Thursday, August 5, 2010

the only thing I need more of is cowbell

Two years ago en route to the beach for a few days I devoured Eat, Pray, Love the crazy successful best seller by Elizabeth Gilbert. I know my love affair with that book is about to crash and burn, like all my loves, because it has become a super mega, blockbuster, media frenzied Julia Roberts starring thing with a Nickelbackish tone... and even though what I loved about it so much was the truth in it...her loses all its wonder now that it has become a massive media force to be reckoned with. I am so happy for her as a woman and a writer, but sad to lose my intimacy with the parts I felt so deeply and quietly and with a frog in my throat. Obviously millions of women identify with her search, her desperation on the bathroom floor to find her place, her peace, her truth. her love.

but....she wrote that book what? five years ago. Life isn't what it was for most of us five years ago when she wrote it, or even two years ago when I read it. Boy I thought I was struggling huh? A single mom with three kids, juggling two jobs... but always with a steady child support check coming in as a safety net...I was disappointed that my life had taken turns I did not want or anticipate just like my hero Elizabeth Gilbert... and "just as soon as_________________" things would be better and I could get on with being happy. What I wouldn't give to have another chance to appreciate how fortunate I was.

I think that now, with the state of loss so many people are in, losing homes, unemployed, sick and without health's kind of a shame that we arent all a little more thankful and at peace with what we have. Elizabeth Gilbert is a brilliant, talented, wildly successful woman...perfectly healthy, well educated and as far as I am concerned, pretty damn fortunate to have the life and opportunities she has major traumas or events...yet still so unsatisfied. Infact tortured and desperate....

her memoir of self destruction and discovery begins after the dust from the success of her first book, Coyote Ugly has settled; at *her* lowest point which is the very life that I dream of as a best selling author. She had my bliss, and it wasn't enough?


I identify with her wholeheartedly though because when I look back through old sad, tortured, self depricating blogs I see that I totally took for granted the money I had in my bank account to blow and the help I have had all along bringing up my sweet babies. I see an insatiable thirst for more. just I am asking myself, what exactly would ever be enough Melissa?

what is enough stuff that I *have* to have? I used to exhale without thought a few hundred dollars on random crap at Target..or a couple of nights out..or on shoes....and now I am deeply thankful and humbled to have TWO jobs that combined pay me just twice that weekly. Not much has changed really because I always felt like I didnt have enough. I wanted nicer stuff. I wanted more nicer stuff. There is always more, nicer stuff...

Am I ever good enough to stop comparing myself to others? There is always some part of me that is lacking, not measuring up to other women I know...women with husbands, women with impeccably furnished homes, women with perfect credit and pedicures, women with whiter teeth and nicer purses, women with all the time in the world to volunteer and mother and work successfully, and women that make everything look polished, fancy free and easy. and I don't want to imagine how other women compare themselves to me...(insert your own inadequacies that I trigger for you here)

Yes, soon all my needs and all my whims will be finally and universally gratified if I can just hold this all together loosely... but not let go until that one last piece falls into place? (Yes I just sort of quoted .38 Special). I exhaust myself with these pursuits, then denounce them when they burn me out... I push to realize my goals and that always makes room for more. I guess I have it in me to keep up, but doing so has the capacity sometimes to make *me* completely miserable.

Am I the only one?

I am built to make time for those moments in the morning when I am tangled up in arms and falling in love, or laughing with my children over bad magic tricks, our collective concern for Ashlee, our beagle who suddenly started peeing everywhere and has returned to the crate... or cackling with my people at any old place, wearing any old thing, throwing myself head first, 250% into the present. That's really all I ever had, and all I will ever have that's worth a damn, and all that really matters when it's all said and done. And even though the view I have has come from being brought to my knees, I love my life. I owe it to myself and my children to stop reaching up and out for more of everything and just be thankful, because on all fronts the only thing I could use more of is cowbell.

