FWF Kellie Elmore

Annie looked beautiful when we first landed in the Caribbean for our honeymoon. We did nothing but eat and drink, and relax in the sun. I had worked 80 hour weeks back home, this was heaven.

We went snorkeling in the afternoon to see  glowing yellow and orange striped fish, in the aqua water. The only decision we had been what to order at the swim-up bar in the pool, a lime drenched mojito or a sweet mai thai served with a wedge of pineapple and a fake red cherry.

Dinner was late and I ordered a bottle of champagne and we ate roasted vegetables,  chicken with spices and loaves of thick, crusty bread. There was dancing so we decided to join other people.  Annie wore a bright flowered dress and soon after Annie suggested we go for a swim, we both loved water, especially Annie. We raced into the water, holding hands.

I admit I wasn’t as good as a swimmer as she was, I loved watching her as she laughed and I could see her head, like the flash of an automatic camera, her blond hair in the warm waves, happy she was having fun.

After about twenty minutes I called to her to come back in, I was getting tired of waiting and started yelling for her to come back, I still heard her laughter but it wasn’t funny anymore to me. “Annie, come in,” I shouted as I was approaching the shore.

Scuba diver. Found at Plongée sous-marine & ob...

Scuba diver. Found at Plongée sous-marine & obt’d Image:Plongeur bouteilles.jpg id’d there as (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As I sat on the sand, I saw other tourists looking puzzled and  they pointed first to me, then to Annie. The tide was getting rough.  I kept yelling over to her but she would wave and keep going.

I talked to the people on the shore and told them my story. Someone went inside for help, I was getting nervous. The manager offered the use of his own boat and lifeguard. I knew Annie would be mad but I was so worried that they raced into the water on their boat, if she ran into trouble or was possibly sick.

I sat on the beach, like a statue, rocking back and forth. I could not stop crying. Someone offered a blanket, another endless cups of strong black coffee. I saw the coast guard and his team looking with flood lights.  A whole day went by. Finally, the coast guard said they would have to end the search. Someone had called the police as well as emergency vehicles. I was so weak from crying and not sleeping, I could barely speak.

“I’m sorry Sir, there is no body in that water.” We searched everywhere, scuba divers with advanced equipment came and we found nothing. She was not on the property at all, last night we did not let anyone in or out of our community and she definitely is not in the water. I’m so sorry, Sir.”said the head of police.

Finally, I let out a blood curdling scream, “she’s out there, you have to find her” but they shook their heads firmly. Later, everyone walked me to our room and the manager unlocked the door. I looked around, inside, there was not a single item of Annie’s, not her clothing, her make up, her tooth-brush, nothing of hers was there. I saw them look at each other, frowning.

“What did you do to her?” I screamed to the hotel and the police. She WAS here, ask anyone, at dinner, at the scuba diving lessons.” They started to cuff my hands.

“We did, Sir, we did that last night, there never was anyone with you named Annie, you arrived alone checked into this room alone and stayed by yourself. We even called the airlines and you were flying alone there was not an Ann or Annie on the flight.”

I fought with them, I told them she HAD been here but they insisted on taking me to the hospital to get checked out. “But what about Annie? I sobbed. “Perhaps she is waiting for you at the hospital” one police offer said, they gave me a shot and I let them take me, to see Annie, so that they would believe me.

I’m still at a hospital, a different one. Here they also said Annie was not real, over and over again. They call me delusional but even now, after all these months I know that Annie had been with me, for real, even if she had only been in my mind.

That counts, right?

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

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New Year’s Eve Is Not Always Happy

Two Candles

Two Candles (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For all the people dreading tomorrow night, I’m here. I’m dreading it too. There are hundreds of reasons to dread it and I’m not even going to bother mentioning them, because you know why? They don’t matter. You feel what you feel and no one can deny your feelings. You have every right to acknowledge how you feel, just please try not to cover them up and drink irresponsibly.

