Friday, May 30, 2014

A Prayer for Patience

I am not a patient person. I get annoyed at traffic, slow people, standing in lines, and basically anything else that will stand in the way of me and the 347 things I need to get done on a daily basis. I knew when I had Taylor that my lack of patience would be my biggest fault as a mother. Add that to the fact that I am obsessive compulsive about ev-er-y-thing and you have a recipe for disaster. I so hope that our girl continues to retain her laid-back attitude (which she so graciously gets from her father) and doesn't end up a hot frazzled mess like me.

I am the person who cares more about cleaning up the dishes rather than cooking a delicious dinner. I cannot think straight if there is clutter or items strung about a room. The idea of a mess or spill not being wiped up eats at me until it is taken care of. I like things to be tidy at all times, and, most importantly, I like them to be done my way. (Now is the time when you should really begin sympathizing for my poor husband. Thankfully, after a decade together, the man has learned my neurosis and is well aware of what he should and should not do in order to avoid a fight.)

So, I did what I always do. I prayed.

Please, God, grant me patience. Something has got to give.

Well, apparently, he heard my request, because I have encountered plenty of circumstances that have tested my patience and my compulsions. Side note: babies are extremely good at creating those situations. So are home renovations.

While living through the chaos that has been ripping out an entire room and then slowly (but surely) piecing it back together, I have undoubtedly been tested. And honestly, I have done much better than I initially thought I would. That is, until about a week ago. I hit my breaking point and I. just. snapped. After cleaning an inch of dust off literally every surface in my house for the THIRD time, I just couldn't do it anymore. We were expecting not one but two sets of house guests over Memorial Day weekend and the place was a disaster. I was exhausted and embarrassed at the thought of having people stay in our home when it was so utterly disgusting that I couldn't stand to be in it myself.

I needed a break.

So I loaded Taylor into the stroller and high-tailed it out of the house as fast as I could. And you know what? Thirty minutes (and a good sweat) later, I returned to the house in a completely different mindset. Yes, the dirt was still there but my attitude about it had shifted. It was no longer a priority and it no longer mattered. I am learning that when things become overwhelming, I need to shift my focus and do something (anything!) else. It helps to put the bigger picture into perspective and keeps me from getting so bogged down with life's mundane tasks.

Since then, things have gotten better.

A testament to that statement came yesterday when Taylor managed to have two of the worst blowouts I have ever encountered (second and third only to the one she had when she was only a few weeks old that ended up in her armpits and on her neck - how is that even possible?!). Following the second blowout and a very thorough wipe down (not to mention a large amount of scrubbing to remove the stains from her clothes), she decided to have a pee free-for-all on the way from her nursery to the bathtub. Fan-freaking-tastic. Nothing tops off cleaning up mounds of shit like toweling up fresh baby pee. But, surprisingly, I didn't fly off the handle. Jake helped mop up the pee, and I proceeded with Taylor's bath. We were well on our way through the nighttime routine when Taylor decided to whack her head on the night stand while attempting to climb out of the recliner (and my arms) as I was rocking her.

Cue. the. tears. And oh, the screaming... Poor thing cannot handle pain.

I eventually managed to settle her down and get her to sleep, and, after everything was said and done, I gave myself a pat on the back for keeping my cool. I may have a long way to go, but I am certainly better than I used to be. And I'm pretty sure I have this babe (and her sweet new shiner) to thank.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Eight Months

Oh where to begin?

Taylor is all over the place lately, but she has yet to officially crawl. I will say, she is quite crafty in maneuvering from one side of the room to the other though. If we place something out of her reach, she will squirm, twist, and do whatever it takes to get to it. She loves to get on all fours and "rock" back and forth. She has also mastered downward dog and Superman (for those of you who didn't see my video on Facebook, these are yoga poses). In fact, she is so good at getting to where she wants to be that we secretly think she is crawling all day long at day care and just playing coy at home. Sneaky, sneaky, this one.

Apparently all that moving and shaking really wears a girl out! Lately, we have had to drag this little one out of bed in the morning! Granted, she has always been a fantastic sleeper (and trust me, we know how lucky we are), but our early riser is no more. Apparently the home renovations have taken a toll on everyone in our family, but Jake nor I are complaining about the extra shut eye we're getting.