Ryan Montbleau "Chariot (I Know)"

Monday, July 19, 2010

Truth or bust

"Runnin over the same old ground
What have we found?
the same old fears
Wish you were here"
-Pink Floyd

I pictured an exciting sassy trip, where I would write cutesy blogs about my adventures....and I did do lots of fun things, and I do have lots of stories to tell about my trip. Just not here because really when the dust settled in Charlottesville, I realized how much healing I have desperately needed for so long, and the hard work of facing all that hurt began. It's excrutiating to be alone mentally when you just keep uncovering more bullshit that you need to let go of. I laid around and read Clarissa Pinkola Estes to learn about regaining my inner wild woman....I drank whiskey and listened to a lot of Jeff Buckley, and Ryan Adams, and of course Ray LaMontagne. I playlisted tortured break up songs, love songs, and ultimate sing along songs. I cried, which I rarely do. I ran some. I ate delicious food. I missed my kids and the closeness and joy with them I used to not take for granted. I shared many cherished, heartwrenching and hysterical conversations with Jenee...who simply loved me despite my quiet distance and nursed my weary spirit back to health.

I have tried to write many times since that last blog, because I feel as if I should have an answer after taking off for 6 weeks. My time was saturated with many conversations about happiness, and finding your place, and your one true love, and the end all that we are all searching for I suppose. A perfect fit of all the parts that could be right in ones life...only I dont think they are ever supposed to just fit and stay there. Where's the fun in that? I left home with emotional fires burning me alive, searching for bliss. That's a bit of a quantum leap, especially if you assume, as I did, that bliss is an absolute a magic answer to my life. The harder I look, the more tortured and jammed up I become.

I must say that I should rename my trip "truth or bust" because I found many truths that I couldnt find my way around...and I have different ideas about bliss and where it hides...My voice has changed, and my life has changed so drastically that words seem ill suited sometimes...but I can't get on with things until I write it. I'm a keep it real kind of girl and if I wrote about bliss with some absolute, starry eyed, clear blue answer I would be full of shit. So here is my authentic run down...

I ate and drank my self into oblivion and I loved every sip, shot and bite. I barely exercised and throughly enjoyed being useless. I gained 18 pounds...all in my ass. I can no longer button any of my size 4 pants, I am now a solid 8 and I don't really give a damn. How's that for loving myself?

Nearly every trunk show cancelled. I left broke and returned home even more broke with bill collectors calling. I was afforded this trip by the generosity of friends and family that Mother Theresa probably doesn't deserve. I am loved, and insanely insecure that I don't give back a tenth of what the people in my life give me, and that I am a self indulgent flake. But a flake full of gratitude and that's all I can say about that without getting wordy and over the top.

When it comes to men, I have been a complete and total idiot. That's my biggest and most debilitating weakness and the only truth about me that is absolute. I have a lifetime of scars and heartbreak blogs to prove it. My strength lies in my ability to overshadow beautiful uplifting scenery, precious time with friends I dont see nearly enough, showering, eating and breathing with obsessive thoughts about those scars and heartbreak much so that it effects and infects the mother, daughter, sister, friend, niece, cousin, co worker, and.....girlfriend that I want to be. Not fun to admit you are a stupid girl. That girl. Here is my song to that girl, I want her to let *me* go and let me be happy, and be in love, and not be scared, and trust herself to choose someone inherently good to share herself with.
"Bring me
Light from where I thought it was dark
Be the spark that has a chance to
Light the candle
Love, that I can handle"

At The Libby Lodge for Wayward Women there is a bird that flies into Bruce and Jenee's windows, over and over and over and over again. They have tried hanging posters, but the little guy just keeps doing it. He doesn't learn. I spend an awful lot of time flying into windows myself. Trapped in loops of being me, thinking about being me, loving being me, recovering from being me. Same old fears. I wish I was here. Because the bliss, for me, is feeling free enough to stay right here, right now, present in the moment. Free of all the things I have been through, and free from my expectations and fears of what might happen next. Free of standard definitions of happiness that add up to having more stuff, and the act of faking it through having a bunch of empty stuff that doesnt make me any happier. The shape of happy is a fickle thing, changing like the weather, and the only way to find it is to be here now. That sounds new age-y maybe, but its my truth.

It's the lemons that I chose to write about, and the lemonade made it onto facebook in real time... they happened simultaneously like always, I'm just not feeling morphing them into a perfect piece this time. I don't like this blog but it's authentic, and authentic is free as I have now learned, and free = bliss.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Libby Home for Wayward Women

The Libby home for wayward women was founded in the Summer of 1997 when The Libby's, Jenee and Bruce, lived in Pittsburgh, and the Tampax Mafia convened on the porch of their brownstone and christened it with Tequila Rose and wild cackling laughter. They have since relocated to Charlottesville, VA and "The Libby" brownstone has been replaced with a farmhouse deep in the rolling farmhills of "happyville".

