Possible Womxn 13/12 Cassie – Widow, Mom To 3
I bet you were all surprised when I announced that the last babe was not me, but in fact, was Cassie. I couldn’t think of a stronger, more resilient, brave, powerful, and magical womxn to end this project on other than Cassie. When I heard her story, I felt like the earth shook. I couldn’t image being in the actual presence of someone who had been through so much. So much heartbreak, so much pain, so much trauma. When I heard her story, I knew she needed to be a part of this project. We came into each other’s lives just months before I was scheduled to wrap up the Impossible Boudoir Project. After hearing her story, I knew she needed to end this project. I knew her story, her trauma, would resonate with many other womxn out there who have gone through some of the same things Cassie has. I knew her magic and her power would shine a light and hope to others out there. To show people, to show womxn, that a beautiful life can be possible after tragedy. Beautiful things, beautiful moments and beautiful people will still come into your life and change it for the better. Cassie has an army of supporters and love and she deserves nothing less; her kids deserve nothing less. I cannot think of anything better to say about this womxn other than she is one magical warrior.
Her story involves death, suicide and a traumatic pregnancy. I just want to forewarn anyone who continues to read that there are some triggering parts in this blog that might be too much for people to read, or relive in their own personal case. Continue at your own caution and your own pace. This is why it has taken me over 2 months to write this blog. I needed to be in the right headspace to tell Cassie’s story and do it justice and also write in a way that was honoring her and the people she has lost.
We’re about to go on one emotional journey, but it’s a story worth reading. This is Cassie’s life, her reality, her pain and also her joy. Proceed with caution if you need to and also remember to hold tight to the ones you love.
I would also like to dedicate this blog to Cassie’s husband, Sol. He was a great husband and a great father from all the things I have heard from Cassie. I want to respect Sol and his legacy as a husband, a human and a father as I write about part of his life even though he is not here. Sol, thank you for leaving your family with such a wonderful home and fond memories and thank you for allowing me to share part of your story and your wife’s story here today. I respect and honor you, even though I never got the chance to meet you. Thank you for allowing me to do this.
“I feel more empowered and sexier than I did on my wedding day.” – Cassie
My first question to all the ladies post session, how do you feel? Cassie gave me one of the most thoughtful responses ever. She has quite a large following on IG, because she’s magic and plants are magic, and she wanted to make sure that before doing this session, before she was a part of this project, that she was choosing that right type of imagery that she wanted to present to the world. She, like many of us out there who do boudoir sessions and post these photos, is sometimes worried about just feeding into the male gaze. During her session Cassie never once thought that she was contributing to that whatsoever. She never stopped and thought, “Is this too sexy and will someone be looking at me not in an empowering way? Or am I just helping to perpetuate and feed into this narrative?” The thought never crossed her mind. (YAY- this is what it’s all about, being you and feeling free to be your sexy self. For those of you wondering, yes, womxn think of this stuff all the time, not even when we post sexy photos of ourselves. It’s what we wear out in public, how we present ourselves, everything.)
“I want to be able to stand behind what I choose to do.” – Cassie
“I feel like I just gave my daughter this huge example of, I’m thirty-eight, I’m a Mom, it’s ten in the morning on a Tuesday, I’m going to rock hardly anything because I have a body and it’s gonna die, so let’s just use it.” -Cassie
Growing up Cassie was taught that her body was her own. In a somewhat religious household, like many of us out there, her family never put any real emphasis on her body. They never said anything bad about her body, but they also never said anything positive either. Today Cassie not only tells her own daughter that she is beautiful, but also that she is a friggin awesome person, which she is. Met her, she’s a damn gem, just like her Mom.
“Who you are is an amazing person and you also look so cute today.” – Cassie
Cassie remembers her parents, especially her Mom as always being on a diet. She herself has dieted in the past too because that’s what she was taught for the longest time and shown from her parents as the right thing to do. Never mind your genetics and just the simple fact that some people are just shaped and built differently. The same two people can go on the same diet and get completely different results. I think a lot of people in the past lost sight of that fact that being the size 2-6 is the only way to look and be considered or deemed as healthy. Someone who is 4’11 and someone who is 6’5 are going to look a lot different in their bodies because we are all built in our own unique way.
