If I can cough, I can breathe, and if I can breathe, I'm still here. 'Here' is a relative term, though, and one whose definition will change a few times in the coming weeks. More so than I'd planned even a month ago, and more so than I've said publicly.I have a plane ticket with my name on it, a ticket that will send me away for a week for a trip that's been delayed since October for various reasons. Instead of an exciting, action-packed Vacation!™ I think I will be … escaping. Resting. I will be gone for a week, and I have zero plans for that week.

Firefighter down

I have written these words in various guises, in paragraphs both fat and slim, and discarded every one, thinking I needed the last note, the final touch, to wrap this story together and bring it to completion.They buried Ken Mitchell on a clear winter's day, with fire trucks and an honor guard.

"His place in the church is empty"

Quoting from the Benton Courier's original article:

"Ken Mitchell, chief of the Tull Volunteer Fire Department and pastor at Saline Missionary Baptist Church in Tull, made the ultimate sacrifice Thursday morning.

Mitchell, 59, died while responding to a house fire at 8722 W. Cherry St. in Tull. He was pronounced dead at Saline Memorial Hospital in Benton."

"…Simpson, also a member of the church, noted that Mitchell performed more than 160 weddings and funerals in the community."

Including my own, seven years ago. I only have the photo of him signing our marriage license, a photo which, as part of our wedding collage, hangs in our hallway to this day:

Ken signs the marriage certificateKen signs the marriage certificate

On this yesterday...

Last night, in the bathroom, having traipsed there with drinks firmly in hand, Eleanor and I were noting that we'd somehow, through the vagaries of time and distance, become wedding-and-funeral friends. I haven't seen her since my father's funeral, and she hadn't seen Dan and Stephanie since Jeff's and my wedding seven years ago.Some things about us have changed.

Some most emphatically have not.

Better version, acquired years later, at, the lot of you (low-res version)

Here's us, being dorks in formalwear, seven years ago when Jeff and I married. Yep, that's me in the wedding gown, all long hair and glasses. If you look to your left, you can see two people hiding under the skirt of my dress. The one in white is Kara, and the one in green is Stephanie. On the right-hand side of the photo, back in the back, Dan is in a green shirt and doing his best to be seen over jowilson.

Or, if you want a more standard photo, there we all are again at the wedding rehearsal. Dan and Stephanie are front and center.

It makes me proud of my accent

Texas gets all the glory, but it looks like the people in my home state are definitely pulling their weight [CNN article].

To the Sagster, from the Pink Punk

"In the months since Dad died, I've found myself wishing that my friends, here in this sparkly new life, had some kind of honest understanding of all the years that came before I moved here. I didn't come to Huntsville to try to fit in, and I cheerfully plan to never do so. I came here with plans to make a small piece of this town my own; to find people I could relate to; to start over if I had to; to figure out what I was supposed to do with my life."