Missing Thanksgiving

No I don’t mean we’re not doing Thanksgiving this year. We are. Our daughter and son-in-law are hosting it at their house, and I’m sure our granddaughter will “help” in her own special 18 month old way.

We’ll have basically the same menu as we’ve had for the last 10-15 years…some traditions do continue. But the cooks will be different. The setting will be different. And the table will be missing a lot of people who are no longer around or in our lives.

That’s what I’m missing. And this year for some reason I’m particularly missing it.

I miss the days of packing the car and driving a little over two hours to my mom’s house the night before, unpacking the car, and then starting on the food prep while my husband and daughter watched movies and played with the dog.

The next morning we’d get up early and start making pumpkin pies, cinnamon buns (with our daughter helping when she got older), putting the turkey in the oven, and then setting the table for a huge family get together, using My mom’s best china and silver. It wasn’t unusual to have ten people or more. We had a large extended family then, and Thanksgiving in particular was a special time!

I have wonderful memories of the holidays from my high school years celebrating with so many aunts and uncles. And later years as our family members dwindled and changed, we still had our special holiday celebrations, just with fewer participants.

That’s all changed now, though. My mom is gone. I don’t see my aunt and her family since they live several hours away. So it’s now my husband and me, and our daughter and son in law and our granddaughter. And we’ll have a wonderful day. That I’m sure of.

But there will be a lot that I’ll miss.

I miss having my mom with us. We never missed a Thanksgiving together. It was just a given that we’d all be together. There’s always an empty spot at the table now, even though I know she’s smiling down on us from heaven, adoring her family from afar, and especially enjoying watching her great-granddaughter Rachel as she grows.

I miss my uncles who were always such a fun part of Thanksgiving. Uncle Jay who always seemed to be ready for seconds even before most of us had finished filling our plates. How he ate so fast we never could figure out, but he always wore a little of it on his tie, and always seemed to spill just a bit on the floor for the dog who happened to be under the table waiting.

My uncle Fowler who always teased us all about something, who was always ready with a joke, and who expertly carved the turkey every year (I actually think he taught my husband a thing of two about it), wearing my aunt’s apron, and happily sampling as he went, just to be sure it was cooked properly!

My Aunt Mary made wonderful pies, and of course we had pumpkin, but she also treated us once in a while to her special mince pie which was amazing! And some years, for a really special treat, and usually at the request of my Uncle Fowler, she’d bring her “famous” angel pie, with its meringue crust, creamy lemony filling, and topped with real whipped cream and shaved bitter chocolate on top. I have her recipe, and so does the rest of the family, but none of us have ever been able to make it like she did! And we’ve certainly tried.

My Aunt Pauline would always bring the scalloped oysters, and she’d carefully put the dish together, layering the oysters just right, and the waiting to pour the milk in just before it was time to bake them. She always complained that she couldn’t get the milk amount right, but they were always delicious. Even if you didn’t particularly like oysters!

And then there were my mother’s cinnamon buns. Oh my, were they the hit of every meal! And not just on Thanksgiving! Sometimes she made two pans of them, because we all wanted leftovers, and they were so good you couldn’t stop at just one! Uncle Jay usually had at least three, because he had to save room for dessert!

We always had appetizers before, dinner. My aunt’s homemade pepper jelly over softened cream cheese (yummy!) which was later joined by her “fake” crab dip (chopped artichoke hearts and Parmesan cheese). One year she told one of our guests it was crab dip, and that guest actually pulled out what she thought was a small piece of crab shell! We never did tell her what it really was, but oh did we enjoy that laugh!

Yes, I miss those days. I wouldn’t trade our family we have now for anything, but it would be so nice if we could go back in time, and take our grown up Ashley and Chris and little Rachel with us, and enjoy a Thanksgiving like we used to have, as the saying goes, “back in the day!”

But now all I have are those memories tucked in my heart, that I pull out every year at this time, and remember all the fun and wonderful times we had together. I can’t recreate them, but I can make new ones, with our growing family here, as well as friends we’ve come to call our family as well.

Yes, I’m missing Thanksgiving, but I’m missing what once was. And appreciating what is now, because the past is the past, and the future is now. We’re making new memories that our children and grandchildren will one day look back on and nostalgically remember like I just did.

To everyone reading this, may you have a blessed and happy Thanksgiving. May your childhood holiday memories be a comfort to you if your family is no longer around. And may you all enjoy making new memories as you travel through this newest season of your life.

Be thankful. And be blessed.

Pumpkins, Candy, and Costumes

It’s that time of year once again. The time when there’s that little nip of coolness in the air, especially the first thing in the morning. Even the sunlight seems crisper, giving us a hint of the chill that’s soon to follow. Yes, it’s that time of year that shuffles in the true end of summer. And shuffle is a good term, because I always go into it dragging my feet, kicking and screaming, because as I’ve said many times, I’m a spring/summer/flip flop type of girl!

And I can’t believe our summer is over. It’s really, really not fair. It’s cold when we get up, and even though it sometimes warms up a bit in the early afternoon, by the end of the day it’s getting cold again.

Yes, I will admit, the trees have turned into a palette of new colors; oranges and yellows and reds. And all those leaves begin to fall all over the yard, getting raked into piles of crisp color that we adults are just a bit tempted to jump into it when no one is looking, like we did when we were children!

My husband likes to drive over to the mountains and enjoy the spectacular views. And they are pretty. But if it’s up to me, I’ll look at other people’s pictures on line and think how pretty they are, and then dream about how long it’ll be until it gets warm again.

Then there are the pumpkins. Everywhere. In store and even restaurant displays, and piled along those roadside stands. Some even have carved faces already, and yes, we’ve bought a few of them, but our granddaughter is still a bit too young to carve them. I thought about painting them, but just didn’t get there this year. But I still remember growing up and my uncle making the most beautiful jack-o’-lanterns. Over fifty years ago, he was painting faces and other designs on the pumpkins rather than carving them, because they’d last longer. He was certainly ahead of his time, and if he were still here today, I’m sure he’d still be doing it, only much more elaborate.

And speaking of pumpkins, don’t you think the pumpkin craze has gotten a bit out of hand now? I do like pumpkin pie, but pumpkin spiced coffee? Pumpkin glazed donuts? Pumpkin flavored pop tarts? Pumpkin flavored Oreos? Please, no…… We even found pumpkin spiced dog treats last week, and no, we didn’t buy them! I really don’t think our dog would like them.

