A Crack in the Pavement

Eddie Playing in Puddles

A dog is the only thing in the world that loves you more than he loves himself.-Josh Billings

Eddie, my five month old Rat Terrier played in the puddles as the storm clouds overhead broke open and poured down on him. He’s not one to enjoy the chaos of a late summer thunderstorm like I do, but that puddle had him entranced. There he stood, in at least two inches of water, and scooted a leaf across it with his nose. He then touched it gingerly with his right paw and watched with fascination as it dipped below the surface. Flecks of dirt floated across the yellow and waterlogged leaf as Eddie tried to get it to float back to the top. He snuffled water into his nostrils and sneezed. The velocity of that sneeze blew across the puddle, and caused a rippling effect. It drew my puppy’s attention away from the drowned leaf, and on to a stick that was caught in a weed growing out of a crack in the pavement.

I stood there, umbrella in hand, watching my little black and white monster, while I grinned like an idiot. I swear to you if the water had been deep enough, Eddie would have rolled over on his back and tried to shuck shells open like otters do. His fur was drenched, but he didn’t seem to mind. He dug around every square inch of that five foot wide puddle, searching for treasures only a dog could love. A leaf, stick, flecks of dirt, a piece of stone, or something else that he could chew on; or maybe he’d dance around his bounty. Why he feels the need to do a happy dance, I’ve no idea. But it sure is fun to watch!

The rain came down, as thunder rumbled above us. Eddie raised his head and his pointed ears soaked up the sound. For all of two seconds, he was on high alert for impending trouble. Then he bent over and stuck his nose into a small crater in the sidewalk. He lapped the water into his mouth, and I caught a glimpse of what it must have been like for him when he’d been abandoned. He probably had to survive on rain water, and whatever scraps of food he could find. A thimbleful of water from a drying puddle may have been all he’d been able to scrounge up while he sought shelter in an abandoned building.

How lucky I am he was rescued. How lucky we are to have each other! He keeps me motivated to keep walking, when the pain gets to be too much. Eddie nourishes me with unconditional love and is non-judgmental. I nourish him with food and water, far too many toys and a love that knows no bounds.

Next summer, I’m taking Eddie the Rat swimming. I really want to see if he’ll swim on his back and shuck shells like an otter. Wouldn’t that be a sight to see?!

 

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I Don’t Want Comfort

I don't want comfort

 

It’s been such a long time since I’ve posted anything. I don’t even know where to begin, or what stories to tell. Life continues, and with it so many changes. We’ll start with a quote, and see what develops from there. 

I don’t want comfort, and there is poetry, danger, freedom, goodness and sin all around me. All I need to do is find it. Or better yet, let it find me. My impulsive days are over. At least, I think they are anyway, we’ll see.

Happy Tuesday my loves, have a splendid day.

 

Love, 

A Sparkly Girl who’s shine is beginning to return

Communion, Forgiveness and Recovery

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This do in remembrance of Me

Last Sunday, I held the small piece of bread in my left hand, and the tiny plastic glass of ‘wine’ in my right. The pastor recited a prayer, and with my eyes closed, I recalled the last time I’d taken communion. It was at Linda’s funeral, in a Catholic church. No, I’m not Catholic, but I am a rebel. Therefore I’ll be damned if anyone will tell me whether or not I can partake of the body and blood of my Lord Jesus Christ. I grinned at the memory while I chewed and drank. I had to stay seated during communion because my newly mended right ankle was achy and stiff.

The pastor spoke of finding joy in our nearness to God. That happiness is fleeting, but joy is everlasting. As the lesson continued, I began to do my daily ankle exercises. I pointed my right toes as far forward as I could and held them there for ten seconds. I released the stretch and pulled my toes up toward the sky as far as I could. I held the stretch for another ten seconds, repeating each stretch 15 times. Then came the side to side stretches. The sermon progressed and I placed my right foot back on the floor. It didn’t ache nearly as much as it did before I stretched the Achilles tendon six ways from Sunday.

A particular bible verse struck a raw emotional nerve and I began to cry. Don’t ask me what it was about, because I can’t recall it. All I know is it had something to do with paying for indiscretions and mistakes. That once we are forgiven by God, we must learn to forgive ourselves. As I wiped my eyes, Laura asked if I was all right, and I assured her I was. That I was better than all right. That I was forgiven.

