Hi, Lyddi. It’s been two months.

Two months.
It has been two months.  It’s hard to believe, because I still feel like time stopped that night.  But here we are.  Monday is your birthday. I’m not sure what we’re going to do with your car, and I’m sad I can’t take you to get your license this week.  We also have that extra Phish ticket, because we were going to go both nights. I’m going to leave your seat open so that any of my friends at the show can come and sit with Chris and I for a bit and visit.

I’m going to get your initials tattooed on my wrist on your birthday.  We were going to get matching tattoos for your 16th birthday, remember? I was going to get “Jai Guru Deva Ohm” in Hindi on my wrist, and you were going to get “Nothing’s Gonna Change My World.”  Last year you got your nose pierced with your bestie Tia, and then you looked even more like my little Mini Mimi. Isabelle got hers nose pierced too!

I visited your tree today.  It’s really thriving! My Daddy, your Poppy goes out every day to check on it and say hello to you.  You would be so happy to know that he got the CLEAR from his cancer doctor! He’s doing great! We all miss you terribly, but we enjoy sharing your memories and talking about you.  On this day last year we went with Poppy to the St Louis Symphony Orchestra Pink Floyd show, and Nate came with us. They called for volunteers to go on stage to sing, and you were by far the youngest person up there, and you blew the entire audience away with your singing!  You even knew the lyrics better than those old farts! Haha!

Speaking of being the youngest person in the room, I canceled your annual exam with your glaucoma doctor. Even though you had glaucoma at such a very young age, your eyes were donated and someone now has the gift of sight! Aunt Zoe and I were wondering if somebody out there has your special “eyeball freckle!” I had your prescription sunglasses turned into regular sunglasses so I can wear them. I also wear your clothes, and I’m glad we were the same size! You were still growing, and I wonder, would you have been as tall as me? Keegan is going to pass me up one of these days! You would be proud of how strong he has been through all of this, but the truth is, he misses you terribly. We all do. I wish you knew how much your loss would hurt us all.

Everything reminds me of you. I go into your room every day. It still smells like you. I will say it smells a lot better without dirty dishes rotting in your dresser drawers, silly kid! Some days I can’t get out of bed, but I do my best to stay busy. You’re always on my mind. I love you so much. I just miss you.

I’m writing to you from the cabin. Chris and I are here this weekend, and tonight we’re going to Amanda’s wedding. I’m excited to see all of my friends and celebrate Amanda and Alan’s love. Sometimes I feel like such a party pooper. I have this feeling that everyone immediately gets sad when they see me. So I bury all of my sadness deep inside, and I put on a big smile, and I put on a brave face. Everyone tells me “You’re doing so well, all things considered!” but they can’t see the part that I hide. The raw sadness that people just want to turn their eyes from. I wonder if that’s even a glimmer of the deep sadness that you had. I understand now. You were always so happy, so outgoing and joyful, but inside you were hiding a Big Sad. Your spirit is free, and I’m carrying the burden for you now. I would have carried it all along if I could have. I’m sorry that only now I understand your darkness. Until we meet again, babygirl…

It’s been awhile

I haven’t written in a while, and that’s okay. I’ve been struggling lately, and that’s okay too. Mother’s Day was rough. I went to her tree to visit her and spent the entire weekend crying while my husband held me. So if I don’t write for a few days, I never want this blog to feel like something I’m required to keep up with. I’m writing for therapeutic reasons, and if I have to force myself to do it, that just won’t work. However, this evening, after spending 8 hours putting together IKEA furniture and Marie Kondo-ing my youngest sons’ room, everyone in the house is in bed, and I felt the urge to write again, so here I am.

I try not to think about it. All day long I keep myself busy, just so I don’t think about it.

I go to Zumba class twice a week. The first day back was just one week after she died, and it was absolutely brutal. I stood in the back of the room, spaced out like a Xanax zombie, half-assed moving my arms and legs, but not really there mentally at all. The class was an hour long and it felt like an eternity. Every time one song would finally finish, another one would start and I wanted to run away. I couldn’t believe I was even there. It had taken every ounce of willpower to get out of bed that morning, but I had to take the kids to school that morning, and Gold’s Gym is on the way home, so I had no excuse. I made it through to the end of class, went home, took an hour long bath and slept the rest of the day until I had to pick kids up from school. It was exhausting.

