Stunned, Dazed And Devastated

[Originally posted to my blog ‘Point of Tears’ on Jun 6, 2005.]

I came in this morning with thoughts on actually posting something. Not really anything of note. Just some random thoughts rolling through my head. Some filler. Something to let you all know that I am still alive over here.

But then I came to work.

Usually this is not such a big deal. I come to work five days a week and nothing untoward happens. Until today.

Today I came in, and as usual, I went over to the next office to say hello, and to talk to my financial guy; but just before I walked in the door I could hear crying. I rounded the door to find three of the four members of the office crying. The boss was on the phone and one of the others whispered that it was something about the other member of the office. Something bad happened to her.

As the woman on the phone talked and the others cried, I figured it was a bad accident. Maybe a car accident? Her baby was sick maybe? I stood, wide-eyed and waiting.

When she finally got off the phone, she confirmed what the others knew. My friend was murdered over the weekend by her partner.

It’s not public yet. We’re still trying to get details. And I can’t possibly wrap my head around it. I *do* know that her baby is okay. He’s what? Three now? Right now he’s in Child Protective Services. Not where he should be. He should be with his mother. Or at least his sister.

I’m sorry. I was close to this person. This person they say someone brutally killed. I can’t accept it right now. I can’t comprehend it. Understand it. I mean, I know the person they say hurt her. I talked to him Friday. I talked to *her* Friday. They were supposed to come over this weekend. Possibly rent my apartment after I left.

How am I going to tell Crystal? This person is one of her all-time favorite people in the whole wide world. And now she’s dead.

I can’t do this. I can’t understand this. You never expect for this type of thing to touch you. You never expect it to. To happen. And when it does, you wonder at humanity as a whole.

I’m gonna go now. I need to sit with someone else. I just can’t be here alone in my office right now. I’ll talk to you all later.

Advertisements

What Are You Suppose To Say?

[Originally posted to my blog ‘Point of Tears’ on Jun 7, 2005.]

It’s all so surreal. Despite the fact that it’s all over the news, it feels like I’m a bit character in a Law & Order episode. I still can’t wrap my head around this all being real. I desperately want to go to work on Wednesday and have her walk in the door to tell me I screwed something else up.

But I just keep thinking that I have to tell the Brat. You see, Dee is one of the Brat’s favorite people in the world. Any time I brought her to work with me I would always try and limit the amount of times that the Brat would bug her. Not that she cared. She loved the Brat just about as much as the Brat loved her. Dee would spoil her rotten and just loved to take her places, buy her things and just hang out with her . . .

So now what do I say?

The Brat is not going to go for, “Dee passed away.” She’ll want to know how. And while I should be able to keep most of the gory details from her, what the hell am I supposed to say?

Quite frankly, I’m terrified. Completely and utterly terrified.

Parenting is always an adventure, but usually I at least feel like I have *some* knowledge I’ve obtained earlier in life that will help me get through each parenting challenge I face. Not this time.

This time I’m so clueless I actually wish they really had a manual.

Anyone? Anyone?

Damn. I guess I’m swinging this one on my own.

I ended up sleeping on the couch with the lights and tv on last night. I think that all the details I keep seeking out, trying to make reality sink into my brain, finally got to me. I mean it’s hard enough to struggle with the concept of Dee getting hurt by someone; but it’s a thousand times harder conceiving that someone I know did this to her.

Then let’s couple that with the fact that this was not a simple murder of passion. This person murdered her and then tried to hide the fact by dismembering her body into many pieces.

Honestly? From what I know of this person, he must have gone insane to think that it would ever work. Which is one of the reasons I just can’t wrap my head about it all. Knowing both of these people doesn’t jive with what I know.

Well, I’m home for the day. I was supposed to be up at Fresno for orientation today. Unfortunately I received a letter from Fresno stating that they had some problems with my admission and I needed to clear that up or I have to start in the Spring rather than the Fall. While it wouldn’t be the end of the earth to start in the Spring rather than the Fall, it’s pretty disappointing.

Sooooo, I was on the phone half of the day yesterday with a University in North Carolina that I took a class with in 1992 to try and get the information I need. I got a phone call at 5:30am from a very nice lady who didn’t realize I was in California who told me that she couldn’t help me. Until I asked if she could talk to the Department Chair (duh!) to possibly write something up.

