Friday, August 26, 2011


“I love this place you moved to,” I said to my cousin as we rounded the bend.  We could see her house beyond the bowing limbs of the trees.  “How did you even know about this place?”

“Some of my husband’s family lives here.”

“Have they always lived here?” I inquired. 

“Well, not always,” she answered.  “This is where his cousin grew up here; then he went away to Southern California for school.  He had always had a desire to come back, to raise his family here in a smaller town, but he met a girl, married her, and his plans were changed.  This girl he married was a city girl down to her core.  She wouldn’t consider moving, even with his persistent persuading.” 

My cousin paused and bent down to toss a significant-sized stone from the road.

“Well, what happened?” I urged her to continue.  “Go on.”

“They were at a video rental store,” she continued. “At that time they had their first born baby, and she was in a baby carrier attached to mama.  They were busy looking for a video to rent, when all of a sudden, someone burst through the door of the store with a gun and started screaming, ‘Everyone down!!!’  They both lay there on the floor, mama lying on top of baby.  And at that very moment, she turned her head, looked at her husband, and whispered, ‘Okay, I will move.’  And the rest is history.  They have been here ever since.”

Another victim, I thought to myself.  It was something I was used to hearing about all of my life.  It was no longer surprising to me, but expected. 

My thoughts fluttered back to all of the times when I and other loved ones had been victimized.

*I remember the time I was walking home from the store.  A roaring engine approached behind me.  I looked over my shoulder to see the large white truck pull up and follow slowly beside me.  A man’s voice startled me, “Want a ride?”  My heart began to pound wildly; I shook my head, began praying, and started running. 

*I remember another time while working in my dad’s real estate office.  I was in my early teenage years, and I was alone, in charge of answering the phones on a Sunday afternoon.  Suddenly my attention was averted from the phone by a knocking at the back door behind me.  I turned around to see a man standing behind the glass doors of the office.  He stood there fidgeting with a tan colored fanny-pack wrapped around his waist, but as I looked closer, it wasn’t a fanny-pack at all!  He was playing with a different kind of “package”.  But how and why was it was tan!!!???  I turned to call the police; then looked back, but he was gone, like a phantom.  A phantom pervert.  The hardest kind to catch.

*My brother, another victim.  His eye and the scars surrounding speak as a constant reminder of gang violence.  I remember that morning well, waking up in the wee hours of the morning to the phone ringing, my mother on the other line, “Honey, your brother is going into the operating room right now to have his eyeball removed unless by some miracle the doctor can save it.”  Some hoodlum had smashed a flashlight through my brother’s car window, shattering the glass and popping his eyeball.  Fortunately, the eyeball was to be saved; as for his vision, he was not so fortunate.

*My cousin, yet another victim.  She worked at a flower shop in Long Beach.  A man walked through the door yelling, “Everybody on the ground!”  And then he robbed the place.

I was used to feeling cautious, always looking behind my back, always ready to fight an attacker.   

"Think you can jump out of the bushes at me?”  Think again, Bushman."   

"Go back to the hedge you came from, Buddy."

As I walked down this beautiful country road with my cousin, I just felt so safe.  This feeling of safety was so unfamiliar to me.

I know you can be victimized anywhere in the world, even on a beautiful country road, but I felt so at ease and out of harm’s way here.  My fears had drifted far away from my mental awareness.  Sure, at night I was afraid of the “somethings” creeping around the land, but during the day, deep breath, it was wonderful.

And I liked this foreign feeling of safety.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Life We Could Live…


It was morning, when all of the “somethings” disappear back to where they come from.  It was safe once again to go outside.

We stepped down off of the porch, ready for a leisure walk through the country with my cousin.  “This is the path that I go running on each day.”  Wow, maybe if I had a beautiful path, I would start running.  Yes, now that is what my exercise routine is missing.      

“Watch out for that,” my husband tugged on my arm, pulling me away from the approaching heaping pile that lay in the middle of the road.  “Horse droppings,” he said, like it was a matter of fact.  Horse droppings?  No, droppings sounds more like the description of cute little bunny poop.