“I grew up in a body shaming culture. I was born in the 80’s and the 90’s were all heroin sheek and all about being wafer thin.” -Cassie
“He was fed a lot of toxicity growing up in the 80’s and 90’s and being taught how a womxn’s body should look and be used for.”-Cassie (Cassie talking about her husband Sol)
Cassie thinks back on how the relationship with her body was with her husband, Sol. She said there were times where he made her feel like the most beautiful womxn in the world and times where he made her feel inadequate and not good enough. To his own credit, Cassie says, she also felt the same way about her own body. Being a womxn, outside of the average beauty standard Cassie has already felt not good enough.
“Now that Sol isn’t here, I’ve had a lot of womxn, womxn ‘xn’, show up for me more than I ever had when I had a husband.” – Cassie
The womxn that have showed up for Cassie since the death of her husband Sol, have completely empowered and changed Cassie. One of the first womxn Cassie has met on IG who helped changed her perspective on herself and her body told this to Cassie that has stuck with her. “Sexy is a state of mind.” Hearing this after Cassie had just lost her husband, just had a baby and just turned thirty-five, was at first, a little weird, but then understood the power in that phrase. You’re hot, if you don’t believe it, no one will. Sexy is a state of MIND! Today this is what gets Cassie through her days. She says to herself, ‘Sexy is a state of mind’ at least once a day. Cassie had been with her husband from the age of 18-34 and relates her dating life to being a 36 year old womxn trying to date for the first time. This phrase is also what has given her the confidence with men and putting herself out there again after the loss of her husband.
“I’m fucking hot in my sweatpants and you’re lucky to be able to see me today at the Grocery Outlet.” -Cassie
Cassie met her husband Sol in college and they got married when they were in college. He was all she has known for her entire adult life. Cassie tells me that when she met, she knew Sol was different. Looking back on it now and their first moments together as a couple and as husband and wife before the house and before the kids, Cassie knew that Sol had suffered from PTSD. Cassie explains that there was a multitude of things that contributed to Sol’s PTSD. One main one being a traumatic brain injury when he was younger resulting in cerebral palsy. He had this his entire life and his personal experiences with having cerebral palsy had also greatly contributed to his own trauma. Cassie goes on to say that when she was young and naive and fist married to Sol, she just assumed that these things he was going through, could be mended and repaired by seeing things a little differently. Looking back on it now, she knew she was young and still learning so much about life and others and knew that how she thought then was very naive and myopic. (We are ALL, CONSTANTLY, learning)
“The things that I didn’t understand about his inherent struggles, he also didn’t understand about my inherent struggles.” -Cassie
“It was a lot of mis-firing about not feeling fully seen. I couldn’t fully see him and he couldn’t fully see me and I think that that is probably how I can best describe how I think a lot of people operate in this world. It’s a lack of empathy.” -Cassie
We can’t just look at someone who is homeless and say, well go get a job and find a place to live. It’s not that simple. Cassie thought that if Sol was to be able to come to terms with his disability and accept it, it would be a way for him to overcome some of his PTSD. Which, those of us who have experienced PTSD, along with Cassie, know that you never fully can overcome it. You can make life a little easier, but that pain, that trauma, still lives and breathes inside your entire body, every day until the day that you die. I want to say that until I myself had experienced my own form of PTSD after losing my best friend to cancer, I had no idea what it was like to hold onto trauma like that and I fault no one out there for not knowing what thats like until something tragic happens to you. I was in Cassie’s same shoes at that age, 18-19, thinking that we can all just move past things if we tried hard enough. If we tried hard enough, maybe we can rewrite the pain we have gone through, maybe we can get to a place where that pain no longer exists. To a certain extent I still think of that to be somewhat true. We can move past things little by little if we try our damn best everyday just to feel a little better. But erasing trauma, pain, the past and PTSD completely and fully, that will never happen. Our bodies hold onto that pain forever. For those who understand can empathize with that fact that it will never go away. It will always be there, but things can start to feel like normal again and living with the trauma can and will get easier and easier.
