TIME OUT? YES, PLEASE, CONTINUED

Fifth Day: Well, my bruises from my slimy little stair fall have blossomed alarmingly on my upper thigh and bum…but the good news is that the swelling has gone down. I attempted to take a selfie of them but not able to- so you’ll have to settle for the description- HUGE and purple! Besides that, those cannot possibly be MY thighs! Where did all those freckles come from? Or as my dermatologist says, “Joanie those are sun damage, not freckles…”

The dogs so far are still alive, although Ting Ting has eaten any number of things this past week, including a pair of cute earrings on granddaughter Cassie’s floor, many price tags and a whole pile of cat food. She’s only escaped one more time and the nice lady next door hasn’t been seen since the white poodle chomped on her hand while she attempted to rescue them for me. Apparently the neighbors all heard about it as they now give us a very wide berth when we walk past them.

Although the dogs remain hale and hearty, their fleas are absolutely abundant. Yay. I itch just thinking about them

Day Six: Is this ever going to end? How many weeds can I pull in the yard, how many cabinets can I clean out? How many times can I rearrange the refrigerator, wash windows, wash cars? I would paint but don’t know where the paint is. Nat and Jay won’t even recognize the place when they get back! Good old Mom has been through the entire house due to her extreme case of boredom, and kindly moved everything including all of the furniture. Ha. They will be calling me for months! “Mom! Where’s the wok?” In the garage on a hook, of course! I am nothing if not meticulous, right? I may even go see if the neighbors need anything done!

Day Seven: Apparently Dear Paul is nearly out of the ham I left him over a week ago and is resorting to a pure beer and whiskey diet. I reminded him that there are nuts in the cabinet and if he really gets desperate there is something called a grocery store that actually sells more than just beer. He once called me from Albertson’s to ask where the bread lived. This of course is also the man that called me at work years ago to say “Hon I’m in the laundry room. Which one is the dryer?” When I moved in, his dryer was a two story erection of scaffolding in the entry. I thought I had moved into a Chinese laundry- clothes flapping in the breeze. What was I thinking?

Also I have been suffering from a dry irritating cough that granddaughter Cassie keeps commenting on. Sweet, right? “Grandma I can’t hear the TV!” Like Roseanne Barr said years ago- “If when my husband gets home from work and the kids are still alive, then I’ve done my job!” Cassie is treading on thin ice right about now. This morning she asked me to drive her and her 100 lbs. of baseball stuff to school, pack her ten course lunch, and notified me that she’ll need to be picked up at school tonight after 8:00. Yippee. Can I pack my car now and head home? I am in serious need of a vodka tonic. Mostly vodka.

Wish me luck- I should only be here a few more days, although I’m not entirely sure exactly when the newlyweds return. They conveniently didn’t tell me.

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TIME OUT? YES, PLEASE!

As her daughter’s beautiful, glimmering wedding week drew to a close, with all of its joy, happy tears and chaos, as Joanie wearily ushered the last of the umpteen hung-over houseguests out of the house and to the airports, it occurred to her that in fact the wedding week was not over. Really not over. Completely and totally exhausted, she washed sheets and towels, changed beds, shook out blankets, washed glasses, emptied the trash full of empty champagne and beer bottles and watered the plants as she would soon be away for ten days. Away for ten days with a teenager and three small dogs. What was she thinking?

She had committed to keep an eye on her teenaged granddaughter while the newlyweds were on their honeymoon, and that offer would soon be one that she might have reconsidered. As granddaughter gave her the rundown of her schedule- baseball practices, shopping, visits with friends…she was tired just thinking about it.