But he did enjoy dressing up in his Halloween costume. Sort of. He’s the one dressed as a football and wearing a football “helmet.” (You see, after several years without a dog, we are now the proud “parents” of a two year old Yorkie, and, well, Yorkies do like to get dressed up. Or so we hear.)

Now there are a few things that I can actually appreciate about this time of year.

For one, there is a LOT of candy on sale right now. And I do like to keep my candy bowl on my desk filled with all kinds of wonderful chocolate candy bars, miniature ones of course, just in case I get an urge during the day for a quick pick-me-up! Chocolate can do that, you know. And I’m sure many of you reading this are like us, and buy your supply of Halloween candy based on what YOU like to eat, and not necessarily what the kids are going to want, so you can enjoy the leftovers! Is there any other way to buy it?

I have to admit I enjoy seeing the costumes the kids are wearing when they come to our door to get their candy. The little ones are always adorable, and this year we’ll be looking at them in a different light, since our granddaughter will be dressed up in her own costume; and we’ll be helping take her around her neighborhood! Of course, her daddy, who is an avid hunter, wanted her to be dressed in camouflage, but I think Mommy and Grandmom and Grandpa had other ideas, as you can see from the picture! We think she looks adorable!

When I was growing up, most of us dressed up for Halloween, but very seldom in anything scary or spooky. My hometown had an annual Halloween parade, with several of the main streets blocked off so the participants could march around our little business district and the county courthouse. Children as well as adults paraded around streets in costumes and competed for prizes, and the streets were filled with onlookers. My aunt and uncle actually won first prize in the adult division one year, dressed as Raggedy Ann and Andy. (How many of you even know who they were?) And if memory serves me correctly, I think some of the local churches sponsored the parade and contributed some of the prizes!

I can’t remember the last time I saw a Halloween parade. But they were a lot of fun! At least to us kids, and the adults who still acted like kids. It was just a fun time to enjoy ourselves, and get candy, of course!

So I guess I’m sort of stuck with it being fall. I can’t change it, so I guess I have to make the most of it. I can wear my jeans and sweaters with my boots, enjoy our toasty fireplace with a glass of wine, and count the days until Thanksgiving and Christmas.

And then I can remember that spring is, sort of, just around the corner! Thank goodness!

What’s In Your Heart?

“Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” Matthew 12:34

Our pastor delivered a powerful message this morning based on this scripture, which really made me stop and think…and reflect. And whether you are a believer or not, these questions are definitely something to think about.

What words are coming out of your mouth? Are you speaking love or condemnation?

Are you speaking reconciliation or judgement?

Are you trying to exert control over those you speak to, or are you showing the love for others that you say you have?

Do you avoid being around people you believe are living their lives wrong, talk about them behind their backs, or do you reach out to them and treat them the way you want to be treated?

Do you talk AT people without listening to what they have to say, are you too busy to take that extra time to hear THEIR heart, or do you stop and really get to know them, and have a genuine conversation with them?

Do you tell everyone how important it is to forgive, but continue to hold on to resentment and grudges in your own life?

Are you constantly pointing fingers at everyone and telling them how wrong they are, and not stopping to see that maybe you have faults as well?

Are you too busy telling others what they should be doing, and how bad they are if they don’t, or do you take the time to talk to them and try to understand where they’re coming from, so you can have a two way conversation instead of a one way lecture?

Do you find yourself making up stories, telling “little white lies”, because it’s easier than telling the truth?

Do you talk the talk, but forget to walk the walk?

Where is your heart? What’s in it?

What’s really in it? Love, compassion, forgiveness? Or greed, anger, jealousy, and resentment?

Are you really the person you say you are? If someone could look inside your heart, what would they see?

We all need to examine our hearts, our motivations. And when we do, I guarantee each of us, and certainly myself, will discover we need to make some changes.

The question is, will we? Or better yet, do we want to?

What’s your answer?

A Little Girl’s Memories

Recently I attended the memorial service for a friend. My husband and I had actually helped with the couple’s wedding some eight years ago and had wonderful memories of their special day. You could tell how much they loved each other, and how excited they were to begin their new life together. All of their pictures featured big smiles and joyous laughter in anticipation of their new beginning together.

And they were very happy. They had two beautiful children, a daughter and then a son. Dad would tell everyone how lucky he was and how long he’d waited for this family of his; how proud he was of his wife and kids. He’d talk about all the things he did with them; and all the things he was looking forward to doing with his children as they got older. Taking his son fishing for the first time, and taking his little girl to her first daddy-daughter dance.

Now that’s all changed. Future plans will never happen. Because Daddy unexpectedly passed away just a few weeks after his little girl started first grade.

We all felt so bad for his widow, who’d lost the love of her life. We felt even sadder for his children who’d never have the opportunity to really know what a loving father they’d been blessed with.

As I sat at this man’s memorial service I couldn’t take my eyes off his children, sitting in the front row between their mom and their aunt, wearing their best clothes and looking, shall I say, a bit lost. And I wondered what they were thinking. Particularly his daughter.

You see, I knew quite a bit about what she was feeling. Because almost sixty years ago I was that little girl. And I have to say, even after all those years, the memories came flooding back.

It’s just not something you forget. Even as a child, such memories don’t totally fade with time. Even when your child’s mind doesn’t totally process it at the time, those memories are always there.

Sadly, our friend’s three year old son will most likely only remember his daddy because of photos and stories told by his mom and other family members. He’s just too young to really remember.

But his six year old daughter will be a different story.

She’s old enough to know that her dad is gone; that he’s not coming back home anymore. She knows he’s in heaven with the Lord, because she’s been told that many times; and she’s been taught that in Sunday School.

But she doesn’t understand it. Not really. She has a lot of questions that she doesn’t even know how to ask.

Well-meaning people have probably told her that her daddy is with the angels. Some may even have told her that her daddy is an angel now; that God needed another one so he took her dad because he was so special. Sometimes she worries that God might need another angel and take her to heaven as well, and she doesn’t think she’s ready for that. They often tell her how Daddy is watching over her and her little brother from up in heaven, hoping to make her feel better.

And this little girl nods her head as if she understands. But she doesn’t; not really. Her child’s mind just can’t totally comprehend all of it.

Even those of us who are mature in our faith sometimes have trouble understanding when it’s our loved one who’s passed away.

