Fake it till you Make it

Ronan. Hi baby doll. So, last night…. not so much fun. I fell asleep from 11-1. Was up from 1-4:00. Slept from 4-6:00. Rise and shine, adrenaline pumping. I could not sleep last night to save my life. I wandered around the house, looking for you. I went into your room and wrote. I sat and cried. I took more Melatonin. It didn’t really work. I know why. It’s because today is Esther’s 4 months since she passed away. I was worried about Doriet. I called her this morning, after I took your brothers to school and had some time before I went to see Dr. Joanne. I needed to hear her voice and to let her know I was thinking of her. It felt good to talk to her and tell her I love her. I do. I told her I would come and see her. I really want to. I really need to. I will.

I saw Dr. Joanne today. I took your “GiGi,” blanket with me and wore my locket full of your ashes. We went over the worksheet today that she had me do. I started to cry as soon as we started going over it. She said I was really feeling it today. I was. We talked a lot about you. We talked a lot about me. I told her about the strong desire I have to still take care of you. How taking care of you, now comes in the form of taking care of me. I told her that I feel like I have to hit rock bottom, how I have to walk through Hell and back, to get through this. I told her how you are worth every amount of blood, sweat and tears that I have in my body. We talked a lot about expectations. She is glad that I am strong enough to stick up for myself and go through this the way I need to. Not the way anybody else thinks I should. I love her. She is such a powerful soul. She told me today that she can tell I feel like I have one foot in the world of the living, and one foot in the world of the dead. She gets it. She was exactly right. Nobody can understand the true pain of losing a child, unless you are a bereaved mother yourself. This journey is mine and mine alone. Nobody else’s. I am o.k. with that. I prefer it like that. The session was good.

We were about to end on a pretty good note, but then I had to pull out the journal that I found while cleaning out my desk a few days ago. I guess deep down, I’ve always been a writer. I’ve written for as long as I can remember. Never anything I was serious about, but I’ve always loved it. My words have always been hauntingly honest and insightful, but I never bothered to share them with anyone but myself. I never thought I was any good at it. Never had a reason to be. I found some really disturbing words written down, 2 days after your diagnoses. Call them my insightful ways. UGH. She sat with my words for a while and seemed taken aback. She was going to give me some homework, but decided we are going to take my words, and have me sit with them and to talk to you about the things I had written. To listen to what I would hear you say, back to me. I can do this. I can do anything for you.

I came home from Dr. Joanne and changed my clothes. I went and checked some things off of my “Shit List.” I went Inferno Hiking. I had a conversation in my head with the pretend paramedic who I was going to need to save me from that Pink Rattlesnake I’ve been dreaming about. I told the pretend paramedic that I was not afraid to die from the poisonous venom of a rattlesnake. That if my time was up, than my time was up. I told him how I had you waiting for me and if we were meant to be reunited, my life, would be ending in exactly the way that it was supposed to. I told him how you must miss me so much, that you are ready to have me back taking care of you again. I told him how I was not scared at all and I said all of this with a smile on my face. I have conversations in my head all day long with people I don’t even know. I have conversations with you a lot. “Landslide,” played on my iPod. I looked behind me when Stevie Nicks sang,

“I took my love, I took it down
Climbed a mountain and I turned around
And I saw my reflection in the snow covered hills
Till the landslide brought me down.”

I turned around and looked for you. I couldn’t see you. I cried as I ran as fast as I could up the mountain today. I screamed for you. I whispered for you. I listened for you. I pretended to see you, running up the hill behind me. I wished for death. It didn’t happen. I ran as fast as I could back down the mountain, hoping to fall and break my arm. Anything to feel a break from this pain of living without you. I made it to the bottom, soaking wet, but safe and sound. Guess today was not my day to walk with you again. To hold you sweet, soft hand and kiss your perfectly plump lips. It’s days like today, that I almost cannot take being without you. I tried to eat lunch. That went over really well. I threw it all up.

I picked up your brothers. They were so happy and excited to tell me all about their day. The good grades they got on their spelling tests, math test, AR Reading points…… They are happy. They are coming to terms with the fact that you are gone and are not coming back. They are so full of hope that the fact that it is not infectious to me makes me think that I am seriously disturbed. NOTHING MAKES ME HAPPY. NOTHING. Try swallowing the guilt that comes from that. I hope someday that I will be happy again. But I am not going to walk around and pretend that I am. Fake it till you make it. As Dr. Joanne said, I sure do put on a good game face. The best I told her.