I am a wayward woman, and so of course this is my firt stop. Lucky for me thunderstorms were forecast for Tuesday, my first day in town, which means that Jenee had to call in to work to stay home with Lois, her dogchild, who gets very very upset by thunder. Don't blow by what I just said...Lois takes prozac and tranquilizers, and needs supervision when it storms. So we spent the day in our jammies, eating bagels and lox, pulling up rare footage of great music on you tube, and writing. I was still in a 30 something hangover haze from the four day send off...

We went downtown to meet her girlfriends from work for dinner and drinks on the patio at a yummy little taqueria, Mono Loco...just as the rain and sunset were meeting.

and then we walked over to Miller's to see her brother in law Randall play some jazz. Millers is a tiny little dive bar where Dave Matthews worked and started out. The music was great, however I was so exhausted, that I found myself apologizing for being so distant and quiet. Randall reassured me that there was a time for everything, and last night was my night to listen to his great jazz in a sleepy haze. I do love a good dive, especially one with a great story and history.

I slept like a baby last night and through the entire morning, relieved to have nowhere to be and nothing to do except just be here now. I woke up to find that Jenee had left *me* a bliss bomb to do list...

So I suited up and went for a run...

and then after my shower, I curled up on the sofa to read "Women Who Run With the Wolves" by Clarissa Pinkola Est├ęs and passed out for a couple of hours to the heavenly state of drooling all over myself until Jenee returned from work. Bruce treated us to dinner at an Indian restaurant, which was a first for me. I had lamb korma, and coconut bread and it was amazing. We are now fat and happy and watching Ray LaMontagne and Lyle Lovett on Elvis Costello "spectacle"...

Ray just said "my heart was broken 20 times..I like people..I just don't like assholes". indeed.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Bliss or bust...

My stream of blissciousness has been jammed up the past few weeks. I have sat down several times to try and write it out, only to find incoherent emotional vomit in my words. I will only say that some time around the third week of May, my stress level was elevated to one of despair. I am not generally a giver upper, but my heart was full in more moments than usual of giving up...and each time, just when I thought it was time to just slump over and accept inner defeat, a friend would swoop in and carry me just a bit further along my path. The details of my particular despairs and demons are irrelevant, but they were big and scary. I have barely kept my head above water lately and also been simultaneously overwhelmed with love, hope, and happiness.

And again I am reminded, because I almost forgot, that life is a tragedy full of joy.

Shannon and Lori with suprise jambalaya, bread pudding and renegade impromptu tailgating and laughter just in the nick of time on a weary, wet Friday night...

A sly, sweet, perfect song gift, left for me, should I look for it, which I did...and which I thought might make my heart explode I loved it so much. love. love. love. "I just want my heart to be true"...

A Gift for Melody Anne by The Avett Brothers:

A sing along road trip to the Warrior Dash with a badass partner and even better friend...

which ended with a mudbath, beer, gigantic turkey legs, a rolled ankle, and a furry viking helmet. A perfect day if you ask me...

Celebrating Michelle's big milestone, graduating from cosmetology school, and finally telling those smug hair-heads how she really feels about them...

Being a proud momma and wishing there was a word bigger than proud...

swallowing the tears of bittersweet goodbyes to people that have changed our lives...

the refuge of drinking my Aunt Saralene's coffee from one of the many cups in the collection that are the sum of millions of moments of love and togetherness over the years...

reconnecting with my kids in the sunshine...

finding humor in corn that can only exist when my cousins are around...

and of course yellow suprise parties that make me cry happy tears thrown by the best friends a girl could ask for:

and yellow pres-ments..I love presments...

and even though I am terrified, there are signs that all this letting go of who I used to be is the only way to grab a hold of who I want to be, so I just have to do it, bliss or bust...

I laughed with my besties over bloody marys and chicken salad as a final send off, and after much love, encouragement and practical magic on Jodi's part, I hit the road

and saw signs that speak for themselves...

