About | Our Addictions | the Monkey House | JJ's Special Blend
Where you're either looking for a fix, or just plain bananas

In the Garden...

Sunday, July 30, 2006
written by Monkey

So I looked into the backyard today and saw this massive flower, no kidding, the size of a basketball...

so I was going to get a close up picture of it but....

THEY are back :P

How many times do I have to KILL YOU!?!

Small update...

Saturday, July 29, 2006
written by Monkey

I (monkey) just got back from Lansing tonight. JJ is still up there to take care of her dad for a few days. I just wanted to share the GREAT news with everyone.... it's NOT CANCER!

You have no idea how ecstatic everyone is. JJ hasn't stopped smiling in 2 days. He's also recovering VERY well. He's breating normally, he never had to have a breathing tube, and his drainage is very low so they will be removing the chest tube as soon as tomorrow.

More later, I have to crash now :P


New Digs and a bit of the AFK for me (JJ)

Wednesday, July 26, 2006
written by Java Junkie

So first off, how do you like the new digs? I've been working on it for awhile. I'm still working on other aspects of it (setting up pretty sites for my other two blogs that I'm working on, Big Butt Blogging and the soon to come Java Junkie Unfiltered, actually posting "about" posts, etc.) but I wanted to get this up before I leave town.

Why am I leaving town you might ask? Well a few weeks ago my Dad's PET scan showed what they thought were 3 very small masses in his left lung. Turns out it's one 14mm mass and Thursday they're taking it out. They're not sure if it's benign or malignant but it's probably the later because he's a 5 year survivor of stage 4 lymphatic cancer. He's also a musician and although he's never smoked a cigarette he's played in smokey bars 5 nights a week most of it. All of this sort of explains why I've been a bit anti-social lately.

A few nights ago I wanted to comfort myself so I looked up lung tumor statistics and I was slapped in the face with "never ask a question you don't want the answer to." I found that there's only a 1 - 2% chance that it's benign and even though it was caught early only 10% of lung cancer patients live past 5 years no matter when it's caught. Since then I've been doing a LOT of crying. And praying. And begging. And allowing Blues Clues and Jack's Big Music Show and the like to hypnotize my youngest into a state that allows me to hold him for more than 3 minutes at a time while I kiss his soft pink cheeks and neck and breathe in his wonderful scent just to keep myself grounded in some sort of reality that doesn't hurt.

I hope I got it all out of my system. I hope come Thursday I'm the person my family is expecting me to be. The strong one who takes care of those in my family that are hospitalized. The one that goes head to head with doctors to make sure the "best possible" route has been examined, all other routes have been equally examined and that it is, indeed, the best possible route. The one that makes all the phone calls, all the arrangements, and makes sure you eat what you're suppose to whether you like it or not, drink what you're suppose to whether you want to or not, and take any and all medication exactly on time. I am, as my Dad's doctors came to refer to me last time around, "Vlad the Impaler disguised as Susie Homemaker." Because Thursday is my Dad's surgery and afterward while he's in the hospital I will be at his side until they kick me out and when he's home I'll still be by his side until he doesn't need Vlad and I can come back home to my children and husband and be Susie Homemaker again. I won't be able to cry. I won't be able to be scared or worried or emotional or broken. I will have to be nothing that I am right now and everything I am not. I hope to God I can get it together in time.

I'm not sure how long it'll be before I'll be able to post. If I'm staying at my Dad's house I should be able to access my blog from there but if I'm staying at my (step)Mom's house (they're married but live separately.. Yeah it's weird, I'll explain it sometime) she doesn't even have a computer I don't think, in which case you'll be stuck with just posts from Monkey. If that ends up being the case I'll urdge him to delve into the photos I've taken over the last 4 months and post some every couple days or so just so you have some cute to balance out the serious/ranty posts he normally posts *smile*

Until then, everyone take care. And please say a prayer for my dad.

Paintin' in Pajamas

Saturday, July 15, 2006
written by Java Junkie

Today was hot and muggy.. Mostly muggy. In fact I tried to take Parker out into the yard to play and the water that's been sogging our yard for days now was so warm it almost felt like bath water. It was so warm it creeped me out. As in "I hope this isn't backed up sewage of some sort.."

But that didn't stop me from breaking out the finger paints, poster board and super clever and chic egg carton paint holder for Parker's first experience with finger paints. Technically what he's wearing is pajamas but they're a very light, breezy material that clearly would hide any paint that might not wash out. I share this with you now.