These were not cute like bunny poop.  These were bulging hills, masses, mountains of dung.  Yes, that is a more accurate description.  You see, I actually have this strong thing against poop, especially large piles of it.  One time I decided to help with the picking up of poop from our childhood dog, and do you know what happened to me because of it?  As I carefully picked it up onto the shovel, to my absolute horror, the poop, in slow motion, rolled all the way down the long shovel stick, balancing upon it like a man walking a tight rope.  Down.  Down.  All the way down, until it decided to make contact.  With my hand.  After that I had nightmares of poop chasing me.  Night terrors.  I trembled and convulsed a little as I stretched my leg over a pile and walked quickly to catch up with my cousin.

“So are you glad you moved?” I asked, keeping my eyes glued to the ground as to avoid any more mounds.  

“We are so happy.  We love it here.  I do miss my loved ones though.  Terribly.  It was hard, really hard for the first year.”

I remember when she moved and was away for her first Christmas.  Her Christmas card arrived in the mail.  I was eager to open it, to hear of her new life in her new home far away.  The way she described her pain and sadness of being away from close loved ones just about scared me to death of ever leaving mine. She wrote of a jar she kept on her counter.  Every time she thought of a blessing in her life, she scribbled it down on a piece of paper and dropped it in.


But of course, as time went on, her roots began to deepen, thus decreasing the hardship of being away.

“It is so wonderful what we can give our kids here, the life we can live.” 

“The life we can live…”  Her last line seemed to resonate and linger in my mind.

A better quality of life for her family.  Was it worth the trade out? 

We walked past their horse arena, where her husband is able to do what he loves- wear chaps and train horses.  Any wild horse that needs taming, well, my cousin’s husband is the man.  Sounded exciting.  Adventurous.  Attractive.  Because what could be more enticing than a strong, assertive manly man taming horses?

Oh I know.  My man wearing chaps and taming horses.  Whoa.

That night we sat in the back of their house on their land, barbequing chicken, drinking iced tea, watching her boys run with the dogs, throw sticks, and play alongside the horses.

“They love it here,” my cousin said.  “They are free to be boys.  They have the freedom to roam, to explore, to find adventure.” 

Hmm, the only adventure my boys were finding was at the local public parks.  “Honey, keep your shoes on so you don't get a splinter from the wood chips."  "Oh, don't put sand in your mouth; this is like a gigantic kitty litter box."  And if I really wanted to give them adventure, I would take them to the nature center.  “Hey, Mom, how come we can hear cars when we are in a forest?  “Oh, that is because there is a freeway behind these trees."  Quietness?  Doesn’t exist in the city.  Views of land?  Covered by tall buildings.  Wild animals?  Sometimes you smell wild skunks who wander out of the nature center destined to become road kill.  

“The life we could live…” whittled away at my mind.  These words began to haunt me, and I began to feel like a skunk trapped within a fake bubble of wide, open spaces.  Did the skunk really think he was living in the wild?  Did he know there might be a better life to live elsewhere?  Would he move if he knew?

I think he should know.

Saturday, August 20, 2011


I was intent on forming a new habit, something good for my health.  I did it for two weeks in a row, and I was rockin’ at it.  Jillian and I were doing the 30 Day Shred together. 

She's kind of tough on me. 

On day 15, I turned my body to hand my son a banana and BAM!!! my back gave out.  I was on the floor, and I could not get up.  Three days I was paralyzed, and I am not one to exaggerate.  Paralyzed.  We are talking feeding tube, ventilator, catheter.  I was blinking to communicate.   

Exercising and handing people fruit.  Risky.  Not advisable.      

So my husband comes to me recently and says, “We are getting old and we need to exercise.  I want you to live longer because I really like you.”  And I was like, “Oh, that is so sweet.” 

Cautiously, hesitantly, I agreed to start again because it has been one year since I last exercised, and it is time to do it again anyway. 

