Character List

Monday, August 31, 2015

I Do

In a way I couldn't believe that I was moments away from marrying Lukas; it all seemed so surreal to me.  We had my family's priest, Father O'Callaghan, officiating.  He had known my siblings and I since birth and it only seemed fitting.  Lukas and I had met with him and he advised that even though we were not getting married in a Catholic church or following the traditional wedding rite that we would have to attend pre-marriage counseling.  We immediately agreed.  The sessions focused on finances, future children, career and naturally the role our faith will play in our lives.  Lukas and I had discussed all of these topics at length with our therapist and each other and didn't have any surprises.  We were both on the same page.  After several sessions, we received a certificate to prove that we completed this step.

Father O'Callaghan stepped forward and said "A successful marriage consists of two people, putting he other before themselves and giving to that person 100% always.  As Elisabeth and Lukas' journey unfolds here there will be opportunities and challenges that will strain and perhaps even weaken them.  In those times they will need the support, love and care of all of you who have come to celebrate this joyous occasion with them."

At this point, he paused and asked Lukas' parents to join us.  Once they did he continued, "The relationship between parents and their children is often understated but very deep.  Today is one of the rare occasions when it can be publicly acknowledged.  On this occasion Elisabeth's parents proudly stand here with their daughter representing her family.  And Lukas' parents proudly stand beside their son representing his family.  Together, they are displaying their individual and combined love for Elisabeth and Lukas."

He paused and looked from my parents to Lukas' before asking, "Who brings this man and woman to be married?"

Our parents in unison replied, "We do."

With that, my mom and dad both embraced me and whispered that they loved me before hugging Lukas.  As both sets of parents returned to their seats, Lukas took my hand and led me towards the altar.  "You look amazing" he said emotionally.

"So do you.  I can't believe we're getting married" I replied back.

Father O'Callaghan began by thanking our guests for coming to support Lukas and I.  He spoke about the sacrament of marriage before asking that dreaded question, "If there is anyone here that can show just reason why Elisabeth and Lukas should not be married, speak now or forever hold your peace."

It was so quiet that you could literally hear a pin drop but then someone started coughing.  I furrowed my eyebrows and looked at Lukas before turning around.  There in the third row, faking a coughing fit, was my future sister in law......Lauren.

She had been in rehab and was consistently getting help for her depression.  Sometimes we erroneously assume someone is crazy or unstable and do not realize that depression is in fact a disease.  I haven't spoken to Lauren since that day she threw me out of her hospital room in San Francisco.  I didn't anticipate having her at our wedding until about a month ago.

Lukas and I were having brunch with his parents at their house in Greenwich.  We talked about the wedding with Lukas' parents volunteering to do whatever was needed.  Eventually the conversation shifted to Lauren with Mrs. DiPalma sharing, "Dad and I have been talking to the doctors and they are thrilled with Lauren's progression.  At first she was reluctant but over the course of the past six months she's finally admitted to herself that there is a problem and she has been working diligently to get better.  She told me last night that she is yearning to see her kids and the entire family.

Lukas looked uncomfortable and very tense.  "That's nice" I replied evenly.  I didn't want to come off as a heartless bitch or an over-concerned "in-law".  I wanted to remain neutral.

That gave Mrs. DiPalma the courage to ask, "Elisabeth I know you haven't had the best of relationships with Lauren in the past but I urge you to remember that she was and still is sick.  I know this is a lot that I'm asking but would you consider inviting Lauren to the wedding?"

I felt the blood drain from my face.  Inviting Lauren to my wedding would be risky.  Who knows what she's capable of?

Mr. DiPalma must have sensed my reluctance and said, "Honey, Elisabeth and Lukas should invite who they want to their wedding.  You shouldn't guilt them into inviting Lauren."

With a look of disbelief Mrs. DiPalma looked at both of us, pleading, "I am not trying to guilt you into doing anything you don't want to do.  I thought that it would be a nice gesture to invite Lauren."

Lukas pushed his chair back and stood up, "Mom I can't believe you would put us in a position like this.  How many times have you defended Lauren and said she's changed only to have her do some stupid shit?"

Before she could respond Lukas opened the French doors and headed out into the massive backyard. Politely I excused myself and followed him.  I allowed him to vent for a little before asking, "Do you want Lauren at our wedding?"

He shrugged, "I don't know.  Lauren is very manipulative.  During my first marriage she did everything in her power to try to get under Isabella's skin and create doubt.  It was as though she couldn't bear to see anyone else happy. I don't want to subject you or myself to that again."

"I agree but at the same time I think it would mean a lot to your mom if we invited her."

He sighed, "My mom is always trying to defend Lauren and minimize her actions regardless of who she hurts in the process."

"Maybe we can invite her on our terms" I suggested.

"Our terms?"

I nodded and led him back inside the house where we agreed to invite Lauren as long as his parents promised to keep an eye on her at all times to ensure that she would not do anything to ruin our wedding day.  His mom immediately agreed.  

Now, in this moment, I was beginning to think that Lukas was right.  We shouldn't have given in. My eyes met Lauren and she immediately stopped her fake coughing fit and looked thoroughly embarassed.  Father O'Callaghan asked his question once, this time directing it to Lauren.  She shook her head and covered her face with her hand.

I took a deep breath, determined to not let Lauren's antics ruin our wedding day.  Father O'Callaghan went through the normal vows.  Initially I had wanted to write our own vows but I realized that I would be an emotional mess.  Thankfully Lukas was on the same page.  After we said our "I do's", it was time for the rings.

I gasped with Lukas slipped an eternity ring on my finger.  We had agreed not to shop for our wedding bands together....wanting there to be an element of surprise.  The ring that Lukas picked out was absolutely gorgeous and complemented my engagement ring so well.

Nervously I struggled with the wedding band I purchased for Lukas. He smiled and helped me.  I hadn't even realized that I was crying until I felt him brush away my tears gently with his thumb.  After the rings, Father O'Callaghan invited our parents up to assist with lighting our unity candles which symbolized the joining of our two families as well as the union between Lukas and I.....we were now one.

Lukas and I joined hands and returned to the altar where Father O'Callaghan asked all of our guests to join him in prayer.  Once completed he shared his words of wisdom,  I was becoming a little anxious and silently hoped he would stop droning on and on.  Finally he uttered the words we have been waiting to hear,

"Elisabeth and Lukas, now that you have both committed yourselves to one another and to your Holy Union through the sacred vows that you have taken and by the giving and receiving on rings.....it is my honor to now pronounce you husband and wife.  Lukas, you may kiss your bride."

Our kiss we simple, very sweet and emotional.  I held onto Lukas tightly exclaiming how happy I was.  As we pulled apart, I brushed the tears from his cheeks.  Father O'Callaghan introduced us, "It's my pleasure to present to you Mr. and Mrs. Lukas and Elisabeth DiPalma."

We walked down the aisle, giddy with excitement and happiness  Zoey was waiting for us with two glasses of champagne as we made our way inside the castle.  We graciously took the glasses from her and thanked her for her warm wishes.

"To us" Lukas toasted before we downed the contents.  I hugged him close.

"This seems like a dream" I said excitedly.

"The sweetest dream" he replied, tipping my chin up before kissing me.

"Mm...I love you."

He grinned, "I love you more.  When I saw you walking down the aisle it literally took my breath away.  You are look so beautiful and I'm so happy that you're my wife."

I blushed, "I was so nervous until I saw you...that's when I knew that everything would be just fine.  I can't wait spend the rest of my life with you."

Before he could reply our bridal party arrived.  They excitedly talked over each other, hugging and congratulating us.  The next hour was spent taking pictures on the grounds of Oheka.  We took what felt like thousands of pictures before we went back inside to the bridal room.  Our guests were partaking in cocktail hour outside while we snacked on shrimp scampi, chicken skewers, stuffed mushrooms, mini crab cakes and all types of fruit, cheeses and breads.

It was close to seven when Zoey appeared.  "We're moving everyone into the reception area and getting them seated.  In about 15 minutes we're going to start with the introductions of both sets of parents and then the wedding party."

My makeup artists fixed my makeup and I made a quick trip to the bathroom before joining Lukas.

We followed our bridal party and listened as they were announced.  After Maria and Lukas' friend Damien were announced, it was our turn.  I heard our master of ceremonies tell of our guests to get on their feet and make as much noise as they could.

I giggled as Zoey opened the door and we were greeted with cheers and whistles.  I was slightly taken a back but made sure to take in each and every second.  Once inside, the lights dimmed allowed me to take in the centerpieces which were even more beautiful that I envisioned, surrounded by candlelight.  Every detail was spectacular.  Before I could fully take in everything it was time for our first dance.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Here Comes the Bride

My bridesmaids followed Zoey while Maria and Linda stayed back.  After all of the friend drama I had endured, I asked her to be my maid of honor.  I knew that no matter what happened, she would always have my back and be loyal to me.  Linda gave me a quick hug.

"I can't wait until we're sisters!  Lukas is very lucky to have you in his life and we are lucky to have you in our family.  I love you and am thrilled for you and Lukas" she squealed excitedly.

With that she gave me another hug and rushed towards the rest of bridesmaids, shooting Zoey an apologetic smile.  Zoey watched on impatiently as Maria and I spoke.  Tears were welling up in her eyes and I playfully told her that if she made me cry, I'd kill her.  We both laughed.