I admit, I wish I did drink, one cocktail or one glass of wine. I hate the taste of alcohol, always did, even in college when friends were trying to get me to drink watery, warm beer and I just couldn’t do it. The taste was awful. I didn’t “practice” drinking so I got used to it and I didn’t let my friends change my mind. They would go up to the bar and order two pitchers of beer and one glass of Coke.

To this day I will have a sip of someone’s drink to see if I like it but I haven’t been successful. The closest I have come is Amaretto mixed with milk or orange juice or a sour mix, sometimes I can drink a half of one of those drinks. Generally, if I take a sip or two of my husband’s wine I say “I feel it already” and I do. My adult children make fun of me but again, drinking to them is like chips and dips to our generation. Believe me, I’m not condoning it. Trust me.

Whether you go to bed at ten tomorrow night, ( I’ve done that plenty of times, ) or you and your best friend, your dog, your spouse, your life partner, relative, facebook buddy stay up till after midnight, I wish you all a Happy 2014. I don’t plan a thing on New Year’s Eve except a good dinner at a very early seating in a nice restaurant, with my husband and two grown-up children, this year with my mom because she had no plans.

I’ll be honest, at 10:20pm I will know exactly when to look at the clock, and I will remember all too clearly that twelve years ago my beloved father passed away in a hospital, with no one there by his side.  I talked to the surgeon, I asked him if I could come and I remember his gentle voice saying “No sweetie, don’t come it will be too late.” I was able to talk to the ICU nurse who promised to give my dad a message and I gave my Dad permission to leave us, telling him we would take care of each other.
I mentioned a special word that he and I used together. He passed away within minutes.

So, whatever your sorrow is, whatever your personal story is, I understand. I truly do. You can write them down here or to me privately if you feel like talking about it. Just remember you are not alone, there are people who love you and staying up until midnight is not such a big deal. Tomorrow will come, as it always does.

Happy 2014 to all my readers, to my friends. I wish you peace, health, happiness. I wish you joy.

Yellow Magic Madness #29 Spinning Yellow, Out Of Control

Wheel

Wheel (Photo credit: Today is a good day)

I am a very

spiritual person and so I pray. Tonight, my oldest friend is in the ICU, his kidneys have failed him. We were born one day apart, he never let me forget that I was older by one day. Our mothers met in the maternity ward in our old local hospital many years ago. Tonight he is fighting for his life. Yellow magic, Yellow light, The joy of Yellow, the Hope.

My mind is spinning out of control, like a misguided ferris wheel on the wrong speed, it’s going too fast. He went through a bad time physically last year. I feel like I am living in a surreal world. Right now, all I think about, is him. I’m scared and sad and yes, a little angry too. Please don’t die, please. You had a lonely life, but you have us, your friends. Don’t give up. I am begging you.

10:30 PM : My phone rings, I don’t recognize the number, the voice sounds muffled, I hear loud BEEP- -BEEP sounds every few seconds. My friend has called me, I am shocked, happy, relieved, confused. We talk for only a few minutes, I tell him that “I love him, that all his friends do” he becomes emotional; I was so grateful to hear his voice. Let him make it through this night, and another….just one slow day, after another. Breathe…Breathe, Breathe.

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An Open Letter: To The DJ’s In Austrailia

The British royal family on Buckingham Palace ...

The British royal family on Buckingham Palace balcony after Prince William and Kate Middleton were married. Kate wears a wedding gown by Sarah Burton. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Call it whatever you want, a prank, a practical joke, a hoax, but now, one person is dead, DEAD, because of the “prank” that she fell for at the hospital where Kate Middleton was staying in Britain. Do you think it’s funny now? I don’t care how you thought that you wouldn’t get through, you did get through and if you were so concerned, you should have hung up right then and there saying “Sorry, wrong number” or just about anything instead of belaboring your joke. Your joke has just killed someone’s daughter or spouse or mother or sister. As you can tell, I don’t think it’s funny at all. I’m sure her family would agree with me.