An Artist at work.

Of COURSE we had to taste it

And then we had to see how it looked on US.

Then we had to listen to the paints and see what THEY wanted to become.

And do our best to help them realize their dream.

We had a wonderful time. But, as all 18 month old's do, we eventually got distracted by the jillion other things in the yard and I had to pull my protesting toddler back inside (remember, I didn't know *exactly* what was in the water that laid in inches over my yard. I'm sure there was at least dog poo from our neighbor's dog since we sort of share yards and I do NOT want my child walking and playing in Dog Poo Stew.)

Tomorrow maybe we'll tackle Play Doh.

For anyone who's interested there are these, plus a few more shots in 1024x680 shots (so that some crazy old guy would stop complaining about how to get "these women to post something larger than 400x300 on flickr?" :P ) on my flickr account.

I am Jack's lack of self-motivation

Sunday, July 09, 2006
written by Monkey

Wikipedia defines motivation as the initiation, direction, intensity and persistence of behavior.

I'm starting to scare myself with my lack of motivation to do normal everyday things. Example, getting out of bed to go to work in the morning. I've been getting out of bed every single day for work or school for over 20 years but now it seems like the hardest thing in the world to do.
Instead of going out to the car to get the babies diaper bag I'd rather just go to the closet and get a diaper and a few loose wipes.
I'd rather lay on the floor staring up at the ceiling then get up to make the baby a bottle.
I'd rather keep going to the same shit job that I hate every single day then take the time to send my resume off to places people tell me are hiring.
Instead of making a dinner that may only consist of tossing some mix into the oven I'd rather order a pizza.
This has been going on for quite a while now and I wish I could figure out why.
I see other people that seem to be very motivated to do things, my father for example built a deck on his house a few weeks ago by himself where I can't even get out to the backyard to take out the garbage without a struggle.
I have no motivation and I wish I knew where I could get some.

Crams and Big Gold Bikes

Friday, July 07, 2006
written by Java Junkie

This morning I awoke from the first good dream I've had in a long time. I was at peace and happy and excited in the dream and that's how I felt when I woke up. It's been a long, long time since I had a sip of coffee feeling this way. It was nice.

The dream really wasn't anything exciting, well to anyone who's not a mom I guess. Parker and I were walking hand in hand on a beach somewhere, off in the distance was Lou, Monkey and my CC. Parker and I were picking up muscle shells. **Parker still isn't talking much at all but I'm highly encouraged by his increasing verbal mimicry. My CC said that she thinks he's right on the verge of having a very large vocabulary, which is probably why she was in this dream.** Knowing that it's probably easier for a baby to say "Clams" than it is "Muscles" I start to hand him a shell and I say "Clllaaammm. Can you say Clllaamm?" and he does! In my excitement I see him trying to reach another and I say "I'll get that for you if you can say clam!" and he says "Cram!" I snatch up the clam and hug him tight, then start steering him down the shoreline toward the rest of my family in my excitement, the cool water a soft gentle tide keeping my toes wet and refreshed. On our way I'm chatting back and forth to Parker, and he's picking up more words along the way, although I can't really remember the conversation. When we get to my family I say "Guys! Guess what!?!?" and just before I tell them the good news, Parker blurts out "We were pretending to pick up crams but they were really muskles."

Even just recalling the dream here makes my heart swim with joy and has brought a soft smile to my face. It feels good to smile.

Going to my mother's house this last weekend was something I think I needed to do. And although I'm still left with feelings of regret, loss, and sadness at least now I have been reminded of some of the good times of my childhood that I had either long forgotten or had simply let the anger and pain of the last few years overshadow. Although many times I stood by my mother's side, trying to do anything and everything possible to help her quit drinking, there's always been this void of good memories inside. Until this trip.

One of my fondest childhood memories was brought back to me in a flash flood of emotions. It wasn't triggered by a photo, or a scent, or a knickknack. It was triggered by my nephew, Ryan. I was holding my niece, trying to comfort her out of a little fuss, singing "If I were a cloud" - a song I sing to Parker all the time and my sister-in-law thinks I should record so you all can hear. - But I digress. After I'm done, Ryan says "How about this song?" and started singing Bicycle Built for Two. Instantly memories of riding on the fender of my mother's huge gold bike washed over me.

