Sunday, 29 November 2009

Especially For Advent

Today is the first Sunday of Advent, and I decided to start a new tradition by getting up early and doing some baking before church. I made a batch of gingerbread men and gingerbread hearts, deciding to make at least six of each: one for each immediate member of my family (myself and Spud included). I've decided this is a tradition I will continue each year.





It has rained steadily all day, and also been extremely cold, but I opened my curtains to a glimpse of golden sunshine, and consequently a rainbow. I leaned out of my window to take a photograph, and got soaked in the process, although it was worth it!



After church I iced five of my gingerbread men, and five of the hearts for us all to eat tonight when we light the first Advent candle. I have placed the sixth gingerbread man and a gingerbread heart in a box. I want to preserve them, and deliver them to Spud when I see him in just under a fortnight!


As today is the first Sunday of Advent, here is a seasonal song that has been going round my head all week:

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Hello!

I just thought I would emerge and say hello! :) Although my day has been spent finishing research, and actually beginning my assignment, I feel considerably better than I did last night. I am 4% of the way into the essay, which may sound like a very small amount, but in my opinion the opening paragraph is probably the hardest. It took most of the afternoon to find an appropriate quote!

My initial plans to spend all morning in bed, were foiled by the need to collect a parcel from the post office, so I went into town with my parents, and we even enjoyed a coffee together in our favourite cafe! I have more or less finished my Christmas shopping now, much to my satisfaction.

For a few days now, I have had these lyrics stuck in my head:

'I wish I had a river so long
I would teach my feet to fly
Oh I wish I had a river
I could skate away on'

Joni Mitchell - River

Sometimes I think it would be quite nice to skate away from it all, but only temporarily. I would skate down the river for a few hours, feeling the wind in my hair, and losing myself in the surrounding tranquility, before skating back to all awaiting me. In some ways, that's what I did this morning. I was very tempted to get on with my essay, and I could have collected my parcel on Tuesday, but instead I enjoyed a breather and a change of scene, and some precious time with my parents!

Friday, 27 November 2009

No Time To Blog

I keep reminding myself that I am just two weeks away from the end of term, but when I acknowledge just how much I have to do in that time, the holidays feel just out of reach. This last week has been a busy one, and I've reached the end feeling rushed off my feet. Tonight I am low, tired, and overwhelmed.

I seem to be working constantly! If I haven't been reading through the twelve library books I took out this week, or working on my creative writing assignment, then I've been at work, and we are so understaffed at the moment there is always a task at hand, a student to deal with. This week I've been learning to master the art of juggling!

Thankfully, this weekend I will be getting some much needed rest! I have no work hours until Wednesday because the students have gone home for the exeat weekend. Although I intend to use my time productively, I am also looking forward to enjoying a lie-in, and being able to pace myself, instead of glancing frequently at the clock and counting down the hours/minutes until I have to be in work again.

This is why I have been less able to blog recently. It hasn't been a bad week, but I have been on-the-go most of the time, and now I am completely worn out!

Feature Friday

Tonight I will be featuring Muffins and her charming blog Life As I See It... although I think all of my regular followers know Muffins already! :) Muffins is a student, and a Christian, like me. Her blog is vibrant, and pretty in pink. It has the potential to ensnare readers from the word go!

The title is telling. Through her blog, Muffins allows her readers to see the world through her eyes. She is not afraid to be herself, and provides a refreshing view of life. Her style is informal and warm, easily accessible, and welcoming, appealing to readers old and new immediately. When I first discovered her blog and read her most recent entry I felt as though she was right in the room with me, telling me about her day.

From reading her blog, I've got the impression that Muffins is a girl who really cares about the people around her. She strikes me as being a very loving daughter/sister/aunt, and a faithful friend. She always replies to comments, and consistently returns any visits other bloggers make to Life As I See It... She has also kindly prayed for my brother recently, and I am so grateful to her for that.

So if you haven't already, why don't you stop by Muffins' blog and check it out for yourself? She is a little treasure, and I am sure that you will just love her!

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Pretty Things

Overcoming Inhibitions



I've been driving for three years now, but it's something I don't really enjoy. It's one of those things that I feel brings out the worst in some people, and I just can't understand the lack of patience and consideration on the roads! Perhaps it's something that can be put down to the anonymity of driving, that some people feel they can behave in such a way and get away with it (something similar can be said of the anonymous networking site, Omegle). The displays of rudeness, selfishness and thoughtlessness I see on the roads these days never cease to amaze me!

