21 Years Long

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Twenty one years ago, I was Ashley’s age. I was in the 5th grade, I had long brown hair that my mother refused to let me cut, and I was even more of a dork that I am now. I still liked to read more than I liked to talk to people, and you could still find me hanging out with animals more than with my friends.

Today, in 2018, we had a pretty standard day. Jon and I had to work, and Noodle had to go to school. So the day started off with Jon getting to work, me having coffee in bed, and Noodle playing around with the cats. A pretty relaxed morning before I had to drop her off at school. She had a regular day at school, I had a regular day at work, and we both got home and are relaxing while Jon makes us stuffed mushrooms for dinner. Right now I’m writing, Ashley’s harassing my sister on Snapchat, and Jon’s listening to his videos while dinner is finishing up. It’s a decent day.

In 1997? It was a much different day. I had woken up in the early morning hours to use the bathroom, only to find out that my mother had fallen into a coma. I remember mumbling “uh okay” and going back to bed just to dwell on the fact that my mom had been too tired to sing her “good night” song to me before bed the night before. I had insisted my little sister go first.. trying to be a good older sister and all. A few hours later, I crawled out of bed to be informed my grandparents were coming to pick my sister and I up for the day. 

We spent the rest of the morning trying to be .. normal? I don’t think my brain quite understood what a coma was being in 5th grade and all. All I knew is that my mom was asleep and not waking up. It was pretty surreal, even when my grandparents encouraged me to crawl into bed with my mom and say goodbye. I remember laying there and praying to whatever god I believed in to let my mom be okay.

Because what 5th grader understands “terminal cancer”? 

I realized maybe 15 minutes later that she wasn’t going to be when my grandmother started describing her version of heaven once we got into her car. 

I don’t remember the rest of that day from 21 years ago. 

… 

21 years have past. Each year that passes I reflect, I remember, and I learn. This year I think is a bit special to me since Ashley and I are the same age. She’s the age I was when I lost my mom.. so this year it just hits a little closer to my heart. So this year? I am grateful for the very simple things. 21 years ago, I was exactly her age, in exactly her grade, and had *just* lost my mother. I was starting on a new, seemingly horrific part of my life. 

Today? I’m sitting next to my own daughter, listening to her send her screeching raptor noises over snap chat to my unsuspecting sister and cracking up. We may not have done anything super fun today, or anything she’ll remember in 21 years, but that’s okay with me. Considering what I remember 21 years ago? I’ll take it. I’m grateful for the simple things, and how lucky I  really am.

 

I miss you mom.

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Frustration and Insomnia

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These past couple of days have been really frustrating for me, to the point where it’s keeping me up at night.  I haven’t had insomnia in years and quite frankly, I’m not too happy to be reunited with this old “friend”.  Everything has just been so incredibly hectic lately, both at work and with my family.

One of my family members is in hospice right now, and while we’re not super close, it has hit me pretty hard.  Not just because I’ll miss him, but because it’s reminding me of my mother.  Saying goodbye on Friday was painful, not just because of the impending loss of life, but because I know the pain his direct family will feel.  I remember it from when I was a kid.  Watching him in his bed brought up a lot of memories I didn’t really want to remember.  I’ve been trying to drown out those memories with great memories of him.  My favorite was the summer we spent at his house (my mother had passed and my dad had to work).  We’d get dropped off in the morning and picked up at night.  I remember sitting on the porch, watching him mess with the guitar.  I thought he was so cool, I even bought him (a really girly haha) earring because he was the only guy in my family who had his ear pierced, and sure as shit he put it in and rocked it.  I’m trying to remember that, and that’s how I will remember him, not ridden with cancer.  Yeah, I’m just having a hard time wrapping my head around the whole situation and battling the memories of my mom being sick and worrying about his family.  I’m just.. yeah.  Out of words.

Work has been… well… work.  It goes through waves, it gets really hectic and we get behind, and then it gets better and we’re on top again.  The stress from that on top of my family issues and my (3 week) cold has just really got me down.  I was reminded how much I appreciate my “work family” though on Friday.  One of our CSRs called off (despite it being hell week) on Thursday and had already planned on being off Friday through Monday, so on top of it being super hectic, I had to do her job as well.  On Friday, I was just having a super hard time (mostly getting my brain prepared to go to hospice that evening) and, for lack of better terms, I was a hot mess.  My coworkers did their best to help me out and let me know that they understand.  Small favors with the literal work, and dealing with my moodiness and rapid breaks.  On my drive down to hospice I realized (yet again) how grateful I am for the people I work with.  Sure, we all get on each others nerves and we’ve had our bumps in the road, but every last one of them has proven time and time again that they’re just a different extension of my family.

