Selfish.

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Selfish.

I would like to be selfish.

I want to sleep in till seven…or eight. I want to sit in peace and quiet and sip my coffee.

I want to figure out where to begin my day…do I put on yoga pants and take a class, or go for a long walk?

I want to say no to the class, and get myself dolled up and go shopping and get my nails done if I so choose.

Or maybe take out my painting clothes, and go get dirty out back and be creative on a piece of furniture.

I want to be selfish.

I want to not worry about making lunches or what’s for dinner, or laundry that needs to be done and folded and put away.

I want to not worry about dusting or vacuuming or dirty bathrooms.

I want  to not worry who has what activity after school and how I will pick everyone up on time.

I want to not worry about college kids that need supplies packed up, rides back to campus, and more spending money.

I want to not worry about late night phone calls or texts from a homesick college student who misses us desperately.

I want to not wake up ten times during the night by little ones coming in to sleep in my bed, then kicking me through the night.

If only…

Well, I am allowed to be selfish…today.

I have been granted that wish today…

My Mother-in-law has come to my aid.

I have another week of 24/7 parenting until my husband returns home. I am told to go do whatever I want…all day. And yet I have no clue what to do with myself…and no desire to be that jerk I talk about above…my selfish lists are thoughts tucked away in my brain of all these little things that annoy me on a daily basis-that make me want to be this obnoxious uncaring person. They are just wishful thinking when I cannot deal for another second with countless lists of mundane tasks day in and day out.

 I know others have it way worse, but I am an overwhelmed mother of five sick kids with pneumonia-all healed or healing, with countless doctor visits, and charts of who gets what medicine/breathing treatments and how and when I can get everyone back to school and activities and healthy again…on top of the meals and laundry and dishes…I am officially overwhelmed.

So I am being selfish today for a little bit.

I will take these few hours to vent  on this blog, and go wander aimlessly around a store, and maybe even buy something for myself…but that’s about it.

I have definitely lost myself in life and all that goes with it. I crave knowledge and being creative again.

But I don’t really and truly want to be that selfish woman. I will never be that woman…other than the one who puts on her painting clothes and goes out back with paint and sander in hand. Or write a blog about everyday boring life events…that is me.  

My time will come someday soon to have all day to do whatever I want, and the kids won’t need me as much and there will be fewer messes to clean…so I will take these few hours today to be a little selfish, to reflect on my tough days to appreciate the good ones, and remember how precious these days are with my growing family, as overwhelming as they can be…

This is my life.

I will be selfish…just for today.

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Only In My Dreams.

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Only In My Dreams.

It was such a clear dream. I could feel the breeze blowing through the open French doors as I walked down the narrow hallway to her room.  The room seemed small but ornately decorated and looking out onto a patio with a large old tree adding shade to the patio and garden.  She was distracted and not noticing the beauty around her. She was laying in her hospital bed in the cozy room across from another empty hospital bed. She didn’t look up at me, she was too focused on what she was watching on  t.v. or laptop that was perched on her side table.

Her legs…they were smooth and golden…bronzed and healthy from many days basking in the sun by her pool or on the beach. They were uncovered and outstretched from under her hospital gown, almost on display.

Her hair…it was chestnut again, curled thick and soft to the touch.

Grandmother.

I went to her to kiss her hello and noticed she had a plate stacked with cinnamon raisin bread, toasted with butter. There were several bags of this bread strewn across the bed as well. I asked her who made this all for her…she looked up away from me, almost defiantly, and said she did it all herself. Insulted I should even ask such a question. Then she demanded that I run to the store immediately and get her a loaf of white bread and cheese, she was craving a toasted cheese sandwich…I just stood in the doorway, looking at her beautiful self, feeling very puzzled…a combination of the old and new Grandmother…the forever young and the old woman living a life right now she would never want for herself.

I shake my head yes to her demands, and then feel a presence behind me on the patio…it a grown man with two small children. He is holding them close, gently gripping their shoulders, almost protectively. I cannot see their faces, the glare of the sun blocks my vision. Grandmother yells to me to quickly go make some of them the delicious toast she is enjoying at that moment.

Somewhere in all my dreamy confusion, I appear instantly with a white and pink china plate stacked high with steamy cinnamon raisin toast.

And then I woke up…it was over but the feelings are still with me as I type this.