After the sermon ended, we made our way to the back of the church. My ankle was stiff as I began to walk, but I noticed that I no longer had any pain. The familiar ache had disappeared! A smile spread across my face and was lit by the morning sun. I walked with almost an entirely normal gait. I felt free for the first time since March 11, 2014. I. Was. Free!

It’s Wednesday night and the pain has not returned. I’ve had a few twinges here and there, but that’s because I had a very intense physical therapy session on Tuesday afternoon. On March 12, 2014 after 5.5 hours or reconstructive surgery on my right ankle, my life changed. I know it will never be the same, but I am assured with God’s grace and love I have recovered.

 

Living a Full Life

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“You will find that it is necessary to let things go; simply for the reason that they are heavy. So let them go, let go of them. I tie no weights to my ankles.
C. JoyBell C.

A few years ago I went through a major weight loss transformation and I became addicted to working out. I found that it didn’t bring the world to my feet and it most certainly didn’t bring me happiness. Sure, I liked the looks I got from men and women. I loved the highs of working out. But I was still looking for something to make me complete.

Since my injury, I’ve gained weight because I haven’t been able to move much. I hated being sedentary. It felt like prison. I ate a lot, but found that it didn’t bring me happiness. It didn’t stave off the desperation I felt, and the extreme loneliness. I’ve been trying my very best not to beat myself about it. I won’t.

I have begun eating healthier and the weight is coming off. I place my feet in gym shoes and set about walking the sidewalks of my apartment complex at least five times a day. I’m building stamina so that I can walk to the bus stop to get myself back to work in early August. Physical therapy is grueling but worth it.

I’ve decided I will not become addicted to food or the gym again. I will not worry about every piece of food that goes into my mouth. I will be mindful of my eating, but I will not beat myself up about having a piece of cake. A full life for me means walking outside in the fresh air, biting into a ripe nectarine, or watching my dog carry a stick that’s bigger than him. Yes, that’s a full life.

And…We Have Touch Down

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“When I stepped out into the bright sunlight from the darkness of the movie house, I had only two things on my mind: Paul Newman and a ride home.”-The Outsiders

The opening lines from The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton, floated around my head while Meggie drove me to my follow up appointment with Dr. Perdue. The day wasn’t particularly sunny. In fact, the skies were threatening rain and the humidity slicked my skin with moisture. All I could think about was taking my first steps after a 95 day journey that changed my life.

Meg helped me with my last wheelchair ride, all the while calling me an ‘old lady’. We laughed together, me and my Chica. We checked in, had x-rays taken, and were guided to the surgeon’s cast room. I hopped up on the exam table like a pro, and removed my boot cast. I conversed with Meggie and the nurse while my vitals were taken.

“Is it hot in here?”, I inquired after the nurse left.

“No old lady, you’re anxious”, Meg chided. “Stop fidgeting.”

As we waited, I surfed through the pictures on my phone, until I landed on the ones I took at my two week check-up. There, in full color was my ankle, purple and swollen. The three incisions still angry and fiery red. Black sutures protruded from my skin looking like railroad tracks to hell. You would have thought I would be disgusted by the sight, but I was utterly fascinated. I grinned as I slid my finger across the smart phone screen and viewed the progress of my recuperation. I had come so far.

“Mom, you look weird.”

“I’m…Just…Happy.”

Dr. Perdue and Pete the PA joined us in the cast room. The surgeon smiled his teddy bear smile and shook my hand. We chatted about progress and recuperation. He said the Talus bone was turning white, meaning it was getting blood flow.

“I’ve never seen healing like this after such a traumatic injury,” Perdue said.

“Are you saying we are like Wolverine from X-Men?”, Meg asked.

I giggled anxiously, “I just did everything you told me to, I didn’t want to screw this up.”

“You’ve got good genetics.”

“And I had lots of people praying for me. I prayed a lot. I yelled at God too, but mostly I prayed.”

We talked about the future. That I wasn’t out of the woods yet, when it came to the Talus bone dying. For right now, we focused on walking. I got the go ahead to stop hopping on my left foot, and start walking on both feet. I laughed like a little kid and shook the doctor’s hand. After 95 days, I was going to learn to walk again. The busy doctor left the room and I secured my boot cast. I ruminated on the exam table.

