It’s March 1st and my windows are open; It’s probably too early, the breeze is brisk, but I’m bundled up in sweats under a blanket with m 3rd cup of coffee. It’s a good day.

I always find you in Spring, your favorite season, and though it is the season of renewal… it brings melancholy now. Though, I suppose, everything does in some way or another. My quince bush has little pink buds, you’re the person who told me what kind of bush it was, do you remember? I think you do. Somewhere.

Perhaps I’m silly, but I’m hoping for a huge St Patrick’s day snowstorm. March snow reminds me of my childhood on 201 when we’d be stuck in that tiny block house… me, you, Tommy, and Andi. I can’t believe we never killed each other. But, I doubt it will snow.

The kerosene heat in that little house burnt my eyes, but we were never cold. Spaghetti, chili, vegetable soup, a huge bowl of salad, teriyaki chicken, some kind of canned weird Chinese dish that had crunchy little noodles on top, something frozen, bags of Doritos, always too many sweets, and McDonalds twice a week, but we made it okay. We were never hungry. You were probably too lenient, too passive, too much of a friend, but we were so incredibly loved.

Maybe it was a week or two ago, I was talking to Chad and I made the statement that you’d only been gone around a year and a half. He looked at me so funny and when I asked, he gently said, “Honey, this October makes 3 years” and I stopped dead in my tracks. 3 years? It’s been a million years and it’s still October 25, 2017 all at once. I don’t ache like I once did, not daily anyway. The deep, cavernous void in my chest typically feels lighter or doesn’t exist at all. Lately, folks have been coming across pictures of you that are new to me. It’s like seeing your face for the first time, it takes my breath and I cry, but I feel so much joy. Seeing your precious face in those photographs is what I imagine my heart looks like if you could see it figuratively beating outside of my body. I just let out the heaviest, loudest sigh. I sure do miss you, Momma.

But honestly, sometimes most of all, I miss having a home where you are waiting for me on the other side of the front door.


2 years
24 months
104 weeks
730 days
17,520 hours

And you know what, friends?  Life has never, not once, stopped.  Even when it felt like it should, even when I felt like I couldn’t move forward, life just keeps going and going without her.  And, I guess it has to.

My Mom died 2 years ago on my 31st birthday.  This week, I’ll be 33, the age she was when she gave birth to me.  This week, I’ll celebrate my 2nd birthday without my Mom.  This week, I’ll just keep going because there is literally no other choice.  I always write this before 10/24 because I don’t want that day to be forever sad and it’s hard to get into these feelings at all, especially on that day.

The second year is different and hard in a completely different way.  The second year, the shock and oppressive, deep grief are mostly gone and you’ve established life without them; then you realize that nobody else remembers, but each milestone is still incredibly fresh for you.  Even though the hurt is fresh, the hurt is final, and this is the year that you establish your life without them and it hurts like hell.  But, it is absolutely necessary, because nothing is stopping this train.

In 730 days, there has not been one single solitary day that I have not thought of her.  Even on the best days, when I have felt the most joy, when I have had the most fun, when I have been light years from that hospital room in Ashland or that house in Flat Gap, I still always think of her.  I imagine I always will — and I want to.

Last year, I wrote that the grief had permeated my skin and bones, but my perspective, thankfully, has shifted.  It is not the grief that seeps through me anymore.  Sure, I still get incredibly sad and I still, quite literally, long for her presence, but the grief has managed to evolve and you’ll have that with grief, dear friends.  I promise.  No, it is not grief that ebbs and flows through me, but it is her.  Her love, her guidance, the memories, the laughs, the hugs, every moment I had with her is part of me.  

Brenda K. Williams was imperfect, but she was precious.  She was every beautiful day and song you can think of, every moment that is joy and light and peace, everything innately good and kind, plus so much more.  She was and is my Mom and will forever be.

I miss her.






Happy Birthday, Momma.