Growing up I didn't have a bike until I was 8, I think. So when my mother wanted to go for a "family" bicycle ride my Tover would ride his bike, my mother would ride her huge gold bike from the 1960's and I would ride on the back fender, one foot in each of the wire baskets than hung to the sides. We would sing Bicycle Built For Two and other "old time" songs.

There was something magical about it all. The gentle swaying of the bike as I held onto my mother's waist, "swimming" my hand along the breeze, the intricate lace of shadows the trees cast with their leaves. And most importantly the strong bond I felt with my mother during those bike rides. With my brother at times a half a block ahead, it was one of the few times that I felt I had my mother all to myself... And she didn't mind. I even loved that my Tover was there, just enough ahead to be part of it but not impede on the intimacy I felt between my mother and I right then. Sometimes we would just ride around the mile long "block" that was the complex that our townhouse was a part of, sometimes down to the corner store "QD" for a scoop of ice cream and sometimes through the neighborhoods that surrounded where I grew up. I loved all three routes, but for very different reasons.

Riding around the complex allowed for the opportunity of any one of my friends to see me on the back of my beautiful mother's beautiful big gold bike. I tried for like 45 minutes to find a picture online, but I don't remember the make, model or year. I did find this picture of a teal one that looks very similar, but without the baskets:

(Blogger's being a PITA and won't let me upload the image. I'll try to edit this later with the image, sorry folks.)

But to me, back then, it couldn't have been any more grand and magnificent if it had been Wonder Woman's invisible plane, and in fact many times while on the back I imagined it was just that.

The Ride to "QD" or Quality Dairy was filled with anticipation and decision. What flavors would they have today? Which would I get? Had I been good enough to warrant two scoops instead of just one? And then there was Miller Road. I think the speed limit there is 35 miles an hour but it might as well have been the Autobahn and the excitement and trepidation of crossing it NOT at a light was almost more than a little 8 year old's heart could handle... But not quite *smile*. The ride back was full of dripping ice cream cones and sticky hands and ice cream mustaches from cruising over a bump that bounced my bottom and my hand in opposite directions at the precise moment of a lick.

Riding through the surrounding neighborhoods was the earliest version of people watching that I can remember. We'd ride through the neighborhoods with big trees and manicured lawns and humble ranch homes. We'd see husbands and dads mowing their lawns or washing their cars, kids on their own bikes with tassels off the hand grips, mothers walking little yippy dogs and once in awhile a hip grandma with a sun hat weeding the flowerbed next to her driveway. Life seemed so much cleaner in these neighborhoods. Even the sunshine somehow seemed to sparkle more. I don't ever remember wanting to live in those neighborhoods or being jealous of the kids that got to grow up in what seemed to me to be a suburban Utopia at the time. Just being there and feeling happy and at peace for the families that were there was good enough for me.

And all along we would sing Come Play With Us, Tie a Yellow Ribbon, and Bicycle Built for Two.

I miss you momma. I remember.

There's not enough sugar in the world to make these lemons lemonade

Thursday, July 06, 2006
written by Java Junkie

Last night, sometime during the night, the world became a much darker, colder, sadder place. My Aunt called me this morning to tell me that my Grandmother, hands down the sweetest most gentle, wonderful woman in the world, passed away sometime last night. The entire world should morn the loss of this woman - who never said a bad word about anyone, who always had a smile and more love to give than anyone would ever need. She loved ice cream, and little chotchkies from garage sales, and clowns and funky hats and San Fransisco.

I literally think this woman is the sweetest, kindest, most wonderful woman that ever walked the face of the Earth. I can't even tell you how much I love and will miss her. I'll write more when I can stop crying. If you read this, please think of this blessing of a woman that you didn't get a chance to know. Heaven now has more sunshine in it.

Long story short... Only not.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006
written by Java Junkie

Today is usually a day to celebrate, if you're an American anyway. As we drove along the 183 miles home from Mt. Pleasant, MI. today I couldn't help but notice the absence of the usual enthusiasm that accompanies Independence Day all around. I could count on my hands the number of houses I saw with any kind of American flag-like decorations and half of those I believe are probably year-round declarations of patriotism for those particular households rather than something their yard adorned for the festive day. I did not see one family outside enjoying the summer day, dad at the grill donning a humorous apron, children running through the sprinklers, various friends and relations sitting in lawn chairs enjoying their particular ale of choice until we pulled up to the two house long "court" that my home sits on. The entire drive I was wondering if it was simply my own down mood that made the day feel less than happy or if it was a general feeling of "eh, whatever" spread throughout this part of the country. As I listen to neighbors shoot of various B and C grade fireworks around me, I've decided that it's more than likely mostly me. You see, Me, Monkey and Parker were on our way back from what I had feared would be the hardest trip of my life thus far. We were coming back from spending the weekend going through my mother's house, deciding what should be donated, what should be kept, what should be handed down, handed over and what should be held on to. I was right, by the way. It was the hardest thing I've ever had to do second only to keeping my head about me and not going insane when my son Lou was kidnapped.

