Sunday, April 13, 2014

Growing Kids, Growing Garden

It all started the spring of 2006, after my grandparents dying eight weeks apart, my mom going through a major surgery, I was pretty worn out. When I came home from my extended stay in Whittier, my hometown the kids and I were wading through grief together. Death is hard enough, two deaths together is extremely hard. So one day, I decided that the kids and I would plant a memory garden in honor of my grandparents.

Many don't know, I am only a second generation Californian on one side and a first generation on the other. Three out of my four grandparents were from a small corner of southeast Kansas and my Grandma Brown was from Milwaukee, WI ( that is why my family are Greenbay fans for those who've always wondered)

I decided to plant sunflowers to honor my Grandpa's Kansas heritage and Zinnia's because they are known for attracting butterflies. Once in my grandparents backyard, a butterfly landed on my shoulder as my grandma and I conversed. She told me it was a good luck sign, so butterflies have always reminded me of her since then.

The first year, we amended the soil, tilled our little patch in front of our condo, planted seeds and waited. The first sprout poked through and we were thrilled. We came up with a plan to take a picture each week to watch our garden grow. Elizabeth was five and Conner was seven, so I would make them stand in front of the sunflowers to chart their growth each week. At this time, social media was a blog and Myspace, it became a hit with my ''online friends'' and a tradition to follow for many years.


2007 ( look they are hugging)



Then 2010, Marty was really sick, we just stopped planting the garden. Our lives were just dark and tough, getting throug was the goal. The next year after his transplant, we were traveling so much and didn't have time. One year later found us planning to move so we took this substitute picture at Stanford on the first anniversary of Marty's transplant

Last year we just grew Zinnia's which attracted many butterflies, which we loved.

After a three year hiatus, we've planted our sunflowers again. We always plant the beginning of April and see our blooms around July. Sunflowers and I have become a bit synonymous, my friends always sending me gifts with sunflowers. I wait all year to watch the Tour De France which often goes through the sunflower fields in France, I wait all year for that picture on my television screen. 

A few days ago, I posted a picture of my new budding sunflower. I made the quip that I doubted that I could get my bickering teenagers to pose in front of the plants this year. My friend Andrea balked a that, she said the kids must pose, it is tradition. We shall see how it goes......

For my new friends, I wanted to explain the tradition and story behind the sunflowers. As you all know, everything I do has a story or a meaning behind it. One year, one of our sunflowers grew over 17 feet tall, we called it ''Poppa'' just like Conner called my grandpa.

Now I have a collage on my wall of my growing kids in front of the sunflowers. Truly some of our most precious memories have come from gardening together. I will keep you all posted on the progress of the 2014 Tennessee sunflowers.

 My Favorite picture of my garden

Monday, March 10, 2014

Happy Birthday Friend Series: Happy Birthday Melissa!

When this blog started in 2005, on the now defunct Myspace, I had a four loyal readers two of them were family and two of them friends. Not sure if the other three read any longer but I know Melissa is still reading this blog. She gets them in her email and sometimes will email me comments on them.

So it is only fitting after nearly ten years, ( that is right, next year Just Jules is celebrating 10 years of existence) that Mel get her own birthday blog!

Melissa was one of my first online friends back when making friends online was strange and weird. We never would tell people we made friends with someone on a message board! She was one of my first bible study students online. 

We're the same age and grew up in the 80's, we love a lot of the same things and our commonalities are many. For years, we've had our phone chats and emails where we've shard our truimphs, struggles and joys together. She was there for me when my grandparents were dying, she was actually the first phone call that I made from Stanford the first time we went there and were accepted into the transplant program. So the morning of Marty's transplant, she was the first person I called.

She is one of those friends who you know will always be there when you call. We haven't talked as much as we should in the last couple of years. Life has taken us in different directions, she has faced difficult times, quietly and bravely. 

She came out to California to visit me back in 2007. We had a fun weekend driving around LA and hanging out together.

We had a wonderful talk on the phone a few weeks ago, it had been too long. Both of us felt bad and lamented the fact we've been out of touch. I felt bad when she shared some tough words for me, sometimes when you have many friends, you can lose some in the shuffle. It's not intentional on my part, nobody is more important than anyone else. Some of you are just louder than others, Mel isn't loud she is quietly always there waiting in the wings.