I would love to stay in bed and wallow and mope (which I do my fair share of)… however, I’m a MOM. All the time, every day, every moment, with no sick leave or paid vacation. I mean, I do love to travel and I spend time apart from the kids, but no matter where in the world I am, I guarantee you they will text me to ask where stuff is, if I took care of the thing, if I ordered whatever they need. No matter where I am, I am always a mom, whether they are with me or not. I love it and wouldn’t have it any other way!

So anyway, since I already had to get out of the house, I forced myself to go to Zumba. I have a dear friend who offered to along with me, so I knew I wouldn’t be alone. Ever since that first very raw day back, it has been easier each time. This week was totally different. Last week, the instructor had changed things up and went to a throwback old set of routines that I’m not as familiar with, and it was right when I was starting to really get it! That was last week. This Tuesday we were back to the usual and I CRUSHED IT…. I gave it my all, sweated my ass off, the class flew by. After class I decided to step outside of my comfort zone and I spoke to the class after we finished and the music was off.

I said, “Hi everyone, I’m Emmy, and I’ve been coming here for a few months but I haven’t really had a chance to meet many of you. Um, my daughter is Alydia Johnson, and last month she took her own life. She was 15 years old, a sophomore here at KHS. Last night KMOV channel 4 aired a story about her on the news, and they spoke about the mental health crisis we’re facing with our youth. I would love it if you got a chance to see it, it’s on their website. I also want to say that I have absolutely loved coming here. It has forced me to get out of the house and keep moving, so thank you all so much for being here with me. I would love to get to know you all better, because I don’t have a lot of local daytime friends while the kids are at school and my husband is at work. Some days I can barely function and I spontaneously cry for no apparent reason, but now you know why. So, uhh, yeah…” (Why am I so awkward?)

I was met with sweaty hugs, and tears were shed from women I had really just met and opened my soul up to. We continued to talk for a while, and made plans to get together outside of class for happy hour, and I get to be added to their email chain – yay! When I got home from the gym, one girl messaged me and said that I have found a great and supportive group of women. She said that someone’s husband had died, someone was battling cancer, etc. We are all fighting our own battles on our own time. I feel so blessed to have found someplace I can go and let it all out twice a week.

After I left Zumba, I took a shower and decided I was feeling pretty good, and set off for IKEA. This is never a small task. I knew I was on a mission for furniture, so when that happens, I always take two trips through the store. First I go through and buy all of the little stuff, check out, put that crap in my car, and then go back in without a cart to tour the furniture display floor. I was a woman on a mission. I came home a few hours later with two new beds for the younger boys and one main job: get rid of their bunk bed.

My son and three stepsons share two rooms, two boys per room. Previously they were all in bunk beds, but as the teenagers grew older and got bigger (They’re 16 and 13 now) we needed to get them into separate beds. Last year, we moved Alydia’s bed into their room, and she got the bunk bed. We bought an additional twin bed for the boys, and everyone was happy. Alydia loved the bunk bed. When her friends stayed over, they had a place to crash. When the cleaning lady would come, she would throw all her stuff on top instead of actually cleaning her room! She strung Christmas lights around it, and hung blankets to make the bottom bunk into a bunker. I never imagined that stupid bunk bed would haunt my nightmares for the rest of my life.

It was that bed that she hung herself from, from the top rail, with a guitar strap. To see it replay over and over in my head is absolute torture, but I can’t escape it. I knocked on her door and she didn’t reply but there was music playing so I figured she didn’t hear or had fallen asleep. I entered the room to say goodnight, as Radiohead’s “High and Dry” played from her radio. As my eyes adjusted to the darkness and Christmas lights, I realized what I was looking at. I cannot even begin to type out the words to describe the events that unfolded, because it was just horror. Maybe someday I can, but I don’t think it’s necessary. It’s too soon. I’m still suffering from dozens of flashbacks every day, and I can’t bear to put that image into other peoples’ minds.