Two weeks ago today my mother died from a heart attack that she chose to have. She didn't have high blood pressure or cholesterol and not watch what she ate. She hasn't smoked in at least a couple years. She didn't suffer from an severe allergic reaction. When I say she chose this, I mean she chose to die long before she had a heart attack.

I know that some of the people who read my blog might frown upon what I'm about to write as airing dirty laundry. They'd much rather read posts of happy fun filled family visits to the local park or read the controversial editorials both Monkey and I write from time to time. To those people I can only apologize, but when someone who knows what I'm going through emailed me saying "Do what you need to do in order to get through the days, no matter what. Right now it's all about coping. And surviving, and going day to day" for some reason I find myself taking that advice today. I need to do this for me. I need to do this to move on, to get past this place that I sometimes find myself stuck at.

My mother has battled alcoholism for over two decades and honestly more than likely clinical depression for much of her entire life. I say battled even though I don't believe she ever really cared enough about herself to put forth a real effort to try to get control of her problems. She never addressed these things with a doctor until just three or so years ago and was immediately put on antidepressants. However she opted to stop taking them when she "felt better" and never again went back on them even though she said she understood that she felt better BECAUSE of the medication. She opted, instead, to try to find comfort in the middle of nowhere, MI at the bottom of a bottle.

Through the years there have been more attempts than I can actually count or remember to try to help her address her alcoholism. There have been numerous times in my life where I called her every single day, many times running up hundreds and hundreds of dollars a month in long distance phone charges so that she would have some support. So that she didn't feel alone. Time and time again I would find that WHATEVER way I had been trying to be there for her, help her and support her were just pathetic wishful attempts on my part, that she had never even intended to get help or support or stop drinking. She had only been telling me what she thought I had wanted to hear. Time and again I would turn a blind eye to probabilities and past experience and do it all over again. Time and again I would put my own life and family on hold to do everything I possibly could to sort out my mother's life and any stresses she might have so that she could concentrate only on recovery. Time and again I found that I was being made a fool of and simply used for sympathy, self pity and an unwitting enabler.

Sometime about two years ago, maybe a little less, I decided that I couldn't do it anymore and cut off communications with my mother until she got help. There had been other times I had taken similar, however less drastic, measures and had always yielded when she showed signs of getting her life, and her problems, under control. This time, however, I had the prerequisite that she become active in some sort of AA or AA-like treatment program. I came to this decision because I knew she had really lost all control. I knew this because she called and left a message on my answering machine upset that she had to find out that I was pregnant from my sister-in-law. She left the same message a half an hour later. Both messages were two days after I had spent an hour talking to her about my pregnancy and the anxiety I was feeling about it considering my illness and the fact that I almost lost my life bringing Lou into this world but how optimistic I was and the encouraging information I had learned from my mid-wife group. It was not the first time I had spoken to her about my pregnancy. I ended the phone call when my mother, for no reason that I could see, stopped responding to what I was saying. I could hear her breathing but she wouldn't answer when I asked if she was there or if she was ok. In my heart I knew she had passed out.

This last November, over a year later, through casual conversation, my Tover told me that my mother had been going to AA meetings. I couldn't have been happier. My eldest son actually confirmed this when he said his father, my first husband, saw my mother at a meeting. I called her number and we talked. I can't really even remember what we talked about but just that I was very happy she had been taking steps to address her situation. Elated that she was finally working to get control of her problems and her life.

However over the next few weeks I started noticing that she was home every night I called her when she was suppose to be at a meeting. There was always some reason she wasn't at it. It was too cold, she wasn't feeling well, she had errands that she had to run, she didn't go on her day off anymore because she had to drive 40 minutes away, etc. I tried with all of my heart to believe her excuses. To hide from the fact that all over again I had been lied to. I had been told just enough truth to believe. And then, two weeks before Christmas, my mother called sobbing. She had been diagnosed with cervical cancer. She was a wreck.