You would’ve been 66 today.  This is the second birthday since you died and it’s harder than the first.  The finality of your death is oppressive like the July heat and I can’t seem to escape it.

I don’t imagine 66 means anything where you are, in fact, I’m sure it doesn’t cross your mind.  I wish I could be there to remind you of me, and I guess that’s selfish, but I just want to say hi.  I want to see what your face looks like now.  I want to hug you and tell you I miss you.  I don’t think you can feel sadness and I’m so glad.  I feel enough for the both of us.

Sometimes, in my mind, it’s still October and I’m standing in that funeral home and I can see you and I remember every detail; the flowers, the people, the wood on your casket.  Sometimes it’s just summer and I’m enjoying being outside more than I ever have in my life.  And sometimes I’m just barely floating, operating on pure will, just trying to get through the day.

I miss you every single day.  Not one day has gone by since October 24, 2017 that you haven’t crossed my mind, even if just for a second.  There are big things and small things that I want to tell you, like about the flowers that I planted and have kept alive and my funny customers at work.  I miss you texting me and asking me to pay your ‘foam bill’ because you thought it was hysterical that I really have customers that say ‘foam’ instead of phone.  I miss our Friday nights and keeping you up too late watching sitcoms and talking.  I miss that one summer that Chad worked a ton and Trevor and I spent the night several times.   I just miss things being normal.

There’s a new normal now and most of the time that is okay.  Even though I think of you often, I’m not always sad.  I’m glad a lot.  Glad for the 31 years I had you, glad that God chose you to be my Mom, and glad for the person you were because it made me the person that I am.

I wish I could celebrate with you today.  66 wasn’t too much to ask for, but here we are.

I had a piece of Food City cake for you.  It was the good icing, of course.

I love you, forever.

Happy Birthday.

2013-03-31 14.02.14

Soupin’ Sunday

Happy Sunday!

Historically, Sunday is a pretty productive day for me, but I’ve gotten pretty out of habit as of late.  Today, I got my groceries early and I’m settling in for some good music and meal prep with a little blogging on the side.  Not too shabby, eh?

I love time alone, so it’s a pretty good day in my house with my husband asleep after a 12 hour overnight shift and my MIL at church.  Don’t get me wrong, I love folks, but I also love being alone and doing my own thing.  I don’t get that a lot and I’m sure you don’t either.  So, with Weezer’s Teal Album blasting and my precious robot vacuum (Vac, as we affectionately call him) doing a lot of the work for me, I’m working on lunches for the week and a HUGE pot of super healthy veggie soup.

Most of y’all know that I am pretty adamant about healthy eating and fitness (says me as I grab my stomach and jiggle it at you), so I’m always on the search for some tasty alternatives to my favorites.  Soup/stew/chili/etc., is my winter staple and I live my entire life for a good beef vegetable soup.  Naturally, the way my Granny and Mama made it had big chunks of yummy white potatoes, 70/30 ground beef, and it was positively amazing.  Honestly, I’d fist fight you for a bowl of soup cooked by either of them, but my ever-slowing 32 year metabolism demands that I do a smidge better than 70/30 ground beef.  Unfortunately.

With that in mind, here’s my take on a classic — I hope you enjoy!

Gimme All the Veggies Macro Friendly Vegetable Beef Soup

Don’t judge my dirty stove, it’s non-stick spray!

Ingredient List

16oz 93/7 Ground Turkey
16oz 93/7 Ground Beef
2 15oz cans No Salt Added Petite Diced Tomatoes in Tomato Juice
1 28oz bag Pictsweet Frozen Veggie mix (I reckon you could get just about any mixture you want! I got green beans, carrots, celery, corn, and peas)
1 68oz bottle of Low Sodium V8

Yup, you read that right — 5 ingredients, basically.  Did I mention how freakin’ easy this soup is?!?!?!?!