“So…are you going to walk?”

“Gimme a minute, I’m trying to psyche myself up.”

Meggie aimed her smart phone at me and took video of me walking for seven seconds. Every tendon, ligament and muscle from my right knee to my foot screamed as I bore weight. Right foot first, then left foot. And so on. I…was…walking. Again…

We pushed the wheelchair out into the vestibule by the elevator. Meg carried my purse as I took my first walk outside in 95 days. Sure, I’d been outside, but it was not on my own. It was in a wheelchair or hopping with the support of a walker. No, this was different. I could walk on my own. In sunshine, moonlight, darkness or rain. I was free.

The rest of the afternoon was a blur. Lunch with Meggie and Adam Boy. My phone being blown up by friends and family asking if I was walking. A script filled and then home. For the first time in three months, I walked up the 13 steps to my apartment door. I unlocked the door and there in front of me was an old friend, my wheelchair. I burst into tears when I realized the magnitude of the change in my life. I had been reborn.

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Last night rain poured down, and I craved to walk in it. I wanted it to wash me clean while I drew in the scent of clean earth. To baptize me. Though exuberant, I was too sore and tired go outside. My right knee hurt more than anything.  I’m thankful for the pain, because it’s nothing like I’d felt three months ago. My body ached, but my spirit is soared. You know the next time it storms, this woman will be out in the middle of it. In a summer dress and barefoot, hopefully.

Two Days Til Touch Down

Pushing Forward

‘You look so pretty’, I told Lo as she walked up the stairs.

‘You do too’, she replied. ‘Why are you wearing a dress?’

‘Because none of my shorts fit.’

‘They will again, ya dork.’

I gave her a tiny smile while I put the brakes on my chair and lifted it over the threshold of my apartment door. I have to admit, I feel pretty bad ass when I do that. Who knew I’d be able to lift a wheelchair while standing on one leg? I stood at the top of the stairs as Lo walked past me and took my chair down the stairs. I laughed as she banged the damn thing down every step. She laughed as I hopped on one leg down those same steps. I’m sure my neighbors hate all the noise I make. When I run into The Old Lady that lives beside me, she often gives me the stink eye for absolutely no reason. Bitch! I digress.

Lo waited for me at the bottom of the steps. I hopped and fell into the chair.

‘I’m so damn sick of this shit!’

‘Think about how I feel’,  Lo exclaimed. ‘I have to carry that damn chair of yours everywhere.’

We laughed as I hopped yet again and maneuvered into the passenger seat of her car. As we traveled to Saline, we caught up on the events of the night before. She went to visit a mutual friend of ours and I hung out with Bette. I tried not to cry while she told me of her happiness. I sat next to her and smiled, but behind my sunglasses the tears flowed.

‘I often think it would be easier on everyone if I died in the accident.’

‘Nae, God saved you for a reason.’

‘What is that reason though?!’

I for reasons I can not fathom think it would have been easier if I’d died. My family and friends would have grieved, and I wouldn’t have felt any more pain or loneliness. I would have stopped incessantly crying, or the constant wishing for things that are never going to come to me.

‘Lo, I feel so broken.’

‘Honey, we are all broken, in our own way.’

‘At least you have the prospect of someone to love you.’

God saved you in that accident. He hasn’t shown you the reason you were saved, because you’re not open to Him.

Our conversation died when her phone rang. I sat with my hands crossed in my lap and tried to compose myself. Rolling down the window, I let the fresh air dry my tears. I inhaled the scent of summer and freedom. All of a sudden, I was slammed with the urge to tuck and roll out of Lo’s car and find a pool to jump into. Wheelchair and advisement from my surgeon be damned! How I’ve missed my rebel spirit.

Before grocery shopping we met T at Cancun for lunch. I was so glad I’d done my hair and makeup. I felt pretty, even though I was sitting in a chair, and had gained so much weight while I’ve been recuperating. T’s daughter joined us and Lo and I made sure to talk about inappropriate things while we we ate. Sex was often the topic. T admonished us more than once, which seemed to make Lo and I act even more lewd. T’s daughter didn’t seem to mind, though she did blush a time or two. The young woman was so fair complected, I bet one could see her red glow from a mile away. She had a gentle but guarded smile, and all I wanted to do was hug her.

