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, 



An Introduction 

This is our bunch. From left to right, this is Gracie, Maddison, Makayla, Colton and Autumn. Missing from the picture is my oldest stepson, Jake… And I have to say that although he doesn’t come around a whole lot, he’s still very much a part of our story. 

But.. We’ll start with the twins. Colton and Maddison had just turned nine when I met them. It was Halloween, I believe, 2008. Dratton and their momma had only been separated for a couple of months at that point and while curious, neither of them had any intentions of going easy on me. It took a while, but we all found our way soon enough.  
That first year was a long one. We both had a bitter ex and an unfinalized divorce to get through. Rumors and lies and harsh, hateful words.. So many hateful words.. Even now, I sometimes have to swallow my feelings when I look back on those days. A far cry from reason, Cristie, his ex wife, thoroughly managed  to make my life a living hell as often as she could. And she would do it with a smile most of the time. I’d never experienced anything quite so humiliating and hurtful in my life, and that’s saying something. You’d  never have imagined she and I would be something resembling friends in just a few years. 

Autumn was away, visiting her dad in Arizona when I met Dratton. By the time she came home he and I had already been seeing each other for a month or more. She took to him pretty quickly, wasting no time in doing ten year old things like sitting him down and asking what his intentions were for her mother. More than anything else, she was elated by the possibility of having a new stepsister close to her own age. 

That would take years to work out. 

Makayla was still little when we started our journey, turning five not long before our first date. She followed him around and looked for his attention in the hopes that he might love her. Sad really, but her father was already living 2,000 miles away and in her own way she was constantly searching for a new one. She even called him daddy for a while, but as she grew older that all changed. 

It’s still changing. 

Why I’m Here

I’m a mom. It’s what I do and sometimes who I am. Lately I’m not really sure how to feel about that. There are good days and bad days like anything else, but it’s worth it more often than not. After eighteen plus years I’ve learned quite a few things but there’s still plenty more I don’t know. Kids doesn’t come with instructions and raising them it’s harder than it looks sometimes. They’re all so different, and the constant changing of their needs and personalities can be dizzying. It’s a learning process. It takes time and patience and money, lots of money (if you have it), to do right sometimes. When I married Dratton almost seven years ago I already had two little girls, while he had a son and a set of young twins (a boy and a girl) of his own. I don’t think any of them were very happy with the situation for a while, but we got through it. And then Gracie came along and changed everything.. but that’s a story for another time…… Every day carries with it both a failure and a win of some kind. You just have to look.. Their stories will be written in these pages. I can only hope that you enjoy what you find here and that maybe I’ll finally find some peace of mind somewhere along the way.

Thank you for listening..