New Stepmom Circles Podcast: Ron Deal and StepDads

21 04 2011

Finally!!! A new Stepmom Circles Podcast is ready. Ron Deal is one of my favorite guests. In this show we talk about Ron’s new book, The Smart Stepdad. There are even fewer resources for stepdads than there are for stepmoms. Ron always has so much wisdom to share and this podcast is not just for stepdads. It’s for moms who have kids and married a man who became a stepdad to their children. It’s for stepmothers because is the advice he gives is applicable to all of us. Find Ron at


Guest Post: I’m a Stepmom, Too

25 01 2011

A few years ago at tradeshow, I was talking with a young woman at the booth next to mine. Just a casual conversation between strangers – a friendly back-and-forth.

She mentioned that it was her one year anniversary that week. I offered congratualtions and asked her if she was enjoying married life. Her reply? “I’m a stepmom.”

That’s it. That’s all she said.

I waited.

And waited.

Then I said, “I’m a stepmom too.”

More silence.

Then I said, “It’s ok if you don’t love the kids.”

She got tears in her eyes and thanked me. She said she felt like there was something wrong with her. I assured her there was not.

We talked for a long time that day. I think I helped her understand that she was not alone, she wasn’t evil, she was really quite normal. I encouraged her to befriend other stepmoms, because her friends who were birth moms would not – could not – fully empathize and offer the kind of support she needed. The trade show ended. We hugged goodbye. I never saw her again.

But I learned a valuable lesson that day. When you meet a stranger and learn that she’s a stepmom, speak up. Offer support and understanding. We need each other.

Carrie, the author of this post is a longtime reader of my blog. What a treat to run such a great story! Thank you Carrie. We do need each other.

Stepmothers: Getting to Yes

30 11 2010

I saw this today and thought of stepmothering. William Ury is the author of Getting to Yes and has helped navigate some of the most difficult conversations happening in our world today. His advice is something that we can use in our homes, my ladies! Conflict in your home? With a stepchild? An ex? Your partner? Then watch this. Ury believes the secret peace is to take the third side. Love it.

“In the last 35 years as I have worked in some of the most dangerous, difficult, and intractable conflicts around the planet, I have yet to see one conflict that I felt could not be transformed. It is not easy,  of course, but it is possible.” –William Ury

Stepmoms: Have you transformed conflict in your home? Share with us!

Stepfamily Estate Planning: Do you have a will?

11 11 2010

Hi Jacque: Your book and emails have been so helpful to me over the last couple years, and I’m happy to report that I’m getting married next month to a wonderful, wonderful man (who happens to have two young sons). Thank you for sharing your wisdom and compassion and helping me feel comfortable with the unexpected path toward stepmotherhood that my life has taken!

I do have a question for you that I’d love to see addressed (and love to get other stepmoms’ feedback on). My fiance and I haven’t had a conversation about wills, and as much as I don’t want to be thinking about that right now, it does seem like something we should do once we’re married. So I’m curious: how do most stepfamilies handle inheritance issues? My assumption is that most married couples who have children together only pass on an inheritance to the kids once both parents have passed away. Is that the norm with married couples when stepkids are involved, too? If – God forbid – something were to happen to my fiance, the last thing I’d want is to end up with financial difficulties or to start fighting with the ex about how much the kids should be getting. I certainly would want to fulfill my fiance’s goals as far as funding his kids’ college educations, but I’m not sure if/how that should get codified in a legal document. What should we be thinking about as we start talking about wills?

Congrats on your upcoming wedding! You are so smart to ask about this. Estate planning is a challenge no matter when you discuss it, but it is absolutely critical. And just because you get things down on paper now, remember there is plenty of time for you to change things later on if your heart or your circumstances change. I HIGHLY recommend finding a professional estate planning attorney to help you do this. Make sure to ask if they are experienced with stepfamily issues and you can educate yourself beforehand with some of Marjorie Engel’s wonderful work on stepfamily financial issues.

Instead of guessing, work with a financial planner, also well-versed in stepfamily matters, who can help you determine the amounts of life insurance you’ll need, retirement, college savings, etc. Just going through the process of working on all of this is a wonderful way for you and your partner to work through some of these challenging issues. If you have children from a previous marriage or you have a new baby together, you’ll need to discuss how you both want to take care of your children.