Luckily the Department Chair is originally from California and has some sense of what I need. Hopefully he can write something up that will satisfy Fresno’s requirement and I can get all of this cleared up.

Cross your fingers for me.

WTF Over?!?!

[Originally posted to my blog ‘Point of Tears’ on Jun 21, 2005.]

The moon must be full or something. Gotta be. Cause otherwise the following IM conversation would have never happened.

Note: IM handles and names have been changed.

crazyman:: hello Ms. Fate

fate:: Hello.

crazyman:: i am nick from san jose – 42 submissive male

fate:: nice to meetcha nick

crazyman:: and You as well

crazyman:: may i ask if You are Dominant or Domme curious by chance?

fate:: Uhhhmmm, is there a particular reason you might think I am?

crazyman:: i was just hopeful

crazyman:: i am seeking a Domme to serve

fate:: ah. Well, I’m not in the market for a sub right now really.

crazyman:: not even a partially trained, periodic massage sub/slave?

fate:: Nope. Just a tad busy with too many life transitions right now. But thanks and good luck!

crazyman:: You are most very welcome – if You ever change Your mind please look me up. i am low maintenance sub/slave and i have been partially trained by two Dommes longer term.

crazyman:: Have a wonderful evening Ms. Fate

fate:: You too Nick. Good luck with your search for a Domm

crazyman:: thank You Ms. Fate

Now folks, I know that I’ve mentioned that is has before been suggested that I might make a good Domm, but this guy came completely out of left field! Number one he wasn’t even IMing my main profile, but one of my subprofiles that I used for Yahoo Groups. There’s no picture, no wordy description of myself . . there’s just nothing! Weird.

What’s even weirder though, is that there was another guy on IM yesterday who popped up and IMed me outta the blue; and promptly made himself so unwelcome that I put him on Ignore. Nothing obscene mind you. He was politely inquisitive. I just politely told him I wasn’t interested, and he insisted that I explain why. And I politely explained to him that I had no idea who he is and thus I had no obligation to answer. Of course, he decided that he’d then turn into my nine year old when she wants to be annoying by playing the “Why Game” with me.

What’s the “Why Game?” Most parents can tell you what that is. It’s when someone decides to be annoying by answering everything you have to say with a “Why” question. It’s not a logical game. There is no winning for you, (unless you just cut them off with a threat of grounding them, but even that doesn’t work sometimes), and it quickly becomes irritating. Bad enough when your nine year old is just trying to get Mom’s goat; doubly so when it’s some guy on IM who thinks that I owe him some kind of answer.

I’m not a newbie to IM people. I was on IM when IM was IRC. I was on IM when it was really chat. And I was on chat when you had to refresh the page just to see what everyone else said! I was on IM when IRQ first came out. And then I was on almost every single IM setup as it came out. From ICQ to MSN to Yahoo to AIM!

I used to be a chatoholic and met lots of people that way. Shoot! I just heard from someone I used to chat with regularly over five years ago recently! I got “married” in chat to a Troll and a Lady . . AT THE SAME TIME! I’ve flamed and been flamed. I’ve talked dirty with someone I’ve never met in the middle of a busy chatroom, while bantering with five other people at the same time.

I’ve traveled across the United States and only stayed at the houses of people that I had never met before in real life until I pulled up to their house to stay a week . . . or two. Including a Lady and a Troll who wanted me to stay and live with them.

If there is a way to talk via the internet, more than likely I’ve tried it. I believe in the power of those 1s and 0s passing a zillion miles an hour through the wires to connect us all. I believe we *can* be connected by those 1s and 0s.

I’ve come up against the disbelief of people who’ve never tried it, and connected with those who have. I stay connected via IM to friends and family; and some people who I’ve never met in person, but have this wonderful connection with nonetheless.

But COME ON PEOPLE!

Wet Tshirt Contest In The ER

[Originally posted to my blog ‘Point of Tears’ on Jun 30, 2005.]

Feels like forever. Been sick and just miserable. Of course, I’ve been sick for almost three weeks now. I finally broke down and went to the emergency room when part of my face went numb. Yes, numb. I thought it was just an anomaly, but after it lasted three days I thought maybe it might be of concern. Sooo, on Sunday I went into the ER. With possible neurological problems, I was shunted to the front of the line and seen pretty quickly. Of course, just because someone sees you right away doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to be the first patient out the door.

