Reading and Writing

I joined social media in the Spring of 2020 as I needed to promote my self-published book, The Checkers Club. I joined a few writing groups, mostly to get tips on writing and publishing. Early on, I noticed posts saying things such as, “How many books did you read before you decided to write one yourself?” or “Do you need to be a reader in order to write?”

Usually I would just scroll by such posts, but on one early morning visit to one of the writing groups I joined, I could not let the frequent post go, “How many books did you read before you decided to write one yourself?” My comment was, “Why does this question keep getting asked? Asking if you should be a good reader in order to be a good writer is like wanting to get a drivers license without ever driving a car.”

I looked later and there was a slew of comments on my comment. Someone even reached out to me via email, which I never read. I was not trying to be nasty, just honest. I thought my comment was obvious, you cannot be a good writer without being a avid reader. They go hand in hand. How would one expect someone to read their writing if they themselves are not reading?

From an early age, I remember sitting on my mom’s lap as she read to me my favorites, Babar the Elephant and Little Golden Books. I started writing the alphabet when I was three, thanks to my twin siblings who attended kindergarten two years ahead of me. They would come home and teach me how to write my name, how to tie my shoes, and of course, they would read to me. I would look at the milk carton at breakfast and say, “Look, MILK has my name in it, KIM.”

In my youth, I took more to reading than writing but got better at writing in middle and high school. I had a very good English teacher in high school pull me aside and told me to please keep writing. By her suggestion, I joined the journalism team but never put my skills to writing professionally until 2018, when I started to write The Checkers Club.

As I write this, I have many books I want to read, be they on bookshelves, my nightstand, or my Kindle and Apple book libraries. I am starting to map out my outline for my second book, What Good Are You? And What Good Can You Do Today? But do not just take my word on reading and writing. The great author Steven King says, “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”

I can’t fix what I never had.

I called my mom on the anniversary of my dad’s death. It has been six years since he passed. My mom answered, “Your brother, Daniel, just called to say he remembered that it has been six years.” I paused, “I miss him, Mom.” She replied, “I know, I do too.”

We talked about her health, “No symptoms, right?” I asked. “No, I feel fine.” But a pause came over the phone. “Kim, I am worried about you. If you take another office job, you may not survive this.” I forget that even at 84 and me at 54, she is still a mom. I am still her youngest. She will always worry.

And she has reason to worry. I overheard her tell a friend when I was a teenager, “Kimmer, she has always been my sickest kid.” And she was not wrong about that. It stung hearing her say that to her friend over the phone, but I have not been blessed with a strong immune system.

My earliest memory of me having the flu was at Christmas, I was six years old. I heard the family in the rec room laughing and opening presents. My grandparents were down for a visit. Me, laid up in a bedroom, weary from fever, Mom peeping in to give me fluids. Fast forward to eight years old. My dad had an early morning shift at the Air Force Academy. My mom still at work. The nurse at South Elementary called, “Please come get Kim, she has a high fever.” My dad picked me up off the nurse’s cot and put on my flowered winter coat and I barley remember him putting me in the back of the car to get home. The doozie of illnesses came when I was twelve. Ophthalmic shingles took me for a loop when I was twelve the spring of 1978. I was barely five foot and ninety pounds. Six weeks later, I was blind in my left eye and lost fifteen pounds. At sixteen, I missed a Nuggets basketball game that my friend’s dad had tickets for us to go to. I stayed at home with the flu. At nineteen, my mom had to come and get me from my job at Current, Inc. because someone found me on the bathroom floor. I had an extremely high fever and passed out, again, the flu.

As an adult, I take a great deal of vitamins, I try to eat careful, and workout regularly. But every cold and flu season is a “white knuckle thrill ride” of me getting at least one bad cold, one or maybe even two sinus infections, and about every two to three years a case of the flu.  This season was the presumption of positive with Covid 19 in March, that scared my spouse of twenty-three years to call an ambulance due to my poor breathing.

I came to the realization the other day, “I can’t fix what I never had. I never had a good immune system.” So, I will wear a mask, even before it was mandated in Colorado, I have been wearing one whenever we venture outside. I will still take vitamins, maybe they help and maybe they do not. I will still eat careful and exercise. At forty-nine my eye doctor told me, “You know what happened to your left eye can happen to your right eye?” I did not know that. So, I had my primary care physician administer the then shingles shot. Last year, myself and my husband were administered the Shingrix shot, which has a higher prevention dosage than the first shingles shot we had five years ago.