"I can't believe that in a matter of minutes you're going to be married!  I wish one day I can find what you and Lukas have.  I know that you two are going to be so happy together."

I nodded, "You will and I'm not just saying that.  You're an awesome woman and I know that you'll get your fairytale, whirlwind, everlasting relationship too.  Thank you for being my maid of honor and dealing with my craziest."

She giggled, "It's the least I could do."

We hugged.  At this point, Zoey walked over with my bouquet.  "Are you ready?"

I nodded, "Very much so.  Just a little nervous."

"That's normal dear.  Everyone has nerves on their wedding day" my mom said soothingly.

I took my bouquet from Zoey and she told me I had two minutes.  I turned to my parents, both of whom would walk me down the aisle.  It didn't think it would be fair to only have my dad do the honors when both of my parents have been so instrumental in all aspects of my life.  

"You're the best parents I could ever ask for.  I don't know to express how much both of you mean to me.  You've gone above and beyond to always make me happy and I thank you for that.  I know I can never repay you for everything but know that I am eternally grateful.  I love you both."

My dad replied, "We did our jobs...that's what parents are supposed to do."

I nodded and whispered, "Thank you."

"Honey your mom and I have talked about what we would say to you at this moment.  You've brought us so much happiness and pride and we want you to know that you have our blessing and unwavering support.  Marriage isn't always easy and there will be peaks and valleys but always respect yourself.  Don't become complacent.  Continue to grow in all areas of your life and don't lose yourself" my dad advised.

Mom added, "Sometimes we lose our identity when we marry.  Always be your own woman.  Lukas is a wonderful man, all that we've envisioned for you and more.  We want the both of you to always remember the love you share and continue to build your relationship. Grow and love together.  We wish you the best and want you to know that if you ever need to talk or vent or anything, we will always be there for you."

Dad chimed in, "Our door is always open for you and Lukas."

Zoey returned and took my hand in hers.  "This is it.  Let's go."

As we walked towards the outdoor garden where our ceremony was being held my dad whispered, "You are the most beautiful bride I've ever seen."

"I love you Daddy" I said quietly, brushing back a tear that was creeping down his cheek.

"I love you too, always will" he replied.

My mom shared the same sentiments.  I took a deep breath and let the air out slowly before making my way outside.  I heard Wagner's wedding march.  I looked at both mom and dad and they nodded, assuring me that everything would be fine.  That made me relax slightly.  We walked slowly down towards the aisle.  I noticed all of our friends and family, looking towards me with genuine smiles.  I looked straight ahead and say Lukas for the first time all day and my heart literally skipped a beat.

He stood there and looked like an angel,,,pure perfection in his Giorgio Armani tuxedo with a white rose in his lapel.  

I noticed tears in his eyes I got closer.  Our eyes were locked and in that moment all my nervousness was gone.  I knew that this was my destiny, the man I wanted to spend the rest of my life with.

******  My loves - sorry this is so short....I didn't have time to write more.  Promise the next post will be longer. ******

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Prep Time

Seeing my dress hanging there, rendered me breathless.  It looked even more beautiful than I remembered.  I slipped out of my robe and covered my bare breasts with my arm.  My dress had a built in bra and even it didn't, I don't think I would have been able to find a bra that would work.  Maybe one of those silicone bras that you stick on?  I figured that would be uncomfortable.  I stepped into my dress and Maria helped to pull it up.  I slipped my arms through the dainty sleeves and took a deep breath as Maria buttoned the back.  Once my dress was on, I turned around and glanced at my image in the full length image.

I gasped and tears filled my eyes.  My dress sparkled and fit me like a glove.  After trying on that lace dress, I didn't know what was preventing me from purchasing it.  As soon as I tried on this dress during my shopping trip with my mom and Lukas', I knew it was the dress that I was destined to get married in. Silently I wondered what Lukas would think of my dress.  Though our photographer had suggested taking first look pictures, we declined.  I'm not the most traditional woman but I wanted to have that special moment, walking down the aisle towards Lukas and seeing his expression.  Seeing each other beforehand would take away from the magic and excitement.

My mom touched my arm and I turned towards her.  Her eyes were filled with such love and warmth that no words were needed.  As we embraced I recalled my childhood days, my mom's hugs and reassurance that everything would be alright.  After my first broken heart telling me that I deserved so much more.  She had always been my rock and my guiding star, my confidante and one of my dearest friends.  I knew that no matter what happened in my life or how much I screwed up, she would always be by my side to guide and assist me.

She took my hand in hers and with so much emotion she said, "I don't know where all the time has gone.  It seems like only yesterday you were that precious baby I held in my arms.  Through the years I've watched you grow and mature into a wonderful woman, one that I am proud to call my daughter. I know that you and Lukas will have a life filled with love and joy but there will also be trying times. During the tough times remember how much love you felt for him today.  I wish you and Lukas all the happiness in the world.  I love you."

I willed back the tears, not waiting to mess up my makeup and nodded.  "Thank you Mom.  I don't know how I could have made it this far without you.  I don't know how I could ever repay or thank you for all that you've done for me."

She hugged me, "You just did" she said happily as the photographer snapped candid pictures.

I took what felt like hundreds of pictures with my bridal party and my flower girls who looked super cute in their dresses and floral headpieces.  I'd initially wanted to get them tiaras but after careful consideration thought that these might be more comfortable to wear for an extended period of time. Now they were both skipping around the room with their flower baskets.  I glanced at the clock and started to get nervous....in only twenty five minutes I will be walking down the aisle towards Lukas.  I glanced out of the window and took in the picturesque day.  The sun was shining brightly and there wasn't a cloud in the sky.  Our guests has started to arrive and were indulging in champagne.  Everything looked picture perfect and even better than I could have imagined.

Back when I was a mere child, I always envisioned getting married at a castle on Long Island. It was a pipe dream because it was super expensive and the waiting list was at least two and half years long.  Lukas and I visited the the magnificent castle and it was beyond my wildest expectations.  Sadly, it was already booked for the date we selected.  I had given up on getting married there.  In fact Lukas and I had moved forward and put down a relatively small deposit at Cipriani downtown.  I loved the pillars and the ambiance.

After I had a set venue (well at least that's what I thought) I contacted one of former colleagues Zoey. She had worked in the investment banking industry for eight years before she was laid off.  She started reevaluating her goals and dreams and decided to create a wedding planning business in New York City.  Today, her business and services are in high demand.  When I called her, I didn't know if she would be able to fit me into a what I was sure was a packed wedding schedule but she did.

"I'm so happy for you.  It's about time you and Jason finally tied the knot" she squealed.

Did I mention that once Zoey got laid off we didn't speak much apart from a few texts here and there?  There was an moment of awkward silence before I replied.  "Jason and I haven't been together for a while."

She interrupted, "Oh my goodness!  I'm so sorry.  Me and my big mouth."

"Zoey, please stop!  It's fine..I swear.  I'm marrying the most perfect man for me.  His name is Lukas and we would both be honored if you or a member of your staff be our wedding planner."

I gave her as much details as I had.  "I have another wedding that date but I'll assign that to someone on my team.  I'd love to be your wedding planner."

Weeks later Zoey had setup meetings with florists and even invited me to a wedding showcase so I could schmooze with vendors.  While we were walking around speaking with photographers, videographers and getting business cards my cell phone rang.  On the other end of the phone was Dorothy, the event coordinator at Oheka Castle...my dream venue.  Turns out that the couple that were supposed to get married on July 3, 2016 had cancelled their wedding and the venue was now available.  I immediately told her that Lukas and I would love nothing more than getting married at Oheka and promised to meet with her the next day with a deposit.

Upon saying yes, I began feeling guilty.  I knew that I should have checked with Lukas first.  I stepped to the side and called him.  He answered on the second ring and before he could say I anything I told him everything....very quickly.

"That was your first choice and to be honest after we visited I liked it as well.  Cipriani is great but we were settling.  I'm all for marrying you at Oheka."

I let out a sigh of relief, "I love you Lukas.  You're the best."

Thankfully we didn't put down much at Cipriani.  The next day Zoey, Lukas and I met with the event coordinator at Oheka and decided on a cost per person and put down a sizable deposit.  We walked all through the lush gardens and then inside.  I had so many ideas I wanted to run by Lukas and Zoey.

Speaking of Zoey she was very calmly but firmly telling me that I had to put my shoes on.  While I sat down and pulled up my dress, Maria slipped my shoes onto my feet as though I were Cinderella. After I was all dressed my makeup artist did a quick touch up.  I thanked my girls for all their help, my fabulous shower, bacherlorette party and being so supportive and putting up with me when the door opened.

My dad, one of the strongest men ever, stood there looking at me with tears in his eyes.  I hugged him tightly.  "Today is a bittersweet for me.  I am beyond happy for you and Lukas but at the same time realizing that you're all grown up brings back so many memories.  Part of me can't believe that this day is finally here."

I wiped the tears that trailed down his cheek.  "I didn't know how hard this would be.  I love you and want nothing but the best for you.  I see the happiness in your eyes and it fills me with joy....all I've ever wanted was for you and your brothers to find happiness.  I still remember you as a little girl following me around and asking all these questions.  That little girl running around the backyard picking flowers....asking me to take you to get ice cream or to the mall...or for that doll you wanted. Seeing you today, looking simply beautiful in your wedding dress, makes me wonder where the time has gone.  It's as though I blinked and you're all grown up and getting married.  I know that Lukas and you will have many years of happiness and grow old together.  I hope that the love your mom and I have shown you through the years will forever guide you as you start this new chapter.  I love you Elisabeth."

