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We want to take this moment to say to the people of Las Vegas and anyone who lost a loved one the night of Oct. 1., that we’re with you and we’re hurting with you. We invite anyone who was there that night to be a guest author on our blog and share their story.

Writing is not only therapeutic for the author, but to all who read his/her written works. We have love for you today and always. For information on how to share your story, just leave a comment (to the left of this post) and we we’ll reach out to you. #PrayforVegas Continue reading “Share your Story”

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In honor of the recent tragedy in Orlando, Fl.

Words cannot express our heartache. To all those who lost loved ones this past weekend, please stay strong and know that we love you.

[Follow @PaperBag.Poetry]

That Night in Brentwood

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Sunday marked 22 years since the deaths of Ronald Goldman and Nicole Brown Simpson on June 12, 1994. Below is a poem written in memory of the tragic night in Los Angeles, Ca.

Rest in peace Ron Goldman and Nicole Brown. 

[For more of our poetry visit and follow @PaperBag.Poetry]

When Death Waited for Me

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There’s never a good time to talk about death. Most of us have experienced death at some point in our lives, some more than others. Whether we’re expecting it or not, it hits all of us and doesn’t give us a choice. It’s hard, it sucks and it puts everyone’s world on hold. Death is probably the biggest fear that no one can control. And we hate it.

So what happens when death waits for us? And I’m not talking about waiting to die, I’m talking about when death waits for us to say goodbye.

We recently traveled to Brawley, California, to visit my great grandpa who was 105, about 25 miles north of Mexicali. It’s crazy to think about how much you can actually do in 105 years. His birthday was on New Year’s Eve and something deep down inside told me I had to see him. I hadn’t seen him in 7 years. He was my mom’s grandpa. She adored him. I adore him. I had been thinking about him for a very long time and I knew, since he was 105, he didn’t have a lot of time left. Even when he was 99 I remember thinking wow! What a life.

Miraculously (and I mean that in all seriousness), my publisher gave me 11 days off in a row. (Keep in mind 11 days off is unheard of in the world of publishing) So I figured this would be my chance to see him, since it’s a four-hour drive. At the time I was short on funds, so I thought about possibly postponing it until my next vacation, but like I said, something told me he didn’t have much time. So I went. And my, was it a sweet time. I got so much out of it.

Three months later, he died.

A lot of times death sneaks up on us, and then there are those times where we expect it, but either way it’s still devastating. Death never really waits for us because no one will ever be ready, but when death does wait until we say our last goodbyes, it’s worth taking note of.

My mom was very sick for a very long time. The Doctors thought they could help her; she was even back to her old self during her last few months. I used to look at her death and think, “I thought I had her back, and then she was taken away from me.” I was angry. I felt cheated. But it was cancer. She was in a lot of pain and although we had high hopes, cancer is fierce and it spread very quickly in an extremely difficult place. As I get older I start to think that perhaps I was not cheated, perhaps those last two months were my chance to say goodbye.

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[Dianne Lynn Ornelas ‘mama’]

Some of you may be thinking, “well, my loved one is already gone, how is this going to help me now? I miss them and I didn’t get my chance to say goodbye.” Don’t hold on to that grief; just consider it as a learning experience. It’s life and remember they will always love you.

Do you feel in your gut that you need to see somebody soon? Has someone been on your heart lately? Well, follow your gut instinct and pay them a visit. Pick up the phone and call them. So there’s tension? Bad blood? I think it’s time you get over that. It’s much better than living with a lifetime of regret.

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[Great Grandpa Sanchez on his 105th birthday.]

10 Things You Learn When You Lose a Parent Young

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To lose a parent is like losing half of you. Fortunately for most, this grieving process doesn’t happen until they’re much older and have had a chance to truly understand and get to know the two people who brought them into this crazy place we call earth. There is however that small percentage of people who were not so fortunate. The people who lose a parent at a young age. Maybe you’re one of this small percentage. Here are ten things you learn when you or someone close to you has lost a parent at a young age.

1. All eyes on you. People are constantly referring you to counselors and different kinds of group therapy sessions. You’re almost expected to fall into depression, or lead an unhealthy lifestyle. This can be a blessing as it is a curse, because although it’s wonderful to have support from your loved ones, sometimes you just want to be treated like a normal person.

2. Siblings instantly become closer. If you have brothers and sisters, your bond gets stronger after you lose a parent. They know your suffering. They feel your pain. And although you’re still young enough to hate each other, you can’t help but lean on each other. And as you grow older, you get stronger together. It’s a fascinating battle to fight. My sister and I like to talk about our mom a lot. Our brother doesn’t talk about it so much, but he keeps a picture of her outside his bedroom. I know he misses her.