I hope to stay shingles free and Covid 19 free. But there are no guarantees. We all have to be our own guide to keep ourselves healthy and safe. Stay secure and be blessed.

Goodbye to Anthony

Anthony E. Stamper

Three months ago, yesterday, I got the call from my mom, our Anthony was gone. I sat in a dinning room chair in shock. We had just gathered 2 and a half weeks earlier for our birthdays. How can he be gone? He was our spouse, our brother, our brother in law, son in law, coworker, neighbor and friend.

Anthony had a passion for politics, movies and books, and I wonder if he is watching from above the Covid crisis, the Black Lives Matter movement, and the 2020 political circus.

We did not get to say goodbye in March due to Covid hitting hard the week he died. But if we could have met, and could have had his funeral then, we would have stopped all the clocks, and shut off our phones. We would have prevented his cats from eating juicy fish bones.

We would have silenced pianos, and with muffled drums, we would have brought out his coffin and let the mourners come.

But for now, let airplanes circle from overhead scribble in the in the sky that our Anthony is dead.

For our Daniel, he was your North, your South, your East and West. He was your  working week and your Sunday rest. He was your noon, your midnight, your talk, your song; You thought that love would last forever, you were wrong.

The stars are not wanted now; put out every one. Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun. Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood; Our Anthony is gone and it is hard to feel any good.

Poem words from “Funeral Blues”, by W. H. Auden

The needs of the many….

My favorite Star Trek movie is Star Trek II – The Wrath of Khan. I am by no means a Star Trek or Star Wars fan. But while I was still in high school, this movie was playing on HBO one night at a friend of mines house who was lucky enough to have cable. We did not have cable, but that is another story.

The plot finds the crew of the starship USS Enterprise facing off against the genetically engineered tyrant Khan Noonien Singh (played by Ricardo Montalbán), a character who first appeared in the 1967 Star Trek television episode “Space Seed”. When Khan escapes from a 15-year exile to exact revenge on Kirk, the crew of the Enterprise must stop him from acquiring a powerful terraforming device named Genesis.

The Wrath of Khan film is the beginning of a three-film story arc that continues with the film Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984) and concludes with the film Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986). OK, I am rambling on about not being a “Trekie”, but just had to give a little back story of why I liked Wrath of Khan so much. It wasn’t the actors or the action of the movie, but rather a line in the movie that gives  me pause after all these years.

Captain Kirk has been promoted to Admiral Kirk. He receives word that the Enterprises has received a garbled communication for help and Star Fleet Command is requesting they look into a distress symbol. Spock is now the Captain. However, Jim desperately wants his command of the Enterprise back but is also very careful not to disrespect or undermine Spock in any way.

Yet Spock wants Jim to realize that what he is doing, however well-intentioned, is pointless because he is wasting his talents not commanding and tells him in an equally kind and gentle way that he should give in to his instincts regarding taking back leadership of the Enterprise.  Spock then proceeds to tell Jim that, “If in any case, were I to invoke logic, logic clearly dictates that the needs of the many, outweigh the needs of the few.” In which Jim chides back, “Or the one.”

Fast forward to 2021. How are the needs of the many outweighing the needs of the few, or the one? We just marked the one-year anniversary of Covid 19 coming to the US shores. In the beginning, ads of “We’re All in This Together” blanketed the air waves. We were in shock to hear of stars Tom Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson testing positive. Then came Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz positive test. Basketball was cancelled. Events like South by Southwest postponed.  

The CDC advised the Trump Administration in order to stop the spread, a nationwide shut down for 15 days would be best. It was then extended to 30 days.  Schools, restaurants, churches, gyms, and businesses one by one shut down. This was not only to just protect the needs of the many, but to keep the many alive.  

What we have seen from the beginning of Covid 19, is that this crisis has been anything but equitable. If you were famous or rich enough, you got tested. Despite a president telling us whoever wanted a test could get a test, it was not just extremely difficult but was downright impossible for me to get my daughter tested in the early days of Covid.

As spring turned to summer, mask wearing became a political statement, mainly driven by people who deemed the virus a hoax. Case numbers skyrocketed after each holiday. First, Memorial Day, followed by July 4th, then Labor Day saw Covid case numbers climb into hundreds of thousands testing positive daily. By Halloween and then Thanksgiving and into Christmas, the deaths also became mind-blowing. Over 3,000 people a day were dying. Why were so many needs of the many being overlooked by the needs of the few, or the one?