She has been there through some of the weirder parts of my life, the parts that very few understand or have been through. Listening, giving advice and helping me through has been her specialty and I really couldn't have made it without her.

It's been a joy to watch her go from dreaming of children, suffering a heartbreaking loss and then becoming a mother. She is a hard working mom, who has worked hard for her career, gone to school all while raising two kids.  Melissa is the kind of friend that I look up to and am inspired  by.

Thanks for being there on this crazy journey Melissa. You will always have a special place in my life and heart. I am always just a phone call or email away when you need me and never feel like you aren't special to me.  Should we start a club 40? nah.....doesn't sound as fun as club 30 was let's just pretend we aren't heading to 40.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Happy Birthday Marty!

Every year, Marty asks me, ''Where is my birthday blog?'' to which  I reply, ''half of my blog is about you!'' so this year, I finally will write his birthday blog for him.

Behind this loud, emotional, crazy girl is a quiet, steady, strong man and this is his story:

Martin was a cute kid, named after his father Martin, they were called ''Big Marty'' and ''Little Marty'' by their family members. His parents divorced when he was only three, after third grade he chose to permanently live with his Dad and Grandmother in the family home in Fullerton.

Little Marty and a neighbor friend

Marty's dad was ravaged by Type 1 diabetes and was a good caretaker for Marty who had been diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes himself at some age between 5-9.  He remembers living a life of measured kashi cereal and eating cake gels as glucose to bring his blood sugar up.

Big Marty and Little Marty

The Timms Men

He was a very doted upon only child, I actually have lists that his parents saved from their toy hunting adventures. They were known to drive all over southern California to buy Marty a toy. He had every single Star Wars toy in its original box....every.single. one. That also crossed over to GI Joe and Transformers. He had a five foot long toy box on casters. What happened to those toys? his Dad and Grandma eventually donated them. It's a story of legend.

He grew up bowling with his neighbors Albert and Tony. Star Wars toys gave way to skateboarding and having the best gear.

Marty and friend Albert

In junior high, I started riding on the same bus as Marty, we never spoke. It's funny, we have pictures from the same place and time, going to school together from 7th-12th grade. We had the many cross over friends but we never spoke.

Marty lived a different lifestyle than I did in those days. I do remember his daily treks to Taco Bell, once walking behind him and thinking he was stuck up. True story.

In 1994, a few months after we graduated high school our paths crossed and we finally saw each other. It was a rough start involving a one month break up. Three months after that we were engaged and so our lives began.

our engagement photo

We were young but had plans, both growing up in tough situations, we both grew up very fast. We knew what we wanted and stuck to it.

Our wedding day

Marty and I moved in his family home to care for his dying grandmother and father. Often we failed, we were 19 years old and even our parents hadn't gone through those things. I remember watching Marty make the toughest choice of his life in a hospital emergency room at 20 years old to let his Dad go. It was a heartbreaking moment to head home without his dad.

Marty and his parents

At his funeral, Marty said, ''If I can only be a 1/4 of the father my Dad was to my kids someday?'' A month later he wrote me a card and asked me if we could have a baby? he really wanted to have kids and didn't want to wait anymore. We had that five year mentality because of our ages but his dream of seeing his father hold his grandson was shattered. Just ten months later, Conner was born.

Proud Dad

Marty had never been around small kids but was a natural dad. He would take care of Conner in the mornings before I worked. Later when Elizabeth was born, she immediately had him wrapped around her finger. He would care for them during the day while I worked and he worked at night  to be home during the day.

First day as a Dad

We made our first big leap and moved 300 miles away from our families to start a new life. It was a tough journey that we accomplished together. Starting from nothing, Marty worked hard to build a life for our family alongside me. So proud of all he accomplished going to school to start a new career.

Marty and baby Conner

Together our lives came crumbling down in 2007 with a horrible diagnosis. Marty held his head high, worked 80 hrs a week and very rarely complained. It was me who often crumbled and lost it, Marty stood strong only breaking down twice in our four year journey.

He is a good husband, very patient with me, loving, and kind. He has always supported me, helped me through some really dark things and made me a better person  Never telling me ''no'' when I want to go on an adventure with friends,traveling to see my family or meeting up with my beloved tweeps. He always goes right along with me. He never once has told me to lose weight or anything about my appearance except that I am beautiful to him. God knew the day I met Marty, he told me that was my husband and chose well for me. I never have had to  wonder where he was? he has always been right by my side.