Monday, May 10, 2010

"You turn me into somebody loved"

Betty White hosted Saturday Night Live this weekend, and after a long night at work, I sat on my mothers sofa, dog-sitting, cackling at every damn skit. When my grandmother was alive we used to watch The Golden Girls together, and I would tease her and call her Betty White because they looked so much alike, but also because Rose Nyland was so incredibly chipper, and optimistic and silly...just like my Bamie... It may be overkill for the people closest to me, because I cannot say it enough, but I miss my grandmother so deeply and so dearly that I can barely talk about her without either laughing, or tearing up. I think of her daily as I fidget with the garnet ring that she wore every day, or when Sara makes an expression just like hers. Or just because I have done something I want her to be proud of... or if I am just feeling all alone. No one person ever has, or ever will love me as much as Bamie did. The good part of that is a million and one amazing memories, but also that I learned how to love, and how it feels to be loved.
I am told that her mother, Nana, as we call her in the family, used to say that you are lucky if you can say that you have 2 or 3 true friends. I'm a very social girl, I genuinely love people. I am always meeting new folks, getting to know them..ALWAYS sharing about myself. I get burned sometimes by that...but I wouldn't have it any other way. There is a core though, an "inner sanctum" as my dear friend Laura calls it, of people that have come into my life and flawlessly loved me, without conflict, without walls, without judgement, without drama.
They laugh at my crazy homelife, and they love my children fiercely, even when they're shits. They show up for birthdays, break ups, and ceremonies, and jewelry parties, and races, and hear it in my voice when I have something to say. They are always on my side. They believe in me. They see potential in me that I cannot always find. They sing songs with me, drink too many drinks and dance with me, and get my stupid jokes. They know I will scratch their cd's all to hell but let me borrow them anyway. They tell me each in their own tone that I am, strong, badass, capable, inspiring..."tough like grizzle", and because they say it, I try to be those things that much more, even when I don't believe it. They tell me to smile until I squint, and to be me without apologies, even when I fail. I often do, but that's ok because I make perfect sense to them. They have been around and seen guys come and go, and other friends come and go. The same people, year after year are there...not waiting to see who I am going to eventually change into, because I am already enough, just as I am.
I love them back, deeply and fiercely and blindly, because they are, in my eyes, exactly who they are supposed to be, and how they are supposed to be. Their laughs are home to me, their roles in my chapters familiar and irreplaceable. The incredible void I had for years after losing Bamie has been bridged with a cozy patchwork quilt of folks that I just call my people. My people are my world. At the end of every day I think we all just want to love and be way or another. I am scattered a lot of the time, and don't say near enough how lucky I am, and how much I appreciate the amazing core of people around me that insulate me with pure, simple, untainted love. I am rich, rich, rich and oh so thankful. You all know exactly who you are. I love you!

"Rain turns the sand into mud
Wind turns the trees into bone
Stars turning high up above
You turn me into somebody loved"

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

I know our days are heaven sent...

"To those who think they hold the cards, I send out my kind regards
To those I love, and those who care, I'll meet you down..the road somewhere"- The SteelDrivers

My heart, very much like the moon, waxes and wanes. I lose track of it sometimes when it wanes... checking off my grocery list at Wal Mart, doing the dishes... those uninspired moments that honestly take up most of the day. And really, life is not supposed to be all rainbows and butterflies ALL the time because it is real. And it is hard. But always there are a million moments of lightness all around, and the ones that are meant for me stick. There are opportunities all day every day to look and listen for clues from heaven that I am alive. That my heart may be overwhelmed with questions and worry, but it always has the capacity to wax, and beat so that I can physically feel it in my chest. Little moments of coming alive in long days of simply living, are for me, what it's all about. I feel my heart swelling when a breeze reminds me that the seasons are changing, or in belly laughs with my friends on borrowed time... maybe even in a heartache..and always in the music that is gifted to me by dear friends. Every little thing about this song makes my heart wax:

Heaven Sent- The SteelDrivers

Friday, April 30, 2010

Happy birthday week Griffin

We begin discussing Little G's April birthday in November. He always knows what he wants for Christmas, and can project future needs nearly 6 months in advance. He always needs more legos and always more money. Here is his birthday wish list to prove it... this list was lovingly generated to ease the distress of my January panic over what he might like to have, well before his brother and sisters February and March birthdays threaten to steal his thunder. You'll notice the request for cash as his preference over gift cards, quintessential Griffin. My boy is not afraid to reach out and get what he wants, so he does. He does not settle. He is not talked down from even the most ridiculous schemes and notions, insisting that there is indeed a thriving market for reselling 2$ polished rocks we picked up in North Georgia for 75$, or opening his own gym/ RV/ ferrari lot. When I begin to discourage him, I remind myself that at any given moment, Griffin usually has more cash on him than I do, so who am I to question his business sense? Where his money comes from..I couldn't tell you, but he always has some.