December finally gave hope. Vaccines became available. Moderna and Pfizer were first to get shots into arms. Again, that has turned into another haphazard display of inequality. Word of people going to other states to get ahead of the line to get a shot. People from Canada and Argentina were flying to Florida to take advantage of the state’s loose rules of who could get the Covid vaccine.

As this one-year anniversary turns into a second year of Covid 19, I cannot escape my own needs. I was one of millions of Americans who lost a job last year. Sales were down at my former company, and customers were having difficulty paying support contracts. Myself and five other of my team mates numbers were up. We were line items on a spreadsheet.  The needs of many shareholders outweighed the needs of employees, the few.

And now, after a year of being at home, our children are displaying stress with online school as opposed to being taught in person. According to a new study, in recent months alarming spikes in depression and anxiety among children and their parents has taken hold. Multiple studies have found that students — especially those with disabilities and from low-income families — are learning less than they should. As a parent with two remote learners, I have tried to protect my few, but wonder if I am causing them many harms?

Finally, February marked the seventeenth birthday of Facebook. I am not a fan of social media. I tried it in 2009 and lasted only 6 months and deleted my Twitter and Facebook accounts. In 2018 I decided to write a young adult novel. My husband recommended to me The Mountain of Authors conference. The keynote speaker stated we are not going to reach our readers, especially young adults, without a social media presence.

I launched my book in April 2020 and rejoined Facebook and Twitter. I also opened an Instagram account. I spent all summer posting pictures of family moments, joining writers groups, and catching up with family and friends. It was fine for me at first. Covid was keeping me from family and friends. But by the time the holidays approached, I noticed the longer I was on Facebook the more depressed I got.

Since the birth of my second child, I have had numerous bouts with depression. For people who are already prone to depression, even mild depression, spending time on social media can have serious consequences. I wished family and friends Happy New Year and then deleted Facebook, Twitter and Instagram from my devices. I did not close my accounts, just took them off my phone and iPad. Since January 7, I have looked at Twitter on my laptop a handful of times and have not posted or even looked at Facebook or Instagram in over a month.

I am not trying to bash social media. But one thing I think can be harmful is false sense of friends and followers that makes one feel good or bad about themselves. If I have ten friends, I need to get ten more. I have one thousand followers, I need ten thousand more. This feeds a constant loop of “engagement” which is built into social media applications. If nobody likes your post, not even bothering to push a like button, let alone leave a comment, is it no wonder that it can lead to depression or anger? The needs of the many, the advertisers, are also competing for your engagement, which crowds out the posts that you might have otherwise seen from the few, your family and friends. I have spent the first few weeks of 2021 reinventing myself to compete in the ultra-competitive field of Amazon Web Services (AWS). I hope by this summer to be back to work in a technology field.  I have a distractive personality, so setting a goal and sticking to it usually works to get me unstuck. I want to use the few hours in the day to pursue my many passions, reading, writing, blogging, and cooking. And maybe I can get really good at the one passion – writing.

Even Though…

Even though you were born on Christmas, you left us a few weeks before. You were a wife of 55 years, a mother for 52, a grandmother and even a great-grandmother. But 2020 said you were now due.

Even though you were my mom’s best friend, a business owner, a former substitute teacher, you are now singing in Heaven with Dave and your brothers Fermín and Pepé.

Even though heart disease has taken several of your family members, you were healthy. No high blood pressure, no diabetes, no high cholesterol.

Even though you spoke to Corky just a few days before, and reminisced about how you met, the trips you took together, the time you traveled to Las Vegas and crossed the desert at 30 miles per hour, unfortunately, days later a shocking phone call came, Domingo said you were gone. You were walking your dog, possibly a distracted driver? An investigation will be performed.

Even though it is Christmas, which was your birthday, it feels so hollow. So empty. But you are not forgotten. Corky put out the Nativity set you gave her years ago. An Our Lady of Guadalupe candle is burning in the Olemeda’s living room to light your journey home.

Even though you did not suffer long, you have slipped the bonds of this earth. You are dancing with angles. You are no longer here with us. But we will always have you in our thoughts and in our hearts. Good Bye, Emma.