But there are things his daughter will remember when she’s older. It’s amazing, really, the things that stay with you. Things that may seem insignificant at the time will forever linger in your memory, and come out at the most unexpected times.

She’ll remember a few scattered times of fun, just between the two of them. Walking in the woods and talking about nothing important, except to them. Helping him put up the Christmas tree while mommy made dinner. The times he’d tuck her into bed at night and tell her how much he loved her as he kissed good night.

She’ll remember the last time she saw her dad, lying in a hospital bed with machines attached to him; she’ll remember that it just didn’t seem like the man she knew as “daddy”, and eventually she’ll wonder if it was really him.

She’ll also remember the exact words her mother said to her when she told her that her beloved daddy was gone. In fact, that’s one sentence she’ll remember for the rest of her life, and she’ll hear it in her mind over and over, as clearly and distinctly as if it were being spoken all over again.

That’s one sentence a child can’t forget. I haven’t. Because whether that child totally understands or not, she knows in her heart that things have suddenly and irreversibly changed.

Sadly, like me, his daughter won’t have years and years of memories to make with her dad. Many of the few memories she had will fade, and try as she might, they’ll never come back the way she’d like them to.

But she’ll always remember that day on the front row in that church, and remember how people were talking about her daddy, and how her mother kept trying not to cry, and so did she, because she wanted to be brave like her mommy.

I sadly have no remembrances of my dad’s service, because when he died I was quite sick and unable to attend. And children didn’t always go to funerals back then, even for their parents. But I remember the days immediately following his death and all the people who came to the house, talking to my mom and me, telling us how sorry they were. I, too, tried not to cry and be strong for my mother.

Because I just didn’t understand at the time what it all meant, and how it would affect my life. But there were a lot of nights afterwards that I lay in bed, curled in my mother’s arms as we comforted each other, and cried. And his daughter will, too.

She’ll feel terribly sad at Father’s Day and look at all the cards she’ll never be able to give to him, because he’s gone. And she’ll wish the day would hurry and get here so it could go away.

There will most likely be times she’ll imagine that her daddy didn’t really die; that he got sick and people took him somewhere else to live because he wasn’t going to get better, and he didn’t want his family to see him so sick. She’ll probably daydream about finding him one day, and how happy they’ll both be to find each other again.

Yes, I did that, too. And I imagine many other children do as well.

There will be lots of times she’ll be envious of her friends who still have their fathers, who go places with them. She’ll feel uncomfortable when an uncle takes her to the daddy-daughter dance at school instead of her father; or she won’t go at all because she’ll be secretly jealous of the other girls whose fathers were there with them.

There will also be the day when she’s ready to walk down the aisle on her wedding day. She’ll be so excited, but she’ll still feel a sense of loss that can’t be described, except by other daughters who’ve been there as well. And she’ll shed an extra tear because her daddy can’t walk her down the aisle. Her brother will stand in for him, but it won’t be the same.

Yes, all of these thoughts went through my mind that day, and I so wanted to take that little girl in my arms and hug her, hold her, and tell her she’ll be all right. That even in the lonesome times, the sad times when memories rush at you so quickly you’re not prepared for the impact; the times you see someone who reminds you of him, or see another daughter with her father and you want to be her…just for a second or two; to tell her in those tough times you’ll be ok. It won’t be easy, but you’ll be ok.

The death of a parent or a spouse…or even worse, a child…is an unimaginable pain. But when you’re just a little child, and you lose a parent, it’s a grief like no other. And sometimes it takes years before you can fully and totally grieve for them. For me it took almost 50 years, when while cleaning out my mother’s house I found the sympathy cards and funeral book she’d kept from that time so long ago. I read each card, and surprisingly remembered who some of some of the senders were, and read the names of the attendees. And I cried.

And cried some more. And finally, I truly grieved for my daddy.

I pray this little girl will have a much easier time as she goes through the next weeks and months. My heart goes out to her and her little brother as well. Yes, and to their mom. But those children…and that little girl…

Because I know what’s ahead for her.

And Suddenly…There Was Nothing

Like many of you we have been closely following the effects of the recent hurricanes in the Caribbean, Florida, and Texas. Yes, it’s awful.



We’re almost glued to our tv’s watching the scenes of hopeless devastation. Destroyed buildings and houses. Cars smashed and overturned. Uprooted trees everywhere. Water streaming down streets and into the bartered remnants of homes. A few people walking amidst the rubble, looking for remnants of anything to salvage, a look of helpless bewilderment on their faces.

The entire island of Puerto Rico has no power. None. We’re told it will likely be up to six months before it’s completely restored. Not days. Not weeks. Months. That would be sometime in March of 2018.

There is no fresh water for drinking, let alone bathing. Water is now a precious commodity that is likely to be hoarded by those lucky enough to have any. We’re told it will be some three weeks before the water supply can be restored.

Communication towers are down. There’s currently almost no way to reach loved ones there to see if they’re ok. A friend of our daughter has most of her family there; she’s seen pictures of the area where they lived and it’s destroyed. She finally heard from them in a two minute call from a military phone two days later, and is so relieved to know they’re ok!

My husband talked to a man the other day whose wife and their 6 children are there, as well as his in-laws. He hasn’t been able to reach them, and is praying they’re all right as well.

How would you feel if it were your family? I’m sure many of you reading this have family and friends there. And you know exactly how they feel.

The airports are closed. They’re trying to get them restored enough so food and other supplies and emergency crews can be brought in, and people can be evacuated. But with only generators for power, many parts of the airports flooded out, and runways littered with debris, this certainly will be difficult, to say the least. Not to mention the lack of fuel or insufficient ways to communicate safely with the pilots from the tower.

It’s a horrific situation to watch…and most likely we haven’t begun to see and hear about all of the devastation, because we’re not there, and there are really no good ways to fully communicate what is actually going on to the outside world.

And over these next few days, sadly, tragically, many may die from lack of medicine, water, food, and exposure. They may die from injuries sustained from the storm, or from trying to help others. These are real people, who had normal lives just a week or so ago.

Now it’s all gone.

We just can’t watch any more.

So we turn off our tv, and go upstairs to get ready for bed, the pictures of this latest disaster still in our minds.

Think about that for a moment.

We have a tv that works because we have electricity. Those hit by the storm don’t. Their tv’s are most likely gone, as well as the local tv stations. And broadcast towers and transmitters.