Personally, I am favoring this stage because of all the fun, girly things we are able to do! What little hair she has continues to be covered in clips & bows, and my newest obsession is painting her little toenails. I'm quite impressed that she actually sits still long enough to let me paint them. I find it works best to sit her on my lap and distract her with the fingernail clippers or a bottle of nail polish. She always wants whatever is in my hands, so after I clip her nails she is more than eager to play with them. A few swipes of polish later, she has colorful tootsies (and is none the wiser), and I am in heaven. Her chubby little toes covered in polish may be the most adorable thing ever.

Unfortunately, our girl has yet to extend her vocabulary (meaning she still hasn't said "Mama"), but she is as chatty as ever with her ba ba's, da da's, and high pitch squeals. She can easily turn a sour mood into a smile with a big bear hug and open mouth smooch (along with a free side of drool). She is a true delight to be around, and we are constantly getting compliments from everyone we meet.

Her sweet little face makes life worth living, and I can't even begin to explain the amount of joy she has brought to our home. We love you, baby girl. Happy Eight Months!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Marriage in All Its Glory

For those that don't know me personally, I should inform you that up until a few years ago I was completely and utterly anti-marriage. In my mind, I was the eternal Carrie Bradshaw and being tied down was never a path I wanted to travel down. So, I thought I would share our journey on how we went from being two completely lost souls to the happy, married couple we are today. Forewarning, this story is not a fairy tale. As previously stated, we have both made some questionable life choices (and occasionally still do), but our relationship works for us. And when times are rough, I like to remind myself that without the hard times we wouldn't get to experience the good.

So here goes...

Jake and I began dating when we were fresh off the farm (I was 20, he was almost 21). We were young and dumb and constantly in search of ways to avoid our responsibilities. We met at a party at my duplex my Junior year in college (although we later discovered that we had actually met once the year before but he was in a relationship and I was more interested in the neighbor boy down the street). The next morning, I came downstairs to find this dude on my couch. As I was cleaning up the 593 empty beer cans in the kitchen, he nonchalantly asked me to be his girlfriend. I laughed and told him I would never date a guy who slept on my couch (I guess the jokes on me here since I ended up marrying him).

A few weeks and a handful of parties later, we found ourselves sitting in my garage deep in conversation at 3:00 a.m.  It turns out, he wasn't such a creep and was actually a pretty interesting guy. We spent the next few weeks hanging out with our mutual friends and getting to know one another (I guess this would be considered our "dating" period). Then, on the night of my 20th birthday, we decided to become exclusive.

The remainder of that first year brought a lot of ups and downs, and I'm not sure why we ever expected anything else when we led such different lives. I was in my third year of college working part-time to help pay the bills (although I frequently called the parentals to "float me a loan" because I couldn't make that month's rent) while Jake worked a full-time job and was completely independent.

The school year ended as did our lease. I moved out of the duplex, started my Senior year, and began a new job as a waitress at Chili's. Enter an entirely new set of friends and a massive shift in my social calendar. I moved into a small apartment with an acquaintance I had met while living in the duplex. She was three years younger than me and just starting her Freshman year at a community college. We were as different as night and day, but it didn't matter much as I spent all of my time either at school, at work, or hanging out with my friends from work. Jake and I continued to "date" but this point in my life is pretty much a drunken blur. I managed to graduate from college (and actually did pretty well that last year despite my partying ways) and then I hit a wall. I was a college graduate working full-time as a waitress, and I was completely miserable. By now, I had moved out of the old apartment and into a new apartment with one of my best friends, and, in an attempt to make myself happy, I  broke up with Jake. I'm not sure why I thought it was going to instantly make things better, but I had convinced myself otherwise. It turns out, it was possibly the worst mistake I ever could've made and, eventually, we found our way back to each other.

Not long after, I landed my current job and five months later Jake and I moved in together. And not just anywhere, but into the worst. duplex. ever. Not only was our landlord a straight up witch, but there was a shooting down the street within the first couple of weeks followed by the SWAT team surrounding our neighbor's house in the middle of the night a few days after that. In retrospect, this entire living arrangement was a horrible idea. Neither of us was ready for co-living. Not to mention Jake had made some poor life choices which created immense burdens on our already fragile relationship. But, by the grace of God, we managed to survive the year (and multiple cases of "I'm leaving you if you don't get your shit together"), moved out of that hell hole, and turned a corner for the better. Our next rental was in a much better area as was our relationship. We had a heart-to-heart and decided that we were in it for the long haul, so we got our shit together and fully committed ourselves to making the relationship work.