We began doing the 30 Day Shred again.

Question:  Why does my husband always have to stand behind me while I am doing my bending exercises?

Another question:  Do the 30 days have to be consecutive for it to work?

Because I could swear, after one workout my flabby parts are suddenly firm. 

“Janna, aren’t you going to keep exercising?”

“Dan, I already did.” 

30 days.  They might be spread out over a year, but I think I can do this. 

“Mom, can you get me a banana?” 

“No, get it yourself.”

Monday, August 15, 2011

Something Got the Chicken

I sat in my cousin's living room on her white couch looking out the windows surrounding us.  Every window framed the view of grassland lightly spruced with oak trees.  I could hear the light trotting of the horses outside as they roamed along the property’s borders. 

I walked over to the sink to fill my glass up with water being that I was parched after such a lengthy drive.  As I looked out the kitchen window, my glance developed into a stare, the vibrant colors, the swaying of grass in the wind.  I imagined myself doing the dishes here every day with this view of open land.  I lost myself in my thoughts, picked up a cup that sat in the sink before me, and began washing it.  If I was going to consider this I needed to see how it felt to do dishes when a beautiful view is before me.  Would it be too distracting?  Would I always be gazing?  I found I could almost do it without looking down at the cup I was washing.  I was amazingly good at it, talented. 

“What are you doing, Janna?  Put that down.  Don’t do the dishes,” my cousin reprimanded me.  I can never understand this unsaid rule for guests not allowed to do the dishes.  I definitely do not have this rule at my house.  I let guests do the dishes.  I encourage them to do chores.  I am so welcoming and hospitable I will even let them help me with my laundry.

“I am sorry.  I just needed to see what it felt like,” I said as I lowered the cup back into the sink.

It was time for a tour around her property, 15 acres, not too big, not too small.  It was perfect.  Lovely.  Beautiful.  I breathed in a heavy dose of fresh air, wishing I could save it for later to take back to the city. 

She lead us through a small gate into her garden.  Oh, adorable.  Wooden boxed gardens, each containing something different:  tomatoes, squash, lettuce, herbs that lined the land in rows.  Now this was living off the land.  Wow, if only my mom had this during the Y2K scare; she wouldn’t have had to buy twenty 50-gallon containers of grains, beans, and wheat.  Imagine just walking into your backyard instead of running to the grocery store when you find you have run out of parsley for tonight’s dinner.  Look, I know you can plant a garden anywhere, even in the middle of a big city, but this was significantly larger and cuter with an endearing garden sign.  A section of land set apart just for a garden.  There is something so quaint and precious about it.

As we toured her garden, I could hear in the background the clucking noises of the chickens, all of them safely kept within their coop. 

“Something got one of them the other night.  Poor thing.  Found his feathers all over the yard,” my cousin said. 

Something?!!  Something?!!  The beat of my heart suddenly began to increase.  “What do you think it was?” I whispered, leaning forward intently, waiting to hear about this “something” that was loose on their land.  I began to quickly scan the land as scary images of this “something” went flickering through my head.  A big bear, a wild fierce animal, a crazed man.

“Oh, probably a fox or a coyote, something like that,” my cousin answered me.  

Well, not as scary as my mind was telling me, but a little scary still because whenever you just say “something” it is a “thing” that is unknown, and a "thing" sounds terrifying.

The wilderness was so beautiful during the day, but at night, I began to realize, it was a different story.

Spooky shadows.

Wild animals.

Strange sounds. 

 As nightfall began to approach, I felt a sudden urgency to seek refuge.  “Dusk is upon us.  We better get going,” I said with a shaky voice.  All I could think about was the “something” coming out of its hole or cave or house for another visit.  My husband and cousin looked at me strangely as I started running as fast as I could toward the house.  All that remained was the dust from my trail.

The county may be beautiful, but it is seriously really scary too.

Where are the guns? 

