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July 2010

July 17, 2010 From darkness into Light

As I was digging my way through the chaos that I created while I was searching for something that I shouldn't have lost... I came upon several pages torn from a notebook that I was journalling in exactly nine years ago today.  Some feelings change entirely, some not so much. 

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July 17, 2001

Why is it that the buzzing of a fly grates so annoyingly against my ear and yet the soft lullaby of a summer breeze played ever so gently by the surrounding pines, soothes and comforts.

Why is the tiny brown tick crawling up my shirt, the source of distaste and abhorrence  but the graceful erratic flight of the damsel fly a source of joy?

Why do we so often long for the clarity of deep blue skys and warming sunlight when the next moment finds our hearts yearning for the exuberance of a a blusterous thunderstorm?

The frog strumming happily in the murky swamp is oblivious to the plane passing overhead, as oblivious as the plane is to the frog.  That same frog can't remember the cool clear water of that pond in March.  The crisp clean stinging air or the diligence that dammed it into being, yet he happily strums and snags his unsuspecting prey with a sticky tongue, then licks his scanty lips with pleasure.  If only I could embrace my being with such simple faith.

Nature is imbued with peace.  It is unconditional and automatic.  A breeze caresses the strands of unrestrained hair and for a fraction of a second I feel it.  Then a bush moves, a leaf crackles, the sun's warmth becomes uncomfortable and my mind is off and running once again, oblivious to the frog strumming complacently in his murky world.

Listen to the whispered words of weathered wisdom, winding down the well worn paths of promised peace.  Surrender to the certainty of ever present starlight.

You never know what is going to be the trigger that sends you tumbling uncontrollably into the open arms of despair.  Perhaps the long shadows on a cool summer morning, the words of a song or the notes of harmony that sink deeply into a wounded heart.  The familiar expression of a loving friend when you realize that your ache is acknowledged and shared.

Windowflowers Sometimes I'll catch a hint of some barely perceptible fragrance on a breeze that is hardly there and my heart is flooded with her.

I frantically inhale again, not wanting to lose that incredible sense of her, but it's gone and I wonder if it was ever there at all.  Perhaps she was passing by and paused to hold my attention, to whisper "hello, I love you... I'm here."

Most days that's enough.  I have to force myself into the uniform of the day.  I go to work, to the grocery store, to the dentist, for a mammogram... I'm anxious to talk about Shannon but they aren't always ready.  I sometimes seek out someone somewhere - some distinguishing mark or scar that says "Me too."  I know your heartache.

There is a feeling unlike any other ...as a tear flows silently slowly down the face of sorrow.  I want to experience it fully completely, as if life will be altered somehow.  Reality changed, cleansed, renewed.

Oh how I long for a glimpse of what will be.  Our eyes meet in the sweet secret world of dreams and I dare not even blink, for fear that she will disappear and with her take my heart.  A heart already hers, given completely and unconditionally.

I ache to feel her hand in mine again, to touch the dusted freckles on her arm, to laugh together over some unspoken joke or cry when movies spotlight a life so wounded.

If I could travel to that place where you now so gaily play.  To see with my mother's eyes that you are home, complete, joyous in each moment... or if I could trust my heart, a mother's heart that knows without doubt that this can be no other way.  I can't imagine loving this much, that I would have agreed to endure the pain of a life without you."

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Perhaps it's ramblings like these that I  shouldn't share.  Ramblings that might make you think less of me or worry or shy away.  But then again, perhaps there is someone stumbling upon this page that is experiencing the very anguish that I was three years after Shannon's death...and I want you to know that life has a way of carrying us through the shadows and back into the light.  Don't be afraid.

I have learned that there is no shame in expressing what it real. At the time I couldn't. At the time, I felt that I had to grieve alone.   I didn't share the darkness.  I know it was visible to the people who love me... I know they worried, but it seemed necessary to protect them from something they could not change.  I made every effort to appear "normal" even though I had no idea what that meant, but when I couldn't contain what felt like a despair that I might never recover from, I wrote those feelings down, freed them, acknowledged them, embraced them and recognized that they would always be a part of who I would become as life unfolded with my child in Heaven.

Some of the words surprise even me, like running into an old friend and recognizing them, remembering them, but knowing that they have changed in ways that you can't quite put your finger on.  Evolution is subtle...like the lines that form around your eyes and mouth, with time.  You don't notice them when you look into your reflection every day... but bump into an old acquaintance ... they will notice.