So yeah, I spend most of my days trying not to think about it. Whether it’s at Zumba, IKEA, putting together the godforsaken Swedish furniture that takes 4 hours and 3 beers to complete. At least it kept my mind busy for today. The room looks great. The bunk bed is leaving and I never want one in my home again. I had Alydia’s bed destroyed the day after we got home from the hospital. I still haven’t figured out what a normal day is for me yet, but one day at a time, I’m making it through. I sure do miss my sweet Alydia Jeannine though.

You can find the link to the KMOV news interview here: https://www.kmov.com/news/i-ll-never-be-the-same-parents-left-grieving-as/article_1d054692-75cc-11e9-96ee-6fe1a9aadc35.html

One Month Later

One Month of Mondays. One Month of tears. One Month has passed since I went into my daughter’s room to tell her Goodnight, but never Goodbye.

I wear her shirts to be closer to her. I daydream about her. I imagine her in all her forms. The tiny, 5.5 lb bald infant, as a gap-toothed toddler, a silly and gangly 8-year old, teenager all dressed up for a school dance, at night dressed down for bed with her glasses and mouthguard. I still expect to see her come running down the stairs in the morning. I still want to reach for my phone to text her. I forget to make a turn when I’m driving, because I’m thinking about that street sign that says “Longview” and how she always used to burst out singing Green Day when we would drive past.

I want to say something positive and uplifting today, but I just can’t. Everyone says I’m strong, but that’s just the brave face I put on. I feel as though I’m crumbling inside. I took my scooter to Zumba at the gym with a friend today and it took every ounce of willpower, even though after I went, I was glad I did. I keep moving, and try to stay distracted. But as I’m going through the motions, I’m always thinking about her.

I don’t have anything profound or uplifting to say today. I just miss her. There will be better days ahead (and I promise there will be better blog posts too – today just isn’t that day)

My thinker hurts.

My iPhone notepad has always been full of weird random wisdom nuggets, ideas that I have, song mashups that I think of to put together, guitar tabs I want to learn, etc. Example: “Wouldn’t it be great if there were a riverboat restaurant (like the old riverboat McDs that St Louis used to have) that actually traveled along the Mississippi River and spent a couple of months ported at each big city along the river, going south to NOLA in winter and then as far north as navigable in summer” …These are my late night, long drive, and bathtub thoughts that I would otherwise immediately forget, but I instead I put them in my phone and laugh at myself later.

Yesterday, I found a note from 3/19/19. I had been talking to my friend Missy about what a strange tradition that people send flowers when someone dies, since flowers also die a few days later… like “Sorry for your loss, here’s something else you’re going to lose.” I had made that note weeks before I lost Alydia and then I received SO many flowers. They were beautiful, I appreciated them all, and my house smelled heavenly. That is, until I left for the cabin last weekend and closed my house up for a few days, and all of the water in the vases turned stagnant. Oops, lesson learned. I set out four City of Kirkwood yard waste bags this week and three of them were full of dead cut flowers! But alas, isn’t it strange how the mind can think of something, and then it turns around and becomes true.

My attention span is short these days. My memory sucks. But I have moments of clarity and understanding, and I try to capture those before they fly away again. Maybe my wisdom nuggets should actually be called clarity butterflies? My thoughts are all so jumbled, even when I write them down. Song lyrics overlap with grocery lists. Alydia’s journals were the exact same way. She would open to a random blank page on any notebook she had laying around, and start a journal entry, writing her thoughts and feelings on the pages between her extensive and detailed notes. I am glad she usually put the date on the page. I have been trying to put it all in order, which is especially difficult because I struggle to organize my own life, let alone try to make order of hers. She was exactly like me, so how can I keep up with both of us?! I want to put her life in chronological order.

All that remains of a brilliant mind…

At least it’s a project to distract me from the pain. Everyone always wants to compare the physical pain scale to giving birth. I gave birth twice and didn’t have an epidural for either one. Yeah, that hurts. Kidney stones or childbirth. It’s not a pissing contest…. (or is it???) They both hurt like hell. Grief hurts in all of its forms no matter who dies. A spouse. A parent. A dog. But to lose a child that you birthed, raised, and vowed a lifetime to protect… that’s like the kidney stone that never quite passes. I would go through the pain of giving birth again every day for the rest of my life if it could bring her back. Grief is the kind of pain that hits you from inside. It hurts my mind, robs my sleep, and makes me question everything I believe. I feel like I have a bruised soul. A sprained brain. It doesn’t hurt the way physical pain does, but hurts nonetheless.

