Exactly twenty years ago, on April 23, 2002, I wrote and published my very first post for my very first “online journal.” I was a sixteen-year-old high school sophomore who loved the idea of sharing about my everyday experiences with my close-knit group of friends. We all signed up for accounts at Diaryland.com, and the rest is history—a silly, weird, wonderful history that would certainly haunt me if I ran for office. (No regrets!)
Of course, so much has changed over the years: I have new friends (many of whom I met through blogs!), new adventures, new challenges, and absolutely zero need to cram for finals. I've found heartbreak and love and a weird obsession with the agave lemonade at Panera. And most importantly, I've stopped spelling "school" with a 'K' to try to impress boys. But no matter what chapter of life I’m in, I will always enjoy having a little place on the internet where I can talk about hedgehogs and Hobbits and home decor to my heart’s content.
Thanks for keeping me company on the journey. 💕
As I write this, I have been sitting in the parking lot of a CVS pharmacy for two hours and don't plan on moving anytime soon. In fact, two hours ago, I went inside the drugstore and shopped for some essentials to prepare: a bottle of water, a package of Double Stuf Oreos, some pretty pastel Sharpies, a glitter-covered spiral notebook, and a new pen.
I wish I could say that I was planning a heist or creating a new TikTok challenge, but the boring truth is that I drove thirty miles to take a COVID-19 test and only then thought to call my car dealer (who is also in town) to see if the service center had any availability to fix my broken headlight. Shockingly, they had an appointment—five hours after my nasal swab. Faced with the choice to 1) drive another sixty miles home and back or 2) arrange the most cringeworthy campsite possible, I opted for the latter.
So here I sit, handwriting a blog post in a sparkly pink notebook, putting myself in a sugar coma, and trying not to think about the fever and sore throat that initially brought me here. I have a very classy instrumental jazz playlist lilting in the background, which is honestly a chaotic choice for someone whose dinner is twelve Oreos in a parking lot.
But when I eventually get home, things will only get weirder. For some reason, I have mostly lost my appetite except for two food groups: chocolate and a very specific mushroom and truffle oil frozen pizza. I've also lost all interest in TV shows or movies—except for the Harry Potter series. (I hadn't even watched most of the series until December and infamously dislike the books, so I could not explain this new obsession to you if my life depended on it.)
Once I finish my weird pizza and weird movie binge, I will immediately go to bed and sleep for ten to twenty hours. Except my sleep will be hindered by a pregnancy pillow (I am absolutely not pregnant) because I have an undiagnosed heart condition and have to sleep on my back—with support from the pillow—to avoid crushing the heart monitor that is taped to my chest for the next two weeks.
Anyway, I know that every part of pandemic life feels like an episode of The Twilight Zone, and whatever episode I'm living through right now won't seem so unhinged in hindsight. But right now, hot dang, I'd really like just one single scrap of normalcy.
I guess that's why I bought the Oreos. 🙃
I don't know where to start, really. When I last wrote a blog post in October 2020, I was excited to share the small moments of joy, the weird stories that turn into inside jokes, the brief glimpses of normalcy that give us just enough hope to survive—even in the face of a brutal pandemic, climate change, political chaos, bigotry, hate, and the damn murder hornets.
But a month later, my mom got sick. Cancer.
She survived chemotherapy and underwent a completely successful bone marrow transplant, but she never made it out of the cancer center ICU. I spent the entirety of May 2021 driving to and from Cincinnati to spend as much time with her as I could while she fought an unknown issue that caused fluid to gather around her lungs. Her health seemed to be improving, and the nurses and doctors were optimistic. But then she had a few minor strokes, followed by a much more serious stroke, and my dad and brother and I were told to say goodbye.
My mom had been put on a ventilator and couldn't speak, but we didn't need words. I know that she has always loved me, and I will always love her. In the end, nothing else matters.
I haven't wanted to share this publicly because I still can't quite wrap my mind around my grief or put it into words. I was so blessed to have a mom who became my best friend, and it is because that relationship was so dear to me and so full of love that I will never recover from this loss.
What I can say is that I am so grateful for the friends who were with me every step of this journey. I cherish every message, every reaction to a "close friends" Instagram Story, every Panera gift card, and every long-distance hug. And to the friends who are just now catching up, you already know that I'm a blubbering ball of emotions at the best of times, so thank you for always showing up anyway.