Is my run over?

I feel like I am letting go of my dreams.

For a long time I held a handful of colorful helium balloons. Today I let them fly off into the air. Maybe I still grasp a few in my hands. But they are shriveled up like oxygen got in them….breathe…I can’t let go of all of my hope.

Saturday I had a wonderful run. I ran 18 miles without stopping except for a short bathroom, gu, and water break. I was fast. I had the stamina I spent months training for. Life was good. At the end I felt a twinge of knee pain, but it went away after a day.

Yesterday was my first run of this week. I ran 12 miles. The first 6 miles went pretty good with my knee brace on. I had to walk 3 out of the last 6 miles. Afterwards, my knee felt fine.

Today, I decided to go for a 6 mile run but only made 5. The first mile or two I felt a twinge of pain in my knee with my brace on. Then it started getting worse to the point that I needed to walk. I was afraid that by pushing on I would get hurt. At this point, I was halfway home regardless of whether I decided to keep walking or turn around. I tried calling my husband to come pick me up but he didn’t answer.

I was feeling so angry that I wanted to take my arms like a baseball bat and knock over mailboxes. I also wanted to kick over the garbage containers that littered the side of the road. But I convinced myself that further injury probably wouldn’t help my cause. It probably would piss off the neighbors, provide them with entertainment, or I would end up crossing off going to jail off my bucket list.

The marathon is 3 weeks away. I am going to try to take it easy for the next week or two and see what happens when I try running again. Right now I am not even fit to run a 5k.

I am so disappointed. There is no way that I am going to be able to run a marathon if I can’t even run a few miles without pain.

The real kicker is that my knee feels fine right now.

Patching things up

I live in a house that is almost 20 years old. Everything is starting to show its age, but few things need major repair. The carpets, flooring, and counter tops are showing signs of wear. I understand the feeling.

We live in an air tight house which does have some advantages. We never have high heating bills in the winter. However, we have had some major problems with condensation on our windows. On freezing cold days, it rains inside our house. Water pools on our wooden sills.

After a decade and years of condensation issues, our windows frames and sills are rotten. Black mold is growing on the woodwork. Years ago we had an air exchanger installed to pull in the dry air and expel some of the moisture from our house. But the years of condensation have taken its toll. There are a few windows in our house that I am afraid to open because I fear they will fall out.

We have known for awhile that our windows need replacing. But it is a very expensive project. Something that we do not have the expertise to do ourselves. We could’ve hired our next door neighbor to do the project, but decided to go with someone else.

This is one lesson we learned the easy way because someone else learned it the hard way.

Lesson learned: Never hire a friend or neighbor to do a big remodeling project for you.

My parents live in a brick house with a mansard roof. Basically, their roof slopes down to cover the second story of their house. At one point, they needed a new roof for their house. Luke suggested that his friend and his friend’s father (a neighbor) put on a new roof. My parents hired them to do the job. What they didn’t know was that they didn’t have any experience working with a mansard roof and they didn’t know what they were doing.

One stormy evening my parents visited our house. That night after they returned home, at about 11 PM, I received a phone call from my mom who was crying. Who died was my first thought. My mom called to tell me that it was raining in her house. Her things were getting wrecked and there was nothing she could do about it. She felt sick to her stomach.

They found out with the first torrential downpour that their new roof leaked. They had out every bucket they owned, but it wasn’t enough to contain all of the water coming through their roof. The next day they had to rent a dumpster. I helped them haul out all of the items that were ruined from the flooding.

Their new roof leaked! It also looked like crap. Shingles littered the lawn every time the wind blew. It took them months to come back and patch things up. My parents spent a lot of money on the roof. They were thinking of suing the people that did a shoddy job. But they were neighbors. Not to mention that Luke was a good friend of the guy who did the work. They stood up in each others weddings. This caused some bad blood between the neighbors. This also caused problems with the friendship that could not be easily patched up.

Every time my thoughts stray to hiring our neighbor, Paul reminds me of what happened to my parents. Sometimes being a good neighbor is asking someone else.