Anyway, I am a cautious driver, and have always lacked confidence on the road, but I think that's due to the fact that I have less incentive to take the car out at the moment, and therefore don't often increase my confidence by going out and practising. In fact, I only tend to take the car out when Spud is down visiting, because we go out together and visit places further a field than I normally would when he's not here. I have always felt I am poor at parking, and have gotten into the habit of getting Spud to instruct me when I am manoeuvring into a space. It's a bad habit because it keeps me from practising myself. Consequently, I have always believed that I am not good at parking.

However, I proved myself wrong last night. I drove home from work, and as I was unable to park outside my house, I had to park further down the road, and parallel park into a space between two cars. I could get into the space without a problem. It's the straightening up that I find a struggle as the car I drive does not have power steering, thus making the manoeuvre more of an effort! Indeed, I was sweating by the time I felt I was in close enough to the curb. 'That'll have to do,' I muttered, switching off the engine. I stepped out of the car to observe what was probably my best parallel park ever! I was in close enough to the curb, and the car couldn't have been straighter!

I realised then that I can do it, and that is the first step to becoming the more confident driver that I want to be! I was so excited I actually considered ringing Spud, and saying, 'you'll never guess what I've just done all by myself!' I don't really know why I am posting this story, but it was a small triumph of mine and I just had to share it. I suppose it tells you a little about me, and perhaps it's even made you smile.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

The Gift

I have spent most of the day laid up on the sofa reading this book:



This was the last ever thing I bought from Woolworth's, during the final week before its closure. The book cost me a third of the retail price in the sale. As I purchased it after Christmas, and had so much else to read for my course, I put it back for the weeks approaching Christmas 2009.

Having avidly read Cecelia Ahern's previous novels, I was not disappointed by The Gift. Lou Suffern is a successful businessman, working at all costs to secure his longed-for promotion. A chance encounter with a homeless man, Gabe, proves to be a turning point in his life. Over the course of a week Gabe shows Lou the value of time, and the things in life that are so much more important than what he has previously been striving for. As Lou's eyes are gradually opened, and Christmas draws ever nearer, Lou realises that he must drastically reorder his priorities. But the question is: will he be in time?

For me, this was certainly a book that I couldn't put down. The only reason I read it in two sittings was because I started it yesterday evening, but I picked it up immediately this morning, and spent the rest of the day reading it. The story is deeply philosophical, and full of surprises. Set in contemporary Dublin, Ahern sews a few of her magical seeds, bringing the novel to life. This is a heart-warming tale, one that I can guarantee will make you laugh and cry, and also make you think. Definitely a recommended read!

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Sickness

Guess who has flu... I suppose it was unavoidable with the epidemic at work, and now my father and mother poorly too. I'm feeling a little sorry for myself, but I am a slightly better now than I was first thing this morning. I woke up with a headache so intense that I could do little more than lie helplessly in bed, praying for it to go away. Thankfully the paracetamol has kicked in now, and for the last hour I have been able to sit up in bed and read. I've decided to work on my essay now, while I feel able.

I had to cancel a Christmas shopping trip planned for today with dearest friend, and I may miss my work shifts tomorrow and Thursday, because I just have to be better for Friday! I really don't want to miss New Moon!

About the Author

I've had a strong aversion to milk since the age of three. Although I have tried it on occasions since, I find I just can't stomach it!

Monday, 16 November 2009

Hearing Voices

Two posts tonight - what a treat! The essay is almost complete. Three hundred words to go. It's reached the point where I'm enjoying it so. But for now there's so much to do. There'll be another soon... Did you notice the rhyming? :)

There has been a terrible outbreak of flu at work. I've stayed well so far, but many of the residential students have returned home because they have been so poorly, and I learned today that many staff have succumbed. My poor father struggled in this morning to set up for the day as he's a tutor there, and once he was sure that all could be managed without him, he returned home again. I haven't seen him this unwell for a while. I could be next...

My poor novel has been terribly neglected recently due to shortage of time, and the unfortunate, although practical ordering of priorities. I've had to cast it aside for now, although I can rest assured, knowing that it is not an abandoned project. I am aware, even subconsciously, I am very engaged with it, and I still find myself hearing the voices of my main characters.