Today I’ve calmed down a bit.  Caught up on some work I left behind Friday afternoon ( I left early to beat rush hour to get to hospice ), went shopping with the boyfriend and kid and relaxed.  Tomorrow I’m going to take the monkey kid bowling, she’s been asking to go for quite a while now.  I think some hang out time with her will definitely cheer me up.

I just have to remember to keep my chin up.

Holiday Blues and a Fuck You!

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Fuck you, I’m not going to be sad this Christmas.  I’m not.  I’m not going to be depressed, I’m not going to battle the holiday blues.  Hello Christmas, it’s your friendly neighborhood atheist, and I’m full of Christmas cheer.  Most of the time, I get kind of depressed during the holiday season.  Not this year!  This is a big Fuck Off to Holiday Blues.

Usually around Christmas I miss people.  I miss my mother, my last happy memories of her were around Christmas.  She died in January, so usually I get real wrapped up in the last Christmas we had together.  I miss my friends I’ve lost, all suicides and all in the fall/holiday season.  Even as I would try to enjoy what I have now, I would get sucked into the past and sucked down into depression.

Not this year.  It’s not happening.  I’ve spent a lot of years mourning, and while there were happy moments over the years, I spent too much of my time in a funk.  This year is different.  While I’m still remembering those whom I have lost, I’m refusing to dwell on it.  There’s too much to celebrate this year, there is too much to enjoy and I refuse to dwell on people who are no longer here, and focus on the loved ones I do have.

I am excited for this year, I’m excited to give everyone their gifts, I’m jumping out of my skin.  I can’t wait until Christmas morning so Nood can open her gifts!  I think I’m more excited than she is!  Hell, I’m just excited to hang out with my kid all week.  I took this week off of work (by accident really, I needed to use up my vacation time… I’d rather take time off in the summer so we can do outdoors stuff), so I have 7 more days to spend with my monkey.  Then, of course we have New Years coming up.  I don’t have many resolutions (just to quit smoking), I’m just looking forward to starting the year off on the right foot.

So depression, this is my farewell.  I have plenty of winter to deal with you, just not right now.  Fuck you Holiday Blues, and Happy Holidays to everyone!

I can’t convince you. (Possible Trigger Warning)

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I can’t convince you that you don’t want to die.  I can’t.  If you really want to die, you will, and nothing I say will be able to stop you.  You know what will stop you?  Yourself.  That’s it.  You have to make that decision, I can’t make it for you.  It’s pretty obvious that I want you to continue living, if you haven’t figured that out yet, than you haven’t been paying attention.  I love you, and I love you for many reasons, as do many other people along the way.  I’m sure that they don’t want you to die, but again, they don’t have a choice.  They never do.  It’s all up to you to die, or even, to live.

I can’t convince you that dying isn’t worth it.  Trust me it’s not, but I know pain, and I know pain can convince you that it is.  What’s a bit of physical pain on top of the pain you’re already living with?  I can’t explain that there are things that make life worth it, that there are things that are worth living through this hell for.  That sometimes the rain is worth it, or a dog, or maybe your family.  You won’t believe me when I tell you that those fleeting moments of happiness are worth all of the turmoil.  How can I explain that every tear is worth shedding just for that moment of happiness?  That moment you feel love?  Maybe you’ll understand that living is worth it just for a spring breeze?  Maybe it’s that cup of coffee on a cold night, or maybe it’s a notebook and a pen?  I can’t explain it, because you won’t listen.

I know you won’t believe that life gets better.  You can’t see it, you can’t see the future, and I can’t predict it.  I can tell you a million and three times, and you won’t believe me.  You won’t keep on living because I’m holding your hand, or because I’m here or because everyone else is here.  If you don’t live for the rare moment of happiness, there isn’t a point to living.  If you don’t believe that it’s worth it, you won’t try.  It doesn’t matter that life is indeed worth sticking around for, because you won’t listen.  I can sit in your car and tell you all the reasons you should stay, I can pull on your jacket, I can cry.  I can scream at you for hours, and if you don’t want to, you won’t listen.