First, I use a 6 quart stock pot and I brown my ground turkey and ground beef in the bottom of the empty pot.  Why dirty up another pan?!  I’m not draining that beef or turkey, I want that yummy flavor all in that soup, y’all!  While the beef and turkey are browning, I use sea salt, black pepper, and Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning (buy it in bulk, marry it, live it) to taste because I am that cook you hate that never measures anything and I am so sorry for who I am.  Use all of the above generously, do not be shy.  This is a good time to add any additional spices that compliment this dish — garlic powder if you wish (fresh garlic? go wild!), parsley, cilantro, bullion cubes, whatever.  This soup is your oyster, spices are your medium, work that art baby!

Next, dump both cans of petite diced tomatoes and stir that goodness in with the ground beef and turkey.  Heck, let it pop and crackle and boil a little.  Add some more seasoning, honey.  Live your life.

Then, cut open those frozen veggies and dump them right on top of that delicious mixture of meat and tomatoes, frozen and all.  They’re going to get tender when the soup simmers, no need to worry!

Finally, my secret ingredient to all of my tomato based soups and chilis – Low Sodium V8 Juice.  Each serving has 2 servings of veggies!  Run, do not walk, and start putting this liquid gold in your dishes!  At that point, you’re going to be close to the top of a 6 quart pot, but not quite.  I use a little water to get as close to the edge without being too obnoxious and making a mess.  Stir gently (it will splash out aggressively at you) and let the entire pot come to a gentle boil.  Move to a very low simmer and let that puppy sit for the next 2 or 3 hours!

Marry me

Ok, ok, now the most important part!  I don’t really math, but I’m pretty sure these numbers are spot on in accordance to this soup making 24 1 cup servings in 6 quarts (omg, kill me).  So, with that in mind, 1 serving is TWO standard 8oz measuring cups.

Calories – 155g
Fat – 5.5g
Carbs – 17g
Protein – 18g


You’re all welcome.  I will lap up your praise and admiration.



2019 is already a bust maybe

So, my sister started a blog and it’s really, really good.  Seriously, click the link and read This Coffee Life.  She did all the leg work and research on how to make a blog successful, made a fb page for it, the whole nine.  Meanwhile, I’m sitting over here thinking about how much effort that must take and shaking my head ‘no’ as I drink my second cup of coffee.

She’s really good at fleshing things out, it must be the Language Arts teacher in her, and I’m just not good at trying… well, anything.  I know to have a successful blog that I’m supposed to blog more than once every 4 months and I need to really try to develop content, but we all know that effort has never been my strong suit.  Honestly?  Nothing is my strong suit.  Laziness, maybe.  Laziness is probably what I’m best at in this life.

I thought 2019 was going to be a year where I really thrived at working on myself, on reading more, on my blog, on working hard in general, but none of that has happened.  The first 13 days have been a total bust.  I had these promises of eating healthy for 30 days, tracking my macros every day, no alcohol until February, and I already frigged it all up, but hey, that’s me.  I’ll blame circumstances, and some of it really was circumstantial (my excuses have excuses), but honestly, I’m just really bad at staying on course.  Always have been.  Shrug dot emoji.  I’m not a life coach, friends.  I’m just gonna hug you and say, “It’s cool, we’ll try again tomorrow” and offer you something unhealthy to eat and maybe a beer or a glass of wine.

To be TOTALLY FAIR, I started getting sick last weekend and while I didn’t use that as an excuse to eat poorly, I couldn’t work out without hacking up a lung to the point of dry heaves because thank you bronchitis.  I’m starting to feel more normal today, but I can’t hear out of either ear and the thought of going back to work makes me want to sleep until next weekend because I literally just can’t.  GUYS, I CANNOT.  Whatever, 2019, I still have time to slay you, but I wont, so maybe 2020?  Here here, positivity!

Anywho, so Andi legitimately has her life together and has this beautiful blog, and I’m over here sitting in the same clothes from Friday, wondering if I can do some yoga and eat a vegetable today.  The jury is still out on both of those subjects, but we’ll see.