~sigh~

During the exam, the doctor found one of my ears impacted with wax.

Warning! Possible gross out factors pending! Proceed at your own risk!

He decided he couldn’t see anything and decided to have a nurse flush out my ear. Let me tell you folks. Do NOT rush out and have your ears flushed by a nurse (or anyone else!). It is NOT the exciting, wonderful experience people make it out to be. Nope. No sir-ee-bob. Nuh-uh.

Imagine a long, small, hard tube attached to a syringe inserted far into the ear and then having the nurse quickly press the syringe to shoot saline deep into your ear cavity.

Yuck and ouch.

Now in the end a huge gunk of wax was washed out of my ear, and the doctor was so relieved, (and frazzled from the busy ER), to have one of my many symptoms taken care of that he sent me home without addressing any of my other concerns.

Yes yes. I should have mentioned this to him of course. Unfortunately I was so relieved to be released out of there after over six hours of being soaked to the bone with saline, and having the yuckiness of having my ear flushed . . that I didn’t think of it either. (No. We never did figure out why a third of my face was numb.)

Still miserable, I went to work on Monday (skipped class), skipped work (and class) on Tuesday and went to Urgent Care Tuesday afternoon. This time I got a no-nonsense, old school doctor who asked me what was wrong, checked a couple things, looked at my chart. . . and told me to take some antibiotics, a decongestent, tylenol, and get some freakin’ rest! Did I need a note for work? No problem.

So today I slept. The Brat is up at the lake with the family, and I’m free to sleep my freakin’ head off. Feelin’ a little better today. Hopefully sleeping in tomorrow and more antibiotics will see me feeling even better.

Hope everyone is doing well and has a great 4th of July. Don’t know if I’ll be writing again tomorrow or Friday.

Oh! I took my first Stats test today. Can we say, “Group tests rock!”?

And Belladonna? Sympathy is requested in leiu of smart assed nurse remarks. Try a simple, “poor baby.” Or maybe a, “sorry to hear you’re not feeling well, get better soon!”

NOTE: Any mistakes in typing, grammar, spelling, etc are the fault of the medicine.

Let’s Talk About Se…..

[Originally posted to my blog ‘Point of Tears’ on Jul 7, 2005.]

Weeeeeeellll . . . we don’t want to talk about how completely stressed the thought of this moving thing has me . . . .I’d end up running screaming from the house and I’m not exactly dressed right to go out right now.

And we don’t want to talk about the fact that my daughter is gone for the second week in a row and I miss her like crazy . . .

We sure as hell don’t want to mention the Krispy Kreme doughnuts sitting on the floor, calling my name and begging loudly for me to eat them so I can add another five pounds onto my already plump ass . . .

Hhhhmmmm . . . the piece I want to write about the death penalty is going to require more research time than I have right now . . .

Uuuuhmmmm, statistically speaking, if we talk too much about my math class I do believe that the walls might close in on us. I haven’t worked the numbers, but I can assure you that the probability is high. So we won’t talk about that.

The Fourth of July is *so* over. And besides, we certainly don’t want to talk about the cute, very inappropriate, weirdly related-but-not-*really*-related-to-me guy that I seriously had the hots for over the weekend. Right?

Right.

Soooooo, maybe we could talk about the highly irregular flirting going on via IM with an exe?

Naaaaah.

You don’t want to hear about my personal hygiene habits, do you?

*sigh*

I guess not. Geesh! Picky picky readers.

I guess you’re gonna hafta wait until tomorrow, when I have a bit more time to write to hear more about what’s going on with me. I still have homework to do!

Ciao my dears! Until tomorrow!

The Fine Tuning Of A Resume

[Originally posted to my blog ‘Point of Tears’ on Jul 15, 2005.]

I really dislike having to do my resume. Hmmm . . . come to think of it, that just might be why I’ve only had one job in the past seven plus years that required me to have a resume. Of course, that being said, I’m damn lucky to have several people to use as resources that are experts at putting together a resume.

Now you might not know this, but if you have a community college close by you probably have a professional that’s ready and willing to help you with your resume as well!

You didn’t know that many community colleges have career centers that are open to the public now did you? Yep. It normally doesn’t matter whether or not you are a student or just a member of the community! Most of ‘em allow EVERYONE to utilize their resources!