Thankfully, my parents ended up getting a new roof a couple of years back from someone who has a lot of experience with mansard roofs. It looks absolutely wonderful. Unfortunately, the friendship did not patch up as good as the roof.

Now we are just waiting on a price quote for the new windows. Yikes!

Feeling my age

Today it started. I am starting to feel old.

I had my yearly physical today. This year I didn’t even need blood work, pap, or mammogram. Easy breezy, right??  I have always had low blood pressure and cholesterol. I have the cholesterol levels of a runner. So does my dad, but he never ran. So I don’t think my heart will be failing me anytime soon. My blood work was so good last year that they didn’t even bother checking it this year. 

The doctor asked if my parents were still living. That was one of the scariest questions she asked.

One little thing that I didn’t tell you about my 18 mile run on Saturday was that my knee started hurting again. My endurance was great. I didn’t have to stop and walk. But with endurance and speed comes knee pain for me. It was the same pain that I felt during my first marathon, just not as bad. Besides wearing my knee brace, there is not a lot that I can do. I am worried about the marathon next month. I can clearly see the writing on the wall. The doctor asked me how badly I wanted knee replacement surgery. I told myself and her that if I have knee pain with this marathon, this will be my last. 

I feel like my body is failing me. 

Then I was hoping to decrease my acid reflux meds and instead my dose was doubled. Apparently after treatment I was not supposed to have any acid reflux break through at all. Supposedly, I should not have to take massive doses of Tums and liquid antacid on top of Prilosec. So she doubled my dose and said that if I am still having symptoms in 6 weeks that I will have to be scoped. 

I don’t want to take medicine. I don’t want to get old. I want to have some control over my body. I don’t want my body to control me.

This roller coaster ride

Sometimes raising teenagers is like riding a roller coaster. There are a lot of low points followed by high points. Sometimes you are excited to be on the ride and at other times you feel like you are going to throw up. Just when you have had enough, the ride is over.

That is what life is like here every day. The last 24 hours has been one hell of a roller coaster ride. It started yesterday when Angel received a text from her ex. Or at least someone that she thought was her ex. Her ex saw her perform in the musical she was in over the weekend. He complimented her on her part, made small talk, and left. Then the next day she started getting texts. They were innocent at first with questions like where she was going to college. Then things got strange. He told her that he wanted her back. He wanted to meet for coffee. He still had feelings for her, etc… She didn’t recognize the phone number and his sister said it wasn’t his. She didn’t hear back after she told him to call her to make sure it was really him.

We started to worry that she was getting messages again from Jeremy, the guy that was previously stalking her. He would sometimes pose as a friend through text. He even hacked into her boyfriend’s Facebook account and broke up with her while pretending to be her bf. He is going to the same college as her bf which resulted in a fist fight. He threatened to rape her. At that point, Paul called him and told him never to contact Angel again. And Angel told this person where she was going to college. Uugghh!@$#

Yesterday evening she called her ex and he said that he hasn’t been texting her. He thought it may be a girl that liked him. Angel did ask in the text about the conversation that she had with her ex at the show. The person knew  about it, but it was a very general conversation. The girl went with her ex to the show. When her ex confronted this girl, she got really upset. Everyone is denying sending the texts. At this time we think it may have been someone else and not the guy we threatened to get a restraining order against. But we really don’t know. It could be anyone. 

I thought that would be it for the day until we got a knock on the door last night at 10:15 PM. Apparently, Alex’s ex-friend went for a walk last night and didn’t come home. This isn’t the same friend that ran away at the beginning of the school year. This is the long time friend that he is no longer allowed to see because his friend got expelled from school for drugs.

This morning my son got a text from the mother of his ex-friend saying that her son was still missing. She asked Alex if he knew where her son was. Alex replied that he didn’t have any contact with him for the last month since they were not allowed to talk anymore. At this point, she called my son a selfish piece of shit, etc…for no apparent reason.. She was angry and worried. Then Jake’s mom got involved. So this started a round of texting for hours while I was at work trying to actually work. Work was crazy busy. I was dealing with phone calls at work, on my cell, and texts at the same time. Eventually the boy returned home. I hope this is the last we hear from them, but I don’t think so. 