What do we need to do to shake up the world and make people THINK before they do things, think before they speak? Does anyone ever think about consequences anymore? Did these radio personalities ever think that this could go wrong? Probably not. How do they feel now? Fine, keep following your instinctual “Don’t you think it would be hilarious if……” but then pause, sit back and go around the room and say “what could go WRONG?”

I don’t think these clowns at the Australian network set out to kill someone, definitely NOT. But, when they said they thought for sure no one would put them through, why didn’t they stop right then? They did get through, they embarrassed everybody and the person they blamed for her indiscretion (which really wasn’t her fault at all) killed herself. KILLED HERSELF over a prank.

I’m glad it didn’t happen here in the States. We’ve made bullying a high priority here but it still happens. I hope schools can use this as a teaching lesson about pranks and jokes that seem harmless,  the emphasis on “seem” harmless. Think about the whole picture, think like a lawyer, ask “what if” from every single angle. If it’s safe and no one could potentially get hurt, wronged, embarrassed or ashamed, you have your answer.

In this situation, the answer is quite clear. Guilty, as if you had shot her in the head. Next time: THINK before you SPEAK.

That’s just MY opinion, but then again, I’m still fuming.

Clown Underpants

Hospital Bed

Hospital Bed (Photo credit: Indiana Public Media)

Last week, when the nurse in the hospital gave me a warmed blue blanket I thought she was an angel from heaven. I had already been waiting three hours for my 15 minute procedure in the outpatient unit in our local hospital. I was there for a Cystoscopy, having a camera, pretty much shoved up your bladder and beyond. I had already been given 10mg of Valium orally; (why do they tell you, you aren’t supposed to take a sip of water or anything at home when they offer you these drugs with water in the hospital like candy at a Halloween party?)

The nurse did get permission from the arrogant anesthesiologist who took my disclaimer of incredibly painful TMJ, another side effect from Fibromyalgia, with a shrug of his shoulders and a basic “not my problem” attitude. Kudos to my doctor who apparently switched anesthesiologist so a lovely Doctor replaced him and she used a different drug and didn’t have to wire my jaw open wide, thank you! You were kind, gentle and I remember your sweet, assuring smile that I would be dopey and sleepy in about……..and that was it.

Next thing I knew I was in some hall with my name being called way too loudly. “Laurie, Laurie” are you awake, wake up!” the nurses shouted and I had no idea where I was or even who I was. After saying “Where am I?” not at all original, I remember I uttered my husband’s name and someone went to get him. Apparently the procedure was over and I was in the hallway.  The same nurse brought me huge, mesh “clown” underpants which, I found hysterical. Let’s just blame it on the drugs. (but really they were SO funny!) I wish I hadn’t thrown them away!

Oh, those memories just come flooding back, pun intended. No one told me or prepared me that after a cystoscopy I would get cramping and pain and bleeding and would need the same supplies I needed when I still had my cycle; that pain was familiar. It’s funny how when we try to recreate happiness it’s hard to do but pain? We remember it vividly.

I wasn’t hungry anymore or thirsty, I was just tired and the only thing that interested me was a cup of coffee.  My pounding head felt as if a boomerang was bouncing between each lobe of my brain, what’s left of it that is. With Fibromyalgia comes “Fibro Fog” I don’t need to define if for those of you who have it, but for others who don’t know what it is: it’s an extended brain freeze. It bothers us much more than you, even if you have to hear repeated stories. It makes us feel stupid, old, daft and like we have dementia. We forget what we have done five minutes ago, it’s sad. Forgive us and try to be kind.

Finally home, I crawled into our bed, Lexi, my dog, climbing on and lying across my feet, her way to say she cares, not leaving my side. She licked each finger, I stroked her fur. Grateful to be home, to be in bed, I thanked my guardian angels for keeping me safe, I held one silver guardian angel key chain in my hand. Most of all, I told my husband how much I love him and how grateful I am for all that he does for me and to the nurse that brought me the warm blue blanket: thank you, it’s the little things that make all the difference. I appreciate all of my friends, especially, my on-line friends who support me and care for me without ever meeting me. You mean the world to me too!

