Dear Friends & Family,

After days of walking my feet felt like they were set in concrete boots. Each step I took was painful and slow. I had no idea where I was or where I was going. I was hungry and tired when I came across a sad looking run down burger joint. I schlepped in and plopped down at the nearest table. The dining room had concrete floors; they were clean and shiny yet old and cracked. Painted picnic tables filled the room. There were a few scattered groups of people and they all seemed to stop what they were doing and look at me, no, study me, when I walked in. Dressed in dirty jeans and a zip front hoodie sweatshirt, with shoes, really heavy shoes, or so it seemed. I was carrying only my Nikon camera. My big Nikon with the black and yellow strap around my shoulder. I wanted some food but was too tired to think about what to eat and then I remembered I had no money. I had nothing. My pockets were empty. I had nothing but the clothes on my back and my camera.

As I was pondering how and what to eat, an energetic middle aged blond jumped up from her table and practically ran to me. "Hi, I am Janelle, I have been following your blog, your story is amazing, why are you here, do you need something?" I stared blankly. I couldn't find any words to say to her, I lowered my head, looked at the floor and turned away. Never have I been so rude. I kept my head down and tried to focus. Focus, focus, focus. I must have dozed off because suddenly the juke box began screaming out an AC/DC song. I gathered myself together and headed for the door, on my way out I grabbed a piece of hamburger bun off of a previous customer's table, then turned and said goodbye to Jolene, or was it Janelle or Janet? I didn't know and I didn't care and I didn't know why I didn't care. I always care. Outside I began walking. I was in a small town, maybe in a southern state, flags hung from the light poles and the sidewalks were lined with red, white and blue park benches. “Was it the Fourth of July?” I thought to myself. Hanging baskets overflowing with fresh flowers hung above the worn and uneven sidewalks. I said to myself, “This town is so much cleaner, happier and brighter than me. I wish I could take it all in and truly appreciate my surroundings.” I wish my feet weren't so heavy.

I continued past the last stop light and to the outskirts of town. Keep walking, just keep moving, don't stop. My head was towards the ground most of the time, concentrating all my effort on each step. When I paused to look around I noticed I was in the desert. There were scattered plants, cactus and bushes lining the two lane highway I was trudging along. I lifted my head and noticed the sun. It was setting in the distance, a big orange ball with streaks of pink and orange shooting through the sky. The colors reminded me of a Big Stick Popsicle. I loved to eat those as a child, even as an adult. I realized I haven't had one in a long time and wondered why. Why would I not indulge in such a simple and pleasurable treat? Thinking about the frozen treat made me realize how thirsty I was. As the setting sun was casting long shadows on the ground around me, I realized I was heading west. Finally, a clue to my journey, west, heading west. As dusk settled into night I kept walking, praying my feet would lighten up. With each step they felt heavier and harder to lift. It took all my energy to drag my feet along the dusty trail next to the highway, taking regular steps was no longer an option, my head was still hung low. I paused for a moment to take in my surroundings. Nothing. No lights, no sounds, just cool crisp air, and nothing.

Up in the sky, a little higher than eye level, a bit to the right there was the moon, full, but not too bright. Then a bit to the left another moon. Another moon? I looked right, moon, left, moon, no way. I put my head down rubbed my eyes and looked up again, up higher, another moon on the right, and another moon on the left. Wow! Four moons! Yes four moons, two high and two low. All lined up, like a box. I grabbed my camera and attempted to take a photo of the four moons. They were too far apart to get them all in the frame for one photo. As I was contemplating how I could capture this miracle on film, I took a step forward and tripped. I fell to the ground and landed with my face in the dirt, my camera under my body and my legs resting over whatever it was I tripped on. I felt a large mass moving under my legs, and then there were moans. I've heard the saying "like a bat out of hell" but I never really related to it until now.... like a bat out of hell, I jumped to my feet as quick as a gymnast who falls during a performance. Stepping back, I assessed my surroundings.

Darkness and tired blurry eyes made it difficult to distinguish the large mass. As my eyes scoured my immediate surroundings, I noticed more and more masses. I realized they were people, darkly dressed people, men; they all had bags and belongings next to them. Everything and everyone was strewn about like a plane wreck. There were dozens of them, maybe even hundreds. Everywhere, large masses spread apart like cows in a field. But, we were in the middle of nowhere. Just then it struck me that not a single vehicle had passed along the two way highway the entire time I was walking. Now I was freaking out. Scared, but too tired to run, I stood frozen. Then with the gentle breeze of the wind came a stench. A familiar but disguising smell. Feces. Yes, feces. Human feces. As my eyes continued to focus, I saw piles of human feces everywhere. Big piles dotted the landscape of human masses and their belongings. Suddenly, the mass of a man I had fallen over began to moan and was beginning to move about. The other masses were quiet and still except for their rhythmic breathing that filled the cool night air. With my camera still somehow draped across my shoulder I began quietly tip-toeing backwards. Quiet, I said to myself. Keep it quiet. I back-tracked for a while, crossed the highway, and then continued ahead towards the 4 moons. Walking, trying to figure out what I just encountered. Pondering the 4 moons, the masses, the lonely highway, the small town. Where am I going? Where did I come from? Why am I so tired? When will this journey end? Why are my feet so heavy? Why am I alone?

In the distance I hear music, soft music. Slowly the music fills the dark night, getting louder and louder with each step. The sun is rising behind me, beginning to overtake the darkness and warm my body. The music is comforting. The voice is familiar, oh yes, Kenny Chesney. As the words of the song “Reality” fill the air, I realize it is my alarm clock, I am in bed, at home, and this was all a dream.

Thank you for your love and prayers,

Cindy, Curt, Clarissa, Cayden & Corbin

Corbin's 1st Drama Performance at school

Peggy The Pint Size Pirate, Lauryn played Peggy!

Curt surprised me with a trip to Texas!
I surprised Melissa!

Anna Kate, Rose & Noelle are the sweetest girls ever!
It was so fun hanging out with them!

Since it was a surprise, I was game for whatever the family had planned. A soccer party, volunteering at a consignment sale, store returns and hanging out with their busy family was great fun and a great distraction from my caretaking duties and missing Curt and my family.
It was great to see Melissa in her element with Mike and the kids. I was her sitter in Texas when I was in college and she was four years old.

Rose Mary (Melissa's mom) was in for the weekend and it was great to see her.
This surprise, two-day trip, was surely meant to be. Thank you Curt and The Pond Family for all you did! Sorry, no photos of Mike.

Tony & Dina & Curt all grew up on the same street in Torrance.
So sweet that next door neighbors Tony and Dina married!
Curt had a great time visiting with you and reminiscing about old times!
Curt continues to make the most of each day....and smile!!!

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