Never have I felt anything but that of a treasured and well loved wife, I am his world and he graciously shares me with the world. I asked him a few months back, when crying about something that happened to a twitter friend, '' Does it bother you that I let others in?'' and he said, ''That is what makes you who you are and I know you wouldn't be happy if you couldn't love others.'' I told you he is pretty darn wonderful!

Marty and I during our darkest times

I love coming home to the laughter of Marty and the kids. They have lots of laughs together, inside jokes and fun times. He is a wonderful father and an even better husband. Thanks to a boy named Jerry, we get to keep him longer than once expected.

Marty's favorite picture of the kids

Ours isn't a perfect life of rose colored glasses or easy, we have lived a hard life filled with much love and respect. I know my life would not be the same without this lovely man and I count myself very blessed to have him.

He makes me laugh, he tells me when I am wrong, he loves me unconditionally, worships the ground I walk on, is a wonderful dad, hard worker and just the even keel I need.

Happy birthday baby, I thank God for you each day and for the life we continue to live. It's been hard and uphill but we made it together. So thankful today we get to celebrate your 8th annual 29th birthday!

This one gets me everytime. Marty and our babies

Marty and the kids in front of his childhood home

Marty and my cousins

Daddy and the kids

Marty and his Poohnky

our first date

Marty took me to the Madonna Inn for my 30th birthday

Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Strange World of Estrangement

Estrangement, I have heard that word before and never thought in my life it would apply to me. My Gramie was estranged from her brothers, I thought that was so weird. Never would that happen to me, that wasn't my family. Even in the midst of divorce, I never thought divorce would affect my sister and I.

 My sister and I were born two years apart. I really don't remember my life without her, we were playmates along with our cousins Brianne, Sarah and Rissa. We all were inseparable, spending all of our time together at our grandparents house, each others houses, the mall and for my sister and one cousin, their mutual friends houses.

I considered my sister one of my best friends. We fought and were very different people, she was neat and tidy, I was messy. She was tough and I was emotional. Really opposite people but somehow we had some common ground.

Every weekend, our Dad would drive us into LA and we would go from concert to concert together seeing our favorite bands. We held parties at our house together and spent weekends at our grandparents with our cousins. She eventually moved in with my Dad and grandparents, I remember crying for days on end. I was in high school and had a life at mom's that I didn't want to leave.  That is when things really started to change between us.

Things started rapidly declining around 1995, it was silly little things and somehow my sister became very angry with me. I to this day really don't know what I did or why things changed? they just did.

For fifteen years, I begged, pleaded, wrote letters and in the words of Marty ''puppy dogged'' after my sister trying to ''fix'' our relationship. She would come to visit our other sister and be around the corner from my house without a word. She would make that 300 mile trip to see my sister and never tell me. I would go for a walk with my kids to see her car at our other sisters house. Neither of them would tell me. I wish that feeling upon nobody.

I would get upset and say something to just be ignored. Nobody could help or would help, it just was a vicious cycle that kept turning.

In 2004, I made the choice to disconnect my life from my older sister. After years of verbal abuse, I could take no more and it was very unhealthy. I always tell people, I didn't want my kids to think that was normal or okay, I grew up with it but they didn't have to. Best decision I ever made.

As for my younger sister, I kept trying. I went to counseling to deal with my insecurity and emotional issues. I changed and was different but nothing mattered.

My long suffering cousins would listen to me over and over. Crying phone calls time and time again after being shot down for trying. Those girls were there for me, they couldn't fix it and were caught in the middle for the longest time.

Then one day, our entire family was cut off even the other girls. There were hurt feelings and anger, a situation cropped up and the estrangement now encompassed one side of our family, Dad and all. Nobody can fix it, we can't make the change to make someone want to be a part. We just aren't that kind of family but nobody knows what to do. A couple of us have tried to no avail.

I will say, after trying to be allowed to be an aunt, I gave up but had a small chance to make a connection with my nephew a couple of years back. I have been able to talk with my nephew and niece on the phone a few times, see them in person a few times and let me tell you, it is thrilling everytime!

