Sunday, December 31, 2006

And here it is

And here it is

Resolution's are useless... just opportunities to fail, which of course, I always do. I have no will power. So a few years ago, I made one last resolution: to forsake all New Year's resolutions, and that one I've never broken! In other words, I'm not making any New Year's resolutions. But I do like Cheryl's idea of New Year's Revelations. Rather than swear to change, I will instead share something I've learned over the course of 2006. 2006 was full of lessons. Most of them boiled down to truth - and just how transient truth is, based on our perspective.
"Don't spend your precious time asking 'Why isn't the world a better place?' It will only be time wasted. The question to ask is 'How can I make it better?' To that there is an answer." ~Leo F. Buscaglia
My truth is that losing Nova has given me the opportunity to make a choice. Shut down, or open up. With Alexis, I had the same options and made a different decision, and thereby, learned a different lesson.

My truth is that people die when it's their time to go, not because there is some lesson being forced on you - but that we can choose to take that time to learn a lesson of our own choosing.

My truth is that, while I've been through some major shit this year, I've read some of your posts and feel that in many ways, some of you have been through much worse. And that hardship shouldn't be a pissing contest because there's no damn prize for bearing the biggest cross.

My truth is that finding myself in the dark has served to highlight the beauty found in the contrast of shade against sunlight, and taught me to appreciate more fully how the sun feels on my cheeks, especially when it's drying my tears.

And like Cheryl, my truth is also that I don't have the time or energy or motivation to embrace other people's negativity or selfish pettiness - and that I don't need to feel badly about that. That today could be my last, and I don't owe it to anyone else to waste it lost in their darkness if they've chosen to ignore the light.

And one final truth is that all of this could be bullshit tomorrow (or might have been bullshit a few hours ago) because perspective can change with the slightest shift of the eye.

Happy 2007 all - hope you're feelng at peace with your universe, and are able to accept the transience of your truth in a way that gives you a clearer perspective.

Ka turns, and the world moves on.

Ka turns, and the world moves on. If we're lucky, we move on with it.
~Stephen King
Today is the last day of 2006. The last bit of the year in which Nova lived and died... and the world moves on.

I keep having to remind myself that that's what happens, just the natural progression, and that I'm not so damned important that the world should stop for me.

You'd think that the 269 sunrises since then would have convinced me.

Maybe 2007 will find me less stubborn, hard headed and egotistical.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Inherently Selfish

My Peculiar Aristocratic Title is:
Reverend Lady Erin the Charitable of Yockenthwait Walden
Get your Peculiar Aristocratic Title

I am Inherently Selfish

Are you lucky enough to have those days when you look at your life and think, "Yeah, this is right, this all makes sense...?" Believe it or not, I have a lot of them. I figure people probably look at me with pity and assume that I'm lost and that my universe and everything in it has gone insane. Some days, a lot of days, I agree with them. But despite the insanity of my experiences, I'm generally at peace with the circumstances of my life. That's not to say I understand them or that I can even make sense of them, but I do accept them, and my own inability to truly comprehend a purpose, assuming there is one.

A huge part of making peace with it all is to make my own purpose for what has happened (and maybe that is the purpose?) I try to find balance. For all the sadness, I try to find something happy. For all the dark places, I try to find light. I do things to fill the void.

But grief is inherently selfish, and mine is no different... I do what I do because I need to. Because, as Rosie would say, it is my yellow. So, thank you all who have said how awesome it was for me to do something for the family whose Christmas was stolen... just be aware that while it may look like I'm out trying to save the world, in truth, sometimes, I'm just trying to save myself.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Christmas comes 3 days late

Christmas comes 3 days late

Yesterday, I made a post about a single mother of two whose house was broken into, and whose TV, microwave and children's Christmas gifts were all stolen. On Christmas morning, there were no toys for those kids. When I heard the story, I'd never met the mother, or the kids, but I couldn't possibly imagine what a horrible Christmas it must have been for 2 kids, and how terrible it must have been for their mother to see them go without.

