April 30, 2010

The Great Big Little Things that Bring Me Joy: Part Ten

Who has brought me joy?

My parents, who would put Everest on their backs and walk 100 miles if they could, if it would somehow help me and my children.

My magnificent lifeline, S, my best friend in the world.

My gals here in DFW--dazzling, sexy women who have my back.

My gals back in the hometown. (Hey, J and H.)

My gals back in LR. (Yo, D and C. I miss you and think I will be heading your way in June.)

My best law school bud. (Yes, girl, we are long overdue for a phone call. You will be hearing from me any day now).

My childhood friend up in Arlington who knows my pain all too well.

My cousin in KC who checks in and who, no doubt, prays for me every day.

The amazing ladies I know from cyberspace.

The old friends who have reappeared recently and brought me laughter and good wishes. One IMs me out of the blue and keeps sending me those funny words at just the right times, one drops me a note because he has heard of my worries, one reads this blog and shares her own stories of a broken heart.

The neighbors who know I am here without a spouse and who sincerely offer help when I need it.

To all the people who have listened to me vent and listened to me worry, who have found ways to make me laugh, who have cheered my accomplishments--little though they may be--and who have helped me make peace with my mistakes ....

To the people who get down on my son's level and really try to connect with him, the people who cheer on his accomplishments--because they are never little ....

To all the people who have offered prayers and good wishes, and, perhaps most importantly, companionship when I am feeling lonely ....

I am lucky to know you all.

April 29, 2010

The Great Big Little Things that Bring Me Joy: Part Nine

The 5 pounds I recently added to the end of my bench press routine ...

And the additional 5 I am going to add my next time at the gym.

April 28, 2010

The Great Big Little Things that Bring Me Joy: Part Eight

There is a woman I know who is absolutely extraordinary.

She works as a CPA by day and as a mother 24-7.

She is, without a doubt, the best friend I have ever had.

In October of '08, when I was just getting to know her, she recruited me to run a half-marathon with her in an effort to raise funds for the school our sons were then attending.

She also has a son on the spectrum. She worries about him endlessly. I tell her to save her worries. I have seen this sweet boy, many times in many different environments. I have watched him; I have talked to him. He will be fine. He will be better than fine. He is going to achieve beyond her wildest expectations.

But that is easy for me to say, even though I would put money on it. LOTS of money.

This woman, my friend, is THE person I would call if I were ever to sit in the contestant's chair on "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire." (Do they even still tape that show?)

She would be my LIFELINE.

Not because I think she has an encyclopedic mind, although, without question, she is a very smart gal.

She would be the person I would call first because she would be the person carefully considering the realities of my situation. She knows as well as anyone what I most fear.

She would be the person saying, "Geez, Leah, I think the answer is probably choice B, but I am not sure, and you could pay for a year of speech and occupational therapy for Daniel with the money you could get by just walking away."

She knows how I think, this woman.

She knows how I think because she knows what it is like to worry about a child--to REALLY worry, about things of REAL significance.

She also knows how I think because she listens. She listens to me unlike anyone has ever listened to me, ever, in my entire life.

I called her the night my husband left. She cried with me on the phone. I heard the tears, and mine came even faster--just because she was crying with me, because I knew she felt pain because I was feeling pain.

She sat with me, margaritas in hand, a month after he left, listening to me describe my fear, my uncertainty. She grabbed for the napkins on the table to dab at her own eyes when I described how I had fallen in love with him, when I was two-weeks shy of 18-years-old.

She traveled with me to Austin, about three months after he had left, when I still clung to a little hope that he might come back. She watched me as I repeatedly checked my phone, hoping for some sort of message, some sort of sign, that there was still a reason to hang on to hope.

The call never came.

But we went to the game, we cheered for the Longhorns, we drank some more margaritas, and I had a good time.

All because of her.

This woman, this friend of mine, cannot begin to imagine how much she is valued.

I don't think I could ever adequately express how much she means to me.