I took your brothers to Sauce for an after school snack. I sat and watched as they gobbled up pizza and engaged with them, smiled for them, laughed with them. It was fucking exhausting. Also, I’m sure the fact that I had almost no sleep last night, didn’t help. We came home, emptied out their backpacks and lunch boxes and went over their homework. I told them they could have a break, some down time. I crawled under the covers. Your Daddy came home soon after that. I fell asleep for about a half an hour. I woke up to your Daddy, telling me he was going to take your brothers to play basketball. He asked if I wanted to go. I quietly told him, “No,” as the tears slid down my cheek. I felt like I had been run over by a bus. Soon the house was quiet and empty. I got up, unloaded the dishwasher and did all the good mommy/wife things that I am supposed to be doing. I called your Nana, whom I never talk to anymore. I felt guilty as she picked up and I could hear the excitement in her voice. We talked for a few minutes. She told me she is worried about me not eating. She told me she doesn’t want me to end up in the hospital. I told her, “Who cares.” She tried to gently scold me, all while telling me she wasn’t judging me. I told her I knew that. I know she does not. She is a good mom. I promise to call her more often.

I’m going to go now baby doll. I miss you so much. I love you to the moon and back. I hope you are safe.

xoxo

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The beautiful stranger, life, death, and life again

Ronan. 2 steps forward, 3 steps back. Is that how this is going to work? That’s how I feel today. I had one of those days, where I feel as I can’t breathe without you. It started off the way it always does. “Good Morning, boys! Time to wake up. I’ve started your shower.” (insert happy face here)

Shower, teeth brushed, breakfast made, ….. wait. Where’s Ronan? I need to make his eggies. Oh. Ronan is not here….. but continue on anyway. Lunches packed, water bottles filled, dishes done, lights off, boys in car… off to school. Where are you? Because once again, you are not here. I always know this, but some days it smacks me in the face, harder than others.

Autopilot continues on. Boys dropped off, but I knew this morning, that I could not go home to an empty house. I took all of my “busy,” work and my computer to Starbucks so I could sit and get some things done. Coffee, couch alone, laptop out, headphones on, music blaring, and I did my best to ignore all the happy people walking around like sunshine was coming out of their asses. WTF you jerks. Don’t you know that my son just died of cancer? Why is everyone so happy and bliss? Don’t they know there are hospitals all over the world, filled with kids fighting cancer? Of course they do not. Why would they? It is much easier to live in,”The Real Housewives of Scottsdale,” than in, “The Real Housewives of Childhood Cancer.”

Just as I was about to fling myself onto the couch across from me, to strangle the two happy mommies, as they sat in deep in conversation in regards to our worlds problems….. “What are we going to do with all of our free time now that our kids are back in school??? “Yoga or Tennis?” mommy # 1 said. “Tennis has much cuter outfits. Let’s take up Tennis.” mommy #2 said. “I agree, but what am I going to do without my Nanny?” mommy #1 said. “I have to hire a new one soon, because taking care of a one year old, alone, is just too much for me. And it’s interfering with my Yoga.”

Deep breaths, I told myself. No judging. I closed my eyes as the conversation continued on… the screaming started inside of my head. And then she appeared. She, as in the beautiful woman, with the bald head, and hat on. She sat down right next to me. She looked like an angel. I touched her arm. The words, “Do you have cancer?” Just flew out of my mouth. Fuck. Did I really just say that? So elegant, Maya. I wish I would have just said to her, “Are you o.k.?” She smiled, told me yes. My next words were, “Are you going to be o.k.?” I wished they would have been my first. I’m still so very new to this world. I have no idea how to navigate it; and my bluntness tends to just organically take over. She told me she was going to be o.k. That they had caught her Breast Cancer at Stage 1. I felt a wave of warmth wash over me. I told her I had a bracelet for her and handed her an F U Cancer bracelet. I had my computer screen open, and your picture was on it. I then told her about you and how you, my 3-year-old, had just died of cancer. She looked shocked to say the least. I put on my bravest face as she sat with tears in her eyes and asked all about you. I did my best to tell her some of your story. It felt like another out-of-body experience. We sat for about 45 minutes and talked. It turns out, her little boy goes to the same school as Liam and Quinn. Such a strange, small world we live in. Such a coincidence. Or not. Such another sign from you. We exchanged smiles, tears, anger, and phone numbers today. I have a feeling I will be seeing her again. This story literally leaves me with my head spinning. Babydoll. I don’t know why this happened to you; but I know there is a much bigger reason than life. You were meant for so much more than just being on this earth. As much as I hate it, and would give anything to have you back here; I know there is something else. Watching all of these little things, that you are making happen, feels as if I am watching you being born, all over again. It often leaves me breathless, exhausted, scared, and vulnerable. But the “life,” part that you are creating, is going to be so beautiful. I just know it.

