The First Thing I Do Every Day Is Open My Eyes And Think Of My Daughter


David Carraturo still copes with a tragic loss, but he’s finally able to be happy.

Each of my three daughters has a room in the house I share with my wife. One of those rooms has been empty since January 2018.

It’s been more than five years since my middle daughter, Julianna, passed away at the age of 18. The pain has dulled a bit, but walking by her room still hurts. and the loss stops me in my tracks. 

Even now, I have times when I just stop and start crying.

Getting to this point, the point where I can even function in daily life, took a long time. It also took some figuring things out.

The Existing Phase

I rushed back into life way too fast after the loss. I was back at work by the first week of February. I couldn’t stay home and stew and live in my sorrow there. 

I lived it at work instead: I went to work to sit in front of my computer and cry.

At the time, I worked for a brokerage firm in New York City. Every morning, I retraced the steps I took the day my daughter passed away. The same place where I waited for the train to work. The spot where I stood when I got the call. The location where the police met me. 

There was also the noise. 

My office was on a low floor, and I realized that my sensitivity to noise had become highly enhanced. We would have trucks and horns blaring by, and I couldn’t take that monotony going through my head. 

I was a zombie with no direction. 

After a few months, I realized I needed a change. I needed to flush that whole existence out of my life, and a career change away from the city was what I needed. 

So, I parted ways with my firm at the end of June and became a financial advisor for an insurance company outside the city. 

While changing careers didn’t blunt the pain, it helped me to stop sliding backward. My new job gave me a lot of flexibility with my time. I now drove to work so I wouldn’t have to revisit the train station, and the traumatic memories associated with it. And I mostly worked solo, occasionally meeting with people one-on-one. It was a completely different change of pace. 

Still, I refer to this period as the “existing phase.” Every day was like treading water. There were spontaneous bursts of crying, not allowing myself to feel happy, and repeatedly asking, “Why?”

I hated meeting new people, as conversations would revert to family. That was and still is extremely hard to cope with—explaining that I have three daughters, but….

Being around friends, neighbors, and co-workers was tough, too. While everyone was supportive and sympathetic, their pity reminded me of my loss. Their looks said, “I feel sorry for you.” This brought the horrible event back into my mind and made it difficult to move forward with life. 

I remember sitting on the edge of my bed thinking, “How much longer do I have to live like this?” I was in so much pain. I was suffering that deeply, and I didn’t see a way out. At that moment, I couldn’t imagine feeling anything but despair.

It wasn’t until the stay-home order in 2020 that life began an upswing.

The Turnaround

For over 30 years, I had woken up early, traveled to work, and stayed away for hours. I didn’t know what it was like to be with my kids during the day, every day. The pandemic changed all that practically overnight. Suddenly, I was home with my family all the time.

Many people felt trapped at home during the pandemic. For me, it was a turning point in my recovery. It allowed me to slow down and spend more quality time with my wife and daughters—something I couldn’t do working in an office full-time.

When I transitioned to working from home and interacting more with my daughters, it gave me a huge boost to live. I realized there were special people in my life to live for.

Exercise also helped, especially in the early days. Idle time at home was not good, so my oldest daughter and I resumed exercising in our gym after a few weeks. Thoughts and emotions were fragile and unruly; they bounced all over the place. But the physicality of movement was something I could actually wrap my hands around. Physical health is more tangible and can be controlled, which is vital for powering forward daily.

The time spent exercising was also very therapeutic. It’s a half hour or an hour where you stop thinking about what’s bothering you because you’re counting reps, moving around, sweating, and worrying about your next set. It’s like taking a commercial break from the chaos of life.

Still, the loss of my daughter changed how exercise looked to me.

I used to run marathons. I could always get into that zone and take off, but I can’t do that anymore. My attention span is so short now that I can only do things at specific intervals.

I can’t jog on the treadmill anymore, either. There was a time when I didn’t mind running on the treadmill for an hour or 45 minutes, but I couldn’t think about doing that now. I try to log 10,000 steps a day, though I prefer to do it outside in the company of my dogs.

Then, in 2023, I added AshwaMag to my daily supplement regimen. I had still been very depressed and down, so I thought it was a good idea to add nutritional support. After a month, my sleep improved, and my “low” periods began to smooth out.

I also noticed a difference in my daily workouts. Before AshwaMag, I went through the motions, but now I have more vigor… and focus.

Moving Toward The Living Phase

It took more than three years to be fully functional in life, though the pain of losing Julianna is still there.

The first thing I do daily is open my eyes and think of my daughter. When I close them, I also think of her. This has always stayed the same. Going to the cemetery and her untouched bedroom, I have worn a path to these locations. Hours of anguish are replaced with discussions with a headstone asking her to watch her sisters and parents and also asking her if she was with us during a special event. 

The close bond I share with my family helps keep me lifted. We speak and text all day, so there's constant dialogue and support. We say we love each other 100 times a day. 

Every day is a day, and while the pain will not go away, time will hopefully dull the hurt enough that you get through existing - and transition to the living phase. 

Admittedly, I haven’t reached the “living” phase yet, though I’ve seen glimpses of it. I’m now in a position where I wouldn’t mind being happy, whereas in the past, I felt like I shouldn’t be happy. 

Now, I can be happy at certain times. Like when I walked my eldest daughter down the aisle. Or enjoyed sushi—my favorite meal with Julianna—guilt-free with my youngest daughter.  

If you have a reason to live, you have a reason to be happy.