First day: Home alone with the dogs, that were frantically and ridiculously ferociously barking and attempting to attack anyone and anything that walked past the backyard fence, she looked around the house- dirty clothes piled, overflowing cat litterbox, floors needing to be swept…you get the idea. Ten loads of clothes later, refrigerator cleaned, floors swept, toilets scrubbed, weeds pulled, beds made, Joanie took a deep breath and went out onto the backyard deck with a cup of coffee to sit for a minute. Bad idea. Doorknob locked. There she was, locked out, sweaty in a worn out tank top, hair a mess, old yoga pants, no makeup AND no bra. Good God Almighty! No! No! No! Now what??? No way could she beg to use the neighbors’ phone to call a locksmith looking like the Wreck of the Hesperus- so, tried each and every window to see if she could break in. Burglar-like, she methodically took screens off, shook doorknobs, opened the back gate and went out front to try to open the garage door…no deal. As she seriously considered kicking the back door in (Why not? How hard could it be?), she noticed that she hadn’t tried one last window. As she wrenched it open she gave herself a big high five and a pat on the back. Yay! In, and only slightly out of breath after clambering into the rec room, she noticed that the dogs were gone. Crap! Forgot to close the damn gate! After momentarily considering letting them run free so that she could rest- hey, that’s what the Humane Society is for, right?- out she squealed to find them. Such nice people in the neighborhood- a lady had them all corralled for her right next door. Sweet! And the little white poodle only bit her once! She winced as she handed them over and scurried back into her house. Joanie was sure she would never see her again.

Second day: Took granddaughter to her new high school, or tried to. Kid forgot how to get there. Nice. Ok, took deep cleansing breaths, drove around in circles for a half an hour and cursed only a few times before finally finding her school. Got her excruciatingly detailed instructions as to when and where to pick her up after softball practice, and was reminded to pick up her cookie dough order- the softball fundraiser- and of course she would be the top seller, roughly 500 pounds of boxes. Oh goodie. Joanie then reminded her that the pickup time- 5:30, would seriously postpone her happy hour and she wasn’t happy about it. Oh my, this was going to be a VERY long ten days. Three hours later, after delivering the last of the snicker doodles, chocolate chip, peanut butter cup, oatmeal raisin, candy M&M’s, white chocolate macadamia nut and chocolate pecan cookies, with only one slight mistake- delivered a box to a family that didn’t order one…but they were thrilled… they were finished and drove back to the house. During delivery, Joanie only swore five or ten times as granddaughter forgot who ordered what and where they all lived- “Oh grandma, it’s ok, they won’t remember what they ordered! Besides that they don’t know who I am!”

One last cap to the day- NO ICE! As Joanie started her first of many collapses, granddaughter pointed out the icemaker. There is a God. Thank you and now where’s the vodka?

Third Day: Joanie thought that it might be time to find a grocery store. Found it, got a few things and promptly got lost on the way back. A friend later helpfully pointed out that she could use her GPS to find home- if only she had the address written down, that is. Ahhhhh…. The rest of the day went along pretty well- picked granddaughter up again at softball practice, notified Joanie that she has a crush on a boy, cooked dinner, got ready for bed and let the dogs out for one last potty before nighty night. As Joanie opened the back door and stepped out, oops! Her feet went out from under her on the slimy little deck and she crashed down the steps, bouncing her ass on each consecutive step, finally landing on the concrete, in the dark, in the rain. The damn dogs helpfully licked her face and the lotion on her legs as she assessed the damage. The bruises speak for themselves.

Fourth Day: Cat will not come down from the neighbor’s roof. Will. Not. Come. Down. Granddaughter and Joanie balance a barstool on a chair in a near lightening storm, caught the damn cat by the damn leg after baiting her with a steaming bowl of tuna fish casserole and went to bed. Cat is not happy and is limping but Joanie just doesn’t care.

Fifth Day: To be continued.

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DOGNAPPED

Now that I have finally calmed down I am ready to write again. It never fails to amaze me at the ridiculous actions of Dear Paul and 2015 has started out with a bang…and Dear Readers, are we surprised? No! So fasten your seatbelts please and hang on.

So, recently, Daughter Natalie, granddaughter Cassie and fiancee’ Jay moved away, and were forced to leave their little poodle Barney with me. Well, as you may or may not know, we have two little pups already, Teddy and Ting Ting. They do know Barney well, however, as he has stayed with us many times and together they made a nice little troop. Now, to say that I wasn’t thrilled to take on another pet is an understatement, but I had decided to make a go of it. Little Barn Barns had settled in quite nicely, voracious eater that he is- bed hog that he is- surreptitious pooper that he is, and all was going fairly well. Until Saturday afternoon , that is.

I had returned from a quick shopping trip and what do I see? Oh God, there’s Dear Old Paul, in his robe, beer in hand, gesturing animatedly in the road in front of my house, and I noticed two people standing by him, with two small dogs on leashes. Two dogs? What? Wait-was one of them my Barney? What? As I stopped the car and began to get out, the people left with the dogs! HE GAVE AWAY MY DOG??????!!!!