I am gonna get that something.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

So it was Sunday Morning

Once a week I take a moment to interrupt my simple life journey to share with you some extra bonus material to make you smile.  Enjoy!

I have a bad habit.

I take after my mother and grandfather.   

Right in the middle of a party, there they are, both propped up in sitting positions on the couch, heads hanging heavily downward, drool creeping out the sides of their mouths.  Sleeping.  They are like babies; they can fall asleep anywhere.


I may not be as bad as them, but when conditions are just right, I join them.

So it was Sunday morning, and there I sat in church.




My preacher’s voice, so low and calming.

The perfect environment, my body was telling me, trying to lull me off into subconsciousness.

No, I will not fall asleep.  I will not fall asleep.

Take notes, make a list, look at people's hairstyles.  Oh no!  It has me in its grip.  

I put my head down toward my lap, hanging my hair over my face to hide what my hand was going to do next.

Slap!  My face suddenly felt pain.

I looked up and back behind me.  Everyone was still.  I don’t think anyone saw.  They may have heard, but they didn’t know what they heard.

I looked at the pastor and tried opening my eyes as wide as they would go.  Yes, bug eyes will do the trick.


My lids.  Blink.  Are so.  Blink.  Heavy.  Blink.  Blink.  Must close.  Bliiinnkkk.  (That's a blink in slow motion.)




I was out.

REM- I love you. 

Suddenly, my subconscious began to signal to me to try and get my attention.  "Janna!  Janna!"  

"Shut up.  Leave me alone," I sternly reprimanded myself for disturbing myself.

And then my ears perked up.  The pastor's voice was drawing near.  I began shifting in my seat, my eyes still closed.  “Wake up, Janna.  Wake up,” I was yelling to myself inside my head.

His voice was no longer soft and calm.  It was loud, like surround sound around me. 

My heavy lids flew open violently.  I was a little dizzy.  WOW! he was right there in front of me, maybe five feet away, and our eyes locked.  His eyes were like magical lasers.  They made my eyes hot and watery.   

I sat up quickly, and began passionately nodding in agreement with what he was saying.

But he knew. 

And I knew he knew.

And he knew I knew he knew. 

It was crazy.

The worst insult to a speaker.  I could never look him in the eyes again.  Oh, the shame.  I would look to the side of him or maybe at his forehead or maybe at his Adam's apple, but never in his eyes.  I lost the privilege.

Church ended and we all filed out slowly.  But not me.  I was jumping over pews so to get out before the pastor took his stance at the exit.  I flew through the air like on Matrix.  Everyone was frozen but me.  And I was wearing a long, black trench coat.

Confession.  I need to confess.  I will call my mother. 

“Mom, I was sleeping in church and the pastor saw me.  I am sure of it,” I spewed out as quickly as I could.  There I said it.  Forgiveness flow over me.

“Janna, I cannot believe you,” she responded sternly.  I knew what was coming.  My reprimanding was about to be laid on me as thick as thick can get.  It was what I deserved.  I prepared myself to hear it, to take it.  Scold me mother.  It is what I need.  I stood up straight, lifted up my chin, and as she continued, I listened.

“If you are going to sleep in church,” she said very seriously, firmly,

“You need to sit in the back where the preacher can’t see you.”

 She only looks like she's awake.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Our Second Trip

A three day weekend quickly approached.  We were about to embark on our second adventure.  This time we were off to Northern California, a small town right outside of Sacramento.  We were going to visit my cousin and her family in her rural home.  She was one of the few who were able to get out.  Out of the city.  Out of the busy rush.  Out into the country.  Land.  Horses.  A garden.

I seldom saw her since she moved out of Southern California, so my excitement grew in anticipation for this trip.  I wanted to see her.  I had always admired this cousin of mine.  Her mother had married into our family, and POOF! instantaneous cousins, her and her sister.  They were around 8 and 10 years old when they arrived, and I could hardly withhold my excitement of suddenly receiving two girl cousins.

