Unsent Letters • 08.13.2015

My little girl, my oldest little girl, was diagnosed with cancer back in August 2015. A papillary carcinoma on her thyroid gland. It was found quite by mistake, and with God’s arm around her shoulders she survived.

This is the letter I meant to give her five months later when she turned 18.

I reckon it’s been lost all this time..


Autumn Michelle,

You know, when you were born I was still a little girl in so many ways. I didn’t work or drive or even live on my own. While I had been without my own mom off and on for a few years, I’d never really had to take care of myself..

Then you came along. Tiny and helpless and completely dependent on me to do things for you that I’d never even really thought to do for myself. It was time to grow up and I was so scared..

I was so afraid I would do the wrong thing..

I’ll never forget the first time I clipped your little fingernails. I caught the skin on one of your thumbs and you bled while I cried. It felt like such a tragedy.. Such a small mistake but it felt like the end of the world.

You were so incredible, I would sit and stare at you for hours on end and write poetry for you to read when you were older. I had so many hopes and dreams for your future and I just knew someday you’d grow up to be better than me..

And you are.

From your very first coos I knew you’d sing me a song. From your first wobbly steps I knew you’d go a whole lot farther than me, and you did. At barely two you could say all of the alphabet and actually carry a tune. You’d stand in a laundry basket and tell everyone to “shh, shh, ima show you something” .. I can still hear you breaking into Somewhere Over the Rainbow like it was yesterday – I wish I still had that video Nick made.. I can still smile knowing you turned out better than the test of us did.. 

You had the face of an angel and a smile that could chase away the shadow of my darkest days. Nothing has changed. I look at  you and all too often i still see that little girl; quiet and sweet and always so damn well behaved. Nana always says that you were born an old soul and she could see it in your eyes.

Your uncle Jason’s eyes…

When I look back over the years, both good and bad, I see so many things I’d go back and change. So many choices I would take back if I could… 

But I always always loved you and I did the best I could – even though sometimes it wasn’t enough. If I could live an extra life and all the time that comes with it, I still don’t think  I’d have to make up for the times I couldn’t be around when you were little.. The hundred moments that I’ve missed and I can’t ever get back. Your first day of kindergarten and losing your front teeth and starting gymnastics and probably a thousand other little things I didn’t even know I missed.. 

I’ll bet you remember then all.

It’s been ten years since I decided to start over. I moved here with your sister and a dream and not much else but I still made it. I hadn’t seen you in a year and you were angry with me for so many things i could never make up for.. but you still came. It was a visit that turned into a year and then a decade and I’ve loved it. 

You were and when your dad didn’t come back for you after that summer was over but we got through it. And when you had to start all over with no friends in a new school we still got through it. You got glasses and got your baby teeth and you grew out before you grew up and if course we got through it.. One day I realized we had gotten through it all. From grades and boys to birth control and cancer and then some.. 

I will be forever grateful for the chance to watch to grow up. You have always been so much more than I’d imagined you’d and you still amaze me every single day. Soon enough you’ll find. All grown up and on the run with a life of your own and I’m not ready…I

I already miss you. Is that terrible? The older you get the led you need me and I guess that his it’s all supposed to be. 

I did my job.. 

I raised a smart, independent woman with the ability to do anything she sets her mind to and I couldn’t be more proud..I

I love you, 



We Pray

In church, from our earliest days, we are taught to pray, and to pray about everything. For the little choices that become big decisions and the many many things that are beyond our control. For our family and friends and our
enemies, and that in prayer we are never alone. He is always listening, and even when His answer isn’t what we’d hoped to hear, it’s what we need.

These are lessons I still need to learn, or at least to be reminded of. Too often these days I find myself doing more worrying (or stressing) than praying, and I can’t help but wonder if maybe I’ve gone deaf to His answers.
Today has been one of those days where I could really use one. I’m sure
there’s a lesson here somewhere, but for the life of me I just can’t see it.

Today, for what was probably the first time ever in my years of being a parent, I was completely at a loss as to how I could help my child. It was one of the more heart shattering moments I can say I’ve been through…
Not because of myself or my own feelings or fear, but because I could see it in her. The fear, and the hope, and how totally unfair she thinks this all is….. and then finally the resignation.

The look that said, “So this is it. This is my life.”

I’m not sure I have the words to describe how very sad this makes me..
And so I was reminded. I need to pray. For the healing of her soul, because
her body will recover in its own time, and for her heart, because sometimes it can be hard to pick up all those broken pieces by yourself…

Not too long ago she told me that the greatest compliment anyone could ever give her was to say that she’s just like me. If only she knew that she is already so much more.

All my love..

Written August 2015. The morning after my daughter found out she had cancer…

Carry Me Home 

Yesterday sucked. I wish I had something clever or insightful to say, but I really don’t. I’m not sure I have it in me today. Just the thought of having to string together the words I would need to speak my heart this morning is leaving me broken and exhausted. Please God, give me strength to carry on through these next few days..

Autumn’s dad and I were never married. We stayed together right around seven years but we were still so young.. His family though.. He has this huge, amazing family that I still, seventeen years later, find the time to miss now and again. 

Johnny has eight – yes, I said eight – brothers and sisters, most from previous marriages. His parents were married while the kids were still young, and together they had Kelly. A family of As-Seen-On-Tv bikers, they are among the kindest, most amazing and family oriented people that I’ve ever been blessed with knowing.. And if I never saw them again they’d still be family. 

Kelly was twelve, if I remember correctly, when Johnny took me home to meet them all for the first time. I was seventeen and we drove to Phoenix, Arizona for Thanksgiving (or somewhere around that time because Mommom gave me pumpkin pie..).. I will always remember John’s mom telling me later that she’d watched us while we slept. She found us curled up together both facing the other way, he had spooned himself around me. We both had our hands side by side on the wall.. She said we were meant to know each other. 

Four years later we were living with them. We’d had Autumn by then and they’d gotten a much bigger house with a pool. Jason, Toni and Kelly all still lived at home too and we all became very fast friends. 

But Kelly.. Kelly was the youngest and at barely fifteen (while I was twenty) she was the closest thing I would have to a best friend during the entire year I was there. From the beginning I wasn’t a big fan of Phoenix – I was hotter than I’d ever been in my life living there and I couldn’t escape to the ocean. In fact, it was SO hot in Phoenix it was literally illegal to walk your dog during the day because the concrete sidewalks would blister the pads of their feet! No freaking joke! I seriously cried..

Kelly and I spent a lot of time together back then. She was so young and dramatic and completely filled with the kind of inner light that only comes from the naivety of being a teenage girl. I don’t think I ever told her, but her friendship was what kept me from dying of loneliness. I’m not surprised to see the bond we shared reflected in the relationship she has with my daughter. 

We’ve tried to keep up with each other through the years. You know how it goes.. Random phone calls and Facebook posts and fleeting visits every few years. I never married her brother but she was still my sister and I loved her.

Yesterday afternoon, around 2:00pm on a beautiful day, Kelly walked out alone into the waters of the Alabama Gulf Coast, called her sister Toni to say I love you, and then took her own life. 

The world will never be the same.

I hadn’t seen her in a few months, but we had spoken just last week..

I miss her already.. 💔

P. S. Truth be told, I started writing this morning with the help of a daily prompt. I often enjoy the randomness of choosing miscellaneous topics and just running with them. Today’s word is ‘Carry’. I can imagine that to some I’ve gotten quite a bit off topic so I will remind you..

Please God, give me the strength to CARRY on through these next few days.. 

I believe He will..