The next year, we moved into a rental house and focused on working, paying off our debts, and saving for a house. We were soooo tired of renting and ready to settle down and start a family. That fall, Jake planned a weekend getaway for our seven year anniversary, and we (yes, it was a joint decision) decided to get engaged. While getting ready for dinner that evening, he got down on one knee and asked me to spend forever with him. We immediately called our family and friends to tell them that after seven years, we would finally be getting married!

We knew right away that we didn't want to have an extravagant wedding. In fact, the idea of a destination wedding came to us so suddenly that it seemed as if it were the only option. There would be no fuss or extensive planning - we simply had to pick a resort and they would do the rest. As soon as we told our family and friends our idea, they were on board (well, most of them anyhow). Unfortunately, some were unable to attend due to pregnancies, time off, and the monetary aspect, but ultimately it was our decision. In the end, everyone understood and we were able to have a reception back home for those who were unable to attend the live event.

After months of anticipation, Jake and I were married on June 16, 2012 at 4:00 p.m. on a beautiful, white, sandy beach in Negril, Jamaica surrounded by 20 of our family members and closest friends. The ceremony was simple but our vows were from the heart. It was absolutely everything I could've ever wanted, and I'm so glad we went the route that we did. A couple of days after the wedding, our guests left and we were able to spend a few days in paradise as husband and wife. It was the trip of a lifetime and nothing will ever compare to it.

We returned home from Jamaica to our new house (which we had purchased just three months prior to our wedding). We spent 18 months completing one DIY project after another, but it wasn't until Taylor arrived the following fall that it finally felt like home. Parenthood has challenged our relationship in a completely different way, but her birth has strengthened our bond and given us a renewed sense of love for each other. I never knew just how deeply I could love my husband until I saw him as a father. (I realize this is sappy, but those of you who have been in my shoes will completely understand where I am coming from.)

He is my rock and my best friend. I am so very lucky to have him, and I am thankful for our journey thus far.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Summertime and the Livin's Easy

Mother Nature must've finally gotten her act together, because it's officially starting to look and feel like summer around here! While I'm not overly excited about baring more of my skin (don't even get me started on the nightmare that was swimsuit shopping last week), I am absolutely loving all of the teeny tiny rompers and sundresses on our little tot. I remember going completely overboard at the end of last summer buying every adorable outfit I could get my hands on and longing for the day when our baby girl would fit in them. And now, with her little arms and legs covered in rolls, I just can't get enough!

Along with warmer weather comes a plethora of outdoor activities and none too soon. Frequent walks around the neighborhood and trips to the park have definitely helped with our winter blues, and, luckily, we live less than a mile from the pool (so I'm sure that's where we'll be spending all of our free time). And speaking of the pool, I am absolutely over the moon that I was able to find not only one but two swimsuits for the tot that aren't hot pink and plastered in butterflies/hearts/glitter/etc. Tay and I are going to rock our one pieces, aviators, and sun hats all. summer. long.


I am also super excited about all of the traveling we'll be doing. I know that traveling with a baby is never ideal (and most of you reading this post are probably cringing at the thought of being stuck in a vehicle with a baby for longer than 15 minutes) but after our last road trip (and subsequent other, smaller trips), I am certain that our babe will have a blast on all of our mini excursions. A couple of weekend trips to St. Louis are a must as I can't wait for Taylor to experience some of my favorite childhood memories, like her first trip to the zoo and her first Cardinal's baseball game at Busch Stadium. Regardless of her attitude, a face this sweet makes up for any amount of screaming/hair pulling/spitting up.

Summer is just a magical time of year, and I can already tell this is going to be one for the books! The hubby and I are longing for extended weekends at my family's cabin, grilling and having a cold one (or four) on the back deck, and making as many memories as we can with our girl. I'm looking forward to sharing all of our experiences (and, knowing us, a funny story or two) with all of you on the blog!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Kitchen Remodel (Part 1)

Well, folks, it's been a long journey, but I'm happy to announce that the Eldredges finally have a new kitchen! So long pink and turquoise (not sure who thought that combo should go in a kitchen) and hello clean and new!! Let me preface by saying that I have been designing this kitchen since the moment we first contemplated buying this house. And now, here it is in all its glory.