“We loved each other, we found each other, we got married, had kids, bought this house.” – Cassie
Cassie and Sol moved into, as they would call, the worst house on the block. All of their neighbors thought and suggested that they just tear it down and start from scratch. The whole entire house was old and falling apart and many thought a complete redo would have been the way to go. It took Sol six and a half years to get the house looking from what it was to what it is now, which is complete magic. (it’s one of the most warm and inviting homes I have ever stepped foot into) It went from the house that everyone thought should be teared down, to the cutest house in the neighborhood. This was Sols legacy. He put so much love into this home and left Cassie and their kids with a huge piece of him.
“Gosh, If I’m fucking up that bad, I want to be better.” – Cassie
Cassie thought for the longest time that she had something to do with Sol’s mental health. Looking back on things today, she has always known that he has struggled to some degree with mental health. Mental health looks very different for a lot of people, but those who struggle with extreme depression, really struggle. They could be around all the people they love so much in this world, their kids, their wife, family, and still feel like they are sinking in their own ship. We look at people in this world like Robin Williams, Kate Spade, Anthony Bourdain, Kurt Corbin and think, they had it all. They had what seemed like a wonderful life – some leading lives that people only dream about. Some had families, children and spouses that they loved and cherished and yet here they were, there they were. Mental health is something that is still not touched on as much as it needs to be. It’s one of the deadliest diseases out there and you can be living the one of a kind life with people who love you and sometimes that’s not enough and the only way to escape your pain is through death.
“Mental health isn’t given the attention that it needs.” – Cassie
“He must have been struggling so bad.” – Cassie
When Sol was towards the end of his life things were seemingly looking up for him and Cassie and their family. The house was almost fully remodeled, the two kids were both about to go into elementary school and Cassie thought there was some light at the end of the tunnel after having two young children, while remodeling their home, while also working from home herself being self-employed. Things were starting to look up, the rough patches were nearing their end. Sol was in therapy at this time while also seeing all other kinds of doctors that he could. Chiropractic, naturopathic, psychologist, everything. All their extra cash flow was going to Sol and his doctor visits and Cassie was willing to do whatever he needed to do to help with his mental health.
Cut to life just happening. Cassie was on an IUD and thought/warned to not have any more children. They had two somewhat older kids, finally going into elementary school, their house was almost completely remodeled and they thought they were moving into the next stage of life, which included not having any more children. Cassie says that during her pregnancy Sol was very up and down and barley acknowledged the pregnancy. He did however come up with the name for their third child, Bodhi.
Cassie felt like she had to carry the weight, literally and metaphorically, of this pregnancy all on her own. “He had too much on his plate around this time.” – Cassie She just wanted him to really focus on himself and to get himself better so he could be okay for later, once their third child was born.
This pregnancy was a WILD ride for Cassie. After having two pretty normal pregnancies, this one took the cake of bizarreness. She was told multiple times that this pregnancy wouldn’t come to fruition. They told her she was miscarrying, told that there was no heartbeat, told her that the genetic tests were all inconclusive and so on. Her doctor actually looked at her one day and said, “Science just isn’t applying to you.” Because while all of this was happening, there was still very much so, a little baby in there.
“My doctor said, “I’m not telling you to worry, I’m just saying that all these numbers are not matching up to what we’re seeing. We see a heartbeat, but we don’t have the hormone numbers that would indicate that to be the truth.” – Cassie
For months Cassie thought that there was nothing in there. They couldn’t really identify any normal heartbeat, or give her any conclusive evidence that she was with child. Again, all the tests and numbers were just not adding up. So Cassie thought to herself, well if this isn’t going to be happening, I’ll just go in and get the shot that will make sure that this won’t happen. She was scheduled to go in to get the Methotrexate shot which essentially would terminate her pregnancy. Not thinking at all that there would be any viable fetus in her womb from what all her doctors were telling her. Cassie goes in for her scheduled shot and right as the nurse was about to poke her arm with this shot, Cassie put her hand up to cover her arm and said, “Is there any way there is a baby in there?” “Let me go get the doctor” said the nurse.
The doctor then comes in and tells her this, “Science, which is the only data we have, would say that there is no chance of this being a viable pregnancy because your hormone levels are declining. For it to happen, for you to even have a remote chance, Cassie, I would need to see this increase by at least 60%, but an increase of double would be deemed a healthy pregnancy.”