Living with sadness, not the ordinary hurt feelings, lost my job, poverty, war, big eyed SPCA kind of sad... all valid and worthy of a deep emotional reaction... but the sadness that comes with the loss of a child, can't be minimized or fixed or cured or placated or medicated.  It is as much a part of life as breathing and we do it the best we can, without imposing or demanding or apologizing.

I suppose there is a glimmer of hope, that sharing my experience will in some way offer the same hope and encouragement that I have received.  It is extremely difficult to share the painful, pitiful, vulnerable moments but they are honest and give us pause to embrace what makes us human, both in our courage and in our frailty.

Again, as so many times before, it touches me in ways I have yet to find ways to express, that you are willing to experience the journey with me.

"Thank you for the unseen but deeply felt thread that binds us together, through good times and bad.  Thank you for our two new baby goldfish.  Thank you for running water and clean linens.  Thank you for the emerging green of late blooming lavender.  Thank you for the courage to look at myself, my life, my family, my friends... and see the gifts."


July 16, 2010

Today I washed the Jeep on the way to Culpeper.  I left home and drove through Chick Fil A for my "Large Unsweetened Iced Tea with Extra Ice".   At the window, the lady handed me a large iced tea and it probably had ice before the hot tea was poured over it, but there wasn't a single ice cube left.  When I asked her, politely, if I could have a cup of ice, she acted as if I had asked her to do a thousand push ups.

I reminded myself that she might not like wearing the brown pants and hat that are neither flattering or part of her chosen color palette and that at her age, she would rather be sitting on her own front porch rocking, drinking her own iced tea than trying to please every customer, with the obligatory, "My Pleasure".

Then I drove to Bob's or Rob's ... I'm not sure which, car wash.  I flopped the top back up on the Jeep and put my money in the slot.  I pushed the button for "Three Foam Brush" and lifted it from the holder.  I was immediately showered with gobs and gobs of splattering green/yellow/pink foam spewing from the broken hose.  I worked quickly !

The e mail that I received this morning from a stranger/friend kept playing in my head...  

"I am finally tired of being angry.  Can you believe it, 10 years later I pulled these thank you book marks out and started reading them.  Thank you for these, the things written on the bookmarks are what I need to be thankful for.  I started crying for the first time in years.  Thank you God for Shannon, Thank you for removing my addiction, thank you for your son Jesus, thank you for life."

Thirteen years ago, Shannon quietly contemplated the things that mattered.  She faithfully recorded those thoughts for nine months.  She told her Aunt Candy that she didn't want just any job, " I want a job that makes a difference."  Ten days later she returned to Heaven.

Today she touched a stranger's heart and gave him hope.  He in turn touched mine.  How can there not be some grand plan, some wonderfully loving, incredibly compassionate grand plan?  Today, paths crossed.  It almost seems as if there is a luminous thread, carefully binding us all together, drawing us close when life seems harsh, sheltering us with one another. 

I love the feel of the wind and sunlight when I'm driving with the top down.  I love the sky overhead and the sound of life passing by.  I didn't drink my hot tea.  I did mow grass and enjoy another Friday with my Mom.  We had fast food by a mountain stream and then I came home.

For a moment, I laid on the bed with my head in the crook of Jules arm, looking at the stained glass panel that he gave me for my birthday... three dragonflies, gracefully flowing through afternoon sunlight.  I heard the front door open and footsteps on the stairs....and the beautiful sound of Shannon calling to me.  I hadn't fallen asleep.  But for one precious second, I had fallen through time.  I can't adequately describe the feeling, but I was given a tiny reminder of what it felt like to be 'me'.  To be me with my husband and my child and my heart in one piece.

Maybe I spent too much time in the sun today.  Maybe I'm a little dehydrated.  Maybe the love extended to me by a stranger on this particular day, opened a crack in time so that I could remember why it is we  try so hard.

It doesn't really matter how it happened.  It happened and it felt wonderful.  I was basking in the moment, welcoming the tears that were building just beneath the surface when the phone rang.  Today is Jane's birthday and she was calling to thank me for the message I had left wishing her a happy one. She understands that "happy" is relative.  I told her about the snag in time.  She understands that too.  Her husband is with Shannon and she, too, appreciates the magic that we are sometimes given.  It's Friday night... movie night... we always had family movie night on Fridays, so Jules and I are going to a movie. 