Paul, as we know, can be prone, or should I say is prone- to unusual behavior- like digging while nude in the neighbor’s trash cans for “recyclables”, walking the dogs in his robe with nothing underneath it, driving a garbage filled Cadillac around town, totalling my car whilst birdwatching while driving- you get the idea. Well this time he really blew it. Like a complete idiot he was out there in front of the house laughing like a hyena while I am having a complete meltdown. “What’s wrong? I thought you didn’t want him! Those people seemed pretty nice!” WHAT????

During my screaming fit, having bit my lip so hard it was bleeding, coughing and about throwing up in anger I did just about everything short of physical harm to him. I threw things, I smacked the table, I used swear words that even offended myself! I wanted to beat him over the head with a frying pan! I was not afraid to do that either. Call the cops damn it- I just DO NOT CARE. Take me to jail! Where is my dog????

I had an obligation that night with some girlfriends that I needed to honor, and did. We drank wine and discussed all manner of torture that we would do to the old guy, and some were quite interesting. At the end of the evening we had decided that he would be sent away to the funny farm. He’s going somewhere, that’s for sure.

So, the next morning I laid down the law. Either get my GD dog back or you’re OUT! I gave him an hour and I can tell you I was watching the clock.

In he walks with a sheepish smile, and a confused Barney. “Oh, by the way they said they really liked him and wanted to tell you that his collar may be a wee bit too tight that’s why he’s coughing.” “Oh really? Really, Paul? You don’t think it might have been related to his attempt to escape and run back to me when they were taking him?”

So, furry family back together, Barney, Teddy, Ting Ting and I settled down on the couch to recuperate as Dear Paul wandered out into the pantry for another beer. And so it goes.

God bless you, my dearest of the dear. Amen and goodnight.

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BACK TO THE CADILLAC

It all began simply enough- or not. Leaving our local pub after a quick bite to eat, Dear Paul noticed that there was water in the passenger side foot well of my car. Hmmm, I thought- must have been due to a leak in the newly installed windshield and I planned to take it to the installer to look at it the next day. Between that evening and the next day, though, I was alarmed to hear actual sloshing in the car! So much water! What on earth had happened?

I confidently strode into the repair shop the next morning and announced that they had made an installation mistake with the windshield and I would like them to fix it. The manager was very nice and assured me that they would check it out right away. After two hours of sitting in the parking lot visiting with a very nice yet odd little man who kept saying to me “If you wanna play, you gotta pay!” I left with instructions to go to the ‘leak specialist’ in nearby Poulsbo- hmmm. So, Daughter Natalie followed me to Poulsbo and I left, expecting to be called later in the day to come and pick the car up.

Now, dear readers understand that I, like so many people, depend on my car. I take great pride in it- always clean and well maintained. I take care of it and it takes care of me. Not so with my Dear Paul, and his ragtag fleet of automobiles. Things began to take a wrong turn the moment that I asked him if he could take me back to Poulsbo to pick my car up when it was finished. He sat there at the dining room table, attired in his uniform of choice, naturally-robe and loafers, dark beer in hand, with a dumbfounded look on his face. Oh for crying out loud! I knew what was coming! And oh yes, Dear Paul once again did not only disappoint, but rose to a new low. “Well…why don’t you call Enterprise and have them deliver a car and I will drive you up there in that.”

Call Enterprise? Are you kidding me? He has at least 10 cars and not ONE of them runs well enough to take me up there? I was fuming, furious and am embarrassed to admit that I let out a tirade that would make a sailor blush. “Well I can’t take you up there in my garbage scow…” Said garbage scow is an ancient Cadillac Fleetwood otherwise referred to as the garbage truck. Clean it out I screamed! It’s been at least 5 years since you have even cleaned it!! He is semi-famous around our small town for being the weird guy with the car full of stuff. He has to scoot junk aside to even fit into the vehicle, yet vehemently denies that it’s dirty.

So, naturally I got on the phone to vent to any and all I know. It took me hours! Turns out that the car repairs which are too detailed to bother you with, have taken almost a week. And for almost an entire week Dear Paul hasn’t even asked me about the car. He did however slink in with two dozen red roses “To cheer you up.” Hmmm. He also enlisted his friend Erik to lend him his ancient and just as dirty Mercury Monarch to tote me around in. Tirade Round Two ensued. Finally his friend Jerry called me to offer me his Honda and to take me to get the car when it was finished. Which it still is not.