Then my son called me from school saying that he didn’t turn In an assignment. We have been monitoring his grades and missing assignments online. That is a real mess since he missed 3 days from being sick. We don’t know what has been turned in because they are still showing up as missing even if they were turned in. My son said that some were turned in but not graded yet. I love having the ability to see grades online, but it is enough to drive a parent crazy. Unupdated notifications about missing assignments and poor grades blow up our emails. Then the status is not updated for weeks sometimes. 

Then I received another call from the school today. Damn, I cringe when I see that number. Angel was calling for me to pick her up from school. She donated blood for the first time today. Afterwards she felt nauseous and dizzy. She almost passed out in class. This may have been caused by being at the bottom of the weight requirement. She didn’t feel well and couldn’t drive home. I had to pick her up from school. 

Then I heard from the school one more time. This time it was good news. Arabella was chosen to be a foreign exchange student for one week in Japan. It has been a dream of hers since I don’t know when. Last year we hosted a foreign exchange student from Japan for a week and loved it. 

That has been my 24 hour teenage roller coaster ride. I don’t particularly like roller coasters. I like to watch other people ride. 

Remembering to forget

I love writing a series about the past, but I don’t like that it prevents me from talking about the present. But then I figured it is my blog, I can write about whatever I want to.

I remembered so much over the past couple of days just by thinking and writing about things that I haven’t thought or wrote about in awhile. Things that are very elementary, like grade school. I remembered that Matt used to stand by the school and flap his hands. I remembered how he used to laugh after attacking someone. I even remembered the signals of his agitation before he attacked someone. His pupils would constrict. His eyes were wild. His teeth and fists would clench. His face and ears turned red. 

Sometimes I think that we have to remember things in order to be able to forget. It’s a strange concept and I can barely grasp it.

A couple of days ago, my mother-in-law Martha turned 67. It was a warm day that promised evening storms. Arabella and I went to see Cindy’s son perform in a middle school play. While I was at the show, I felt a strange mixture of emotions. I suddenly felt like time was going by very quickly, quicker than it should. While I was at the show, I found out that Martha’s brother died (on her birthday) from lung cancer, the very disease that will eventually claim her. Rain came down and thunder cracked like the striking of a big clock. It was pouring after the show ended and lightning zigzagged across the sky. I ran across the parking lot in the pouring rain in search of my car laughing as I was getting drenched by the cold rain. 

I drove 20 miles home in a steady downpour. It wasn’t raining cats and dogs, but it was sure raining worms and frogs! Arabella was angry with me for not stopping for ice cream. It was late and I wanted to get home. I wanted to make sure that Paul was okay after hearing the news of his uncle, although they weren’t very close. Arabella argued with me. She told me that I was old and I couldn’t relate. She said that my life was boring like an old black and white photograph. I have done my job right, she knows nothing about my life. Someday she will read this and understand.

Last night we took Martha out for her birthday to see Paul and Angel perform in the musical. Yesterday was the first time I saw Martha without hair. She looked very gaunt, frail, weak, and tired. But she was not coughing, gasping for breath, or wheezing at all. Next week we will find out if the combination of chemo and radiation did anything to shrink the cancer in her lungs that spread to her brain. Martha kept saying that she was going to fight it, but said good bye like it was the last time she was going to see us. 

The show itself was great. Angel was able to do her high soprano singing this weekend since she was feeling better. Paul danced around on stage like he was a young man in his 20’s. Everyone found it hard to believe that he is pushing 50. I married a man that is 6 years older than me. He always tells me what I have to look forward to.  Isn’t that wonderful? Lol. Soon I will need to wear glasses to read things and I will probably lose my hair. Geez, I hope that I don’t experience age exactly the way he does.

I am getting excited that the marathon I am running in is a month away. I ran 18 miles today and feel great. I put on a total of 30 miles this week. I feel strong. I feel ready. I feel sore.

That is about it here. Tomorrow I am going to get back to the series.