Carry on Tuesday: A little while, a little while……

Baby Girl

Baby Girl (Photo credit: Sparlingo)

Carly was only nineteen years old, but she felt older than that, just having had a baby. She had given birth yesterday and she hadn’t wanted to see the baby much less name it. She didn’t know what to do, people were talking at her from all sides; the nurses, social workers, people from an adoption agency, her mother, until she had to cover her ears it was so loud. Finally, she started crying because it was all too much pressure so the nurse made everyone leave. Carly crumpled and forced herself to relax.

The father of the child, her ex-fling Rick, a musician didn’t even know that she had been pregnant, much less had a baby. She didn’t even know where he was, probably hitch-hiking in the mid-west with his band.  She had slept with him a couple of times but she was just one girl in a series of his ardent admirers. She had been SO stupid.

“Just give it up” her friends had said to her like forfeiting a game, or tossing an unwanted ham sandwich. Sure, this kid hadn’t been planned but just to give it away, like an unwanted present? It wasn’t the baby’s fault that she had come into the world. The adoption agency assured her that the baby would be placed with a “lovely family” she could even choose the family if she wanted to. Did she want to keep in touch with the family and have an “open adoption?”  Or, she could have a “closed” or private adoption and then she could give up her rights to the baby and start over again.

She did like the idea of starting over or as her friends put it “with a fresh start.” She could move to a big city and no one would ever have to know about this if she didn’t want to tell them. She could be whoever she wanted to be, she didn’t think she loved this child, she hadn’t even SEEN her. She decided that she was comfortable with this decision. She flipped off the light switch and then promptly fell asleep.

Carly woke up, startled, at 3am; she put her bathrobe on and decided to go for a walk down the hall, slowly, gingerly, she was still in pain. She didn’t know where she was going but subconsciously she knew where she would be end up. It was late, most people were sleeping, she stepped quietly up to the nursery window and a new nurse had just started her shift. She smiled brightly: “Hi, do you want me to get your baby?” Carly froze but instead of saying “No” she said “Yes” they checked her bracelet, and in a minute, this precious little pink bundle that she recognized immediately in her arms.

“Oh, she’s so pretty, she’s so pretty” Carly cried, as she held the baby up to her and rocked her gently. The nurse said “we sure can see someone who looks just like her pretty Mama.” At that, Carly looked in the nurse’s eyes, smiled and straightened up, “Thank you,” she whispered as tears streamed down her face. Carly asked if the baby could go back to the room with her so the nurse signed some papers and they moved the cradle on wheels into her room. The same nurse helped her get settled, showed her how to breastfeed, sat with them and talked for over an hour. It was a slow night and Carly had been the only person in the maternity unit.

Later that morning, when people started to fill her room, Carly, feeling ten years older, took control. In a clear strong voice Carly announced, “I’ve decided to keep my baby, it’s a girl and her name is Isabella. A clamor started in the room, all negative,  telling her she was a fool. Carly stared at them all and in a clear, bright tone, like the ringing of a bell said:  I love her and I will take care of her. It may take me a little while, a little while to get used to things but NOBODY will separate us. My mom has agreed to help us until we can find our own way. Thanks, Mom!! I can’t pretend my baby never happened and have a “fresh start,” that is great for some women but not for me; I would be looking for her for my whole life.  We are family now, the three of us. Three generations of strong women. Now, I think it’s time for the three of us to go home!

Dedicated to Nurse Bella who has agreed to be Isabella’s Godmother

Carry on Tuesday: Once Upon A Time

Miss Haxby is holding a newborn baby that is i...

Miss Haxby is holding a newborn baby that is in an incubator at the Toronto Western Hospital in Toronto, Ont (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In 1956 there was a child born six weeks premature, it was the first time the child’s mom had worn a borrowed maternity dress to a party. Doctors back then were strict about weight gain so she wasn’t really showing at all. After every appointment with her Obstetrician, she treated herself to a chocolate ice cream soda, a delicious, frosty treat that she looked forward to every two weeks.