Life is often a battle between the head and the heart. Conscience vs Compassion. I feel like Alydia was fighting that battle, caught between her head and her heart. My heart is broken, and my mind torments me. Even if I can start to put it in order and try to make sense out of it, it doesn’t diminish the heartache. And that’s what’s on my mind (and in my notepad) today.

if it weren’t for my pill sorter, I wouldn’t know what day it is

Sometimes when you’re so committed to a lie, it’s hard to see the truth. 

I went to church on Easter with my family. It was our first time back since “That” Monday happened. We were greeted with warm hugs. We sat in the back row because my husband Chris is a doctor, and he was on call. We made it through about 75% of the service before he got called in for an emergency case, when we quickly whisked the four boys out the back doors of the church and made our quick getaway. (Typically I would drive separately, but since it was Easter, parking was already difficult.) Anyway, we were there for MOST of it. It was very difficult, because what is Easter about? DEATH. And resurrection.

My daughter died. She was resurrected. Her brain never recovered, but her heart was strong, her liver was healthy, and her kidneys intact. Her eyes, though plagued by glaucoma in life, were perfectly viable donations. I feel like even though she had died when I found her on April 8, she was resurrected, pronounced brain dead on April 10, and now continues to live on in others. So anyway, the death talk at church was really tough to listen to. I cried all the way through the singing and music part. I rushed out and hid in the bathroom during the “Turn and greet the people around you!” part. Then we left early, so I missed the happy ending part of the sermon. But I’m not here to preach. I SWEAR I am going somewhere with this.

At one point during his sermon, the pastor said one line that really stood out to me. He said, “Sometimes when you’re so committed to a lie, it’s hard to see the truth.” I immediately took out my phone and typed it into my notepad, knowing that my memory is rubbish. That is so true. We see this played out every day in politics, in the justice system, in relationships, and in our own minds. Everything I see or hear reminds me of Alydia, and I thought about the ways that sentence applied to her. Was she committed to those lies she wrote about in her journals? Did she really believe that she was worthless? Did she really believe she was unloved, or unlovable? Was she so committed to the lie that she couldn’t see how amazing she truly was? It was a little wisdom nugget that I tucked away in my notepad.

Chris and I have a hot tub, and it’s where we do all of our best talking. There is no TV, mostly no phones, no distractions. It’s just the two of us together, talking and listening to each other. It’s under a covered porch so we go out rain or shine. We call it our therapist. My advice for a happy marriage is to get a hot tub. It’s cheaper than therapy, and communication is so vital. So anyway, we were in the hot tub and I brought up that line that stood out to me, and how I applied it to the lies we tell ourselves. If we lie to someone else, our facts can be verified by the other party. But if you are lying to yourself, and keep the lies within your private journal and your own thoughts, who is going to tell you the truth? Alydia was so committed to the lies she told herself, that she couldn’t see the truth.

Last night, as I was listening to the thunder, getting lost in my thoughts and drifting off to sleep, Chris was holding me and he said, “Don’t you dare believe any lies that you may be telling yourself. You ARE a good mother. You’re a good wife. You’re a good person. I need you here.” I assured him that I’m not going to be with Alydia anytime soon, at least not by my own doing. Now as I sit here with my morning coffee finishing this up, I realize it is May 1. That awful month is over, and the world keeps moving on without her.

This picture is completely irrelevant to this story, I just really like it. It has been my laptop background since I got it 2 years ago. Alydia and I holding a stingray, somewhere on a cruise Sept 2016.

Rainy days and Mondays always get me down…

Let me preface this by apologizing – it’s kind of a rough day today, but I have two posts for you today and I promise the one I wrote over the weekend is happier!

Three Mondays have passed since “That” Monday.   Three weeks of pain, and hollow emptiness. I still maintain a strong constitution and a wry sense of humor, but the smiles and laughter are always fleeting because my mind is constantly clouded by the images of her.