She calls me every single day, and if she senses that the day is a rough one, you can bet I will hear from her more than once.

When your life is such a circus, such a three-ring-circus .... when you have so many things to worry about, so many reasons to vent .... when you have so little to offer in return ...... and, yet, this person, this friend, actually calls you every day and listens ....

There is nobody--NOBODY--who will ever illustrate the meaning of friendship better than this woman, my friend.


She is beautiful, and she doesn't even appreciate her own beauty.

She is a model not just of friendship, but of motherhood. If only I could summon half the energy, one-tenth the patience, that she demonstrates in her daily life...

She has watched me shed so many tears, and she knows I am not finished crying. She knows the tears can sneak up like a criminal, ready to wipe me out on a tough day. She knows how frustrated I am and the many, many reasons why.

She is frustrated for me.

She also has laughed with me, many times, in many situations. We even have laughed at some of the absurdity of my life as it is today--tragic though the underlying circumstances may be, we are finding ways to laugh.

This woman, my friend, does more than bring me joy.

She restores my sanity.

Thank you, girl, a million, trillion times over, for being the perfect lifeline.

April 27, 2010

The Great Big Little Things that Bring Me Joy: Part Seven

I have a little nighttime routine with my daughter.

After we read books and turn down the light, I snuggle with her for a while. Then I say to her, "Olivia, do you know how much I love you?"

And she says, "How much?"

I tell her:

I love you more than there are stars in the sky.
I love you more than there are fish in the sea.
I love you more than there is sand in the desert.
I love you every single day, all the time.

These days, she comes back with her own response, which varies a bit from night to night, but never fails to bring me immeasurable joy.

She says, "Mama, do you know how much I love YOU?"

And I say, "How much?"

Sometimes she stands up in the bed, jumps about, flails her arms upward and shouts, "THIS MUCH!"

She frequently says, "Mama, I love you more than Chuck E. Cheese is tall."

You see, she is picturing the guy who dresses like Chuck E. and walks around the "restaurant" giving kids high-fives. Apparently, he looks pretty darn big to a four-year-old.

And she says, "Mama, I love you more than Barney is purple."

My Lord, isn't she clever???!

And, then there is this line, which says it all:

"Mama, I love you more than chocolate cake."

Has there ever been any child, anywhere in the world, more spectacular than this one?!

What could possibly bring me more joy than being her mother.

April 26, 2010

The Great Big Little Things that Bring Me Joy: Part Six

Hearing my daughter giggle in her sleep.

And knowing that when the dreams aren't so pleasant, a squirt of our "magic fairy princess spray" fixes all.

The spray keeps the bad dreams from coming back, you see.

And what could make me happier than knowing she has such faith in me--she believes in the spray because she believes in me.

Thank you, my darling daughter, for the vote of confidence. I will do my best to deserve it.

Because I could not have been given a more precious gift than you.

April 25, 2010

The Great Big Little Things that Bring Me Joy: Part Five

Hearing my son finally say "mama" even if I still have to prompt it.

There has never been a more beautiful sound in the history of the world.

April 24, 2010

The Great Big Little Things that Bring Me Joy: Part Four

Today I ran my first 5K.

My goal was to finish in under 26 minutes.

I finished in 25 minutes, 32 seconds.

AND .... I had the fastest time in my division. Yes, we were a slow group and it was a small race!

I can run faster and farther than at any other point in my life.

I plan to run another half-marathon before the end of the year. And, who knows, maybe, just maybe, I will shoot for the whole darn thing.

So, yes, I am patting myself on the back here, but, never, ever did I think I could run more than 3 miles at an 8-minute-mile pace.

Until recently ....

And that does, indeed, me bring me some joy.

April 23, 2010

The Great Big Little Things that Bring Me Joy: Part Three

Yesterday I wrote about my daughter's social graces--how she picks up new friends with ease and engages in the most wonderful imaginary play.

And here is the rest of the story, another big little thing that makes me truly happy:

Not only does Olivia bond so easily with the typical peers in her life, but she also seems to have a significant impact on the children in her life who are on the autism spectrum.