When Marty was sick, something came up and I finally let go. No more chasing, no more trying, I would just walk away and leave her be. I care it with me, a pain unfathomable to most.

Thankfully my sisters of the heart and my sister cousins have helped heal that hole. They love me, support me, listen and do fun things with me. I am so grateful for their role in my life.

I will never give up hope. I pray always and in 2005, I had a sign that their was hope and I cling to that hope that someday things will be healed.

Its tough, I really never imagined things would be this way. I cannot fix it, I cannot change it, I am completely at the mercy of her wishes. I recently read a blog by Ann Voskamp about the heart and estrangement, in the blog she said she would change things in a heartbeat. That is me, in a heartbeat, I would open my life to my sister again.

For me, I move forward. I will say my heart is whole, there is that dark pain but it is what makes me love others fiercely and with unwavering dedication. I smother my sisters of the heart, though sometimes they have to deal with my issues. I fear abandonment, I always fear they will give up on me as easily as blood did, it can be tough for them. I am working on that issue and others, my heart is a scarred place but the scars make me, who I am.

Last year, my friend Mary challenged me to be vulnerable on my blog. This is a part of my life that is no secret but I really never put the details out there. I always want to be careful of what I say or put out there, it is a tenuous situation. This week, after I learned something, I decided to just put it out there. Today is my sisters birthday, I miss her, I wish that we were close but we aren't and that is something I have surrendered to. I love her, I never stopped loving her and never will but that isn't enough sometimes.

Estrangement is a dirty word with ugly meaning. I accept it as part of my life and finally have surrendered to being honest about it. It's not my choice, I cannot change it, I can accept it and keep moving forward.

Maybe by sharing, it will help someone else dealing with the same issue. I always want to portray an honest look at my life, warts and all. Maybe it will help those who have wonderful siblings to love them more and appreciate what they have, you're really lucky. I know many are curious about this and hesitate to ask me, so I wanted to share to answer questions and let people know, its okay to ask me.

A deep dark shame covered my heart for many years. I felt ashamed and like a failure, I didn't want people to know. Finally one day, I really don't remember how or why? I realized that I had nothing to be ashamed of, this isn't my fault and I have tried all I could. Now instead, I accept it, I am open about it and hope my honesty will help someone else.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Year Three, Reflecting on the Journey

The evening we got engaged, Marty and I stood in the Huntington Beach pier parking lot discussing our future. Marty popped another questiong that night, '' If you want to marry me, you have to realize that I don't want to live in California forever and be willing to move away someday.'' I agreed with trepidation and fear that I would be able to leave my family someday.

We had a journey ahead of us that most will never go through in life. Burying his grandma and dad before we were twenty one. Moving away for the first time to Visalia, Ca with our young son Conner in tow. Starting out with nothing, losing a baby, battling Type 1 diabetes, working hard to make a life for our family. We finally had realized our dream of me staying home and Marty working in law enforcement, life was looking up. Plans were being made for me to go back to school and gain a career in case anything ever happened to Marty, that was just passing conversation, nothing serious.

Then a high blood pressure test at work, followed by a trip to the doctor the next day and a phone call on a Wednesday afternoon that threw our world upside down. End Stage Renal Failure at 31 years one moment our lives were turned into a dark tunnel. I always liken it to being in a metal air conditioning shaft with no way to turn or move, the only way is to crawl forward looking for a way out.

We were 30 and 31 years old,  Conner was 9 and Elizabeth was 6 yrs old.

We knew immediately that a transplant was the best solution. We started seeing a Nephrologist who mumbled and looked like Santa Claus with a fiery temper. We were misled by the office staff about the kind of transplant he should have. We wanted him to be transplanted in LA but God closed that door and we were turned to Stanford University, the best in the nation. We traveled in  zero visibility fog getting rear ended in a rental car in one of the multi car pileups on the 99 corridor between Kingsburg and LA. We limped our way to Stanford, shell shocked and thinking our lives were over.

A doctor came into the room and asked a simple question, ''Why doesn't he want a kidney/pancreas transplant? he is the perfect candidate for one.'' We explained that we didn't have seven years to wait for that and were informed that we were misled. The wait for kidney pancreas was one year versus seven years for just a kidney. We agreed and waited to be told he was accepted on the list. He was listed October 8, 2007 and the wait began.