My Grandmother has been rapidly declining mentally and physically over the past four years since my Grandfather passed away. She is always happy for the most part, and occasionally knows some or one or all of us. Some days she is feisty, and some days we cannot even wake her to get a greeting out of her.

I say goodbye each and every time I visit her. I just feel like she is kind of already gone, not because of the Alzheimer’s entirely, but I really feel like she is “one foot in/out the door” so to speak…she talks of times and people in her past, as if it were happening now. She sees people who are gone, and when she speaks of our Grandfather, it is as if he is sitting there with her…

I loved my dream last night

I saw her in all of her beauty and sassiness again. I felt loved and peaceful…I have been having many dreams of my Grandparents lately, and I know they will be together again…someday soon.

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Back to The Plantains.

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Back to The Plantains.

So I really thought I was fooling myself. I even tried to mentally to lie to myself this morning when I stepped off of the scale. It was thirteen NOT ten or eleven or even twelve…it was a whopping thirteen pounds that I have gained over the past several months.

I have fooled myself into thinking one chip or cracker or treat over the holiday was okay. Which then made it okay for two or three more treats.

It amounted to many little pieces of candy after Halloween. And handfuls of chips and gooey dip over Thanksgiving. AND pie. I enjoyed myself thoroughly. All this cheating I swore I would never do again. But I did.

Until my pants were getting tighter, and my stomach began to bloat like I was six months pregnant. My skin is covered in dry scaly patches and my hair…well it is back to thin scraggly nothingness.

I am disappointed and depressed. In myself. It is all my fault.

I began stress eating over the summer after countless hours and days visiting my ailing Father-in-law in the hospital and helping my mother-in-law at their home. By no means am I blaming them. I blame myself for using the excuse of quick cafeteria bites and on-the-go burgers, and caving in here and there because I just didn’t have the time or mental capacity to care what I was eating. I own the fact that I turned the cheek to a salad bar and chose “protein” by means of crispy crunchy chicken tenders. Or gluten free breads/pastas/pizza crusts.

These foods are not my friends…clean eating is. It is probably for all of us, but my body responded so well to it. I felt great, had more energy, my skin was healing…so the self-sabotage is even more upsetting to me. Especially after I begged my Father-in-law to seek healing through nutrition, and then I shamefully chose to give up on my own journey of healing.

Today I seek my happy place again. I am looking for healing again. A healthy gut and healthy mind. To stay focused and teach my family to eat well. Maybe not to the extreme I need to, but enough for them to be well and feel great.

I enjoyed my gluten free pizza crusts the most…but then the regular cheese and sauces just added to mission of letting go of my health.

My plantain pizzas took some getting used to. And they will again. After indulging, it is time to get real. I owe it to myself and my body and my family to find my wellness again.

Christmas will be challenging, in many ways. It will be our first Christmas without my Father-in-law who loved all things Christmas and we shared it with them every year. I cannot cave into stressful eating. I cannot let parties where treats are served up with loads of sugar and fat and calories, make me cheat. I need to be strong for my husband and children and my family, and especially for my Father-in-law who believed in me…

Back to the plantains.

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Fears & Tears.

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Fears & Tears.

I haven’t cried that hard in almost two months…and rightfully so when we had to say goodbye to my husband’s father…a man who loved me like one of his own. We all have shed a few tears or had utter meltdowns since that day, but last night…was rough.

It wasn’t about my Father-in-law…or maybe it has something to do with it. The crying, sadness, occasional fighting over the “why’s” and feeling lost at random moments, have added a new layer of stress to life…stress that cannot even be compared to what my Mother-in-law must be facing…

So last night.

I am sharing/writing this in hopes of maybe figuring this out or seeking help, and also to cleanse my soul.

Our son.

He is beautiful. He is brilliant. He is funny. He is tough.

But not last night.

Over the course of this month he has spiraled into one gigantic hot mess.

He was soooo excited when I took the Halloween decorations out at the beginning of October. He didn’t like some of them, but moved on.

We went out over the next few weeks to the drug store, or dollar store, or even a grocery store and Halloween was everywhere. “I don’t like dat” was his first comment when he saw some scary things.

Fast forward to yesterday in K-Mart, he sat in the cart, covered his face the ENTIRE time we were in the store, even after many attempts to reassure him we were far away from the scary stuff…He did peek at Christmas things, and then went right back to hiding.