Monday’s dirty laundry

I started the week off by having to buy a new washing machine. The last couple of weeks it sounded like a gun range in my house every time I threw in a load of laundry. Bang, bang, pop, pop, pop. Then this morning it almost started on fire. Good thing I didn’t throw in a load and leave for work. Stinky smoke billowed out of our utility room. I sure hope this is not an indicator of how the rest of the week will go. Lol. 

Yesterday my mom came over for supper. We spoke about my mother’s childhood years. She said that as the second oldest girl, without older brothers, it was her job to assist her dad in his work. His job was very labor intensive. She spent the summers picking cucumbers to sell to help support her family. She had to help her mother wash clothes, including cloth diapers every day, in a basin with bleach. They did not have a washer or dryer. It sure makes me appreciate my broken washer, or should I say being able to afford to buy a nice new front loader. 

I wish that my mom would write down her stories so I could understand her life more. Just like I hope someday my kids will read my writing and understand me more.
Then we talked about Matt and parenting an autistic child in the late 70’s. She said that she was thinking about writing down everything that happened to help herself heal. At times like this, I am so tempted to tell her about my blog but didn’t. She said that she is helping herself heal by helping others that are struggling. She has more compassion than anyone. She said that she wouldn’t have been able to make it through without her faith in God.

We spoke about the abuse that Matt suffered at the hands of the school. She said that she only saw Matt cry twice in his life. He cried when he spoke of what happened at school. It was absolutely barbaric. The teacher had him sit underneath her desk while she sat at her desk. If Matt touched her, she would kick him. One teacher held him face down on the floor while the other sat on his back. He couldn’t breathe. That is the story he cried about. There was a disabled child that died that year from a teacher that used the same discipline method.

We spoke about my mom’s church friends. I was not aware of this, she said one time when Matt swore in church her friend hit him. Another friend told my mom that they needed to beat it out of him. Oh, my dad did try to beat it out of him. It didn’t work. My mom spoke of when my dad kept hitting Matt over and over trying to beat it out of him. I told her that I remember that day clearly because it was my first childhood memory. I remember the screaming of my dad and Matt. I remember the plunking noise of Matt being knocked back and forth against the cupboards in the kitchen.

My mom said that Matt crawled around on the floor like an animal. He spent a lot of time screaming after he quit talking. 

Later on he became fixated on hurting little girls and I just happened to be the only little girl around. My mom said that she felt terrible that I had to suffer. She spoke of the birth of her first grandchild, my daughter Angel. She said that she was excited and filled with joy the day Angel was born. But her second feeling was horror because she knew what that might mean.

Matt did hurt Angel. What I didn’t tell you was that the two years leading up to the attack, Matt became obsessed with the thought of hurting Angel. He ruminated about it. He asked questions about what it would be like if he pulled her hair, twisted her arm, hit her, or held her head underwater when we were together. My mom and I were worried. I had to take a step back from Matt.

When Matt hurt Angel on her 4th birthday, my mom went in the other room and cried. She was so upset that she didn’t talk and was inconsolable. Luke took Matt home and the whole time it was like he was possessed. He laughed. The voices in his head were whispering over and over out loud. I almost forgot about his maniacal laughter after hurting someone. I could only describe it as evil or demonic.

My mom was at her breaking point. We had to part ways. She quit going to church for the next 3 years. She was angry at God for allowing this to happen. 

We have forgiven Matt for all of the things that happened. But it has been a long road and painful process.

Tomorrow I am going to start another autism series. I have a copy of Matt’s clinical diagnosis report from the early 80’s. I have been holding on to it for the last 20 years. I am going to share it with you along with my feelings about what was written.

Living in a drunken state

I really think it is time for an intervention. 

I have been doing some research on you, Wisconsin. I think I live in a drunken state. Out of 50 states, we rank number 6 as a top drinking state. We rank first in binge drinking. There is a bar closer to our house than a church. Drinking is a huge part of our culture. If you are trying to quit drinking, this is not the state you want to be in. Everything is tied to drinking here with the exception of school events. I suspect that more parents would attend school events if alcohol was served. I have even seen alcohol served at church events over various denominations. 