Olivia attends an inclusion preschool, the same preschool my autistic son attended for two years. Children with autism attend the school right alongside their typical peers. They receive behavioral therapy throughout the school day, and the typical peers provide an avenue for teachers to help children on the spectrum gain and improve social skills.

When my son attended this preschool, he had some extraordinary classmates who took it upon themselves to help him. Merci, Arianna, Lexi, Kendall, Laney, Sydney, Deja, Connor, Jack, Rory, and, most especially, Ethan.

They are remarkable children, and will, no doubt, grow into remarkable adults. If the world were filled only with such people .....

When my son attended this preschool, and I watched these children sharing with him, calling out to him to bring him into their world, throwing him balls, cheering his little accomplishments, hugging and dancing with him with enthusiasm in their eyes ....

I wanted to wrap them each in my own arms. I wanted to tell their parents how amazing their children are and what very special adults I know they will one day be.

So, I tried to meet them all. I told them how much I appreciated their beautiful children. I know my words could never convey the magnitude of my appreciation.

Today, I am the parent on the receiving end of such words.

I hear how Jacob talks about Olivia at home, even though he does not mention other children by name.

I hear how Camden loves to play games with Olivia, how Hunter likes to sit next to her at circle time, and how Emma likes to take her hand to dance.

And my dear friend Leslie told me how she watched her son Clark pick out Olivia's picture from his PECS book when he had the opportunity to pick out a reward. Olivia was his reward! He picked Olivia -- a PEER!!! -- out of any number of other fun things. How wonderful that it is my daughter--my emotional, dramatic, and sensitive but bossy little girl--that he wants to see and be with!

I notice how the typical peers respond to Olivia with such enthusiasm when she comes to school. And that is wonderful. But I also notice her classmates on the spectrum and how they actually stop to look at her when she walks in. They smile at the sight of her, and I know, as well as anyone, just how incredible that is.

It makes me happy.

And it makes me exceptionally PROUD.

April 22, 2010

The Great Big Little Things that Bring Me Joy: Part Two

Anyone with a child on the spectrum will tell you that one of the most difficult parts for a parent is watching your child struggle socially.

And if your child is severely challenged with respect to language, then the social issues are multiplied by a factor of, like, a gazillion.

At least.

How do you make friends when you don't have any language?
The plain and simple truth is that you don't.
So, what must it be like to live in a world without friends?
I can't bear to think about it.

What a joy, then, it is to watch my daughter among her peers.

An absolute joy.

We frequently roll in to her preschool a good 30 minutes or more after most of her classmates. She really likes to dawdle in the morning. I let her. Soon enough she will be living in the world of tardy bells, so why should I rush her out the door now when we can snuggle under the covers and watch one of her favorite shows. What is the rush? It is a luxury--one that will not last forever, for multiple reasons.

Usually, when we arrive at our late hour, her classmates are in the middle of circle time, all of them sitting on their colorful rug in the corner of the room. She walks into her class and puts all of her stuff away like a pro. She joins her classmates without direction; she is as comfortable and confident in her learning environment as any four-year-old could be.

What a blessing.

Yesterday, we got to school earlier than usual, and her peers were still at the table nearest the cubbies instead of off in the corner for story time.

It was as if royalty had walked into the room

Her best bud Cassie immediately started hollering her name. She had something so very important that Olivia just had to know--right then, no time to wait.

The boy with the megawatt smile, her little bud Adrian, rushed over to yank the birthday party invitation out of her cubby.

"Olivia, this is yours. It is for my party. A Buzz Lightyear party. This is yours. This is yours."
He looked at me when he felt he wasn't getting the desired reaction.

"This is Olivia's. It is for my party. I want her to come."

Oh, we will be there, Adrian. You can count on it.

Then the future ladies' man, Dominique, came bounding over. "Olivia, Olivia, Olivia!"

It was if her name had been recorded in song.

