Thursday, February 24, 2011


It was a Thursday night exactly one year ago that our little world here in north county San Diego was turned upside down and torn apart. I remember taking my evening medications, getting ready for bed, and then receiving the phone call from another Bernardo Derm employee...that our co-worker's daughter was missing. My first thought was to join an effort to find her, even late at night after I had taken sleep inducing pills. But I was told that the search efforts were being done by the police at the time. AB and myself vowed to keep the missing girl and her family in our prayers that night, and to keep each other informed if we heard anything. I tried to sleep...but even with sleeping pills, rest never came. Throughout most of the night I could hear the search and rescue helicopters making round after round, realizing just how close to my home that my friends daughter had gone missing. All I could do was lie there, completely helpless.

The next morning I caught the news updates on the search, as nothing had been found the night before, but more importantly, no body had been found. I arrived at work to find our once dermatology office turned into a search and rescue headquarters, with all copiers being used to make thousands of fliers, groups of nurses and medical billers looking at maps, deciding where to take teams to canvas Chelsea's image, looking for any piece of information. Our Physicians gathered around the King family offering help in anyway possible, food, prayer, media blocking...etc. Us in the front office took on the duties of calling patients to cancel appointments for the day, and also to inform dedicated patients of our practice on how they could help. Patients by the handful came into our office to pick up hundreds of fliers at a time to take to various areas throughout the southern California office. Those of us that stayed in the office to yield phone calls and such, also got the information out all over the state, by faxing fliers to personal contacts all over California and into Arizona, Colorado, Nevada and Mexico...on the chance that if she was kidnapped...someone might have seen her somewhere.

The day continued with very little new information. That night, many of us attended a meeting at Poway High School, gathered by the Student Services and Peer Counseling groups that Chelsea was a part of. A place that is usually used for informational meetings became a place of refuge...where people young and old shared their fears, their anger, and their love for a friend and for each other. Hope filled that room. It was incredible.

Early Saturday morning, some of us and our families and friends met up at Denny's for an early breakfast, then made our way down Bernardo Center Drive towards an arrangement for Search and Rescue teams to head out into the Lake Hodges area to search for any clues, and ultimately, for a girl who was wanted home. When we arrived, there in the pouring rain I witnessed one of the most incredible sights. THOUSANDS of people from our community, and their family and friends lined up around and around the buildings, dressed for the worst weather we could have needed...but ready to do what they could. So many people showed up that the agency was forced to turn most away. But those of us who couldn't head out into the fields, hit the streets. A few girlfriends and myself took a couple of the fliers that were made up, ran over to Kinko's to make copies...and once again I found myself stunned. We waited in lines as well over 20 people were in there, spending their own money, to make their own copies. Conversations started and were overheard, of how near and far people were planning to spread the image of this missing girl...

We headed towards Riverside county. The news had already reached there...but we still did the best we could.

Theories of what had happened went back and forth. Dogs traced her scent back to her abandoned car, leading the police to believe for a long time that she had been kidnapped from outside her vehicle. But by Saturday night, a shoe confirmed to be hers was found, and thoughts only spiderwebbed from there. At that point, I have to admit I had begun to lose my hope. She had been gone for over 48 hours, with no real trace of where to look. I wept all night long, trying so hard to cling to a Comforter I had put my hope in for years, but found no solace.

Sunday came, and prayers were said at Churches throughout the state. More Search and Rescue teams were formed again, despite the failing efforts the day before and the horrible weather that didn't seem to let up. I tried my best to find some sort of peace...but found myself glued to the internet and news reports, and the mass text messages being sent back and forth between Bernardo Derm people. That night, I took a break from the intensity and went out for Sushi with a few friends. While at dinner, my phone rang and a co-workers name popped up on the caller ID. I bolted outside of the noisy restaurant so I could take the call. The news: they found a suspect for kidnapping and had him in custody. There was going to be a public announcement and press conference in an hour and they would announce it then. We hurried back to a friend's house to watch the conference...and I was so distressed by the looks in the faces of the investigators and those of the King family. They might have found a suspect, but their now was such little hope of finding Chelsea alive, it was obvious.