I nodded, unable to speak and overcome with emotion.  I don't even know how I managed to say, "I love you, Daddy.  No matter how old I am I'll always be your little girl."

Damn tears screwing up my perfect makeup.  My dad blotted my tears with his handkerchief.  "You mom and I have something for you."

I took the box that he held in his hand.  "You really didn't need to get me anything."

"Open it" my dad responded firmly.

Inside was a stunning bracelet.  "It's gorgeous" I whispered.

"We wanted you to wear it today" my mom replied, slipping it onto my wrist.

"It's perfect" I answered, drawing both them into a hug.

I heard Zoey giving orders, telling my girls to line up before gently telling me it was just about time. I got my makeup fixed once again.

"Are you ready?" Zoey asked with a smile.

"As ready as I'll ever be" I answered.

Friday, August 21, 2015

There Wouldn't Be Rainbows Without Rain

Sorry guys.  I was away for a beach vacation out East and totally forgot my laptop.  (BTW why didn't any of you tell me how difficult it is to be pregnant during a heatwave!!  I have three more months to go and can't wait to meet my little one:-))  Apologies for the lateness of this post.  I hope it answers many of the questions posed after the last!  Thanks for understanding and I hope all of you have a fabulous weekend.


My girls were all dressed and hovering around me in the strapless navy gowns that we selected together.  What a day that was!  We arrived at the store and I allowed the girls to chose their favorite dress.  Needless to say there was a wide array of choices...from short low cut strapless dresses to a high neck gown that  looked like a potato sack.  I knew I had to make a an executive decision and take control.

I ended up selecting three dresses.  A high-low gown, a mermaid styled gown and this gown in a sweetheart neckline.  My girls ended up trying on all three and settled for this one.  They felt it looked flattering on each of them and loved how flowy it was.

"Oh my God!  You guys look amazing" I exclaimed.

They all grinned at me.  "Are you ready to get dressed?" Maria asked.

I glanced towards my dress, hanging not too far away.  It was breathtaking.  When I had gone wedding dress shopping for the first time I had fallen in love with this lace dress.  It occupied my thoughts and I was positive it was the dress for me.  Something stopped me from getting it though.  At first I thought I was just being picky but when I went shopping with my mom and Lukas' mom I knew why.

Our day started off at Kleinfeld.  I appeased both of them by trying on all of their picks.  I wasn't in love with any of the dresses.  They both sensed this with my mom saying, "Maybe we should go back to that boutique and get the lace dress?"

Lukas' mom chimed in, "Honey, if your heart is set on that dress, you should get it.  I appreciate you letting me share this experience with you and want you to get that dress you fell in love with.  When I tried on my wedding dress for the first time I just knew it was the one."

My mom agreed, "Me too.  You just know."

I sighed, "I really love that dress.  I just don't know what's holding me back."

After I changed, we had lunch. While we were eating, I shared, "There's this bridal boutique in Midtown that I wanted to check out.  I made an appointment for three this afternoon.  I'd love if you two would come with me."

Mrs. DiPalma and my mom beamed with happiness and naturally accepted my invitation.  It was at that boutique that I found the dress that I've dreamed off all of my life.  I didn't waste a second purchasing it.  I was so excited that night telling Lukas that I had found the perfect dress.  He was happy for me.  While talking I mentioned that I needed to drop a few pounds.

"I want to get back to working out but I've been feeling so sick lately.  I must have a stomach bug or something" I concluded.

"Do you think you're pregnant?" he inquired.

At first I was annoyed thinking that each time I said I wasn't feeling well someone automatically assumed I was pregnant.  However, I thought about it for a second and realized that I did miss my period and was well over two weeks late.  Maybe it was stress?  Or maybe I really was pregnant?  I mean I was feeling nauseous and had difficulty keeping anything down, certain smells made it even worse, my breasts felt heavy and sore and I was just tired all the time.

The thought of being pregnant scared me.  I knew that Lukas and I would be great parents but I didn't know what pregnancy entailed. The thought of childbirth frightened me. I had such a low tolerance for pain and wondered if I could make it through the process.  I took a deep breath to calm myself down.

"I don't know....I guess it's a possibility.  What are we going to do?" I asked with a shaky voice.

Lukas moved closer and wrapped his arms around me.  "We're going to be the best parents, that's what we'll do.  We've talked about children before and we're on the same page.  So what if we're a little ahead of our schedule?"

"I'm just scared about the process."

He kissed the top of my head, "There's nothing to be scared of.  I'm going to be with you every step of the way."

That night I sent Lukas to the pharmacy to get me a pregnancy test.  He ended up coming back with four of them.  "I didn't know which one to get."

"I think it's best to do this first thing in the morning."

That night Lukas and I laid awake talking about our future children and picking out names.  We envisioned their personalities and debated who they would look like.  We shared our dreams for them.  As we fantasized he asked, "Do you want to raise our kids in the city?"

"Not really.  I'd like for our kids to grow up like you and I did.  A nice house, large yard, neighborhood friends, maybe a cute dog.  The city is great and all but I don't know if I'd want to raise a family here full time."

He smiled, "I agree.  Connecticut or Long Island?"

I think I surprised him when I said, "Greenwich."

He was taken aback.  "How come?"

I giggled, "I love how close it is to the city, the houses are gorgeous and there are so many cute restaurants and stores.  It's the best of both worlds.  I mean I love Long Island too but I think Greenwich might have more to offer us at this time."

"Maybe we can get a place out east and a house in Greenwich.  We can afford it."

"Baby steps, Lukas....baby steps."

The next morning Lukas and I waited anxiously to find out if I was pregnant.  I paced the room, all types of thoughts running through my head.  When the timer went off, I looked at Lukas and then towards the bathroom.  I was so nervous that I was shaking.  Lukas offered to get the pregnancy test but I shook my head.  Instead we headed into the bathroom together to find out that I was in fact pregnant!  I was instantly overjoyed and started crying...happy tears.  I noticed Lukas had tears in his eyes as well.  We were both over the moon.

We decided not to tell anyone for a couple days.  We wanted to enjoy this moment together.  Plus I wanted to go to the doctor and ensure that I really was in fact pregnant.  Sometimes these tests can be wrong.  Two days later my doctor confirmed that I was indeed pregnant.  Lukas and I ordered dinner and toasted our baby with iced tea. We thought of ways to tell our families and we opted on inviting them to dinner over the weekend.

"I completely forgot about our wedding.  I mean I'm due in late May and we're getting married in July.  Do you think we could pull this off?" I asked.

"Of course we can" he said positively.

"But what if I can't fit into my dress?"

He laughed, "Liz you're being paranoid.  Everything will fall into place.  Trust me.  I know that you'll be the most beautiful bride."

Our families were equally happy and excited about our bundle of joy.  Each day I became more and more attached to our baby.  Talking to it and playing classical music.  I heard that makes their brains more developed.  Lukas was great too.  Catering to my ever need.  Making sure that I was okay at all times.  He made sure that I had crackers to munch on first thing every morning to alleviate my morning sickness.  He was the best.

Almost three months into my pregnancy, I awoke with severe cramping.  I mean that type that rips through you.  I clutched my stomach and groaned loudly in pain, awaking Lukas.  He immediately sprung to action, convincing me that we should go to the hospital.  I was doubled over in pain and gave up trying to change into something suitable.  Lukas helped me into my robe and assisted me downstairs where a cab was waiting.  I was hysterically crying throughout the ride.  I knew in my heart that something was desperately wrong with my baby.  I could see the sadness and fear in Lukas' eyes as he tried to comfort me.

I sobbed through all the tests, just wanting to wake up from this nightmare but I wasn't dreaming.  I broke down when the doctors told me that I had lost the baby.  I was devastated.  How could I not be able to provide a safe environment for my child?  Was this a sign that I was not good enough?  Even though I wasn't that far along, I grew to love my baby and yearned for the day I would hold him/her in my arms.  To know that I had lost our baby broke my heart in a way I didn't know possible.  I've had my heart broken by ex'es and friends but this pain was deeper.  Lukas did his best to comfort me but it wasn't enough.  I felt broken inside.

For days I didn't want to get out of bed and face reality.  I blamed myself and didn't know how to face the world.  My family tried their best to cheer me up.  My mom brought my favorite meals and shared her own experience.  She had had a miscarriage after John was born.  Everyone tried to tell me that it was going to be okay but I didn't feel that way.  Lukas suggested therapy and at first the mere thought of it pissed me off.  I could handle this on my own I thought.  My feelings overwhelmed me at times I began to see that Lukas was right.  I needed to heal from within and come to terms with my loss. Therapy made me see things differently.

It made me realize that the miscarriage wasn't my fault.  My therapist told me that it was okay to mourn and be sad.  She validated my feelings while opening my eyes to how I was treating my Lukas, my family and friends.  I was lashing out and being unreasonable.  After a few sessions Lukas joined me and and strange as it may sound, it actually made us closer.  I realized that Lukas was also mourning the loss of our baby but suppressing his feelings for my sake.  We worked together and spoke honestly and from the heart and in turn grew stronger together.