While growing up I envied her because she was not a family member by blood.  Meaning - she could marry our cousin Jeff, not my second cousin once removed Jeff.  No, this was my first cousin Jeff who was only a few years older than me, and he was my childhood crush (pre Hans Solo).  “Mom, why can’t you marry your cousin?  What is wrong with it?”  She never had a really good answer except that our children would be intellectually disabled.  But was that a good enough reason?  I would love our special children.  I remember spending the night at my grandma’s house in Hemet.  There sat atop the dresser a picture of my two cousins together at their high school prom.  I held it in my hands staring at them.  The picture haunted me whenever I visited my grandmother.  My cousin’s lovely blonde hair, her bangs raised ever so sturdy into a ratted poof.  What was her secret?  I lowered the picture I held in my hand and gazed into the mirror at my ratted bangs.  They couldn’t hold a candle to her perfected ones.  Mine were only a pathetic attempt.

No, I couldn’t marry Jeff and I was jealous. 

I have always admired my cousin and not just for her bangs and her blood.  She is Martha Stewart in the flesh.  She has such a classic simple style that I envy, not in a jealous way, oh no, but in a wow, she is amazing, kind of way.  Elegance comes natural to her.  It is her gift.  And so when we turned down the gravel lined pathway which lead to her house, it came as no surprise that the house that was hers was the one that the sun was shining one bright beam down upon.

A beautiful shiny coated horse trotted up carrying my cousin whose blond hair glistened in the sun’s rays.

“Welcome,” she called.

I looked at my husband, “I’ll take it.”

“You’ll take what?”  He knew me well and knew what I was going to say, but to humor himself he wanted to hear me say it out loud. 

“I want to ride on a shiny coated horse and have my hair glisten in the sun’s rays as I ride up wearing a sun dress and cowboy hat.”  I could see myself in my head and I looked amazing.  I had no wrinkles and really white teeth.

We pulled up to their barn and parked the car.  I looked around.  My word!  Could anything be more beautiful?  The house was hidden from the view of any of the surrounding homes.  It was nestled right into the protective shade of matured oak trees whose branches swayed back in forth in the warm breeze. 

I paused before stepping out of the car.

I didn’t realize that as I stepped out of the car, I would be stepping out into another way of life.  The exposure would broaden my perspective and begin to shake what I had thought were my dreams. 

I stepped out.  

Saturday, August 6, 2011

My First Kiss

Once a week I take a moment to interrupt my simple life journey to share with you some extra bonus material to make you smile.  Enjoy!

It had to be him.  No one else would do.  I hand picked him for this important moment of my life.  My first kiss.

I was feeling especially amorous toward him that night.  I knew it was time.  I looked over at him, “You looking at me?" I said in my most sultry of voices.  I smoothly made my way toward him.  "Well, Mr. Handsome Man, I've got my eyes on you.”  I began walking his way, “Oh yeah, Baby, here I come.”

And before I knew it, I was in his grasp and he was passionately  kissing me on the lips.  I had no choice but to respond.  His cold, firm plastic lips pressed firmly against my full, very responsive ones.

He was a poster, protected from U V radiation with a polycarbonate resin so he could be mine forever.

And it wasn't the return I had expected.

It was so.... one sided.

Finally I pulled myself away, shying back as a young lady appropriately should.   I looked back at him shocked at what had just taken place.  Did that just happen?  No, it couldn’t have.  But it did.  And there was proof.  As I turned and walked away from my postered lover, my mark remained.  There upon his lips was a lipstick stamp in the shape of my puckered lips.  I’ll wipe it off later, I thought to myself.  Tomorrow.  I won’t forget.  I went to bed that night dreaming of Dr. Jones rescuing me from natives, snakes, and bugs.  No one would find out about our love.  “Our moment” was a secret that only he and I shared.

Procrastination.  Never a good thing.  Tomorrow came, and the lipstick mark fell from the forefront of my mind until its presence drifted from my mind all together.  Wiping it off wasn’t a big deal anyway. 