We no longer can go into one of his favorite stores after he froze with sheer fear and panic at skeletons hanging from the ceiling.

AND to top all these very long, confusing, frustrating and very heartbreaking outings…there was last night.

We decided to forget cooking after a long week already, (and it was only Wednesday), and take the kids to a bar/restaurant that we haven’t gone to in a while.

A nice friendly Irish family restaurant in town…that had a few Halloween decorations as you entered the building.

PANIC. TREMBLING. SWEATING. CRYING. YELLING. FEAR.

Our son froze…our two daughters were shocked at his behavior but quickly stepped in to help coax him out of it with toys and coloring and even some French fries…

Nothing…

We contemplated leaving.

But what about the two kids inside who were so excited to go out to eat? And a flabbergasted husband who hasn’t seen this side of his son to this extreme…

I took him into the car, to cool himself and myself off((him-literally. Me-figuratively). He had been clutching me for about ten minutes and shaking and dripping with sweat.

When we returned, people from the bar came over to offer help and give him  lollipop or be funny…nothing worked.

We decided that the majority had to eat, as it was getting late, so we asked to move our table(we had been seated near the entrance and could see some of the decorations…and the waitress even took one down for him that looked the scariest) and quickly finish our meal. Our son refused to remove his body from mine and refused to remove his hand from his eyes and refused to eat or drink. He sat there for another twenty minutes, sweating and shaking…I tried to quietly tell him of all the things around him ( a window, a ketchup bottle, his napkin, his sister across from him)so there were no surprises when he chose to look around.

He refused.

We got him out to the car finally after my husband and girls quickly ate their meals.

He was fine…perfectly fine.

Once he was buckled in his car seat and we started for home, he exclaimed he wanted “Zert”. He cannot go to bed without dessert every night. We sighed and said ok, but you have to eat your dinner first  (that was kindly packed up by our very flustered waitress), and he said “ok, I am so, so hungry!”….

I couldn’t help myself.

Maybe it was because I was hungry, or had a cocktail before we had left the house for dinner…but I cried like a baby last night.

I acted like I was ok, and ran up to my room and sobbed.

Is this normal? Did we, as parents, fail him and not do the right thing? Should we have left immediately without trying to figure out what was wrong? Is there something wrong with him?

Or is just our beautiful, brilliant, funny, tough AND overly sensitive?

I am beginning to think maybe not.

I DO NOT want a label on my child. I do NOT want to pump him with drugs. I want to know if we are missing something, and maybe we DO need to be more sensitive towards his fears…I felt as if that was one of the first check marks on his list of moments that molded him forever, and will never forget it…

I feel like I failed our son.

But now as I write this I feel some relief knowing that someone might say, “he is fine” or “call the doctor”. NOW.

We have a Tot time Halloween party this morning.

My stomach aches to think of what may or may not happen. Last year, we had to leave before it even started.

Do I hide under his rock with him until Halloween decorations come down, and Thanksgiving one’s go up?

I am at a loss. My girls were fearful of all things scary when they were younger, but nothing like this…no way near this.

Trick Or Treating? I really don’t think so.

My kids told him he can use his Captain America shield to hide from the bad stuff so we can still go out…I am just not sure that will happen…but maybe we try? Or will that scar him even more?

He is our baby. I just don’t want  to do any more harm than good…

I want to be his shield of all things good and evil.

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My sweet baby boy.

The Choice.

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The Choice.

Warning…many will take offense. Some will hate me. Or pretend they do not know me anymore. Some will even pity me…

That is THEIR choice.

It was about ninety degrees on June 1, 1991. It felt like 110 in the shade as I lay on the steaming hot pavement in my own vomit…retching. Sobbing.

I will never forget this day…ever.

It was a few weeks before I was barely about to graduate high school. I had just fooled them all at my senior prom. I could have kept up the facade for a little longer…but I didn’t have a choice, I was told this was the only way out…

As an adult now, I realize I did have a choice.

But when you run away from home, or get kicked out and are reliant on others…you feel like you have no choice.

I woke up on the table after being sedated, in the midst of it all…the loud noise, the lights, the people hovering over me.