I'm not going to worry.  I'm not going to agonize over what has been or what is to come... I'm going to eat popcorn, drink Diet Coke, in an upholstered  seat, in a darkened theater with my husband and let the world spin on it's own for a little while.

Today I got ordinary and extraordinary.  It fills my heart and waters my eyes and I remember... and I am so incredibly grateful.

Window



July 14, 2010 Remembering Crystal

There is an often unspoken bond between the mothers of "Angels".  We know the ache of longing, the feel of a sadness that is part of each and every breath, and the need to embrace life with gratitude as a testament to the courage that springs from love.

One of my oldest and dearest friends lost her daughter to a senseless act of violence, seven years ago today.  I am loving her and remembering with her...it's all I can do.  There is no magic wand to wave, no pill to ease the pain.  What happens is that we live with what we cannot change and it becomes a part of who we are.  We walk hand in hand with joy and sorrow and find meaning in the little things.

The dragonflies, the mockingbird's song, the message in a song or bumper sticker, the electrical anomalies that defy explanation, the wind chimes on a still afternoon, the rainbow in a cloudless sky.

4seagulls Signs surround us, but we have to want to see them...or hear them.  An Angel's touch is subtle, gentle, a whisper on a breeze.  I wish these tender moments for those who are missing someone today.  Perhaps I wish these things for all of us.

www.myangelswhispers.com

MyAngelShannon@aol.com


July 13, 2010 Friendship

Lifeisgood When I was little there were no video games.  Our television was black and white, mostly white, because of the snow and the antenna was on a pole outside my bedroom window.  We used to climb it.   I remember that my Mom watched soap operas while she ironed. I can still smell the steam and hear the hiss of the iron as it pressed the imprint of the clothesline from the shoulders of our shirts.  I guess she didn't mind the snow.  I listened to records or the radio and read a lot.  I preferred being outdoors to in, even when the grass was crispy from the summer sun.  I believed that I was safe from lightening, even in the worst of thunder storms if I was wearing flip flops.  Sensitive bare feet in April were leathered and tough by June.  Walnut trees smelled pungent and stained your skin.  So did mulberries. 

We had a red wooden picket fence around our front yard.  We used to walk it like a high wire and through some miracle were never impaled.  My Mom worked all night as a telephone operator and still found time to can vegetables.  Tomatoes and peaches, I think.  The mason jars sat on a shelf in our basement until they were covered with dust and although I'm sure we must have eaten them at one time or another... it seems they were always on the shelf.

Sometimes I still dream about that basement.  It was always damp and often had standing water.  It smelled musty and felt cold.  The door was warped and never shut quite right.  Isn't it funny how some memories stay, the sounds and smells and sights of days long passed?  The dream dictionary says, 

"Basements are where our negative feelings reside. So if your dream involves a basement try to think of negative and resentful thoughts that have particularly featured in your thoughts recently.

It may suggest that you are bitter about something, that you have been bottling things up or simply sensitive about something."

I have been bottling and sensitive.  Hmmmm....

Last evening, I walked the streets of the town where I grew up with the friend that some forty years ago, I often walked those same streets with.  It was as comfortable and easy as it had been when we were fifteen and talked mainly about boys and bangs and how fat we looked.  Come to think of it, we touched on those same topics last night as we carried our cameras and tried to capture light and shadow in perfect contrast and at intricate angles.

We have hiked mountains, photographed water falls, camels, goats, begonias and gargoyles.  We laugh and keep the conversation light. Lavenderwindow When we heard the train coming last night, I placed my camera on the railroad crossing gate, imagining that I could get a "motion" shot.  For some unknown reason the gate lifted before the train arrived and almost knocked me over.  I was a little embarrassed but she laughed and laughed and it was a wonderful sound. 

This afternoon another "old" friend popped in to say "hello" when he saw me on line.  He had visited my Facebook page and commented on a photo of me and Shannon and my Mom and Grandmother.  He said that it broke his heart to think of what I must have gone through.  He is, like BJ, a gentle soul and I am so grateful that with all that life has asked of them, they have remained, in many ways, just as I remember.  They may not know how much that means to me, how desperate I am some days for something, anything to be the same.  I find myself overwhelmed with emotion just thinking of how much they mean to me. 

I didn't know that I had missed them until I didn't have to.  Old friends share history, hold us safe inside the bubble that contains our beginnings.  We lived lives, found loves, held our children close, lost parents, divorced, remarried, worked and grew and changed and reemerged to discover that what we shared as children is still there, still comfortable, still cherished and a vital part of who we are becoming.