3. Best friends at the time stay best friends forever. There’s no doubt that being a teenager and losing a parent is the biggest challenge a young adult can face. But if you add being an only child, that can be much harder. You’re pretty much forced to rely on friendships. But those friendships are oh so sweet. Whether it’s two friends or 200. When my mom passed away I held on to my two best friends as tight as I possibly could. That was 8 years ago. I still try to get together with them when we can. One travels the country on her Harley, the other thrives off of helping people live a healthy lifestyle. I’m not sure if they understand how much they helped me. And I don’t know if they ever will, but they love me very much. And I love them.

4. You don’t fully understand yourself and sometimes you don’t know why you do the things you do. The problem with losing a parent at a young age is that you’re still growing up. You’re still learning about yourself. Watching your parents sometimes gives you some insight about who you are and where you come from. Even though some may say they are definitely not like their parents, how would one truly know that if they lose a parent at a young age? I struggle with the fact that I won’t be able to use my mom as an example for everyday struggles that will come. Have you ever heard the phrase, If you want to know what a girl is going to be like when she gets older, just look at her mother? Well, I don’t think that one will apply to my sister and I.

5. Your relationship with your Grandparents can get stronger. We all love our Grandparents. They are beyond special. But there’s something about knowing that you’ve still got a set of parents or even just one additional parent there to lean on when you’re a young adult who has lost a parent. You still have that example in your life. When my brother danced with my grandma at his wedding, it was an emotional feeling many of us shared, I’m sure.

6. Bring on the awkwardness. Although this seems petty, there’s a sort of awkwardness that can come with sharing about your past. We tend to try to avoid talking about it for fear of being a “downer” or making things awkward–especially when it comes to dating. And many teens and young adults who lost their parents young are barely starting to scratch the surface of dating. When you’re getting to know someone, you eventually want to know about where they came from. Who they came from. When you’re someone who’s lost a parent and it’s time to share this unavoidable detail, this can be a difficult and sometimes awkward situation as you’ve come to learn that not a lot of people your age understand what you’re going through. And they know that. If it’s not handled with care, it can really bring down a conversation. So what can you say to someone who has lost their parent? Nothing. Just be there for them and listen. Maybe say something like, “I’m always here for you,” or “You must have learned a lot through this,” because the truth is, we have. And the truth is, this topic is simply unavoidable.

7. When someone relates you to your late parent, it feels a little more special. When someone from your family sees you doing something like your late parent, it’s not uncommon to shed some tears together. Kids are like their parents. Thats a no brainer. But when one parent is no longer with you, it’s a bitter sweet moment when you see that that person is living on through their children. It brings so much joy, yet so much grief. It’s almost like for a split second, they’re with you again. When someone tells me I look like my mom or act like her, it makes me happy. My grandma told me that I talk like her. That was pretty cool too. My sister is growing up to be quite a beauty. She’s looking more and more like my mom. It’s hard sometimes. I can’t imagine how my dad feels.

8. The unanswered question. “What would they do if they were here to see this?” That’s probably what I ask myself everyday. Through the drama, the trials, the triumphs, the tragedies. What would they, could they think? Some things have happened in my life where I think my mom would just gasp and have no words. Other times, I don’t even want to imagine what she would do to me if she were here. You have to remember, we’re still growing. Which means we’re still screwing up. That’s the easy part though. The hard part is when you succeed. You want to be happy. You want to feel good inside. And for the most part you do. But you can’t help but have that burning question that you’ll never really find the answer to. “What if they were here to experience this with me?” The answer is, they are. Unfortunately for most, that answer is just not good enough.

9. You are different. It doesn’t get anymore clearer than that. You. Are. Different. And that’s okay. You’re probably the only person out of your friends, your class, on your team, at work, who has lost a parent so young. You’re going to grow up differently. People will look at you and think you’re different and they won’t really be able to explain why. You’re going to have a different perspective on life. Most importantly, materialistic things won’t be the forefront. You will work hard, that’s for sure, but you’ll value relationships and living in the moment a little more, because you understand loss. And that can be a huge blessing. When you lose a parent so young, you’re forced to grow up and unfortunately, the world doesn’t stop for you. No matter how old you are.

10. We are defined by our strength. There’s no rule book on how to grieve, especially when you’re a kid who has lost a parent. Most people just pray you don’t spiral down a path of destruction. But the truth is, no child deserves to lose a parent so young and to carry on with strength and love is a challenge that most of us can say will last forever. But our strength from that tragedy ultimately makes us who we are, for because we have had to deal with this kind of pain at such a young age, we now know how strong we actually are. This prepares us for life’s next battle, which is ultimately inevitable.