Safe

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What makes you feel safe in a relationship, romantic or otherwise? How did you learn those are the things that make you feel safe?

This is a writing prompt given to me by my friend Bryn, and I’m going to start with what I thought made me feel safe over time, because it’s different over decades.

In the beginning, what made me feel safe was having my needs met, and it didn’t take much because I wasn’t an active kid. I’m not sure I even had a social life until Lindsay was born (this is not actually a joke). Before Lindsay, like now, I was the kind of person who had one friend (Justin). When Lindsay got old enough to have friends over, I was in charge of them most of the time. “In charge.” Yeah, like I wasn’t soaking up human interaction when my battery was full enough that now I’d isolated enough to feel lonely… I wasn’t in charge. I was an introvert, and Lindsay was the extrovert who adopted me. She still plays that role, and we don’t even live in the same city anymore.

It makes me feel safe to give everything to one person. Just everything. I want to tell you my hopes, dreams, fears. I want to show you my inner landscape and walk around in yours. It makes me feel important to know things about people… that they trust me with their secrets because they know I won’t tell them. It makes me feel safe because it is an agreement. I will take on your inner landscape if you will take on mine.

My childhood was idyllic, so this didn’t become a big job until I was an adult. The War Daniel is one of the last people that saw that version of me, before life had hit me in the face. It’s the biggest reason I feel safe in marrying him if he changes his mind. The War Daniel knows leslie, not Leslie D. Lanagan, Trademark. What makes me feel safe in my relationship with him is that I know my inner landscape isn’t too fucked up for him to handle. He’s a nurse practitioner. WTF does he care that I’m bipolar?

Between my knowledge as a patient and his as a Doc, it’s handled. We both have our demons. We both need each other, and he turned on me when I needed him the most. But he should have, and I support him. The only person Doc needs to worry about is Doc. If we’re going to fight this thing out, I need him as healthy as he can possibly be. I need him to return to that feeling he had when he said he’d been in love with me for 36 years. I do not think that I am crazy in the slightest for thinking that this breakup is actually Daniel just saying “I can’t handle a relationship right now.” I am trying to think logically through alcoholism and rehab… walking around in his inner landscape and trying to understand because he made the agreement to walk around in mine. That kind of friendship and love doesn’t go away with a few angry e-mails. We’re in each other’s heads and hearts. Addiction and recovery are not the time to be making life decisions, and if I was short-sighted about anything, it’s that I gave too much credence to what Daniel was saying right before he went into rehab and not the grand possibility that everything he said would change once he actually got there.

It doesn’t make me feel safe in a relationship to think about it ending before it even begins, so I didn’t. What made me feel safe was to look at every possible outcome. I planned for the fact that Daniel would break up with me, and asked myself if I could handle it. I told myself that I could. That the most important thing was keeping his spirits high until their docs had them and I didn’t have to worry about him until he was ready to start doing the real work in our relationship, which was massive. I’m queer. Cora’s trans. Daniel is sincere in his love and support of us, but wasn’t ready for the massive change in his behavior it would require to make us feel safe and wanted.

The reason I was so extraordinarily hard on Daniel is not because I was offended. It was hard watching him be a bad dad out of idiocy and not malice. I could have handled it had it just been between him and me, but the group chat with Cora changed our dynamic because I could see theirs. I have seen everything, and this is why I’m willing to hang on for the ride. I feel like there’s more here to mine, like this isn’t the end of our movie if I’m just patient about it. It’s going to be even harder for Daniel to prove to me that I’m safe with him, but just because it’s hard, it doesn’t mean it would take a long time. We both process emotionally at a very quick rate. We’re writers. What would make me feel safe is to start writing letters again, and then for him to come and visit, so that my other friends can see how closely what I have said matches who he actually is.

Nothing illicit, nothing shameful, nothing to hide from either of us, especially from each other. I used to love the darkness.

This is because my one person changed immediately and inappropriately to an adult when I was almost 13, and for some reason, I got to walk around in her inner landscape as well. This is where things get complicated. In addition to walking around in someone’s inner landscape, feeling safe involved secrecy. I liked keeping secrets. I was more emotionally intelligent than most adults by the time this happened, and the undercurrent was strong. It turned everything dark, because then I began to crave relationships that were under the radar. The ones that felt illicit and maybe a little cooler than I actually was?

Relationships that created their own little worlds apart from reality, and I could go there when life got hard.