After I left Starbucks, I went to visit one of our lovies. I tried my best to sit still and articulate all of the thoughts I have swarming around in my head. I couldn’t even do it. My quietness crept in and took over. I am such an easy book to read. The quietness on the outside is always when I am screaming the loudest in my head. Our lovie knows this. Conversation went something like this:

Me: “Hi. I’m just sitting here, trying to figure out how I’m going to change the world.”

Lovie: “You are going to change the world. I have no doubt about that.”

Lovie: “What is going on with you? Why are you so anxious today?”

Me: (insert smartass reply here) “Um, I don’t know…. maybe because of the fact that my child is dead.”

Lovie: “No. That’s not it. There is something else going on. These past few days, your anxiety has been really high.”

Me:(insert another smartass comment here) “Fine. Maybe it’s because of this list. (throw yellow legal pad across couch) My shit list of 500 nothings, but everything, things that I have to get done.”

I tried to blame my anxiety on the “Shit List,” today, which has everything on it from buying toilet paper to writing Dr. Kushner a Fuck Off letter. The “Shit List,” of 500 nothings but everythings that are bogging me down. So many things that I don’t even know where to start. Did I really just not pick up our dry-cleaning, go to the bank, to the grocery store, today because I just couldn’t?? What the fuck is wrong with me that I could not complete these simple tasks today? Those things could have been easily done and checked off my list. I went Inferno Hiking instead; just hoping to run into that Pink Rattlesnake that Tammy told me about yesterday. I actually had a full on conversation in my head today with that Pink Rattlesnake as I was running up the mountain in 112 degree heat.

In my head, it slithered in front of me, showed me it’s fangs and told me it was going to bite my leg. I told that Pink Rattlesnake, that if it tried, I would kick off it’s head off and kill it because the world took you away, so now, I am invincible to any kind of pain. I know what it is like to feel the worst pain possible, so the pain inflicted by the Pink Rattlesnakes bite, would not hurt me at all. He would be wasting his time and his venom on someone who would feel nothing. I watched as the Pink Rattlesnake, slithered away down the trail to take cover under a shaded bush. I continued on my run up the rocky trail. I was almost to the top, where most people choose to stop, at the first bench. A man was sitting there. I took out my headphones and said hello and what in the heck are you doing up here, as nobody is ever out hiking when I am, in the middle of this heat. The man laughed and told me to come sit down next to him. I told him, no way…. that if he wanted my company than he was going to have to keep up with me and continue up the rest of the hill to the second bench. He got up and followed behind me. I told him that I was running up the hill, not walking, and that he’d better keep up. He did a pretty good job, all while managing to tell me that he had just moved here from Idaho, just got a divorce, he has 3 kids, used to live here when he was little. I listened, quietly, and didn’t really say much of anything. I focused on getting my butt up to the top of our place, as fast as I could. Mountain Mike said I was trying to kill him. I laughed. We got to the top, I did my breathing, pacing, and just being. Mountain Mike did all of the talking for about 15 minutes. I kept thinking…. fuck…. I’m going to have to say those words again when he asks about me. Sometimes I don’t feel like telling strangers about you, but then I feel like I am being dishonest about you, us and what has just happened. Mike asked me what my story was.

Me: “Well, you are basically looking at a human being, living life on this earth, in Hell.

Mountain Mike: “Why? Are you going through a divorce?”

Me: “No. My 3 year old son just died of cancer, hence the reason for the Inferno Hiking.”

Mountain Mike: “I am so sorry. You know, I feel like my divorce is a death. I was married to her for 25 years.”