Even though this was a very low key birthday for him, it has managed to spread it's wings over the span of an entire week, and he is not done yet. We went to Medievil Times for dinner... and then had birthday cake with the family. He got an electric guitar and plenty of cash that he has insisted on carrying everywhere we go and flashing at friends and strangers, and two cans of Axe body spray. His request for this was not flavor specific but I chose "Instinct" which is reminiscent of rare leathers, and "Dark Indulgence" which is as tempting as chocolate. We are fighting off the ladies big time.

It has been a complicated week in our house, full of sick tummies, meltdowns, ear infections, long days and sleepless nights and we are all just exhausted. Griffin and I both needed a day to decompress, so being who we are, we reached out and took one today. We went for a run at Hobgood Park together, and the birthday money burning a hole in Griffins pocket began to scorch him in the parking lot. I deflected his offers to spoil me with Starbucks and told him we should go straight home and come up with a game plan. We discussed our options and decided we needed some chips and queso and some shopping and sunshine. He instructed me to put on my red dress, and to not worry about wearing too much make up or fussing with my hair. Griffin always has a plan.

Loading up in my red dress he reminded me of my famous Versace sunglasses that I purchased with money I saved up back in 2007, and lost less than a year later. He watched me pine over them for months, and wanted me to have them even more than I wanted them. He is always reminding me about those sunglasses and how someday he is going to buy me a new pair. He is very serious, and very concerned about me not having what I want, and vice versa.

First we went to Honeybutter boutique where he offered with nearly every breath to buy me everything I glanced at. I told him to save his money for something special for himself. He disagreed but put his money away. Then we hit Seven Arrows which is an Indian themed gift shop, where he bought this sweet knife for $39.50...
we made our way down to Pennybag Emporium where both of us went gaga over all the one of a kind finds piled on the shelves. I found a big chunky yellow vintage bracelet that was a must for my summer plans, and the happiest little flower and lady bug ring... which of course, my darling son bought for me. I will cherish this little 8$ treasure for as long as I live. He bought some "foreign coins"...
and a manatee necklace for himself, and put back the money clip and the golf bag lapel pin...

We held hands crossing the street to Pure where we shared some chips and queso and talked earnestly about his stellar report card, his staunchly Republican views on Obama's terrible job in office so far, and his intent to return to Seven Arrows immediately to purchase the arrowhead necklace that had begun haunting him soon after the server brought out his Sprite...but also made a point of telling me how special this day was to him and how much he loved me, something I am not ashamed to admit, I desperately needed to give him and to hear. Happy Birthday week to my sweet sweet boy.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Kathy's song

I love making playlists. Music is such a big part of the stories that play out in my life. Music walks hand in hand with my memories..haunting me and comforting me...

So I promised a friend a "mixed tape" with some great tunes, and as I was perusing my itunes library, I was reminded of Kathy's Song by Simon and Garfunkel. It's a simple song with brilliant lyrics.

I used to sing it to Grant when he was a baby, which was only ten years ago, but feels lifetimes away. I remember being a young new mother, sleep deprived but still wide eyed and anxious, and absolutely in love with every waking, and sleeping breath of my beautiful new baby boy. Those were days when I still lived in illusions about how life goes as planned... unaware of how much I did not know about just about everything... I was 23 years old, and completely sure about just about everything.

Motherhood has made me a completely different person, and each child has made me a completely different mother. I don't sing to Grant anymore and when I sing along in the car now he begs me to stop. I never could listen to this song without choking up a little bit, even in my most guarded phases. I am not a girl who typically cries, although I have finally softened up a little in my thirties. There is a movie scene in "The Holiday" with Cameron Diaz where she is trying to cry because she knew she should be crying, and I have done this myself, many times. Music is one of the few things that can really hit my very few vulnerable places. A happy song always makes me want to dance, and a sad song can literally take my breath away... that ping and straining in my heart universal for any mood that great music sows out of my memories. Listening to Kathy's Song last night I could feel Grant in my arms, rocking him back to sleep, just the two of us.

This one's for Grant, even though he would not think it's the first bit cool. Cheers to all the young, new parents out there watching their babies sleep, drink bottles, poop and smile in awe. It doesnt last long!