I believe that is the moment that haunts me the most…waking, even groggy still from sedation, knowing what was happening. More so than the cowardly way I slumped in my chair in the waiting room before it began…wondering if the others were feeling the same way as me.

I cried myself to sleep in the back of the car, begging for fresh air to cool my face, covered in dried vomit and tears.

Somehow I managed to make it to my bed, and awakened hours later…pain so bad I could tear my own heart out…not physical pain so much, but because it was my heart that was aching…

And the empty feeling in my belly. I clawed at my stomach screaming to make this madness stop. To undo what had happened.

Next thing, I am given a Valium…out cold again.

I was in a dark place mentally back then…before this all happened.

It was literally my first time…and then I was pregnant. A senior in high school. An aspiring fashion designer. A child who just wanted her divorced parents’ love and for them to stop fighting.

Well, this got their attention alright. They found out a while later…they shed no tears for me…just more anger and pain. I was ashamed. I kept my story to myself… I was absolved of my sin by a priest after my family found out. Time to forget it forever…put it behind me.

SHAME.

I live with this every second of every day.

I couldn’t put it behind me. Even as life moved on.

But in no way shape or form, did life fill the void in my belly...in my heart.

Did I want a child at eighteen? No…I had no clue what I would have done. But there is not one day since June 1, 1991 that I do not think of him…I know in my heart it was a boy.

I swore God would never allow me to be happy again…my Catholic guilt growing larger everyday.

God was good enough to let me heal enough to graduate and temporarily mend things with my family…but I knew that he would punish me. The little girl in me said I would never be a mommy because of what I did that day.

Almost five years later, I was granted a gift. After almost losing my baby and  my life during my pregnancy, God gave us a beautiful baby girl…I lost an ovary through it all, but I felt like I had truly been absolved…that there was a God and that I had to suffer a little to finally appreciate what I had.

And I did. Life was challenging then, but I had this beautiful baby and thought I would never have any more after losing an ovary and all that my body went through to deliver her safely. And yet I was given a second chance… 

I had to embrace it.

Three more amazingly beautiful children later and almost nineteen years of a happy marriage with a husband who has heard this all and held me as I cried over and over, and I feel like God forgave me…but why am I still not forgiving myself? Is it that Catholic guilt or shame? Or simply because it truly wasn’t my choice?

I cringe everytime I read an article on this topic. I cry. I mourn. I had a choice. Maybe I made the wrong one, but my life would be very different today if I had fought back and said to them that  I had a choice in the matter.

He didn’t love me…and I didn’t love him.

Yes I was a fool…but I was just looking for love after years of being lost and made a terrible mistake.

I will never tell anyone to rid the world of abortion… There. I said it.

Abortion.

It is an ugly word. Our world has made it ugly.

But what about that girl who is raped or molested?

What about the girl like me?

What would I have done?

I would have been sent packing to live on the streets pregnant and alone…fearful of what my very catholic family would say…or maybe worse…maybe I would have killed myself or attempted to from the deep depression and shame that was setting in.

Or maybe turn to adoption…but that was never an option for some reason and I was too naive to think these things through as an eighteen year old fighting the world and everyone in it.

Do I believe that maybe I could have beaten the odds?

Found the strength to fight back and keep my child?

Found a way to finish school and pursue my dreams as an artist?

Make it work?

Hell yeah…I thought that an hour ago, and last week, or last summer when I almost had a nervous breakdown about the lie I have lived with for so long.

I know girls that did beat the odds and persevered alone with their child…yes, they have struggled to make ends meet and finish school and find love again while raising a child alone…

Some will say I gave up too easily.

Shame on me.

But even more shame for hiding it…it is part of who I am…he was part of me and will forever be my fifth child…my first. I ache for him, as any mother would over a child lost…even more so when I see how cruel life can be and take our loved ones away in an instant.

So why voluntarily do it?

My eighteen year old self said she did it because it was the only way out and because they told her to.

My Forty-something year old self says it was the shame and guilt that the scared girl couldn’t bare to face.

She did though. Faced all of it…

Took countless blows to the chin, and then when the dust settled, tucked her dirty little secret away…until now.

We all have choices in this life…and we have to live with the consquences each and everyday.

I feel that hot pavement from that day on my face twenty-four years ago like I  am living that moment now…it was a choice…one that will follow me like a dark cloud till the day I die.

Judge me, hate me, pray for me.