John Gardner refused to admit to anything, or cooperate with police for most of Monday...and the waiting and searching continued. A service was held at a local church, a candlelight vigil and prayer service...and I had the chance to meet the extended King family, and embrace them as I knew Christ would. I handed over another of my "Fear Not" rings to Kelly, and urged to not be afraid, whatever happens, her daughter is okay.

Then on Tuesday afternoon, as we at Bernardo Dermatology had tried to get our office back to normal, but having several internet news sites and radios on to hear any news...then it happened. We didn't know exactly what at first. But in a rush, every single employee was asked to come into our office managers office. We dropped everything. Patients in the waiting room, on the phone, in exam rooms...all abandoned. But it didn't matter...this was more important. On March 2nd just after 1pm...they had discovered Chelsea's body in a shallow dug grave near Lake Hodges. Heavy devastation and pain fell upon the room, as tears were fought by some and but unavoidable by others.

It was over. She was gone. And from that point on, hope was lost.

But for a few days, I was inspired by the love of a community like I'd only imagined in a fantasy world.

So tomorrow, we remember an amazing girl, taken too soon. Chelsea, we'll never forget.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Keep Holding On...

There's this song on the Glee Soundtrack, vol 1, that pretty much causes me to tear up every time I hear it! No joke, once, while driving through amazing scenery by Lake Crescent on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington, Brenna had it playing in the Corolla and tears began to stream down my face. I guess it's just been a reminder, amidst all of the garbage I've gone through this year...I'm still surrounded by amazing and loving people, urging me to keep holding on. :). For you I am thankful. B (per your request a while ago...I never write your full name!), you've been an unbelievable strength for me as we've both seen our lives hit the fan this year. Mags, always there to listen and give wisdom when I need it...or even a super silly distraction. Lys, you may be worlds away - but even the thought of you brings me to a happy place (and no, I don't mean Disneyland!)...and Aaron...oh Aaron. I can't imagine what these past few months would have been like without you. You've been my best friend, my joy, my love...for now, I'm holding on to you :), and am looking forward to what happens as this year finally comes to a close, and a new one begins.

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Boy

Little by little I will get this thing up to speed :). So here's a fun tidbit for you about the

His name is Aaron, and it's kind of a funny story. The first time we ever met was way back in elementary school! He's the same year as my younger brother, and was actually in the boy scout pack er whatever they call it with him and my dad was his cub master :) haha. We met up again years later (about 2000) through the college group at the church I was working at. Became friends, and that was about it...kept in touch throughout the years as we both went about our separate lives :). Well, I've been back in SoCal for over TWO years now, and I ashamedly admit that it took us that long to get together and hang out!!! One night I was at Taco Tuesday with some co-workers at a restaurant a few minutes away from his house, so I texted him to come meet me :). We sat there catching up for hours...then hung out again the next night, and then the next night...and you get the picture :)....

Some fun highlights so far:
*On the second night of hanging out, Aaron asked me if he could take me on a "real date" :) thought that was super cute...
*Two nights later he came over to watch a movie, but we ended up staying up ALL night talking...and watched the sunrise together on the golf course, cuddling in a blanket because skinny boy was shivering!
*That night, he told me it was up to me when we would change our facebook statuses! sad that it comes to that!
*Aaron refers to my grama as "OMA", being as German as he can! And after the first time "OMA" met Aaron (which I should mention he was in his black leather motorcycle jacket), she referred to him as "that foxy dude" :)
*A couple weeks into our relationship, Aaron came with me to a friend's engagement party, where it was discovered that they had gone to elementary school together...small world!

You know there's more, but I had an 1 1/2 hour massage tonight and am out of it! We're nearing 6 weeks of being together as "boyfriend/girlfriend"...and it's been wonderful. Good times and some lower times...but all in all...this guy makes me so happy :).

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

it's been a long time...

I can't believe I've neglected this thing as much as I have! It's horrible, because there's so much to update on now! However, I just popped a muscle relaxer which is going to knock me out here shortly so I'll give a condensed version of the updates and hopefully will return soon to write more...

1) MOM. I realize this was the last post, and a pretty intensely emotional one as well. So yes, a few more surgical procedures later, mom has been given a clean bill of health and doesn't have to return for her check up for 6 months. The family is split on if this is a good thing or a bad we'll just have to wait. But I thank you all so much for your love, thoughts, words and prayers...and hugs :) over this whole ordeal. Right now, the SACRED in my life is the people. You take precedence over all things and I value you beyond words.

