I was living in Fort Collins, CO. in a 4-bedroom apartment with 3 other girls when I got THAT CALL from home with tragic news. 

I recall I had just finished my last class of the day at Colorado State University.  It was a beautiful spring afternoon with Colorado’s bluest skies.  I had all the windows open in the apartment and I was waiting on my boyfriend so we could plant tomatoes together.   

The phone rang and I picked it from my bedroom as I slowly watched my entire world shatter in front of me. “Esther, dad killed himself” were the words from my brother in Italian.  I was holding so tight to the tomatoe seeds that the bag crumbled into pieces and I could not utter a single word for days until I arrived to France for the funeral.

That was April 3rd when my dad committed suicide in my grandmother’s house in France and a couple of months later I walked alone at my graduation with an empty and hollow heart.  I endured life for a couple of years with no goals.  There was no aim.  I fell in a path of survival that involved drinking, holding on, getting the job done, and disconnecting with others including myself.  Five years later my adventures ended in a helicopter ride to University of Maryland shock trauma for 7 days. 

I had lost things in life but never had I lost myself.  Waking up in the ER with 38 staples across my stomach and tubes coming out from all body openings was a breaking point.  I stood in nothing and yet I was alive. 

I began my journey of letting go and forgiving.   I started living from a space of love instead of anger.  I started losing the fear and pursing what sets my soul on fire by seizing every dam day by the bull's horns, balls, tail, what ever I could grab.  I took responsibility for my stories and started giving zero fucks in order to start living the life I love. 

My failures drive me and my desire for life gives me the strength to never give up again.

I never planted a fucking tomato in my life.  Those seeds are in the past.  But don’t you worry, like a good Italian woman, my kitchen always has plenty of tomatoes that I buy from Whole Foods.  

Instead of planting tomatoes, I have learned to grow goals in my life and to see them succeed.


Esther Collinetti