Tomorrow I leave for San Antonio with a woman who has become as dear a friend to me as anyone I have ever known.
She is going to San An on a business trip. She invited me along because she knew I could use a break.
And I certainly can.
I am leaving my kids with my parents, who, too, could use a break. My mother is one of those people, those rarest of people, who never stops doing for others, no matter how tired or sad or worried she is. She just keeps on going, and she keeps all the hurt and the worry buried down deep.
My dad, on the other hand, wears his heart on his sleeve. He is the one who wants to make everything OK. He wants to fix every problem, to make everyone laugh, to make every sadness go away.
They have been suffering with me, right alongside me, for a very long time now.
They are hurt, just as I am. So deeply, incredibly hurt.
They LOVE my kids as if they were their own.
They would make any sacrifice -- and, wow, haven't they already sacrificed so much --in an effort to make my life better, and to help my son, who needs so much, and to help my daughter, who needs attention in her own way, even though she doesn't have all the problems that her brother must face.
I am their only child.
I think I knew, very early on in my life, just how important I was to them. I had this sense growing up, that if anything bad ever happened to me, that my parents' lives would be essentially over.
So, I never tested the waters...
I never drank a beer in high school, never lifted a cigarette to my lips, much less toyed with drugs.
I tried so very hard to please.
I just HATE that all of my problems are now impacting them in such a horrible way, in what should be a calm, happy period of their lives.
I will, never, ever be able to repay them for what they have done for me.
I will never, ever be able to tell them just how much they mean to me ... how thankful I am for their devotion, how sorry I am for their pain.
There are people in this world who demonstrate what it truly means to be a parent ... people who stand up when times get hard .... people who fight when life is painful, even if they aren't sure what the best course of action is.
I am so grateful, so very, very grateful, that I got two of those people for my parents.