I would never forget our loss or that sad chapter in our lives.  I'm comforted knowing that I have so many loved ones who love and support me unconditionally.  Maybe one day, Lukas and I will be blessed with a child or five (anything's possible right?) but for now I was going to live in the moment.

And in this moment I was about to marry the love of my life. This was a day that I have been waiting on forever.  I took a deep breath and gazed at the happy faces surrounding me and then at my dress.  Seeing it hanging mere feet away from me, rendered me breathless.

"Come on it's time to put on your wedding dress" Mom said beaming.

I nodded and felt the butterflies starting to run amok.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Time Heals All

I stared at the mirror before me as the stylist transformed my hair into perfection.  I couldn't believe the image staring back at me.  My makeup with absolutely gorgeous.  Even though the makeup artist worked her magic with some fake eyelashes, they looked so natural and made my hazel eyes pop. My cheeks were rosy and my lips were natural.  It was exactly how I envisioned myself on my wedding day.  As my girls chatted amicably with each other, I was reminded of Melissa.  She was suppose to be in my wedding party but after all the drama we weren't friends anymore.

After being beaten to a pulp by a man that Melissa was banging behind his back, Josh had made a full recovery.  Emotionally he was still coming to terms with losing the love of his life but he was getting better.  When he was first in the hospital and we visited I was so scared.  I remember it as if it were yesterday.

Even though it was a steamy, hot, summer day walking into the hospital sent chills down my spine.  I shivered and wrapped my arms around myself.  I second guessed my outfit....a printed  romper with flat sandals....maybe I should have worn something warmer.  Lukas slipped his arm around my waist, guiding me towards the elevator.  Visiting Josh made me nervous.  I debated whether he'd even want to see me, considering he probably still thought I was Melissa's best friend.  I quickly realized that the last I heard he was still unconscious.

I took a deep breath as the elevator stopped on the thirteenth floor. We followed the signs until we reached Josh's room.  I hesitated, standing still by the entrance.  Lukas gently led me inside, holding my hand and reassuring me that everything will be okay.  I smiled appreciatively at him.  Inside, we were greeted by all types of machines blinking and beeping.  Josh's eyes were closed and he had gauze covering his forehead.  He had a wicked bruise under one eye that extended down his cheek.

My voice was shaky as I said his name.  Anxiously I waited for him to open his eyes but shit like that only happens in the movies not real life.  Josh was facing an uphill battle with both is health and mental state.  I could not imagine how I'd react if I was blindsided by the love of my life.  Melissa was his world and he was intent on doing whatever it took to make her happy.  He always supported and loved her.  Learning about her infidelity and her unapologetic attitude must have hurt worse than that fucking loser pouncing on him.  I wish I knew the words to say to make Josh wake up but sadly I don't create miracles.

I had read somewhere that even when someone is unconscious or in a coma there is a possibility that they can hear what you say to them.  Lukas sensed my apprehension and took a step towards Josh and started speaking.

"Hey man.  I don't know if you can hear me or not.  I just wanted to say that you have a lot to live for.  Don't let this setback define your life."

I nodded and inched closer.  At first I struggled to find the right words but then realized that there weren't any.  The best I could do is speak from my heart.  Lukas pulled a chair close to Josh's hospital bed.  I sat down and took Josh's hand in mine.  If he were awake it would be a totally awkward but in this moment it just seemed right and appropriate.

The tears welled up in my eyes and I willed them away.  I wanted to be strong for Josh.  I sniffled before speaking quietly, "Josh...I'm so sorry....I don't know how to make this right.  I wish I could say the magic words and make the pain go away, to erase the past couple days, to make Melissa go back to the person she once was....you don't deserve this.  No one does."

As the tears started, I wiped them away with the back of my hand.  "The only thing you've ever done was love Melissa.  From the moment you met her you knew she was the one.  Do you remember telling us how excited you were for your first date?  Being with her always made you so happy.  I'm sorry that she turned out to be such a heartless, cold bitch.  You didn't deserve any of that."

I squeezed his limp hand tightly, hoping to get some type of reaction but there was none.  For days he was in that same exact state.  His parents were there with him 24/7 and started wondering where Melissa was.  They contacted her parents who were equally shocked and hurt to hear of Josh's condition.  Melissa, meanwhile, was no where to be found.  She had taken off with the blond guy, Bryce, from the club.  It made my blood boil to think that while her husband was laying in a coma she was off fucking around with the man that did this to him.

Thankfully after ten days in a coma Josh awoke.  His parents were ecstatic as were all of us.  The doctors proceeded to run a ton of tests to rule out all possible complications or further issues.  Josh had a serious concussion and a moderate case of amnesia.  While it broke his parents heart that he didn't recognize them. they were comforted by the fact that he was awake and would recover soon.

Slowly but surely the memories started returning.  Out of the blue one day, he asked for Melissa and his parents were left speechless.  How could they tell their son that his wife ran off with the thug that almost killed him?  They made excuses for her but Josh could see through the lies.  Tearfully he told them what transpired at the club that night.  That day he made two key decisions.  One, he was going to press charges against Bryce and do whatever it took to get him locked up for a while.  Two, he was going to file for a divorce.  While his parents suggested he wait until he were out of the hospital, he insisted that they find a divorce lawyer immediately.  He wasn't going to waste another moment being married to such a cold, cruel woman.

While in the hospital, Josh was able to file for divorce and get his friends to move all of his things out of the apartment he shared with Melissa into storage.  He planned on staying with his parents when he got out from the hospital.  Even though it was a dick move, he even had a locksmith change the locks to the apartment so that Melissa couldn't get in.  A couple days after he filed for divorce, Melissa showed up at the hospital.  From what I heard, she put on quite a show.  She cried, apologized and begged for forgiveness but neither Josh or his parents were having it.  They had security escort her out.  Poetic justice one would say.

Once Josh was released he slowly got back to a sense of normalcy.  During his time in the hospital and throughout his recovery, he and Lukas had formulated a friendship so it was normal for us to go visit him at his parent's place.  There was the moment of awkwardness when he asked me how Melissa was and I struggled to formulate a proper answer.  Instead I told him the truth.

"Melissa and I haven't really been friends for a while.  I don't know what's going on with her or why she chose this path of life.  I wish for your sake it would have been different."

He shook his head, "I'm glad I found out what type of person she really is now than twenty years from now.  In a way, she's done me a huge favor.  I'm still young and can move on with my life and hopefully find someone that loves me like I love them."

And that's exactly what Josh has done.  Four months ago he started dating Kathy, a thirty year old lawyer.  She works at the same law firm as his divorce lawyer and they struck up a natural friendship. Even though his feelings for her grew, he wanted to wait until he was over Melissa to move on.  He started going to therapy and began to heal emotionally.  Kathy, though two years older, was patient with him and made him feel at ease.  They complemented each other in a way that he and Melissa never did.  Whether or not he and Kathy's relationship will stand the test of time remains to be seen but for now, they both make each other happy.

I don't know where life has led Melissa or if she's still with Bryce or whichever other man that looked her way.  I wish I had known what she was up to or even had a inkling that something was awry in her life.  Maybe I could have made a difference and helped her.  That said, the past is the past and I can't live my life trying to save Melissa.  The more I think about it, the more I realize what a selfish bitch she had always been.

I tolerated her and accepted her behavior when we were growing up because I chalked it up to Melissa being Melissa.  The past year or so, has made me realize how heartless and judgmental she really is.  She was always the type to sit around and pass judgment while carrying on as though she is better than everyone else.  Prior to her wedding when she was being all weird, we chalked it up to her being devastated over losing her baby.  Now having been in a similar position I knew that her behavior was not justified.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Mending Fences

July 3, 2016

I could hardly believe that this day was finally here.  A day that I've dreamed of and envisioned since I was a young girl.  Back then I'd put on my best dress and pick flowers from my parent's yard, pretending I was a bride.  Ah, the memories. I took in the scene around me.  My girls and my mom all getting their hair and makeup done, speaking over each other.  Mariaa was complaining that she hated her eye makeup.  My flower girls were chasing each other, screaming loudly.  Even in this chaos, I felt wonderfully calm.  Knowing that in just a few short hours I would be Lukas' wife filled me with anticipation and excitement.

As the stylist diligently worked on replicating my dream hairstyle I stared straight ahead.  This past year has been unbelievably crazy even for me.  Friendships were broken, some were rekindled, there was tons of drama but through it all Lukas was my constant.  That's how I knew that he was the one destined for me, not that I had any doubts!  He had seen me at my worse and still loved me unconditionally and sought to make things better.

I thought back to my one time best friend Britney.  She was the sister that I never had, the one person I believed I could trust with my deepest, darkest secrets.  She was my confidante, my partner in crime, my forever friend.  After the hurt and deception I pushed her away because I was hurt.  From the grapevine I heard about her trials and tribulations.  She was being forced by her parents to agree to a plea agreement that meant jail time for her.  Mind you, this poor woman did nothing wrong.  Yes she befriended Grant...but the last time I checked being stupid wasn't a crime.  I didn't want Britney to know that I was working behind the scenes to get her off the hook.