It is not uncommon for writers to hear the voices of their characters. It's by no means a hallucination, but a sign that they're beginning to get to know their character. Before you write about a character, you have to get to know them. You have to understand them, and even identify with them, so that you can make them believable, lifelike. I always begin the invention of a new character by creating a profile and learning about every aspect of them. Whenever I start to hear my character's voice, I believe my character is becoming more defined. Whenever I am working with a new idea for a story, character is the first element I explore, because I find that as the main characters evolve, their stories begin to emerge.

Sometimes I feel as though my characters are crying out to me for their story to be told. I can't wait to share it with you because it has become something so personal. I am so excited about introducing you to Imogen, who is the main protagonist of my novel. I am so determined to do this now. I want to prove myself. I truly hope I will someday.

About the Author

My favourite childhood film was The Secret Garden

On This Day...

...a year ago, I ran into an old school friend whom I sadly lost contact with three years previously. I was laughing over this memory recently, and it came to my recollection today. When I considered the date I realised it happened exactly a year ago. Here's the story...

It was a Sunday in the middle of November. Spud was down visiting, and I'd invited my two dearest friends, Becky and Christina, over for Sunday lunch. Only the day before, Becky had given us some unexpected news: she'd spoken to an old school friend of ours, Jess, and had invited her over to see us!

Becky and Christina were the first to arrive, and Christina had brought her latest niece for us to meet. The baby settled in my arms, falling asleep almost immediately. With Jess' arrival imminent we had a sudden idea for a trick, and Spud was quickly ushered into the seat beside me. He placed his arm around me, and a few minutes later our guest of honour showed up...



The look on her face when her eyes fell on us was really something. I so wish I had had a camera handy! Her mouth fell open and she gave a double take. 'No?' She said, her voice wavering a little with uncertainty. 'No!' She said, regaining her confidence. 'I know you!' She laughed. We had to surrender our farce and explain that the sleeping baby wasn't ours. I have to say though, this does give you a picture of what we may look like when we become parents someday!



Of course, I was delighted to see Jess again. I was devastated to lose touch with her after school as she'd been such a supportive friend. She was beautiful, confident, and she showed me true compassion, faithfully standing up for me during my time of need. And she was also a Christian, sharing my faith in God. She was one of those people whom everybody loved, and in fact, from the impression that I've got, she remains so.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Distant Shores

When I am feeling overwhelmed and weary, Brittany comes to claim my thoughts...



I remember how, three months ago, we arrived on French soil at around 7 in the morning, and by the time we arrived in the town, which was to be our dwelling for the week, a stealthy mist hung in the air, a veil which only enhanced the beauty we would shortly see in full, when the hot sun's rays dispersed the vapour to reveal pure skies.



There was a lot of waiting to do that day. We were tired after a virtually sleepless night, and I lay by a lake (not the one pictured) that afternoon on a picnic blanket, with my love asleep in my arms like a child. I lay awake, listening to the crickets stirring in the grass around us, and people walking on the path by the shoreline. It seemed that they were walking in and out of my dreams; I could not understand what they were saying. The sun warmed my face.



There was something in the stillness at twilight that made me feel somehow complete, just for a moment, and night after night I stood statuesque on the veranda, watching over the peaceful town, silhouetted against the darkening sky. I could sense the presence of my family, my parents, my brothers, my fiancé, within the house behind me. The five people I love most in the world. I thought, I could live here...



Yes, maybe, just maybe, I could live there, in a white house with blue shutters, set upon the cliff top. My love and I could gaze out across the sea, imagining the English coast lying somewhere beyond the horizon, just out of sight, just out of reach. My family could live in the surrounding houses; they could be my neighbours, never far away.



Overlooking the 'dream house' were the ruins that haunted me, magnificent despite their crumbling certainty of desolation and decay. Perhaps it was the foreignness that so attracted me, inspired me. I look back at the photographs and admire the places: the towns, the beaches, the lakes, the cathedrals, the island, the beauty spots... But I don't think I could live there. I could never live in a place with a cultural barrier; a place where I was perceived as an alien, an outsider. I would miss England too much. I think my heart belongs here in the UK. But I can still dream...