Last week I spoke a little about briefly getting into a drinking crowd. I don’t have a problem with people out having a fun time drinking responsibly. It is the binge drinking that I don’t like. I have seen it wreck too many lives. 

When I was 17, my friend’s parents were gone for the weekend and I stayed at her house. We decided to mix whatever liquor we could find in her parents cabinet. It was the most disgusting concoction ever, but I drank some of it. I remember giggling a lot and my legs didn’t seem to work right. We invited some friends over to play a game of truth or dare which resulted in a goldfish being eaten. Before our friends arrived, a squad car parked in front of my friend’s house. We thought her parents made good on their threats of having someone keep an eye on her. My friend hid me in the storage closet off of her parents bedroom. I remember tripping over a large roasting pan and falling down in a dark closet full of junk. Turns out she just lived on a main road in a small town. That was really my first experience with drinking.  

Skip ahead a couple of years later when I was 21. Right after I met my future husband, I was on a dart league with him and a few others at the local bar. I was single, but at the time I didn’t realize that within a few weeks I wouldn’t be. A man across the bar started buying me shots. I thought it would be rude to not drink them. Then he offered me a ride home because I was in no shape to drive. What a ploy! Fortunately, since we lived in the same apartment building, Paul was my ride home. The room was spinning all night. I spent the night puking and was too sick to make it to class the next day. I felt out of control of my body and it was scary feeling that way. I decided since it was self-inflicted that I would not get notes from the class I missed. I ended up doing really bad on the next test. I decided that I was never going to drink that much again and haven’t. Even when it meant leaving behind “free” drinks.

Turning 21 is a rite of passage here. It is encouraged to get really sticking drunk on that day. Even the first drunk driving offense is a traffic violation. We see billboards advertising alcohol next to signs that tell us how many drunk driving deaths occurred during the year. Newspapers advertise liquor next to public service ads cautioning drinking.

Last week I found out why the police were at my son’s ex-friend’s house. The local paper mentioned an intoxicated boy having a physical altercation with his parents on our road. Although this boy started taking his friends down the wrong path, I can’t help feeling sorry for him. His old friends are no longer allowed to hang out with him. While my son and his friends are enjoying the nice weather outside, this kid is locked inside of addiction at a young age.

We have already spoken to our teens telling them that if they ever need a ride home that we will pick them up anytime no questions asked. I don’t want my teens out drinking, but I would rather have them call me then get into a car with a drunk. I don’t know too many people that had their first drink at 21. 

I have known people that died and killed others from drunk driving. My friend’s dad spent years in prison for vehicular homicide while intoxicated. He missed his daughter’s graduation and wedding. He went right back to drinking after prison. One morning he arrived at her house drunk. He hopped into her car with her while she was taking her kids to school. After dropping her kids off, he became belligerent and refused to leave her car. She had to call the police on him outside of her kids school. He had to go back to jail. She was heartbroken.

I also heard of a story of a friend of a friend that was trying to get pregnant. She was a couple of days late, but decided to take a pregnancy test after going out. That night she got wasted enough to get kicked out of the bar. She passed out in the back seat of her friend’s car. The next day she found out she was pregnant. A couple of days later she had a miscarriage. Maybe she thought that it was early enough that a night of binge drinking wouldn’t matter, but it did. 

I had another friend that went out drinking a few weeks before she got married. A group of us were sitting in the living room when she went in the other room with her fiancé.  We heard a scuffling, then we heard a fight. My friend’s fiancé hit her that night. The next day, she wasn’t sure what to do. The wedding was planned and coming up fast. Her fiancé was so drunk that he could not remember hitting her the night before. They got married anyway.

Binge drinking and domestic violence are not as rare as you might think. Just ask anyone around here what they think the chances of fights are after a day of binge drinking and a Packer loss. 

The stories go on and on. Domestic violence, cheating, divorce, cirrhosis, getting fired at work, drunk driving, incarceration, and even death. I’ve seen all of these things happen in this state. It is the dark side of our drinking culture. That is why I don’t like binge drinking. Nothing good ever comes out of it even though it is portrayed as being so much fun. I’m thankful that my parents were not alcoholics like half of my friends parents were/are. In response to growing up with alcoholic parents, some of my friends decided not to drink. Others tend to struggle.

