This is a very personal post for me, and I am taking a massive leap of faith by being this vulnerable, but I feel that I am finally ready to share some of my stories. Last November, my daughter’s father passed away tragically in the first real snowstorm the Denver area experienced. No one truly knows what happened that day, except that he was drinking – heavily. As much as I would like to wax poetically about his last days on this earth, I cannot. I’m still too broken.
Manuel and I had a unique relationship. On our first “date” I was determined to put him in the friend zone, but dammit, he was too charming, and before I knew what happened I was head over heels in love. We dated for about nine months before getting engaged on Valentine’s Day of 2004, and we were married 7 months later in September 2005, followed by a bouncing baby girl the following spring. We moved fast!
Though we ultimately ended our marriage 5 years later, we vowed to co-parent our daughter Sloane to the best of our abilities. Over time Manuel became my best friend again, and we shared all the nitty-gritty details of our lives together as co-parents. As strange as it may sound, he even sent me photos of the engagement ring he used to propose to his girlfriend wanting my approval. That’s just the kind of relationship we had.
I always wanted the best for him, because I knew that as long as he was happy and thriving, our daughter would too. Unfortunately, the rug was pulled out from underneath myself, Manuel and Sloane by members of his family, and sadly he was never able to recover from the damage that betrayal caused. His drinking spiraled out of control and everything fell apart.
I didn’t know how bad things had gotten for him until the very end. During our last conversation, he was very intoxicated and wasn’t making any sense, so we fought, and it was awful. Shortly afterwards I cooled off and sent him an email with information about different detox and sobriety programs, but from what I am told he never opened the message. That was October 22nd and the last time we ever spoke. On November 17th, Manuel got lost in the storm and died of hypothermia.
There is nothing I can ever do to take back the last horrible things we said to one another. It doesn’t matter that I thought it would blow over soon and that we’d be cracking jokes again. The list of things I wish I’d known and the things I wish I had done differently is a mile long.
One thing I do know is that no matter how terrible the last argument with Manuel was, I never stopped loving him. I championed his successes and I supported him during his failings. I’ve never understood the thought behind not supporting someone after you’ve split. How can anyone turn their back on someone they once loved? I wanted so badly for him to recover and to be the best Daddy for our girl because its what’s best for everyone. Happy parents translate to happy kids.
It has been almost a year and since that day, and my art has become an incredible outlet for my grief, and I am so very thankful that I have a way to work through the ebb and flow of heartache. The following images are a part of a growing series that is featured in Gothesque Jr. Magazine. This is a delicate subject for me and I knew that to share it for the first time, the circumstance needed to be one where I could freely express myself through my images and through my own voice. Please have a look if you’d like to dive a little deeper with me as I travel this journey, and be sure to check out the rest of the magazine and all the other beautiful images in its pages.