I didn't have it in me to let it go. I also didn't have it in my bank account to fund Christmas for another family just three days after our Christmas. So I sent Ma out to find out how many kids and what their ages were, I posted here inviting my readers to donate to the cause, and I posted on about it as well. The blog world moves slowly, it's perfect for things like The Heart Walk, but when working with an 8 hour time limit? Well, I think I had 5 readers while that post was up, but in a web forum setting, it went like wildfire. By the time I went to bed last night, I had a nearly $200 with which to play Santa.

Today was a lot of hustle, trying to set up a way to surprise her with the Christmas booty: trying to figure out a way to get to her place while she was out, trying to even find out where she lived. Unfortunately, we only knew her story through her workplace and co-workers who aren't allowed to give out personal info. Details were proving to be difficult to come by. So we made them promise to call us when she came in for her check and ran off to do the shopping.

Let me tell you, THAT was the kind of Christmas shopping a girl can enjoy. Next year, when I shop for the kids, I'm going to save up a designated dollar amount and go to one store, one time, and do it all at once. Man, stress free, no worries, no unexpected surprises, nada. Just lots of fun shopping and knowing that I had X amount of dollars to make 2 little kids and one stressed out mom very happy. Yup, that's my personal plan for Christmas 2007 para la casa del Erin.

Anyway we spent nearly $300 on a car load of toys an stuff. I had an extra microwave (damn near brand new) that I've been trying to sell for months, but no one would buy it. Apparently, it knew it belonged to this family and was just hanging around waiting for me to realize it. (What does it say about me that I just said that a microwave was smarter than I am?)
OK, so I spent a little more than I had, but after seeing her reaction when we delivered the stuff, I have no regrets at all. So I'll have to figure out how to make up that $50 I went over... I'll do it. Oh well. But you know, I'd do it again, with twice the overage... it was so worth it.

See, she's a single mom of 2 who lives 45 minutes drive from her crappy 2nd shift job at Waffle House - and doesn't own a car. She spent her rent on Christmas, and had it stolen. You could see it in her eyes how tired she was. You could see how emotionally beaten she was. She's doing her best and getting kicked in the teeth for it.

So anyway, Ma calls her over and tells her Santa stopped at our house for her kids, and she was like, "...huh?" Cuz she'd never met me, and only knew Mom from waiting on her the other day. So two weirdo ladies walk in talking about Santa when all she wants is to pick up her check, well... she was a mite surprised and confused until Ma pointed out the bicycles hanging out of her trunk - at which point, the relief and gratitude washed over her face, and I swear to god, you could physically watch the change in her stance and demeanor. You hear people say "it was like a weight just came off my shoulders..." She looked like she lost a 100 pounds in 2 seconds, right before she dissolved into tears and threw herself onto Ma.

It was a beautiful moment. Seriously. I don't cry in public, and I'm pretty sure Ma doesn't cry at all, but we both did today, right there in Waffle House.

She had borrowed a friend's car to come up from SC to pick up her check. She left with a check and one very full borrowed station wagon... A microwave, a new 20" TV/DVD combo, 2 bicycles, and a carload of toys, and a fat ass smile. The smile was the best part.

I wish I'd have been able to see the kids' faces as they got the presents. Sure, that's why we did it, for the kids. But the mom's reaction was plenty enough for me! I think we offered her a little hope, some reason to believe that the world isn't always all about busting ass and getting kicked in the teeth for it.

So, that's my day. Thank you to my UCM supporters who made it possible! I wish I'd had a video camera so you could all see her face!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

God, just stomp on me, will ya!?

God, just stomp on me, will ya!?

I'm totally phobic when it comes to spiders - those hairy legs and pinching mandibles and multi-faceted eyes just freak me out. They send my creepy crawly meter into overload, but tonight, and every other night for the last 3 or so, I sort of feel like a spider.

Ever sprayed one with Aquanet hairspray and watched it die? Ever played audience to that last breath, as it lay on its back, legs pointing skyward and twitching?