I can’t convince you that you don’t want to die.  I can’t convince you that all of us want you to live.  Listen to me just this once though, let me tell you how it feels.  Not death, because I haven’t experienced it, even when I, myself screamed for life to end just to escape the pain.  I begged for life to cease, but it didn’t.  So I can’t tell you how death feels.  I can only tell you what suicide makes everyone else feel.

Have you ever held someone’s little sister, just to hear her sob out the details of her brother’s face as he hung from the rafters?  Have you ever held a mother who doesn’t understand why she couldn’t save her son?  She doesn’t understand why I couldn’t either, I was your friend, how could I have not seen?!  Do you know what it feels like to know that the back of her head is missing, so we can’t have an open casket funeral?  Do you know what it’s like to know that her brain matter stained the wall?  Have you tried to look a father in the eye after his eldest son took too many pills on purpose even though his toddler was in the same room?  Have you tried to console the child whose mother decided that he wasn’t worth living for?  Have you listened to the teenaged daughter talk about how maybe if she had just come home at curfew, just a few more times, maybe maybe maybe Dad wouldn’t have killed himself?  Have you struggled to live, to fight against all of the pain, all of the hurt, just to watch someone give up everything?  I can’t explain the pain, I can’t explain the deep ache that I feel in my chest as I remember watching the casket rolling away.  I can’t.

Besides.  I can’t convince you that you want to continue on, I can’t convince you that it’s worth it, I can’t convince you that I, we, love you enough.  I can’t.  Because you quit.  Now, all we all have left is a patch of brown grass, and a piece of rock that supposed to symbolize everything that was you.  Do you know what we have left of you?  Memories.  Memories, and pain.

I couldn’t convince you.  None of us could.

 

 

1-800-273-8255
Need Help?  Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

Because I’m here… and you’re there.

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I admire many people.  I look up to them.  I look up to some very wonderful people, some that fit into today’s standards of “normal” some who dwell outside of it.  I admire these people for the effect they’ve had on my life and for a connection we made either repeatedly or years and years ago.  I admire these people because they exist, because I can relate, they can relate or because they are there.  I look up to people I haven’t seen since a cold night a decade ago, or the other night sharing a thought just because.  I admire people for what they are, what they’re living through, and what they can share, and what I can share.  I admire and look up to you.

Maybe I admire you because of a song.  Listening to an old song, in a cold garage together taught me that I can get through it.  It taught me about shared pain derived from very different circumstances that weren’t very different after all.  It taught me that I can fight through anything, that a song can save me.  You taught me that I am alive, and that I have to fight to stay that way, and sometimes it’s a simple as a song.  I learned that music can save my life, even if I can’t save yours.  I look up to you even now, because I understand what happened, and you understood me.  Things that we didn’t share personally, things that were not the same, often could be linked between us with music.  It’s a simple connection that can save a life, and as you learned, could destroy it.  I admire you despite the noose in the garage, and I admire you because of what you taught me.

Maybe I admire you, maybe I look up to you, because you fight.  Because you defy what your own body has limited you to.  I admire you for doing what you want to do, what you set out to do, purely because life has told you “no”.  You do it anyways, I can understand that limitation, I know what life has limited me to, or rather tried to limit me to.  I admire you because you fight it anyway, and even though the world says “it’s impossible”, you refuse to embrace it, and do what you want anyway.  I look up to that, because the fact that you fight your own body every day means that I can too.  It means that I don’t have to give in, and stop trying.  That I can accomplish things despite it.  That I can go ahead and move on, even if I’m scared to.

Could it be that I look up to you because I know the very feeling that I can see in your eyes?  Could it be that remember that feeling, that dive straight to the bottom, and I remember the fight to STAY at the bottom because self destruction is ever so fun.  I remember that fight.  I look up to you because you thrive, even though you shouldn’t.  I look up to you because I’m different, and you’re different, and yet we’re still here.  I look up to you because I remember, and I have my own pain.  That feeling I can see, that emotion, that haunts your eyes, I’ve had it too.  I’ll have it again. The reason may be different, or maybe in reality it’s the same.  I can relate.  Maybe I can relate to the ENTIRE THING, or maybe it’s a small thread of what had been, would could’ve been, what will happen.  I look up to you because you exist, and you’re still here.