I see her randomly in all her different ways.  As a little girl with red ringlets, gapped baby teeth and froggy toddler voice. Sometimes I imagine her as she dashes off to school in Doc Martens, a band t-shirt, and flannel shirt.  Other times it’s Alydia in her pajamas, no makeup, wearing her glasses and the green night guard on her teeth, as she hugs me before bed and tells me about the latest crazy escapade from school.

The latter image is what I expected to encounter on “That” Monday.  I came home after I had finished driving her brother, Keegan, home. I put my keys and purse down and said hello to my husband, and told Keegan to shower and get ready for bed. I walked upstairs, knocked on Alydia’s door, and entered her room to say goodnight.  The room was exactly how it would always be on any other night. The room was dark, but surrounded by the colorful glow of Christmas lights and lava lamps. Radiohead was playing “High and Dry” on her stereo, which wasn’t surprising since she had bought the cd that day when she had gone out to dinner and then shopped at Vintage Vinyl with her dad.  

But my daughter didn’t say anything when I opened the door.  She wasn’t laying on the bottom bunk of her bed, working on her laptop, talking to friends and doing homework.  I came in to give her a hug, tell her I love her and say goodnight. Maybe I would tell her I got those pork buns for breakfast from the nearby international grocery store that she loves to grab and go in the morning. My eyes adjusted to the light, and when I saw her my first instinct was “This is a terrible joke to play!” but then quickly realized this was very real. I screamed for Chris in the most gutteral, primal scream I have ever mustered in my life.

The events that ensued after that are very painful to recall, and still difficult for me to even mentally process. I struggle with PTSD. Constant, horrible images torment me over and over, robbing my sleep and disrupting the otherwise cherishable moments as they pass.

New struggles arise for me daily, out of simple tasks.  I run into people in public who I know in real life but not on social media, and they don’t know what happened.  So when somebody asks me, “How have you been, how are the kids?” I feel as though I have to reintroduce myself. I immediately become socially awkward and say something completely stupid like “Hi, um, actually things are awful, Alydia is gone, and this is my life now.”

Having answers to why it happened doesn’t do anything to alleviate my pain.  I’ve read her journals. I have her cell phone. I know what happened that night. I understand. But just as to lose a child unexpectedly in a car accident, an overdose, a freak accident or from disease, it does not change the outcome or the ability to come to terms with it. I have read the notes she left behind. I know what was going on and why she did it. I just wish I could have helped her before it was too late, because there are so many better options. Alydia had a lot to live for, despite what she may have thought about herself.

She reminds me so much of me at her age.  That’s what really makes this hard. I get it. I know where she was. I’ve felt the agony of being 15, and having so much love for life but also the pain and heartache that the devil throws at us all. So now I will move forward with healing, and trying to help my family as we figure out how to keep moving forward when the clock stopped on Monday, April 8.

Each day that passes means that I successfully made it to another day, but the days are terribly long.  Each Monday that passes marks another week since I last told her goodnight.

There’s a song that my sisters and I used to sing at Girl Scout camp, and one of the lines of the song says “This is goodnight and not goodbye”.  We sang that song to Alydia at the hospital. I have the hope that someday I will see my Alydia again, so until then, I am still saying Goodnight to her, and not Goodbye.

Sorry for the sad post.  Mondays are just particularly hard for me, but I made it to another one, so that’s good.

Let’s go to Trago…

(It’s pronounced “TRAY-go”)

Trago is my happy place.

Trago Lake is a small lake in my hometown.  It’s actually only about 1/4 mile from my parent’s house in the peaceful middle of nowhere, southern Illinois. It’s a two hour drive from our home in St. Louis. The lake is located within a gated community.  I use the term “gated community” loosely. I mean, it’s a livestock gate on a gravel road, but a gate with a padlock nonetheless.  The community is a cluster of cabins surrounding the serene lake.  There’s a sandy beach and swimming area, a playground, and a whole bunch of cabins.  Some of the cabins are campers. Most of the cabins are owned by residents of the surrounding county. It’s rural, and rustic, and I absolutely love it there.