We go into our bathrooms and brush our teeth and wash our faces. We change into our pajamas. The storm

Victims now have no running water. No way to brush their teeth or wash their faces or flush a toilet. Most likely their only clothes left are the ones they’re wearing.

We get into our comfortable beds between crisp sheets and blankets. The storm survivors are most likely sleeping either on floors, of if they’re lucky, on cots in a makeshift shelter, and certainly without sheets or blankets.

We wake up the next morning safe and secure in our homes, and begin grumbling about the chores ahead of us that day, like grocery shopping, laundry, cleaning the house…. While the storm victims have no homes left. No grocery stores to go to. No laundry to do because everything is gone. Everything. Their homes and all of their possessions. They have to totally start their lives over with only the clothes on their back.

Shall I continue?

Have we become that complacent and forgetful?

The answer is yes, and I’m just as guilty. Because it’s unfortunately human nature for most of us. We take for granted what we have, even after viewing such mass destruction. We’re thankful it’s not us. We donate money for relief efforts, but we really can’t understand what the storm victims are going through. Even imagining in our minds, it’s just not possible.

What would you do if that happened to you? Personally I cannot answer that question, because my mind just cannot comprehend it.

But it does make me stop and think about how very, very fortunate I am. How fortunate my family and friends are.

It also makes me realize that in a split second, or a few hours, it could all change due to circumstances we cannot even begin to control.

Don’t be complacent about your life; your family and friends; your possessions. We are not promised tomorrow, and during such times as we are seeing in the aftermath of these storms, we can clearly begin to see what’s important and what’s not. Petty arguments, perceived offenses over names and statues, not getting a promotion at work, people’s lifestyles you don’t agree with, not having the latest model car or the biggest home on your block…such things in the scheme of life suddenly don’t matter any more. Survival does.

If suddenly almost all you had was taken from you, if you were left with only the clothes on your back, with no food, no place to live, no money and no job to go back to, what would you do?

Think about it, and appreciate what you still have. Because if could still happen to us as well.

If you wish to help with hurricane relief efforts, there are a number of websites that are taking donations. Be sure the one you select is legitimate, as there are unfortunately some out there trying to take advantage of these disasters for their own self interests. Brave members of disaster teams are already there or on their way to help, and we thank each and every one of them, because what they are doing is not easy.

Thank you all for any help you can offer in this relief effort.

Counting Your Blessings

“I have nothing to wear!” said the young woman pulling through her closet, discarding outfit after outfit because she didn’t like them any more. “I’m going to have to go shopping right away!”

“We have almost nothing to wear,” said the mother of three young children who fled the recent hurricane in Florida, with only a hastily packed bag of clothes and medications, baby formula and a few toys. Her home was almost destroyed and their belongings that were left behind are scattered to who knows where? “We have almost no money to get anything right now. I hope the Red Cross can help us.”

“Chicken again? We had that two nights ago! I don’t want the same thing again. What else do we have? I don’t want pork chops, and I don’t want spaghetti. There’s just nothing in this refrigerator good to eat. Let’s go out somewhere. Maybe to that new steakhouse, where we can order whatever we want.” Obviously her refrigerator- and stove – are working fine. She just doesn’t want the food she has in her kitchen, and probably doesn’t care if it goes to waste.

Compare that to this: a family in one of the hurricane refugee centers waiting for their evening meal of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and lukewarm water because that’s all there is until more supplies arrive the next day. They’d love to have a nice chicken or spaghetti dinner. But right now they’re just happy to have food until they can go back to their home. And hopefully they’ll still have a kitchen they can use and food to prepare in it.

“I’m really tired of this car! I don’t like the color, and I don’t like the model any more. It’s too small and, well, it just doesn’t fit my lifestyle any more. I mean, I need something more sporty. Something that shouts ‘look at me!’ I know it’s only a few years old, and almost paid for, but I just have to have something better! You know how that is!” Sure do; but aren’t your wants and needs a bit misplaced? Consider this…

“The storm ruined both of our vehicles,” the man said sadly. “Totally ruined. The wind blew a tree down on my wife’s car, and the water came up and flooded out my truck. Both were paid off, and both of us need vehicles. Insurance will give us money for both cars, but it’s not going to be enough to replace both of them, not without monthly payments. We just can’t afford that right now. And with all the ruined cars here right now, it’s going to take weeks or even months to find something we can afford. I really don’t know what we’re going to do.”

“I really don’t like this job. I’m not appreciated. It’s not fun, and I don’t like the people I work with. The pay is ok, but I really deserve more. It’s just not what I want to do. I should just quit and look for something else.”

Well, it could be worse. You could be in this person’s situation. “I had a good job. It wasn’t the greatest job in the world but it paid the bills and even gave me a little extra to put away for emergencies. Well now that emergency is here. The business is closed because of the hurricane, and I have no idea if they’ll be able to reopen anytime soon, or even at all. I have no idea what we’re going to do… We have to have an income to survive”

“This house is just not what we want any more. The neighborhood isn’t fun like it used to be. The carpet’s old and needs cleaning. And the house needs painting, too, and that’s a hassle. We need something with more prestige, in a nicer part of town. I wonder if we could get a new mortgage?! And sell this old place? I’m really tired of it.” Really? At least you have a home that’s intact. Paint and carpet are no big deals, you know. That’s easy.

Put yourself in these families’ place. Their homes are heavily damaged, some to the point of being condemned. One mobile home park was totally destroyed. Many families will be returning from evacuation to find nothing left; nothing salvageable. Yes, they have insurance, but think of what they’ve lost and what it will take to rebuild. The months of living in shelters or with others until they can either rebuild or hopefully find something else to buy or rent. No furnishings, not even beds and sheets and towels. No dishes or cookware. Starting totally over with only the few clothes they have left.

How would you or I handle it?

Like millions of other people, we watched the storms as they lashed out in Texas and Florida, pummeling everything in their paths. We prayed and hoped for the best; we worried about friends and relatives in the storms’ path. We were amazed at the strength and severity Mother Nature was unleashing. We couldn’t believe what we were seeing.

And we were thankful it wasn’t us. Am I right?

As I’m writing this there are some 8.2 MILLION homes without electricity. It will be days, perhaps weeks, even months in some cases, before power is restored. No refrigeration, no heat or air conditioning. No way to hear news broadcasts except with battery powered radios and televisions, if they have them. No way to charge cell phones or laptop computers. No internet.