I admire you because of a flower.  A simple wildflower.  I admire you because you taught me that something simple can change a life, can move you forward even as your clinging to your past.  I admire you because that simple goddamned flower made me realize that life is still there, even as I was fighting against it.  That stupid flower died, and I kept living, long past the smile it brought me.  I admire you because you live for the simple moments, the smiles, the simple connection that everyone else deems insignificant.

I admire you because you can express yourself in ways I cannot.  You have paint and canvas, you have pencils and napkins, you have screams and songs.  You have things I do not.  I am limited to words, and sometimes the words refuse to come even thought my fingers ache to create them.  I can look at the mess you’ve made with paint, glue, and graphite.  I can look at things, I can hear things I relate to even when I can’t create myself.  Everyone gets blocked, but I look up to you because you create differently than I do.  Perhaps it’s envy, but maybe it’s also needing to know that other people are still creating.  I look up to you because I can write, but you can create in color and depth.  I can create words that stir my soul (maybe others?) but my words are limited to what I want to share.  You share them with the world, while I hide mine.  I admire you because you’re not me, and I can still find myself in something you’ve created.

Maybe I admire you because you have the balls to leave it all behind and start fresh.  I could do that once, and I did, but now I have roots and cannot.  Maybe it’s because I don’t want to, but I do enjoy watching others restart what they’ve made.  Maybe it’s because you’re not afraid of change, because I’m not either, because we embrace it.  Maybe I look to you because I no longer desire immediate change, but can appreciate the need for it.  Living vicariously?  Not quite.  More like remembering the feeling.  Remembering the past, and watching it replay through someone else.

I admire you because of our past.  Because of your past.  Because of my future.  I admire many of you for reasons you’ll never understand, and while you may not want someone looking up to you, you don’t have the choice.  It’s my choice to make, and even though it may rock you to your core, you don’t have to let it.  Or maybe you should.  You should let that realization that the choices you make, the way you think, or maybe what you did a decade ago has indeed impacted someone else.  Maybe it’s me, maybe it’s someone you’d never suspect.  But regardless, I admire you.  For reasons I understand, and reasons I do not.  For reasons that maybe I’ll never know.

What Family Means and Blood Brings Troubles

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I’m aware that I’ve touched on this subject before, if not numerous times, but I need to get these words out of my head and into the world. 

Family to me isn’t as traditional as most.  Of course I have my immediate family; my Dad, Sister, Step Sister and Brother and step Mom, not to mention my daughter.  However, short of a couple cousins (whom I adore), a handful of friends replaces my extended family.  That’s just the way it is, there is no regret, dislike or anything else, it just worked out like that.  As kids my sister and I were never real close with my Dad’s side of the family, and once my Mom passed away her side of the family kind of drifted off (as did us kids).

During all of this, I met several great people who looked after me.  A couple of my friend’s moms are 2nd, 3rd and 4th moms to me, as well as random friends who have known me for years.  These people slowly became what I considered family.  There was no blood involved, just friendships that developed over time, and because of that, we spent time together when we wanted to see each other instead of at obligatory family functions.

That is what family is to me.

Some of you know  I have a “half-sister”.  My mother had a baby when she was in her late teen years, and instead of becoming a teen-aged mother she gave her daughter up for adoption.  My “half-sister” is 16 years older than me and apparently lives down south (I thought North, but whatever.)  I’ve only met her once in person, and I was too young to remember.

When she was in her twenties (late teens?) , she found us (through an aunt of mine I believe) and began to contact my parents.  I honestly don’t know my mother’s true opinion of it, but my first memory of her isn’t pleasant.  Lets just go ahead and say that the year before and after my mother passed, my half sister didn’t exactly make it easy on us.  (Think Dad unplugging the phone at 2am when we’re getting drunk-dialed-screamed at from another state, while cancer-ridden-mother tries to sleep.) After she blew off my mom’s funeral she disappeared again for about 7 years.

She surfaced again when I was 18 ( thanks to the same aunt – also the same aunt who blabbed to my Dad that I was pregnant with Noodle – Seeing a pattern here?) and called me.  This time it was to talk about how the fact that she was adopted, that my mother chose to let two wonderful people raise her was the reason she had a drug problem.  She then berated me for choosing to give my own son up for adoption, and then asked to live with me.

