Not too many days after my last post my beautiful best-friend Ashley, who was only 22 and a mother to a beautiful 4 month old baby girl, had a heart attack and passed away a few days later. Thankfully, because of my dad's stroke, I was able to spend the past few months before that completely with her and our other bestie. That was when I was smacked in the face with the realization that sometimes when things seem dire, like my 71 year old father having a stroke and me choosing to leave my husband and job for a few months to go to Michigan to help him and my mom, and it is really a giant blessing in disguise. My dad is fine now, with minor issues compared to most people who have strokes. He and my mom are able to live by themselves with no help and just a few physical therapy appointments. And I was able to spend more time with my friend who had very little time left. And that, I wouldn't trade for the world.
On the day of her death, Julie and I went out and tattoo'd ourselves in her memory. Ashley had a beautiful piece on her back that was a treble and bass clef put together to make a heart. Now, Jules and I both have that on our wrists so that every time we look at it we remember her. I can't tell you how greatly her loss has affected me, she was a lot of things to me in my life. She was my best-friend that I should have never had according to the world, but because she and I were rebels we became friends anyway, even if people thought it was weird. (That's not going to make sense to anyone except the people who know us and know why). She helped me through my separation with Travis and encouraged me when we started our marriage over again. I still read over that letter that she sent us reminding us how much God was rooting for our marriage, even when the situation wasn't ideal... and now he and I are stronger and more in love than ever. She went with me on a long trip to Tennessee and found a little doggy daycare hidden on a hill that, little did we know, was to become my future job almost a year later. She has had such an impact on my life from the time, almost three years ago, while sharing our heartache with each other, that we decided we were best friends, even if we did live in two different states.
It was that trip to Tennessee with her that also brought about another huge, and recent, change. But, without her death, I don't think it would have happened. In the beginning of May Travis and I decided we were going to stay in Chicago. We began new aspects of our jobs, started looking for homes in better neighborhoods, and started to get used to the idea that regardless of how much we weren't fond of the city, it was to be our home. Two weeks after she went on to Heaven, I took her final advice to me and was living with Grandma and Grandpa in Tennessee and starting my new job that had been waiting for me to make the decision to move 12 hours from almost everything and everyone that I loved. But, I love Tennessee. In July (Which was A LOT sooner than the September we were expecting, but we found wonderful Sub-letters who took over our lease!) my husband and cat joined me in my little bedroom in the back of Grandma and Grandpa's house. By the end of July, after one huge ordeal after the other, Travis and I finally moved into our own little house (It's a rental, but still it's our house :D). We put our blood, sweat, and tears into converting it into the cute little cottage it is today, because when we found it... it wasn't in the greatest condition.
A few weeks ago, we welcomed a new addition onto our family: Daphne! She is a beautiful Australian Shepherd mix who is a wallflower, but follows me where ever I go, including when I go to work! She gets to play with the other puppies there while I scrub floors and the like :) She still makes wide circles around that weirdo cat that lives with us, but I believe that eventually they'll learn to love each other. Even if Tumble only loves her for her tail which he finds to be VERY entertaining.
Since we've been here we've had some family and friends visit us. In the beginning of June, Newly weds Caitlin (Ashley's sister) and her husband Gabe had their Honeymoon just a few hours away from us so they stopped by for a visit and I took them to THE BEST Japanese food in the whole wide world and tried to convince them to stay, permanently, forever and evers, but that didn't work. Then last month Travis' parents stopped by on their way back to Arizona from visiting their supporters (They are Missionaries with NTM Aviation). We didn't do much but work on the house with them, but we also took them to THE BEST Japanese food in the whole wide world. Last weekend Travis' brother and his gorgeous wife Nancy and my beautiful almost two year old niece Aurora evacuated themselves from the path of Hurricane Irene and ended up on our doorstep for the entire weekend. We actually were able to do stuff with them, like take them to the Aquarium, and go on a "hike" at IJAMS Nature Center in Knoxville and SHOP. Oh, and we took them to THE BEST Japanese food in the whole wide world. We also tried to get them to move here too, but they too seem to be fond of where they live and such. I don't know why, Tennessee is beautiful and I live here.... what more could you ask for.
There is also something else I would love to share with the world... but I can't. I will be starting a new blog soon and that will have to do with what the BIG SECRET is, but that will also have to wait. (And no, I'm not pregnant... at least, not that I know of....) The Barking Owl will stay and I will begin my little drawings once again. Like this one:
I love you all and I can't wait to share our news with the world!