January - My search for my new brother began. I spent my evenings glued to my computer and people finding websites trying to find out pieces of information that would lead me to him. It wasn't too long before one thing lead me to another and next thing I knew I had his address and was writing him a letter.
February - I heard back from my brother! What an amazing night that was. I will never forget calling my mom and saying "mom, I got an email from Randy" That conversation changed everything. It changed our relationship. It brought us so much closer.
March - I started this blog. I can't even remember what made me do it other than telling my story for my kids. Here I am all these months later and I have to be honest, it's for my kids... but for me too. It has brought me so much joy and peace.
April - I met my brother. My family and his family all had lunch together. It was the most surreal experience I had ever had. I sat across the table from him searching his face for similarities, trying to look for traces of me, my mom and Mike. We had a great time. It ended up being a four hour lunch! The kids had so much fun meeting their new cousins.
This was also the month that my mom's health took a horrible turn. She spent some time in the hospital and then came home a different woman. No longer able to care for herself or do the basic tasks I became her full time care giver, I was still working full time but it was the only choice I had so I did it, I am so glad I did. The next 6 weeks of my life were the most difficult I have ever had but I wouldn't change it for the world.
May - We lost my mom. Watching my mom die was so hard. Taking care of her was easy compared to seeing this woman so strong, so determined to take such a turn. My mom's health had not been good for many, many years that is why she lived with us. In my heart I feel that part of the reason she held on for so long is because she couldn't stand the fact that she had this secret she had kept from me and she was trying to figure out how to tell me. When she saw pictures of Randy, when she knew that all was ok, and that he didn't hate her and that he and I had a good relationship that is when she started to let go. She was a strong, brave woman who had been through so much and I am so grateful for the time that I had with her in my home, it was difficult at times but also brought us so much closer together.
June - No sooner had I gone back to work and it was time to say goodbye to the most perfect Kindergarten class in the world. There were only 7 of them but they were amazing. We had the best year. I used to say it was like a love fest in there every day! I hated to see those kids go, I hated to see those parents go! But they were getting bigger and in spite of my protests they had to move on to first grade. Man do I miss them.
July - This was the beginning of the end. Fourth of July weekend was our last weekend in Orange County. It was our last time at a hotel. It was when we found out about Chris's pay cut and when we realized that with that pay cut we would no longer be able to afford to live in our home. It was a horrible, stressful, sad month. I started to pull back completely from so many friends and family. Tired of telling our story, tired of always sounding like a downer, I just wanted to be at home with my family.
August - Chris's job search began. We really thought we would stay in California. Really started focusing on the Orange County area or Murietta/Temecula. We started to spend our evenings on the computer looking for jobs and homes.
September - Back to school. Gianna started 5th grade and Allison started 10th. It seems like this all just happened yesterday. They were both so happy to be going back to school. Summers in the desert can be brutal and boring, when your family is broke and trying to keep everything together it can be depressing too. My kids needed to get back to school just to get out of the house. We all started the new school year knowing that there was a big possibility that we weren't going to be in the desert for much longer. It made this time very bittersweet for my kids. By the end of the month Chris was already in Virginia interviewing for the job.
October- What a big month for the Britton family. Three birthdays and one daddy moving cross country. Allison turned 15 on October 3rd and the next day her dad left to move to Virginia. By leaving when he did Chris spent his own 40th birthday 3,000 miles away from his friends and family. He missed his youngest daughter's birthday and his oldest daughter being crowned homecoming princess. Sacrifices were big, tears were being shed every day but it was something we knew we had to do.
November - The frantic rush to get the house packed up and get me and the girls to Virginia began. I was working full time, getting the kids everywhere they needed to go and coordinating a cross country move by myself. I had never, ever been so stressed in my life. It is a time I would never want to go back to and an experience I wouldn't wish on anybody. Saying goodbye to all my friends and family in California was so difficult. Missing my husband was so difficult. Watching my girls have to say goodbye to everyone and everything they had ever known, excruciating.
On November 16th we arrived in Virginia and slowly but surely things started to get better. It was not as easy as I thought it would be, but we were doing it and we were doing it together.
December - Oh December. What a month this has been. The first Christmas without my mom. The first Christmas in Virginia, without all of our friends and family. No big Christmas Eve party as was tradition in our family forever. No money for Christmas gifts. Two kids who were missing their friends and family so much that it hurt their mommy to see it on their faces.
All I know is thank God for old friends. One of my best friends from high school lives about an hour away from us and she and her family came over for Christmas eve. I don't know what we would have done without them.
This year will go down as the hardest year in my life. I will never forget it. I have grown so much as a person. Changed so much as a mother and a wife. My family has become so much more important to me than ever before. They were always important, but when you go through the experiences we have it brings you closer, or it can tear you apart. I am so grateful that for us it was the former.
I miss my mom every single day. I miss my friends and family every single day. But I also wake up every day knowing that this is where we are supposed to be. Big things are going to happen for us here. We have so many angels watching over us and so many people here on earth rooting for us, the support has been amazing. I end this year a grateful woman. Grateful for my friends, my family and my life.
Happy New Year!