I realize that for most people, home renovations probably aren't that big of deal. You design it, you hire someone, and a week later it's complete. Such is never the case in our world. We undershoot everything - our time, the budget, and the amount of arguing it takes before one of us caves and I get my way. I'm happy to say that this renovation was not the case. Other than a four week delay on the installation of our counter tops, things went pretty smoothly. (Although I should note that without counter tops one does not have a sink and without a kitchen sink one is forced to wash dishes in the bathroom sink. Not. Fun.) Not only was this the biggest undertaking we've attempted to date, but it's the first one that we've actually come in on budget and managed to stay (mostly) loving to one another. (I should also probably clarify that my husband and I really do love each other. We are both just stubborn and opinionated and don't like to give in to the other. I assure you that our relationship is, in fact, happy and healthy. Sarcasm is our foreplay. That's just how we are.) 

Regardless, we are now on the home stretch. We still have to add the crown molding to the top of the cabinets, install the back splash, and  finish painting the trim but, otherwise, we are FINISHED!

Before: beige on beige with pink & turquoise laminate floors and counter tops.

This remodel was a total and complete gut job. Fortunately, my husband has stellar friends who helped him rip out the entire kitchen in one evening. Who needs a gym when you can carry cabinets up and down a flight of stairs?

This included ripping the old carpet out of the hallway as well. See all those little black spots? Those are staples. I pulled each one of those sons of...out by hand!

Thanks to my dad and brother-in-law, we were able to knock out the flooring in one day. It turns out that the angles from the kitchen into the hallway are much trickier than one might imagine. It also turns out that my dad did not hold still for the panoramic photo, which is why he is missing half of his body in the photo below.

Here he is in completion. Much better.

The following day, the guys were able to get all of the cabinets hung and the appliances installed. We went from bare bones on Friday night to the image below on Sunday night. It was amazing to watch the space completely transform over the course of 48 hours! 

A few days later, the electrician installed under cabinet lighting (which is amazing), an additional three pot lights in the kitchen, an additional pot light in the hallway, and hard wired the pendant lights above the island. Our kitchen literally went from three lights to eleven! It's so nice to finally be able to see!!

Initially, I purchased the pendant lights as shown below. I loved them from the second I saw them online, but they were just too big for the space (and they literally hung down to Jake's chest). Clearly, they weren't going to work. So, back to the home improvement store we went for the 972 time.

After a lot of back and forth, we decided upon glass pendant lights with Edison bulbs (shown below). They make the space feel so much more open, and I love the retro yet modern feel they add to the room. 

We lived in a construction-zone-state-of-chaos for nearly three weeks. For most people, this probably wouldn't be considered "chaos", but my OCD-ness could barely stand it. I'm the lady who has to pick up every room in the house before I can go to sleep at night, so you can only imagine what this was like for me. Also, I'm pretty sure it's completely unsanitary to feed your baby right next to power tools, scrap lumber, and a shop vac, but we made do with what we had. And Taylor never seemed to mind.

Upon hearing the news that our counter tops weren't going to be installed for an additional two weeks, Jake cut plywood to cover the bottom cabinets. That way, we would at least have some work space (and somewhere to sit the 500 tools that were scattered all over my brand new hard wood floors). 

At this point, we had gone as far as we could go and were just waiting on the granite to be installed. We cleaned up all the junk that had been contaminating our dining room floor, and I was finally able to breathe (or at least not cringe every time I walked through the room).


We finally received a set date and time for our counter tops to be installed, but then tragedy hit a few days later and I learned that my friend's funeral would be on the same day (at the same time) as the granite company was scheduled to be at our house. I immediately got on the phone with the designer, informed him of the situation, and anticipated another two week delay. To my surprise, he arranged to have the counter tops installed the very. next. morning. I was blown away. 

Sure enough, Friday morning arrived and so did the granite company at 8:00 on the dot. Two hours later we had the most gorgeous Venetian pearl counter tops I had ever seen. I literally spread my arms across the giant island and hugged it.

At long last, I had my kitchen sink back.

So, here you have it, the [nearly] final product. I will do another post once the molding and back splash are installed and the final touches are in place. Stay tuned!