It had been a while since our expression of love.  I was cleaning my room, picking up the dirty clothes from my floor, making my bed, and placing my things in order.

“Janna, is this yours?” my younger brother walked into my room holding a pile of my clean laundry in his hands.  I turned around to look at what he was holding when I noticed that his attention was suddenly drawn to something behind me, in the direction of my Harrison Ford poster.  I slowly turned my head around to see where his line of vision was leading.  No!  Quickly I turned back around just in time to catch his facial expressions change.  He no longer cared about the laundry.  A suspicious smirk spread across his face, then slowly changed into a Cheshire cat grin, which then quickly advanced into a complete hilarious laugh attack, “Janna, did you….?” he asked as he gasped for air to continue.

“Did-you-kiss," laughter, wheezing, laughter, "the-Indiana-Jones-poster?” his body convulsing through a fit of hysteria and tears. 

The evidence!  Fool, I had forgotten to rid of the evidence! 

What was I to do?  The only two choices I had quickly dashed through my mind. 

1.  I could kill him now so my secret will remain safely hidden forever.


2.  I could jump on him and attack him so to distract him from what he “thinks” he just saw. 

I chose number 2- attack.  All of a sudden I found myself riding on the back of a bucking bull as I was gripping onto his eyeball sockets.   I began screaming as loudly as I could, “You didn’t see anything!  You didn’t see anything!”  I tried waving my hand in front of his face while saying it, a frantic attempt at the Jedi Mind Trick.  Yes, that would do it.  He wouldn’t remember anything. 

Noooo!  The Jedi mind trick wasn’t working!

“No!  I didn’t!” I yelled as I wrestled him to the ground. “No one will believe you,” I said as I held him down.

“Oh, yes, yes, they will,” he retaliated. 

And yes, yes, they would believe him. 

Because it was very, very believable.  I had an obsession.  And it was widely known.

There beside my bed was a small table covered with carefully placed framed pictures, posters, and whatever memorabilia I could find that reminded me of him, my lover.  His words echoed in my dreams....

“My hands are dirty,” she said as he pulled her close against his body. 
“My hands are dirty too,” the rustic, rough Han answered back.
And then he kissed her. 

It got me every time. 

I replayed the scenario over and over again with my Han Solo and Princess Leia action figures.  Their hands were always dirty and they were always kissing. 

And then my obsession was passionately sustained by this:

Indiana Jones: You know what your problem is, Princess? You're too used to getting your own way.
Willie: And you're too proud to admit that you're crazy about me, Dr. Jones!
Indiana Jones: If you want me Willie, you know where to find me.
Willie: Five minutes. You'll be back over here in five minutes.
Indiana Jones: I'll be asleep in five minutes.
Willie: Five. You know it, and I know it.

Someday he would be mine.

Or maybe sometimes I would just pretend.

Me and Dan Solo (my husband)

Ever had a celebrity crush?  Please tell me you did.  Who?

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Why Would He?

We looked at the concern in Lou and Anita’s eyes. 

“How could you move away from what we have?” Anita asked.

I knew what we had was special. 

We sat there staring back at them as they stared at us.  I felt the pressure begin to build behind my eyes.  Soon Lou and Anita became a blur through heavy, tear-filled eyes.  Why couldn’t this be easy?  There were so many memories we shared together, close to twenty years of them cemented within the pages of my mind.


***The time the four of us attended a wedding reception together.  No one was dancing, and so we felt it our responsibility, our obligation to get the party moving.  The four of us stepped onto the dance floor and what took place, we thought, could only happen in the movies.  The walls were covered with full length mirrors which would be the perfect backdrop because who doesn’t love to see themselves in the mirror?  We stood next to one another almost shoulder to shoulder in a line dancing before ourselves in the mirror, entranced by our own images, as a baby is by their own reflection.  We felt no inhibitions, only freedom to express ourselves through the fine art of dance.  Before we knew it, we were breaking out an impromptu synchronized dance.  Well, the mother of the bride and the mother of the groom all wanted in on the action and soon they were to join us in our shindig.  And then our moves began to catch on as other guests began to trickle onto the dance floor.  There behind us in the mirror was a crowd following our every move.  So this is what it feels like to be an aerobics teacher.  I knew I should have been one.  In high school it was my life's ambition to be an aerobics teacher.  I never did aerobics.  I just liked the idea of always have a hot body.       