2) THIRTY. Holy cow, can you believe it? Yep, LJ is thirty. Dang. The celebration was fantastic however :)...finally got a vacation...flew up to Washington to spend some time with Brenna and finally see the Pacific Northwest! Such an amazing time, and I entire blog complete with photos will be here shortly! And for the record, I must say it's inevitable that Lj will be moving up there in the near future :). As soon as I got there, I knew it was the place for me. The age thing has been an issue for the past year, but it's really no big deal :), who would've guessed?

3) BOY. Haha. A strange "title" for an update. I think it's cute...but I will be honest, he's a man :). Yes yes...Lj is dating someone! Didn't think that'd ever happen again - how awful is that? But it has, and it was completely unexpected...someone I've known for decades...and boom - one night about a month ago it just clicked. His name is Aaron, and he gives me this grin that I cannot wipe off of my face. More about him to come as well :).

4) WEDDINGS. This title is even more funny given the post before it! Don't even go there...I wouldn't jump into a marriage after only a month of dating :). No, instead, I've found this huge passion in my life and am going to pursue planning. Most of you are probably not surprised given my love of hostessing and need to be in control of every detail...but anyhow :). I'm diving in...

Okay, I feel the drugs kicking in...but I do promise that there will be more posts to come regarding these topics and more...consider this the theatrical trailer for Lj's blog :).

Good Night dear readers...

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Tears and Fears

Tears are not foreign to my mother. For as long as I can remember, she's been quite the emotional being. When I was younger, I will admit that her tearful outbursts definitely embarrassed me...causing me to just assume that she was crazy :), and perhaps had too much estrogen or something floating through her system. However, as I've grown older, I've seen myself start to exhibit the same emotional characteristics. Whether I caught a glimpse of a touching Hallmark commercial, braved a tear jerker of a chick flick, heard an inspiring toast at a wedding, suffered a young heart break or was just plain drunk...the tears flowed. I was so ashamed of this "thing", that for the past 10+ years, I would not let most people see me cry. The emotions and tears were fought back with so much resolve, that I swear the muscles in my chest and my face are now suffering because of it! Here we are in 2010, and I think I've cried more this year than the rest of my life put together. The few and far between posts in the past months give just an inkling of the roller coaster I find myself on. But this post isn't about me, and my tears - although they are ever present, even as I sit down to write this. It's about my emotional mama :).

It was a Saturday afternoon, just last month, when my cell phone rang and the caller ID indicated it was one of my parents. I had no doubt in my mind that it was my mother :), calling most likely to check in, see how the week was, etc. But no, the purpose of the call was to let me know that my dad had taken her down to the ER in Fresno late Thursday evening. She was having some chest pains...but after keeping an eye on her for several hours, and doing all sorts of test, they had no conclusions. She was scheduled for a little stress test to occur on that following Monday. Mom was convinced that's all it was, just stress. Life's been full of it lately. Monday rolls around, and I'm out of control busy at work, and to be honest completely forgot about her scheduled appointment. It wasn't until after I was off of work, and walking to my car that I retrieved the message on my voicemail from my dad. Mom had failed her stress test about a minute and a half into it, the doctor intervened, admitted her to the hospital and scheduled an angiogram for the next morning. I was beside myself - what on earth was going on? My mother has never had problems with her lungs, heart or whatever else was in that region. Now, my mama is no stranger to doctors and hospitals either :), having undergone several procedures and surgeries since even before I was's old hat to her by now. But I was worried about her, having to stay overnight in yet another hospital...most likely overwhelmed by the uncertainty of what was happening to her. Horribly enough, the stress I felt had taken it's toll on me as well, and I found myself vomiting most of the night :/. The next day I stayed home from work, slept as much as I possibly could...keeping the phone nearby and waiting for a phone call from my dad on the outcome of the angiogram. Waited and waited...and waited. Around 5:30 on that Tuesday, my brother comes by the house. Him and my grandmother walk into my room (where I am still in bed), and he tells us that he just got off the phone with my dad. The doctors were unable to do the angiogram because of some complications, and were therefore going to be unable to insert any stents to help with the blockage they had discovered in the main artery that brings blood back into the heart. They immediately switched gears and prepped her for open heart surgery that was to begin about 6:00.