Years ago, dear readers, if you have read my other stories, I wrote about the Christmas that Dear Paul was unable to buy me the diamond and sapphire bracelet I coveted, because it was $8,000 and not the $800 he thought it would be, but managed to buy a Cadillac (yes the very same one) for himself on Christmas eve because he was so depressed about the bracelet. Priceless.

He doesn’t get it. I know that about him. So, you can imagine the look on my face the other morning when he announced that he had bought not one but TWO new old cars this week! WHAT? I have no car, he has many, and I have to beg rides? Ok, a third tirade ensued. This had to stop because I am getting chest pains and headaches from all the screaming.

The next morning he was up and dressed and getting ready to leave the house by 8:00 AM. This is a man that goes nowhere before noon because he talks on the phone for two or three hours every morning, in his robe with his beer. I asked him what he was doing and he announced that he was going to clean the Cadillac out. After I was revived from my fainting spell I offered to get him some garbage bags. “No, I don’t need any he said…” He then changed his mind and rustled under the kitchen sink and pulled out two teeny tiny wastebasket bags.

Hours later he returned with a big smile on his face. “Well I cleaned it out. Do you want to go for a ride?” Now, could I possibly say no? And as I wrestled open the car door he warned me not to try to open the window because it sticks open, and notified me that the seatbelt doesn’t work, the heater is stuck on High and the radio is broken…and off we went. It’s the little things.

God bless you, my dearest of the dear. Amen and goodnight.

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Ironing Aprons

Catapulted into a life suddenly filled with illness, things in my world came to a schreeching halt recently which forced a new and unexpected chapter to unfold. I went from a 12 hour a day commuting executive to a housewife in an instant, and it has been quite a process. What I have discovered during my year of being at home has been enlightening, to say the least.

During my thirty years or so of being in the work force, keeping my home together was always done on the run. I shopped, I cooked, I cleaned and paid bills, but I can tell you that until this past year I never saw the little crocuses peeping out of the ground in front of my house, never heard the birds chirping in the trees, never sat for a moment to pet my dog in the sunshine. So focused on keeping everything running semi-smoothly, I had missed so much.

My husband had become ill with prostate cancer, and surgery was scheduled. So, at that moment my own body finally broke down and an emergency hysterectomy was my Valentine gift. We were a complete collective mess. We both had surgeries within a month of each other and were both in recovery mode, and I was in dire need of a rest. I resigned from my job, packed my boxes and moved home. Home. Home was where I needed to be.

In my mind all I could think of for awhile was getting from one day to the next, caring for my husband as he was healing slowly. I should have paid more attention to myself, though, as my recovery took a lot longer than I thought it would, as I basically never sat down. But, as time went on and occasional naps were taken, I began to feel better as did he. I cooked and washed clothes and thank goodness had a wonderful housekeeper to do the other cleaning, but what I found was that I enjoyed the little tasks of running a house without watching the clock. What a concept. I no longer dreaded Sunday nights as Mondays always followed them.

I cleaned out my file cabinets, emptied a portion of one of our attics, purged closets, emptied drawers, dusted cherished mementos and relished in it. I rearranged cabinets, filled boxes for charity and washed my own car. I taught two little dogs how to do tricks and sit with me on the couch, and met with a delightful color consultant to recommend new paint for the interiors of the house. I took hikes and smelled the fresh salt air, and I relished in it. I saw that people are actually out and about- that not everyone is wedded to their offices the way I was.

The little thing that matter presented themselves- the text from a granddaughter asking me if I could meet her at the bus stop and walk up the hill with her, the moments sitting in my dining room reading the paper and watching the bald eagle in the tree eating a salmon, the opportunity to actually see the sunrise and sunset not from a ferry or from an office. I began to breathe for the first time in years. The illnesses that forced me home became my gift.

Now it is possible that I may return to work, but if and when I do I will return a different person. I will not allow commerce to get in the way of peace and happiness and I have now a profound understanding of the importance of being home. So now, if you will excuse me, I have some aprons to iron and a dog to pet. May God bless you, my dearest of the dear. Amen and goodnight.

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BUBBLING TO THE SURFACE

I have realized that my writing tends to ramp up during the holidays and I can see that it is because the bulk of the material is provided unwittingly by my family, especially from Dear Paul. So, once again, dear readers, a recap of Joanie’s holiday is in order!