Once at the party she wasn’t feeling well but had no idea she was in labor until her friend, Claire, suggested she sit in the chair and she timed the odd cramps, soon it was off to the hospital. Claire drove her to the hospital while Claire’s husband, Teddy drove her husband. Her husband hadn’t even tasted his favorite German potato salad yet, I’d imagine, he was a bit disappointed.

They arrived at the hospital and the mom was rushed into the delivery room, she hadn’t expected to be giving birth six weeks early. The labor was fast and soon, a 4 pound, 6 ounce tiny baby girl was born. The mother said she “looked like a plucked chicken.” Dad apparently said to “Uncle Teddy “how cute can you get.” Uncle Teddy told that part of the story every time he saw the little girl until he could no longer speak. It was “their” story.

It turned out that the dad visited the little girl in the hospital, on his way home from the subway every night. He looked through the window and tapped the glass, it was in the late 50’s and he couldn’t do much more than that but him telling her that he was there every night made her feel good. Mom’s story was that she never visited because “there was nothing she could do” a story she changed recently when speaking to the child’s older sister.  She hadn’t visited; why would she have told the ugly truth so many times before? Did she want to rewrite history? Maybe. All of a sudden she was feeding that baby, bottles every other day. The sister just wanted to help but the child knew her mother was lying. It was okay, it just seemed pointless. Why bother now? Maybe it was guilt or she wanted to right a wrong or maybe in her mind, she decided that she wanted to remember it that way. One’s history is really made up of interpretation from others and ourselves.

Once upon a time had happened already, the child had accepted the parameters of her relationships with both her parents, with her Uncle as well. You can’t rewrite history. You just have to accept it for what it was, like she had done, all those years ago and then slowly, quietly, tiptoe, on soft, gray, stocking feet, walk away.

Carry on Tuesday: “Run when you can, walk if you have to, crawl if you must; just never give up.”

English: a little shy girl Русский: ЗАСТЕНЧИВА...

English: a little shy girl Русский: ЗАСТЕНЧИВАЯ ДЕВОЧКА (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

She had always given up too easily. As long as she could remember, she chose not to fight but to deflate, like the air sizzling, slowly, out of a big brightly colored blue balloon. Why, she wondered now? Was it just her character or was she never able to feel safe and confident as a young girl even in her own home? It was hard to differentiate one from the other. Nature vs. Nurture?  Was it because she had  been six weeks premature and had to stay in the hospital for that long in a heated crib? She had always been a shy girl, an anxious one too.  Whose fault was that, she asked herself, in her older years. Surely it was not hers alone? Did her parents not think this was unusual enough to warrant some extra attention?

She didn’t like “playing board games”like Scrabble because there was no game that she thought she could do well in and she was easily embarrassed and ashamed. Had she dug right in, like others she knew and practiced feverishly, she could probably have been on top in at least one or two things but she never stayed long enough. It was a shame, she thought, later on in her life. No one had ever encouraged her to keep trying, it was almost as if they expected little so she gave them what they expected. She felt just like a tiny speck against a world made up of giant red rocks and icy mountain peaks, even large green valleys. She could disappear easily and no one would notice.

She tried to disappear one day when she was about thirteen or fourteen. Their family had a shared cabana at a beach club and one day she took off walking a very long distance and stayed away for hours. She wanted her family and friends to worry, to look for her, she wanted to be missed but when she eventually started walking back, and came “home” no one said a thing; they never even knew she was missing. She was upset, and mad that no one had even noticed.

She gave up all the time, but it didn’t seem like giving up when she was doing it, only years later, while looking back at her youth she figured out that she had been too scared, too fragile, too afraid to try new things. She gave up before she could fail; that was a very lonely and limiting life. She pushed boyfriends away before they became too close. She knew they weren’t serious, so she ended the relationship, knowing it would never be more than what they had then. She regretted that only once in her life but she didn’t have the emotional capacity, at the time, to communicate well.