After that conversation, fast forward another 4 years or so and she resurfaces.  This time she’s pregnant and needs advice on adoption.  Oy.

Now apparently she’s straightened her life out.  Facebook allowed her to find me and my younger sister, and after almost a year, things finally went south.

[ My sister and I, especially I, have never pursued a relationship with her.   Yes, she is blood related, but we also have never met her (where we can remember) and only know her by the warpath she left behind.  Being friends with her on Facebook made me uncomfortable, it’s hard to talk to someone who expects a full relationship out of you when you’ve never met, much less have nothing but blood in common.  I didn’t mind a few jabs here and there and a “like” on a photo, but beyond that I shied away from it.]

Today she messaged me… again.  This time she asked if she should continue to attempt a relationship with my sister and I.  I was honest.  I told her that I didn’t see a point, that we could most definitely keep in touch via social networking but beyond that I couldn’t see a relationship developing and that I wasn’t really interested in working on one.  I told her my views on family and encouraged her to appreciate her loving parents and her own daughter and friends.

The response I got back set me off.  She resorted back to what she always did.  Her Bio family means so much to her, and when Mom died, it hurt her real bad.  – Excuse me while I try not to get mad again –

Yeah.  You know what?  ’97 may have been a long time ago, but it’s still pretty damn fresh to me.  I have absolutely no sympathy.  There is a huge difference between losing a bio-mom whom you met once (and then ditched the funeral for – as well as both grandparents funerals) while you’re in your twenties… and losing the Mom who you saw every-single-fucking-day when you’re in 5th and 3rd grade.  Big-fucking-difference.  It would be different if she hadn’t spent years in a drug-induced stupor, harassing me and more importantly harassing my mom when she was dying.  It would be different if she didn’t wait until she was in her 40s to try and nurture a relationship.  But it’s not.  That’s the way it is, and that’s the way it’s going to be.

I promptly told her what I wrote above ^^, as well as the fact that she shouldn’t go around digging up 16 year old graves to make herself happy.  I wished her well and again encouraged her to appreciate her own family and friends and that I didn’t want to dig up aforementioned grave again.  Then I promptly un-friended her and blocked her.

Maybe I should have had a little compassion, maybe I should have handled it better.  Truthfully?  I don’t care.  I lost all compassion for the situation years ago when I was berated for the same choice she later made.  I lost that compassion when she blamed putting drugs up her nose on my mother (which FYI : No one forced you to do drugs!).  I don’t care.

I’m glad it’s finally done, I hope that’s the last tie I have to cut.  It took me 26 years to divorce myself from her, and I wish it happened earlier.  She needs to move on, she needs to love her own family and nurture the relationships she’s taking for granted.  She needs to realize that we don’t know her, and we don’t want to get to know her.  We’ve been trying to heal the best we can, fix our own issues and problems, and speaking for myself, I cannot take on hers too, again.  I’ve been spending the last couple of years eliminating negativity from my life, and that was one of the relationships I put off getting rid of.

I forgive her for the person she used to be.  But forgiveness isn’t for her, it’s for me, it’s letting myself move on, and get on with my life.  I don’t want to be reminded of what she put my family through and what horrible emotion she invoked.  I forgive her for what she did and has done, but that doesn’t mean I want to be best friends.  I want to be done.

 

 

Family is not blood.  Family is love and caring.  Family is made of the people that stand by you day in and day out.  Family is made of people who love each other, not for their own gain, but just because.

Saturday Night In.

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I never thought I’d be a homebody.  Never in a million years, I was too busy trying to get out of my house and have a life to even consider that to make my house a home I have to be here.  A lot can change in year and I am definitely proof of that.  So instead of trying to figure out tonight’s plans to go out and hit the town, I’m settling in and cooking dinner for myself.  My daughter weaseled a pizza lunchable out of me at the grocery so I can make whatever I want.  Chipped Beef on Toast?  Yes please!  Then after the kiddo goes to bed it’s a night of my favorite shows all curled up on the couch.

I’ve owned this house for 3 years now, and it’s been one hell of a roller-coaster ride so far.  Things are still crazy, but at the same time they are smoothing out (if that even makes sense).