Without anyone knowing I contacted my friend, Sheila, who was a first year lawyer.  She provided me with professional advice and even went as far as sending Britney a certified letter with her contact information.  Long story short, Sheila made Britney realize that she was not to blame for Grant's actions.  She didn't do anything wrong.  With Sheila's help, Britney opted against taking the plea bargain and became more cooperative with the District Attorney's office.  She was a key witness in Grant's trial which was widely publicized.  Reading about Britney's strength and tenaciousness made me smile and yearn to recover our shattered friendship.  Maybe I was being naive and was putting myself in the line of fire once again but my heart was convinced that I owed it to Britney and myself to make amends.

As the trial progressed, damaging evidence was made public.  All of the videos of Grant's sexual indiscretions came to light, including the fact that many of his unbeknownst victims were underage. Grant thought he was super smart but he didn't remember to shut off the video camera in his bedroom, which captured him speaking with someone on the phone about his plans.  He spoke of using Britney as an accessory and then getting her to take the fall for him.  I was appalled and heartbroken that someone could be so cruel and heartless.  After weeks the trial was finally over and the jury had come to a decision.  It was no surprise that they unanimously found Grant guilty on all counts.

While we awaited for his sentencing date, it was revealed that the majority of Britney's charges were dropped.  She ended up plea bargaining to a minor infraction and was sentenced to community service.  Her name was cleared and she was free to pick up the pieces of her shattered life.  I knew it would be an uphill battle and wanted to be there for Britney.  Admittedly, I had felt guilty for a long time....guilty for being a shitty friend and turning my back on Britney because the hurt she inflicted was too much for me to bear.  I didn't know if she would even want me as her friend once again but I knew it was a chance I would have to take.

Lukas was in Miami that weekend when I took his Range Rover and headed to Long Island.  He knew that I was going to spend the weekend with my family but had no idea that I was going to try to rekindle my friendship with Britney.  My palms were sweaty and my heart was pounding wildly as I approached her front door.  I rang the doorbell once and waited...no response.  I tried one more time and was walking back to the car when I heard Britney call my name.

I spun around and saw her in a robe, her wet hair in a towel.  "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to interrupt" I stuttered.

With a friendly smile, she shook her head, "You're not.  Come on in."

I took a deep breath and walked inside.  "If you're busy I can come back."

"No,  Have a seat and give me a few minutes to get dressed."

I nodded, "Okay."

I looked around the immaculate living room and wondered where her parents were.  They were always hovering around somewhere.  I noticed the family pictures which once adorned the walls were replaced with actual art work.  This home which was always so lively and full of happiness felt like an empty shell.  It looked straight out of a magazine but the most important thing was missing....love.

I fidgeted nervously when Britney came back downstairs.  She looked more content and relaxed than I'd seen her in the longest time.  Her eyes were vibrant and full of life, no longer dead looking.  When I looked at her I saw the friend that I grew up with and shared so many wonderful memories with.  She asked if I wanted something to drink and I shook my head.

"I'm sorry to come here unannounced.  It's just that I wanted to talk to you" I said quietly.

"I'm glad you're here.  I've been wanting to call you but I always lost my nerve" she shared.

I took a deep breath, "How did we get to this point?"

She shrugged, "I don't even know.  There's nothing I can say to justify my actions...I just want you to know that I am truly sorry."

I felt a tear slide down my cheek and I brushed it away.  "That's enough for me.  I miss you so much Britney and I'm sorry that I wasn't there when you needed a friend."

She squeezed my hand.  "Don't apologize. I wasn't innocent in any of this.  It's crazy how one bad decision can change everything."

I nodded and apologized once more, "Yeah.  I'm sorry you had to go through this nightmare alone"

"Let's forget the past and start over" she replied with a smile.

I reached over and gave her a hug, "I'd like that...a lot."

We talked and laughed for hours and it was beginning to seem like good old days again.  A weight had been lifted from my shoulders and I was relieved to have Britney in my life again.

"I guess you're wondering why the house is so empty" she said looking down at her lap.

When I didn't answer she continued, "My parents are getting divorced and have put the house up for sale.  Everything is pretty much staged for potential buyers."

I gasped, "How are you doing with all that?"

She laughed, "It's the best decision they have ever made.  You want to know why I'm so fucked up at times...it's because of my parents.  They were good at pretending to be the perfect parents and couple when people were around but behind closed doors all they did was fight."

"I didn't know that" I replied gently.

"How could you?  I kept that side of my life hidden from everyone.  What was I suppose to say?  My parents fight all the time and I'm not happy because I keep blaming myself for their issues?"

I shrugged, "That would've been a start.  I love you Britney and I'm sorry you've been through so much."

"I love you too.  Do you think we can go back to how it was?"

With a warm smile I answered, "I'm willing to give it a shot if you are.  Obviously it's going to take time but I want you in life. I've missed my best friend."

She sniffled, "Do you know how long I've waited for you to say that?"

We hugged once again.  "Listen, Lukas and I are getting married in two months and I'd love it if you'd come," I said honestly as I fished an invitation out of my bag.

"A personally delivered invitation!  I would be honored to come to your wedding.  I'm happy for you."

With that Britney and I started rebuilding our friendship. We aren't as close as we once were but have made great strides.  We speak on the phone and text regularly and Britney even came to my bachelorette weekend with my girls.  When we were growing up Britney and I envisioned being in each other's wedding parties.  Having her at my wedding was more than a dream come true after the drama we endured.


Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Quick Note

Hi Guys.....hope you're all enjoying your summer and this wonderful day.  I wanted to provide a heads up on future posts.  The next post will not pick up where the last ended.  Instead we'll be fast forwarding.  I promise that I will tie up all loose ends.  If there are some storylines that you have questions about, let me know.  I will do my best to ensure they are answered in future posts.  That said, I don't have an end date yet.  I have written a couple posts and I realize there is so much more to cover!  My goal is to not go past the end of October.  Whether I need that much time is still undetermined.  I will definitely keep you in the loop.

As always thank you for reading and supporting my blog.  You guys are amazing!

Arianna

Monday, August 10, 2015

How Could You Be So Heartless?

I didn't think much of Maria's texts.  I assumed that she hooked up with either Alex or Blake and was having regrets.  Or maybe she found out Blake wasn't such a good guy.  Our plane was starting to board and I didn't have time to call her.  I promised myself that once we were back in New York, I'd call her. After such a mentally draining weekend, I wasn't ready to take on any more problems.

Both Lukas and I were able to get the rest we craved and desperately needed during the six hour flight.  As the pilot was preparing to land, Lukas nudged me gently.  "Hey, we're getting ready to land."

I opened my eyes slowly and nodded.  "I'm exhausted."

"Me too."

"I have an idea.  How about the two of us take off tomorrow?  I'll call in sick and well you are the boss so you make your own hours.  We'll hang out, maybe get massages and relax" I suggested.

"That's not a bad idea.  I'm sorry we didn't have much alone time this weekend and that I've been so introspective.  I'm trying to process and make sense of a lot of things" he explained.

I shook my head, "You don't have to explain anything to me.  I know this situation with Lauren has been hard on you.  I love and I want you to know that I'm always going to be here if you want to talk or vent or whatever."

"I know and I appreciate that. I don't want you think I'm shutting you out.  Sometimes I need to think about things and process them on my own" he shared.

I nodded, "I know.  I hate that Lauren is in such a bad place.  I should have known better than to show up in her hospital room and upset her even more.  I don't know what I was thinking."

"You did nothing wrong.  I wanted you there with me.  Lauren was just being Lauren.  Don't blame yourself for any of that."

After a rough landing, we rushed out of the airplane in the sweltering, humid New York night to wait in the massive taxi cab line.  Fifteen minutes later we were off to our apartment in the city.  I checked my phone and saw a few more texts from Maria, saying she had something urgent to tell me and there was even one from Anthony asking me to call him when I got home.  I showed the texts to Lukas and asked what he thought.

"Something definitely went down last night.  The only way to find out is to call Maria" he rationalized.

"Do you mind if I call her from the cab?"

He shook his head, "Nah.  Go ahead."

I quickly pulled up Maria's number and hit send.  It was as though she was sitting by the phone waiting for my call.

"What took you so long?" she asked anxiously.

"Sorry I saw your texts when Lukas and I were boarding.  What's up?"

She took a deep breath.  "It's your friend Melissa" her voice tailed off.

I gasped. "Melissa?!?  What about her?  What happened?  Tell me!!"

"Remember I told you were going to 1OAK last night?" she asked.

"Yes...what happened?"

She paused for what seemed like an eternity but was probably no more than five seconds.  "Well Josh came along.  I didn't really know who he was until Blake introduced him.  Then I saw him chatting with Anthony and Anthony's girlfriend. They make the cutest couple I've ever seen."

"Melissa....don't go off on a tangent....just tell me everything" I demanded.

"Sorry.  Eleanore mentioned that Josh was married to Melissa. He seemed so nice and friendly but there was this sadness in his eyes that I couldn't place.  Blake and Alex were trying to get him to flirt with random women but he seemed really uncomfortable with that.  It was close to two in the morning and we were all pretty buzzed and I think it was Eric who mentioned that he saw Melissa."

I took a deep breath and waited patiently.  She continued, "Josh claimed he was lying because Melissa was in Long Island visiting her parents this weekend.  Eric got in Josh's face and told him that he saw Melissa a few tables away from us."

"Oh my God" I said breathlessly.

"Yes...Josh demanded that Eric show him where he saw her.  The two of them along with Anthony went to a table like twenty feet away and apparently Melissa was there making out with another man."