Looking back forty years, she could see when her life had come to an emotional halt. It’s as if the brakes were firmly pushed and there she stood, alone and apart from most of her friends. Her husband still teased her about playing with Barbie dolls at fourteen with her friend, Linda. She was definitely a “late bloomer,”  her comfort companions were stuffed animals that surrounded her bed for many years. Even now, one or two are tucked under her pillow.

Now, as an older person, she sees the world in a different way. While physically she cannot run anymore, her mind jogs like the wind, as fast as possible. She is no longer shy and introverted but strong in her opinions and in her intuitive feelings. When she walks now, she walks with a brightly, colorful cane to help her balance issues but that does not stop her from walking, it fuels her with confidence, a confidence she never before had. Lastly, if she doesn’t like the sound of something she has written or a photograph she has taken, she will take another and another and not give up, until she knows, in her heart that it is exceptional and only she has to love it for it to be magnificent and divine.

Carry On Tuesday – “Every Now And Then”

A Hill-Rom hospital bed

A Hill-Rom hospital bed (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I live in a world of darkness; light splinters in through occasional cracks in the white, plastic blinds. I would rather be in the darkness than in the light. When there is a hint of brightness I hide under my covers and lie still, squeeze my eyes tight. I have felt this way for a long time. Every now and then I try to picture myself in the past buying red tulips and iced coffee but it has been so long ago I can barely remember what it felt like. I now lie in a hospital bed, the IV dripping fluids into my wobbly bluish vein, pain medication scheduled every four hours. There is no silence in a hospital ward, it’s always too noisy; I can’t even hear myself think, maybe they do this on purpose for distraction.

When visitors come I put on pale, pink lipstick and try to sit up to give the image of energy. I attempt to smile and make conversation but really, what is there to talk about? We all know I am dying but nobody wants to talk about that, well, except for me. I bring up the topic from time to time but my friends squirm and change the subject. Since it is not happening to them I don’t understand why they won’t have a conversation with me about it, for goodness sake. Death is my future, it’s all of our futures, some sooner than later. It makes them feel uncomfortable to mention the word, I want to yell at them “man up, I’m the one who is dying here, not you!! ” but I don’t have the energy.

When my father died, many years ago, I had one friend who just let me cry, her name was Margo. I didn’t have to say anything,  I just needed to be able to be with someone I trusted, her arm around my shoulders and I could cry. No one else, even family, made me feel that safe with the exception of my dog. She would jump on the bed and I would cry and she would kiss my face and lick my tears. She was one of the most empathetic dogs I’ve ever known, her nickname was Buddha Dog.

I wear red “cowboy” bandanas in my hair, or what’s left of my hair, I look like a cross between a bad-ass motorcycle chick and a kewpie doll, that’s one hell of a combination but it amuses me. I’m not supposed to admit this but I really don’t like when my children come to see me, I’d rather they didn’t but my husband disagrees and lectures me on this. Why should they have to see me like this, thin and disintegrating and in pain? I would rather them remember me as I was, happily eating mango sorbet, laughing at my own jokes. I would scratch as many cars as possible and not be mad when they teased me about what a horrible driver I was if I could turn the clock back but I can’t. I can’t do a thing except lie here and wait; I am powerless.

Sometimes I ask for foods from my childhood, Wonder bread sandwiches with the crusts cut off with butter and Kraft American cheese or creamy Skippy peanut butter with honey and sliced bananas. These things are soft and don’t hurt the sores in my mouth as much as some of the other foods they try to make me eat. Even if I can’t eat them, I try to touch them and smell them and it makes people feel good to bring something. I’ve learned that. I will ask for simple things so they will feel better.