You make an assumption here that assets are only left to the children once both parents have passed away. Though that certainly does happen, it’s not always the case. In a stepfamily, if dad dies before you do, things can get extremely complicated. This is the stuff legends are made of. You need to be taken care of but dad might want his childrens’ needs addressed as well. Some divorce decrees state that a portion of or all of Dad’s life insurance will go to his children directly or to support his children. What does your husband’s (or your) divorce decree state?

You have no legal relationship to the stepkids when Dad is living or when he’s gone. We found out that in Minnesota if my husband and I both died in a car crash, the state makes the assumption legally that my husband died first. That means his assets are transferred into my estate, which means that our biological daughter would inherit everything and my stepchildren would get nothing of their father’s estate, UNLESS we specify our inheritors in our wills or set up a trust to handle the life insurance payouts.

SO. To answer your question. It is CRITICAL to have your estate planning done when you’re in a stepfamily. Though it can be extremely difficult to have the kind of conversations you’ll need to have to get this done, just imagine how much harder it would be for the people you leave behind if you don’t do it. ICK. Plus if you don’t have a will or trusts set up to transfer your assets to the next generation, the government will step in and try to do it for you. You’ll estate will go into probate so the loved ones you left behind will have to pay to have the government tell them what it thinks you wanted to do with the money.

Not good. As I’ve mentioned in past articles and in my book, the laws are different in each state. Have I scared you yet?

I had a brief conversation about legal issues in a Stepmom Circles podcast with Stepfamily Law Expert Margaret Mahoney. It is in the archive so you can find it here.

All right, my ladies. Let’s discuss! Do you have a will? Have you looked at it recently? How do you work through some of emotional landmines with your partner?

Your Questions Answered: Becoming a Stepchild at 52

6 10 2010

Dear Jacque,

My Dad got married 10 days ago. I have lived with him for the past 25 years, part of that time taking care of my mom and then sharing the house with him after she died for 13 years. I am having a hard time letting go of my responsibilities in the house and I refuse to call my dad’s new wife my step mom. I should share with you that I an 52, and the house prior to the marriage was willed to me. Now that is all up in the air as well as my emotions. My question is do I have to recognize her as a step parent? I just want to call her my Dad’s wife.

Thank you for sending in this question! Your email illustrates something we can all learn from. The dynamics at play in stepfamily life happen no matter how old you are. Why? Because ultimately when a new stepfamily forms, it throws all sorts of things out of balance. It raises questions that family members have rarely asked each other before: Who are we as a family? What does family mean? Who is on the “inside” and who is on the “outside?” Will my father’s feelings change for me? What will this mean to my inheritance? These are all valid questions. And scary questions.

When there are end-of-life issues at stake, we don’t want our loved ones to feel like we’re being greedy, so it’s even more awkward.

My advice is almost always the same on issues where confusion has arisen due to stepfamily dynamics: Talk about it. As uncomfortable as it might be, it is important that you have a conversation with your father about how this is going to change the will. And it is only fair that he be open with you about it. Death is not something we like to talk about. And talking about what will happen to our assets when we go is not fun either, but it must be done. You are going to have to deal with this when he passes. And if your father’s new wife outlives him, you will have to work with her. You might use language such as, “This is not going to be a comfortable conversation, but this new marriage raises many questions for me. Instead of walking around wondering, I think we should have an open conversation about end-of-life issues.”

Change is difficult. As scary as it might be for you to contemplate a different kind of life, I will ask you this: What good can come out of this for you? If you don’t get the house or decide to move out and have to remake your life into something that looks very different from what you thought it would be, it will be scary. But sometimes the scariest things we face are the best for us.

As for the name question. You should call your stepmother what you feel comfortable calling her. You are both adults and this is a relationship of choice. She’s not going to be raising you or parenting you. Again I would advise having an open discussion about this. “You know what, it makes me uncomfortable to call you stepmom. How about if I just call you by your first name? What do you think?”

Eventually everyone will figure out what the new normal is in your family.  Best wishes to you during this tumultuous time.

What Should a Stepmother Expect?

22 09 2010

I’ve been asked this question many times: What should a stepmom expect? And this one: Am I expecting too much? I’ve asked myself those questions, too. Much of the research done on what makes stepfamily life so difficult indicates our expectations are what get us into trouble.

But the challenge is that there is no model for what a stepfamily “should” look like. A successful stepfamily structure might look very different from what we think a “family” should look like.

