Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Inner Demons

I have not been able to successfully put into words, out loud or on paper, this running monologue that hasn't been whispering so much as it's been screaming in my head.

I got pregnant two October's ago. It was a surprise, and yes, I'm well aware of how babies happen. I tried so desperately to be positive, I wanted nothing more than to cherish every second of my pregnancy and my time with this child.

 

Lukas was born July 15th, 2014. Three weeks premature... but still weighing in at 8 pounds 3 ounces. The smallest of my three kids. He should have been stillborn.

He should have been stillborn. Every time I look at him I think those five words. "Miracle" in a myriad of languages tickle my tongue, because he SHOULD HAVE BEEN STILLBORN.

Because we knew Lo had a bicuspid aortic valve, I was put under rigorous prenatal observation. Weekly ultrasounds, visits with the prenatal cardiologists... I became a gestational diabetic... more testings, more ultrasounds, my poor husband pricked my finger 5 times a day and put up with every flinch and grunt and curse word as he doctored me up.


We celebrated Logan's 7th birthday July 13th, I began training my temporary replacement July 14th -- corporate had me walking up and down the stairs of our new building (the one replacing the building we lost to the fire) and I started having "back cramps." I was used to these cramps, they were constantly coming and going without any rhythm or real reason. I chalked it up to the heat and too much activity. I went home and read "Green Eggs and Ham" to Lillie... they started coming in waves and I realized it was taking 5x as long to read the stupid book and why was I in so much pain?

After the kids were successfully in bed I downloaded a contraction app, packed a bag JUST IN CASE, and proceeded with my semi nightly routine. Dad and I ran to the pharmacy and from the front door to the pharmacy counter at Walgreens, I had three contractions. I held my belly and "yoga breathed" my way through each searing pain that threatened to rob me of my breath. The pharmacist begged me not to go into labor. It was too late at that point. My midwife begged me to come in as "the third child can come at ANY TIME, Tiffany, ANY. TIME." I laughed and told her I still needed to get bread for the kids and coffee to get me through the morning. That's when I realized my contractions were every two to three minutes lasting 30-45 seconds each. Dad rushed me (as fast as one can rush a woman in labor) out the door and he floored it to our one major intersection in the center of town. He cussed as he realized he didn't get his McDonald's tea. Lord forbid we have an outing without tea. I convinced him that it was just going to be a quick check, and so 20 minutes and a McDonald's tea later we were headed to the hospital. Every last speed bump sent me into a contraction. I was holding both the "Oh SHIT" handle and the door handle breathing through the pain. The maternity ward entrance was locked. The maternity ward entrance was a good 20+ speed bumps away from the main entrance. Once we were parked, I waddled, stopped, breathed, waddled, stopped, breathed in through the nose, out through the mouth, and into the ER I went. Triage told me I had to be wheeled to labor and delivery. I argued that I wanted to go into labor naturally and this was just a check up. Triage told me I was in labor and get my ass into the wheelchair. It put the lotion on the skin and did as was told.

My water broke before I could get my gown on. The gown was blue and my Dad stood guard outside the curtain. I text my Husband, "Not a false alarm. We're having a baby."

My midwife "checked me" and listened as I recounted all the gory details of my water breaking. I was still in shock. "I can't be in labor! I didn't lose my plug! I'm not supposed to be induced for another two weeks! My boss just left for Florida! I started training the temp TODAY!" I got a lot of "looks" and "hmms," but I never thought to question. I was simply in shock. I was having a baby! I went into labor! ALL BY MYSELF LIKE A BIG GIRL! GO ME!

In reality, my placenta was ripping away from the uterine wall. My baby's head was the only thing keeping it attached. Three days earlier the high risk doctor said he was using the placenta as his pillow. I can't do math, 2+2=9.

With Logan they had to stop me from hemorrhaging on the table. It wasn't until I watched "The Business of Being Born," that I realized everything they were  doing to me on the table was exactly what one of the mother's went through in the documentary. After asking more questions, they told me what I already knew. With Lukas, every contraction was like my body pulling the thread on a sweater. Hearing his little cries 10 hours later made up for the fact I was a human puppet while they "retrieved" all the pieces of the placenta (I should have gotten my midwife's number after THAT traumatic birthing aftermath).