There was a hope he would never have to go on dialysis, he still had kidney function left and there was a chance that might happen. Unfortunately it wasn't to be and he started a regimen of dialysis at home every four hours. It was a nightmare experience filled with terrible things we would like to forget. Machines beeping, waking up every four hours sleepless nights, high blood sugars, passing out at work, high blood pressure that scared us, swollen legs. We wondered would our miracle come?

We put our lives on hold. We didn't leave our town for two years unless we made a trip to Stanford. Our house became a prison of sorts for us.

During this time Marty started dreaming. One day while cooking in the kitchen he said, '' I think that if I get better, I want to move to Peachtree City,GA'', that dream kept us going, it gave us something to cling to and dream about in a very dark time.

We kept hearing that people in southern states were waiting short times for organs and the wait list wasn't as long. It seemed like a good choice all around.

Every day after October 8, 2008 was sheer torture. One year turned into two years and two years turned into three years. We spent so much time waiting for our donor, praying for that family, we always sensed it would be a man. In September 2010, Marty was taken off the wait list briefly due to a doctor calling him non compliant because his phosphorus number was high. We thought for one weekend, death was very certain. One day in December 2010, our family laid in our King sized bed and cried together, Marty's toes were black in a place and we thought he wasn't going to make it.

Then a premonition from Elizabeth on December 17, turned into a call from Stanford on December 20th, Marty was next on the list and we were on stand by.

The call came 1/1/11, forever to remain our lucky day. One last night of dialysis, a morning spent trying to lower his insanely high blood sugar.  1/12/11 Marty was wheeled into the O.R. for a nearly twelve hour operation. He came out with a working kidney and pancreas. The months after were tenuous and stressful, thanks to so many people and help from all over, we made it through.

We took a trip to Georgia, started planning to move in 2013. God had other plans, it wasn't meant for us to go to Georgia. That was just a dream to get us through but the dream of moving became reality. We took a chance at a job offer and moved to Knoxville, TN. Our dream finally became reality.

It has been a tough year of transition and growing pains. We have learned some tough lessons but grown all the way through. We have laughed, cried, prayed, grown, and had adventures together. Everyday we think of Jerry, our eighteen year old donor who gave Marty new life and his mother Debbie, who in her time of grief made a difficult choice. Dialysis and insulin are now things of the past and only hope remains. We are grateful for this gift of life and can never tell you enough.

Our year in review:

Register to become an organ donor:

Monday, December 30, 2013

''The Friend Collector''

''You're a people collector'' stated my Dad, one morning over coffee at my dining room table. He was visiting from California for the holidays, I was introducing him to Tennessee and talking about some of my new friends recently acquired in Tennessee. It took a moment, thinking about his words to me, mulling them over in my head. He is right, I do happen to collect people but I like to think of them as friends.

Apparently, this has been a life long habit according to my parents something that started at an early age. It's not intentional by any means or stretch of the imagination. I meet someone, we click and boom, we're friends. Are there people I don't click with? absolutely, when it happens it throws me into a tailspin. Meeting someone that isn't a friend is rare, so rare and I always try to ''fix it'' thinking it is something that I can fix.

It's like the parable of the lost sheep, when a friend goes missing, I feel it acutely and mourn the loss. You see, people aren't just numbers to me. They aren't some wall trophy that I count as a bragging right. People are precious to me. If you're a friend, I like to know you, about your family, about your job, pets, siblings. I find everyone has a fascinating story and just as I like to share mine, I love to know your story even more. Really I enjoy hearing about others more than I enjoy hearing about my self.

My oldest friend Christena and I both are the same. We come from broken family situations that have caused us really tough circumstances emotionally. Instead of putting up walls, we opened the doors wide and allowed many people in to fill those holes in our lives. Struggling through feelings of abandoment is tough, it can truly break and ruin a person if you let it.

I once lost a friend for over twenty years, when I found her and re-connected with her, my heart was full of joy. In twenty years, I never got over the loss of that friendship nor did I close the hole in my heart where she fit in my life.  You see, we people lovers don't handle loss of a person well, it devastates us. You can replace money & things but you cannot replace a person. Believe me, I have tried and it just doesn't work that way.