Yeah, that's me lately. I have RLS. I've spent plenty of nights wide awake while my legs had little parties of their own. It used to be that they only acted up when I was pregnant, but since I've gotten my tubes tied, the RLS fits are a monthly occurance. As if cramps and bloating aren't enough.

Needless to say, there isn't a lot of sleeping going on when you're pacing the floor or constantly wiggling your feet in an effort to control the creepy crawly sensation in your legs and the random spasms and kicking. Out of respect for the fact that Scott works 10 hours a day 6 days a week, I stay on the couch rather than keep him up all night too.

It's worse when I'm feeling stressed out. Christmas stresses me out. My legs have been twitching uncontrollably pretty much constantly, since 5pm Christmas Eve. It drives me insane, I can't sit still, I can't sleep. I'm sick of sitting up all night, alone on the couch - I just want to go to sleep. That should say a lot coming from an insomniac...

Wordless perfection

Wordless perfection

If there is such a thing as a perfect soul mate, Scott is mine. The depth of meaning behind his Christmas gift to me proves, again, that I am quite possibly the luckiest woman alive to have him for my partner. I never expected to meet a man who understands and loves me so completely.

I've typed this blog entry 20 times since last night - trying to express my love and gratitude, trying to share how deeply moved I am. I have failed miserably with every attempt.

Love and grief are two things for which there are no adequate words - and they are the 2 things that my husband's gift expressed perfectly, and wordlessly.

I love you Scott. I just hope that some day I can do something to show you just how much...

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Romany Free

Romany Free
by Robert Vavra

"The sun will
tell you
how Romany unfree
was my open road,
that narrow
gypsy path,
thistle lined
purple blossoms

from the front cover:
"Free your mind from all preconceptions, open the book, and sail..."

Romany Free was my Secret Santa gift, and the book in and of itself would have been perfect. But my secret Santa (who, like me, totally gave away her identity) also included a note telling her Romany Free story about how she came across the book one day in 1977. How Romany Free survived 29 years of life: floods, travel, children, and how when she read my blog she knew that Romany Free had to come to me...

You see, Romany Free was a friend and life-long companion for my Secret Santa, and she feels a personal connection to the story and the character... and yet she parted with her for me.

I love the book, I love that you trusted me to understand her story and her value, and I promise to take care of her, to hold her close to my heart, to share her with my kids (Terra loves her already!) and someday, to share her with someone else who needs her.

What a beautiful gift, so personal. I'm very grateful - but I'm still not going to tell anyone else who you are, because I'm evil that way haha!

Monday, December 25, 2006

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas Eve!

Merry Christmas Eve!

Wow, my kitchen is already so full of food, and we're not even half done! The tree is all lit up and the house smells awesome. (OK, that's mostly thanks to some of the best candles ever... Walmart had them on sale for $3 a pop and they smell SO good - they're cranberry scented and MAN! They make me want to eat 'em with a fork!)

So the kids are wired and wide open. I mean, it's Christmas Eve! They're crawling out of their skins with anticipation. It's sweet. It's the part of Christmas I love most - that magic sparkle in their eyes. And it's pretty special since most of them don't even believe in Santa anymore... but you should see them laying it on for Terra! She, by the way, is in the tub, because it's the one thing that will contain and amuse her all while having a nice calming effect.

Actually, I think I'd kind of like a bath and some calming effect...

Anyway, I need to go cook more. Chocolate chip cookies and eggnog are up next... for Santa (the one I have pictured here, not the real one of course...)

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Merry Christmas Eve eve

Merry Christmas Eve eve

Home made eggnog. You know, they actually used to make the stuff before it started hitting the shelves in cartons... I'm going to try making it. Here's to hoping I don't scald the milk, or scramble the eggs.

Also, we're making cookies, again. More. I've made something like 20 dozen or so already in the last couple of weeks. I've never made so many cookies in my life. But there must be chocolate chip cookies for Santa, and decorating sugar cookies is just a tradition.