We walked past Knackle's bakery - cream filled horns and donut holes - they were closed.  We stood on the steps of our middle school, looked in the windows of what was once J.J. Newberry's, where I was  accused of trying to shoplift a pencil eraser!  We saw the old sign that reminded us that there was once a Lerner's dress shop.  There are new restaurants and spas and coffee shops and book stores.  There are specialty shops and gift shops and condominiums.  There are murals and over sized baskets of red impatiens on the lamp posts.  So much has changed, and yet so much remains the same.  What we carry with us, what makes us who we are and who we aspire to be, the part of us that endures despite the heartache, the part that takes comfort in laughter shared with people who have loved us in spite of ourselves for as long as we can remember....remains the same.

IMG_6474

I needed to walk those streets.  Remember the things that filled my "basement" with the foundation for the life that was to come.  I needed to be reminded of the penny candy at the corner store and the plate glass windows and cheer leader try outs and Mrs. Hill and school buses and long walks home.  I needed to remember who I was before I was Shannon's Mom, who I still am and perhaps, just perhaps, get a glimpse through the eyes and hearts of these oldest and dearest of friends... who I may still have the potential to become.


July 9, 2010

Once again, I am grateful for ordinary days... but even in the calm, we can't always quiet the voices of doubt or fear or regret.

A decision made in the heat of a moment... a cross word that escapes the censor, letting a call go to voice mail, listening to the voice of reason instead of the song of your heart... and life changes.  Sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse... sometimes in ways unnoticeable... until much much later.

The thought that interrupted my less than peaceful sleep last night was that I might become the person I least want to be... the person that lets that thorn in my paw make me bitter or angry or resentful.  Bad attitudes don't always reflect their genuine source and the image we project resembles anything but wounded feelings or self preservation.

We desperately try to remove the thorn from everyone else's paw - whether they want us to or not - and ignore our own pain until it begins to change our perspective - and our attitude.  In an effort to be what we think we should be, what others want us to be, we begin to resent them... and they have done nothing, really, except let us have our way.

In those moments when we need the salve but can't isolate the pain, it's often best just to surrender to it.  It is true that transformation takes hard work and more effort than we think we can endure - but I'm sure every butterfly struggling to free itself from the confines, and safety, of the cocoon, has had similar thoughts. Bluebutterfly

I have been on this mission to find my purpose.  Today the mission focused on photography.  My course is almost complete.  I'm ready to commit.  I read about web sites.  Business models.  Professional Photographers of America.  Define your target market.  Develop your professional story.  Join your local chamber of commerce.  Comment on other blogs.  Enter Photo Contests.  Attend a seminar.  Learn search engine optimization.

I felt my heart racing.  My palms sweating.  My head spinning.  Everything requires incredible outlays of time and money and experience and confidence and self actualization !!  I rubbed my eyes and massaged the muscles in my neck, adjusted my desk chair, took my glasses off and cleaned them, but everything still looked the same - overwhelming.

So I turned off the computer.  Whew !  I could breathe again.  I thought about the joy of taking photographs.  Capturing moments to save forever.  Business and Joy don't seem to be mutually inclusive with me and I'm not sure what that means ... so with the computer turned off, I reached for Julia Cameron's "Faith and Will".  Never quite able to find my way through a book from beginning to end, but trusting that when I just need a nudge, or a 'message', the book at hand, opened to a random page, often holds the answer, and today was no exception.  On page 19, the message was clear and true...

"In order to work with God, we must assume that God is willing to work with us.  To do that, we must assume that God can start right where we are and not at some imaginary place we have to get to in order to meet him.  Got is not waiting to rendezvous with us once we have earned the right to his attention.  God is waiting for us right now, just where we are.

Very often when we think about what we would like to have happen in our lives, we cast ourselves very far forward and out of the day we are in.  No wonder everything seems so impossible and so difficult.  We cast our selves far into the future where we stand alone and buffeted, wondering where God is.

God works in the day that we actually have going on.  God's miracles are miniature daily miracles.  They are miracles of evolution and miracles of progress.  They are the small miracles that add up to large miracles.  They are tiny right steps that lead us in the right direction.  If we want to find God, we need first to find ourselves.  That is where God is.  Right with us."

Now how is that for a gift straight from Heaven!  And with that, God and I are taking a break from all the have tos, need tos, and gotta dos... to enjoy the miracles of the moment ~  Thank you Julia for being the messenger of the day !