As I had mentioned earlier, this year she had decided to have a simple Christmas- a small fake tree from the attic, a wreath on the door- simple! Stress free! Well, of course the Davis Family Christmas didn’t turn out that way- it never does- what was she thinking?

As the days progressed toward the 25th even her pets were decorated. A trip to PetSmart and a receipt for $55.97 resulted in a cute Santa hat for Teddy that even played music, a little tulle dress with holly on it for Ting Ting, a knitted sweater that says “Reindeer in Training” for Natalie’s poodle Barney, and two new collars for Roxy, our son Jamezz’ bulldog. Oh no. She had Dog Town at her house with all of the scuffling over the food dish, walking either one canine or another constantly, and sharing the couches with them, not to mention the beds. They were running races around the living room chairs and tearing balls off of the Christmas tree.

The holiday menus consisted of various platters of fabulous meats and cheeses, homemade cookies and candies, French dip sandwiches, salads, crab and shrimp, asparagus and cheese quiches, wines and rum, bourbon, vodka and the occasional soft drink. Hmmm. Not exactly a low cal diet, but once a year is ok, right? Burp! Simple, clean food! Ha!

As Christmas Eve approached, Joanie began to get that familiar “Oh no” feeling, because, as you may remember, Dear Paul isn’t known for his gift giving ability. She tries to calmly accept whatever ridiculous crap he has wrapped with a smile, and this year was no different. As the family opened wonderful presents, as usual it came down to one last one, one for Joanie. She opened the cardboard box to reveal a small spindly wooden chair- one like one would sit a doll on. “For your chair collection!” Paul smiled broadly, wiggling in his chair in his new robe and sipping on what was undoubtedly his 15th beer of the day. She thanked him and once again wondered where in the Sam Hill he finds the things he gives her. Goodwill? His white van? The basement?

It all started to really go downhill later when the (real) Christmas tree got knocked over by Natalie and Cassie- Natalie wrestling for Cassie’s cell phone. Cass had been taking photos and Nat didn’t like it. They knocked over the large 3’ cement hare that Jamezz had given to Joan- “Shoot, one ear got knocked off in the car but you should be able to use Liquid Nails on it.” The candelabras nearly set the room on fire as the wrapping paper flew through the air. Joan was not happy. Time to water the mutts again, get one last cookie and send everyone either home or to bed. She had had enough.

As she fell into a well deserved coma, about 5:00 AM Joanie heard a thumping in the attic. That is itself is not unusual in that she has rats and various critters up there from time to time, but this time it must be big! She listened with alarm as the wrestling and pounding became too hard to ignore. Time to go downstairs and find Paul, who was undoubtedly sitting in the kitchen with his new true crime book and a beer. He is as deaf as a doornail and wouldn’t hear her yell if she were getting disemboweled so she had to go down to get him. Not that that would have helped as he is not a brave person.

As she tiptoed down the dark hall she could see lights coming from the attic! A flashlight! Now she was convinced she didn’t have vermin, she had a burglar- dear God, in the attic! Crap! Just as she decided to go wake Jamezz, there comes Dear Paul, descending the fold up stairs, dusty, drunk, covered in cobwebs and manhandling a large, heavy object. “Don’t look! Go back to bed!” “Paul! What are you doing?” “Don’t screech, Joan! Go back to bed!” She once again shook her head and flopped into bed. At least her house hadn’t been broken into…

In the morning once again there is Dear Paul, in his chair. Waiting for her to come downstairs- he had about three rolls of wrapping paper fastened around a gift roughly the size of a small ship. “Open it! Open it!” Where is her reality show camera crew when she needs it she thought…

And as she unwrapped the sweetest concrete cherub, reading a book, dusty and dirty from 30+ years in the attic, Dear Paul looked at her and said “Oh hon, I just thought you deserved a better gift…”

All at once everything was right with the world, and content was once again restored.

May happiness and content bubble to the surface for each and every one of you. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to my dearest of the dear. Amen and good night.

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THE LONG DEEP BREATH

Sitting in my flower filled living room with my youngest daughter and granddaughter, tissues in hand, I contemplated the sight before me:  My eldest daughter was there with us too, as still and quiet as a mouse.  She in fact was in her casket and this was the day before her burial.