Happy stepmothers are:

  • Women who live with their stepchildren full-time and help to raise them.
  • Women who don’t ever see their stepchildren.
  • Women who at family gatherings cheerfully combine his, hers, and ours kids plus the ex-wife, ex-husband, their new spouses and all the various step-, half-, and full-blooded siblings.
  • Women who don’t live with their partners but continue to date until the children are raised and out of the house.

There are lots of different ways in which stepfamilies are successful. But sometimes we need to revise what we think successful means in order to find peace. Can you be a success if you and your partner have an amazing relationship but the kids hate you? Can you be a success if your marriage is strong but the ex-wife is in your face all the time? Can you be a success if your husband is your best friend but his parents don’t accept you? The answer to all these questions is: YES.

But you first have to decide for yourself and as a couple what success can mean.

Warning: Letting go of expectations (a.k.a. Dreams) can be an extremely painful process. But once you do it, you’re free to create the kind of life you want.

Stepmom Circles Group Coaching: Fall Session Begins Soon!

14 09 2010

Looking to connect with other stepmothers and find out concrete things you can do help yourself and your family?

The fall Stepmom Circles Group Coaching session starts in October!

“It was such a positive experience! I carry with me Jacque’s fun loving, caring and supportive voice. It’s voice I will carry with me for a long time.” –Stepmom of 2

Each Stepmom Circles group meets for an hour and a half each week for six weeks over the telephone. Every week I lead a discussion on a particular stepfamily challenge. (Creating a strong partnership with your spouse, dealing with the ex, bonding with the stepkids, handling your negative feelings, identifying common stepfamily mistakes, discovering what successful stepfamilies know). Then we have an open talk about your particular questions and issues.

Wednesday evenings, October 6 to November 10.

6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Central Standard Time

The cost of a six-week session is $197.

As a member of a Stepmom Circles coaching group you’ll receive

  • a FREE half-hour, get-to-know you consultation with stepfamily expert Jacquelyn Fletcher over the phone before the class begins
  • email access to me between group coaching sessions so you can ask questions that come up during the week
  • an autographed copy of my book A Career Girl’s Guide to Becoming a Stepmom

Email becomingastepmom (@) gmail (dot) com for more information or to reserve your spot in the upcoming session. Space is extremely limited.

“Thank you again for such an enlightening 6 weeks! So much insight and shifts in my thinking…I really needed that. I look forward to the day when I can look back on these tough times and laugh. Thanks for the inspiration! You truly made me think in ways that were outside my comfort zone. I look forward to the continuation of my journey, and hope to get to that place of peace that you talk about. I hope that someday I can inspire other stepmoms as you have inspired me. Thank you for your words of wisdom.” – Stepmom of 3

Your Questions Answered: Missing My Stepdaughter

8 06 2010

Hi Jacque,

I guess I should give you some of our history. My husband is from KY and was married to his ex for 1 year before she began cheating on him again. They had a prior engagement that he broke off once he discovered her infidelity. However once he took her back she was magically pregnant shortly after that. They married after my SD was born and like I previously said the marriage only lasted one year with many separations in between. I had met my husband, he was here in MD for subcontractor work, the weekend before he split with his then wife. (My stepdaughter was 16 months old at the time.) We were engaged after 5 months and married on our 1 year. BM was in the habit of denying my husband from seeing his daughter unless it was convenient for her etc. so a court order was put into place. My stepdaughter began coming home every other month for two weeks and then an additional two weeks for summer vaca and alternating holidays. My stepdaughter and I love each other very much and are as close as can be expected. Her mother is a tyrant and she would rather live with us but unfortunately there isn’t anything we can do at this point to make the change.

My stepdaughter started kindergarten last year and the transition was very hard for all of us. Another court order was put into place to address our time with her since she was attending school. BM remarried at the beginning of this year. So my stepdaughter has had many changes to overcome and through out it all she has always seemed to enjoy our nightly calls or at least would talk for a few minutes.

The last month or so has seen a lot of bickering from BM, who doesn’t want to follow our order, and there has been a drastic change in stepdaughter’s disposition on the phone. Most of the time she barely answers the phone before saying bye and hanging up. A few times we have gotten her to talk but I just don’t know how to deal with this rejection. My problem is that I miss my SD terribly when she is not home but talking to her at night has sustained me. Now I don’t know whether she is depressed and doesn’t want to talk or she is receiving hand signals to hang up the phone. BM only has her cellphone in the house and I know she doesn’t give my stepdaughter open access to it to call us.