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Shakespeare in a Year

Last night I was woken by the wild winds rattling my window pane, while hail, like pebbles, collided with the glass and ricocheted into the night. The racket shook me quite suddenly from sleep, and I was quite frightened, wondering if the window was going to shatter, and the weather come pouring into the room.

Tonight, in contrast, is quiet and calm. Surprisingly quiet considering I am the lone female in a household of men; my brother has some friends round, but Taylor Swift's soothing melody is drowning out the small cacophony they might be making in the next room (I can't be sure. I can't hear them). My parents are out. I am lady of the house. For now, I remain barricaded in my tower room, but I may venture out when the coast is clear and make myself a cup of tea.

I lament that time, or lack of it, has prevented me from blogging as regularly as I'd like. Sadly, I am still immersed in this wretched essay, and with the last week or so until the deadline dwindling before me I have been forced to devote my precious time to the assignment. I have reached the stage where I am fully engaged with it and almost enjoying it. I am running out of things to write and so I have begun a second draft, hoping to pad out the material I already have. I am quite pleased with it so far. It's good fun tweaking it about, striving for perfection. Anyway, you don't want to hear about that.

This afternoon I had some time off, and enjoyed a theatre trip with my parents. We saw a modern adaption of William Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale, which I will be studying for my last lecture before the Christmas holidays. It was very good. Believe it or not, it was the first play of Shakespeare's I've ever been to see performed at the theatre! The only modern aspects of the play were the costumes and props.

I've been reading a lot of Shakespeare recently because for one of my modules we are studying four of his plays, and I'm really enjoying it! I've decided to set myself a challenge for next year, and that is to read all his plays in a year! I'm entitling the challenge:

Shakespeare in a Year

Anyway, I must go. The essay awaits, and I'm working most of tomorrow, so further essay writing must wait until Monday afternoon.

Friday, 13 November 2009

Feature Friday

This afternoon it gives me great pleasure to present to you Beyond the Misty Stars, and the blog's authoress, Anna!

I stumbled upon Beyond the Misty Stars unexpectedly, but was completely smitten after reading the first post, and just had to follow. Anna is quite a character and a real gem; such a loving and caring person, someone who sees and appreciates the beauty in the world around her, and someone who truly treasures her friends. She welcomes all her visitors, old and new, inviting one and all into her world. I have found in her a friend and kindred spirit. We have both speculated the possibility of us being long lost sisters!

Beyond the Misty Stars is heartwarming and absolutely delightful. Anna's style of writing is lyrical, her words and the images they conjure flowing across the page. Her posts are both thought-provoking and soothing; a breath of fresh air. She is a lover of pretty things, and her beautiful words are accompanied by the most stunning photographs.

Have a cup of tea on the house and visit Anna. Read her words, appreciate her pictures, and listen to her song of the day. I'm sure in no time at all you'll find yourself captivated not only by Beyond the Misty Stars, but also Anna herself!

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Halfway Mark

Today I succeeded in writing another 500 words, thus reaching the halfway mark for my essay and sailing beyond. I have just another 1,000 words to write and then I'm done. It's not going badly for a 'first essay back', and I'm finding my chosen topic fairly engaging.

Talking of halfway marks, I reached another recently. This time last week I was more or less exactly halfway through this semester, which in effect means that I am a quarter of the way through my final year of studying. It's quite scary the rate at which time is passing. I suffered a 'five minute freak-out' the other night when I was looking at jobs online. I don't know yet what I'd like to do, other than write of course! I'm hoping for a well-paying, Monday to Friday, 9-5 job, and most importantly of all, one that I enjoy! Any ideas?

It has been a drab day here, wet and cold, and I've been thankful not to have an excuse to venture outside. My mother has prepared my favourite meal for dinner - beef stew and dumplings, just the ticket for a day like today!

About the Author

(This is a new scheme I've decided to introduce, whereby I end each post with a random fact about myself, namely, the author of this blog)

- I met children's author, Jacqueline Wilson when I was ten. Ironically, this was the first time I'd ever heard of her!

Monday, 9 November 2009

Bonfire Night


Unfortunately, the rain prevented us from attending the firework display we had proposed to go and see on Saturday night. I couldn't help but feel a little disappointed, as it was after all my last Bonfire Night in my home town, but at the same time, my usual tradition ended three years ago.