It was being able to run to a secret clubhouse, small and intimate. Not as big and intimidating as the whole world, because the universe is the two of us.

I am blessed to have those friends now that the feeling of needing darkness is gone. It was a process to get rid of it, and hell while it wasn’t resolved because of course the relationships I paid attention to weren’t the ones in the room. I came by it honestly. I lived with my mom and dad for years without hearing a word they said without it being filtered through one illicit relationship.

When things got hard with Dana, I stopped thinking about her because sitting alone in my office, writing e-mails into the night gave me more peace than interacting with her. They got hard for a multitude of reasons, but Dana became masterful at the bait and switch, where I’d ask about one issue and it would devolve into “you like your e-mail better than me.” We stopped communicating about anything else, because any conversation that didn’t start there found its way there quickly. Just a self-destruct button, because I didn’t think that who I let walk with me through life should be her choice, and if she didn’t like them, she didn’t have to meet them. Even I hadn’t met them. Remember? E-mail relationship.

When it became clear that the e-mail relationship was grabbing my heart in a bigger way than I expected, all I wanted from Dana was patience. That these feelings would work themselves out, and it wouldn’t even be a thing anymore. How things actually shook out is exactly what I predicted. Those feelings went away, but not on the timeline she needed. I’m sorry about that, but I couldn’t get there any other way except mine.

Do I feel like I threw away my marriage for an e-mail relationship because it was under the radar and Dana was in the room?

Yes, I absolutely do. I also know with eight years’ certainty that it was the best move I could have made.

When I left Dana and moved to DC, again I was alone in my office writing, and it was delicious. What made me feel safe was no relationships at all. Remember that Dana and I ended our relationship with a physical fight, so I was running scared. I didn’t trust anyone, and I was alone by choice. I had people to call if I needed them thanks to having lived in the area before and my cousin living in Virginia, but I didn’t.

My sister works in Washington, luckily, and so she was always close by in terms of the telephone and within a couple months of being physically available to hang. Sometimes I send her concert dates and things like that on the off chance she’ll be here, but I don’t expect her to show. I want to make her feel included… like she has two homes instead of just one. Washington can be a lonely place if you don’t know a local to keep you grounded.

What makes me feel safe in my relationship with my sister is the vulnerability factor. I can tell her anything, and vice versa. But it’s a much bigger deal that she’s vulnerable with me, because she’s powerful and I’m not. I actually think that’s one of the reasons our relationship works so well. We live in such different worlds that there’s no reason or even path to compete with each other. We’re just there to make sure the other one has her head on straight. In fact, I feel safe and vice versa that we’re each telling our stories exactly the way we want to tell them, and just advising the other on craft. There’s no, “I think you should do this.” There’s only “where do you want to go, and how can I help you get there?”

What makes me feel safe in a relationship is being in one with someone like my sister, who understands people on a large scale. She’s a lobbyist for a federally funded queer health care group. Her view is national. She does what she does because of me, because I helped raise her. Of course she’s the cis, white, straight, beautiful blonde woman who uses her platform to advance queer issues in the Texas and federal legislatures. Of course she is.

I am starting to feel like a wizened old grandmother character, because my role in Lindsay’s life is basically that. I don’t know the policy details of her job, but I do know people the way she does. Exactly the way she does. We both picked up our diplomatic skills from being preacher’s kids. We knew who Karen was long before there was a word for her.

It makes me feel safe that the ways in which she knows people are the ways in which I know people, we just use those talents differently. I ran away from a public life in terms of something like lobbying or preaching…. and into a public life where I have enough clinical separation to pretend that this is just a letter to myself in the future and there aren’t really thousands of you reading every day……

It makes me feel safe in our relationship. 🙂

Now, what makes me feel safe in a relationship is honesty, even if it’s painful to hear. What makes me feel safe is being vulnerable and the other person having enough courage to hear me, to talk it out instead of walking off. A bubble with a universe of two still makes me the happiest, and I write letters all the time.

I suppose the last thing that makes me feel safe in a relationship is actually hearing the words “please feel heard.”

The last person that said that to me became the most important person in my life, my editor dragon (it amuses me to picture her in dragon form and her glasses still inexplicably fitting).

It makes me feel safe.