I think I’ll get my 3rd cup of coffee, and yes, I am still on coffee because I didn’t get out of bed until 11:30am, and then decide if I can somehow will myself into being a human being.  Is this the quality content you crave?  Knowing that someone is as bad at life as you are?  Well, look no further fella, you found me.  That’s a Chappelle’s Show quote — all of my material is from 2004.  Love me through it.

Thanks, Sis, for inspiring me to write my first blog since October.

See y’all in April.

The longest shortest year

You can’t explain the first year to someone who hasn’t experienced the death of a parent. There are no words or explanations that can give life to the grief, the pain, and the loss that you feel as you navigate your new life.  Everything I’ve ever done that involved my Mom will literally never happen again. Not a birthday, not a Saturday afternoon, not a walk, not Christmas or Thanksgiving, and in that first year, you experience all of those firsts.  The first year of complete void and nothingness in the place where your Mother used to be.

“I just don’t know how you do it.” I have muttered to friends and people I love who lost their Mother, truly believing that I did not know how it could ever be done.  Also, truly believing, that my time to walk that path had to be many years from that particular moment.

How does life go on when the very star, the sun that centered your universe shoots beyond your line of sight and into another galaxy?  I don’t like to say she flickered out because I know she’s shining somewhere, brighter than ever.

How does life go on in the after of complete loss?

It just does.

What was I going to do?  Quit my job and stay in bed all day?  I mean, ideally, absolutely… that’s exactly what I wanted to do.  I wanted to fold into myself and sink into my memories and never come out, never come up for air, and never figure out how to do life without my Mom.  Well, being out of paid time off cured that want pretty quickly and I went back to work.  I was a complete zombie, but looking back, I think it helped.  I know it helped.

You go back to work, you pick up where you left off with TV shows you enjoyed, you visit friends, you go out-of-town… you. just. do.

You don’t “move on”, it doesn’t get better, time does not heal, none of those platitudes are even remotely true.  You just keep moving forward each day and hope you feel a little more able than the previous day.  Grief changes.  It permeates your being and becomes a fixture in your everyday, it becomes as much apart of you as the skin that stretches over your bones and it seeps into your molecular makeup.  You carry grief like a backpack filled with hardback books, all of those books written for and by your Mother.

At first, grief takes the shape of unbelievable sadness.  That sadness extends beyond any sadness you will ever feel.  Then, emptiness.  Emptiness as you wake up, slowly, and realize this world continues to exist without your Mom.  There will, quite literally, always be the before and after.  There is who you are when your Mom was here and there is who you are after your Mom is gone and those people are very different.

I was not okay for many, many months.  Mom went into the hospital on 10/20/2017 (one year ago today) and passed away on 10/24.  She was buried 10/28.  I don’t remember much of the last 2.5 months of 2017.  On New Years Eve I cried because I didn’t want to start a new year without her and I begged Chad to stay home from any events.  I couldn’t imagine facing an entire calendar year without her, though staying home wouldn’t stop that year from coming.  Nothing, not even the death of your most beloved, stops time.

Winter turned into spring and spring flirted with summer and if you’ve never broken down and torn apart the home your Mother lived in, I do not recommend it.  It was the impossible task.  Her sweet little items, her clothes, her cat, the list was endless and it all needed homes and those homes could no longer be in that house.  That house is still an open wound to me.  I dream about it often and she is usually there with me.  Even if you’re an adult and you have your own home, wherever your Mom is, that is also home.  When that home is gone to you, when every home from your childhood is no longer part of your life, you realize the only ties you have to those memories are the memories themselves.  That first time when you realize you can never, ever go home to your Mother again feels like having a heart attack.

It’s been the longest shortest year of my life.  It’s been years ago and it’s been as recent as yesterday.  I used to absolutely love the month of October.  Way before the culture of Pinterest and scarves and pumpkin spice, October was my birth month and I was obsessed with it.  I loved fall, I love the leaves, the colors, everything.  This month, I’ve tried so hard to enjoy those things that I love because Mom loved them, too.  It makes sense that she died on the day the foliage peaked.  I’ve tried so hard to find her in the cooling temperatures, and in the reds and golds that scatter the hillsides.  I know she’s with me, but boy do I miss her physical presence.

