My teenage home was a madhouse. Chaos and violence and discord everywhere. Yelling was the only way to be heard, and it wasn't a guarantee. Seven children, five still at home, my mother still in school or working. JW was afraid of what might greet her when the door was opened, but she still came over to see me. Well, I say to see me, but really it was to pick me up; we never spent time there. She would knock, someone would answer, my name would be hollered, and I would walk out the door into the quiet.

She's always been a calming person for me. She doesn't know that, I think she assumes she's rather boisterous and I suppose she is, but her version is calm to me. She's the one who showed me how to find quiet. Well, her and her family. Her home was not like mine. Her family was as big as mine, but somehow they managed to avoid the violent chaos I was used to. I would go there and feel peace.

I could breathe, there in that home.

It wasn't just jw who saved me...it was her parents as well.

JW's father has been sick since I've known him, but I didn't know it at the time. They were struggling because his Parkinson's didn't allow him to work, and her mother was going back to school to better support the family on her own. A task she's been shouldering with dignity and strength, even though it's so very much to handle. Because he wasn't working, he was always there. He would see me come in, and if I didn't manage to avoid it he would talk my ear off about, well, everything. The man knows something about any topic you could dream up. Did you know that cherries cure...um...something? Well he did. And he would smile with mischief and that sparkle meant you were in for at least 30 minutes of ear-bending.

For about a year in my early twenties, JW's parents welcomed me into their home to live. I was there to save money, which I did...barely. And they were amazing to me. I was forever asking if it was ok if I ate this or that, and Mom was forever rolling her eyes at me for it. It was so calm and quiet, and I felt out of place but so very perfectly happy to be there. Charles became my friend, and I started to worry, as his condition slowly worsened.

It's been eighteen years since I met JW and her family, and since I was first shown what calm goodness could do. And yesterday my best friend's dear father, my friend, died.

10:55 p.m. - 2008-06-03

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