Cassie’s hormones levels would have needed to increase at a dramatic rate every day in order for this pregnancy to happen. 4,000 to 8,0000 to 16,000 and so on. Her hormone levels were only going down. She asked her doctor one more, “So this is not a viable pregnancy?” Her doctor again told her, “According to science, no.” She hopped out of the chair and told them, ok and that she wanted to come back and get the shot that would abort the fetus when her husband was with her. They told her that it was fine and that the process of this pregnancy failing, would already start before she came back in.
Cassie and her husband go back in to get the shot. After a mandatory routine check-up before giving her the shot, they heard a heartbeat.
“Science, does not apply to you.” Said Cassie’s doctor.
After the doctor came in stunned that there was an actual living, beating heart, the nurse looked at Cassie and said, “Remember when you put your hand up to stop me from giving you the shot? Why did you do that?” Cassie then said that she just had this overwhelming feeling of panic and a feeling of, what if. She wasn’t supposed to get pregnant in the first place on an IUD, but she did. She also thought that if she was already going to be miscarrying, then maybe her body would just do it for her and there was no sense of getting the shot that day anyways.
A womxn’s intuition, a mother’s intuition is one of the strongest forces of nature.
So Cassie was pregnant, miraculously, she was pregnant. Her levels were continuing to rise every day, her body was growing, Bodhi was growing.
Then one day, when she was seven months pregnant, Sol went upstairs and told her that he was going to make a smoothie. While he did that, Cassie went out front to water the garden. Noticing that they had some moles, she went back in to tell him that they were having a mole problem in the front yard. She walks through the front door and notices that all his smoothie stuff was sitting on the counter, but he wasn’t there. She thought he must be out in the shop. A little garage/shed in the back of the house where Sol built their entire house in. She walks up to the shed and tried the door. It was locked. She thought it was weird, he never locked the door when he was in the shed. She knocked and said, “Hey, Sol.” and then immediately after, hears a loud bang.
“I knew he was gone.” – Cassie
She said she tried the door again after hearing the gunshot, she didn’t even know he had a gun. Looking back on it now, she thinks, maybe if she tried just a little harder that door would have opened, or maybe she didn’t want it to open which is why she only tired it again once.
“Everything was so still, so quiet.” – Cassie
Shaking- she called the police.
“I remember being out in the backyard and looking at the dryer vent and thinking to myself, his clothes are in there. His clothes are in the dryer. There is a dryer cycle going right now with his clothes in there and I know he’s gone” – Cassie
She got on the phone with the police and told the operator that she thinks her husband just killed himself. They ask her why she thinks that, she told them she heard a gunshot, she can’t get into the door, she’s 7 months pregnant and she’s scared. She hears the sirens coming as shes on the phone with some people, her father, Sol’s brother, her best friend. She just wanted to get out of that house, she didn’t want to be there, so her friend was on her way to come get her. She walks into the front door, she sees his shoes, she sees his half made smoothie on the counter and thinks, what is going on.
The police arrived as Cassie met them out in the back. They busted down the door and Cassie asks them, “Is he dead?” They told her that they were investigating and Cassie persisted and kept asking them if he was dead. She said, “I’m 7 months pregnant, tell me if he’s dead or I’m going to look myself.” – Cassie
She said it took three officers to hold her back as she tried to lunge for the door while screaming, “let me look!” An officer held out his hand towards Cassie’s, calming her and preventing her from walking through the door. With his hand up, he looked at her and said, “I’m sorry ma’am, but he has passed.”
“He’s passed ma’am.” She said to herself.
Fast forward a few days and Cassie’s is still 7 months pregnant. Her best friend Dylan flew in from Hawaii and came to be by her side for a couple of weeks. Cassie was so lost, she would say to him, she had no idea what to do. She didn’t even have a room ready for this baby, let alone a bed. She was completely lost and experiencing some of the worst pain and trauma she ever has had while at the tail end of her pregnancy. A miracle baby that she conceived with her husband who was gone forever.