Do you have any tips for me to deal with this sense of loss when stepdaughter is not around? Thank You

Dear Stepmom,

I want to thank you for loving your stepdaughter so much. The loving heart of an adult is a gift to any child of divorce. You didn’t mention how much time you get with her or what your spouse’s relationship is like with his daughter, so I will answer this with some of the clues that I sense here.

Maintain a vision of love. Your stepdaughter is going through some challenging times. One of the great difficulties of stepfamily life is that we simply have no idea what is going on at the other house. We have to rely on our observations, the things the ex says, and clues left by the children, but it sounds like this girl is caught in a loyalty bind. You were right to point out that your stepdaughter is going through some tough transitions: school, a new stepfather. That alone is enough to cause a child to act out. If Mom is badmouthing Dad and you to their daughter on top of the changes, that can have a dramatic affect on how she acts toward you. You didn’t mention if her treatment of her father has changed but that would be another indicator of a girl who is caught in a loyalty bind. (She wants to feel loyal to her mother and so she must cut ties with you in order to do that, for instance.) During this time, maintain a vision of love for your stepdaughter that encompasses the big-picture view. Hopefully someday she’ll be able to return your love. But for now it sounds like it is far too complicated and far too painful for her to do so.

Be consistent. Children respond to consistency in action. They pay attention to what we do. And over time that has an impact on their sense of selves and their world-view. If it’s possible, continue the phone calls but instead of asking her questions about her life (this could make her feel like she is ratting out her mom) instead share things with her about you. Chat about an age-appropriate movie or book or world event. Tell her about your best Halloween costume. Take the pressure off of her and she’ll thank you in the long run. And if she doesn’t thank you, I’ll do it for her. THANK YOU!

Educate yourself about childhood developmental stages. You didn’t mention whether or not you have any children of your own. If you don’t, then do a little reading on the developmental stages of children. Believe me, it makes it a lot easier to accept and understand a kid’s bad behavior if you understand why it’s happening. Sometimes a surly face is caused by their age and stage in life and not because they’re mad at you.

Protect yourself by understanding stepfamily dynamics. All of the stepfamily folks will tell you “don’t take it personally.” And they are right. This girl’s behavior is not aimed at you. Or if it is, it’s not because of you. It’s because of the situation she is in. That doesn’t mean it’s easy to shut off our feelings! Nor should we. But you need to protect your own feelings by educating yourself about stepfamily life. (Read Between Two Worlds by Elizabeth Marquardt to understand children of divorce, for instance.) Work to develop other ways of finding validation and love besides your stepdaughter so that you feel like a whole, strong, lovable person NO MATTER WHAT. Even if she doesn’t want to talk to you (or can’t because it will hurt her mother,) you are still a glorious soul who deserves love and appreciation. NO MATTER WHAT.

Meet other stepmothers. Having other women to talk to can help normalize your experiences. Find a group of ladies who can help you brainstorm positive ways to overcome your stepfamily challenges. (The upcoming Stepmom Circles Retreat would be a great way to meet other stepmoms!)

Build positive experiences. When you do see your stepdaughter, have fun together! Work on ways to connect in the time you do have and she’ll remember those moments when she gets to make her own choices about who she is going to call or visit. And that day will come faster than you think.

A Stepmom Bill of Rights…Dangerous to Stepfamilies?

13 01 2010

Ladies, I’m afraid that this might not be a popular post but I feel I must write it. Currently there is yet another version of the Stepmom Bill of Rights circulating online among stepmothers.  I’ve seen many of these over the years. Though the contents of these missives are often well-meaning and make stepmothers come together in a rallying cry, I believe portions of them are actually harmful to stepfamily development. Please, hear me out. Yes, stepmothers often have one of the most difficult roles in a stepfamily, but that doesn’t mean that everyone else gets off scott free. In fact, everyone has a difficult role. The children. Dads and Moms, Stepdads and Stepmothers. We all have our crosses to bear. It’s very easy to take the research that says stepmothers have the most difficult role in the family and swing too far to the other side of the pendulum where we become self-righteous or victims–and that does not a happy stepfamily make. In fact, the Stepmother’s Bill of Rights actually highlights the tension and conflict that is a normal part of  stepfamily life. I have reproduced below the latest version of this bill of rights and I’m going to respond to each point.