Up until last year, a college just down the road from our house would host a firework display on Guy Fawkes Night, and charge an extortionate amount for entry. Every year, I watched this firework display with my family, but we cheated. As we live on top of the a hill, we would stroll just along the road to the back fields where we could get the best view of the display, and it was free! We were joined by many of our neighbours who had also cottoned on to this.

We would prepare a flask of chicken soup, and a hamper of hot dogs, fresh from the oven and wrapped in foil to retain the heat, and bring these along with us to eat while we watched the display. It would take a further ten minutes for us to dress up in hats and scarves to keep us warm. We had a bag full of winter woollies, and would spend some time selecting our attire from that.

Once we were ready we would stroll along the road, and assemble ourselves in the field (the very same field where Spud proposed to me). The loudspeaker was so loud in the valley below, that we could hear it from the hilltop, although it was difficult to discern what the speaker was saying. Eventually the first firework would rise into the air, and explode in a burst of light and colours. We would all be held spellbound for a further twenty minutes. It was a personal highlight for me each year...

That's what Bonfire Night meant to me.

Three years ago, only my father and I ventured out, I think because my mother and brothers were inflicted by colds, and my brothers were losing interest as it was.

Two years ago I had just started my degree and was living in university accommodation. I attended the local display there with my flatmates.

Last year I was living at home, and although I saw the display I had watched all through my childhood, it was from the actual venue. I watched in the company of a group of friends I had made during sixth-form, and they were determined to pay the price and watch it from the ground, despite my insistence that they could have a better view for free! We had fun though. It was the last year that display was held, because the college was being knocked down, thus ending tradition.

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Waking Up Slowly

Today I have a full day off, my first since Tuesday. I've only been awake an hour, and I can't remember the last time I slept in beyond 8 o' clock. I don't generally sleep in late, but I feel today the extra hours have done me good. I've been feeling very tired recently.

I will continue work on my essay today, although I am now 600 words in. It is the first essay I have written in 6 months so I'm a little rusty at the moment! I also want to work on my 4,000 word creative writing project, so that I have new material to bring to my Monday morning workshops each week. This Monday we have a visitor taking the seminar: author Monique Roffey. I have just read her most recent novel, The White Woman on the Green Bicycle and it was very interesting.

My father is participating in a half-marathon today, and so I know that while I work my thoughts will be miles away, perhaps even jogging along beside him! He hasn't done quite the preparation he hoped to do beforehand, but the course is considerably flatter than the one he runs in at the beginning of May. I think he'll be fine. Here's a shout for him:

GOOD LUCK DAD!

Despite the work, I'm hoping to go and see some fireworks tonight with my mother, as I worked for the entirety of Guy Fawkes Night. Because the students I work with are visually impaired, most of them don't like fireworks because of the bangs, and they can hardly appreciate the light, colours and shapes, because they can't see them! I think some of them are going to a display tonight though because there will be food and rides for them to enjoy, and of course, the whole atmosphere!

Spud went to Lewes for Bonfire Night, where the displays are really spectacular! He went last year too and said that the fireworks were even better this time. There is also an enormous bonfire and a torchlight procession - it's really quite dangerous because amidst the flaming torches, they carry various effigies stuffed full of gunpowder! Spud says it's a must-see, and has promised to take me in the future, maybe even next year!

Friday, 6 November 2009

Feature Friday

I don't have much to say tonight, so I've decided that for the next three Fridays I am going to showcase the blogs of my followers, starting with Bethany Mason and her blog Empty Thoughts, Rewritten. If you haven't already, go on over and check out her page!

Bethany is a budding writer, and in the second year of a degree in creative writing. She was also my first ever follower and the only active follower of my previous blog. Writing isn't the only common ground between Bethany and me. She has several interests akin to mine.

Don't be deceived by the title. Bethany's thoughts aren't empty in the least! She describes her blog as 'a place of discussions, reflections and ramblings on life, writing and everything'. Although her main topic is writing, Bethany often draws discussion points from her own everyday experiences, and many of her posts have really made me think! She is a speculative writer, and quietly presents her view for her readers to challenge or accept.

Bethany's musings are easily accessible, and I can definitely see her becoming a professional writer someday! Bethany, I wish you the very best of luck!