I went back to work part time after a month of maternity paid maternity leave. I was back full time at six weeks post partum. I barely made it to six months before my milk dried up. I still cry over the fact that I can't even produce milk for him. The "bigs" as I now call them, nursed until 9 months and 15 months respectively. I was able to stay home with them, nap with them, work around their schedules. I now get 3-4 waking hours with them on days I work, half that with the baby. I see the looks he gives my Husband versus the looks I receive and I want to scream and break plates and throw shit across the room. I want to run away and not look back some days. It's not fair. IT'S NOT FAIR. He's my miracle, MINE. And I want to be selfish and snuggle him and nibble the rolls of his neck and thighs and inhale all the sweet baby out of him before it's gone forever. I stitched him together. I breathed life into him. I knew every finger and toe before anyone else. He wants nothing to do with me. I'm not the one he wants when he needs comfort. I'm not the one he wants when he's hungry or tired. Every time he looks for his Daddy or cries in a way I don't know because I'm not here, it rips my heart out a little more. I prayed for this child. I PRAYED for him. I told God I would do anything just to have one more baby. And because of that I gave him up. I get occasional giggles. Sometimes he'll even give kisses when I get home, but he more wants to pull my head close to his to steal my glasses more than anything.

 
We had a baby. We had a baby and then we found a home. We moved off the property I work at into a home one street down from the house I grew up in. The "bigs" started soccer and ballet and now they can run to Grandma's house whenever they feel like being spoiled (i.e. all the time.) We had a baby. We found a home. We found peace and then chaos hit us like a bag of bricks.

My aunt passed away around the same time from a 10 year battle with aggressive breast cancer. Two days before the Husband's birthday, my uncle shot himself in my grandfather's back yard behind a chicken coop. I have two sets of cousins who are now without a parent. I found out a cousin of mine has a child who doesn't have much longer to live. The child is a week or two older than Lo. We found out Lu has a high probability of a bicuspid valve himself. (Babies are wiggly and uncooperative during a heart ultrasound... how very inconsiderate of them... we will know for sure by his first birthday.)


I have several other blog posts sitting, saved, waiting to be published... but I can't press the button. I can't bring them forth into the light as that makes them more real. That makes all the thoughts and nightmares that have kept me busy, plugging away outside the house to keep me from focusing any energy on just the realization that these nightmares are real. They are so real. I can't ignore them forever, I know that. But I'm afraid to open that Pandora's box. Once these things are said out loud they can not be unsaid. Words said in anger that are meant to be hurtful cause damage that can't be undone and there's a seed of truth to every bitter line spat out in that moment of white hot anger. The sting never leaves. The wound is always fresh and each new argument or miscommunication is the same as having salt ground into the wound. I can't make these situations better, no matter how hard I want to. It all goes back to saying no to the people I love the most. It all comes down to them showing up in our relationships be it family or friendship or both. I can no longer be the glue. I can barely keep myself together and upright.

I need a friend. I need to go back seven months ago and whisper, "miracles happen," into my own ear. I need to go back four months ago and hold the broken woman's hand and whisper in her ear, "be strong, think before speaking and say it, say it LOUD and don't be afraid of what comes next." I need to go back two months ago and hug my "bigs" and not apologize for moments that were beyond my control and weren't anything I could have prepared myself or them for. I need my inner voice to trade places with the voice I keep locked up. The only voice left is autopilot.

I need a friend.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Thank You.

3x5 Folded Card
View the entire collection of cards.


Thank you for your patience. Thank you for your kind words. Thank you for sticking around and waiting for the next little nugget of joy to flow through my fingers. I promise I'm still here, thank you for being on the other side of the blogosphere.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Currently.

Today's post inspired by Danielle from Sometimes Sweet.