Me: “Mike. That sucks. But you know what, I’m sure you will fall in love again and your heart will be repaired. Mine won’t ever be. EVER.”

I gave Mountain Mike one of your bracelets, told him to look you up, and then maybe he would understand a little more. I told him goodbye, it was nice meeting him, and I would see him on the way down. He started the trek down the mountain. I stayed at the top to do my talking to you. I stayed for about 15 minutes, put my headphones back on, and hauled ass as fast as I could back down to the bottom. I passed Mountain Mike again during my run. I told him to have a good day.

I was hoping the Inferno Hike would have helped to quiet my mind today; but it didn’t. I survived today somehow, but barely. I picked up your brothers from school, took them to Doctor Beth for a 2 hour individual session. Stacy came by to try to help calm me down over my “Shit List.” We went over everything I need to get done. She settled me down. After Dr. Beth we went to dinner with Daddy. I cannot even tell you how painful that was. We to to Wally’s and the owner goes, “How many?” I automatically said, “Five.” Fuck. I than said, “Actually just 4.” I keep forgetting that you are not behind me, running off, throwing rocks or doing something else naughty that I loved so much. The 4 of us sat at a table. It was just sad and pathetic.

We came home, played a board game as a family. We all got ready for bed. I tried to just sit and watch T.V. with everyone. I hate the T.V. now. I got up, headed into your room and just wanted to be alone so I could sob into your pillows, stuffed animals, and let your bed swallow me whole. I don’ t go into your room very often and tonight I so just wanted to sit in there, alone. But Quinn followed me. GODFUCKINGDAMNIT. I could not break down in front of him, I could not sit and sob for you, the way I so wanted to and needed to. Instead, I sat with Quinn quietly in the dark, held it all inside, and listened to him talk about how he used to love to sleep in your bed with you. I talked to him about you, let him love on me when that is so the last thing I wanted. I loved on him back, told him what an amazing little boy he was how I am so lucky to be a mommy to both him and Liam. None of it felt good or comforting to me. But as of now, very little things do. This is a hard pill for me to swallow. I am still so numb, sad, and in shock. Your daddy said to me tonight that he thinks the sadness from us of missing you is only going to get worse. I told him I agreed. For once, I didn’t try to argue back. He’s right. He knows too. We are all broken, Ro. I don’t know what to do with all of these broken pieces. Are they fixable? I don’t know. All I know is the pain today, was too much because I sat by and watched as all of us had a tough day. I can deal with my pain, but sitting back and watching your brothers and Daddy is so overwhelming sometimes. Just when I think I am strong, that I can get through this; it’s days like today that have me wanting to just throw in the towel. It’s days like today that I have to remind myself of you and how you lived your life. You never gave up. I have to use that strength from you, to survive days like today.

I have to go now, babydoll. I love you to the moon and back. I hope you are safe. I love you, Ro.

xoxo

The beautiful stranger, life, death, and life again

Ronan. 2 steps forward, 3 steps back. Is that how this is going to work? That’s how I feel today. I had one of those days, where I feel as I can’t breathe without you. It started off the way it always does. “Good Morning, boys! Time to wake up. I’ve started your shower.” (insert happy face here)

Shower, teeth brushed, breakfast made, ….. wait. Where’s Ronan? I need to make his eggies. Oh. Ronan is not here….. but continue on anyway. Lunches packed, water bottles filled, dishes done, lights off, boys in car… off to school. Where are you? Because once again, you are not here. I always know this, but some days it smacks me in the face, harder than others.

Autopilot continues on. Boys dropped off, but I knew this morning, that I could not go home to an empty house. I took all of my “busy,” work and my computer to Starbucks so I could sit and get some things done. Coffee, couch alone, laptop out, headphones on, music blaring, and I did my best to ignore all the happy people walking around like sunshine was coming out of their asses. WTF you jerks. Don’t you know that my son just died of cancer? Why is everyone so happy and bliss? Don’t they know there are hospitals all over the world, filled with kids fighting cancer? Of course they do not. Why would they? It is much easier to live in,”The Real Housewives of Scottsdale,” than in, “The Real Housewives of Childhood Cancer.”