I started calling her daily, trying to keep her spirits up. Sometimes I would succeed, sometimes nothing I did seemed to put her at ease, and sometimes it seemed as though she was actually determined to be filled with dismay no matter how encouraging the things the doctors were saying were. Some days she made no sense at all. I'd ask, she'd deny, I'd let it go knowing the incredible amount of stress she was under and not wanting to add to it. I'd help her make lists of questions to ask her doctor, I'd help keep her reasonable when trying to work out the best treatment, I'd help her figure out who she needed to call for what purpose when trying to prepare for her recovery. I'd ignore the slurred words, the exceedingly emotional phone calls, the completely forgotten phone calls. I accepted the excuses of missed sleep, stress, and old age.

In January my mother had a full hysterectomy. I couldn't even be there the day of the surgery because the day before my apartment's head of maintenance informed me that they'd be coming into our apartment the next day and tearing apart the wall between our bathroom and Lou's bedroom to fix a leak. I've had SO many problems in the past with these types of situations, from a past landlord watching my home videos while I was on vacation thinking something, um, adult was filmed, to having my pantie drawer pilfered through and various pieces of Victoria's Secret lingerie being, um, handled by handy men, to having items actually stolen that I just could not bring myself to leave my house in the hands of strangers. Not to mention that Parker was terribly terribly ill and the call to his pediatrician yielded a strong warning to not have him around my mother at all after her surgery and to avoid contact myself if at all possible.

Two weeks later we were able to get up to Michigan to see her while she was recovering at my Tover's. She was bound and determined to drive the hour and a half home, against her doctor's wishes, though. The stresses of spending time in a household with a new baby and two kids under 10 were getting to her, she insisted. So I helped her load her things and her dog Elvis into her car. I spent the next month trying to keep tabs on her recovery in tandem with my Tover. More than once I called Tover concerned that she sounded rather incoherent, almost as if she were hallucinating. I was terribly concerned that she had developed a severe infection. He would call, talk to her, and she would seem "a bit confused but mostly all there." We also called friends of hers to get their opinions and were assured time and again that all was fine. On March 20th my mother was rushed to the hospital when my Tover called her that morning and she sounded so bad he called an ambulance and on her way to answer the door she collapsed. She was in such a state of malnourishment and dehydration that she was hallucinating in the hospital. Monkey and I dropped everything, packed up our boys and drove up to Claire, MI. where we stayed for the next 3 1/2 days essentially dividing our time between sitting by my mother's bedside, finding out that she had quit eating all together and hadn't drank anything in days except a half a gallon of vodka a day, and trying to set up in-patient rehab for my mother that everyone including the hospital social workers knew she needed.

By the time we left she had agreed to in-patient rehab and was saying all the right things. That she wanted to stop drinking, that she didn't want to die, that she would go into rehab. On the way home I started crying. I knew that was the last time I was going to see my mother alive again. I knew she was just saying what she felt she needed to to get us off her back so she could go back to doing what she was doing despite both my Tover's and my assurance to her that if she did NOT go into in-patient rehab that we would walk away from her completely. A week later she called me to tell me she had decided not to go into in-patient rehab. That she was going to go to AA meetings instead so that she could return to work. That day was the last day I spoke to my mother. It was also the last day my brother spoke to her.

On June 21st my Tover called to tell me that our mother had died. Her neighbor found her when the police forced her to use the key my mother had given her when she called the police in concern that my mother wasn't answering her door. They found her in what could best be described as a praying position next to the bed. When my Tover and his wife went to her house the next day, they found full plates of food covered with mold that the neighbors had been bringing her that she had simply been throwing into the sink. In the other side of the sink was nearly every dish in the house, dirty. At some point she had reduced herself to eating out of the ash trays she no longer used for smoking. And then there were the bottles of Vodka. When they saw her at the morgue my Tover lost it. He said she looked like a mummy. He didn't even recognise her from only a couple months before. Essentially, he said, we had simply interrupted her in March. The preliminary exam showed that she died of a heart attack due to severe dehydration but she had lost a considerable amount of weight, too, I'm sure, because she hadn't been eating.