For a moment it felt as if my own heart had stopped beating. THIS could not be happening. Not to my mama. There was no forewarning. We had no clue to even expect something like THIS. And then it hit me. I might actually lose my mom. Of all of the health issues that she's had to go through in her life, and the things we've come to expect from her, leave it to her to find her way out on an unexpected operating table. I had no words to say. I don't even quite remember what I was thinking. And there were no tears. I felt a little guilty for not crying as I watched my grandmother hit hysteric levels I'd never seen her visit before...but I've never been too good with this stuff. For most of my life, I've had to be strong for so many other people, that perhaps I've forgotten what it's like to be vulnerable. It was obvious with my brother as well. The two of us sat silently at the kitchen table for what seemed a lifetime...just waiting. Until he did the usual and cracked a joke about how I should feel guilty now about not giving my mother any grandchildren yet :). The atmosphere was lightened, but I knew we were both on edge and neither one of us wanted to show it. I suggested we watch a movie while we we did :). Talk about your coping strategies. Turns out we didn't have to wait long. The procedure was supposed to last a little over two hours, but was over with in just about an hour. Dad called, told us that everything went better than expected and they had been able to just do a single bypass to help with the blood flow. My heart started beating again, and I was able to breathe.
Days passed and we got reports of my ever-strong mother doing fantastically with her healing and her spirit. She's a tough gal, my mama. Due to circumstances, dad was going to bring her down here to stay with grandma and I for a few weeks. I was so glad. Not only had she gone through it all with flying colors, I was going to be able to spend time with her again...only this time with a different attitude than ever before. She was here with us for nearly two weeks, and she improved daily. Visits from friends and family lifted her spirits, and mine. Then, on the Thursday night before her and my grandma were to leave to go back up north, I was wakened by grandma around 11:00. My mom was having severe chest pains, worse than before, so she was taking her to the hospital. I was in such a daze that I didn't fully realize what was happening until about a half an hour after they left. Then I started to panic. It was happening again. Again. Maybe I'm morbid, but immediately my thoughts went to "what if this is how I lose my mama?" She was yet again admitted to the hospital and watched overnight. The only conclusion the doctors came to was that there was some fluid buildup from the surgery, and perhaps a small blood clot. She came home late the next day, a little worn and tired, but still her normal self.

On Sunday, my parents and grandma hopped in the car to head back up to my folk's place so that my mom could start having follow up appointments with the doctor up there. I spoke with her a few times during the week, and yet again...she was doing well. A little exhausted as she tried to go back to work at her store :), so my mother! Not only is she emotional, but she's also a control freak and likes to just be IN everything. Friday she was to go in for an appointment with her new cardiologist. She had no worries (although, she hadn't had any for the prior appointments either, and we see how they turned out...I should have been more prepared). Got a voicemail after work that the doctor didn't like what he saw in the EKG, so she was checked into the hospital overnight again, and they were going to officially do the original angiogram on Saturday morning. During all of this, I just had to wait. I had to keep myself from going overboard with my worries and thoughts, which was quite difficult. After the angiogram on Saturday morning, I spoke with my dad, and yet again, I could hear the intensity in his voice...there was more blockage in the arteries. The bypass didn't seem to be making that much of a difference, and the chest pains she had had the week prior were actually minor heart attacks. He put her on the phone so that I could tell her I love her...and for the first time in this whole ordeal, I heard my mama crying on the other end of the line.

These tears were different than any I'd ever encountered from her before. They were intensely filled with fear. And it was then that I just let my fears (and tears) take over as well. Afraid again of appearing vulnerable, I quickly got off the phone. Hours later she was transported via ambulance to another hospital in San Francisco (a 3 1/2 hour drive!), where she now waits for her angioplasty procedure scheduled for tomorrow morning.

Perhaps I'm not too young to consider the fact that one day I will no longer have my parents. But I don't want to even think about it. I mean, they're my parents. My mama and my daddy. The ones who've been there for it all, who have loved me no matter what, supported me in times of need and times of plenty, who taught me a lot of what I know, attributed much of their characters into the molding of mine...what will my world be like without them? I can't even imagine. I'm capsized with so much fear, and I don't know what to do with it.

2010 has taken it's toll once again. It may not be the end of the world as we know it, but the world I've known is coming to it's end.