No way to get gas from pumps that are powered by electricity, that is, if your can is still drivable. No way to purchase anything if there are even stores open unless you have cash because debit and credit cards won’t work without electricity.

No way to make ice, or keep food cold.

No fresh water. No way to bathe or flush toilets.

Need I go on?

We complain daily about our lives, just like the examples above. Sometimes we have fairly good reasons, but most of the times our complaints are minuscule in comparison to what I’ve described. I still remember the three days we spent without power or running water after Isabel hit us over ten years ago. And that was mild. But we complained. A lot.

Thinking back, we had no reason to complain compared to this.

If you weren’t affected by these storms you have so very much to be thankful for. Unfortunately we usually fail to fully appreciate what we have until we lose it; we take our blessings for granted. We don’t know the value of what we have until we don’t have it any more.

Count your blessings today. And be thankful.


Please note: If you wish to help out with hurricane relief there are a number of agencies and websites where you can donate. Check on your favorite search engine to find the one that’s right for you.

Do You Remember?

Like you, I remember it well. Being at work for just a half hour or so when one of my co-workers said, “Did you hear what just happened?!!” Going into the kitchen area for my morning coffee I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. A plane flying into a building in New York City? How in the world….

Then the announcer talked about it possibly being deliberate. How?

Then another co-worker came in, and in quiet disgust said the words I still remember….”Bin-Laden.” Little did we know how right he was at the time.

Our daughter was in school; we didn’t know what was going to happen next, and if we needed to go get her, or what. After all, living in a military area such as Hampton Roads with the world’s largest naval base, if it were an attack, would we be next?

I called a friend whose daughter was in the same class as ours. She was still active duty Navy but had that day off for some reason. She didn’t know what had happened until I called her, and told her to turn on her television.

That’s how I heard about the second plane, as she watched in horror as it happened. “I have to call the base!” she said. “I’ll have to go in. The kids? What about our kids?” Because they attended a private school at the time which had many military families enrolled, that school, like most of the others in our area, was most likely being dismissed early as a precaution.

She agreed to pick up our children and take them to our house, with overnight bags just in case. Since the girls were old enough to be by themselves as well as take care of our daughter’s friend’s younger brother, I didn’t have to rush home, as much as I wanted to.

By that time rumors and stories were flying around the office. Some true, some not. But at the time we had no idea. A plane hitting buildings in Washington. One crashing in Pennsylvania. Planes being shot down? Los Angeles under siege? Trains being derailed?

Fortunately most of those stories were just that…stories and rumors. Because the truth was bad enough.

Not much work was done that morning, and most of us had left the office by noon. Like many others, I spent the afternoon numbly watching the horrific events in New York, as people tried to find friends and loved ones. I watched people running up and down streets in fear, and watched over and over as the brave first responders tried desperately to save lives, and in many circumstances losing their own in the attempt.

I still remember sitting there with our 12 year old daughter, her best friend and her younger brother, trying to explain that we’d be ok; no one was coming here to attack us (or so I hoped), and trying to reassure my friend’s children that their parents, both who were active duty military at the time, wouldn’t be in danger.

None of us knew that day what the future held. We were stunned, shocked, scared, and angry. We held our loved ones a little closer that night, especially as we listened to the stories of those who’d lost their friends and loved ones so tragically, recount their last conversations with them, last emails, last cell phone messages….so many who knew they weren’t going to make it, and had to to say goodbye…

It was a horrific, awful, and totally unexpected day. We were all in shock and disbelief. Our country had been brutally attacked. For no reason except that others hated what we stood for. They hated our freedom, our lifestyle.

I cannot imagine hating someone or some group of people so very much that someone else would be willing to kill themselves so they could kill the others they hated. The entire idea is incomprehensible to me.

The images that we saw that day will forever be etched into our minds. We just cannot forget them. Nor should we.

One thing did come out of all of the misery and heartache. We were, at least for awhile, a nation united. United in our grief and our disbelief. United in our desire to help those who were suffering so badly. United in our desire to see those responsible brought to justice.

Today, on this 16th anniversary of the day that changed our nation, we remember those whose lives were lost, simply because they were in buildings or on airplanes that were targeted for destruction by people who hated us. They had no idea who any of these people were, men, women, and children, and most likely they did not care that they, too, had families and friends who loved them; that they had no say in the decisions that were made by others to end all of their lives, just to prove their point.

We remember the first responders who risked their own lives to save others, many of whom died in the process.

We remember the survivors of the buildings that were hit, and wonder to this day how they feel on each anniversary of this tragedy.

We remember the spouses, friends, and children of those who were lost. Especially the children who were deprived of the opportunity to grow up with both parents in their lives. Many of whom are most likely married by now with children of their own, children who were deprived of grandparents who never had an opportunity to know them.

Today let us remember not only what happened, how it made us feel, and what it put our nation through, but remember the people who were personally affected by this tragedy. The people who lost those dear to them, in a senseless act of terror. Whose lives can never be replaced. They sacrificed all, most without volunteering to put their lives at risk for their country. They were people just like you and me, who left home for a normal day at work, with plans for that night, the weekend. They had birthdays and anniversaries to celebrate. Weddings and graduations to attend.

None of that was to happen. Their plans were changed by others.

Today, let’s remember everyone affected by this tragedy. Let’s not let these lost lives be lost in vain.

May God bless their memories, their families, and may God bless our United States of America.

Try to Imagine…

For just a few seconds. Try to put yourself in their places.

Try to imagine what they’re feeling.

Put yourself in their shoes.

In half an hour you’re going to be on the road. You’re going to be driving north. To where, you really don’t know. You don’t know where you’ll find a place to stay. Or when. Or how long. If you’ll be able to find gas for your car when you run out. Where you’ll find food. Or when your cash supply will run out.

You have no idea what your future holds. Whether you’ll have a job to return to. Whether your children will have a school to go back to. Or worse, if you’ll have anything left of your home to go back to.

You walk through each room, taking pictures, and wanting to take certain precious souvenirs and mementos with you, but there’s not enough room. All you can take is a few clothes, your medications, supplies for your kids and your pets, your Bible, and if you’re lucky, your laptop computer with hopefully all of your important information stored on it.

You pick up framed photos of long deceased family members and feel like you’re leaving them behind to fend for themselves. You pick up other photos and remember other happy times, weddings, birthday parties, and Christmas mornings lived and enjoyed in that house.

Will there ever be those opportunities again?

