I’ll keep a part of you with me and everywhere I am there you’ll be.

When I think back on these times
And the dreams we left behind
I’ll be glad ’cause I was blessed to get
To have you in my life ~ Faith Hill

Four years ago today someone dear left the world. I spent two years trying to figure out how to live without her and another two learning I shouldn’t expect so much. The truth is, if you’re lucky, there are people you will never be over.

Every person who touches our lives teaches us something. Let me tell you what Dani taught me.

1.That thing you’ve always wanted to do– the one that scares you. Do it right now.

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2.That place you always wanted to go. Book the ticket.

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3.Don’t be a slave to your ambition. Stop and let things happen on occasion.

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4.Take a minute every day to look around and register how beautiful life is.

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5.Love deeply. You don’t have as much time as you think.

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My Dani was daring. She was adventurous. She sucked the marrow out of life and took time to see the beauty in simple things. Above all, she loved freely and deeply.

Thank you for sharing your beautiful soul with me, Dani. I’ll keep you in my heart forever.

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Sometimes you can’t make it on your own

She’s a good writer but why does she have to write about that?

The words struck me hard. I wanted to cry on the spot. Instead, I told myself what nonfiction writers are supposed to tell themselves.

No one is making you do this, so suck it up princess. 

This first bit of criticism was delivered by one of my dearest and closest friends. She and her mother had been discussing my blog the night before. Confused, her mother questioned why I felt I needed to write a memoir. Why would I draw attention to what happened to me? Why make everyone so uncomfortable?

I know what this looks like. I think about it every day.

Girl exploits family in the name of art.

If there was a way for me to tell this story without having to involve others, I would. It just isn’t possible. I have no memory of the day I was taken or why. I need family members to help me fill in the gaps. 

Anyone who knows me knows I care deeply for others. I routinely put other people’s needs in front of my own. I’m a nurturing person who enjoys loving, appreciating and taking care of the people around me. Embarking on this journey of self-discovery has been hard for me because I know it may make the people I love uncomfortable. That’s not my role in life. My role is to make people happy. 

When I was little, my Nanny taught me to face my troubles. 

Terra-Lee. When you have an issue you should talk it out. That’s the only way to make things better. 

Dear friends: Please forgive me for this moment of self-indulgence. My life makes me uncomfortable and I need to talk it out. I need you to know that I’m sorry my mother lost her youth having a baby so young. I want to tell you I’m sorry my grandparents had to make so many sacrifices to make sure I was taken care of. I want to tell you I’m sorry I was taken from my father and even sorrier for being some weird little secret that crept back into his life 25 years later, making everyone uncomfortable with her fears and insecurities. There has always been something a little uncomfortable about me. I’m an exception people make. An obstacle to overcome. A mistake to come to terms with. A discomfort to adjust to.

I don’t want to be these things anymore. I want to be Terra and I can’t be Terra until everyone knows who Terra is. Writing this book is helping me find the people I love, and it’s helping me find myself.