked me to marry him and we were happily engaged. I had become a social person with lots of new friends. I could hardly remember all of the hard days of being a troubled teen. After we had been together for a year we found out that I was pregnant and we were petrified. We both did not know what to do or say to our parents as I was pretty sure this would be a great disappointment because we weren't married. I am not sure why because I was already planning our wedding and this should have just sped things up but, I think mostly Pete was worried about his parents and their deep Catholic faith. We definitely handled it all wrong. Kept the news to ourselves afraid of what our parents would think about it. I did go to the doctor and kept my monthly appointments. I was excited about it but for whatever reason around others, we were in denial not telling a soul. About 3 months into the pregnancy our coworkers began to notice the weight gain and the buzz was out. People were talking.. We still did not confirm this with anyone but ourselves. So immature. On my 4th month checkup with my doctor, I went in and went through the normal exam but something was different. The nurses were quiet and went in and out. I was sent to receive a sonogram and remember how the man doing it would not speak to me, having the screen turned away from me. I knew something was wrong. I had Pete waiting out in the truck for me that day as being seen together in the gyno office would alert inquiring minds in our very small town and even smaller clinic. My next stop was the doctors' private office where he notified me our baby was dead, no heartbeat, sorry. I think I crumbled into a million pieces at that moment, all alone in the office. Now what? I gathered my things and went to the truck where Pete was waiting for the news and we wept.

The procedure was going to be an E&C. Whatever that means, I know the first word stood for evacuation. But the catch was it was a holiday weekend Presidents Day which happens to fall right around Valentine's Day. I was told I would carry my dead fetus around inside of me for about 5 more days before the procedure could be done. I was a bridesmaid in a wedding that weekend! I was a wreck. We still did not tell my parents or his about what was happening. We were both in shock and mostly didn't talk about it. I was a robot the entire weekend going through the motions of celebration at a wedding, but inside I felt dense and cold. I remember very little about the wedding I was at that weekend. Going to the hospital and checking in by myself I can't even remember either, I was in a daze and had told Pete to go to work that I would be okay. We were so naive and had no idea how things worked.

The next thing I remember the procedure was finished and our baby was gone. Lying in a room by myself waiting to be released for home I had not planned for a ride home nor did I plan there would be a recovery period.

No more baby and it all hit me. All the emotions came rushing in on me and I was an alone 21-year-old young lady that didn't have a clue about anything. The loneliness was overwhelming and I was sadder at that moment than ever in my life. Why was I alone? I picked up the phone and called my mother who was at work and when she answered I just sat there crying. I couldn't talk, I think I was able to get the word "hospital" out and she flew into a panic. Thinking I was in a wreck. No Mom, not a wreck. I was a wreck but not in one. Of course, she came straight over to the hospital and comforted me, packed me up, and drove me home. That was it, it was done. I recovered at home and now everyone knew. I had to tell my boss and soon everyone knew at the factory, I don't know if I ever went back. I was relieved of the unnecessary weight of shame that had been lifted and I suppressed the pain of losing my child and we carried on with our plans. Pete never told his family. Looking back at that loss and how it changed me, how it hurt me yet had no idea how to handle life situations that were overwhelming. I am a "ghost" so I did what I always had done, I started partying. We picked up the pace on our drinking and I distinctly remember that is when the fighting started. I would break away from the cowboy scene and go out all night in dance clubs without letting him know my whereabouts. (No cell phones) We were not in a good place and we didn't know one thing about life at the time so we blew it. I had lost our baby and didn't know how to recover from that. Anger was what it came out as. Lashing out in drunken fits at the nicest guy I had known. Something had to change and it was me, so what did I do? I signed up for beauty school. My parents paid in full and I was on my way to a real career. I took a part-time job in a grocery store deli. I postponed the wedding, stating I needed more time to plan the perfect day.

Within a short while of being away from the factory, where we both worked, I found that I was obviously attractive to other men. This was new to me. I had lost and kept off a large amount of weight but that didn't mean my brain knew it. I, of course, didn't know how to handle all this attention that was being paid to me by other men. Well in the true fashion of a girl with low to no self-esteem and writhing in pain I acted out. I was cheating on my fiance. Not a relationship, just cheating. I knew at times he must have known, things changed dramatically between us and I was the main source of all the destruction again. I was tearing my life apart. I couldn't see it for sure. I was having fun and thought I was missing out on loads of fun to be had. I started partying without him going to nightclubs and getting wasted. The end was nearing... I did break it off with him. I needed time to figure things out I think that was my reason. So off I went into this world I had never been. I was young and beautiful and careless with myself, at best. I stopped showing up to school for more than a few hours at a time. I again was partying all night and sleeping all day. Back on drugs in no time flat. Pete and I would still talk but I called all the shots and would hold nothing back. I hurt him so badly. I remember his eyes. I remember the pain in them. All he wanted was his girl back but little did he know I was too far gone to ever come back. I held on to him for my own selfish reasons. I needed to feel that love he had for me and would continue to reach out during the breakup. I was so broken.

There was one night I had a party at my parents' house while they were away for the weekend and it was a wild night, during the party I got a phone call and it was Pete. He wanted to talk to me about something and I didn't have time for him and cut him off being pretty short and sarcastic. We were partying and he was being a downer so I quickly ended the call and went about my life. Not thinking about him or the call again. That would be the last time we ever spoke and I regret how I treated that moment still today. The question of "what if?" stays a long long time. About three days later I was at my best friend's house and I went to take a shower around 5:30 p.m. to get ready for the night. I wore and never took off, this one necklace was a simple leather strap with wire wrapped around a crystal. Loved it. Kinda believed in its energy and good vibes which is all I wanted. While I was in the shower the crystal fell from the thin wire it was wrapped in and cracked in half on the floor of the old cast iron tub. I was instantly alerted and showed it to my friend, and remember her saying that it means someone died. We just kinda looked at each other and kept getting ready for our night out never thinking about it again...

The next morning very early I was handed a telephone while I slept and it was one of my very close friends telling me that Pete had been in a car wreck yesterday evening and he didn't make it. What? Pete is dead! Pete died...Pete was dead???? Couldn't be, I wasn't understanding what I was hearing. I didn't know what he wanted to talk about. What did I do? All was a blur after that. I remember the funeral. I remember the black dress I wore. I remember how my once vibrant fiance was lying there cold and his color was gone. No life, no smile, nothing. He was cold and I hated that so much as he was the warmest person I knew and at that moment I confess I knew nothing about anything or what was supposed to be.

I remember more than anything the sound of his mother's voice crying out loud "Ayyy Meho!" in pain over and over again in the church. I remember the overall sadness that covered that church like a wet cloth. I put a picture of us together in his coffin. I can still see that picture in my head today both of us were so happy and oblivious of life's plan. We both had life and love in our eyes in that pictu