July 8, 2010 Flashes of Insight

  LettingGo2

I've tried to understand why my writing seems to stutter.  Why I can have a flash of insight when I'm in the bathtub and by the time the water has left my skin, the insight has left my head.  Why I can have a moment of intense clarity while I'm driving and by the time I pull over and find a pen and scrap of paper, the clouds have already started to form.  Why making beds or scrubbing floors or cleaning blinds allows my mind to settle into an easy rhythm that gently moves with understanding and acceptance  but I sit down to my computer and once again I'm lost.

Watching an old episode of Grey's Anatomy, I heard a song.  A sweet gentle melody that played softly behind the unfolding of both the agony of rejection and disappointment and the comfort of reunion and self sacrifice.  The line, "all we can do is keep breathing"... played over and over again and I realized how true and unwavering those seven words are.  Naturally I googled the song, "Keep Breathing" by Ingrid Michaelson. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rk6bVJVhHzc)

The storm is coming
But I don't mind
People are dying
I close my blinds
All that I know is I'm breathing now
I want to change the world...
Instead I sleep
I want to believe in more than you and me
But all that I know is I'm breathing
All I can do is keep breathing
All we can do is keep breathing
Now.....now.....now.....now.....
All that I know is I'm breathing
All I can do is keep breathing
All we can do is keep breathing
All we can do is keep breathing
All we can do is keep breathing
All we can do is keep breathing
All we can do is keep breathing
All we can do is keep breathing
All we can do is keep breathing
All we can do is keep breathing
All we can do is keep breathing
now...

So as I was folding clothes, feeling the Downy softness of the clean white towels, taking particular notice of the ragged lace waist band of my "Granny Panties",  grateful that the clothing in the drier belongs to two people instead of one, and trying to keep Helen and Izzy out of the clothes basket, when I realized that the place that I have to go to write what really matters to me, the part of life that makes me who I am, the part that I try so hard to hide or keep tucked away... is an intensely vulnerable place.   When I'm driving or cleaning or bathing... there is just me.  I don't have to "be" any way at all for anyone but me.  I'm not locking the box of my heart's memories or desires, I'm not trying to put on the face that you will be comfortable with.  I can cry if I want or laugh or dance or sing or .... yes there it is... write ~

Every now and then when we stop moving long enough to let what's drifting through our souls float to the surface, we touch what is real, what is meaningful and what sustains us.  We may be changed by what we find, we may have to hide for a while to allow the new soft shell to harden, we may have to suppress the desire to run naked through the rain... but we will be better for the moment.

Shannon's life fills the deepest and most precious spaces of my heart and soul.  There is more joy in those spaces than most people will ever experience... but there is also the deepest ache... and so I keep breathing.  I don't want to miss summer's heat or winter's cold, I don't want to leave this life with the regret that I let the sadness overshadow the joys.  I want to revisit her life, her becoming, her wisdom, her compassion and fury, her tenderness and wit, her contribution to life on the planet... with objectivity.  I want to introduce her to a world that didn't get the opportunity and I want to help her fulfill her wish... to "make a difference". 

My flash of insight is that I can't protect you from the sadness of loss.  I have to trust you to accept as much of the gift as you can and allow it to touch you in a meaningful way.  I have to be authentic and unafraid and know that in every minute of every day we all just have to keep breathing.  I don't want to close the blinds to anyone.  I want to celebrate the "You and Me" of our journey.  I take immense comfort in all of those tiny details that connect us and keep us from being separate and alone.  In the last few weeks I have realized more and more that we are far more alike than different, and if I am worried about something, be it large or small, someone else is feeling the same concerns.  I don't write about my life because I am narcissistic, I write about my life because you understand, and feel so many of the same things and somehow we will make it together... all we can do is keep breathing !


July 7, 2010 So many lessons

  S1

I've spent the last twenty days in perpetual motion on an emotional roller coaster, culminating in an overgrowth of Crepe Myrtle roots totally blocking the sewer line that carries the water ( and whatever may be in that water) away from our house. 

I had a slight epiphany about a week ago.  I used Shannon's bathroom and when I reached for the toilet paper, I discovered the roll was empty.  I reached for the pretty little box of Scottie's tissues... the box with teddy bears and grapevine wreaths and assorted clay pots of wildflowers, also empty.  I opened the door to the vanity and although lots of things fell out, nothing that could satisfactorily meet the need, although I did ponder for a minute more than I care to admit, how to utilize the abundance of Q-tips!