My mouth felt so dry all of a sudden and rummaged through my bag for a bottle of water. After a small sip I asked, "So Josh knows she's cheating."

"He didn't say anything, he just came back to our table really slowly and sat down.  He put his head in his hands and appeared to be crying. Anthony and Eric sat on either side of him trying to console him.  Then everything just happened so fast."

My heart was racing as I listened, "What happened so fast?"

"Melissa came over and Josh told her to leave but she wouldn't.  She kept insisting that she did nothing wrong and that Josh was the only one she loved and wanted to be with.  Josh kept telling her to leave him alone but she insisted on explaining everything.  When she realized that he wasn't paying attention to her or listening she poured one of the bottles of vodka that we ordered over his head.  Blake pulled her to the side and told her to go.  That's when this big, blond guy, I mean he was well over six feet tall and he was all muscles.  His biceps were as big as my thighs."

I was getting annoyed that she was diverting again, "Enough about the blond guy....get on with the story."

She mumbled that she was sorry and continued, "The blond guy demanded to know what was going on and I guess he assumed that Josh was bothering Melissa.  He pulled Josh up and punched him.  Security started running over but it was too late.  The guy was on top of Josh, banging his head on the floor.  By the time security pulled him off, Josh was unconscious.  The blond guy said something to Melissa, who was hysterically crying. The two of them tried to leave but security wasn't having that.  They had called the cops and an ambulance."

"Holy shit!!!  Is Josh okay?" I exclaimed.

"I don't know Elisabeth.  I don't know him well enough to go visit him.  All I know is that the blond guy was arrested and taken to station.  Melissa promised to get him a lawyer.  Anthony rode in the ambulance with Josh."

I sighed, "Maybe I should call Anthony."

"Blake and Alex were telling Melissa how fucked up her behavior is and she denied everything until they brought some guy that she was supposedly fucking behind Josh's back.  Her face turned white as a ghost and she dropped to her knees and started sobbing uncontrollably.  I know how painful it is to be cheated on and lied to.....that's all William did to me.  There was no way I could console her.  Eleanore and I just left."

"Melissa is a grown ass woman, she doesn't need anyone consoling her. She knew damn well what she's doing....she probably only started crying because she was embarrassed.  I feel so bad for Josh" I replied.

"Me too.  I hope he'll be okay.  That guy sucker punched him and kept going, all because he thought Josh was harassing Melissa" Maria said angrily.

I took a deep breath, "Fucked up.  She's been doing this for a while, that's part of the reason we aren't friends anymore.  I'm glad that Josh finally knows the truth.  It's just really fucked up that he had to find out this way."

By the time I hung up, my head was spinning.  I looked at Lukas who shook his head in disgust.  "I heard everything.  Why did Melissa get married if she wanted to run around?"

I shrugged, " I don't know Lukas.  She's changed so much from the person she used to be.  There's no justification for her behavior and I feel awful for Josh.  He's always been so loyal and committed to Melissa.  He loves her more than anything."

"Yeah.  Maybe you should call Anthony and get an update?  If he's still in the hospital, we'll go see him tomorrow."

I nodded and called Anthony.  He told me the same story Maria had, only his was laced with anger.  "What the fuck is wrong with her?  How could she knowingly hurt her husband?  She stood right there and let that fucking giant beat the shit out of Josh.  Then she had the nerve to promise to get him a lawyer.  She's one heartless bitch."

"Yeah.  How is Josh doing?"

"He's still unconscious.  He suffered some severe blows to his head and has a really bad concussion and a couple broken ribs" he shared.

"Shit.  What are the doctors saying?" I prodded.

"The longer he's unconscious the more dire the situation becomes.  Right now his vitals are strong and there doesn't seem to be any long term effects but they won't know for sure until he wakes up and they do additional tests."

I frowned, "I hope he wakes up soon."

"Yeah.  His parents are at the hospital.  They keep asking where Melissa is but I didn't have the heart to tell them the truth.  They looked broken and hurt seeing Josh like that."

I glanced at Lukas before asking, "Do you think Blake set all this up?"

Anthony didn't waste any time saying, "No.  If anything he tried to diffuse the situation.  I was the one that invited Josh.  I ran into him at Starbucks and he mentioned Melissa being away so I suggested he come out with us.  I feel partially responsible for all this."

"But how were you to know that Melissa would be at the same place with another man?  Let's not play the blame game.  Melissa is a grown woman and should know better.  I'm disgusted and sickened by her behavior.  She should have been arrested as a co-conspirator with that fucking loser."

"I don't want anything to do with her.  How fucked up would it be if she showed up at the hospital pretending to be the loving, doting wife?" Anthony asked bitterly.

"She's not stupid enough to try that" I replied firmly.

He chuckled, "Well we didn't think she'd cheat on Josh either."

Anthony definitely had a point.  "True but after being so heartless and playing him, you'd think she'd have a little remorse."

"Ah Elisabeth.  So naive.  Heartless bitches like Melissa don't care as long as they get what they want."

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Tough Decisions

Our weekend in San Francisco flew by.  Lauren was stabilized and seemed to be in okay spirits, though she was a bitch to me.  I guess that should have been expected.  Given our rocky relationship, I should have known better than to go visit her.  Long story short, she threw a fit reminiscent of a toddler in a toy store.  Her parents and Lukas felt terrible but I insisted I was fine. While they visited with Kristen, I decided to do a little shopping.

I was great having some me time.  It seems that I've been bouncing from one place to another recently and needed a break.  I ended up at Barney's in Union Square.  I surprised myself when after three hours of trying on various outfits and shoes, I left empty-handed.  Truth be told, I could get the same things at the Barney's or Saks in New York City.  Lukas and I traveled with only carry-on luggage and I didn't have any space to put any potential purchases.

After a while I was so tired and opted to Uber it back to the hotel. I took a long, luxurious bath and slipped into a super comfy maxi dress and relaxed in one of the tufted chairs by our balcony.  I was nodding off when my phone rang, completely startling me.  I didn't even look to see who it was before I answered.

On the other end was my cousin Maria.  She was inviting me to a party at 1OAK later on tonight.

"I wish I could but Lukas and I are in San Fran.  His sister is in the hospital and we wanted to see her."

"Oh my God!  Is she okay?" Maria exclaimed.

"No clue.  She practically threw me out of her room."

"Hold up....Linda threw you out?  She seemed so sweet" Maria gasped.

"No Lauren.  Remember when Lukas and I first started dating....he was at a coffeehouse with a woman.  I barged in, made an ass of myself...well that was his sister Lauren.  I don't blame her for hating me after that."

Maria breathed a sigh of relief.  "Fuck her. She sounds like a dramatic bitch."

"Something like that but aren't we all at times" I countered.

"She really threw you out of her room?"

Instinctively I nodded.  "Yeah but it's all good. Me and her aren't cool and I get it."

We talked for a few minutes more and I found out that Alex was hosting the party tonight.  Blake invited Maria to be his wing girl.  They had been hanging out since July 4th weekend and we fast becoming really good friends.

I hesitated before saying, "Blake's a good looking man, aren't you the least bit interested in being more than his friend?"

She laughed, "This might be hard to believe but no.  At first I thought it would be fun to have a fling with him but then we got to talking and I realized there is so much more to him.  He's been my rock and I'm glad to have him in my life."

"Aw that's really sweet" I replied skeptically.

"Don't worry so much.  I'm fine and getting my life back on track.  Blake has made me realize that I'm wasting my time thinking about William.  He's not worthy of me."

My argument with Lukas about Blake immediately popped into my head.  Silently I thought maybe for once Lukas was way off but there was still this gnawing feeling of doubt that slingered.  "That nice" I said, distracted by the struggle going on in my head.

"Before I go I gotta tell you that I think Alex has boyfriend potential" Maria said breezily.

"Alex?  Blake's friend?" I recalled him gawking at me on the plane and making me feel uncomfortable.

"Yeah.  He's really sweet once you get to know him.  I'm not saying I want to date him or anything....I'm not there yet.  I have to take care of me first before dating anyone."

I breathed a sigh of relief.  "You definitely need to take care of yourself first before getting into any relationship."

"I know.  Please don't repeat what I said about Alex."

"I won't.  I promise" I replied honestly.

She giggled like a nervous teenage girl, "You're the best Liz."

-----------------

I was sitting out on the balcony when I heard the door open and spotted Lukas.  He looked incredibly stressed as he sat beside me.  "How's she doing?" I asked gently.

He shrugged, "She has psychiatric issues and needs help.  Problem is she is unwilling to accept that. She keeps saying that she's fine and being held against her will."

"But I thought she had overdosed?" I asked confused.

"She did...to dull the painful memories.  At least that's what she keeps repeating.  I don't know what she's been through and she's not sharing much....we're all in the dark attempting to fit all the pieces together."

I sighed.  "Maybe she means that painful memories of leaving her kids behind."

With a bitter laugh, he said, "Lauren doesn't give a shit about Stephanie and Liam.  She's too selfish to put anyone first.  She's always thought of those kids as a burden.  If not for Jeff, those kids would be left on their own."

My eyes widened in shock.  I've never heard Lukas speak that way about Lauren before.  "Why do you say that?" I prodded gently.