*insert l-o-n-g sigh of relief here*

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

My First Mother's Day

As most of you know, the past few weeks have been some of the hardest of my life. I had to say goodbye to one of my very best friends and trying to find closure continues to be an ongoing struggle. Jake and Taylor have been by my side every step of the way, and I'm not sure how I would've ever survived if it weren't for the two of them. Thankfully, some relief came Friday evening when I arrived home from work to find our kitchen back in working order. The counter tops and sink had finally been installed and the plumber was working on the pipes. Although life would never be the same as it was before, it was at least returning to a functional state. Functional I could deal with. Functional was better than pure chaos.

Saturday morning I woke up early and started working: vacuuming sawdust out of the cabinets, wiping everything down with my new non-toxic cleaning products, and unboxing and organizing the contents of my brand. new. kitchen. As I worked, I felt a weight lifting off my shoulders. At one point, I even broke down and cried because I was so relieved. It had been such a long, emotional few weeks and, at last, I finally saw a light at the end of the tunnel. By the end of the day, my house was no longer cluttered with boxes and coated in a thin layer of dust. I was able to sit down and rest - really rest - for the first time in weeks. Life was slowing down and just in time to celebrate Mother's Day.

Now, although I was pregnant on Mother's Day last year, my husband made it very clear to me that I would not actually get to celebrate Mother's Day until our baby was outside of the womb (even though after much debate - and whining on my end - I still received a very thoughtful card and gift). So, you can imagine how pumped I was when Mother's Day rolled around this year. I envisioned presents and breakfast in bed and lots of wonderful baby snuggles all day long. Let me tell you, the hubby did not disappoint. If there is one thing that he is exceptional at, it's making me feel special. And he did just that.

Sunday morning, Jake let me sleep in until 9:00 (which all of you Mom's out there know is a treat in itself) and then woke me to homemade waffles (my favorite), flowers, and gifts. Being the thoughtful man that he is, he even attempted to imprint Taylor's hand and footprint on the box he used to wrap my gifts in. It's safe to say that that will be the first and last time he attempts to dip our baby's foot in paint and then try to imprint it on anything. The final product looked like something out of The Blair Witch Project, but I was thankful nonetheless. After all, it's the thought that counts, right? Inside was a beautiful gold plated necklace engraved with "taylor" and a glass block picture frame (with my most favorite picture of Tay) for my desk at work.

That afternoon we met up with my family for a picnic in the park. With 5 kids thrown in the mix, we thought a park with a playground would be easier than attempting to make them all sit still in a restaurant for two hours. It turns out, we were right. We had a nice, relaxing day eating BBQ and watching the kids play. And Taylor had her first experience going down a slide (on cousin Natalie's lap, of course) and swinging. She loved it.

And even though my sister and her family hightailed it out of there before we could snap any pictures of them, we were able to capture a few memories for the scrapbook.

As luck would have it, I was able to share the day with my own grandmother and mother. As a new momma myself, I am constantly seeking their guidance and advice. Fortunately for me, these woman are two of the strongest, most loving and generous people you will ever meet, and I'm honored to call them family.

And lastly, the reason that I am able to celebrate this special day - my Taylor Tot. She constantly reminds just how fortunate I am in everything she does - from her smile and playful nature to the sweet sound of her little giggles. She truly is a blessing and, lately, she has been my shelter from the storm. I know that with time things will start to fade back to a sense of normal. I am attempting to get back to a happy place but, for now, I will continue to count my blessings and thank God for another day on this Earth surrounded by those I love the most. 

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

A Life Update

I will preface this post by stating that humor is my coping mechanism, and the majority of what I write should be read in a sarcastic tone. I don't mean to offend anyone, but these are my thoughts and I am going to write in the same manner that I speak. This post may be a bit more blunt than others, but I've had a rough week (so cut me some slack). To say that my life is shit-tastic at the moment would be putting it nicely.

First, there's the nightmare that is our kitchen. Now, I realized when I signed up for this massive DIY project that living in a construction zone would be difficult. I didn't realize, however, that it would take this. freaking. long. And none to our own fault, mind you. No, this is every bit the designer's fault. He told us from the beginning that it would take a "couple" of weeks from the time our cabinets arrived until our counter tops were installed. I thought, "A couple of weeks. I can live with that." Uh, wrong. Four weeks later and we have beautiful new cabinets covered with plywood. Probably not a big deal for most, but I am beyond over living on fast food and washing baby bottles/cups/bowls/spoons in my bathroom sink. Not to mention having to turn our guest bedroom makeshift kitchen into shambles if - heaven forbid - I need to find something. Thankfully, we have been informed the counter tops and sink should be installed Friday morning, but I'm taking that shit with the tiniest grain of salt.