Dominique looks at me. "Olivia told me she wanted me and Cassie and Adrian to come over to her house to spend the night."

Really? Wouldn't that be something.

If I didn't have my son, my beautiful and challenged son, I wouldn't come close to appreciating what a gorgeous scene was right then before my eyes.

Teachers were trying to get the little boys back in their seats. They were supposed to be in their chairs working, not running to greet my daughter.

Everyone was cheerfully screaming at her at once. Teachers were trying to get children to use their inside voices.

Oh, what magnificent chaos!
And all because my daughter entered the room.

I watch her at parks and places like McDonald's. She is an incredibly sensitive soul and sometimes guarded, but, when she sees a girl about her age, she can make a new friend in a minute.

I can get lost in it -- watching her talk to one of these peers she has just met. I watch and listen. There she is with this child she probably will never see again. Giggling, whispering, planning some elaborate fantasy world of play.

I could climb Everest (OK, definitely not Everest but some small mountain perhaps). I could walk in rain forests or swim in the world's most beautiful oceans.

And I would not see anything as wonderfully magnificent as my daughter playing so naturally with her friends.

What a treasure.

April 21, 2010

The Great Big Little Things that Bring Me Joy: Part One

When I started this blog, I am not sure I could put my motivation into words.

I was hurting.

The person I had loved since I was 18 had just .... left.

I didn't know what in the h-e-double-l to do.

I sure didn't want to spend money on a counselor when all of that money could be going for speech and behavioral therapy for my son, who has autism. Looking back, I wish I would have sought a professional therapist for myself soon after my husband left because maybe, just maybe, a good counselor would have helped me find a faster, more direct route to peace--not to say that my life currently is peaceful, but the concept is relative, right?

Live and learn.

Writing was my therapy last winter. I couldn't make sense of what had happened in my life. I couldn't even begin to process all the thoughts, all the fears, all the hurt.

And so I wrote.

Here I am, still writing, still seeking the therapeutic value to organizing the thoughts swirling in my head.

But I write for other reasons, too.

I want to have a record of this time in my life, both for myself and for my children.

I want to record the good moments: all the wonderful people who are making me laugh, the special days of my children, the tiny moments when I reflect on just how much I have to be grateful for.

This blog is a gift to myself -- to the person I am in 10, 20, 30 years, if I am lucky enough to live out all those days.

So, I think it is time I think of that woman, the future me, and challenge myself to give her something worth reading. For the next two weeks, I promise to post daily about something that makes me happy. It might be just a sentence or two about something my daughter has said to me. It might be something that requries much more explanation. It might even be a part of my past, a memory that still brings happiness to my life each time I think of it.

It might not sound like much of a challenge to you guys. But my children will be away from me for a week, starting Friday, and so .... therein lies the challenge.

I miss them so very much when they are away.

For lack of a better description, it is as if I am missing a part of myself. As if I am walking miles without shoes, breathing with just one lung, driving down a highway in a foreign land with absolutely no idea which way to go.

Sappy, yes. But how else can I describe it? How can I describe being without these beautiful children, the two little people at the center of my life?

There is no way to describe it. It just hurts.

But I can live through it, just as I have lived through some very, very dark days.

And not only can I live through it, I can have some serious fun--although my children never, not even for a moment, leave my thoughts.

So, there is my challenge, and I hope I don't have to think too hard to come up with 14 things that make me truly happy.

I will start right now.

I love how my son responds to water. He reminds me of the otters at our local zoo, spinning in the water, zipping along as if they have little engines in their bellies, turning and twisting, diving to the bottom and then shooting up like cannons.

He is that relaxed in the water and always has been. He never fought it. He taught himself to swim. He taught himself to flip from his side to his back, to swim to the bottom of the pool and retrieve the diving sticks.

He should have been born with gills.

His sister, my absolutely amazing daughter, does not have that same natural ability in the water. But, at just four-years-old, she is capable of going pretty much anywhere she wants to go in any pool, even if she does swim vertically! She has lost the fear she once had. She is a vertical fish.