Just as I was about to fling myself onto the couch across from me, to strangle the two happy mommies, as they sat in deep in conversation in regards to our worlds problems….. “What are we going to do with all of our free time now that our kids are back in school??? “Yoga or Tennis?” mommy # 1 said. “Tennis has much cuter outfits. Let’s take up Tennis.” mommy #2 said. “I agree, but what am I going to do without my Nanny?” mommy #1 said. “I have to hire a new one soon, because taking care of a one year old, alone, is just too much for me. And it’s interfering with my Yoga.”

Deep breaths, I told myself. No judging. I closed my eyes as the conversation continued on… the screaming started inside of my head. And then she appeared. She, as in the beautiful woman, with the bald head, and hat on. She sat down right next to me. She looked like an angel. I touched her arm. The words, “Do you have cancer?” Just flew out of my mouth. Fuck. Did I really just say that? So elegant, Maya. I wish I would have just said to her, “Are you o.k.?” She smiled, told me yes. My next words were, “Are you going to be o.k.?” I wished they would have been my first. I’m still so very new to this world. I have no idea how to navigate it; and my bluntness tends to just organically take over. She told me she was going to be o.k. That they had caught her Breast Cancer at Stage 1. I felt a wave of warmth wash over me. I told her I had a bracelet for her and handed her an F U Cancer bracelet. I had my computer screen open, and your picture was on it. I then told her about you and how you, my 3-year-old, had just died of cancer. She looked shocked to say the least. I put on my bravest face as she sat with tears in her eyes and asked all about you. I did my best to tell her some of your story. It felt like another out-of-body experience. We sat for about 45 minutes and talked. It turns out, her little boy goes to the same school as Liam and Quinn. Such a strange, small world we live in. Such a coincidence. Or not. Such another sign from you. We exchanged smiles, tears, anger, and phone numbers today. I have a feeling I will be seeing her again. This story literally leaves me with my head spinning. Babydoll. I don’t know why this happened to you; but I know there is a much bigger reason than life. You were meant for so much more than just being on this earth. As much as I hate it, and would give anything to have you back here; I know there is something else. Watching all of these little things, that you are making happen, feels as if I am watching you being born, all over again. It often leaves me breathless, exhausted, scared, and vulnerable. But the “life,” part that you are creating, is going to be so beautiful. I just know it.

After I left Starbucks, I went to visit one of our lovies. I tried my best to sit still and articulate all of the thoughts I have swarming around in my head. I couldn’t even do it. My quietness crept in and took over. I am such an easy book to read. The quietness on the outside is always when I am screaming the loudest in my head. Our lovie knows this. Conversation went something like this:

Me: “Hi. I’m just sitting here, trying to figure out how I’m going to change the world.”

Lovie: “You are going to change the world. I have no doubt about that.”

Lovie: “What is going on with you? Why are you so anxious today?”

Me: (insert smartass reply here) “Um, I don’t know…. maybe because of the fact that my child is dead.”

Lovie: “No. That’s not it. There is something else going on. These past few days, your anxiety has been really high.”

Me:(insert another smartass comment here) “Fine. Maybe it’s because of this list. (throw yellow legal pad across couch) My shit list of 500 nothings, but everything, things that I have to get done.”

I tried to blame my anxiety on the “Shit List,” today, which has everything on it from buying toilet paper to writing Dr. Kushner a Fuck Off letter. The “Shit List,” of 500 nothings but everythings that are bogging me down. So many things that I don’t even know where to start. Did I really just not pick up our dry-cleaning, go to the bank, to the grocery store, today because I just couldn’t?? What the fuck is wrong with me that I could not complete these simple tasks today? Those things could have been easily done and checked off my list. I went Inferno Hiking instead; just hoping to run into that Pink Rattlesnake that Tammy told me about yesterday. I actually had a full on conversation in my head today with that Pink Rattlesnake as I was running up the mountain in 112 degree heat.