Currently Reading

I've been following Jennifer on Twitter for quite some time now. I have NO clue who started following who first. At one point we almost did a 5k together, but I was too much of a chicken shit to jump on a plane to Oklahoma to be doused in color alongside my fellow bloggy friends. What was I so afraid of again? Oh, that's right, I'm the anxious chihuahua of my kind. I'm almost ashamed to say I started this book, ooooooh... back in MARCH. In MARCH people. Re-fucking-diculous. I was on a roll, and then I got sidetracked. Butterfly. Cumulonimbus. Jeebus on a cracker. Seriously though. As a treat to myself I bought myself a BOOK and some BATH MILK with my tax returns (hold on to your underpants, people, I'm out of control when it comes to dollah dollah bills, y'all.) I would read and soak in my milky "spa water" sporting my mad seaweed mud mask and read a few chapters a few times each week. And then, BAM, busy season. I'm sporting POLYESTER SLACKS in the muggy south because I don't. have. time. to. shave. I could probably braid my kneecap hair. I've already apologized to Jennifer... I sensed snark. For real though, I was enthralled with all the church ladies in her life, even the moment when she became the church lady herself. It's also heart wrenching to read her thoughts as she suffers with her own self doubts and anxieties. I feel ya, sista, I truly do. Sneak a peek at her words here or check her out here.

Currently listening to...

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. I love the track "Home" so much I haven't even bothered to listen to any of their other stuff. I seriously crank this regardless of who's in the office. Eventually my boss just might send me home thinking I'm trying to drop hints. I swear I'm not. I just can't stop listening to this song. There's something magical about it. Reminds me of that time I fell in love with Those Darlins. 

 Currently thinking about...

This sweet baby. Her brother. Their insane little minds that go a million miles a millisecond. How at peace they were upon seeing the beach for the first time. Wanting to take them back. I contemplated moving back to the beach for a hot second, because... the BEACH, man... THE BEACH. My heart pulls and tugs and rips from my chest with the ebb and flow of the tide. I need to go back. My very existence depends on it. Needing to see their excitement at the infinite blueness of the horizon. Hearing the waves crash onto the beach at 5 in the morning... on the edge of my seat with alertness knowing with certainty the sun was going to rise at ANY FUCKING MINUTE. I'm suffocating in suburbia, man... suffocating.

Currently watching...
Well, catching up on, rather. Soon I'll be obsessively watching "Orange is the New Black."  I've been blowing through shows on Netflix like a mad man. Drop Dead Diva, Switched at Birth, Secret Life of the American Teenager, Pretty Little Liars and now Weeds. This is what I've been doing after hours. Catching up on the television everyone else has been watching for ever and ever amen. Netflix now has a new section just for me entitled, "Dark Television Shows with Strong Female Characters." Hmm... maybe Netflix knows me a little too well. I need real friends apparently.

Currently bummed  out on...
Apparently when I schedule actual vacation time through corporate, I don't get to revoke that. What's done cannot be undone and you must plan at least 1 month to the day ahead of time. My family cancelled our reunion this year, for logical reasons, but I still want to throw my temper tantrum. Not only will I have to fork out $ I don't have for airfare if I still want to visit, but if I don't fork it over my kids can go but I can't? Eff it. We'll all stay home and build tents and roast s'mores over the gas stove... in our kitchen... with fondue sticks. Can't go to the mountains. Can't go to the beach. Boo hoo, gimme some cheese for this whine of mine. In other, more positive (but damn, seriously no vacation???) news...

I'm totally loving...
That after nearly ten years of paying off my (financial) debt to society, not only was I able to refinance my truck through the bank -- DROPPING $150 off my monthly car note, I'm finally eligible for the Young Adult Visa through my credit union. I actually thanked the woman for thinking I'm a young adult. 30 really is the new 20, you guys. It's the little things in life that totally lift me up. Something as stupid and meaningless to most adults, like getting approved for both a line of credit AND an auto re-finance, mean the world to me. It shows me that I wasn't wrong in working hard and paying off my debts. I cannot even tell you how many times we were advised to "just file bankruptcy" so we wouldn't have to wait as long to fix our mistakes. What would that teach us? What would that teach our CHILDREN? That right there is why this country has gone to Hell in a hand basket financially. Yes, I've had to accept help from family, friends and the government (after a LOT of kicking, screaming, and sucking up of stubborn pride). Warning, run on sentence alert!!! Yes, I have cried myself to sleep from the weight of all that's riding on my shoulders AND the unfairness of watching others file bankruptcy around me and while they're taking their kids to Disney every few months and going to little Johnny and Jenny's Tae Kwon Do ceremonies and my own kids are eating PB&J for the 5,284th day in a row and gluing pipe cleaners together at yet another Vacation Bible School because, GOSH DARNIT, IT'S FREE AND YOU'LL ENJOY IT OR ELSE. This means if we play our cards right, we could actually own our own home possibly by my next birthday. This means no more ridiculous interest rates. This means an emergency fund is now a reality... I can defer payments if times get tough! I can pay my car note now in my underwear from the comfort of my home! No more money orders! No more $100 off my balance after paying $360 towards my balance! It's the little things...