We got the last bit of Shopping done and bought the stocking stuffers too over the last couple of days so, other than some marathon gift wrapping, we're ready. As ready as we're going to get anyway. So want to hear the strangest request of the year? Kory requested beef jerky in his stocking. Not really weird in our context though, we always put beef jerky in the boys' stockings, and Kory would live on the stuff.

I've been sick on the couch most of the day though. I'm not really feeling any better at the moment, I'm just bored brainless and tired of laying there. I have a habit of being sick on the big holidays. One year I was so sick I slept right through most of Christmas Eve, 90% of Christmas (woke up, opened gifts with the kids and went back to sleep) and the entire day after Christmas... that was the flu. This, thankfully, is just some stomach bug. I'm holding out hope that it'll be short-lived.

Actually, I have to be over it tomorrow, I have a load of food preparation and cooking to do. Like the eggnog. Ha. We'll see how that goes.

By the way, what's up with this new singer Fergie? Exactly what genre is she? I'm not entirely sure I like (or dislike) her music, but one of Kassi's friends got her the CD for Christmas and I've heard nothing but Fergie for days. Fergilicious? Big Girls Don't Cry? Some pretty stupid lyrics, but the music doesn't seem to suck too much. And at least it isn't all rap. I have very little patience for most rap. Yup, one of my character flaws. Eminem is the only rapper I really like. Go figure. Quirky me.

Yeah. Going back to the couch now. Merry Christmas Eve eve!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Secret Santa has Arrived

Secret Santa has Arrived

I have been trying to pretend it hasn't come. As if by ignoring it, I can stop the burning it has created between my eyes. I am not supposed to open it until Christmas, and I really want to wait and open it then, and yet, I'm not sure if I can wait!

It arrived a couple of days ago, in a bubble-pack envelope in all sorts of bright colors and bearing the name ... am I supposed to give away the name? I'm not sure so I won't.

It doesn't rattle, or jingle... It's fairly large, and flat... perhaps a picture frame? Or maybe a picture? I just can't quite figure out what it is, but I'm fairly certain it isn't a frame... I'm afraid to feel around too much for fear of figuring it out!

Only 3 Days until I'm allowed to open it!

I sincerely hope that the gift I sent out has made it to its recipient. I'd hate for it to arrive AFTER Christmas, because this waiting bit... it's kind of maddening, and a lot of fun!

We also got several Christmas cards today. I think I love getting Christmas cards more than anything else! There were 3 today and one yesterday... one from Ang and one from Ange, and one from Scott's sister, and one from his brother - last week I got cards from Doug and Laura, and from Erin... We've gotten them from anonymous people, we've gotten them from customers... I truly love receiving Christmas cards. I am, however, admittedly selfish. I sent cards out, mostly only to Scott's family though, because I did it very last minute. It isn't that I don't love you... I swear, I love you! I just suck. Plain and simple, I can't even make up a good excuse here. Sorry.

They're naked and empty

Naked and Empty Elms

They're naked and empty against the sky
widespread and waiting. It's two
in the morning, months after the loss

and still, they wait.

There's a guaranteed prize for patience
and for tolerance and for voices kept
inside sap-filled heads where vision
is blurred and sound is distorted.

And I stare through nicotine windows and wonder -
when wind bites their tenderest parts and
ice builds them warbled-glass jackets,
is Spring enough to repay them?

Meanwhile, smiling pines, full-boughed and full-bodied,
glow like painted ladies against December nights,
with arms bedecked in gems, and knees brushed
by pageantry and plenty.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

go, speak in coffee and song...

"go, speak
in coffee and
I think I'm not entirely sure I grasp the whole piece, but I love love LOVE this opening bit of an untitled poem posted on Taking the Brim by an author named 'clare' - wish I could find clare's blog!

(read it all)



I have begun to realize I have a propensity for self-sabotage. Seriously. It came to me like some crazy introspective black-light epiphany.