Often, I replay the Friday to Tuesday turn in the ICU at King’s Daughters through my mind, trying to remember every single detail.  There were moments of laughter and terrifying moments of fear.  There was not one single part of me that thought I would never her bring her home when I drove here there on this date one year ago.  She was in a great deal of discomfort.  We listened to the Johnson Central/Ashland game on the radio and I tried to distract her and give her Dylan’s stats for the game and for the entire season.  It worked out perfectly that Central played Ashland at Ashland since that’s where KDMC is located.  Tommy and I got her to the ER, Andi soon joined, and we waited.

We waited what felt like an eternity.

Around 5:00 am, she was finally given a room in ICU.  Stage 4 cancer with pneumonia certainly warranted intensive care.  The nurse asked Mom a million questions, and finally, asked her if she had a living will on file with the hospital which is a standard question.  She burst into tears and said, “I’m just so tired” and I said, “I know, Mommy, we’re almost done with the questions and then you can rest”.  I will never forget the look on her face and how she wilted, and even more so, how apparent it was that she was ready to rest.  She was so ready to rest.

Some of the memories I have from those four days haunt me.  The memory of her sweet face looking at each and every one of us as if she was memorizing our faces gets me every single time.  She wanted to go home, but at the same time, she didn’t want to leave any of us.  I remember feeding her her last good meal, baked potato and salad from Wendy’s.  Tommy, Melissa, myself, and Chad surrounded her bed and she commented how handsome Chad is with a beard and was in the best spirits.  This was Saturday night. With Sunday came saturated lungs that only worked at 37% anyway, ever complicated masks to help oxygen flow, and ultimately the bipap mask that sealed the deal.  It was horrifying.  That mask was miserable and I couldn’t and wouldn’t ask her to wear it for one more second to accommodate an arbitrary date.

She was everyone’s everything and that is not an exaggeration.  She wasn’t the same Mother to me as she was to Tommy and Andi — she was what we all three needed.  She wasn’t the same sister to Sharon and Pam — she was what each of them needed.  She was everything.

The fruition of my Mother’s faith came to pass on my 31st birthday.  That’s a beautiful and absolutely truthful way to put what happened that day, but it doesn’t begin to encompass the feelings I have since navigated.  I have been very angry.  Not about my birthday, but losing her in general.  I get very mad at the choosing of my most precious, wonderful person and not someone else who I feel deserved death more.  But, that isn’t even close to how it works.  She was ready.  That 110 pound shell was done.  Even still, coming to terms with the how and why is extremely difficult.  But, I think I have found that peace or I am at least actively working toward it.

As I sit 4 days out from that anniversary, the marking of the first year and my 32nd birthday, I chose to write and post this before the exact date.  My Mom would not want me to dwell on the sadness on that day.  If she could have changed it, I know that she would have chosen to pass on another day, but that isn’t something you ever get to choose.  And honestly, that’s okay.  It’s okay.  It was a special day to her before and it is the most special date to her now.

There will never be a day that I don’t miss her.  Not one.  But, I know that she isn’t here in this unexplainable void and sadness.  She is in the sun, she is in the leaves, she dwells in goodness and light, in the voices and faces of my siblings, her sisters, and my niece and nephew.  I find her in the mirror, sometimes.  I find her in my own voice pretty often.  I find her, always.

I will find her always.