That usually includes:

  1. – Resume, cover letter, job search, job interview, and salary negotiation workshops.
  2. – Use of their computers to do create resumes, cover letters, and do job searches
  3. – Use of their fax to send out resumes and receive information from employers.
  4. – A professional resume make-over or help creating a brand new resume.
  5. – Help creating cover letters, thank you letters, and letters of inquiry to prospective employers.
  6. – Use of their usually extensive library of books, videos, and dvds regarding the job search, resumes, cover letters, finding your perfect career, job interviews, etc.
  7. – Help practcing job interviews.
  8. – Local newspapers on hand so you can check out the classifieds.
  9. – And many more things that I just can’t think of right now!

So. If you’re in need of any of the above services, be sure to call over to your local community college to see if they can hook you up! And pass the word!

Oh. And yes, my resume rocks HARD now.

Thank you Mission College!

Doing The Right Thing

[Originally posted to my blog ‘Point of Tears’ on Sep 22, 2005.]

This is a very long post folks. Fair warning given.

This post is dedicated to all the parents out there who are trying to teach their children to do the right thing, even when it’s the hardest thing to do.

I’ve been meaning to write about this for quite a while, but it’s a pretty sensitive subject and I wasn’t quite sure how I wanted to approach the whole thing. See originally, after this took place, I was completely shaken by it. I wasn’t sure if I did the right thing, even though it sounded like the right thing it sure didn’t feel like the right thing. Well, enough rambling along making you guess what the heck I’m talking about, let me tell you my story.

Disclaimer: All names are changed to protect the privacy of those involved.

Once upon a time I met a woman named Laura. Laura has two beautiful little girls, Mary (5) and Becky (9); and a wonderful husband, Todd. Her husband works hard, and Laura is a traditional stay at home mom.

I wasn’t quite sure what to think of Laura the first time I met her. You see, the typical SAHM is not normally the type I hang out with and, on the surface, that’s exactly what Laura was.

You know the type. Her home was sparkling clean, her kids squeaky clean and oh-so polite; and her husband the sweetest smart ass I’ve met in a long while. They were just the typical blended family on the surface.

So when the Brat first started going over to her house to play with the girls all I could see was the face Laura showed to the world; and even though my daughter loved her and her family, and spent hours over at their house playing with the girls, I kept to myself. I figured she was just another of those moms who didn’t really have anything in common with me. She didn’t let me get away with that for long.

I’ll never know what it was that drew Laura to me, but one day I was just passing by and she drew me into conversation. Soon enough she had invited me in for a TGIF drink, and by 8pm I was shnookered. Yep. Under that staid SAHM was a wild child just waiting to lure me in and get me completely shnookered.

It didn’t take long after that first evening of bullshitting and drinking for Laura to become standard fare in my life. I went to parties, picnics, family events, birthday parties, and anything else you could possibly think of with her and her family. We sat at her kitchen table for hours at a time, bullshitting about our past and debating everything from the best place to get a great bargain to the most effective blow job techniques. I had a blast every time and grew to think of her as a close friend. A sister almost.

I guess it’s no wonder that I never recognized it then; but sometimes you just don’t want to see what’s right in front of your eyes. Don’t get me wrong. I could see that Laura was dissatisfied with her life as it was, and I honestly believe that she had been depressed for a long time but didn’t know it. I’m intimately familiar with the symptoms of depression and easily recognized them in Laura. That wasn’t it though.

The Brat was spending a lot of time over at their house with and without me. She loved spending time with the girls and grew very close to them. She also became close to Laura. Laura would always tell me how much she loved the Brat and just go on and on about her. That’s why I was surprised when the Brat started complaining to me about Laura’s behavior towards the girls.

An aware parent loves all children he or she meets and interacts with-

for you are a caretaker for those moments in time. – Doc Childre

At first it was simple stuff. You see, Laura’s family proscribes a stricter, what I would consider an old-fashioned lifestyle for kids that the Brat is not used to. They believe in corporal punishment for major trangressions, along with some severe grounding policies. Our family, to say the very least, does not proscribe to corporal punishment and adheres to talking things out to work things out instead.

So, you might see where the Brat would take a parent punishing a child in an unfamiliar, yet violent way (to her at least), would disconcert her. I mean, these are her friends and she cares about them. Not to mention seeing an adult she cares about treating her children in such a manner must have scared her.