I found a cabin for sale early in Chris’ and my marriage and he reluctantly bought it for me.  He was unsure of the investment at first, because the place needed a lot of work.  At the time, the roof was about to fall in, and there was rain coming straight down the walls. It hadn’t been used in a long time and we weren’t sure what we were getting into. Chris was also concerned that the family wouldn’t enjoy it as much as I hoped we would. But it wasn’t terribly expensive, and he saw the potential the place had.  We bought it and immediately had the roof replaced (shout out to Jay Eskew), my BIL Scott Burmeister helped me remodel the inside, and Ryan Strong has been helping me landscape, including installing my giant cock.

Joe Cocker & Sisters

This is my beautiful, glorious, magnificent 7’ tall metal rooster.  His name is Joe Cocker. There is a metal shop on our drive from St Louis to Trago, and the kids always exclaimed as we drove past “There’s the big metal chicken!  We should get one!” After years of admiring him from afar, he came to roost with us this year as a “Happy Trago Cabin Anniversary” present to Chris, who was not quite as thrilled as I’d hoped he would be. However, the man feeds off of my happiness, so by default, Joe Cocker brings him joy.  By the first night of our new mascot, Chris had warmed up to him.

We have a bunk room that sleeps 6 kids in the back of the cabin, a cozy living room with a futon that Chris and I share, a simple bathroom, and an eat-in kitchen with a super cool expandable table I scored at IKEA that can seat all of us if we open it up.  Outside is a covered porch overlooking the lake and dock, a shelter with picnic tables, and a fire pit surrounded by swings. There is also a shed where we store our kayaks, fishing gear and other fun stuff.

Kayaks on the lake

For the past few summers we have been making the 100-mile drive back and forth to our beloved Trago cabin (aka Redneck Riviera).  The kids love it there.  We have hammocks, slingshots, nerf guns, and all the fun stuff that camping has to offer.  I love to camp, especially when it’s in a house with heat, A/C, and running water.

Chris filling the holding tank

Running water is the trickiest part of the experience.  We don’t have a water supply, so everyone with a place out there has to haul in their own water.  It isn’t too much of an inconvenience, just part of the experience of staying here.  We pull a transfer tank to the water treatment plant about two miles from here, fill it up, and then use a pump to move the water from the transport tank into our holding tank.  One load of water lasts us about two weekends here, depending on how many people are along with us.  A load of water costs $1 and takes about an hour to haul and pump.

Myself and “Norma”, our guitar

This weekend was a beautiful time to be here.  The leaves have started turning green, so it’s no longer dreary and depressing in the midwest. It was chilly, so we had to wear hoodies, but the rain stayed away and it was perfect campfire weather.  Yesterday was particularly rough for me.  I was really feeling the absence of Alydia. She loves it here. This is also her happy place. She always looked forward to coming here and bringing friends there to experience it with her.  My best friend Zehra and her daughter Reagan joined us here this weekend, as well as my niece Alexis, and Alydia should have been the third musketeer.  Those girls have grown up together since the day they were born and it’s hard to see them without Lyddi.

Everything reminds me of her.  I found artwork that she made while she was here – a drawing of “Mimi”, which is the nickname all the kids in my family call me. The guitar that she used to love playing on the dock. Seeing the baby cow running through a field nearby – she would have loved that! The geese fighting on the water. The owls hooting at night. The coyotes in the distance. The late night scary walks with Hermione to the gate. 

Mom & Lyddi at the cabin

Chris and I are getting ready to pack up the cabin and head back to the city today. It has been a wonderful weekend and I cannot wait to come back.  We’re filling the water tank and cleaning so it will be ready to welcome us the next time we come here.  But before I leave town, I need to make a stop at Elmwood Cemetery to visit my baby’s dogwood tree and tell her all about the weekend we had here.  I wonder if she’s in heaven playing music with Joe Cocker, maybe she told him about our chicken.

Here is a video from last summer, Alydia playing some Johnny Cash on the dock

Deb – just keep swimming

This was Floyd. He was a “good boi”

Alydia had a betta fish in her bedroom named George who lived a long and happy life. He was followed by Floyd, a pink betta who met his final demise a few months ago. After that, Lyddi had a vacant 1-gallon tank. Our family fish tank in the living room is 55 gallons and contains many fish. On April 5, Alydia and her friend Isabelle realized that one of the neon tetras in the family aquarium was dead, but not exactly dead, but not really alive either…. The fish was floating at the top of the tank, was limp and looked totally lifeless, but it would suddenly spring to life and swim around. When it was floating at the top, the other big fish would bully it relentlessly like it was a giant food flake.