"Lauren has never put the needs of her children above hers.  When they were infants, she didn't bond with them or even show them any type of affection.  As they got older, she was always scolding and controlling them.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying she doesn't love them."

"Then what are you trying to say?" I ask.

He drops his head back and closes his eyes.  "When she stayed with me for those couple months, I realized that she didn't have a maternal bone in her body.  Those kids were underfed and did whatever she said because they were scared of disappointing her."

Maybe he was right.  I remembered that night when we all went out to dinner and Stephanie dropped marinara sauce on her dress.  Lauren completely lost it and flipped the fuck out.  "Who knows?  Lauren is sick.  She's made mistakes but haven't we all.  Right now I think she needs some support."

"The only way for her to get the help that she needs is for the doctors to deem her as 'unfit' and give my parent's power of attorney over her.  Then they can sign the necessary documents to get her the care she needs.  There's a caveat to that though."

"What?" I asked, hanging onto his every word.

"If that happens then she will have an uphill battle getting any type of custody or even unsupervised visitation with her kids" he explained.

I took Lukas' hand in mine.  "This might sound harsh but if she isn't capable of providing her children with the unconditional love and affection they deserve because she's so unstable maybe it's best that she doesn't have one-on-one time with them."

Lukas looked at me with an expression I couldn't really read before asking, "What do you think is best for a child?"

"I  think children need to know that they are loved."

"I agree.  I worry that taking away Lauren's rights is only going to make things worse" he shared.

I squeezed his hand tightly.  "But if that's the only way that she'll get the help she needs to get better, what other choice do you have?  Yes it sucks but there isn't any other alternative."

He nodded but didn't say anything for a while.  I wrapped my arms around him tightly, reassuring him that everything would work out with time.

--------

The next morning we joined Lukas' parents for breakfast before we left for the airport.  Clearly they were conflicted over what choice was best.  While we ate they debated the pros and cons before Mrs. DiPalma firmly said, "Lauren has suffered enough.  Stephanie and Liam need a healthy mom.  There is no other choice.  We can go back and forth but all we're doing is prolonging the inevitable."

Her husband nodded.  "This is a difficult decision but we have to do it.  For everyone's sake."

He took out his cell phone and started to email his lawyer explaining, "Edgar and I went to college together and the only lawyer I'll trust with this."

Lukas interrupted, "So what happens next?"

His mom replied, "After the lawyers have everything drafted, your dad and I will do whatever it takes to get Lauren the help she needs."

"Will her children be able to come see her at least?" Lukas inquired.

"She's not in the right frame of mind to have visitors.  She's too unstable.  Hopefully once the treatments commence and she progresses, they can visit" his dad explained.

With a small smile his mom added, "Don't worry so much.  Lauren is going to recover and before you know it she'll be back in Connecticut."

"How can you be so sure?" he asked.

"I just know....as a mother I know she'll get better....she has to" his mom replied.

After breakfast we said our goodbyes.  As we hugged Mrs. DiPalma whispered in my ear, "I meant what I said, I would welcome the chance to help you with your wedding."

"I'd like that a lot" I replied.

I watched as Lukas and his mom embraced.  She cupped his face in her tiny hands as she spoke.  "I'm sorry that I've put so much pressure on you to make everything better in our family.  That was never your responsibility.  I love you to the moon and back.  This is a special time for you and Elisabeth and I want both of you to enjoy each moment together."

"I love you too" he replied, his eyes filled with tears.

---------------

Our drive to the airport was filled with silence.  I knew that Lukas was trying to process everything that transpired and didn't want to push.  Instead I reassured him that I was here whenever he was ready to talk.  I intertwined my fingers with his.

After checking in, we both got Starbucks and headed towards the boarding area. Lukas mentioned that he was going to read the newspaper while I mentioned that I wanted to call home to let my parents know we'd be back in the evening.

I knew I had texts but ignored them.  Instead I chatted with my mom who was ecstatically telling me that she made an appointment at Kleinfeld's for us in two weeks.  "But Mom don't you think you should have checked with me first?" I argued.

"Don't be silly Liz, you promised, remember?"

"And you promised that you'd have dinner with Ryan and Chloe and be open" I retorted.

"Your dad and I were all set to have dinner with them but then you went to San Fran and they rescheduled for this Friday night" she replied.

I rolled my eyes, "Okay....I want to see how Friday night goes first before agreeing to go to Kleinfeld's."

My mom chuckled, "Ah blackmail!  I guarantee you I'll be on good behavior."

"I love you mom."

"I love you too" she said happily.

Lukas looked bemused, "What was that about?"

As I filled him in his face softened and he laughed.  "You're amazing.  I don't know what I'd do without you."

I gave him a quick peck before looking through my texts.

Maria sent three texts.

3:20 AM Elisabeth, I need to talk to you ASAP.
4:38 AM This is so freaking bad!
8:03 AM OMG Elisabeth, you would not believe what happened last night.



Monday, August 3, 2015

Author's Note

Hi Guys,

Thank you all for the kindness and sweet words.  I would like to explain my decision a little further.  It's the least I can do for the best readers ever:-)  Right now I have a lot going on in my life.  I'm pregnant and trying to enjoy every moment.  Feeling my little one kick for the first time, brought me so much happiness and made this even more real!  In addition to the joys of being pregnant, I have personal issues that I'm dealing with.  I have an aunt that has been in and out of the hospital for months now.  Her health has taken a turn for the worst and it's only a matter of time.  Myself and my family are coming to terms with that.  She's in ICU and even though we wish for the best, the truth is inevitable.  In addition to that I have a very high stress job where layoffs still happen even though the economy is relatively strong.  I have a ton on my plate at work and deliverables that I would like to complete before going on maternity leave.

Finding time and the motivation to write has been difficult.  The negative comments and disparaging remarks about me are not only rude but take me to a frame of mind that I don't want to be in.  Maybe I'm extra sensitive because of pregnancy hormones or the stress. Regardless, I've always been extremely positive in most situations and don't want negativity impacting me or my little one.  Life is too short to sit behind a keyboard and try to bring others down.  What type of person does that?  A blog is meant to entertain and not illicit vitriol.

I would like to address some of the comments though.  The entire spiel about bigotry?  I don't know where that is coming from.  I respect all cultures, ethnicities, religions, etc.  Why someone would accuse me of that is quite shocking and appalling.  Second, you want to take shots at me...FINE...but don't talk about my child or my family.  They have nothing to do with this.  You have a problem with me, keep it about me.  Keep my family out of it!  Third, I don't know how I'm showing off my education, money, job, etc..  I am quite proud that I have an MBA from one of the top schools in the country and that I have worked my way up the corporate ladder in what was once a male dominated field.  Money comes and goes....I would be the last person to brag about material things like that.

This blog was created as my escape from the stress of every day life.  It was a joy to write for the most part but admittedly the last few months have been trying.  I've struggled to pull posts together because my heart is not in it and I'm not motivated.  I've debated about this decision for a while, coming extremely close to ending the blog many times but then changing my mind.  This time was different though...I knew in my heart that it was time to move on.  Know that I am forever thankful for the time that you took to read this amateur's writing.

I hope you enjoy what I have in store Elisabeth.  I have many ideas and can't wait to get them on paper.  The best is yet to come.  Thanks again for being super awesome and understanding.

Arianna

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Red-Eye

Friday night after work, we Uber'ed it to JFK and hurried to check in.  We had to rush to the boarding area because we were short on time.  There was so much traffic....that's what we get for leaving the city during rush hour.  We were both panting for breath when we boarded the plane and found our seats somewhere in the middle.  We were in a three seater with a pleasant looking older woman sitting by window.  After Lukas hoisted our luggage into the overhead compartment I scooted into the middle seat.  Our neighbor smiled politely and introduced herself as Rose.

I took a closer look at her.  Her hair was in a bun and every strand was gray.  It was refreshing to see a woman embracing her age.  In today's society we're all so obsessed with looking as young as we can for as long as possible.  We buy the most expensive eye creams, anti-aging moisturizers, stay out of the sun, dye our hair at the first sign of a gray hair and work out to keep our bodies firm.  Here was a beautiful woman who was proud of her gray hair, laugh lines and wrinkles.  She was quite admirable and looked amazing.

"I'm Elisabeth and this is my fiance Lukas" I replied politely.

"Ah.  You make a lovely couple.  In my day, it was not accepted to go away with your significant other."

I didn't know how to respond to that so I kept quiet allowing Rose to continue.  "I don't mean to offend you two.  I think it's wonderful to see young people in love exploring their dreams and the world together.  Sometimes I think that my husband Jim and I missed out on so many adventures because our parents had so many rules."

"How long were you married for?" I asked.

"Sixty five years before the good Lord took my Jim away.  I was sixteen when we got married and he was 18.  He had enlisted in the army and was going off to war.  We wanted to marry before he left" she shared.

"Wow...that must have been such a trying time for you.  Not knowing if he were okay or what was going on."

She nodded, "I waited for the mail man to bring me his letters so I could know he was still alive."

"I bet you were relieved and so happy when he came back home for good" I replied.

She smiled, "I was over the moon.  Honey this was seventy years ago and Jim was the only man I'd ever loved.  I didn't know how to go on if he didn't come back.  Plus I was heavily pregnant."

My eyes widened, "Did he make it back before the baby came?"