At first then, you might understand why I brushed off the Brat’s accusations that Laura was being abusive in her punishment of the girls. The Brat and I had numerous conversations that centered around how parents deal with their children. We talked of comparasions and contrasts in the many different ways a child might be punished for transgressions in the household. I tried explaining how just because I disagree with how a parent is dealing with their children doesn’t mean they are doing anything wrong.

I argued away pretty much all of it at first.

As time went on though, with each incident the Brat brought to my attention I was less able to argue it away. I asked the Brat all the right questions, looked for all the tell-tale signs of true physical abuse, and in the end I . . . I was almost convinced it was abuse, but didn’t want to admit it to the Brat, or myself. Why? Well, maybe because I truly didn’t know what to do.

Oh sure. In practical terms I knew what I should do. I mean, I should talk to her, right? An intervention sort of thing, right? Adults do that sort of thing, right? Talk to each other about their concerns?

Right. In a perfect world they do anyway.

If you must hold yourself up to your children as an object lesson,

hold yourself up as a warning and not as an example.

~George Bernard Shaw

Anyhoo. I put off talking to Laura. I practically ignored the concerns my daughter was bringing to my attention. I closed my eyes, my ears, and hid in plain sight.

She was my FRIEND!

How could I do that to her? I mean, she has the right to discipline her children the way she deems fit, right? To each their own?

I never saw any abuse. I mean, sure she was harsh. I surely wouldn’t treat the Brat in that manner. Not that I’m perfect folks. Far from it. Regardless, I’m ashamed to tell you that I didn’t do anything.

The talks with the Brat escalated as Laura seem to peak in her {allegedly} abusive behavior after the kids were let out of school for the summer and were now home all day. We talked of the different signs of abuse, child protective services and what they do, the various things that she witnessed . . . she was getting more and more concerned with Laura’s treatment of the girls, and all I wanted to do was get through till we moved.

You see, Laura was watching the Brat over the summer holiday for a very reasonable price and I couldn’t afford to get another childcare provider. Selfish to the Nth degree I know but I was still hiding. I was honestly hoping to just get moved without having to confront her.

But one day it all came to a head. I wish I could say that I came to my senses and finally decided enough was enough. Unfortunately I can’t tell you that.

To bring up a child in the way he should go,

travel that way yourself once in a while. ~Josh Billings

Don’t worry that children never listen to you;

worry that they are always watching you. ~Robert Fulghum

I was at home packing and watching t.v. with the Brat when Laura and Todd knocked on my door and asked to come in. Laura sat down on the couch while we exchanged pleasantries, and Todd stood by the door. Todd didn’t look happy, but then he never really looked happy. Laura, on the other hand, looked downright frightened. The nicities at an end, I finally asked Laura what was wrong.

She was on the verge of tears when she told me that she had overheard the Brat talking to her sister, (who is closer to the Brat’s age than Laura’s), about Laura’s behavior. She had told Laura’s sister that we were going to turn Laura into child protective services for abuse.

Now, quite frankly I won’t tell you that it didn’t occur to me. It *was* a conversation that we had because the Brat wanted to *do* something about the problems with Laura, but at the same time she didn’t want to lose her friends. But I had told the Brat that I was going to try and have a frank conversation with Laura about what was going on in her household before escalating it to doing something like calling child protective services.

The conversation that ensued was a long and tortuous endeavour for us all. The Brat was there throughout the entire thing and cried like her heart was breaking. Laura told me how fearful she was of having her children taken away from her and how her mother was also very fearful of this happening. Todd was angry that I would imply such a thing, and even more so for not coming to them with my concerns.

Me? Well, I tried to show Laura and Todd what their household looked like from my daughter’s eyes. I acknowledged the differences in our parenting styles, and acknowledged that as part of the reason for my daughter’s sensitivity to these things. BUT. I also noted that even the differences between our parenting styles did not account for certain behaviors towards the children.

I haven’t really mentioned my relationship with the girls much yet. My daughter spent way more time with the girls than I did and was much closer to them than I was. Regardless of this I truly adore those girls. Becky is just the funniest kid I have met – ever. But she is such a serious girl all at the same time. And Mary? Mary is a pistol and a half. Both of them beautiful and radiating such spirit and love every time I saw them. I didn’t come home a day when they didn’t run down the walk to give me a huge hug and kiss. Just thinking about them makes me miss them terribly.