Deb’s Quarantine Rehabilitation suite in the kitchen

Alydia and Isabelle felt bad for the little fishy. They brought her beta tank to the kitchen and set it up on the counter, relocated the injured neon tetra, and named her Deb. Deb has been living on my kitchen counter ever since. Deb is quite the performer. She usually just hangs out on the surface of the water like a limp noodle. If you tap the side or feed her, she dives down and starts doing funny backwards lopsided cartwheels. It’s awkward and beautiful. I wasn’t thrilled about becoming the primary guardian of Deb at Mimi’s Quarantine Rehabilitation Center for Incurably Crippled Fish, especially now that I have a kitten, Bean, who also enjoys making Deb do funny gymnastics. One day Bean will find the hole in the tank and it will all be over for Deb.

Hermione and I made a trip to PetSmart today, but she was very sad at the selection of bedazzled pink collars that are not available in her size. She’s a large girl, but she still wants to look fabulous too, just like any girl. She already struggles with a gender identity crisis because everyone assumes she’s a boy because she’s 105 lbs. We did find her a lovely pink Kong collar. However, it was evident that the little yappy purse dogs definitely get to wear all of the really cute collars. (It’s a rainy day in St Louis so she also had to wear her raincoat).

Anyway, I digress. I found the solution for Deb. A solitary confinement tank (that’s actually intended for breeding fish). I put Deb back in the big tank, and now the giant danios won’t be constantly booping her, and she’s out of the kitchen. And now, here she is, I present to you the incredible Deb in her lovely new penthouse suite. I want to add some plants and decorations to her new pad, but I probably can’t weight it down since it’s floaty.

Go, Debbie Drowner – just keep swimming!

Deb’s new penthouse apartment in solitary confinement

If I blog, I guess that means I am a bloggeress now?

“where is my mind; where is my mind; where is my mind; way out in the water; see it swimming…” –Pixies

My mind is constantly racing, but my motivation level is Zero. I feel like when Beatrix Kiddo wakes up in Kill Bill vol. 1 and says to herself “wiggle your big toe…”

I have to coach myself through the simplest things and my brain is mush. Example: today I hung a clock. I went upstairs to get my screw gun and realized I hadn’t made the bed. I did that and decided I want coffee. Go downstairs. Remember the clock and realize screw gun is still upstairs. Go back up, get screw gun, forget momentarily why I need it…. finally I hang the clock, but didn’t I have coffee? Walk around the house retracing my steps for a few minutes before pouring another cup, put it in the microwave, and realize that’s where the other cup was all along. By the way. Where the hell is my damn screw gun?

You can do this Kiddo. Wiggle your big toe.

In a way, I feel like time stopped on April 8. The calendar in her room says it’s April and I have wondered if I should change it next week when the rest of the world turns into May. In her room, and in my heart, it will forever be April 8. That was the last day I went into her room to say goodnight, but I had never planned to say goodbye. On that day, after 15 1/2 years of saying goodnight to my little girl, she succumbed to depression and tragically took her own life. In a way, she took my life with hers. I’m broken and hurting and mad and sad and at the same time I’m blessed, I’m loved, I’m safe, and I’m relatively reassured that I’ll see her again someday, if not sooner, because I swear she’s been playing tricks on me… but that’s another story.

You’ll find that I ramble. That’s why I needed this outlet. Social Media is great for random outbursts (which I am also prone to), but I feel like I need to tell HER story. Alydia is impossible to summarize in few words. She was an amazing girl with an amazing heart. Her physical heart still beats in the chest of another 15-year old girl who was the recipient of Alydia’s organ donation gift (as well as her liver and kidneys, who went to some other older dudes). I hope to do her story justice, so that she can continue to inspire and encourage others who may be hurting.

That’s all I can bring myself to write today, but I will also add her obituary, if you haven’t already read it. It was very difficult to concisely put Alydia into words, so I’ll use this blog to fill in the rest of the story about Lyddi.

Emmy (Alydia’s Mom)