***Then there was the time when Anita and I decided to tell our husbands that we were both pregnant.  We decided to reveal the news at the happiest place on earth- Disneyland.  The four of us stood in line for a ride.  Our husbands were none the wiser of what was coming.  “We have to go to the bathroom,” we told them as we slipped out of the line.  Lies.  “We will meet up with you.” 

We jetted over to the Snow White ride and asked two of the employees to help us out.  They would hold up our homemade “We are pregnant!” sign as we came to the end of the ride.  The perfect plan.  Our husbands would be shocked  and surprised.  

And boy, were they.  Because at the end of the ride, there stood two employees, a young woman and a young man, holding a ‘We are Pregnant’ sign with two giant grins painted across their faces.

“Congratulations!” our husbands called out to them.

The employee “couple” looked at one another as their eyes grew big.  They began shaking their heads wildly. 

“No, it’s you!” Both Anita and I said in unison to our husbands.

“Who?  Me?  You?  Her? or Her?  Who?” 

“You! and You!” we tried to explain.  "We are due the same day!" 

Their looks were more of confusion than excitement.  For the next fifteen minutes they were like, “Now who is it that is pregnant?  And how did this happen?” 

“Well, it all started with a bird and a bee, which was really you and me and….”

That same homemade “We are pregnant” sign was to be saved and would be used two more times to announce our next two pregnancies.

We shared some of our happiest memories with these two friends of ours.  We also shared some of the most heartbreaking.

***It was one of their darkest moments, the sudden, shocking death of Lou’s mother, Lydia.

The phone rang, interrupting our family dinner.  I picked it up, “Hello?”

“Janna,” Anita’s voice broken by sobs, “Lydia died.” 

“What?!!!” my legs grew weak and began to shake.  So this is what it felt like to go into shock.  She couldn’t explain further, too overwhelmed by emotion.

“We are coming over,” she muttered. “We are on our way.”  And then the phone went silent.

My face was white when I turned around.  “Dan, Lydia died.”  Emotion flooded over me like a tsunami.    Nothing could have prepared us for this.  Lydia was fine, healthy.  There were no signs.  There were no signs!

I waited at the window. 

As their car pulled up, Lou quickly walked up to our front door.  Dan was there to meet him.  They both stood in silence, and as if someone had pushed them together, they found themselves in a tight embrace, an embrace that would seem only two brothers could share.  Sobs so violent overtook them both, causing their bodies to quake.  I trembled with grief as I watched on.  Lou mourning the loss of his mother, gone too soon.         

The memories seemed like distant dreams, some of them had faded into the world of forgotten, but others we would never forget.  We had experienced some of life’s most precious moments with these people.  Junior high.  High school.  College.  Births of babies.  Death of a parent.  Hundreds of meals shared over vats of laughter, the kind that makes my head click.  Numerous vacations, too many to count.  

Simply living life together.

Relationships like this don’t just happen every day.  

“What if God has it in His will for us to move?”  I asked them sincerely.

“But why would He?  Why would it matter where you lived?” they questioned back, ready to combat any reasons we might have for moving. 

“What if God has something different for us planned?” 

“Why would He?” Anita retorted.

“I don’t know!  I don’t have the answers,” I answered in frustration.   

Why won’t people just let us do what we feel we need to do?

“Because they love us,” I remember my husband saying.  “They don’t want to let us go.”   

“Dan, I have a question,” I began, “Why would God have us move away from all of our loved ones?”

Why would that be His plan for us?

Why would that be His plan for anyone? 

To move away from their loved ones.