 A little pink blanket, years before, was placed in my arms and within it was a precious baby girl that we named Jessica.  Jessica was a sweet little thing, always cheery and, with her slightly bucktoothed smile and red hair, she never failed to bring a smile to our faces.  Through the years, though, she provided many challenging opportunities for us to practice our parenting skills- and as a young woman she had some trying times, and unfortunately struggled with alcohol and drug abuse.

 As my husband and I were on an overseas trip, Jessica in fact, finally took the bull by the horns and vowed to find a way out of her cycle of abuse.  She packed up her two children, who at that time were 2 and 6, and took them to her local Child Protective Services.  They agreed to place the children into foster care and she voluntarily entered a drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility.  Jessica stayed there for six months and it took another six months before the children were released to her- to a clean and sober housing facility in Seattle.  She had nothing- all of her possessions had been disposed of when she was evicted from her apartment.  The girl started over, literally and figuratively.  Jess was at Ground Zero with nowhere to go but up.  And up she went.

 For several years after her rehabilitation stay, Jessica studied for a career, mothered her children and thrived.  She was able to find a good paying job and rented a home.  Her family was now back together and she vowed to live a life that she and her family could be proud of.  She attended Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and formed a very strong network of stable and healthy friends and generally just enjoyed life.  We were delighted and proud of her- immensely so.  There had been many times that we had worried ourselves sick about her behavior and now we felt that everything would turn out well.  And it did, for awhile.

 January 21, 2008.  It had been a beautiful winter day, and as my husband and I sat on the couch in our living room, we both commented on the outstanding sunset.  It was a glorious one.  It was 5:30 P.M.  Later, as I was just preparing to go to bed, Jessica’s husband called and I could hear the sheer terror in his voice.  “Mom, there’s been an accident!  Mom, there was a head on crash and Jessica is dead!  Mom, come over, come over!”

 I leapt from the couch and raced to my daughter’s house next door.  She fell to the floor upon hearing the news, shrieking and sobbing.  We then raced to Jessica’s house where we were greeted by a Sheriff’s deputy and a chaplain.  The deputy had her driver’s license on a clipboard.  I thought I would faint from grief.  The crash occurred at 5:30 P.M. This cannot be true, this cannot be true.

 It was Martin Luther King Day and I hadn’t realized that Jessica had to go to work that day.  She had just left her office a little before 5:30 and, as usual, took a back road instead of the freeway because she thought it was safer.  Her theory, sadly, wasn’t a sound one.  Her vehicle was hit head on, by a driver that was traveling at 79 miles per hour.  The driver was only 500 feet from his driveway, and drunk.  He survived, she did not.  She was crushed in her car.  Our dear sweet girl was gone.

 For a strong, brave and successful person to die at the hands of someone that was drunk was such irony.  Jessica had been clean and sober for over nine years and for her to die like she did was such a heartbreak and unforgettable tragedy for all of us that knew her.

 

We held a private service at home the night before her public funeral service, and the children sat by her casket, playing.  She was dressed in one of her favorite outfits and although she looked good, you could see bruises under the makeup on her face.  Every bone in her body had been broken.  Both legs, both arms, her back, her neck- everything.  As her mother I was numb and unable to function- I just could not bear it.  And as we sat with her that night, we sat because we could not bear to let her go.  Her sister slept in the living room with her and had covered Jessica up with a soft blanket “So she won’t be cold, Mom…”  It was the saddest moment of my life.

 There were several hundred people at her funeral service and not a dry eye there.  We all cried and cried.  I can’t even remember most of the next year.  There was a trial for her killer and he was found guilty but it did not bring our girl back to us.

 In the five years since Jessica’s death our lives have changed.  Babies have been born, others have died.  We have holiday celebrations but they aren’t the same.  We think of her each day and pray that she is at peace.  We have been involved with Mothers Against Drunk Driving and work to prevent others from suffering from the devastating loss that is caused by drinking and driving.

 The day after Jessica’s funeral we were called to come to the funeral home.  I had given them some very specific instructions and intended that they be carried out.  As we walked to the crematorium behind the building, the door was open and we saw Jessica’s casket, ready to be rolled into the furnace.  And at that moment, after saying a quiet prayer of goodbye to my beautiful girl, I kissed the casket and the furnace door was closed.  I then took the longest, deepest breath of my entire life and pushed the button to light the flames. 

 

 

 

 

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