Do whatever you like. But I will not lie or hide this part of me anymore. My older girls know my story now. As a lesson to make better choices…but no one should make those choices for you…no one.

Today I honor the love that I lost, and all that I have gained…most importantly…

Truth.

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I smile today…I am owning this. My first ever tattoo…proudly wearing a badge forever of all my babies…four born, one lost, and one gained.

Good Fortune.

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Good Fortune.

Not sure where that title just came from…just started typing it.

So I guess I will blog on about my good fortune. I am alive. I am somewhat healthy. I am married. I have children. I can occasionally muster a smile at myself in the mirror. I am alive.

I am also surrounded by many people who love me and adore me.

Maybe I am thinking all this after visiting with my beautiful 94 year old Grandmother today.

SHE has good fortune. Merely for the fact that she can say she lived 94 years…what a gift.

She has always been beautiful, and fun and silly, and loved to have a good time.

She is in the end stages of dementia or Alzheimer’s…not sure which…neither good.

But since it began to get progressively worse, I repeated these words countless times to anyone who would listen…

My grandmother has even more good fortune than SHE realizes…

Because she is BLISSFULLY UNAWARE.

She has never smiled so much as she has in the last few years. She can doze off or look around the room and gaze up at the same person, and it is as if she never saw this person, but still greets them with a beaming smile and a “come over here and give me a hug” gesture…

She is still her blissfully unaware self, but cannot make sentences and forgets most words…but still always smiling.

I love these visits with her, and pray I am blessed with such good fortune someday…to have produced a small army of children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. To have been married only once to the love of her life. To still be stylish, and laugh and hug and say the most important words to her family as she grabs them tight in her arms…“I love you so much”…one of her only full sentences anymore…but that is MY good fortune…that she can tell me this…that she can tell my children this.

I am hopefully in the midst of building a life like Grandma did…

An adoring husband, who works hard and loves his family.

A growing business with more and more success each day.

Children and family that stand by me no matter what, good days and bad. 

This is my good fortune…guess I had to write  it down, to realize this…when and if I am so lucky to sit with my Grandmother again in the near future, I will tell her this…

That I love her and she is the luckiest woman I know…

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Nothing better. Selfies with Gram…

Hugs.

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Hugs.

I am a Mother of six.

I carried five, gave birth to four, and love one unconditionally as one of my own.

I am not perfect. 

I am, on most days, a scarred and bitter person. I can hide it well…sometimes.

But on this very day, all that matters, is that I am a Mother.

I feel urged to write this to a younger confused generation, with too much information at their fingertips, not enough social interactions, and way too many emotions pent up that seem to bring anger and resentment to the world around them…

And not enough hugs.

We had dinner the other night with some family, and ended it with me bringing up the “Twenty Second Rule” of hugs…which gloriously ended in enough hugs to make all of us leave the restaurant with content bellies and warm hearts with big smiles on our faces…

Because it works.

But is not happening enough anymore in our world…we are all guilty of too much “me” time…maybe grabbing some extra Facebook time, or binging on a favorite t.v. series, or spa and gym days…

Don’t get me wrong, these are all essential for us to stay mentally healthy and balanced within ourselves…but some days, we may overlook something…our duties as parents…we need to put our needs aside for even just twenty seconds…

I challenge you…PLEASE…go to your child right now and tap them on the shoulder, as they are staring at a cellphone, t.v. or laptop screen….and jolt them out of this…

Tell them you need to talk. As they rise to go to talk with you, take them in your arms and hold them…for twenty seconds…or more…then tell them you are sorry…that no job, or t.v. show or phone call is more important than this…holding this child in your arms and remembering all those moments that brought you here…tell them you love them, and that they can tell you anything, no matter what…

Mothers…we come in all shapes and sizes, colors, genders and no matter what..our babies need us. Our duty is to them right now, and forever…

Today is a day for our children to celebrate us, but without them, there would be nothing to celebrate…So grab your babies/toddlers/teens/grown children/fur babies and tell them you love them and start squeezing.

Twenty second hugs are good enough.

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Anxiety.

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Anxiety.

Anxiety.

It overwhelms me. Last night was the worst in a long time. I lost three hours of sleep because of it.

Alone with my thoughts and not sure what to do with myself…

My husband took our kids to his Mother’s for a visit..an overnight.