Monday, July 12, 2010

A Day with Natalie...

Had a fun time with this precious little girl yesterday, doing her "6 month" photos...I can't believe how big she's getting and the personality she's developing! So wonderful! Here's just a small sample of the wonderful shots I was able to snap! Enjoy!
Ah, the sticking out of the tongue...apparently her new favorite thing to do for Auntie Lj!
Pushing up all by herself!
Yep, we put her in a basket :)
Towards the end of the afternoon, kiddo was getting a little tired of all the modeling...
Tongue again...:)
One of the first shots in the basket...I don't think she was too sure about this one...
Such a happy girl! Especially when mommy is clapping and dancing behind me! Natalie, I think I'd laugh at your mommy too if I could see what she was doing!
Cute little feet!
Again, towards the end of the day, baby was getting sleepy...

Saturday, July 3, 2010


Man. Two posts in one day :). Let's just say I've been doing a lot of thinking this week, and just need to get it out! Haha.

This one comes from a slightly disturbing dream I had the other night. I've debated whether or not to go into full detail of the dream, as it might take some back stories to fully understand :) so I will do my best to describe it to you. After many years of my crazy detailed dreams, I've learned to try and deduce why I have certain dreams...perhaps it was due to a conversation I had before I fell asleep, or a picture I came across. So this one, I am going to attribute the bulk of it to the many episodes of Friday Night Lights I've been watching these past few weeks!

Here we go. It starts out that I'm walking through Disneyland, and I run into a person I haven't seen in years, a friend of my ex's in central california. We do the normal conversation, and then he tells me that Andrew, my ex, is there at Disneyland too, and he's going to meet him. He insists I come too. All of the sudden, I'm carrying an infant in my arms, only it's not my child...but Andrew and his wife's. The friend and I were trying to find them to bring the kid back to them. This baby was just heavenly :). So cute, and happy. Anyway, then the scene changes from Disneyland to a high school football game. I'm walking with the infant through the stands, and I meet up with Andrew's wife, like we've been friends for years. I sit down with her, and we turn to the field. There he is, down there on the field, coaching the football game. He smiles up to us, and we both wave to him. Oddly enough, there is a big screen at this football game, and apparently they are honoring Andrew for something, so it's like they play this movie of his life. It goes through some early on scenes when he was growing up, playing football (which is hilarious because in reality, he didn't AT ALL), then there's all these scenes from our relationship. Some good times, laughter, smiling, him asking me to marry him...then it turns sour...heartbreak, he leaves me because I couldn't have a child with him. Then, a scene much like the one I'm sitting in the stands and him on the field...I'm crying and decide to leave the stands. He sees me leave and tries to run after me. At that point in the dream I look down to Andrew on the field, and he's crying now, looking at me - and I just can't handle it anymore...I get up and leave. This time he doesn't run after me, but his wife does. And when she catches me, I explain to her how I'd never looked at things from his perspective. Then the dream ends.

You have to know that when I woke up, an hour and a half before my alarm, I just lied there, staring into space completely dumbfounded by it all. What in the world, why on earth am I dreaming about my ex? Still don't really understand that, but oh well. It wasn't real, but it sure felt real. And at that point I understood that something within me was kicking me in the pants, reminding me that sometimes we must consider perspective in our relationships.

So often, our situations are exactly that, our situations. We simply see things from our perspective, our point of view, how things affect us. Very rarely do we take the chance to step away and consider what the other person (or people) might be thinking, what has spurred their actions or words. In the dream, that Leanna was simply heartbroken that he would leave her. She never saw things from his perspective. And she definitely didn't see or know that when it all came to an end, he ran after her.

I said it before, and I'll repeat it, none of this was real :), and I'm not secretly pining for my ex. But how many other situations have I been in lately where I've refused to see things from another's point of view? And how many times have I tried and not been allowed to know what goes on in someone else's thoughts to lead to their actions? In all honesty, it's quite frustrating. There's a couple of relationships in trouble right now in my life, some involving me, some not...but in all of them I desire perspective. And more than just being able to be a witness, but to also understand. I'm going to keep trying. Keep my eyes open in hopes that something is gained. Because, really, I have to wonder how perhaps outcomes would change if we all were to step outside of ourselves and take perspective...