974 words on sexual assault

When I was 12 years old, a friend of mine (who happened to be male & also 12 years old) came over on Spring Break to hang with me for the day.  My Mom was home, our house was very small and we were only left alone long enough for Mom to use the bathroom or for us to play outside (she could see us).  He still found time to show me his penis twice.  One of those times, he was forcefully trying to kiss me and shove my hand down his pants, but I managed to push him away from me.  I was attracted to him and I thought that’s just what boys did when they liked you, no matter how horrible and uncomfortable it made me feel.  I don’t think I ever told anyone before this moment and he probably doesn’t even remember it. This was the first physical/sexual situation I can remember ever having in my entire life.  I have had interactions with this person as a young adult and at that time, I still considered our interaction ‘just what boys did during puberty’.  Now it just makes me sad.

One week before I turned 19, I spent the night with a girl friend and guys I had never met came to her house.  There was no alcohol.  At some point, I found myself alone with one of them.  My guess is he was 21 or so, I really don’t know.  He kissed me and I let it happen because I was a (relatively) normal 18 year old.  No big deal.  Previously, I was in a 2 year relationship so I thought I was pretty tough and could handle myself.  However, I hadn’t considered that those 2 years were spent with someone who respected me and my autonomy.  Being incredibly naive for 18, I was surprised when he started unbuttoning my pants and trying to shove his hands in my underwear.  I was absolutely paralyzed.  Having never had sex, losing my virginity to this guy was not anything I was interested in, but he was considerably bigger and stronger than me and his intentions were crystal clear.  I adamantly said “no” when he tried to escalate the situation, but he persisted.  I was scared in the moment and I did what I felt like I had to do to get out of the situation without having sex.  I vividly remember thinking, “I just have to get out of here, I don’t have a choice now”.  “No” wasn’t good enough.  “No” didn’t work.  Later, I thought about that incident a lot and I worried that I lead him on by kissing him.  I fully blamed myself.

These instances (and the two that have happened since I got married, yes, it happens to married women, too) are certainly improper behavior.  The first, I was a child and he was a child, and now I truly can’t count the number of unsanctioned male genitals that I’ve seen both in real life and in pictures (definitely not ok, guys, stop showing your dicks.. no one wants to see them).  The second, I never realized the gravity of that situation until I was older and the light bulb came on — I realized I had never told anyone about it, and then when I did tell someone, they looked at me with horror and apologized.  Only then did I think, “Oh wow, that wasn’t my fault at all. I was scared and I was only 18” and let it settle that I had certainly experienced something hurtful.

Nervously, I share this to support all of the women (and men) who have stories far worse than mine.  The women & men who wake up every day as victims of sexual abuse from an older friend/adult/family member, the women who wake up with flash backs of hands roaming and groping, and everything in between.  The idea that someone would make up such horrors just to ‘ruin’ someone else’s life is so incredibly glib that I wonder if folks even listen to themselves when they say such things (or absently click share on a meme).  It is deep, internalized misogyny to believe women at large are looming in the distance to destroy a man’s reputation.  That’s just insanity.  Any amount of research will reveal less than 10% of sexual violence accusations come to be complete fabrications.  Dismissing allegations as such tells the 90% of us that you don’t give a rip about what we’ve experienced, and maybe you don’t.  I hope you never experience it.

The fact that a boy, at 12 years old, showed me his erect penis without my encouragement or consent is something that should resonate.  That instance is the personification of the narrative ‘boys will be boys’ and we cannot allow such horse crap to persist.  People can change, I believe that.  I don’t have a clue how this human being is as an adult man with a wife and child, I can only hope that he is teaching his children to be better. I assume the second guy is, too. I hope. I have no way of knowing either.  But, I don’t really want either of them influencing the laws of this country for the next 30 years.  Sue me.

Finally, if you say things like, “Why did it take her so long to tell anyone?” then you have either never experienced sexual violence or misconduct, or you have and you’ve pushed it down so far that you psychologically reject the idea of people being honest about their experiences.  Just a single, solitary shred of empathy for another human being should cause one to think about how the person who was assaulted may feel instead of an arbitrary timeline to report sexual violence.

We can totally do better than this, y’all.  If you’re reading this and you’ve been harmed by sexual violence — I believe you and I am with you.