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Chasing Dreams

The Things I want to do in Life

* Marry Spud and have children with him

* Buy and do-up the house of our dreams

* Publish at least one of my novels

* Run a half-marathon

* Learn another language (I'm thinking French)

* Learn the violin

* See Sixpence None the Richer in concert

* See the Northern Lights

* Visit the Shetland Isles

* Read all the novels by Daphne du Maurier

* Make a dress

* Knit a garment

* See a Shakespeare play performed at the theatre (amazingly something I haven't yet done!)

* Write my life story (not necessarily for publication)

* Drive confidently

* Make a difference

Here To Serve

On windy days, I am reminded strongly of God. Like the wind, our Phenomenal Life-Giver cannot be seen, at least not by the human eye. However, we know when the wind is present because we can see objects being lifted by a gust, tree branches swaying in a breeze. We can hear it howling down the chimney at night, and we can feel it blowing in our face and hair. The wind has the power to wreak devastation and shape the land. Likewise, God has the power to transform our lives and change them radically.

We can experience God in different ways. Each day I see the way God has shaped my life through the prayers He has answered (not always in my favour); the situations and people He has sent my way; the talents and skills He has given me in order to make a difference; the purpose and plans He has for me...

I am three-quarters of the way through a course at church called Network Revised, which focuses on the self-discovery of the Spiritual Gifts God has given us. Now that I can see my strengths, I have begun to wonder where and in what ways God wants me to serve.

It struck me during yesterday's meeting that I don't often write about my faith on my blog, and I feel compelled to create a second blog dedicated to this. I already have several ideas, including the title which I think will be Here To Serve. I will continue to post here at The Passing Place, and at the moment I haven't the time to create blog number two, but watch this space.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Busyness

I have so much to do, so much to keep me occupied over the next six weeks until I see Spud again!

My first assignment deadline is in three weeks time - a 2,500 word essay for my Shakespeare and the Renaissance module. There seems to be no end to the reading I have to do, and I must continue to work on my piece for creative writing so that I have something new to bring to the workshop each week!

The dissertation does not currently exist as an ominous presence, as so far I have only been encouraged to research, and begin formulating a plan. I only have to submit 2,000 words in January, and my supervisor assured me that provided I have the research I need, the writing will be all downhill.

And then there are work commitments. We are so understaffed at the moment that I have been signed up for regular shifts, which means I will have to balance my time well in order to keep on top of everything else.

This time of year is always busy. Aside from these pressures I also have Christmas shopping to finish, but I've made a fairly good start already.

I know that in the midst of all this, there will be time to stop, reflect and daydream; time for friends and family; time to wrap up warm and walk in the wind, to feel the force of it in my hair; time to watch a film or listen to a favourite piece of music; time to stop here and pour out my heart...

Monday, 2 November 2009

A Love Letter

'I keep trying to find my way but all I know is
I'm lost without you
I keep trying to face the day
But I'm lost without you'
Delta Goodrem - 'Lost Without You'

All it took was a love letter...

After a fairly mild October, November gave way to winds and rain. We were woken yesterday by fearsome winds, tossing the leaves back and forth, and rattling the window panes. My mother's ladybird house was knocked askance by a strong gust, although I doubt it houses any residents at this time of the year.

Early this morning, I kissed Spud goodbye in my room before leaving for my lecture. I knew that when I returned this afternoon he would be more than a hundred miles away, and halfway back home at least. Spud was still in bed, barely awake, and the rain was audible against the window. We clung to each other.

For the last few days I've been wishing that this day would never come, as I always do when a parting is imminent, but I suppose if this day never came, then we would never enjoy the time to come. I know that each parting takes us ever closer to a time when partings will be a rarity, if that.

And so we let go and said goodbye, and I left to catch my bus. My lecture provided the perfect distraction, although I kept glancing at the clock, watching out for 10.35, the time his coach left. By the time I was back at the bus station, waiting for my bus home, he'd been on the coach for two and a half hours.

Now I am home, with a million things to do, and struggling to deflate the air-bed. It was a while before I found the love letter tucked beneath my duvet cover and that was all it took. I read it with difficulty, my eyes blurred with tears. That was all it took to make me cry. But I'm not sad, no, because although the parting was so hard, I know I have found true love, and anticipate a lifetime of it ahead. I am a very blessed woman.