The next couple of days were pretty weird for me. I found the roles of who I thought would be here for me and those I would never expect support from completely reversed. I got phone calls several times over from my step mother, my dad, and even my dad's mother. My mother's sister called a couple times but that was kind of awkward, neither of us really knowing what to say. Tover would call but that was probably the hardest because exactly who is suppose to support who in that situation really. I didn't hear more than one sentence from my best friend, my mother's sister's daughters (yes, my cousins, I know, just trying to show their relationship to my mother) haven't even so much as dialed my number once. My CC called me and we talked for an hour and then I really didn't hear from her again because she wanted to give me any space that I needed. The only sympathy cards I got were from my landlord and my son's girlfriend. Don't get me wrong now. I didn't want or expect cards at all. To be honest when Monkey found a card with simply my first name on it in our mailbox it took opening it to realize what was inside. If it weren't for Monkey and Lou I would have been lost completely. Monkey took a half a day off work and took care of dinner for the next couple of days. He only voiced his concern for my health once when I went on a cleaning streak through the house including the laundry that only a short time before I had been so frustrated about. He held me and was VERY late to work. He let me do what I needed to do and did what I couldn't. Lou watched Parker for two days basically. I was there, it wasn't like Lou was watching him alone, but I wasn't all the way there. I owe the two of them more than I could ever repay, and honestly I hope I never have to.

The days following my mother's death have been a virtual teeter totter of emotions. I sway between being heart broken, extremely angry, guilt ridden and numb. This weekend as we went through my mother's things I would be thrown into a fit of tears by such things as my sister-in-law asking me if I minded she take two of the Dean Koontz books I had given my mother (Odd Thomas and Forever Odd) because those were the only two she didn't have but yet sitting and looking at boxes of photos would bring tender smiles of remembrances to my face. Out of all of the things I brought from my mothers house, the photos, the few pieces of costume jewelry, the Christmas decorations and the nick knacks, it didn't feel like enough. Like I needed more. And then I realized what I was trying to do was fill the void.

I'm still on this teeter totter of emotions and even though the trip to my mother's house was hard, it was also good for me. The last few years have been riddled with anger and hurt and pain from not only my mother's drinking but some very very poor parenting throughout my childhood. But my trip home reminded me of some of the good things about my mother. How beautiful she was before alcohol really got ahold of her, how she use to sing all the time, how even though we were poor as church mice we always had a wonderful time at Christmas before she met her last husband and my Tover moved out and others. Fun visits to my grandparent's house. On Sunday after we had packed up everything, I laid a wildflower I had picked outside her house on her bed and I walked out of her house. I felt like it was all going to be all right. On the way home today I closed my eyes for a nap but slowly woke up a half an hour later to a song I've sang my mother several times over the last half a decade, Bob Marley's "Three Little Birds" and tears streamed down my face. Here are the words:

Dont worry about a thing,
cause every little thing gonna be all right.
Singin: dont worry about a thing,
cause every little thing gonna be all right!

Rise up this mornin,
Smiled with the risin sun,
Three little birds
Pitch by my doorstep
Singin sweet songs
Of melodies pure and true,
Sayin, (this is my message to you-ou-ou:)

Singin: dont worry bout a thing,
cause every little thing gonna be all right.
Singin: dont worry (dont worry) bout a thing,
cause every little thing gonna be all right!

Rise up this mornin,
Smiled with the risin sun,
Three little birds
Pitch by my doorstep
Singin sweet songs
Of melodies pure and true,
Sayin, this is my message to you-ou-ou:

Singin: dont worry about a thing, worry about a thing, oh!
Every little thing gonna be all right. dont worry!
Singin: dont worry about a thing - I wont worry!
cause every little thing gonna be all right.
Singin: dont worry about a thing,
cause every little thing gonna be all right - I wont worry!
Singin: dont worry about a thing,
cause every little thing gonna be all right.
Singin: dont worry about a thing, oh no!
cause every little thing gonna be all right!

I'm trying to get through this the best I can. I'm trying to forgive her for replacing the woman she could have been if she had only let herself be happy with the woman that she turned into. I'm trying to forgive myself for not being able to show her how much I loved her and for eventually turning away from her. I'm trying to let myself cry all of the tears I feel inside me. I'm trying to remember the fun and quirky things about her that will always make me smile. I'm trying not to take personally those that weren't here for me but appreciate those that were and understand people's need to tell me that she's in a better place now. Mostly I find myself hiding from doing any of these things by following Parker, picking him up every few minutes to cuddle or holding and smothering my niece with kisses when I could. But I am trying.