And then there's the giant, gaping hole in my heart. The stress of living through this remodel combined with losing my best friend has become too much to bear. Insomnia is in full force these days, so I spend my nights lying in bed, starting at the ceiling, remembering her and wondering how life will ever go on without her. In the midst of all my extra "free" time, I have been researching the five stages of grief. It's fair to say that I lived in the first step of denial for as long as possible. I visited her often over the last 18 months and each time I treated her as if things were normal; I didn't want to acknowledge her sickness. As one of her best friends, I wanted our conversations to be like they always were, not about the road we both knew she was headed down. The second stage hit me like a ton of bricks two days after she passed. Monday morning I came to work scathing mad at everyone and everything. I vaguely remember yelling out loud at the dishwasher because there weren't any clean forks. Then, I bit my boss' head off when his phone wouldn't stop ringing. The finale came when I exploded on my husband who, because he had to work late, was forcing me to spend Cinco de Mayo alone eating a frozen burrito. This wasn't me. I typically don't fly off the handle like that unless I'm extra hormonal. Needless to say, when Jake arrived home that night, I broke down. The realization that the one person who knew me better than anyone else (yes, even more so than my husband) was gone.

After a long night of tears and disbelief, I was finally able to get some sleep. Sleep brought clarity, and when I awoke the anger was gone. I called in to work and spent the day by myself - no baby, no work, just me. I sat in the sun and reminisced. I took a long walk and allowed myself to cry. And at the end of the day, I felt better. I am ready to say goodbye to my friend and lay her body to rest. Words cannot express how sad I am that she is gone, but I know that I'm going to be okay. Not today, not tomorrow, but some day I will.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

For My Friend

I have gone back and forth for weeks debating whether or not to write this post. Although I thoroughly enjoy writing and sharing my thoughts through this blog, I am a very private person when it comes to those I hold closest to me. Recently I have decided that I need to start expressing my feelings and all of the pent up frustrations I have regarding a very dear friend of mine who has been fighting a most courageous battle. For privacy's sake, I will not disclose any names or in-depth details, but for those of you who know me personally, I'm sure you will put the pieces together on your own.

This beautiful lady and I have been friends for nearly a decade and, for many of those years, we spent nearly every day together. We were privileged to find each other when we needed each other the most. We were both young, in college, and looking for our purpose in life. But mostly, we just wanted to have fun and enjoy our youth while it lasted. She is one of the most genuine, caring, loving, selfless individuals that I have ever known, and I cannot even begin to count the times that she has been there for me when no one else was. We have shared laughter, tears, and some of the most random and memorable nights that I will never forget. If anyone has helped define the woman I am today, it is her.

So you can imagine the complete and utter shock that occurred whenever I learned that this friend of mine was diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor. The world spun in circles as I tried to grasp the thought of my perfectly healthy, happy friend being infected with this life-threatening disease. A list of questions a mile long ran through my mind, but the only one I could focus on was: why?!

Shortly after diagnosis, my friend underwent surgery and then began radiation and chemo treatments. An MRI the following year was hopeful as it suggested that the tumor had stopped spreading. We were positive that she was going to beat this thing. After all, no one is stronger (or more stubborn) than our girl!

Fast forward to a couple of months ago when I was sitting at my mom's house watching my sweet daughter laughing and playing on the floor, when my phone rang. I looked down to see my friend's mother calling. I knew right away this would not be good news. The tumor had multiplied and spread. Treatment was no longer working. Hospice was being called to make her comfortable. It was uncertain as to how much longer she would live.




I knew I needed to see my friend.

At present day, she is still with us, and she still retains her undeniable whit and charm. She smiles every time Taylor and I walk through her front door, and she puts on a brave face even though I know she is hurting. It pains me to see my friend suffer. It pains me to watch her lie there unable to control her body, but it helps to know that mentally she is still intact. I pray for her daily. I ask God to end her suffering, to bring her peace, and to let her know how loved she is by us all. But still, my heart aches. I miss my friend, and I am sad for the future that she may likely never have. But I will always have our memories, and I will always keep her in my heart. I will always be thankful for everything she has taught me - and continues to teach me - even now.