Kathy's Song

I hear the drizzle of the rain
Like a memory it falls
Soft and warm continuing
Tapping on my roof and walls

And from the shelter of my mind
Through the window of my eyes
I gaze beyond the rain-drenched streets
To England where my heart lies

My mind's distracted and diffused
My thoughts are many miles away
They lie with you when you're asleep
And kiss you when you start your day

And a song I was writing is left undone
I don't know why I spend my time
Writing songs I can't believe
With words that tear and strain to rhyme

And so you see I have come to doubt
All that I once held as true
I stand alone without beliefs
The only truth I know is you

And as I watch the drops of rain
Weave their weary paths and die
I know that I am like the rain
There but for the grace of you go I

Sunday, March 7, 2010

the story of my boy and his dog

For Griffins 6th birthday I bought him a rescue beagle named Amy. Amy was from somewhere in North Georgia, and "housebroken". My friend Brian worked in a vets office and warned me to do research on all the dogs I was considering...I told him nonsense....this dog was the dog for us. I had spent a solid 30 minutes with her outside of Petsmart, walking the parking lot. She was by far the saddest, cutest dog there. My dad was sold on a similar beaglish dog that was a little more mature..but Amy came home with us. We tied a big red bow around her neck, drove Griffin over and had him wait on the front porch while we brough her out. She immediately connected with him, lovingly licking his sweet little face. He patted her head gently and licked her head back to welcome her to our family in her language. It was one of the sweetest moments as a parent I will ever witness. His love for that dog was instant and remains permanently imposed in the back of my brain, everytime I think I have had enough of her antics. He fondly named her Ashlee after a pretty older blond girl he thought very highly of.

Ashlee has been quite a test of patience, and if it were not for Griffin's die hard loyalty to her, she would be long gone.

Ashlee in Griffin's own words:
"Ashlee is very nice and she doesn't bite. She needs a lot of love, and loves to meet new people. let her lick you, just do it, don't get scared just let her. She's not going to hurt you. She does it cause she loves every person in this world pretty much. and she likes to sometimes sniff, that's pretty much all the time. and don't let her slip free from a lead or have a crack in a fence, because if she runs out it's gonna be hard to catch her, cause she kind of jogs a little bit and then stops and then jogs a little bit and then stops. its kinda like deja vu'. you have to get her in the car. and she's very nice. and dont let her get caught up under your feet because you could possibly trip. she likes to sniff in the direction where the other dogs are. thats usually what she does. otherwise, she's down with us having fun.she always snuggles with me, and licks me when i'm feeling down. Ashlee will run from sara. she is perfect for little boys that really love dogs. her head is brown. her ears are long. her back is black, her neck is white, her belly is white also. she's got beautiful brown eyes and a cute little wagging tale. and never leave legos out on the floor, her tail can demolish them and make them go all over the floor! and that is all." -Griffin Mark

She was always kind and gentle with the kids, but had a dark undercurrent of mischief as soon as you looked away. She got settled in and began stealing our clothes and toys and stuffed animals to make tunnels and burrows under the beds. She unleashed her howling bark, which she relentlessly wielded for hours and hours on end at the most inopportune times. She even recieved a barking ticket. An actual barking ticket. She dug up our back yard with a million little holes, peed EVERYWHERE, and savored the bathroom trash on a regular basis, and took off on exploring sprees everytime the front door opened. I hated her. Griffin would get very upset when I would call her "stupid dog" as I was steam cleaning pee, or chasing her down the block. We discussed getting rid of her very seriously many times, but Griffin always won out in the end.

We crated her for over a year, and finally she is broken of all her terrible habits. She is not a disciplined dog, she licks and jumps on visitors, and she lays around on the furniture. However, she obliges Sara's games of constant provocation and chase, and rough ear pulls and head smacks without reacting. The warmth of her ears and softness of her coat snuggled up tight have been much needed medicine many times the past few months. We have all grown to need her in our own unique ways. She is still especially connected to Griffin as if she knows she was brought into our family to fill a special need for him. He is a tough little guy and there are times that even as his mom, I am at a loss about how to help him. At times she is the only spirit that can get through to him and bring him back to himself. I have writing, Grant has coaches and being the class clown, Sara has the attention of everyone....and Griffin has Ashlee.