Monday, July 15, 2013

I gotta bad habit...





I started smoking when I was 16 years old. Meaning as of this point in my life, I've been a smoker almost as long as I've been a non-smoker.

I want to quit.

The only reason I started was over a stupid boy. A stupid STUPID boy.

My first cigarette happened pretty much like this:

Stupid Boy, "The waitresses tip me in cigarettes. You want to try one with me?"
Me, "No. I have asthma. Probably not the best idea."

 ~~3 days later.~~

Stupid Boy, "The waitresses tipped me in cigarettes again. You still have asthma?"
Me, "Yes, dipshit. It doesn't just go away."

~~3 hours later.~~

Stupid Boy, "I still have those cigarettes."
Me, "FINE, IF IT WILL SHUT YOU UP LONG ENOUGH TO LISTEN TO ME GO ALL EMO AND TALK ABOUT HOW MY MOTHER HATES ME AND HOW E E CUMMINGS IS THE BEST POET EVARRRRRR...."

~~3 seconds later.~~

Stupid Boy, "Hey... HEY! You alright?"
Me, looking up at him from the floorboard of my car, "Wtf just happened? Let me try that again."

Stupid. STUPID STUPID STUPID. I went from 1 a day to 1 every waking hour. When I'm nervous? I smoke twice as many.

I want to quit. I need to quit. I want to see Lillie walk down the aisle. I want to chase my Grandbabies around the park. I want to run faster. I want to WANT to run.

Worst habit EVER.

e e cummings is still the best... for instance...



maggie and milly and molly and may
10

maggie and milly and molly and may
went down to the beach(to play one day)

and maggie discovered a shell that sang
so sweetly she couldn't remember her troubles,and

milly befriended a stranded star
whose rays five languid fingers were;

and molly was chased by a horrible thing
which raced sideways while blowing bubbles:and

may came home with a smooth round stone
as small as a world and as large as alone.

For whatever we lose(like a you or a me)
it's always ourselves we find in the sea 
 

 

maggie and milly and molly and may

  by E. E. Cummings
              10

maggie and milly and molly and may 
went down to the beach(to play one day)

and maggie discovered a shell that sang 
so sweetly she couldn't remember her troubles,and

milly befriended a stranded star
whose rays five languid fingers were;

and molly was chased by a horrible thing 
which raced sideways while blowing bubbles:and

may came home with a smooth round stone 
as small as a world and as large as alone.

For whatever we lose(like a you or a me) 
it's always ourselves we find in the sea
- See more at: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/15406#sthash.fwLh5BIm.dpuf

maggie and milly and molly and may

  by E. E. Cummings
              10

maggie and milly and molly and may 
went down to the beach(to play one day)

and maggie discovered a shell that sang 
so sweetly she couldn't remember her troubles,and

milly befriended a stranded star
whose rays five languid fingers were;

and molly was chased by a horrible thing 
which raced sideways while blowing bubbles:and

may came home with a smooth round stone 
as small as a world and as large as alone.

For whatever we lose(like a you or a me) 
it's always ourselves we find in the sea
- See more at: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/15406#sthash.fwLh5BIm.dpuf

maggie and milly and molly and may

  by E. E. Cummings
              10

maggie and milly and molly and may 
went down to the beach(to play one day)

and maggie discovered a shell that sang 
so sweetly she couldn't remember her troubles,and

milly befriended a stranded star
whose rays five languid fingers were;

and molly was chased by a horrible thing 
which raced sideways while blowing bubbles:and

may came home with a smooth round stone 
as small as a world and as large as alone.

