Shortly after getting the grand tour of the house, laughing and giggly from our arrival, I received a call from my sister. Our grandfather who'd been incredibly sick and frail had passed away an hour before I landed on Christmas Eve. I went from joyful to inconsolable in seconds. My mom and the rest of the family were dealing with it, she said. It was only a matter of time before he left us, we just hoped he'd have more time. I love A. and his family, but I felt so terrible about not being there with my mother as she grieved for her dad. Thankfully A. was right by my side comforting me and his family was supportive despite my fear of raining on their Christmas. I just needed some time and distractions to get through it, but every time I received an update from home, I'd start crying all over again. And still, I didn't not want to receive updates.
I wasn't really close to my grandfather. He was a busy man who spent most of his time in the Dominican Republic and with 11 children that all had at least two kids, I'm sure he had a hard time remembering who most of us were. Still, I cried for his children, for my mom especially, and for the simple fact that I've now lost all my grandparents and I'd never developed a special relationship with any of them.
I can't say enough sweet things about this family. They've embraced me from the moment we met and thanks to them, my Christmas was beyond wonderful. Tears were still involved on Christmas morning, but at least I was crying tears of joy that day. I was blown away by the gifts I received (like a much-needed hat and scarf, notebooks, sexy/skimpy bathing suits and even a Wacom pen tablet for my computer) and could barely sit still when it came time for them to open their presents. A. had given me his gift earlier in the month (a pretty pea coat) and I surprised him with a Lakers jersey on Christmas day.
Afterward we had a family breakfast, bonding time and watched basketball while A. and his sister built a playpen for their older sister's baby. That was so cute to watch, by the way. They cannot wait for their nephew to arrive and even though she's due in two weeks (on my bday), no one thinks she'll last that long. That night, the fam went out to the movies to catch True Grit (really good, by the way) and ended out the night with dinner and drinks at TGI Friday's.
For our last day in town, we headed to a ranch to ride A.'s older sister's horses. I loved when Anonymous and I went horseback riding in DR last year and I couldn't wait to try it again only this time without some 13-year-old guide riding with me. Even though I'm still feeling the effects of our hour-long ride, the experience of handling a horse on my own and marveling at the mountains in the distance on a beautiful sunny day were absolutely worth it.
The weather in NYC, on the other hand, was far from perfect. Our biggest worry throughout the trip was whether the northeast's impending snowfall would affect our flight back home on Monday morning. Yesterday.
I should tell you now that I'm still in L.A. as I write this.
Twenty inches of snow fell in the city, 6,000 flights around the country were canceled, 2,000 in the NYC area alone...ours included. Luckily we were alerted Sunday night so were able to figure out a Plan B. Unfortunately, Plan B doesn't have us getting home til Thursday, but what can we do? Well I mean other than spend more time with the family, enjoy the beautiful weather and thank our lucky stars we don't have to deal with snow and slush for a few more days. "Why can't we be stuck in like the Bahamas?" A. asked before we fell asleep on Sunday night. You know what? Compared to NYC, this right here is pretty damn close to paradise. And who knows, maybe we'll welcome a baby before we leave.
Images: photos of horseback riding courtesy of Michael-Ann Gonsalves