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The Heuristics and How to Swing ‘Em

Staying silent is like a slow growing cancer to the soul and a trait of a true coward. There is nothing intelligent about not standing up for yourself. You may not win every battle. However, everyone will at least know what you stood for- you. – Shannon L. Alder

There can be as much value in the blink of an eye as in months of rational analysis. – Malcolm Gladwell

“Blink” was a craze when it went it was published, and everyone got on board with the book’s philosophy. That given a second chance months later, you wouldn’t regret having made the decision you did. Sure. Hard data says that. When you actually put it into practice, though, people are concerned that something is wrong with you. In my particular case, people assume I’m on an “up,” and I’ll just regret things and apologize later.

It is my feeling that “blink” doesn’t work if you don’t know yourself as well as you possibly can. It’s a disaster to blink on no information. It’s another to have 45 years of heuristics first.

I have only had one time in my life where the decision to cut someone out of my life has gone so poorly that I was miserable over it for years. So, the concept of a “Blink” decision is not foolproof. But my track record on good decisions for me is about average with everyone else who lives, works, and functions just like I do… which is in fact one person. Except without mental illness, but the part she gets, she gets hardcore.

Hypotonic cerebral palsy is a rough gig all on its own. We don’t have to talk about mental illness at all to say my life is hard. People punch down at me all the time without even thinking about it. I can’t change how my eyes work, especially on the fly. I’ve tried for years, and the closest I can get to 3D vision is that I can see both sides of my nose at once. Any further away, and things get messy fast. “What are you even looking at?” gets old very fast.

I don’t have an easy time of not looking like a crazy person with the way I move and watch, both from the outside in and vice versa. People think I’m staring at them all the time, but just because my eye is pointed at something above your head doesn’t mean that one of my eyes won’t drift. It happens in a way that I can’t even pay attention to it, because then it will take minutes to make myself look like I’m focusing and no one has the time for that.

Besides, people will fix it in PhotoShop if I’m ashamed of how I look. Except I’m not. They automatically assume that I would want it fixed. I don’t because I don’t want to present a curated version of who I am. It has made the price of entry into my circle of friends very, very high.

My mental health treats my body like crap… it’s really all the side effects of the medication I’m taking. I choose physical illness every day.

I choose physical illness every day.

I make that joke all the time, that I choose between sick and crazy without letting it affect me like I just did. I was diagnosed as Bipolar II/ADHD when I was about 21, then as PTSD set in a protocol was added for severe anxiety. I have been taking a pure, refined version of crystal meth for 20 years, and I have also tried agonists like Stratera and Cymbalta, which mimic the norepinephrine boosts that methylphenidate gives, but again… different med, different side effects. I was jumpy and nervous, heart rate sky high, couldn’t sit still. It was a worse ride than even an extended release dose of methylphenidate had ever given me, and I lived that way for six weeks until I gave up.

I was disheartened. With my medication, I had no appetite and a quiet brain… but it meant being on meth to cope.

Between it and my mood stabilizer, I have caused enormous damage to my physical body to remain sane to everyone else. This does not mean that I need to go off meds to get a baseline. That’s pretty much the worst idea anyone has ever had regarding my health. I just need better generics. Fewer side effects. A better understanding of the human body so I know that opioid agonists work on me and methamphetamine don’t. Why is it the same delivery method and two different results?

One chills me out like a Tylenol with codeine, the other makes me look like a schizophrenic heroin addict.

Here’s a joke I told Daniel that my medical people will get:

Is this a __ thing? Let me guess your diagnosis before you even say it…….. “It depends.”

In my experience, this is the correct medical diagnosis for everything. Every time. That’s why it’s called “practicing medicine” and often referred to as an art. It is still a better educated answer than you’ll get from someone who didn’t go to medical school, because what the doctor is really saying is “I need a whole lot more information, but if you can just give me your Google Search Terms I have like 50 things I can rule out that won’t kill you before you go on WebMD and scare yourself to death.” Doctors can only do “blink” decisions when they’re sure. It’s different when you’ve never seen a case before, what in med school would be a “fascinoma” and in law school would be a “prima facie” case.

Shows like “House” are built on doctors being wrong, and it happens all the time. I don’t mean in an intentionally malicious way, though you can find enough of those if you look for them. I’m talking about people going to doctors that have diseases so rare that it takes a detective years to figure it out, because the natural order of how something is supposed to go, well…. It isn’t.