The Substitutes

In the early days of the pandemic of 2020, we started experimenting with curbside grocery delivery. The first attempt was Walmart. I wanted to replenish some vitamins and eye drops. Within twenty minutes I was sent an email that my order was canceled. Why? I looked at the app on my phone. I had the button “No Substitutions” marked. A quick slide of the button to “Allow Substitutions” got my order back on track.

Over the spring, summer and now into the fall, we have got into the hang of ordering our Walgreens items through an app called Postmates. We have become seasoned “pros” on curbside pick-up through our local King Soopers. We have used Safeway and Walmart curbside as well.

We have become used to the substitutions that grocery workers use to fulfill our grocery orders. For example, one order I requested bananas and got avocados instead. My daughter used the avocados to make a great guacamole. We once asked for raspberries and were surprised to get strawberries. We don’t usually buy strawberries as our son is allergic. My daughter and I used those in our cereal and smoothies, careful not to expose our son. Recently, I wanted to make chicken wings as a nice treat for dinner and when we were putting away the groceries, noticed we got Italian meatballs instead. So, we had to change plans and make spaghetti and meatballs for dinner.

Yes, this may sound trivial. Why do I just not go to the store myself and get what I am looking for? Well, I am high risk according to the CDC. I had a cornea transplant in my left eye when I was 20 years old. The CDC considers people who have had transplants in the high-risk category for contracting Covid 19. Also, my husband has severe allergies. He usually suffers from one or two sinus infections per year due to his allergies.  We try to keep our home environment as hypoallergenic as possible.

This year has been a year of substitutions. As we get ready to celebrate Thanksgiving, we will do as the CDC guidelines suggest, and only have dinner for our immediate household.  My 84-year-old mom will only have dinner with my sister. Friends I have reached out to are doing the same as well, keeping their footprint smaller than usual.

It is not ideal but let us hope that the sacrifices we make today, will protect ourselves and our vulnerable friends, family, and neighbors. Hopefully, by this time next year we can gather more, have more in-person gatherings, instead of substitution Zoom and FaceTime meetings.

Informed

Photo by bongkarn thanyakij on Pexels.com

Recently I took our 16-year-old Alena to Colorado Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to get her driver’s license. She passed her driver’s test at a local driving school here in Monument back on September 1. However, we had to make the in-person visit several weeks out due to Covid 19 restrictions. The big day finally came and me with my organized self, had a big folder in hand. Filled with her Social Security Card, her Birth Certificate, and 150 hours of driving logs (she was only required to do 50 hours), we stepped up to the window. Immediately we were foiled, as I was not the parent who took her to get her permit, we had to wait 45 minutes for my husband to come down to sign for her license. Needless to say, I was livid, but that is another ball of wax. As we waited, Alena said, “Mom, I thought it was over exaggerated in movies and cartoons how bad the DMV is. They aren’t kidding, it really is bad.”

As we waited for my husband Cedrick, we noticed a stream of individuals getting their license. One gentleman in particular was a Hispanic Millennial. He informed the DMV clerk that he recently left the Army and moved back here to Colorado. He was polite when he was asked questions, “Yes, Ma’am. No Ma’am. Where do I sign Ma’am?”

Eventually, he was asked the question, “Would you like to register to vote?” He paused and replied to the clerk. “I had this conversation with my father this morning. I feel I am not informed enough to vote. So no, I am not going to register to vote.”

The irony of his statement was not lost on me. He had a smart phone in his back pocket. Basically, a minicomputer at his fingertips. He can look up song lyrics, sports scores, who was the first man on the moon, all on that phone. With that phone, he has a plethora of information squarely in his hand. But voting information, is something he cannot look up?

Two more individuals came to the clerk’s window while we were waiting for Cedrick. This time two black men. Both men were under the age of 30, both declined to register to vote. My heart sank. Why did these young men all decline to register to vote? Do they not see the turmoil this country is in? We lose almost one thousand people per day to Covid 19. We have some of the most violent racial protests in fifty years. We have a climate that is trying hard daily to get our attention. Is there not one thing that these three men felt compelling enough to get them to vote?

I have had a few days to think of that visit to the DMV. Maybe we do not have enough information, but what if we have too much? In November 2016, I and my spouse got our first iPhones. One of the first things I did was turn off news notifications. I did not need to be reminded of the tumultuous election we just lived through. I took a six-month news break after the election. I took Hillary Clinton’s loss like loosing a friend, a loved one. I got my news from my husband or family members and the comedian Bill Maher. I started watching the news again when President Trump fired James Comey in May 2017.