1. I will be part of the decision-making process in my marriage and family at all times.
Yes, this certainly is a reasonable sentiment in most cases. However, it is the nature of stepfamilies that things happen that stepmothers have no control over. To insist that we do is to set ourselves up for heartache and a troubled marriage. In the best cases, stepmothers are on the decision-making team and their husbands make them feel like their opinion counts. These women are lucky. But even in the best cases there will be times when the decisions of what happens to the children are up to Dad and Mom.

2. People outside the immediate family – including ex-wives, in-laws and adult children – cannot make plans that affect my life without my consent.
Wouldn’t it be lovely if this were the case? Wouldn’t it be great if this were true in our families of origin let alone our stepfamilies? Ex-wives do make plans without our consent. They sign their children up for basketball and baseball and swimming lessons that directly affect our lives. Adult children consult with their Dads instead of us. One of the reasons stepmothering is so difficult is that we parent from the backseat. To tell yourself that it should be any other way is to deny the reality of stepfamily life. Plenty of research talks about the fall of the fantasy when our dreams and reality conflict. Believing that no one will make plans without consulting you in a stepfamily is a fantasy. Your reaction to those frustrating times is what you can control.

 3. I will not be responsible for the welfare of children for whom I can set no limits.
As a stepmother, role ambiguity is one of the issues that makes stepmothering challenging. It’s hard to know what role to play with our stepdaughters and stepsons. You often won’t be able to set limits for the children. That’s up to Dad and Mom. If the children are older when you get into their lives, it is highly likely you’ll have no say whatsoever in discipline not because Dad won’t let you but because the children will not accept it from you. And yet, you are responsible. You have no legal rights. But you are responsible for the children’s welfare when they are under their roof. This again speaks to a few fantasies of stepmotherhood: 1.) That you will have control. 2.) That you will be able to totally disengage if you don’t have control. Big mistake. If you totally disengage it will affect your marriage. If you try to get too involved, it will affect your marriage. Stepmotherhood is a balancing act, one that take a great deal of maturity and is not for the weak of heart.

4. I must be consulted about which children will live with us, when they can visit and how long they will stay.
Once again, this is a statement right out of fantasy land. Often it is a judge that decides or a divorce agreement that dictates which children will live with you, when they can visit, and how long they will stay. It’s not up to us stepmoms. A biological parent has a legal responsibility to care for his children. To allow this friction into your heart and into your marriage is dangerous. The fact is the rate of divorce for stepfamilies is higher than first marriages in the early years. If you can make it past the chaotic early years, the divorce rate actually falls below first marriages, but only if you decide to move out of Oz and be fully present with the realities, both wonderful and challenging in your family life.

5. I will not be solely responsible for housework; chores will be distributed fairly.
This one I can agree with!

6. I will be consulted regarding all family financial matters.
Consulted, sure. But at the end of the day, a biological father has a legal (if not moral) responsibility to care for his children financially. Once again, the agreements he made before you came along must be honored. This is a hard pill to swallow for stepmothers because it has an impact on her new family, but it is something you must accept if you’re going to be a happy stepmom.

7. Others may not violate my private space at home, nor take or use my possessions without my permission.
This is a great one. Make it a household rule. But remember that kids are kids and sometimes they don’t follow rules.

8. I will never be treated as an “outsider” in my own home.
I want to pull my hair out on this one. Being an outsider is one of the definitions of stepparent. This is what makes it so difficult! We don’t share blood with the children who live with us part- or full-time. You will be treated as an outsider. So what will you do about it? How will you react to it so you don’t blow up your family life? How will you develop bonds with your stepchildren to reduce this feeling? Stepfamilies can feel like family but usually only after a lot of years have gone by and our actions toward the children and our husbands and ourselves have made us feel like family. This is an incredibly harmful stepfamily myth, that we’ll all love each other and feel like family instantly. You will not. You will feel like an outsider. And you might always feel that way occasionally. (At graduations and weddings, for instance.) But you’ll find a role that fits you and your family. Researcher Patricia Papernow calls stepparents “Intimate Outsiders.” We will never be blood, but we can develop very strong, positive relationships that ultimately feel like family.