“I don’t have a plan, we had our life together with one another, my husband worked with me, we raised out children together, our lives were completely integrated, it’s all I’ve known since I was 18.” – Cassie
From that day, Cassie was one hundred percent in grief mode. She was mourning the loss of her husband, her children’s father, her best friend. She instantly became a widow, a single mother to almost three. She wasn’t thinking about a baby, completely detaching and disassociating herself from this pregnancy. She had to go into the doctor once a week for a stress test so the doctors could see how the baby was doing during all of this. Checking on his heart beat, his overall health and growth. She said she was barley passing her stress tests and they told her that the baby wasn’t getting any smaller, but he also wasn’t getting any bigger. They told her it was restricted growth, like they had divorced each other. They told her if he can maintain his size and not get any smaller then there will be no need to take him out any earlier. But, if he could keep growing, of course that will be best for him in the long haul.
Every week that went by, Cassie went in for her stress tests. Bodhi remained the exact same size. He wasn’t getting any smaller, or any bigger, he just remained the same size.
“I was just maintaining a seventh month pregnancy.” – Cassie
When Cassie went in for her seventh stress test, at roughly eight and a half months pregnant, they told her again that there was no heartbeat. Cassie also couldn’t remember the last time she had felt him kick.
“I remember the nurse coming in and looking at my chart and saying, ‘do you have anyone that can come in today? Because you’re going to have a baby today.'” – Cassie
She texted her family and her brother-in-law was the first to make it in. They basically threw some scrubs at him as they were wheeling her down the hallway to the operating room. The doctors thought that Cassie was going to have to go under anesthesia because there was no heart beat and that they were going to have to go in via cesarean section. Once they got her down on the table, Bodhi’s heart started to beat. Cassie was able to have her son vaginally, he came out weighing 4 pounds and was perfectly healthy.
“This baby was a total mystery to us as he ended up perfectly fine.” – Cassie
Now… here’s where this story gets crazy and a little magical, a lot magical. Put a sweater on, because you’re going to get chills.
A year after Bodhi’s birth, Cassie wanted to get a tattoo in honor of him. In honor of this crazy wild pregnancy that was supposed to fail, and this little boy that she thought several times wouldn’t make it. She decided to get a tattoo of a Bodhi tree, even though when her husband Sol named him Bodhi, there was no real significance to the Bodhi tree. Sol didn’t know of this tree or what it represented. He actually loved the beer Bodhizafa, I mean who doesn’t? He just really loved the name Bodhi and so did Cassie.
“I needed to get this tattoo, It was just calling to me.” – Cassie
Cassie knew that the Bodhi tree represented something magical and special, but she had no idea of the origin of the story of the Bodhi tree. She did a little google researching for some images to show her tattoo artist and the first thing she found was The Story of the Bodhi Tree.
“To become a Bodhi, a kind of Buddha, somebody has to go sit underneath a Bodhi tree for 49 days. They have to deny themselves food, drink and love, anything that would give themselves some sort of life fulfillment. If they can go 49 days, they have reached true enlightenment. But a Bodhi, that kind of Buddha, already knows what enlightenment is and can walk away from those 49 days and go back to the suffering of his people to be a light for them.” – Cassie.
Bodhi, did not grow a single inch or single ounce in his mother’s body since the day that his father died. The day Sol died to the day Bodhi was born, was forty….. nine….. days.
“He was denied love. I didn’t love him in those 49 days. I couldn’t give him the food he needed because I wasn’t feeding myself. I wasn’t drinking enough water. He physically didn’t grow. I gave birth to a full term four-pound baby.” – Cassie
Now try and wrap your head around that. Every time I hear, or in this instance, type it, it makes me tear up. How incredibly moving and special is that?
Since the birth of Bodhi and since the incredible discovery almost a year later of The Story of the Bodhi Tree, Cassie has talked to many intuitive’s out there and many have told her this, “your son and your husband have a soul contract.” Meaning, two living human beings cannot co-exist on the same earthly plane. When she talked with her first intuitive, she asked Cassie if she had a really weird and rough pregnancy. Cassie told her yes and she responded back saying, “the reason why your pregnancy was so rough was because the baby needed to go if your husband was going to stay. But the day that your husband decided that he had to go, Bodhi’s physical body decided that it was finally time to stay.” This womxn knew nothing of Cassies life, her pregnancy or anything that transpired after Bodhi’s birth.