We have all experienced burn out in media at some point in time. Each generation has their favorite way to consume media. For my generation, GenX, and Boomers, our preference is television, radio, on-line sites, magazines, and newspapers (yes, we still read newspapers). Millennial and GenZ’s are more prone to get news from social media. You may have read articles that say the longer people are on social media, the more their anxiety levels increase. I am not writing this to say social media is bad nor is it good. It just is what it is. I use it sparingly, like spice on a rack. I do not want it to overpower the recipe that is my life. I like to stay in touch with family and friends but look at more at reputable websites for my news.

If we did not have Covid 19 restrictions in Colorado right now, I would have gone up to those men. I would have told them that had until October 26 to register online; and they have right up to election day, Nov 3 to register in-person.

Information is power, and with information, you can control your own destiny, career, and money. Information gives you the power of decision making because of the knowledge you gain that will help in the decisions you can make.

Managing Change

As I approach my third month of unemployment, I looked down at my calendar for the week. I have kept myself busy with training classes offered by various Work Force Centers around Colorado. As part of me receiving unemployment, I have to look for at least five jobs per week. However, since Covid 19 has decimated the job market, Colorado Unemployment counts training as job searching.

In the beginning of August, I took the necessary classes: How to Write a Resume, How to Interview, How to Write a Cover Letter. I have not had to look for a job in over twenty years, so I brushed up on the new ways to tackle my resume, writing cover letters, setting up a LinkedIn account. I have now spent most of September brushing up on different areas such as How to Manage Change, Setting Goals, Working Within Your Budget and Self Care.

In the Manage Change class, the instructor told my Zoom Class, “What you are experiencing with your job loss is just that, it’s loss. You are going through the five stages of grief. You are experiencing denial, anger, bargaining, depression and eventually you will reach acceptance.” It took all of me to keep from crying in that meeting, but as I type these words, tears are rolling down my face.

The day I was laid off, July 1 was weird. My then boss read a script to me over the phone. He had to read that script five more times to other team members, some more senior then myself. On that day, six of us were let go due to lack of sales and support contracts being down over seventy percent. I told my family, “It makes sense, if companies can’t pay rent, they sure as hell can’t pay a support contract.” The next day, July 2, was my 23rd Anniversary. My spouse and I took the kids to my mom’s and ordered curbside Mexican food. That weekend was July 4th, so I had a good time with my family at my mom’s for a bar-b-que.

The next week, I went into clean-up mode. I was given a two-week notice. Even though I no longer had to help customers, I was paid until July 15. I used that time to clean out twelve years of email and back up my corporate issued laptop. I was still in denial mode that I was unemployed. Even packing up my laptop and Fedxing it back to my employer, it still was not “real” that I was unemployed at 54 years old. The anger hit when I was taking my daughter to a cross county practice. It was the end of July and I heard the U.S. weekly jobless claims number on the radio. For twenty weeks in a row, that number was still at 1 million jobless claims. I was now part of that statistic.

It is now the middle of September. I have had one “interview” with a consulting firm’s headhunter. What seemed like a good idea to “friend” her on LinkedIn turned into an hour-long call of her telling me about herself, why she left real estate to become a recruiter, etc. Long story short, I was not what their client was looking for and the headhunter used me for free therapy time. I am now accepting that my job search is going to take a while.

This year, 2020, started out with so much promise for a lot of us, has turned into a constant gut punch of wrenching heartaches, sorrows, blockages, betrayals and frustrations leaving us fearful, depressed and traumatized. I learned in my twenties that sometimes we are the change agents in our lives. We choose to quit a horrible job, we choose to leave a bad relationship, we choose to move to a new city. Other times change is thrust upon us, such as getting laid off, loosing a spouse, or having a baby. What I am learning now is that change sometimes appears like a roadblock. And it is going to take a different way of thinking and acting for me to get around it.

Timelines…

My maternal grandfather, Jose Romero was born in 1899 and his wife, my grandmother, Juana (Romo) was born in 1905. Both were from Northern New Mexico. My paternal grandmother, Trinidad Olemeda, was born in 1888, also in Northern New Mexico. Her husband, Domingo Olemeda, my grandfather was born in 1893 in Leon Guanajuato, Mexico. Their timelines, are my family’s timelines as we embrace a new decade with new challenges of racial injustice, a burgeoning pandemic, and a difficult economy.