Something to work on. Only, I never see it, except in retrospect.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

the last

the last

Today is officially the last day of school before the holiday break. (Did I just offend someone by not saying Christmas break? Pffft all this political correctness is on my last friggin' nerve!) So anyway, I now have 5 kids in the house non-stop until next year. I'm not really looking forward to it. My kids either ram and race, or bicker and gripe, 24/7, and I'm afraid I can't handle it. I'm already just feeling... overwhelmed, over loaded, over stimulated... over it.

You know, there are only 122 hours until Christmas is over? I hate the way we stress out over Christmas, how we've bought into the materialistic version of it all. There's so little joy, because there's too much worry about money and expectations, too much argument about what the holiday means to you or to me and whose definition is right. Too many kids with high dollar 'hot' items on their lists that I can't afford. Too much guilt about the emptiness of my wallet. I'm sick of all that... and more.

I'd love nothing more than to forego all that. To get back to the whole 'joy of giving' concept, and the appreciation of family and friends, the compassion and ... I don't now... fewer commercials, less weight on the value and size of the pile under the damned tree. (Ours is too small, and doesn't contain enough of those popular "in" gifts, as always.) I just don't know how to switch channels in the middle of 5 kids' lives.

I've teased for years about becoming Jehova's Witnesses for years because they don't celebrate the holiday - not in any material way anyway. If it weren't for the way that door-to-door god-sales bothered me, I might even do it too.

"a grave political error"

"a grave political error"
Furor in Italy over "gay nativity" in parliament
By Philip Pullella

ROME (Reuters) - Two leftists in Italy's ruling coalition on Wednesday outraged fellow lawmakers by placing four dolls representing homosexual couples near the baby Jesus in the official nativity scene in parliament...

...One communist parliamentarian called it "a grave political error" that would not help homosexuals.

A grave political error indeed, even I have to call foul on this one!
[read full story]

Matthew 7:1-5

Matthew 7:1-5 I don't understand the herd mentality of religion - or the way some people absorb an opinion or feeling from church or the bible that they can't explain, and call it "faith." (Don't understand it, or why? Too bad, believe it and act on it anyway because "God" said so, OR ELSE!!! ...baaa baaaa...) I guess I just figure that if you have an opinion you should be able to explain it without spouting a non-answer or inexplicable source. You can't tell me that something is wrong because God said so and expect me to accept that as an answer if I don't believe in your God, right?

And my lifestyle isn't wrong for me just because you and the other herd members believe it is. Period. So you don't have to be who I am or do what I do if it's against your religion - why do you feel you have the self-righteous all mighty right to tell me what I can or can't or should or shouldn't do!?

"In religion and politics people's beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second-hand, and without examination, from authorities who have not themselves examined the questions at issue but have taken them at second-hand from others"

What really gets me the most though is people who are so threatened by intelligent discussion that factual points and alternative opinions are seen as personal attacks.

It isn't any one religion that bothers me so much as when people feel superior based on their faith. As if they are the only right person in the room, and only those who don't question them are worthy of their friendship.

So I disagree with you, I don't believe that one book with some mythological legendary type "history" is (or should be) how we all judge right from wrong, and worthy from unworthy - nor do I feel you have the right to force it on me, no matter how right you think you are, or how much better than me you believe yourself to be.

I question anything that cannot be proven to me. I question even more when I've seen proof that works to disprove that opinion. And I will voice that opinion just like any other. Needless to say, that means I'm not welcome at certain get togethers, and it amuses me that those who deem me unwelcome don't see how that reflects on them - that they are too ignorant and self-righteous to even defend or attempt to explain their views in an intelligent and well thought out way... Nope, too busy following along and believing something they can't even explain to themselves, let alone anyone else.