Will your neighbors and friends be back? Will you? Will there be anything to return to? So many unknowns. And it doesn’t make it easier knowing you’re not the only one in this predicament.

Your future is totally uncertain. But your main focus right now is protecting your life and the lives of your family.

So you go, locking the doors behind you, saying goodbye to the home which has been your shelter and your safe haven for so long. The tears well up and overflow as all of you drive away to what you hope will be safety.

But there are so many others out there in the path of this storm that are in more desperate circumstances than you are, some with no real choices, and some who decided to stay out of a sense of obligation to others.

The elderly couple whose family begged them to leave but they had nowhere and no way to go. He’s wheelchair bound and on oxygen, and both are insulin dependent. They’re praying the shelter they found will be safe and that they’ll have enough medication to last thru the storm, as well as refrigeration to keep it usable. And there are many, many more elderly families in this situation.

The hundreds or perhaps thousands of dialysis patients whose very lives depend on this life saving procedure several times a week. They cannot safely evacuate either, unless there is a dialysis center nearby with generators to run the equipment; and transportation to get there and back. And what if the dialysis center near them loses power or is destroyed?

The hundreds of pregnant moms-to-be who are ready to give birth at any time who have no idea what they’ll do or where they’ll go. Where will they be when labor starts? And who will help them? Some are bedridden from complications and/or who will require a C-section for a safe delivery. They’re terrified, and wonder if they and their new baby will make it through the storm.

The special needs parents whose children require feeding tubes, breathing equipment and/or other life sustaining equipment. Where can they go? And would they have the emergency equipment that’s needed?

There are the young military families stationed in various bases throughout the state. Many cannot leave because their country needs them there to help the storm victims. Some of the families were sent out, but many remain behind, scared of what is going to happen next.

There are the first responders who, out of a sense of duty to their jobs and the ones they’ve sworn to protect, chose to stay while sending their loved ones away. They wonder if they’ll make it through, and if they’ll be able to keep up with enormous workload they know will be ahead of them.

There are the medical personnel who volunteered to stay when their hospitals and clinic and treatment centers decided to remain open to help the desperately ill and injured. A wrong decision, you say? Would you think that if you were still there and needed such medical attention?

There are so many more examples, stories, scenarios. I cannot begin to imagine. We have friends and acquaintances there as well, in many different areas of the state. Some have evacuated, some were not able to for various reasons. And yes, we worry about all of them.

I’ve heard some people saying how this is like such and such disaster movie they saw, and how miraculously everything was ok at the end. They somehow think this is the same thing. Really?

This isn’t a movie. This is real life. There are no retakes, no scripts to follow. No hero coming in at the last minute and miraculously sending the storm away. These are people like you and me, not actors getting paid to look scared or injured. Not studio sets and computer graphics to mimic a catastrophic storm. Real lives will be lost, and real families torn apart. Real homes and businesses will be destroyed.

Yes, you can say, “I’d do this” or “I’d do that” or “I’m not scared of the storm” or even, “I’m going to just have a hurricane party and watch it from my balcony!” Right.

Try actually being there. In the midst of it all. Your ideas may change. Suddenly the statues you’re so offended by have very little significance to you any more. Names of buildings and schools aren’t really that important any more. The people whose lifestyles you condemn and want nothing to do with may be the people who help save your life.

Try to imagine, just for a few minutes today, as you go about your normal day, how these people are feeling. Over 19 million people are under hurricane warnings as I write this. Hundreds of thousands have and still are evacuating with similar thoughts such as I wrote in the beginning of this piece.

If you are one of them, my heart and prayers go out to you because I cannot do anything else. Like many others who are watching this unfold, there’s a heart wrenching feeling of helplessness that is indescribable. Yes, we are relieved it’s not us.

But what if it were? That possibility is always there. And it frightens me.

Please, to all of you affected. Be safe. You hopefully have your loved ones with you, and together you can survive this. Yes, it will most likely be a devastating return, but at least you will be alive to try and rebuild.

May God bless and protect all of you over these next few days and weeks, and yes, months.


What’s Stopping You?

I dare say there’s something almost each and every one of us want to do. Something we’ve been wanting to do. But we’re afraid to take that step. Something keeps holding us back.

Is it fear? Fear of the unknown? Fear of taking a chance? Fear of hurting other people? Fear of not being successful? Fear of making a mistake?

It could be something as simple as trying a new hairstyle or hair color which means a striking change from your current look. What if you absolutely hate it!?

But what if you love it, and so does everyone else?

It could be finally leaving the job you’ve been at for a long time and finally opening your own business. You’ve had the plan for years, you’ve saved enough money. And you already have several clients who’ve agreed to work with you. So what’s stopping you? Are you afraid it won’t be successful?

But what if it is?

It could be an opportunity to relocate somewhere you’ve always dreamed of living. Your family and friends are supportive, and your spouse and children are ready to move with you. You have a great job offer there, with a well-known company. It seems to be everything you’ve wanted for so long. But what if you don’t like it, if you aren’t happy?

But what if you are?

Or it could be you’re stuck in a relationship that’s going nowhere. You’re miserably unhappy, and you believe the other person is as well. You know there’s got to be more out there waiting for you, but you’re afraid to take the chance. Your friends have encouraged you to make a break, but you keep hesitating. What if the other person doesn’t agree and wants to keep things the way they are? Do you stay unhappy at the risk of your own happiness or do you finally walk away?

But what if you do and life is better than ever? For both of you?

Or you’ve been dreaming of going back to school and finally finishing your degree that you’re just a few classes short of. But you’re afraid you’re too old and can’t compete with the younger students. Or they’ll make fun of you. Or you won’t be able to learn the material.

But what if you try and graduate with honors?

We’ve all seen the postings on Facebook about standing on a cliff thinking about taking that scary leap into the future.

We think, “What if I fall?”

But Someone Else says, “But my darling, what if you fly?!”

Or the picture of someone at the fork in a road. There are two ways to travel. One looks well worn and quite easy to navigate, rather commonplace and ordinary actually. The other looks a bit bumpy, but in the distance you can sense there’s something exciting and wonderful.

Which path do you take?

Life is a series of taking chances; making decisions. We do it every day. Sometimes the decisions are insignificant and barely impact our world at all. Sometimes they’re very serious, and impact other people’s worlds as well.

Sometimes we may think we made the wrong decision, but in the end, that decision almost always proves to be right; just not always in the way we’d planned.