So during my conversation with Laura and Todd I mentioned several times how so very much I loved the girls, as well as Laura and Todd, and I told them that my first thought is of the happiness and welfare of the girls. That’s it.

I mentioned several signs of depression I had witnessed in Laura and mentioned some possible things she could do to help this. I noted some small things that *I* had witnessed that denoted possible abuse, as well as some of the more severe things that the Brat had witnessed and told me about.

I told them that I had *not* contacted CPS and, now that we had talked, would not contact them if Laura would look carefully at her household and think about what I was saying to her.

The conversation went on for almost two hours, each party going back and forth with statements, accusations, pleadings . . . it truthfully was a scary thing for all of us I think. In the end we did not part well.

The aftermath of this conversation in my house was a trembling Brat who was in anguish with the realization that she had just lost her two closest friends, and terrified that she had done the wrong thing by speaking out about this matter. As a parent I think that part was the hardest part of the entire thing.

In spite of the six thousand manuals on child raising

in the bookstores, child raising is still a dark continent

and no one really knows anything. You just need a lot

of love and luck – and, of course, courage. ~Bill Cosby

I have always brought up my child to speak out against things she know or thinks are wrong. You don’t let yourself or your friends get picked on or bullied on the playground. Instead you bring it to the attention of an adult, who will help to fix the situation.

I brought my daughter up to believe in justice. I brought her up to believe that everyone has the right to speak out against the wrongs that they see. I brought her up to believe that if we do speak out that those wrongs can be fixed. Not always, but sometimes.

So now she had faced some horrible wrongs done to her friends, and after speaking out, instead of it getting fixed she lost her friends instead.

As adults, we must ask more of our children than they know how to ask of themselves. What can we do to foster their open-hearted hopefulness, engage their need to collaborate, be an incentive to utilize their natural competency and compassion…show them ways they can connect, reach out, weave themselves into the web of relationships that is called community. . – Dawna Markova

How do you convince a nine year old, who has just lost her best friends because of her actions, that she did the right thing? I know I didn’t have a clue. I didn’t have the words to convince her, but I kept telling her anyway. Everytime the subject came up I told her again. Even through her tears and despair I kept telling her. It became my mantra. You did the right thing.

I don’t know if I was trying to convince her, or me.

Fast forward six weeks.

We haven’t talked to Laura or her family this entire time. The Brat would break out in tears while standing out the door, watching Becky and Mary play. I had seen them and watched wistfully as they passed by without giving me my hug and kiss. I was Aunt Cherie no more.

I was in the middle of moving though and just didn’t have the time for more than a wistful glance over my shoulder. Quite frankly I had resigned myself to never speaking to Laura again. I mean, I doubt very much that *I* would forgive me if I was her. I didn’t blame her. I only hoped she was listening when I spoke that night and took something from it other than anger and fear.

It was two days before I moved to Fresno that Laura approached me. I regarded her with wary eyes as I was unsure of her reasons for wanting to talk to me and I refused to be overly optimistic.

As she started to speak, it was as if a bubble of silence formed around us. She began haltingly, and stopped often to gain her composure. I kept silent for most of it, almost holding my breath as if to breathe would scare her away. I wish I could remember every single word, but I’m not an elephant, so I’ll just tell you that she told me that she was listening to me when we last spoke.

She listened to me and then went home and looked at her life. And then she decided that on many points, I was right. She told me that she was going to seek help. She was going to go back to work. She was . . . well, you get the gist.

It could not have been easy for her. It must have taken an almost inhuman fortitude of self for her to come back to me (her betrayer) and admit that I had been even a little bit right. She still looked as scared that day as she had the night she had come to my house. In the end she did not offer me that same friendship back that we had had before; but she did open the door a crack and let me slip my toe in.

Only when we are no longer afraid do we begin to live. – Dorothy Thompson

After she was all done I told her how very very proud I was of her. I told her how so very much the Brat and I regretted being the bearers of bad tidings, and how so very much we hoped that someday we could all be friends again. I reminded her of the love we both have for her and her family, and let her know that it had not lessened for our experience.

And at the end of the day? At the end of the day I was able to tell my daughter everything that Laura had said to me, and finally tell her with conviction, “See? You really *did* do the right thing.”