I don’t have much time left but time enough to know that this life is a short one. Enjoy, not each day, but each part of every day no matter how shitty it is. You are alive and you still have your future. I do not. Hold on to what you have, it is just a fleeting moment or two. Really, hold on to what you have while you can.

Having Danced Under Moon-Lit Skies

English: Full moon as seen from Mannheim.

Image via Wikipedia

Kate pictured her husband in his hospital room, he had emailed her a photo of his face with all the tubes attached, the IV in his arm, his pale face grim and anxiety ridden. He honestly thought she would like to see a picture of him the night before his procedure all wired up before he went to sleep. Little did he know how much she hated that picture that was now forever burned in her brain.

He had died after the surgery, the hospital called her at four a.m. to tell her the news.  People should know that there is no such thing as good news at four a.m. Ever. Her parents were over so they stayed with the children while she raced to the hospital in her faded pink bathrobe and running shoes, sobbing hysterically. “She needed to identify the body,” the hospital said.

It had only been three months since he died. She buried her head into her freezing hands and wept, she was alone in their old house tonight. Her sobs wracked her body until she curled up on the old, soft, green couch and lay in the fetal position. She never thought she would be alone so early in her life; she was now a widow at the age of 46. Her children, Alec, 10 and Zoe, 8 were fatherless. ‘How could she handle this’ she thought? ‘How would they get by?’ She honestly had no idea; she knew she had to ‘make an effort for the children,’ that’s what everyone said but she didn’t know how to do that.’

Their cat, Sam, jumped up to the couch and lay beside her. David had been the one in the family who had wanted a cat, maybe the cat was mourning too; he almost never came to Kate. With another night of sleep eluding her Kate tried imaging the years that she and David had dated, how they danced under moonlit stars in their fancy outfits from company parties. She remembered her auburn hair done up in a chignon, and wearing fabulous silver high heels, David, in a tuxedo looking dapper. They traveled all over the world together before they had kids, Istanbul, Rome, Ireland, Amsterdam. They would walk together in a foreign city at all hours of the morning, dancing in deserted streets, streaks of brilliant color from ever-changing skies, holding hands. They would laugh loudly after drinking flutes of champagne. Their lives revolved around each other, having fun, eating at elegant restaurants and living in a romantic dream world.

They married in a small, elegant wedding a year after they returned home and two years later, they celebrated birth of their son Alec. Two years after that they welcomed with love, their daughter Zoe into their family. They moved from an apartment in Manhattan to a small house in Connecticut on a tree-lined street with gardens and small patios. They went from the “ideal couple” to the “perfect family” that’s what people said.

‘What about now?’ Kate cried into the dark night. She didn’t know what to do. She grabbed a bottle of whiskey hidden under the sink and poured herself a generous glass. She tried to drink it all down at once but it made her cough and sputter so she stopped and tried again a few moments later. Everyone expected her to be perfect, to be strong and able and to magically utter those famous words “life goes on.” She couldn’t do it. She tried to tell people but they insisted ‘she could.’  She did not want to be in this world alone without David anymore. That she knew without a single doubt. Yes, she loved her children dearly but she could not function without her husband, the other half of herself.

Kate knew it was just a bad night, a really bad night. She decided to take a hot bath and a few sleeping pills and relax. While drawing her bath she sipped at her second drink and calmed down. She would make it through; she had no choice. No, it was not easy but leaving her children without a parent was unconscionable. In a sudden burst of energy she threw away all the alcohol she had in the house and all the pills. Betraying her children would be like betraying her husband David and she couldn’t do it. She was ashamed of herself that she even had thought about it.  After her bath she was very tired and slept for a long time. She dreamed about their past, dancing in the streets, walking up on the beaches to spectacular sunrises, making love in secret.

She awoke to terrible banging at the front door, her head throbbing with pain. With her hand covering her head, she lurched to the door to open it and was greeted by her two children, hugging and kissing her. ‘This is why she was alive’ she thought. ‘This was her purpose’. She would try hard not to look back but try to stay in the present for these two miraculous children, the result of their love and all they had been, together.