It was a gift to me…something I am always wishing for, or complaining that I never have time to myself, to do what I want, whenever I want…

Well, my wish came true. I had almost two whole days alone to do whatever I wanted.

I admit, I sat here, in front of the t.v. thinking that was what I really wanted, even though I had requested this time alone to “get stuff done” around the house.

I sat in front the t.v. wasting an hour of my time thinking that was one thing I never get to do…watch whatever I want. I zoned out like a moron, not finding anything remotely enjoyable to satisfy the need for something other than cartoons and cooking shows.

So I got motivated…I cleaned out closets and did laundry, and dusted…I was very productive for hours...then went to dinner with some family and really enjoyed myself…I didn’t have to take anyone to the bathroom at the restaurant or cut someone else’s food or be interrupted in my conversations. It was enjoyable.

Until I fell sound asleep, thanks to a few cocktails and a full belly and lots of cleaning all afternoon…I knew I would sleep well.

Or so I had hoped.

I woke at three a.m., heart racing feeling dizzy and confused. Why was I sleeping on the sofa? Where was everyone? I realized I was alone.

Just me.

I thought of every happy thought I could bring to mind…put on a bad sitcom…checked in on my blog to see my stats rising after having it re-blogged for the first time…

Nothing would shake it.

Anxiety…panic…whatever you want to call it…it wasn’t leaving.

It makes me jittery now just remembering how freaked out and bad my anxiety got.

I am terrified to be alone.

I used to live alone for a few years, and I loved it. That was pre-marriage and pre-kids…but still…I did it before, so why can’t I do it now? Why cant I enjoy it like I did then? Because someday in the future, all the kids will be gone-off to explore themselves create their own lives.

and I will have my husband, but there will be times when I will be alone again…and that causes me even more anxiety to think I may hate it or fear it.

This is who I am now, I guess…so deal with it…buck up woman!

But I don’t want anxiety…I want to feel peaceful and calm and enjoy life…

Maybe I need to do it more often so it isn’t such a scary thing…but for now…

I survived the night…I am very tired and rattled today, but thankful that my family returns today and will have a full house again…

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Until we meet again, Anxiety.

Fifty.

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Fifty.

Fifty is a large amount…of time, money, hours, and even minutes.

It can seem like eternity waiting for a class to end that is fifty minutes long…

Or almost endless when waiting for those last fifty days for a baby to arrive, or a party that has been in the works for ages to come to fruition, or maybe vacation to start after months of saving and planning…

To some, it can seem like a lot of money, when you have not a penny to spare.

And it can seem like almost a lifetime when you share fifty years with someone…because it is.

Fifty years is more than doubled of the time that a person spends being reared by their parents…for most of us, that usually only takes about eighteen years…

Fifty years is longer than most will spend working at a job or career…which can be a relief at the end of a long drawn out lifetime of working at a job you couldn’t stand…

Or being saddened that it is time to retire from the one thing you loved almost as much as your family.

Fifty years.

We are almost at twenty years of marriage…and pray we are lucky enough to celebrate fifty…or more.

I know very few people who have surpassed Fifty Years of Marriage.

What an amazing gift.

Yet today, my heart aches for my Mother-In-Law as she celebrates a Fiftieth Anniversary…without her beloved husband.

A man she has shared minutes, hours, days building up to an amazing lifetime together…almost.

She lost her dear husband nine days shy of this amazing accomplishment, after falling in love, getting married, then creating a life together for themselves and their children, finding careers that they both enjoyed, traveling, and just living life to its fullest…

They shared losses of loved ones and friends and jobs and homes together too…

But these losses just brought them closer together.

And now we, today, respect my Mother-In-Law’s wishes to not celebrate this special day…her heart is too heavy.

 I know in my heart that My Father-In-Law is with her, holding her chin up and wiping away her tears…I know we must move forward with their strength as a couple…encouraging us to believe in our marriage and our family, and watch it blossom from love and loss…

In Fifty Years, I hope I am not alone, and I hope I am still here…with my sweet husband holding my hand and smiling at all we have accomplished…

I hope that I can look back at all those minutes and days, hours and years that would bring us to that special day.

Because my In-laws will celebrate today…

With tears of sadness and tears of joy…

Here on Earth and in Heaven…

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Their love story is not over…

And will never be forgotten.