I once said goodbye to a boy named Andy. He played guitar and wrote songs. Some of those songs were about me. They were love songs. When I listened to them, it was the first time I really understood how someone could know and love me. I felt embarrassed when Andy would sing them to me. Then Andy gave me a recording, so I could listen to the songs whenever I wanted to. Alone I held those songs so close, I’d breathe in every word of them. The summer I was six, I learned how to ride my bike. My dad ran alongside me holding the back of my seat and yelling for me to pedal. I wanted so much to ride on my own. When I looked back and didn't see my dad's hand there, I wondered what it meant. Had I lost something? Where was my little girl self? Was she standing with my dad watching me ride away? I wanted badly to have a second child even though having the first had been filled with challenges. Before having another one, I wanted things to get easier in our lives. I waited for a long time for things to get easier, but they never did. In fact, for awhile, they got worse. My persistent illness had become unmanageable. By the time I recovered, I knew I had to protect myself, which meant not having a baby. But the unbearable longing never really goes away. My sister Jen called last night to tell me that she thought Reese's time had come. Initially, Reese had been my dog. Jen took Reese into her home when I started dating and later married, Josh, who has bad allergies. Jen sobbed while she told me how she thought Reese had suffered a stroke. Jen said she was having trouble walking and that her hind legs could be paralyzed. Reese is such a dear family member. Although, she is old and has had a remarkable life, we're hardly ready to say goodbye. The writing challenge has had its ups and downs for me. It has been hard for me to write every day and to not take myself and my writing too seriously. However, with practice, I think I'm getting better at loosening up and posting crappy first drafts as Anne Lamott would say, which I think takes wonderful courage. I received some meaningful comments on my writing and read so many great slices. I'm hopeful that I can continue a daily writing practice even if it's only for 10 minutes. I'm grateful for having been apart of this community.