She laughed and her eyes sparkled as she reminisced, "No.  Charlotte was two weeks when he returned home.  He was there for the birth of our six other children though.  I don't mean in the delivery room, that was frowned upon in my days.  He was pacing in the waiting area."

"Aw, that's very sweet."

She continued, "I'm going to San Fransisco for my great granddaughter's wedding."

"That's amazing" I replied enthusiastically.

"She's 24 years old.   I'm 86 and I hope that I can live to see great-great-grandchildren."

I was taken aback for a moment, "You're 86?!?  I wouldn't have guess more than 65.  What's your secret."

She smiled, "Loving and being in love."

We continued our conversation throughout the flight while Lukas napped.  I was captivated by Rose's stories and warmth.  My grandparents had past on and Rose brought back fond memories.  I envisioned that if my own grandparents were around, we'd be sitting around having similar conversations.

"Honey when are you and that handsome man getting married?"

"July 3rd, 2016.  We've haven't even planned much yet but I am super excited.  I can't wait to be Lukas' wife and share the rest of my life with him" I said excitedly.

She nodded, "You remind me of myself.  If you don't mind I have one piece of advice for you...something that I've told my children, grand-children and will tell my great granddaughter before her wedding."

I stared at her intently, "Please tell me."

"My advice for a long marriage is to never take each other for granted.  Don't give up on doing little things to show your love for each other.  As your family grows remember to put your spouse first.  If you don't then you will drift apart.  When you have a happy marriage with love and compromise the love will emanate and provide a good example for your children" she shared.

"I thought that when you have kids they are suppose to come first" I half asked.

She shook her head.  "That's a misconception.  If you have a strong marriage and put your spouse first you will have a happy marriage.  Your kids will grow up in a positive environment and know that they are loved.  They will want to lead a similar married life.  Think about it.  You put your kids first, you and your husband fight and are miserable, what type of example is that setting?  Your kids will be under stress all the time.  When you have a happy marriage and home life, you are providing your kids with the best foundation."

--------------
After landing, Lukas helped Rose with her luggage and I thanked her for her advice and wonderful conversation.  We even exchanged numbers and promised to get together for coffee in the city one day.  She lived on the Upper East Side and didn't have too many friends or relatives around.  While we were walking towards the exit, a middle aged woman with blond hair and almost orange skin rushed over.  She squealed "Mom" and hugged Rose tightly.

Rose introduced us to her daughter Carmen.   Before going our separate ways I gave her a hug and Lukas kissed her on both cheeks.  As we stepped into the brisk, cool air towards an empty taxi, I said, "I wish that when I'm in my mid-eighties I could be as lively and articulate as Rose."

"Yeah.  She reminded me of my own grandmother. When my sisters and I were younger, we'd sit around her and she'd tell all these wonderful stories about her childhood, Italy, everything.  She passed on shortly after Isabella and I got married and left a huge void in our family.  She was the voice of reason."

I laid my head on his shoulder, "Mm, I wish she were still around."

"Me too but at least I have memories that will last me a lifetime."

"Maybe you'll share some of them with me?" I asked.

"I definitely will" he replied kissing the top of my head.

I snuggled closer and allowed my heavy eyelids to close for a moment.  "I'm so tired lately."

"You did put in a full day at work and then we rushed to catch our flight.  Then you chatted with that nice woman for hours.  I'd be exhausted too."

"Mm I loved talking to her.  I want to be like her in 60 years but I want you around too!" I shared.

"I'm not going anywhere."

----------------

After we checked into the W Hotel, I stripped out of my clothes, crawled into our king sized bed and passing out.  When I awoke I was confused.  Where was I?  Where was Lukas?  I called out his name and he rushed out of the bathroom clad in only a plush robe.

"What's up?" he asked concerned.

"For a minute, I forgot where I was" I said quietly.

He sat next to me and wrapped me in his arms, "Aw.  We did have a long night.  I'm sorry I wasn't next to you when you woke up."

I breathed in his fresh scent.  "I'm just a bit paranoid at times.  Not your fault."

"This weekend you and I are going to squeeze in some pampering time.  You deserve and need it" he said sweetly.

I murmured a yes before asking, "Are we going to see Lauren today?"

Lukas immediately tensed up and nodded, "Yeah.  First we're going to meet my parents for lunch to get the rundown."

"Oh.  Are you cool with that?" I asked gently.

He shrugged, "I have to face my mom some time, right?  I'm pissed at her blaming me for this but at the same time she's my mom and I love her."

----------------

It was a little after one when Lukas and I arrived at this waterfront seafood restaurant for lunch.  I pulled my eyelet fitted blazer around me and shivered.  San Francisco was definitely a bit cooler than New York and it didn't help that we were by the water.  Maybe wearing my cute printed sundress with open toe wedges wasn't the best idea.  Lukas wrapped his arm around me in attempts to warm me up.  Once inside we were escorted to a table where Lukas' parents were sipping on wine.  His dad stood up and gave me a friendly hug.

"Elisabeth.  It's wonderful to see.  I was telling Lukas just the other day that we need to get together more often" he said with a genuine smile.

"Lukas and I would like that a lot."

His mom gave me a tight hug and then kissed me on both cheeks.  "I agree.  You two have so much wedding planning to do and we would love to pitch in."

I watched as Lukas' mom pulled him in for a hug and whispered something in his ear.  When then pulled apart she had tears in her eyes and Lukas seemed less tense.  After the waiter filled our glasses with wine, I nibbled nervously on a piece of bread while Lukas asked about Lauren.

"Lauren was found unconscious in her apartment by here roommate who was frantic.  She called the paramedics and me.  She was so hysterical and incoherent.  From what I made out, I assumed Lauren was a goner.  I let me emotions get the best of me and lashed out at Lukas because I didn't want to deal with reality.  Honey I didn't mean what I said.  I know I've put so much pressure on you and that was wrong and unfair of me.  This isn't your problem.  I hope you can find it in your heart to accept my apology" she said unevenly as she looked at Lukas.

He nodded and equally emotionally said, "Of course I forgive you Mom.  Let's put this in the past and talk about Lauren.  What's wrong with her?  What are the doctors saying?"

His dad shrugged, "Not only was Lauren extremely intoxicated, it appears that she overdosed on prescription pills.  They had to pump her stomach at the hospital and stabilized her.  The doctors are suggesting she check into a rehab center but you know how Lauren is."

"Basically this is a repeat of what happened when she was in New York?  She tried rehab for a couple weeks and then gave up. Even if we force her to give rehab a second chance, nothing is going to change unless she accepts that she has a problem" Lukas expressed.

Mrs. DiPalma (Lukas' mom) nodded in agreement.  "Your dad and I realize that.  We just don't know how to get through to her.  Seeing her like this makes both us feel like we failed as parents."

"How can you say that?  Look at Lukas and Linda. They're both exceptional people with the biggest hearts and genuinely kind.  They are living their dreams and adore both of you.  Lauren's had a temporary setback.  You can't blame yourself for that.  You're wonderful parents are your kids are very lucky to have you in their lives" I said nervously.

"That's very sweet of you but it doesn't change how I feel inside" Mrs. DiPalma replied gently.

Lukas shook his head and bristled, "Mom, this self-pitying attitude isn't going to get us anywhere.  Liz is right. We are blessed to have you and Dad as our parents.  Lauren's situation is self inflicted and you need to stop making it about you."

Mr. DiPalma finally spoke.  "I think the kids are right.  We've been blaming ourselves for Lauren's choices instead of getting her the help that she needs.  Instead of pointing fingers we need to come together and figure out the best way to help her."

We tossed ideas back and forth while we nibbled on our salads but eventually agreed that the ball was in Lauren's court.  Eventually our conversations steered towards our wedding.

Mrs. DiPalma excitedly said, "I'd love to go wedding dress shopping with you.  It would be an honor.  Lauren didn't give me that opportunity and you know Linda got married unbeknownst to us.  I consider you to be my daughter and I'd love to be more involved.  That is if you'd like me to be."

I smiled, "I'd like that a lot.  My mom was insisting that we go Kleinfeld's...she bought her wedding dress there and wanted me to appease her.  If you're free, you're more than welcome to come along."

"Oh.  I also got my dress at Kleinfeld's many years ago.  Even if I have something planned, I'd cancel.  I wouldn't miss this for the world."


**** My Faithful Readers:  I've been thinking long and hard about the future of this blog and have finally decided it's fate.  As much as I enjoyed writing and interacting with all of you, the stress and negativity has become a bit much for me.  Over the past few months I've found myself not enjoying blogging as much.  I have always believed in not being a quitter and pulled posts together, attempting to stay on schedule.  I never wanted to disappoint any of you and am a woman of my word.  

That said, I'm not quitting but bowing out gracefully.  I know same shit just different terminology;-) I have a lot going on in my life and the negativity towards me and my baby in the comments section and via email are a bit much for me.  I'm sorry I've offended some of you so much that you such animosity towards me.  Anyhow, I don't want to dwell on that because next thing you know I'll be accused of bitching about comments because I disagree with their assessment of me.  

I have the two weeks of posts already pre-written but I will be fast forwarding and giving Elisabeth the ending she deserves.  I don't have a set date for the final post because I have not written them yet.  I am shooting for sometime in September or October.  I will keep all of you posted.  Again I appreciate all of the love, support and encouraging words.  I hope you all understand my decision and keep reading til the end.

Arianna