By the time my grandmother Juana was thirteen, she lost her mother and two siblings to the Spanish flu in 1918. She became a pseudo-mother to her remaining siblings. As my other grandparents approached their teens and early twenties our country was embroiled in World War I in Europe. They were in their twenties and thirties as the country faced the Great Depression. As the depression eased, our country became involved in yet another war, World War II in 1941. Through the early years of the twentieth century, my grandparents grew up and grew their families. My parents, my aunts, and uncles were born all while the world was engulfed in constant change and turmoil.

As the decades turned into the mid-century, my ancestors became grandparents. My dad’s father, Domingo, lost a battle with cancer and was only able to know one of his son’s children, my sister Theresa. My dad’s mother, Trinidad, was able to be a grandparent longer than her husband, but not much longer, as she died six years after he did. Only two of my sisters were able to meet our father’s mother. My mother’s parents lived long enough to be grandparents and even great-grandparents.

My parents married in 1954. My dad, David Olemeda, served our country in the Navy during the Korean war. He and my mother also grew their family in turbulent times. My sisters, Theresa and Roxanne were born in the late 1950’s. However, it was myself and the rest of my siblings that were born in the 1960’s. In that decade, about every eighteen months, the country lost great leaders, including John F. Kennedy in ’63, Medgar Evers and Malcolm X in ’65 and Martin Luther King and Robert F. Kennedy in ’68. The 1960’s ended with “The Summer of Love” in Woodstock, New York in 1969 but also that was a summer of hate with the Manson Murders that unfolded in California. As the country was at war in Vietnam, we also put a man on the moon. I vaguely remember my mom waking my sleepy three-year-old self up to see Neil Armstrong take his first steps on the moon.

As the country was dealing with violence in the streets, and a long running war, my husband and I came into the world anyways, despite the turbulent times of the decade we were born into. How much more different are the timelines of the past to what is unfolding today? I had someone once tell me when I was pregnant with my daughter sixteen years ago, “I would not have child now days. How can you bring a child into the world with global warming, wars, and hate?” I told that co-worker the same thing I would tell anyone who wants to bring child into the world today, “Did not my parents, your parents, your grandparents, my grandparents, deal with troubling times? They dealt with the hand they were dealt, just like myself and my spouse will deal with our troubling times.”

I have been telling my children they will not forget these times. They are sixteen and thirteen. They are going to remember until the end of their days, this pandemic, the racial injustice, and the political climate of these times. But I delight when I hear them laughing in the living room watching the Cartoon Network. I rejoice that we love playing Uno Flip. We try to make as many of our outings as normal as possible, even as we wear masks, and super sanitize our hands when we return from the outside world. As we grumble how hard these times are that we are living through, we need to remember what our parents and grandparents endured. Depending on the decade your parents and grandparents and even yourself were born into, determines how your view of the world is shaped and molded.

Just like iron is forged in fire and shaped into steel to make buildings, knives, and cars, we are being forged and shaped daily into our better selves. Decades from now, we will be written about in the annals of history. Our challenge now is to make sure our stories we leave behind will make our children and grandchildren proud.

AND…

Twenty-three years ago, I became the wife to Cedrick Algernal Shatten. July 2, 1997 I woke up “jittery”. I guess the term is “cold feet”, the term used to describe nervousness before a big event, such as one’s wedding day. Why was I worried on my wedding day? Well, as I look back on it now, I was nervous because of everyone I dated before Cedrick. (Cedrick and I joke, B.C. is before Cedrick for me, and B.K. is before Kim for him.)

Every relationship before Cedrick was BUT. “I love you Kim, but I met someone else.” “I love you Kim, but I don’t see forever for us.” “I love you Kim, but I will always love drugs and alcohol more than I will ever love you.”

With Cedrick it was not like that, even from the beginning when we were newly in love. It was, “I love you Kim, AND I want to marry you.” “I love you Kim, AND I want to build a life with you.” “I love you Kim AND I want to have a family with you.” Now, after twenty-three years together, its, “I love you Kim, AND I want to grow old with you.”

God gave me far more than I asked for and even far more than I deserved in this life, love, marriage and family that Cedrick and I have built. I love you, Cedrick AND I always will.