At Wally World, Lo brought around scooter for me to shop with. I drove the thing like a pro. I didn’t have my brace on and was constantly hoping other shoppers didn’t think I was using it because I was too fat to walk. I have no idea why I gave a shit what perfect strangers thought of me driving around in a Walmart scooter, but I did. I made sure to smile at the people that stared at me. Often, I balanced on one foot to grab items from a high shelf. Lo may have to drive me, but I did my very best to be independent when shopping.

After checking out, Lo took me home. I waited while she took my groceries up to my apartment and placed them on the table. Her car radio blared because we needed to hear how the Tigers game would end. While Martinez struck the ball with his bat, I raised my face to the sun and breathed in my last bit of summer and freedom for the day. The Tigers won while she wheeled me to my door. She dragged my wheelchair up the stairs, and I went up the steps on my butt. I slid into my chair like Lieutenant Dan and lifted that damn chair over the threshold on one leg. My BFF and I hugged and said our goodbyes.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but that was the last time I would be lifting my chair over the metal molding in my apartment doorway. It was the last time Lo Lo would have to drag my chair up and down the stairs. It was the last time I would have to take my wheelchair on a shopping excursion. It was the last time she’d have to push me around in my chair while I stubbornly tried to push it myself.

Two days till touch down…I hope I find out why God saved me on that snowy night in March…Maybe it’s something as simple smelling the aroma of summer and freedom…Maybe it’s for something greater…Maybe it’s to experience the joy of becoming a grandmother…Maybe, maybe, maybe…

Five Days Til Touch Down

Woman Walking on Tracks

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”

How can it be that I get a buzz from regular Tylenol?
That was the first thing I thought of when I opened my eyes this morning. I was lying in bed with a pillow wedged between my legs to keep my post-surgery ankle from rubbing against my healthy one. Cinders, the devil kitty was lying next to me and she gave me a low growl as I stroked between her ears. My middle-aged body creaked as I stretched and shifted my weight to sit on the side of the bed. Cinders yipped and snipped at me as she bounded her fat self out of her side of the bed. I tightened my core and stood up on one leg. With practiced finesse I turned my entire body around and seated myself in my old friend, a metal wheelchair.
I went through my ritual of morning self-care. Dammit but I sure do love a shower. Leaning against the wall, I stand on one foot and let the hot water run down my entire body. It’s the closest I get to having a lover touch me. You don’t know how much you need the touch of another human until you are incapacitated with an injury and have no prospects. My left leg began to shake so I sat in my shower chair. I washed my face, shaved my legs and washed my hair. Cinders peered around the side of the shower curtain and mewed. I flung water at her and she ran away like her ass was on fire. My laughter echoed on the ceramic tiles. Afterward, I dried off and with my walker hopped back to my wheelchair.
I drank coffee.
Used my bone stimulator.
Did some banking.
Sat and waited to go to physical therapy.
That’s the story of my life these days.
Hurry the fuck up…
And wait….
I’m sick of only being able to wear one damn shoe at a time.
30 minutes of cardio left me sweating like a whore in church, but dammit I felt good! Amelia and I worked my right ankle and foot so hard. I was proud of the fact that we increased the reps of the work out and the size of the ball on the BAPS board. Amelia rewarded my efforts with a massage. We took measurements and found that my Range of Motion had greatly improved in the last month.
Look at me, I can point my toes!
Does that hurt?
Nope, but I’m sure it will later.
She and I said our goodbyes and good weekends. I won’t see her until Thursday of next week. I hope to be walking when I do….Wearing my gym shoes….And pushing my walker.
Tom my usual cab driver, picked me up and whisked me back to my apartment. To my cage, and my perch. Icing my ankle, I zoned out and watched crappy t.v. Cinders the devil kitty, snuggled around the top of my head.
I called Mom.
Shared texts with friends.
Took meds.
Fell asleep.
Tonight, I celebrate that I have five days left in this cage. I’ve learned why the caged bird sings. He sings of freedom. I miss being a biped. I miss going wherever in the hell I want. I miss doing whatever in the hell I want.
I’m finished.
My foot’s on fire.
I laughed while I watched National Lampoon’s Family Vacation.
My Dad looks like Chevy Chase.
I miss John Candy.
And I’m happy I didn’t cry today.
In a private message exchange Red and I chatted about our days. As our convo wound down he asked me, where are you going to walk first? Right the fuck out of my surgeon’s office, I quipped.
I’m spent. Goodnight Moon and goodnight Word Press. This Sparkly Bird has had it!