I absolutely adore how my daughter has taken on a love for swimming because it is her brother's greatest love.

Would she have had fun at a pool at the age of four even if she did not have Daniel for a brother? Sure.

I can tell you, though, that the water was not a natural love for my daughter like it was for my son. I can still picture the two-year-old who screamed about getting splahed, who paraded around the pool with a popsicle like she was about to pose for cover shots.

But hundreds of trips to pools later, my daughter is a swimmer! Just like her brother, she taught herself. She learned to swim because Daniel did it so well and because she wanted to join him, the brother who cannot talk to her or play with her, in something that he loves.

I took them swimming today. And I saw her swim to him and wrap her arms around him in the deep end of the pool. I started to shout cautionary words but waited just a moment. She wrapped her arms around her brother, and he had a brief hesitant look-- a "Can I really stay afloat with my loud-mouth sister hanging on me in this water?" kind of look.

But he did stay afloat. And they both laughed.
Together at the same time.

There is no greater joy in life.
There is no greater happiness.

April 18, 2010

Mine is Ticking, Strong and Sure, But How Do You Mend the Broken Hearts of Your Family?

Divorce hurts.

Is it worse than a death?

How can you know for sure unless you actually have lived through both a divorce and the death of a spouse?

But, I would imagine that, at least in some ways, the pain of divorce definitely outweighs that of a death.

For lots of reasons.

For starters, there are the kids. And their pain. And the knowledge that they are growing up with far less than what they deserve.

I was so lucky to have a mother and father whose world centered around their daughter.

I never had a doubt that I was the most important thing in their lives.

That feeling carried with it a great sense of responsibility. I did not want to disappoint. I wanted to please. I didn't take risks because I knew, I just knew, that my parents' lives would never be the same if they lost me.

So, how in the world will I know the best way to deal with my children's pain? How can I begin to imagine what my daughter feels, and will continue to feel, as she processes this loss? For lack of a better word, it just sucks. But, at least she can talk to me, and she can ask questions. I can try to explain. I can tell her how she and her brother are the most important things in my life. And I can show her, through my actions, that it was never my choice for her to be away from me, not for a single day.

My son, who has autism and is nonverbal, poses a whole different set of issues. When he leaves to see his dad, I can't even explain to him how long it will be before he sees me again. It kills me to think that he actually might wonder if Mama had something going on that was more important than being with him.

Because nothing -- absolutely nothing -- is more important to me than being there for my children.

There also are, in so many cases, the parents. The parents of the person struggling to rebuild a new life, the grandparents of the children in the middle.

And my parents are taking my divorce very, very hard.

My father introduced me to my soon-to-be-ex. He had been his college professor, his basketball partner.

He wanted me to meet this man because he hoped we would hit it off.

He loved him like a son.

Seventeen years, and two kids later .............. oh, will my dear father, the man with the purest of hearts, ever stop feeling guilty?

And my mom, oh, how could I ever describe her sense of loss? Her entire life has been devoted to doing for others. And here she is, in my home, hugging my son, reading books to my daughter, starting the laundry almost before we have a chance to get any clothes dirty.

She worries about my children just as much as I. And, in some ways, she probably worries more -- because she had more than her share of hurt as a child.

And, of course, there is the personal pain of divorce.

It, too, sucks.

And, yet, I .... am...... OK.

I have come to realize that there is life after divorce.

A lot of life, if you are lucky.

There are so many people bringing smiles and laughter into my life.

There are people, truly wonderful people, who make me feel happy, who make me feel good.

My happiness did not at all depend on the person I married.

Not at all.

Yes, my heart was broken. But it is still there. Every single piece.

I am in such a different place now than I was, say, 6 or 7 months ago. For the longest time, I struggled with how to get my marriage back. I panicked about how I could make it as a single parent.

I was wrapped up in fear.

Today, I realize that my happiness is just as important as my children's.

And I know that my heart is just as big as it was 17 years ago.

Bigger, actually.