I’ve managed to find a stable job, which I’ve been at for 1 year now (as of Wednesday)… a job that even though it gets on my nerves some days, I still look forward to going into the office in the morning.  This job has given me the monotony that I dread, but at the same time, it’s not the same thing every day.  It makes enough money to pay the bills, and then some now that Ryan has moved in and taken over his half of the mortgage and utilities.  So now I’m capable of saving money, which is something despite at times two jobs didn’t allow me to do.

Since Ry has been around he’s been kicking my butt into gear when it comes to the house.  It’s really coming along since last spring, I put in the floor myself and he painted almost every room.  With the new furniture in it looks fantastic!  He’s even been keeping my plants alive and helping me pick out picture frames and little knick knacks.  Something I never bothered to do.  Once he finished my bedroom, I now have my own little library.  He put in bookshelves up a wall and hung up a lot of my candles, it finally feels comfortable in there.  A little retreat, vacation spot for me while I’m at home.

Frankly, our little dysfunctional family and Ryan’s and my relationship has finally turned my house into a home.  For a couple years there, thanks to a divorce and thanks to my own faults, it was just a place to stay.  Now?  I take pride in my home, it’s mine, and I love it.  I actually love spending time here, there is nothing better than curling up and drinking coffee with my love.  I am as happy as I’ve been, which means it’s time to strive for even more happiness and stability.  Setting things right that have been askew for a long time.

One thing that Ryan kicked my ass into doing was filing for child support.  I had filed the motion and went to court, unfortunately it got shot down.  I finally managed to get an appointment with Child Support Enforcement and they are hunting my ex-husband down for me.  They found his social security number and have put it in the system, on top of that they have the Colorado State’s Attorney looking for him as well as Illinois.  He may never work a real job again, but if he does, or hell, even applies for assistance, they’ll find him.  They even managed to pull up my domestic abuse case, complete with pictures, and flagged it just in case he decides to lose his cool when they finally find him.

I don’t have hopes for anything, I’d honestly be surprised if he finds a real job, but it was worth it.  Anyone who hurts my daughter is instantly on my shit list, it’s just sad that it had to be her own father.  This father’s day?  It will be one year since we even heard from him, more since he left.  My heart breaks for my Noodle, but she doesn’t need someone like that in her life, she will learn that blood is NOT thicker than water, and sometimes good friends are even better than family.

Other than that nonsense, I’ve been doing what I love to do.  Write.  Not so much in this blog, but in my journal and on my pseudo book.  It’s one thing I’ve decided to pursue, not because I think I will make any money on it, but because why the hell not.  I also have been writing quite a bit in my journal… the point behind that one is simple.  It’s for my daughter.  I have well over 40 full journals so far, I started a journal as soon as I could write.  This way, when I am long gone, my kiddo can read them and get to know me as well as the person I used to be.  Maybe if I go early, she can use them for advice.  That’s one thing I wish my mother would have done is more journaling.  I think it would be easier to at least have something to read of hers, you know to feel a little closer to her even though she’s not here anymore.

Like any parent, I hope to god that I don’t die while she is young.  Going through that myself when I was in 5th grade was horrible, and even now at 26, I need my mother.  However, facing what possibly runs in my genes, what my medications can cause, as well as Crohns Disease, I do worry about it.  That’s why I have been trying to eat as healthy as I can afford, get exercise in as well as stop drinking.  I am proud of myself, I went from drinking (even just one beer) a few times a week to just once a month… maybe.  With just that alone, I feel great!  My Crohns is practically in remission, with a stray fistula symptom here and there but that’s it!  This is the best I’ve felt in years!   The next thing on my agenda?  Smoking.  I want to at least cut down to the bare minimum – a cigarette with a cup of gourmet coffee because, hello, I just can’t have coffee with out my smoke.  Haha, that’ll never change.  I’m just sick of not being able to run like I used to, and smoking doesn’t help with all of my lung infections I catch now that I’m on Remicade.  So smoking is next, I think I can do it, I just have to get up the courage to actually let myself run out of cigarettes.  I hope I get that courage soon.

Things are good.  I never thought I’d be on this path in life, but you know what?  I wouldn’t trade it for the world.  I love my family, I love Ryan, and things are on the up and up and I won’t let that change.  :)