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It’s November… so hard to believe. Bobby and I went with J & T last night to the pumpkin patch – we took some of the most adorable pictures of Maggie lying among the pumpkins.

It was so cute that it made me ache – I missed Sue, I missed Mama, I missed our lives that way they used to be, where when we took a really, really cute picture of Maggie in her pumpkin suit, Mama would be standing right there with us, ready to shoo us into the picture as well to get another of so many family pictures… none of which that include her, of course.

Yesterday on the way home from work, I talked to her. I didn’t really feel her, but I hope she was listening – I just wanted to tell her about our recent financial transition, and I couldn’t because she’s gone. I know what she thinks about everything – it’s not that I actually need to ASK Mama her opinion to know it. Her opinion is in my head, whether I agree with her or not, and is usually spewing out of either my or Jennifer’s mouth. But it’s just not as satisfying hearing her voice in head. I want to talk to her, to have her say what I already knew she would say, and have her tell me that I’m doing a good job at whatever… whatever I’m doing, she would think I was doing a good job. Last night, we sat in my and Bobby’s living room – me, Bobby, Jennifer, Tom, Maggie, and Daddy. It was ok, it was nice. But it’s just not that great – it’s greater than it is with only one of us, but it’s not as great as it would be if it were all of us. Jennifer talked about another one of her dreams and I cuddled Maggie and tried to just enjoy it without the thoughts of “Mama’s not here to see this” constantly popping into my head, and Tom gleefully carved his pumpkin into a secret design that during The Revealing turned out to be Maggie’s face (well, sort of), and Bobby worked on somebody’s damn wedding (sorry, just a twinge of aggression at the way everybody’s damn lives still damn matter) at the dining room table, and Daddy mocked Jennifer’s level of detail as she recounted her dream…. Which, by the way, was interpreted as being semi-suicidal. And it was ok. But it wasn’t great.

They really were probably the cutest pictures I’ve ever seen though – there’s one of Maggie asleep with her head on a pumpkin that is Anne Geddes-worthy… it’s too, too precious. I “strongly suggested” to Bobby that he upload them last night, but he ignored me… so tonight, we send them out.

And the Weeks said no. I’m still processing that. Bobby and I are not buying the Manse on 24. I’m sad, but mostly (completely, really, as time goes on) relieved. We’re going to pay off all of our debt – barring any disasters, of course, which are inevitable in our family. So why do I even bother trying to plan, you ask, since the disasters are inevitable? Because it makes me feel better. It makes me feel like I have control over something, even if it’s all an illusion. Just for that little while, when I look at my financial forecast and my debt snowball and my checkbook register, I feel in control. It’s sick, it’s twisted, it’s completely dorkish, but it’s me.

So according to my new financial focus, if we just stick it out and keep renting for $500 or less per month, we’ll be DEBT-FREE by Feb 2009. Yes, that’s including student loans… our stupid graduate educations will be paid for. No. Debt. No credit cards, no credit lines to stores or banks or anything else, no business debt, no car payments, no mortgage, no student loans, no NOTHING. It’s just crazy – I can’t even imagine how that would feel to not make any payments during the month except for our rent and bills. No car. No credit cards. No drafts from the Student Loan Corporation. No payment to the Wachovia credit line for RWP.

It’s just no way to live – stress helped kill Mama – it helped end a life that was so wonderful, such a contribution to the good of the world – and stress helped kill her. Just the burden of living with Daddy, of being under that weight of financial ruin, of knowing that there’s no cure – it probably played a big a role as cancer… cancer was just the tool. Of course I think this today, and I’ll probably think something else tomorrow… but these are my thoughts, just for today.

On the day after Mama died, we were standing in the kitchen, dazed, glazed over, in shock. And as we stood there, an article fluttered down off the refrigerator, where it had obviously been for a long while. It was yellowed, and had been torn from a newspaper by Mama at some point – and she caused it to fall just for us.

JUST FOR TODAY, I will live through this day only. I will not brood about yesterday or obsess about tomorrow. I will not set far-reaching goals or try to overcome all my problems at once. I know that I can do something for 24 hours that would overwhelm me if I had to keep it up for a lifetime.

JUST FOR TODAY, I will be happy. I will not dwell on thoughts that depress me. If my mind fills with clouds, I will chase them away and fill it with sunshine.

JUST FOR TODAY, I will accept what is. I will face reality. I will correct those things I can correct, and accept those I cannot.

JUST FOR TODAY, I will improve my mind. I will read something that requires effort, thought and concentration. I will not be a mental loafer.

JUST FOR TODAY, I will make a conscious effort to be agreeable. I will be kind and courteous to those who cross my path, and I will not speak ill of others. I’ll improve my appearance, speak softly, and not interrupt when someone else is talking. Just for today, I’ll refrain from improving anybody except myself.

JUST FOR TODAY, I will do something positive to improve my health. If I’m a smoker, I’ll quit. If I’m overweight, I’ll eat healthily — if only for today. And just for today, I’ll get off the couch and take a brisk walk, even if it’s only around the block.

JUST FOR TODAY, I will gather the courage to do what is right and take responsibility for my own actions.

There’s a lot of power in these words. Not all of them apply to us right now – some a lot, some not so much. Right now, and since Mama died, the first three verses really speak to me… because that’s what we’re doing. Well, that’s what we’re trying to do, anyway… we just living, and doing the best we can, just for today. Today my best is probably (hopefully) not as good as my best this next year, or even just six months from now.

On September 17, 2007, we were all given a choice – to either keep living, or not. There have been several occasions where I’ve considered choosing “not.” Because it seems too big to handle, because I feel so lifeless & empty, because, really, what’s the point? But Mama loved me – the only thing she loved as much as me is Jennifer and Susanna – and she would not be proud of my decision if I chose “not.” She would be disappointed, and she would wring her hands with those glassy, tear-filled eyes and wail “What did I do wrong? I tried so hard, and I failed.” (We’ve all heard it – she said that to all 3 of us at one point or another – makes you feel about a millimeter high.)

So just for today, I guess I’ll stop writing and go do something S-D-related. Just for today.

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