Six Days Till Touch Down

Feet in Puddles

 

Yesterday, Amelia wrapped her fingers around the arch of my right foot and began to gently massage the tiny bones beneath its surface. She tugged and stretched the atrophied ligaments and tendons too. I could feel the bones cracking and every once in awhile we heard a popping sound. They surprised us both, but I told her not to worry, she was not causing me any pain. More and more tension was eased as she worked her way down to my heel. I closed my eyes and laced my fingers behind my head. Shifting in her seat, Amelia began to move my foot outward and down. She told me I had to reeducate the signals of my brain.

The signals in my brain have become numb, and I feel like a drone. I’ve numbed my brain and body with food, mundane television and an addiction to Facebook. I’d hoped to write a book while I was off on medical. It didn’t happen. Instead, I wallowed in ice cream and fast food delivery. I’ve gained weight while being sedentary. Food didn’t make feel any better. It didn’t fill my soul.

I think in abstract instead of full sentences. Thoughts and ideas start, then stop. They become dead ends and hide somewhere in the synapses of my brain. Romance. Love. Anger. Doubts. Pain in the ankle. Pain in the heart. Thoughts muddled. Scarred soul along with the ankle. Loneliness. Independence. Faith. Fear. Prayers.

I worried about being dependent on pain meds so I weaned myself from them as quickly as I could. Tylenol does the job when taken regularly. The bones have healed, and so have the incisions. The original trauma site continues to heal, from the inside out. I ingest supplements for hair, skin and nails in hopes that it will heal more quickly. I’m tired of being reminded of my stupidity, and the fact that my body and car were totaled. That my insurance was canceled. That I have no idea when and if I will be able to walk normally again. Whether or not I will be able to drive again. Or how the hell I’m going to buy a car or insurance anyway.

I worry about my weight and the fact that none of my clothes fit. Will my newly knitted bones be able to hold up my fatness. Will I be loved or held again. Will I have a partner in crime and in life. Will I have to fight to find love, while I fight to regain my body again.  Or will only creepy old dudes find me attractive. Will I be able to point my toes normally.

Will all of this damn work be for naught. Will the Talus bone die. Will the ankle be fused and my recovery start all over again? Where are my high heels?

It’s raining right now and all I want to do is run out into it. I want to run away. I want to smell worms and springtime. I want to be myself again. A free spirit, effervescent, sparkly and unafraid of tomorrow. I want to bear weight and walk into the deluge outside my window. To feel it drench my skin and wash my soul clean. I want to live unencumbered by weight, a walker, or a limp.

Life is to be lived. Not by sitting on my couch and staring out the door wall, but by participating in it. The rainstorm has left puddles that I’d love to splash in. Ah, to feel the rain and grit cover my calves would be heaven.

Heaven, I tell you!

A Train Whistled in the Distance

“Accidents are not accidents but precise arrivals at the wrong right time.”
Dejan Stojanovic

Tonight, I turned off my television. There was no music emanating from my radio or computer. No videos played to distract me. Instead, I read a book by Chuck Palahniuk on how to write. My a/c clicked on from time to time, but for the most part my world was silent. As I read an essay, I was bombarded by the sound of a train whistle in the distance. From my second story apartment, I swear I could feel the vibration of the train cars as they glided across the tracks.

Instantly, the hair stood up on the nape of my neck, and I became acutely aware that the train whistle I heard was crossing the tracks where my accident took place on March 12, 2014. I could feel the cold from that night, and when I exhaled I swore I could see my breath. My heart raced and I could feel everything from that night. The impact of the crash and my body being thrown all over the car. My foot slipping off the brake that I’d jammed to the floor to keep from running into the back of a bus. The delicate skin around my ankle bone sliced open and laid bare to the bone. How helpless I felt, and broken.

The blood trickled down my face from the cut on my forehead. The skin on my left arm burned because of the powder from the deployed airbags. I was bruised and my right hand was laid open with a cut that required stitches. My head hit the windshield and I blacked out. I was almost dizzy with excitement when I came to, and then slid into the welcoming abyss of shock.