In my head, it slithered in front of me, showed me it’s fangs and told me it was going to bite my leg. I told that Pink Rattlesnake, that if it tried, I would kick off it’s head off and kill it because the world took you away, so now, I am invincible to any kind of pain. I know what it is like to feel the worst pain possible, so the pain inflicted by the Pink Rattlesnakes bite, would not hurt me at all. He would be wasting his time and his venom on someone who would feel nothing. I watched as the Pink Rattlesnake, slithered away down the trail to take cover under a shaded bush. I continued on my run up the rocky trail. I was almost to the top, where most people choose to stop, at the first bench. A man was sitting there. I took out my headphones and said hello and what in the heck are you doing up here, as nobody is ever out hiking when I am, in the middle of this heat. The man laughed and told me to come sit down next to him. I told him, no way…. that if he wanted my company than he was going to have to keep up with me and continue up the rest of the hill to the second bench. He got up and followed behind me. I told him that I was running up the hill, not walking, and that he’d better keep up. He did a pretty good job, all while managing to tell me that he had just moved here from Idaho, just got a divorce, he has 3 kids, used to live here when he was little. I listened, quietly, and didn’t really say much of anything. I focused on getting my butt up to the top of our place, as fast as I could. Mountain Mike said I was trying to kill him. I laughed. We got to the top, I did my breathing, pacing, and just being. Mountain Mike did all of the talking for about 15 minutes. I kept thinking…. fuck…. I’m going to have to say those words again when he asks about me. Sometimes I don’t feel like telling strangers about you, but then I feel like I am being dishonest about you, us and what has just happened. Mike asked me what my story was.

Me: “Well, you are basically looking at a human being, living life on this earth, in Hell.

Mountain Mike: “Why? Are you going through a divorce?”

Me: “No. My 3 year old son just died of cancer, hence the reason for the Inferno Hiking.”

Mountain Mike: “I am so sorry. You know, I feel like my divorce is a death. I was married to her for 25 years.”

Me: “Mike. That sucks. But you know what, I’m sure you will fall in love again and your heart will be repaired. Mine won’t ever be. EVER.”

I gave Mountain Mike one of your bracelets, told him to look you up, and then maybe he would understand a little more. I told him goodbye, it was nice meeting him, and I would see him on the way down. He started the trek down the mountain. I stayed at the top to do my talking to you. I stayed for about 15 minutes, put my headphones back on, and hauled ass as fast as I could back down to the bottom. I passed Mountain Mike again during my run. I told him to have a good day.

I was hoping the Inferno Hike would have helped to quiet my mind today; but it didn’t. I survived today somehow, but barely. I picked up your brothers from school, took them to Doctor Beth for a 2 hour individual session. Stacy came by to try to help calm me down over my “Shit List.” We went over everything I need to get done. She settled me down. After Dr. Beth we went to dinner with Daddy. I cannot even tell you how painful that was. We to to Wally’s and the owner goes, “How many?” I automatically said, “Five.” Fuck. I than said, “Actually just 4.” I keep forgetting that you are not behind me, running off, throwing rocks or doing something else naughty that I loved so much. The 4 of us sat at a table. It was just sad and pathetic.

We came home, played a board game as a family. We all got ready for bed. I tried to just sit and watch T.V. with everyone. I hate the T.V. now. I got up, headed into your room and just wanted to be alone so I could sob into your pillows, stuffed animals, and let your bed swallow me whole. I don’ t go into your room very often and tonight I so just wanted to sit in there, alone. But Quinn followed me. GODFUCKINGDAMNIT. I could not break down in front of him, I could not sit and sob for you, the way I so wanted to and needed to. Instead, I sat with Quinn quietly in the dark, held it all inside, and listened to him talk about how he used to love to sleep in your bed with you. I talked to him about you, let him love on me when that is so the last thing I wanted. I loved on him back, told him what an amazing little boy he was how I am so lucky to be a mommy to both him and Liam. None of it felt good or comforting to me. But as of now, very little things do. This is a hard pill for me to swallow. I am still so numb, sad, and in shock. Your daddy said to me tonight that he thinks the sadness from us of missing you is only going to get worse. I told him I agreed. For once, I didn’t try to argue back. He’s right. He knows too. We are all broken, Ro. I don’t know what to do with all of these broken pieces. Are they fixable? I don’t know. All I know is the pain today, was too much because I sat by and watched as all of us had a tough day. I can deal with my pain, but sitting back and watching your brothers and Daddy is so overwhelming sometimes. Just when I think I am strong, that I can get through this; it’s days like today that have me wanting to just throw in the towel. It’s days like today that I have to remind myself of you and how you lived your life. You never gave up. I have to use that strength from you, to survive days like today.

I have to go now, babydoll. I love you to the moon and back. I hope you are safe. I love you, Ro.

xoxo