“I didn’t know that 49 was a number I would ever need to pay attention to. You can’t make up a death and a birth and you can’t make up a 4,000 year old story. Those numbers are what they are.”- Cassie
Cassie also tells me about the incredible bond and force that Sol and Bodhi have. Before Bodhi was even one year old and saying proper words at all, he saw this picture of Sol in the house, there were not many photos of him up, Cassie says. It’s too painful and the whole house itself is a picture and a representation of Sol. He pointed at the picture of Sol and looked at Cassie and said, “daaa.”
One time pretty recently, Cassie and her daughter were sitting out on their porch, well indoor porch (the area of the session with Cassie at the beginning and end of this blog) and were chatting before she went to school. The floor on the porch had this wear look, something that Sol intentionally created and redid himself and spent hours sanding back and forth, back and forth, getting it to how it looks now. This project happened around the time when their daughter was young and their second son was just a baby, close to 9-10 years ago. Cassie remembers thinking at the time, does this look cheesy or does this look cool? They thought it looked cool, I agree. While Cassie and her daughter were out on the porch, Bodhi, three years old now, comes walking out, gets their attention, kneels down and starts to pat and rub the floor and looks at them and says, “Dad did that, he had to rub it reallllly hard.” Cassie was shocked. Never has she spoke to him, or even out-loud about any remodeling that happened in their home close to a decade ago and even if she did, a three-year-old playing in another room may have not even registered or remembered any of that information. She looks and Bodhi and says, “Where’s Dad now?” Bodhi turns to her and says, “He’s downstairs with me.” Cassie then points to the floor below us during our interview and says, “Sol’s office is right below our feet.” – Cassie
“He knows, he just knows. He knows things that I have never told him before, nor ever would tell him how Sol made the flooring in this particular room. He’s this psychic magic baby that came to be with his suffering. I think that he and his Dad did have a soul contract and part of the contract was that they never got to meet in person.” – Cassie
After going through all these insane stories in Cassie’s life which has made her the incredibly strong and courageous womxn she is today, we brought it back to bodies.
I asked what part of her body she was most insecure about and without skipping a beat she says, her mom belly. I asked her then what part of her body she is most proud of and she goes, “you know what part of my body I am most proud of and this sounds like a cheesy answer, but I’m most proud of that I’ve got a body that works that I get to use. Flaws and all, I get to be proud of this thing that is still here.” – Cassie
“I’m most insecure about my mom belly, but I am still grateful for all of it. I am aware daily that our bodies go away, one day they’ll be gone. I miss a body. I believe in the supernatural and I believe that Sol is here with us right now hearing us talk, but I miss a body, I miss his body and I’ll never have it again, none of us will.” – Cassie
“If you don’t like it, don’t look at it, but I love it because it’s the only one I have.” – Cassie
My final question, which I know many who have kept up with this project always know what the final question is, if you could let the world know what it’s like to be in your body, what it’s like to live your story, what would you say?
“Death gave me a different view on what its like to be in my body. I told you about those moments after he way gone, the quiet and you just shake, your body is just shaking. You’re shaking and that’s your body shaking but it’s your feelings that are causing it. I can’t put into words the pain that comes from losing my husband the way that I did, the feelings that came from that, but I knew that if I were to survive then I had to figure out a way to feel better in my body. That shaking, that not breathing, that fear, that sadness is manifesting itself in my body and I need to let it go. I was pregnant and I finally had the baby and after that I went to yoga and the first thing she had us do was take three deep breaths and I took one and started sobbing and I realized that I hadn’t taken a deep breath in months. I have learned to remind myself that this is a body that’s going to go away, and if it hurts, be thankful to have a body that hurts and if it feels good, feel grateful to have a body that feels good. If you are getting older, remind yourself that there aren’t people who get to do that and that if you have the ability and capacity to stretch, stretch. That’s a feeling in your body. If you can sweat, sweat. If you can breathe, breathe because that’s a feeling in your body. Feel those feelings.” – Cassie