Don't mistake my soft, sappy ways for weakness. There is a very tough side to me, I will not let anyone walk all over me and I most certainly am not a doormat. I have had to end friendships and relationships and I am not afraid to do that any longer. I took years of emotional abuse at the hands of a few people and finally stood up and learned how to be tough. I still love those people but they have no place in my life any longer.

Marty, Conner, E and my parents simply cannot keep up with my friends. They're always glad to meet them, get to know them and go along on meetups. My parents will help friends if they need help in their field of expertise as well as Marty. They just get confused and unsure of how I know this person? In that respect, I really can't spend a lot of time with friends.

I have to turn down a lot of invitations to go do fun things, you all outnumber my family and my family comes first. So if I tell you ''no'' its simply for that reason. I would love to go do all the fun things but my family cannot keep up with it. Someday my kids will be grown and I want to enjoy ever minute with them while I can.  Thankfully, my friends understand we come as a four pack and almost always travel together. So often, you aren't just meeting up with me, you're meeting up with my entire family.

Sometimes I am closer with some than others. When you just click with someone, you click and it is a supernatural bond that always is mind blowing. It just happens there is no method or way, it doesn't matter who the person is, when it happens it just happens. Those easy friendships that are effortless, the one's where you can just pick up where you left off after twenty years. The friend who you can call on the phone and talk to after months or years, picking right up like it was just yesterday. It just is a special kind of vibe that cannot be replicated or created, it just simple is.

I count myself as blessed, ''The Secret Life of Walter Mitty'' has nothing on the Real Life Adventures of Just Jules. The one question that is asked of me over and over is, ''How did you meet that person?'' and the answer is always the same, '' I just did. I wasn't trying and it just happened..''

I'm not trying to collect friends, not trying to be better friends with someone over someone else. In my way of believing and thinking, I have been given a gift to use and I am just using it. My gift is the ability to love on people. My super memory makes it easy to remember so many people, their families, their friends and their lives. My Rolodex for a brain makes it easy to flip through and find your place, my vault capacity is seemingly endless to keep secrets for people.

Moving to Knoxville, I came having built in friends. I was introduced to a couple more before moving who have become very good friends. One of my customers at the store Natalie and I were talking one day, I told her that I didn't move here to make friends. She asked me, '' you will be my friend though, right?'' of course! I am not out to make friends but I have made friends here and I love them all dearly. So nice to have a local support network to lean on and to go do fun things with!

IF anything, I may disappoint you because I try very hard to keep up with everyone but sometimes people fall through the cracks. I hate to hurt anyone's feelings, make them feel unimportant or forgotten but sometimes I just cannot keep up with everyone. I do my best though. It helps when friendships are a two way street and the keeping up goes both ways. There are some friends who are such wonderful friends,  they are who I look up to and strive to better myself to be more like them.

So maybe I am a friend collector. I could myself blessed, rich, grateful and humbled to know so many people in life. It is good to have one good friend, who you can always count on and I am blessed hundreds of times over in that respect. Each person is special to me and I am so thankful to call them friend.

My friend Kay sent me a quote yesterday, this is my mission in life:

"Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.'' 
Mother Teresa

Blessed to know that no matter where I go in the world, I will always have a friend.

Monday, December 9, 2013

The Divine Miss Kim

In 2008, Marty and I were facing bleak times. Dialysis was coming down the pike, we were fighting  battle with renal failure and the state of California budget woes. We had been through hell since December of 2005, as an emotional person it was tough and I was finding ways to cope. My bowling partner Tammy told me to read the Twilight series. I immediately was hooked, I watched the first movie and was curious about the chemistry of the two leads in the film. Of course, I couldn't just be idle, I started looking it up online and wondering if they were together?

I met a lady in Boston online, she was curious as well and on a message board. After working with Candace's message board, I wasn't leery of them any longer and so I joined. At this time, I had a locked Twitter account that I only talked to Di and Andrea on plus a couple of other friends whom I knew in real life. I did NOT talk to stranger on Twitter...ever.

T from Boston convinced me to add her, a lady Susie from California by way of IN and a lady Jules. I added them and started talking to them. T introduced me to two ladies Elena and Kim @kgirl1899,  she thought we would get along great. She was right we did get along great!

Kim loved Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart together and loved being a detective trying to find out more about them. We all got pretty wrapped up in it from 2008-2011. It was my outlet when Marty was sick, my break with reality. Kim and the other Twi tweeps were there for me during some of my darkest days. There were about 100 of them by the time our circle was complete. Kim and T introduced me to the writers of Fan fiction and reading fan fiction, they are how I met ALE and my other writing friends.