So anyway, I'm ranting, but it is the total and complete lack of answers that bothers me with religion - and that holier than thou attitude that bothers me about some religious people.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Christmas Cards

Christmas Cards
Isn't that a pretty picture? Red berries all plump and scarlet, coated in ice...
Yeah, that isn't here. Our berries turned brown, then black, then fell off, and it's 75 degrees here so there's no ice anyway. But it reminds me of the front of the Christmas cards I sent out. We bought them at 1am this morning (after a quick (childless) midnight run for Christmas shopping) and nearly all of them have been sent out today :) I am fast, especially when I'm running late. Also in today's mail (aside from 20-ish Christmas cards) was one package for a Team Nova member from the AHA, only, for some reason, I had to mail it? (Ok? Whatever?) and one secret Santa gift mailed via the Life in a Pumpkin Shell "Secret Santa" movement. That which I sent out to the secret recipient was very indicative of myself... hope they like it. It isn't like I know a lot about them, I hadn't even read their blog prior to getting their mailing info! I just hope it doesn't arrive late! And I just realized I wasn't supposed to put my name on it, but I did, and I'm just hoping she has no idea who I am so my name won't mean a thing to her!

Can I be honest here? Yeah, I know, here of all places, honesty is not only allowed, it is expected... OK, truth is, I am not feeling it this year. I want it all to be over already.

By the way, if you have switched over to the Google Beta blog thingy? Yeah, I can't comment on your blog. I've most likely still been reading, I just can't say anything. Nor can I switch over to Google because there are too many other blogs on my profile to which I belong but do not own, that haven't switched over... so until Google stops being a dickhead (which is Terra's new word, wonder where she got that from!?) just know I love you and can't comment.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

UCM Christmas party 2006

UCM Christmas party 2006

We went to a Christmas party last night. Here's the bunch of us grubbin'

Scott played Santa for 30(ish) kids. He was an excellent (if a bit thin) Santa.

Kassi dressed the part of Santa's little helper elf. The pics don't do her justice, she was adorable.

I ran one of the crafts. We decorated Christmas cookies with edible icing and sprinkles and such.

As you can see, the kids loved it. My table was mobbed all night, which explains the look on my face in this pic:

Brendon came along as well, wearing his elf hat (complete with ears, it was so funny!) and being an ass, illustrated by this pic:

Terra, as you can see, thought she was bell of the ball...

And Ryan, Trish's son, with whom Kassi is utterly in love, substituted as Kassi's hat for a minute.

The rest of these are of Trish's kids with "Santa" because I can do that!

Monday, December 11, 2006


12/25/05 I had a 16 year old son, a 14 yr old son, an 11 yr old daughter, an 8 yr old son, a 2 yr old daughter and a son who was 23 days old. This year I have a 17 yr old son, a 15 yr old son, a 12 yr old daughter, a 9 yr old son and a 3 yr old daughter. Seems like a long list, right? Well, I can't seem to get past what's missing enough to appreciate what I still have.

My bank account is in the red, and I'm 2 weeks from Christmas with more than 1/2 my shopping left to do. My husband has gotten another job, in addition to running his own company. My oldest son hates his parents (and don't even fucking try to tell me how that's "normal" for his age ok? Just bite your tongue and back out.)

I'm pretty disinterested in everything and I'm sick as a dog - no doubt there's some connection between the physical and the mental there... but I don't really give a shit.

I'm walking the tight rope on the line between apathy and total meltdown. Teeeeter totter teeeter totter.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

I Need

I Need

I need... well, frankly I need a lot of things, most of which I will most likely not get. But what I need, right now, most of all, is to write. I ache to write a piece of poetry that doesn't make me cringe, or gag. Unfortunately, I have nothing inside of me from which I could build a poem. You've heard the phrase "it takes money to make mmoney" right? Well, it takes poetry to write poetry, and I am empty, it seems, of poetry for the time being.

Saturday, December 9, 2006



Allergic reactions, feeding issues, Winter sickness worries, developmental delays, new firsts possible only due to surgical repairs of the circulatory system... I don't have the luxury of these things.

Why does that feel so fresh today?