It’s not totally our plan anyway. Others also impact our decisions. And as they say, “life happens.”

But until we step out of our comfort zone and take that chance, we’ll never know.

If you’re struggling over a decision, don’t keep agonizing over it. You cannot answer all of the “what if’s?” until you do it. As I wrote last week, tomorrow is not promised. And putting off an important decision could mean you never make it at all.

Are you one of those who are struggling with such a decision? One you know you need to make, but that one little bit of uncertainty, that nagging bit of fear, is holding you back.

Fear of the unknown is natural. We all have it. But sometimes it keeps us stuck in a rut; stuck in a place where we don’t really want to be. We can see the results of making that decision, but still…that leap looks so scary.

What if you fall?

But what if you fly into the best part of your life ever?


In the Blink of an Eye

Our pastor mentioned it several times that morning. In the blink of an eye everything can change. Irreversibly change.

But we really don’t believe it. We don’t think about it.

Until it happens. And we wish so hard…pray so hard that we could take those last few seconds back. But we can’t.

And in the blink of an eye, someone’s world…or many someones’ worlds…has irreversibly changed.

That Sunday morning, we received word about a young man whose world…and his family and friends’ world…had irreversibly changed in the blink of an eye. He had just gotten off work and was riding his motorcycle home when a car suddenly pulled out in front of him. There was no way to stop, and nowhere or no time to swerve out of the way.

Now, some three weeks later he’s still in the hospital in ICU with head injuries (even though he was wearing a helmet), collapsed lungs, pneumonia, broken ribs, finally healing from bleeding from several internal organs, and two broken hips.

He was in an induced coma for over ten days and is finally starting to come around. He’s had multiple surgeries already, and facing many more, and most likely two hip replacements. He will be in the hospital for quite some time and then face a long rehab process. His parents are worried sick and his young daughter, well, you can only imagine.

In the blink of an eye, the course of so many lives changed. Not only this young man who is still fighting for his life, but his family and friends, as well as the driver of the car who pulled out in front of him. Was our young man in a “blind spot” that prevented the driver from seeing him? Was he/she not paying close attention? Did he/she not look carefully enough to see him? Perhaps He/she was momentarily distracted? We just don’t know, and may never know. But the driver has to live the rest of his/her life with the consequences of what happened as well.

Tonight, three weeks later, as I look around me I’m seeing far too many similar instances.

A massive stroke suddenly claimed the life of a friend’s mother in law. Tuesday morning she was fine and planning the rest of her summer; Tuesday afternoon she was fighting for her life. Wednesday evening she was gone.

Another serious stroke has left another friend of ours in ICU fighting for his life. Doctors finally stopped the massive brain bleed with surgery but after four days he is still not totally conscious, the plans he and his wife had made with their young children suddenly put on hold, perhaps permanently.

My sister-in-law suddenly lost her husband a few evenings ago. They had recently returned from a wonderful two week cruise and were talking about a visit to see us and meet our granddaughter.

One of my best friend’s 90+ year old father is back in the hospital fighting sepsis and potential pneumonia.

There are a few more stories as well, just in our circle of friends and family. But I’m not going there right now.

My point is simple. As I’ve said in other blogs, tomorrow is not promised. Ever. We do not know what is in store for us when we wake up each morning. Or when we get a phone call in the middle of the night.

We think we have time to rectify petty squabbles and disagreements; to apologize and start over. They can wait another day or two.

Until that day cannot come any more, because that person you wanted to make amends with is no longer here. In the blink of an eye they’re gone. Forever.

We put off making decisions for our life because we’re afraid, or scared. There’s always tomorrow.

And tomorrow never comes. Someone blinked, and the world changed forever.

We’re all equally guilty. In the time it takes to blink our eyes, lives are being totally and sometimes devastatingly changed.

Tomorrow isn’t promised. Live your life like it’s the last day you’ll have. Take the time to appreciate everyone you love, and tell them you love them. Show them you care.

Because you…or they…may not have tomorrow.

Let Freedom Ring!

We’ve all heard the words. Most of us know them by heart.

“My country ’tis of thee…sweet land of liberty…

Of thee I sing….”

Sweet land of liberty; land of freedom. A county where we are free to come and go as we please. To worship as we please. To speak our minds even when our thoughts  are in disagreement with others. Where reporters are free to report all sides of a story, hopefully in an unbiased fashion, without fear of being put in jail.

A country where women are allowed to go to school, to drive cars, to vote, and yes, even hold public office. Unlike many other countries around the world.

A country where an entrepreneur can start his own business and turn it into a highly successful company, without fear of the government coming in and taking it over for their own selfish motives and steal the profits.

We live in a land where we as individuals have the greatest freedoms in the world. A country which was established some 241 years ago when we declared our freedom as colonies and became an independent nation.

It was not without cost, however. We had to fight a war against a tough country…with muskets and cannons and other forms of weaponry which would be laughed at today as totally useless. With no radios, no telegraphs, no phones, no internet, no airplanes; no way to communicate with the armies of men fighting for their cause except by messengers on horseback.

But these men were committed to the cause of freedom, and they fought long and hard.

And they won.

Sadly, today, approximately 25% of our country doesn’t even know what country we fought against for our freedom that established this great land. They most likely haven’t even read the Declaration of Independence. As the saying goes, those who don’t know history are bound to repeat it. And that is something we never want to go through again. And we don’t want the beginnings of the history of our great nation to be forgotten.

Our current president ran on a platform to “make America great again”. This is not a political commentary first of all, and I am not either supporting or condemning the President. Those who know me personally don’t really know my feelings about him and this is not the place or the day to discuss them.

What I will say, however, is that our country IS great. It has never stopped being great. It always has been great, and I pray it always will be. I believe some have lost the vision, the insight, and the appreciation for what we have in this nation because they’re too focused on themselves and their own wants and desires.

You protest, and sometimes make outlandish and totally ridiculous and even offensive comments and claims because “it’s our right!” You set fire to other people’s property who’ve done nothing to you just because you want to protest something, and you say “it’s my right.” Yes it is, but you don’t have the right to destroy other people’s property and disrupt other people lives for your own sake. Do you have any idea the price that was paid to give you that right? And the price that is being paid around the world every day to make sure you have that right. Most likely you don’t even realize it. Or don’t care.