For whatever we lose(like a you or a me) 
it's always ourselves we find in the sea
- See more at: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/15406#sthash.fwLh5BIm.dpuf

maggie and milly and molly and may

  by E. E. Cummings
              10

maggie and milly and molly and may 
went down to the beach(to play one day)

and maggie discovered a shell that sang 
so sweetly she couldn't remember her troubles,and

milly befriended a stranded star
whose rays five languid fingers were;

and molly was chased by a horrible thing 
which raced sideways while blowing bubbles:and

may came home with a smooth round stone 
as small as a world and as large as alone.

For whatever we lose(like a you or a me) 
it's always ourselves we find in the sea
- See more at: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/15406#sthash.fwLh5BIm.dpuf

Sunday, July 14, 2013

31.

I'm 31 now. Thirty fucking ONE.

Let's talk about 30x30 shall we?

  1. Meet with my people. Not like Jesus, but more like my fellow bloggers... maybe even smoosh cheeks European style with the ones I put up on a pedestal. Met the Bloggess 5/16
  2. Run 40k by 32nd Birthday. (Currently at 21.6: Color Run 2012 5k, All Aboard for a Cure 2012 1 Mile/1.6k, Hot Chocolate Run 2012 5k, Diva Dash 2013 5k, Color Run 2013 5k)
  3. Get back into a career style job. May 21st 2012
  4. Move out of the basement. June 22nd 2012
  5. Take the kids to the beach, any coast will do. May 25th 2013
  6. Really celebrate my marriage and relationship with my best friend, i.e. family might need to avert their eyes.
  7. Pilgrim back to the Drepung Loseling Monestary in it's new (to me) location.
  8. Yoga. And YES, M.... I'm going to need your help on this one because this one is inspired by YOU.
  9. Read 30 novels. (1, Jenny Lawson's "Let's Pretend This Never Happened." 2, Rebecca Woolf's "Rockabye.")
  10. Lose 30 MORE pounds. (Update, I've slipped. Big time. See more below.)
  11. Quit smoking.
  12. Spend more time in my craft room and less time in the kitchen. (Seeing as how I've got no craft room currently, I'm going to have to find some other outlet. Again... see below.)

 WTF IS THIS SHIT??!?!

Oh yes, let's talk about my inherent lack of control when it comes to pretty much anything and everything edible within reach of me as of employment a freaking year ago. Who knew a job where I spend half of my time on my ASS in front of computer would wear me out and depress me so? I spend so much time doing absolutely nothing. Both at home and at work. I mean, I get my job done and I do a damn good job doing so... but... when I'm home? I nap. I use what time I could be bettering myself physically, and eat. Pretty much whatever I can lay my freshly manicured hands on. There's been no motivation, no want or yearning to run or do yoga. I contemplate getting up early and walking the community, maybe picking up some trash, and then when all three of my alarms go off? I wake up to the very last one and end up rushing to get to work on time between feeding children, myself, and making myself semi-presentable. 20 pounds ago I wanted to get up early. I wanted to put on my makeup. I wanted to straighten my hair and look NICE. Because I felt NICE. And for whatever reason, now? I feel disgusting, inside and out. I don't feel worth the time or effort for these things. I know I am, but that little stupid voice in the back of my head tells me otherwise. Time to shut that Bitch up.

Y'all? This is bull shit. This is stopping. TODAY. I see that 240 and even though I've gained 20, I'm going to lose 30. And when I lose 30? I'm going to lose another 10 BECAUSE I'M FUCKING WORTH IT.

End rant.


Friday, June 14, 2013

Life's a Beach.

Ormond Beach. May 2013. Day late and a dollar short, but here she is...

 
What we woke up to after a long looooooonnnnnnnngggggg drive down (it's surprising how often kids have to pee when they're in a confined space traveling at 70 mph.)

What their faces looked like when I told them it was time to "hit the beach!" They'd never seen the beach before up close and in person. Because I? I'm the best mother IN THE WORLD.

For prosperity's sake.