When Marty was put on dialysis, they were there. They were there, when we would end up in the hospital and they were there when we got ''the call''.

Kim was a vibrant person, she was a true blue New Yorker, she made no bones about how she felt about things and never apologized for her opinion. She was loud, funny, loved to stir the pot and watch it boil. She really was like a flame burning brightly. I loved when she would call me on the phone and say, ''What's up?'' like I had called her and her time was important. Kim was just Kim to know her was to know her fully.

Kim lost her mom as a young girl, I know that death deeply affected her and she lived her life fully with an unparalleled joie d'vivre. She loved going to movies, shows and concerts. She would travel all over the world for work and was always meeting up with someone and having fun.

When I moved to TN, she told me that she was going to take a road trip to see me. She wanted me to take her to see all the Whiskey distilleries in the area. I could just see her in her navy blue Audi convertible, top down, music blaring heading my way. Once again, I find myself devastated we never got to me in person.

I was actually sitting at my desk at work last night, thinking about how I finally want to meet up with my Twi besties and get a picture together. As always, it hasn't happened yet and 2014 was going to be the year. I saw a picture of R and K on my neighbors desk and thought about my Twi besties. This was before I found out the news later in the evening. It was like God was preparing my heart for what was to come.

I learned many lessons being Kim's friend. Women in small groups can often eat their own and sometimes we had tough times. We all would and did drive each other crazy in the early years of our Twitter friendship. This year it has been five years since we've all been friends. I have lost other tweeps but this is our first loss in this group and none of us would have ever thought it would be Kim.

Last Monday night, she tweeted she felt dizzy. Immediately I sensed something off and asked what other symptoms she was feeling? she said a headache like sinus pain. She said her husband brought her some Advil. She made it sound like they were both not feeling well and I thought maybe they had the flu. My Twitter besties ( that is what we call each other except for Tiybor who is Sis and Lisa who is Twin) and I started worrying after Kim was silent for a few days. We all tried calling and texting her, it was normal she would take breaks but unusual for her to not answer her phone.I really thought it was something to do with her Dad who was fighting cancer. I never imagined what would happen next........

Kim's husband tweeted she had a stroke last Monday night and passed away yesterday morning. I called our bestie Melinda and asked if it was true and she confirmed. I cried all night long, woke up this morning still stunned and in grief. Kim was 39 years old, she would've been forty on Christmas day. I truly cannot fathom that she is gone from this world.

There is something VERY special about the Twi group, we have been together many years. Many of us have moved on from the celebrity end of it but the friendships have grown and bloomed into beautiful flowers. Women who love and support one another for who they are as humans and people. We have lived a lot of life together transplants, family issues,health crises, divorces, death, child rearing and the fun stuff too. They are the first strangers I ever knew on Twitter who now are like family.

Every morning one of us tweets @mram71 @tiybor @baseball31 @kgirl1899 " Good morning besties, have a great day.'' My TL will be littered with their responses throughout the day. We have been doing it for so many years now. It will not be the same without Kim being a part, something will always be missing and it will be her.

This morning I have been thinking of Kim. Smiling and thinking of how she in the end is bringing us all together. How she worked hard and played hard, she loved deeply and fiercely never wavering in her opinions or from who she was as a person. I enjoyed our last year of friendship, it was easy and special. We accepted each other as is and just had fun.

Kim lived by my favorite Auntie Mame quote and I think it sums her up perfectly, '' Live! Live!Live! Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death.''

She lived her life like a flame burning may have been dimmed out but now she will be a star burning brightly above us. I love you bestie, rest in peace my friend.

My thoughts are with her husband Rob and her father. Praying for your family today and always. I am so sorry for your loss.

to my ladies from the cone of silence, you all are special to me in your own ways and I am thankful for all the years we've had together. These songs are for you:

today as we work and live, let's smile and remember Kim

Who knew a book and a couple of celebrities would make a wonderful group of friends. I cry everytime I hear this song and think of all of you

I've learned that anything can bring people together. I am always open to things even though they may be odd to others because I know they can bring wonderful people into your life. Don't ever close yourself off to new experiences and people.