I am glad we had this little talk. I know it is not going to change things, that is just the way our culture is. Maybe you will have a better understanding of life in our drunken state. 

The grass is greener here

This past week I heard some great news. Of course, it was preceded by a brief bit of bad news.

Almost a year ago, my best friend Lisa moved to Florida with her family. In the couple of months before she moved, she completely withdrew from her friends. I think she was trying to prepare herself for the separation. Or maybe it was just that she was going to school full-time and has 3 kids at home. Her husband was transferred to Florida for his job which ended up falling through. They ended up renting a house in Florida while making payments for a house here that they were having a hard time selling.

Lisa contacted us last week to tell us that they finally sold their house. We were happy for them that they didn’t have to make double payments, but were disappointed because it seemed like they were cutting their ties for good. Lisa also said that she wouldn’t be able to come back next month to run the marathon with me either. What a bummer!

Then something completely unexpected happened. Lisa told me that they decided to move back home in the beginning of June. I guess the grass is not greener in Florida after all! LOL

Life was pretty dreary without Lisa here last summer. All I did was train for the marathon. She was always the one that would get the girls together to go out. She liked to have girls nights at her house that included cooking, movies, camp fires, and games. We would have theme nights making sushi or Italian dishes. She was a very good cook. Now I will look forward to getting together with her.

She was also my running partner. My mom is happy that she is moving back because she said she worries about me running on the back roads by myself.  Lisa always motivates me to be a better runner. C’mon, we can run faster. We can run further. Don’t slow down. Don’t give up. Lisa also has just as many demons to outrun as I do. We can relate to each other on a deeper level because we have lived successfully through hard times. I told her about getting a new bike and she is already talking about doing a 50 mile bike ride. We will probably do our first tri side by side. It will be great to have her in my life again.  I was afraid I was going to have to let her go.

The hard sell

Tonight is opening night for the show. Thankfully, Angel is feeling a little better. She took two days off of school to rest and finally went back today. By tomorrow she should be able to hit her high soprano belt. However, I heard that the main character is sick with a bad case of laryngitis. I am so glad that I am going to see the show next weekend! LOL

Tomorrow morning, I have to get up at 5:30 AM to spend half a day at a trade show for work. It is also supposed to be the warmest day so far this year! Oh well. If my husband wasn’t in the show, he would be going. Instead I will be sitting inside a booth with our sales guy. As operations manager, I will be answering specific detailed questions that he might not have the answers to.

Did you think I was going to be doing sales?? Oh my gosh, no way! At my age, I know myself pretty well. There are not a lot of surprises anymore as far as my strengths and weaknesses go. Sales is not my strong suit. I can’t talk anybody into doing anything. I couldn’t sell a 50 cent cup of lemonade to a millionaire runner on a very hot day. Usually if I really want to convince someone to do something, I send my husband or youngest daughter Arabella. They both are phenomenal at sales. Arabella recently sold 80 candy bars in less than a week. I sometimes have to hold her back. No, you can’t take candy bars to sell at the dentist’s office. LOL I really wish I knew how Paul and Arabella can be so convincing. They both have a gift!

Last year around this time, I went to a women’s retreat. It was all about our different roles as women and the spiritual gifts that we have been given. We had to choose our top 5 gifts from a list. A majority of the women said that they had the gift of being caring, giving, compassionate, and empathetic. Not me! Then I started feeling bad because I didn’t seem to fit in with the rest of the women. Some of the gifts that I had were being discerning, disciplined, and athletic. Well, whoop di do!

When someone is hurting, these women come over bearing gifts of food, giving hugs, and crying with them. Again, not me. I am the one that says that they should’ve seen it coming. While you are at it, drop down and give me 20 push ups! Damn it, pull yourself out of it and fight it. Well, maybe I’m not exactly like that but that is sometimes what I think. I asked everyone what good my gifts are. I mean they only seem to benefit me. But someone said that was not true. She said that I motivate others to be healthier.