My most favorite picture of this child ever.
Blue Steel... or his "WHY DID YOU SPRAY SPF 5000+ IN MY HAIR??!?!" face.
Because why the Hell not.
Don't anybody move or make any sudden noises. This never EVER happens in real life.
Sun looks good on me. Smiles do too. Alcohol works wonders.
Doing laundry at 5 a.m. after a certain little person horked all over me AND the bed. Had a great view of the sun coming up from the patio... made me miss sunrises via the window of a DC-10.
Who cares that she puked her brains out? She can nap at the beach, because BY GOD, she's at the BEACH!
He never dd find the perfect shell to bring home. Next time, little buddy, next time...
I want to be able to grow these all around my house. Helps if I had a house and not an apartment.
I'd rather see these in my yard than pines any day of the week.
 
 One of the better pictures of my Mom and me.

 Lo was ready to go home, he was home sick for Daddy... Lillie and I never wanted to leave. Ever.
He changed his tune a few days later. Sighing in the bathtub, looking up at me with big puppy eyes, "Mama, I wish this was the ocean and not the bathtub."

This? Was a HUGE ASS NO NO when I was flying. Policies must have changed since then, because I've never seen a more proud kid than when the pilot scooped him up and put him in the co-pilot's seat and handed him his "first flight" wings.
This kid right here... She was all smiles and questions until the landing gear dropped. And then she was suspicious of ALL OF US. I was scared, y'all... SCARED.


All of this travel and love and light and laughter and and and... I'm not going to lie. The gypsy in me is itching to get out of this skin. To peel off these damn slacks and put my wings back on. It's also created an itch to move back to Florida... but only if we moved to Colorado afterwards. I want them to see the World. I don't want them to have to wait like I did.

I've put out some feelers. Testing the waters, so to speak ironically enough. Not even a week and I've already had one phone interview. It lasted 30 minutes, but who's counting?

Touchdown in T minus 5... 4.... 3...


Saturday, May 11, 2013

Tiffany and a series of very bad, no good days... pt. 1

Don't worry... this will be a super heavy picture laden post and I will attempt to balance out the ugly with the beautiful. PROMISE.

My Grandmother died. I went to bed early for a change and woke up to my Father shaking me... shaking me. Holding my shoulder and shaking me awake. "Grannie died, she's gone... your Grannie just had a heart attack. She's gone.... she's gone."

For a few years we'd watched her deteriorate mentally. Going from friendly to frigid to frightening in 60 seconds or less. She didn't know who Logan was. She thought Lillie was still an infant. She would seethe with anger over a vacuum cleaner she knew my Father had stolen from her. People were watching her, she'd say. My Dad and I consistently made plans to find a way to have her taken care of, for someone to watch her and monitor her. I couldn't do it by myself. I couldn't bring myself to call her towards the end, because it was no longer her on the other end of the line. I'd make excuses and honest to God forget about her, because it wasn't her. And now? Now she's gone. My therapist asked me what my Grannie would say to me if she saw the person she'd become towards the end. And to be honest? She'd say something along the lines of, "Look at that crazy bitch!!! GIRL, THERE AIN'T NOBODY WATCHING YOU THROUGH YOUR BACK DOOR!!!" And she would forgive me. I know she would. I know because she left me over 70 pairs of handcrafted shoes from the 70's and 80's still in their boxes with their matching clutches. All in my (our) size. I know because she had a box full of pictures. Pictures of me, the kids, postcards I'd sent her from all over the world. She would forgive me, and that gives me great comfort.

Grannie the Fashionista

Grannie and her #1 girl... that would be me. Obviously.

I worried myself sick over the location of this ring. I worried it had been stolen, worried she'd been buried with it, again worried it had been stolen. This ring really belongs to Lillie as she was named after my Grandmother's twin and they share a birth month (January.) There's a garnet on either side of my Dad's birthstone representing his Mother and Aunt.

Grannie and her #2 Girl. She loved the fool out of that baby, even though she only got to see her a few times. Each time it was as if she was meeting her for the first time again and again...
 