It’s not even idiocy. I couldn’t have told the doctor on her way into a patient room that I thought a patient had shingles if I hadn’t seen the pattern in a book somewhere. It’s the same with an MD as opposed to me, a lowly MA (from whom you should never take advice. I’m a moron. And I know enough to tell you that). They’ve just seen thousands more patterns the higher you go up in terms of specialists. That’s why they’re specialists. They don’t necessarily study harder for anything. It’s that when they hear a herd of something coming, they know when to guess “horse” and when to guess “zebra” because they’ve seen enough to know the tiny, tiny, tiny differences, maybe down to one. Additionally, in those cases, a blink guess is necessary. Try Occam’s Razor first. If the patient gets better, don’t try anything more extreme. If the patient is worse, they don’t have what it’s most likely to be.

That’s when you get more eyes on it. People can go 15 years without an official diagnosis, and that’s what teams of doctors like the one portrayed on “House” is accurate. You also need different types of doctors, because rheumatology isn’t that different from endocrinology, dermatology, and oncology. You could argue that oncology falls under rheumatology, because cancer is also an autoimmune disease. It’s just that the need for oncologists surpasses the need for expertise in other autoimmune diseases that don’t have dedicated departments. I assume GRID/AIDS was first thought of as an autoimmune disease, rheumatological or oncological in nature. Then AIDS research, too, became its own department.

This is where the rubber hits the road. Blink and see if you’re right, but have an Option B. Doctors, particularly in Urgent Care and the Emergency Room, aren’t given time not to blink. They patch you up.

I’ve been patching myself up for decades because I have had the opposite problem. I have waited too long on a lot of things because I didn’t feel I was capable of them. In fact, I had seven years to do nothing but think about my motivations and goals. I’ve thought about the things I’ve done and left undone.

The dragons that circle my bed at night and let me lie on my back and watch the stars while we travel.

Who I wanted those dragons to be, and why, and why it should cost so much to be my friend. It costs something to be a friend that believes in a writer, because now they’re in the position of having to defend your writing whether they like it or not, because it’s your obsession, not theirs.

I chose one dragon in particular because not only is she the architect type of writer, she has also edited a few other things for me that have been successful (mostly book reviews). She also has the amazing ability to talk with me about craft and not plot. It works in our actual relationship as well as the one we have professionally. “I can’t fix this.” “You absolutely cannot fix this and I will be mad if you try.” Although I will say that sometimes I wish she could wave a magic wand because a good bit of the time listening to her goes better than whatever all THIS is (looking in mirror).

The other two are more talkers than writers, so we make up for it with phone calls and quick texts to set up phone calls, or we video each other. As I have said before, that’s new. I’m finally okay with it… as previously mentioned but I feel it goes along here very well. I talked to one person, and then I talked to my audience, almost in quick succession. This is because I realized that if I treated a vlog like a FaceTime call, I wouldn’t get overwhelmed at the stats. Here’s what I do know, though. Every post I write resonates with someone. They just don’t all resonate with everyone. That’s true of every writer on Earth, even Stephen King. Most writers have a special place in their hearts for “On Writing,” even the ones that don’t like horror. Those realizations created a blink decision. I vlog, because talking to a million of you is the same as talking to one of you.

I blinked, and didn’t regret it. I had the heuristics.

A Whirlwind of Activity

Every time my sister comes to town, it’s a whirlwind of activity. I half-kid her that I see her more now that I live in DC, because when we both lived in Houston she worked for the city. It made her practically unavailable. In her last job, she was working on different states’ bills, and Maryland was one of many in her territory. I absolutely loved visiting her in Annapolis, but in her current job, she’s working on federal legislation.31793386_10156075683775272_8143610859139104768_n Today we met up in front of the Supreme Court and walked to Nooshi (Capitol Hill/8th St.). A friend of Lindsay’s joined us for dinner, and then Lindsay said that she wanted to go back to the same restaurant she went to on Tuesday night just for the dessert.

Since we were in the neighborhood, said friend and I convinced Lindsay that she should branch out and come with us to Ted’s Bulletin. We all got adult milkshakes- mine was Bananas Foster. Lindsay also ordered the homemade version of a Little Debbie™ Oatmeal Creme Pie (they also offer homemade Pop-Tarts™). She only ate a few bites of it, and I hadn’t eaten all day. I unashamedly ate the rest, after having an entire order of chicken wings, several pieces of sushi, and 7-Spice Tofu Fries… not to mention the milkshake bigger than my head. I’m currently on the “I Don’t Have a Car” diet, which basically means I eat anything I want, any time I want, because I have to walk it off whether I want to or not. I enjoy this plan so much that I may upgrade it to the “I Don’t Want a Car” diet, because I’d like to continue to eat like a frat boy at all times. Don’t get me wrong, a car would be nice to have when going to the grocery store, but I found that driving around DC made every single part of my day sedentary unless the parking garage closest to where I wanted to go was full.