You protest the military members and even make fun of them. That’s totally wrong, but yes, you do have that right, because the very people you’re protesting are the ones who make sure you keep that right. Many have died to be sure you have that right, and unfortunately many more will. Is that how you thank them? And their families?

Many protest against the police when they do their job, taunt them, throw rocks and bottles at them, and call them pigs. And yes, sometimes their actions may be wrong in the heat of a situation that none of us can understand unless we’ve been there. But when something bad happens to you, they’re the first people you call for help. You forget how much you dislike them, because suddenly you’re on the other side of the fence and need their help. And you’d be in bad shape if they refused to respond because THEY were protesting YOU.

You listen to everything actors, musicians, sports figures, and other celebrities say negative about our country and think it’s ok, but if our country were attacked again, how many of them would be willing to go to battle and risk their lives and the fortunes they’ve made in this free country of ours in order to protect her? I dare say not many. Talk is cheap; actions are costly.

You think it’s alright to break laws you don’t like…laws you don’t agree with. But you forget laws are enacted for a reason; if you don’t like a particular law, work to get it changed within the system rather than just say you’re not going to abide by it, and go out and break it. Without laws all we would have is anarchy. What kind of example are you setting for our next generation?

You think it’s ok to burn our flag in protest because some Hollywood star said it’s a great way to protest, and you dishonor the symbol of our freedom and our nation. And the stars on that flag are screaming in their own silent protest as you burn them, because the hearts of those who fought so hard and even died to protect it are breaking.

John Kennedy said in his inaugural speech “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” Have we lost sight of that vision as well?

Yes today is July 4th. Independence Day. We have pool parties and cookouts. We watch fireworks. We spend time with family and friends and most of us don’t even stop to think about what we’re celebrating. Don’t stop to think of all the men and women who aren’t with their loved ones in this day, either because they’re serving the country they love, or they died to defend her honor.

And the fireworks? We “ooh” and “ahh” over them, and then we complain about how noisy they are. But we forget the real fireworks that have lit up so many skies from guns and artillery, canon balls and mortar shells aimed at our flag and our country by people who are trying to destroy us and our way of life.

Our flag and our country have withstood a lot, and most likely will have to endure a lot more strife, a lot more threats, and unfortunately most likely more attacks from outside enemies intent on destroying us because of the very freedoms we enjoy.

Francis Scott Key wrote the “Star Spangled Banner” because he was so moved to see our torn and tattered flag still flying high over Fort McHenry after a long and horrible night of battle. A battle which could have easily gone the other way.

May that flag continue to wave…over the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Happy Independence Day. Let freedom continue to ring.

And may God bless America.

I’m Taking My Shoes Off

I am. I’m taking them off. Because I’m done. I can’t wear them anymore. They hurt too bad. They’re ugly. They’re falling apart. They don’t fit with any of my outfits, even though my outfits are old and out of style.

I can’t wear these shoes any more. Ever.

Have you ever thought that? The shoes you’re wearing just don’t do it any more? You can’t wear them any longer because they don’t make you feel good. In fact, the longer you wear them, the more miserable you become.

Every time and everywhere you wear them, things seem to fall apart.

You wear them to work and your day is awful. You can’t do anything right; your boss tells you he’s transferring you to another department where you won’t mess up as much, and your salary will be reduced.

You wear them at home and your husband ignores you; tells you how terrible you look; and informs you he’s thinking about leaving.

You wear them to your college class and you barely pass the test you’ve studied so hard for. And you only get a “C” on that project you’ve worked so hard on, and in order to keep your financial aid, you needed a higher grade.

You wear them while driving and get in an accident and your finally-paid-off car is totaled. And the insurance money isn’t enough to replace it.

You wear them to visit your children and grandchildren and they act like they don’t want anything to do with you. In fact, your son tells you he’d like you to go on back home because they have other things to do. Without you.

You wear them to your Doctor’s appointment, and he tells you you need an operation which has a six to eight week recovery time. An operation you can’t afford, and a recovery time that’ll leave you without a paycheck for those weeks.

You wear them to a coffee shop and see your husband at a table in the very back. With one of your girl friends. Holding hands. Laughing a bit too intimately. And then he kisses her.

Yes, you are more than done with those shoes!

The bad part is, they’re the only ones you have. And you can’t get any more. You looked in the shoe store, but every pair looked exactly like the ones you already have.

The solution? You’re going to stop wearing any shoes at all. It’s not worth it any more. All those shoes have done is make you miserable. Your life is a mess, and you just can’t deal with it any more.

It has to be the shoes, right? So if you weren’t wearing them, it would be so much better…right? So much easier to just forget everything. Give it all up. Why try any more?

But you have to wear shoes. You can’t go anywhere or do anything without them. So if you give them up, you’re giving up your life.

Do you really want to do that? Do you really?

There’d be no more second chances. No more strolls in the park. No more walks on the beach. No more lunches with friends or afternoons with family. No more days to just listen to the birds singing or feel the sun on your face on a spring day. No more running in the freshly fallen snow and jumping in it to make a snow angel.

Because with no shoes, there’d be no life here. Your shoes take you places. They stay on your feet in good times and bad, supporting you and providing you a safe path to walk or run on. They keep you from cutting your foot when you step on a piece of glass. And they help you walk on through the bad times as well as the good.

Your shoes represent your life. Without them….there is no life. You may not like the ones you’re wearing right now, and you may not be able to take them off safely, but they keep you going until you can get another pair. A pair which will take you new places and in new adventures.

But those new shoes aren’t quite ready yet. Because there are a few more miles to go in those ones you’re still wearing.

If you take them off now and throw them away, there’s no more you. No more life for you. And those beautiful new shoes that are almost ready for you won’t do you any good when you’re gone. You certainly can’t wear them. Because you decided life wasn’t worth living any more.

So you decide to end it. Why? Nothing can be that bad. Nothing can be worth ending your life over. You’ll eventually get a new pair of shoes, and you’ll be amazed at the changes!

Now do you think this is really about real shoes? The ones in your closet?

Then read it again. These shoes aren’t actual shoes, you know…not the kind made of leather and styled to perfection. As I said earlier the shoes represent your life. You aren’t the one who should decide when to take them off. No matter how you feel; no matter how depressed and discouraged you are, nothing…NOTHING…is worth ending your life over.

Because tomorrow is another day. And just maybe tomorrow you’ll get that perfect new pair of shoes. And things will be totally different!

It’s worth the wait to find out.

Need help? Or know someone who does? Visit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.