I know that there are so many opportunities for me ... opportunities for what truly matters... laughter, friendship, closeness, love.

I am picking up the pieces, of my life and of my heart.

Interestingly enough, today, I am much more worried about the people closest to me and how they are dealing with the dissolution of my marriage.

I see the anger in my daughter. She has a lot of great things going on in her life, opportunities and experiences that many children do not have. But she knows something is not right. She feels anger.

And justifiably so.

I see regression in my son. I worry about him so much when he is away from me. I wish there was some way to let him know, to let him know that I am thinking of him constantly.

And I worry so much about my parents. How I wish I could ease their fears.

How I wish I could do for their broken hearts what the wonderful people in my life have done for mine.

Parents, children ... the worries never end. It is a wonder the pets ever get fed.

I will do my best for all of them. I will count on their love and try my best to send it back, and to send with it the certainty that I am OK. I will seek strength from my friends, all the wonderful friends who care about me, and hope that my children and parents see that I am not going to fall to my knees. Not again.

My heart is so much stronger than it was several months ago. And I have discovered that I am tough enough to survive the unthinkable. How I wish I could share that, how I wish I could give that same feeling, to the people who matter most.

April 15, 2010

No Bleach Required

So things have been tough. Very tough.

I just THOUGHT they were bad five-years-ago when I was worried about whether my then one-year-old had autism and whether the baby I was then carrying had a birth-defect that would prevent her from breathing at birth.

Like I said: I just thought those days were difficult.

The past 9 months -- the spouse leaving, the struggles of trying to parent two little kids, one of whom has autism, alone -- all of that has been much worse.

But my daughter said something to me yesterday that reminded me of just how far we have come, my two kiddos and I.

I was cleaning up a mess -- cinnamon that my son had spilled on the table that holds the TV. (You see, my son is really into spinning things these days. Oh, couldn't we have gotten through that when he was, I don't know, two- or three-years-old instead of six? It drives me crazy! He raids my spice rack so he can take the lids off the spice jars. He usually leaves the jars in the rack, but, yesterday, he took the cinnamon along with him. And, of course, he wound up spilling a good bit of it in front of the TV.)

I am cleaning up the cinnamon when my darling daughter walks by. She watches what I am doing and says:

Mama, is that poop or is it part of an ice cream sandwich?

Oh, sweet girl, thank you, thank you, for the laugh.

And for the reminder .....

That even though things aren't easy, even though my marriage crumbled, even though I struggle to be patient and to live each day in the day and not think too far ahead ....

I am so very, very glad that everybody's poop winds up in the pot.

April 13, 2010

And So it Goes, with Thanks to Billy

In every heart there is a room
A sanctuary safe and strong
To heal the wounds from lovers past
Until a new one comes along

Bill Joel, And So it Goes

I always have loved Billy Joel, from the time I chose "Uptown Girl" as the song that would be played when it was time for me and the party pals to have the skating rink all to ourselves at my birthday party. I think I was seven.

My favorite song of Billy's is one of the lesser known. It is a beautiful song, one that brings back memories of a long-ago spring break vacation with a high school friend. (Hey, Sarah, are you out there, girl? That week will always be one of my favorite memories from high school, just so you know.)

I always wondered about the words.

It is such a mournful song. What was the inspiration?

I spoke to you in cautious tones
You answered me with no pretense
And still I feel I said too much
My silence is my self defense

Did he mourn the lost chance, the failure to say what needed to be said to hang on to a great love?

Did he mourn the fear that kept him from acting, from speaking, from fighting?

And every time I've held a rose
It seems I only felt the thorns
And so it goes, and so it goes
And so will you soon I suppose

Did he realize a failure to appreciate the beauty of what was?
And, if so, could there be any greater sorrow? Could there be any greater sadness than to look back on the past and realize an inability to appreciate the beauty, the magnificence, of what was right there in your hands?