Tomorrow, I’m going to work out even more. The reason I look so happy in the above photo is that I got a call from Jorgé, the kitchen manager at pub near downtown Silver Spring, wanting to know when I could do a stagé. I’m not nervous- it’s basic bar food- but I do feel weirdly self-conscious that I don’t have chef’s pants. I found a shop on Fenton that might have them, so I’ll check mid-morning. I just can’t picture being able to move well in Dockers or jeans. I do, however, still own my Bistro Crocs…. however, mine are basic brown and I flipped out at the new designs, so I may have to upgrade my kitchen shoes if I get the job. I really like the skulls and crossbones made out of eggs and bacon, and the black with chili peppers are just classic. You can knock on Crocs all you want, but there is no substitute in the kitchen. “Bistro” is a different designation. You won’t even slip if there’s frying oil all over the floor…. it’s a completely different tread, and no holes for ventilation lest you “drop it while it’s hot.”

Speaking of “hot,” Lindsay warned me not to burn myself, and I said, “oh my God… I have so many burn stories….” She then got super worried about me and told me to be careful. Since the last time I cooked, I lived in Portland, she didn’t see me when I looked like a Hell’s Angel…. just cuts, bruises, and burns EVERYWHERE. It was the best time of my life.

I was, as Anthony Bourdain said, a member of a tribe that would have me. Because I spend so much time in my head, working with my hands was such a blessing. I didn’t have time to worry about anything else but slicing onions correctly…. which is why a pub is the perfect fit for me and not fine dining. With monocular vision, I am not fast and accurate at the same time. When my field of vision changes, so does the direction of my knife. In that vein, the best part ever is that they want me as a line cook because all the prep positions are full. So basically, someone else has to worry that the batonets are perfect.

I am still going to interview with UMD if they ask, and will probably take the job if it is offered because I can’t think of a better way to pay for school. But I can’t worry about next week or the week after that. I am living in the moment, and what this moment is telling me is to enjoy the hell out of myself tomorrow. During the phone interview, it was like I’d never stopped being a cook. This was the funniest part of the conversation:

Me: How many covers a night?
Jorgé: I don’t want to scare you.

He also laughed until he choked when he said that most customers order the same thing and I said, “french fries with ranch?” If you’ve never worked in a bar, that joke is ridiculously funny.

When I got home, I sent an instant message to Pati Jinich and told her that I had an important stage coming up and could I have a blessing? She wished me luck and told me to wear good shoes. I was walking to the Metro when I got it, and just had this big, dumb grin on my face the entire way there…. actually, I think I’m still smiling.

For those of you just joining us, I met Pati when she did a cooking demonstration at the Mexican Embassy in 2017.22550261_10155565072125272_809704913041301676_o My dad had actually bought the ticket, but gave it to me when he didn’t end up making the trip. He and my stepmom have had this running joke that Pati is “his girlfriend,” so I told my dad that if he didn’t come to the cooking demonstration, I was going to steal his girlfriend away from him.

I told Pati this story at the beginning of the night, and we took a picture together at the end. The reason I am doubled over with laughter is that I thought she had forgotten all about our conversation…………. She reached over and kissed me, saying, “well, you asked for it.” It was just one of those jokes that was completely unexpected. I walked right into it, one of the funniest things that’s happened to me in DC.

I am so glad that the photographer (whomever he was) got just the right moment, because it is refrigerator-worthy. I think I’ll print out a copy for my Kindle case, which carries all my “important documents.”

I cannot close this entry without thanking my ex-wife, Dana, who got me interested in cooking in the first place (and helped me get my first cooking job).

I’d also like to thank Drew, Knives, John, JMSK, and all the other people who helped me along the way. I think I have a pretty good shot at turning an audition into a job, but no matter how badly it goes, they’ll still feed me (and possibly give me a beer). Seriously, what have I got to lose? I get to spend an evening doing what I love, with a tribe who would have me.

Every time Lindsay comes to town, it’s just a whirlwind of activity.