Now I know this is not a subject that is comfortably discussed in polite company but who hasn't found themselves in this situation at least once, perhaps sheepishly whispering to the lady in the next stall in the Ladie's room at Macy's to pass a square or two beneath the divider?  Toilet paper is one of those things that we take for granted... until we don't have any. 

 I sat there for a while looking at the celestial bodies painted on the evening blue walls, the needlepoint of the Earth, the towel rack that Erica's Mom made for Shannon when she was a little girl, and I wondered if Shannon was giggling at my dilemma.  Finally in desperation I focused on the smiling face and bald head of Mr. Clean.  I picked up the blue plastic dispenser and read the label..."Mr. Clean disinfecting wipes".  "75 premoistened wipes, Fresh Scent".  I read the warnings and the ingredients and wondered if the person who insisted that the label include, "It is a violation of Federal law to use this product in a manner inconsistent with its labeling," even considered the possibility that I was considering. 

It wasn't all that bad, really.  Tingly and cold but Mr. Clean managed to save the day once again.  I dropped the square into the commode and flushed.  For a fleeting moment I worried that they might not be flushable, but as it disappeared into the unknown, I let the worry follow.

That evening I attended a meeting in Richmond.  The bathroom had four rolls of toilet paper.  Three rolls of the industrial stuff... the kind that looks and feels like it is made of recycled newsprint... and one roll of  white tissue, with rosebuds quilted into the three ply softness.  Once again, I thought about how much I take for granted.  I thought about all of the toilet papers on the market.  Charmin, Cottonelle, Angel Soft, Seventh Generation, Quilted Northern and Coronet, just to name a few.  They are scented, quilted, two ply, three ply, quick dissolve and aloe infused.  They come in both ultra strong and ultra soft and now Charmin even adds "Just a touch of lotion."   I flashed on the scene from Dances With Wolves where the two infantry men are squatting in a field, tearing and sharing pages from Kevin Costner's journal.

Okay, so Sunday morning, Jules was taking a shower before work.  We had invited friends for dinner and I was already stressing about getting everything done, when, as I started down the stairs, I saw all four cats running from the downstairs bathroom like children caught in the act of being naughty.  Flowing softly at their heels was the hot soapy water from Jules shower.  I was horrified to find the commode flowing like Mt. Vesuvius.  I grabbed towels and the plunger and said a silent prayer of gratitude that hot soapy water that smelled like Dial soap was all that was flowing from the great unknown.

18

Through it all, I have had the same nagging question... is this all because of that one Mr. Clean disposable wipe being used in a manner inconsistent with its labeling?

Twenty days ago, I attended a funeral.  A mocking bird sat in the top of a nearby tree and sang an amazing song that helped to ease our hearts... we knew he was singing to assure us that Neil had arrived safely and was happy.   The days that followed brought all of my own feelings of sadness back to the surface.  I cried some.  I yelled some.  I found fault with everything that seemed even moderately out of order.  Laura continues to improve.  Betty Jo and I have had some wonderful photography adventures.  The invitations are mailed.  Mom is okay even after the numerous doctor visits and tests.  I finally finished Unit Five in the never ending photography course and Jules got home from safely from Atlanta.  John's tour of duty with the United States Navy is complete.  Michael is in Afghanistan. Our babies are precious and their Moms are amazing.  There is so much to be grateful for.

I'm not sure why I haven't been able to write.... and then finally return because of my TP epiphany, but in one month, Shannon's journal begins again, and I, in turn, feel like I can breathe again, that she is waiting  to remind me of the memories, and I can once again share them with you.  It feels really good.

Twelve years have passed so quickly... and yet it seems an eternity since I laughed with Shannon and wrapped my arms around her.  It's easy to get lost in looking back... or looking forward.  The challenge is to find a way to immerse yourself in the moment.  I keep trying to lean into perfection only to find myself falling into reality.  Maybe that old commercial.... the one where the little child is learning to roller skate and has taped rolls of soft quilted toilet paper to her knees and hiney and elbows, to soften the falls, had a deeper lesson to impart.... I'm not sure what it is, exactly, but I certainly hope I've learned it.

I hope that all the plunging and digging and sweating and mopping and disinfecting have been adequate penance for my inconsistent use of disinfectant wipes... but I promise you this.... I will never take the little things, like tissue, flushing, bathing, laundry or washing dishes for granted again.  MrClean_prod04_img_03 God may get tired of hearing from me, but I am truly thankful... for everything.