But if my silence made you leave
Then that would be my worst mistake
So I will share this room with you
And you can have this heart to break

Don't we all have moments in life where something brings us to our knees, sometimes figuratively, but sometimes, very, very literally -- we actually fall to our knees. In prayer, in worship, in panic ... in absolute desperation.

In these moments, the worst moments of our lives, do we ever speak or act with grace?

Some probably sit silent. They retreat.
Some jump and shout. That group would include me.
I am not one to sit silent.
I am a jumper, a shouter, a screamer.
I frequently speak without processing.
I can't sit still; I can't stand to wait. I have to act. When things feel like they are going to hell in a handbasket, I have to do something, even when I haven't the faintest clue of what to do.

I suppose sometimes silence would be better.

But, sometimes .... sometimes, the silence starts to feel endless. It becomes insurmountable.

And this is why my eyes are closed
It's just as well for all I've seen
And so it goes, and so it goes
And you're the only one who knows

What is he singing about?
Did he just give up?
But when we close our eyes, simply because they have seen hardship, don't we lose out on so much? If we can't look at the tough stuff, how will we ever appreciate the good?

So I would choose to be with you
That's if the choice were mine to make
But you can make decisions too
And you can have this heart to break

But what do our choices entail? What do they demand of us?
Don't they require a certain toughness? A total commitment, in good times and bad?

And so it goes, and so it goes
And you're the only one who knows.

Yes, time doesn't stop for heartbreak.
Life doesn't end simply because it is turned upside down.

Groceries must be purchsed. Because even if you don't feel like eating, your kids still need food.
Bills have to be paid.
Sicknesses and injuries must be tended.
Decisions must be made.

And children still need to be loved. Every. single. day.
And, yes, sometimes the person at the other end of that heartbreak really is the only one who knows.

And so it goes.

April 8, 2010

Baby Steps

I know there are people reading this blog who are rooting for me.

Some of you are close personal friends.

Some of you I have never even met face to face, and, yet, I love you and worry about you and value your friendship.

Some of you I have known for a long time.

And some of you are new to my life, but very, very cherished.

You know that the past year has been, to say the least, difficult.

That my heart has been broken.

That I worry about how I am going to make ends meet, how I am going to be everything I need to be for my two children, how I am going to do what needs to be done without the help of a spouse. How will I make it on my own? How I will I be there for my beautiful kids, who both need and deserve so much. They, too, are suffering heartbreak and will continue to suffer from this loss in ways I, the daughter of two fully committed parents, will never be able to understand completely.

Your cheers matter to me, people, in more ways than you know.

Whether you are leaving comments on the blog, sending me personal emails, or dropping me texts out of the blue (yes, T, my old childhood pal, I am talking 'bout you), you words mean so much.

I am taking baby steps.

One by one, little by little.

I am learning what it means to live a completely different life than the one I had envisioned since, well, since I was a 21-year-old bride with absolute faith, absolute trust.

I am learning what it means to let go.

To .... let .... go .....
Of the dreams, of the heartache, of the past 16 years.

I am learning what it means to reclaim ....
Myself, my happiness, my joy for life.

I am discovering just how darn strong I can be, when the alternative is simply not acceptable.

Today I go for a job interview.

For a position I never really envisioned for myself until recently.

My, how times change.

Here I am: college-educated, with a law degree and a federal judicial law clerkship on my resume.

But I have not worked in more than 6 years.

And here is the kicker: I don't even want the legal career I once envisioned.

It seems so pointless.

I just want to be here for my kids.

I want to help my son get the therapy he needs. I want to see him continue to work with these great professonals who understand how much potential he has. I want to pick my daughter up from school every day; I want to drive my son to his appointments myself. I want my children to know that they are my first priority, that their mother would do anything for them ... absolutely anything ... and that she wishes, from the bottom of her heart, that she didn't have to go a day without wrapping her arms around them and feeling their hugs in return.

This road was not on my map.
And, yet, here I am.
I was forced to take it.

Today is a big step.

Keep rooting for me, people.
Keep rooting for my children.

You know I will keep you posted.