There’s No Present Like the Time

Dear Lindsay,

This year we both face our first birthdays without Mom, and I’m sorry I let you down. Big sisters are supposed to do the really hard stuff first and tell their younger sisters about it so they don’t have it quite so rough. I’m so sorry that because of the way the calendar falls, the tables have turned. I can’t imagine what it’s like to celebrate the day Mom did all the work when she’s not there to enjoy it. I am here to listen to you vent, but I am sorry that I can offer no words of support that would equal what you must be feeling.

But I can tell you that when Mom told me she was pregnant with you, it was the happiest day of my life next to meeting you for the first time. I was too young to understand exactly what “pregnant” meant, so Mom and I spent my bedtimes reading books on “the birds and the bees,” and what it would look like to be an older sister. I wasn’t there for your actual birth, but I remember Mom telling me that she was so surprised that her obstetrician, Dr. Ritter, stayed in her room with her all night, the first to see your seven pound, nine ounce glory.

Our age difference is larger than a lot of siblings I know. I may have not had the specifics down pat, but I did know that our family was getting a new little person… one in which I was old enough to learn to take care of, making sure that your bottles were just the right temperature and your diapers always fresh. Just so you feel safe about this, it was all under adult supervision.

My first real memory of you is dad picking me up so that I could see you through the nursery glass at Methodist Hospital… and then everything fades until a few months later. You were sleeping soundly, and I sneaked into your room and put a teddy bear under your arm.

By then, we were living on Galveston, and I remember that every time we went to the beach, you would approach the water cautiously, and as the waves rolled in, you would run away from them, yelling “don’t! Don’t! Don’t!” After the crash, there you went, running back into the water just enough for it to lap over your toes.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

I started kindergarten the September after you were born, and I remember you and Mom coming to pick me up every day at Parker. It was the highlight of my day to see you in your Muppet Babies leotard and tights, complete with headband just like Jane Fonda.

After that, my memory goes to Baybrook Mall, where we had an airbrushed sweatshirt made for you that said “HYPERWOMAN” in a jittery font. You wore it until it was in rags, because it was you. Getting you to be still in any capacity was (and is) beyond my capabilities. But when you made the choice to sit still with me and actually talk, it meant more, because I knew how much effort it was taking on your part.

The next thing that comes to mind is the chicken pox story.

You got what you called “the chicken pops,” and Mom made a cake that had a little blonde girl with red hots all over it and invited all the kids who hadn’t had it yet for a party, because their parents were eager to get it over with, too. I admired your strength, because it was the worst case I’d ever seen. You had them both externally and internally, the most uncomfortable being down your throat. But did that stop you? Nooooo…….. You were the life of the party.

Come to think of it, you are the life of every party.

Taller, more muscle mass, and faster than I’ll ever be is the inspiration that gets me out of bed in the morning. My younger sister is someone (I have) to look up to. Not only is your career inspiring, I’ve always been a little bit mad that you can reach the top shelf and I can’t.

But despite that “anger,” I’ll always jump in. I will never forget going on our cruise when you were three and I was nine. We were sitting on the ledge of a saltwater pool, right beside a sign that said “four feet deep.” You fell over backwards like a SCUBA diver, and I have never moved so fast. I jumped in without thinking. The water was so deep that I thought I might drown trying to get you to safety, not having had the clarity to think, “ok, I’ve got her. NOW what do I do?” We were so close to the edge that I swam under you, your diaper pressing against the top of my head, and kicked my legs to propel you upward. You popped up on the deck like some sort of magic trick (oh, hey, look…. flying baby) as I tilted my head and set you down. My neck hurt from the strain, but that was sort of the good part. It burned that memory into my brain, saving it for a time in my life that those years are slipping away.

Mom & Dad will never know how much danger we were actually in, because they weren’t there… but the superhuman strength of seeing your sister in danger is limitless. I will always be the tiger in your corner, claws sharpened, because now Mom will never be there. I can’t replace your loss, but I am always here to help.

I hope you know it’s a strength that will last a lifetime. I will always jump in, I will always protect you, I will always bite the ankles of your enemies… no matter the personal cost. This is because just by being around you, I become a better me.

Again, I’m so sorry that of all the things I didn’t do before you, going through this is one of them. I wish I had more to offer you than words on “paper” and a piece of my heart. It’s not much, but it comes from a completely unique store.

Love,
Leslie