Then I noticed a few other things. A couple of months after visiting my friend in Texas, she started training for a marathon. When I saw her, she was overweight and out of breath walking a couple blocks. Now she is into eating healthy, weight loss, and training for a marathon. Coincidence? I honestly don’t know. Another non running friend mentioned lately about wanting to give running a try. 

I asked Paul today why it seems like I can’t sell anything but people want to do things I’m doing without trying to sell them on it. Paul said it was all about being passionate about what I do. So I hope that tomorrow I am passionate about work. 



The role of the dice

Tonight I will be out playing Bunco with the girls. It will be the first time that I went after my neighbor Sharon passed away. I will be playing with her friends. I really haven’t wanted to play the last several months without her, but haven’t been able to anyway.

If you are not familiar with Bunco, it is a dice game that is totally based on luck. The only challenging thing about it is keeping score after a drink or two. I was first invited to Bunco when Sharon was hosting it at her house and needed an extra player. That first night I won big time. Beginner’s luck they said. Month after month, Sharon called me to tell me that they needed a sub. Eventually, I was put on the permanent player list. Sharon always insisted on being the driver. She liked to smoke a cigarette on the way to calm her nerves. She rarely, if ever, had a drink. She liked to pick everyone else up. One time we ended up having more people than room in her car, but she squeezed everyone in.

I have finally reached the point of accepting that she is gone. I don’t think that she is going to drive by and wave. I don’t think she is going to come out of her house after a long winter and visit. I don’t think she is going to come over to borrow an egg and send back a batch of cookies. She is gone.

Sharon was an extreme extrovert. She loved people. She used to work at a local gas station and grew up in the area, so everyone knew her. After giving people directions to my house, several people asked me why I didn’t tell them that I lived next to Sharon. So I started telling people that I lived next to Sharon. She had 1,000 people come to her funeral. 

Sharon loved to entertain people by telling stories. My favorite story was about a bear that visited her up north. Sharon and her family owned a lot up north that they put a couple of campers on. She told me that one day a bear visited them while they were cooking out. Later that night, Sharon was having an intimate evening with her husband. The next morning her little boy asked her if the bear came back. He said that he heard her screaming like she was scared and the camper was rocking like the bear was trying to get in. I never laughed so hard.

Sharon had the world’s biggest heart. Her husband had children from a previous marriage. Although she treated his children as if they were her own, she was never able to have children. They decided to provide foster care with the intentions of adopting. Their first two foster children were abused by their previous adoptive foster parents. They were in the process of adopting these children, but it fell through and they were returned back to their previous adoptive parents. Sharon was absolutely heartbroken. 

A couple of years later, Sharon became the foster parent of a baby that she later adopted. She eventually adopted his younger sister when she was 2. The second child was more of a challenge because she was in foster care for the first two years of her life. She decided to make it an open adoption. The birth mother was on drugs and had all of her children taken away right after birth. She just wasn’t mother material. But Sharon kept her land line so the birth mother could call her anytime day or night. She was very loving and not at all judgmental. She even loved my children like they were her own. 

Sharon always called me at work if a strange vehicle was in my yard. She was always keeping an eye on the neighborhood.

The last couple of times that I saw Sharon, she was in bad health. She had a couple of very serious health conditions. Her husband quit his job to become self-employed and they didn’t have health insurance. Previously, her husband was on the road a lot. Sharon was afraid to be home alone without her husband. At night, she slept with every light on in the house. Once in the middle of the night, there was a motorist that broke down near us. She went to Sharon’s house for help because all of the lights were on. Sharon was terrified when her doorbell rang in the middle of the night. So her husband decided to start his own business to be home more.

The last couple of months, Sharon complained about not feeling well. She said that after the kids left for school, she would go back to bed until the afternoon. She couldn’t afford to get the treatment she needed but always told me that she would go to the doctor soon. Then she came down with a simple case of pneumonia. She very unexpectedly died at the age of 45 leaving behind two grade school aged children.

So tonight I will be hanging out with her friends. I wish I didn’t have to go without her.