I screamed to anyone that could hear, ‘GET ME OUT!’

I was acutely aware of my surroundings as I touched the windshield where a hank of my hair had been pulled out. I think I even told one of the rescue workers to look at it. I’m sure they thought I was crazy. I remembered asking the bus driver if he and the passengers were all right. I don’t even think I was wearing a coat.  I smelled blood, powder, burning rubber, and adrenaline. My vision went yellow and green, but I had no idea why.

In one coherent moment, I texted Roger that I’d been in an accident. I was so damn cold. The ambulance drivers had to pull me out of my car. Or maybe it was the fire department, I’m not sure. I begged for pain meds and for someone to miraculously fix my foot. I thought for sure I’d torn the damn thing off. The pain was so bad, and recovery so slow that I sometimes wished I had.

Train whistles used to make me smile. They reminded me of when Mom would send Sis and me on the Amtrak to go visit our grandparents in Battle Creek every summer. I hope I find serenity again, from that train whistle in the distance, and  the clack, clack, clack of the metal wheels on polished tracks.

 

Sliding Glass Window Oberservations From A Grenade

Yesterday I watched from my sliding glass window, five young men wearing the same color suit. Four of them wore ties folded in Windsor knots. One of them wore a slick bow tie. There was a sixth man. A photographer wearing khakis, took candid shots of them as they changed from gym to dress shoes, straightened each others ties and goofed off, like young men do. My guess was, they were the groom and attendants for a wedding. Or maybe they were an a cappella group. Who knows?

My apartment complex is set back in a wooded area, so the photographer took them behind the building to get more shots. They left their gym shoes and back packs resting on the hoods of their vehicles. Their doors were left wide open. When they returned, they grabbed all their crap and jammed themselves into their vehicles. They and the khaki panted photographer headed off to parts unknown. I was excited to observe them as they smile radiantly and wore the same color suits. Four of them with ties folded in Windsor knots. The other, maybe the groom, wearing a slick bow tie.

Often, my observational posts begin on my personal Facebook page. An idea hits me and I have to write it down. I’m sure it drives many of my friends crazy because my posts can get a little lengthy. Whatever, then take me out of your news feed! On second thought, please don’t, because I want you to read my observations. Looking at my window is about the only place I can draw inspiration right now.  I’ve kinda been stuck in my apartment for 70 days.

My focus waned and I didn’t write much more till I arrived home from My Trivia last night. At 1:00 a.m I began writing a lengthy email to a friend, when the following quote popped into my Sparkly little head:

 I wanted to know that he would be okay if I did. I wanted to not be a grenade, to not be a malevolent force in the lives of the people I loved.–John Green, The Fault in Our Stars

I wrote to my friend, I am a goddamn grenade.

I realized that in my married life and when I was raising my kids, I was a grenade. I was a malevolent force that ruined everything in my path. I was an F5 tornado or category 5 hurricane. And I was hell bent on self destructing. The self destruction included being a horrible drunk, a slow suicide with food and conversing with men that I had no business talking to.

I don’t want to be a grenade, anymore.

My ultimate goal is to try to find peace within my stormy, passionate and romantic heart. My ultimate goal is to not judge others and somehow rise above the transgressions of my past. I’ve sought forgiveness from God. I can’t go back and change anything. I’m not looking for sympathy. I’m not even looking for forgiveness from Roger Darling, Meggie or Adam Boy. All I can do is keep my mouth shut, my mind clear and try to be happy.

I wish for the three I’ve hurt the most to be happy, because I don’t want to be a goddamn grenade, anymore.

I talked to my mother today and I asked her when I should stop saying I’m sorry for all the havoc I wreaked? Her response was as soon as put down the bucket of guilt I continued to carry around. I may never be completely forgiven by my children or the man I shared 24 years of my life with, but I’m going to put down that bucket. I’m sure there will be times in my life that I will pick it up again. There will always be a part of me that knows that I fucked everything up.

I’m also acutely aware that I will probably be alone for the rest of my life because of what I’ve done. I have to be okay with that.  I have to realize that there is no such thing as unconditional love, except for the love we give our children. On this journey to myself, I’ve discovered I am a child of God. I am a sinner, but even sinners need to forgive themselves.

His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches over me…

He watches over Meggie and Adam.

And I know, He watches over Roger Darling.