Today is CJ's birthday. CJ is my best friend's son. He died of SIDS nearly 17 years ago... he would be 17 today. The same age as my oldest son Tommy. Trish is dealing with a lot of 'stuff' in life right now and I know today is hard on her. You'd think that having lost 2 children that I'd know how to help her, or at least know what to say. I don't. But then, there isn't anything I can say that will help. So I'm keeping her in my thoughts, and holding her close to my heart as I always do.

I'm sick as a dog today, some nasty chest/cough thing that Terra is just recovering from. I hesitate to take a lot of medications because they depress the body's natural immunity defenses - but I'm pretty sure if I close my eyes long enough, I could just die peacefully. Obviously, this keeps me from the ceremony I was supposed to attend today, and it keeps me from stopping in CVRU to get my cake plate too. Grrrr.

It's cold here. Cold like 20 degrees when we woke up. It hasn't even reached freezing yet. 31 degrees. That and the sickness has really curtailed the smoking. You should see me though, when I get brave, I put my housecoat on over my clothes, wrap up in a comforter (no, not a blanket, a quilted comforter) and head for a patch of sun. Yes, I AM redneck/white trash enough to wander around my yard like that. Well, I was for the 1 cigarette I've smoked so far today.

So Scott's at work, Ma is out shopping. Housework isn't getting done (but apparently blogging is) the kids are taking care of each other, and I'm going back to the couch. Happy Saturday.

Friday, December 1, 2006

They say it's your birthday...

They say it's your birthday...

Dear Nova~
You'd be one year old today. First birthdays are the most special you know. It's the only one where I'd have let you have the cake. Yep, the whole thing, to eat, fling, wear, and destroy at will. Of course, the price for that would have been the multitude of pictures I'd have taken and blackmailed you with later, when you had your first 'real' girlfriend. You know, like I planned to do with that picture of you after your bath that day just before your surgery. But there will be no pictures of you covered in cake with icing up your nose, and that picture of you naked after your bath got cropped and added to your obituary.

So instead of having your party, we're visiting CVRU. There will be cake and toys, but not so much celebrating. And probably no one will be wearing icing, though, knowing some of those nurses, ya just never know! I might end up with blackmail pictures after all. I just hope I don't burn the cake. Guess you never had the chance to find out what a lousy baker I am.

Gretchen sent flowers yesterday. She's the one with the daughter I wanted you to marry. She's even more gorgeous now than she was when we arranged that marriage. She's so pretty it hurts. The flowers were beautiful too. She said she saw them, they're all purple, and thought "purple, celestial - Nova" and sent them. That's the kind of thing you did kiddo. There was just something special about you that allowed you to touch people despite any boundaries. You prevailed in spirit where your body failed - and continue to do just that.

Last night we went downtown and watched them light the tree in the square. I've never done that before. I wasn't all that impressed, but then I'm having a hard time getting into the spirit. I just keep picturing you... I'm sure you'd have been all in the tree this year, knocking off the balls, trying to eat baby Jesus from the creche on the table, throwing fits when I said no. You were pretty strong willed, but I'm pretty sure I'd have won...

Speaking of strong willed: Terra still thinks you're at the hospital you know? I've tried to explain it to her, but she just can't understand 'dead' yet. All she knows is that she wants her "Dophalin" back, and she doesn't do very well with the word no. She can't figure out why she can't have you. Me either to tell the truth.

Daddy and I, and all your brothers and sisters too, are still trying to get used to you being gone. I still have to remind myself every day that the kids don't have to be quiet in the hall anymore. My heart just can't grasp it enough to convince my brain once and for all. That's the thing about death, it's so final that we aren't equipped to comprehend it. I just miss you so much, I feel lost.

But I'm trying to use the things I learned through you to find my way - to make a difference and do the things I should. I think I'm succeeding, most of the time. I just hope I'm doing things that would make you happy, that you could be proud of. But sometimes, like right now, I still just wish that I could have you back.

Happy birthday baby, I love you as much today as I ever did... and always will.