9. My husband and stepchildren must treat me with respect.
Yes! I’m on board with this one. In fact, this is one of the rules of a house that can help a stepparent feel better as she works through the challenges of finding her place in the family.

10. Our marriage is our first priority, and we will address all issues together.
YES!!! This is hugely important. And the stepfamilies who make it to the finish line are the ones in which the marriage is a priority. But children are a priority, too. Sometimes a child’s needs come first. It’s not either marriage  or children, it’s marriage AND children.  Still, a stepmother needs to feel secure in her marriage. A woman who feels confident in her relationship with her partner is better able to handle the normal stepfamily challenges.

So. Does this mean I think that stepmothers don’t need a rally cry? Absolutely not! Stepmothers need to band together. We are often unappreciated and left out. But please remember that some of these rally cries come at the expense of your relationships with your family. Be careful. Be gentle. I wish for all of you to always feel at home in your own home. I hope that you all feel empowered and among a sisterhood of like-minded women who support you. I also hope that your families are growing organically into something really wonderful and special that enhances each member’s experience of life.


How to Be A Stepmom’s Friend

5 01 2010

My Dear Stepmothers: Please pass this post along to your best friends, sisters, mothers, cousins, or anyone else you go to for support.

How to Be a Stepmom’s Friend

When I first became a stepmother, my best friend listened to me talk about what it was like to becoming a stepmom. I dished to her all my fears and feelings. Yes. ALL. The stepmothers who are reading this before sending it along to friends are cringing right now. Because often when a stepmother tells the truth of what she’s feeling to someone who is not a stepmom, she hears responses such as the following:

How could you hate a kid?

What do you mean you don’t love your stepchildren?

You knew what you were getting into when you married him / moved in with him / decided to date a man with kids.

Why do you need alone time? Don’t you want to be with your family 24/7?

You sound like a wicked stepmother.

Shouldn’t you be at your stepchild’s soccer game?

Why would you go to your stepchild’s soccer game? You’re only her stepmom.

What a stepmother’s friends don’t typically know is that the hard feelings we have as we become stepmoms are a normal part of stepfamily development. But since this is not common knowledge, stepmothers are often made to feel like crazy, evil, heartless, and stupid women by the very people who love them most. And that makes the job of becoming a stepmother, more difficult.

If you’re friends with a stepmom, here are some tips to help you stay friends as she blossoms into stepmotherhood.

Have an open heart policy. Even if you’re a whiz at active listening, pay attention to how you offer your new stepmom friend a shoulder to cry on. Try to listen to her feelings with an open heart and mind. Even if she says she hates the six year old who knocks on her newlywed bedroom door every night, please don’t judge her. Instead merely say something like, “I’m sorry honey. That sounds like it’s really hard for you.”  

Give her the benefit of the doubt. Assume your friend is still the generous, kind, loving woman she was before she became a stepmother. Becoming a stepmom can knock a woman to her knees, especially if she has challenging stepchildren who are openly hostile. Even when she voices things that you don’t understand or agree with, consider voicing this thought: “I don’t really understand what you’re going through because I’ve never been a stepmother, but I love you and support you no matter what.”

Remind her of who she is. No matter how long your friend has been a stepmother, she needs to be reminded of who she is outside of her stepmom role. Help her remember what she’s like when she’s happy and light-hearted. Take her out to do things that you both love that don’t involve husbands or kids or stepchildren.  

Read a book about stepmotherhood. Consider this quote by a reader who reviewed my book, A Career Girl’s Guide to Becoming a Stepmom. “I am not a stepmom or a stepdaughter but my best friend is both. There was no way for me to understand the kinds of issues she faced as they courted and got married and built their new family; this book makes it all so clear.” Whether you read my book or one by another author, you would do your friendship a great service if you learned about the normal phases of stepmother development.  

Support her positivity. Don’t let your friend just vent to you about all the negative aspects of stepmotherhood without touching on the positive parts. A stepmother needs to be armed with optimism if she’s going to make it to the finish line. So help her remember the many reasons she loves her husband and what she feels she’s done well.

No one dreams of becoming a stepmother but now that your friend is one or is about to become one, she will need you more than ever. On behalf of your friend, I thank you for your willingness to love and support her. If I were in your presence right now I would give you a standing ovation!

 And to my own dear friend. Thank you so much for listening to me with an open heart. You always make me feel supported and understood even when you disagreed with me. I love you!