Even though Grannie died the week of the Diva Dash, I owed it to her to keep living. So I ran. I ran, I pushed myself over/through/under/around obstacles. I hefted logs over my shoulders and ran through mouse mazes. I ran uphill and downhill through the mud and then finished off by running through an ice cold creek that left my lady parts more than a little frosty. Sometimes it's a bitch being vertically challenged. I even spent the night before at a friends house... WITHOUT CHILDREN. I broke all my own neurotic rules and pushed myself. Believe me when I say it took a good two days to recover mentally and physically. I still can't believe I made that muddy hill my bitch. I OWNED THAT SHIT.
 
It was cold as fuck and it literally stopped raining MINUTES before we arrived. Mother Nature is a cruel cruel woman.

Friends since '05 y'all! Only took me 7 years to convince her to run with my lazy, non-athletic ass. I don't run for time, I run for fun and to push my body and remind myself that I'm stronger than I think. I prepare for races the same way I prepared for tests in High School, I just don't.
 
Who needs a spa for a mud bath? Needless to say these shoes went directly into the garbage. I'd only owned them since before Lo was born... you know, it was time... Nobody should use the same running shoes for over 6 years unless they're Forrest Gump.
 
And then there was the fire. Just a typical day at work... vendors were coming in and out of the office, we were having a small meeting post-lunch... and then the phone rang. The voice on the other line yelled out that our building was on fire. It didn't seem real. I repeated it back to him to make sure I'd heard him correctly. My Property Manager and Maintenance guys ran like Hell out the front door, seconds later running back in to yell "CALL 911 CALL 911, IT'S BURNING FAST!!!" I started calling everyone that lived in that building all the while calling my Sister from my cell. She wasn't picking up and I just kept redialing. It was the building her and her roommates lived in with their 5 cats. It was my sister's building. Her apartment. Her fur-babies. I moved her in. The guilt rips through me like a hot knife. I am hyperventilating and sobbing and a resident is helping me as I scream at her to "Hurry, please hurry, your building is gone. Your cats are gone. Everything is on fire." Minutes later her roommate walks through the office door in her pajamas with only one shoe on. Tears streaming down her face. The cats wouldn't leave the apartment. She went back for them. The maintenance guy went back for them. Each time they would dart back under the bed. All of them, gone... weeks later we still looked for them in hopes they ran out. I still hope I'll see one.
 
Hardly anything survived that fire. By the grace of God, all children with the exception of one were at school. My Property Manager and one of our Maintenance men pulled an old lady out of her apartment, the same Maintenance man caught my daughter's friend and her mother from the second story window. Every last pet perished. Including an 80 pound black lab that I often confused for my own. The month it took to clean up the aftermath was the worst month ever. I passed it daily to get to/from work. The smell gave the Husband flashbacks of nearly every call he ever went on as an EMT/Fire Fighter. Things were pretty rough... but there were also quite a few God moments that surprised us all.
 
Moments after the first call.
 
This window looked into my Sister's bedroom.
 
My Sister's patio furniture that sat in her breezeway next to her bedroom.
 
The bathroom tiles in her shower looked as if they'd always been that black. Tools from two stories above were in her bathroom as if they'd always been there. I am so grateful everybody was out of the building when it collapsed.
 
I began posting on Facebook about all 10 families losing everything, with only a few having renter's insurance. Donations started pouring in. We could barely get into the other half of our office through the sea of clothing, toiletries, bedding, furniture, etc. A local storage complex ended up donating 3 storage units and a 14' covered trailer for us to transport donations to residents.
 
We had some odd and end gift cards that were awkward when split 10 ways (between the 10 families) so the kids and I put together 10 gift baskets with items most people wouldn't think of when settling into a new place. I.e., extra hangers, toilet scrubber, tissues, toilet paper, air fresheners, chip clips, etc... We had over $2000 worth of gift cards donated from strangers for Walmart, Target and Chick-Fil-A that I evenly distribute between the baskets and secured with the chip clips.

And then the demolition really began... Baby books were found, fireproof safes, fire arms, 10 untouched Coach purses (go figure, right?)
 
Amazingly enough, my Sister's artwork survived. They were all soaked, but practically untouched.

As was her boyfriend's tool chest.
 
 
 
 
 
 
To be continued...
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