*ONE YEAR LATER*

Over the last 12 months Alex had found time to finish her book. She covered everything from denying the physical abuse, emotional abuse and sexual abuse she suffered at the hands of Tony. She talked about how Tony would make her do things with his friends. She wrote about how she finally got the courage to leave him. She talked about how escaping wasn't an easy task. She wrote about the beatings she took from him after she left him, the time he raped her and left her to die, how he only got 5 years in prison for the rape and attempted murder, she wrote about how she met Dave and how he helped her get through it all. She wrote about how Dave was there the whole time to help her through and discussed her life with Dave. She wrote about the shelter and how much it means to her and then she covered Tony's death, how they put the past behind them, became friends and he married her step daughter and how now everything was better now that the thugs that worked for Tony's dad were in jail. She still had one last chapter to write.

Alex, Dave and the kids had just gotten in the car to go on a road trip across country when Alex pulled out her notebook to write the final chapter of her story. She wrote: My life Now and began to write the chapter.

They always say good things come to those that wait. I never knew how true that was until now. After living my life in fear for the last 18 years and going through hell, my life is exactly where it should be. I'm happy, my husband's happy and my kids are happy. Our lives are just beginning and we have so many changes but not bad changes, good changes. Changes we need. Changes that are best for all of us.

About a year ago my husband Dave had surgery on his back in Phoenix, Arizona to have his nerves reconstructed so that he could walk again. When we took him to get checked out we were told that there was only a 25 percent chance that he would be able to walk again and that was with the surgery. The surgeon told us that the surgery could bring back feeling to the waist and below but walking again was only a 25 percent chance. Even with that chance we went ahead and had the surgery anyway. We stayed optimistic through the entire thing. I believed that Dave would walk again. Dave believed he would walk again. We also knew that it would be a long road to recovery. We were looking at 6 months in Arizona so we took our family and relocated to Arizona for those 6 months for Dave to recover. He went through surgery like a trooper. The first few days were tough for him but he made it through. I will never forget the day when Dave lifted his leg after the surgery. It came two weeks after the surgery was done and we were sitting in the hospital room. Dave had gotten feeling back in his legs about a week earlier and Dave was just sitting there and lifted his leg. It wasn't more than an inch off the bed but he still managed to lift it. We both cried tears of happiness because it was a milestone. A big milestone after being paralyzed for months. The milestones kept happening over the next few weeks. He sat up by himself, lifted his leg even higher and as the weeks went on he learned to stand on his own and that's when the doctor suggested therapy for him to work on walking. It was a tough road for him. He got frustrated, I got frustrated, he cried, I cried, he worked hard and I supported him every step of the way. I never turned my back on him and did everything I could to help him. Then little by little he got the hang of walking all over again. It was a wobbly walk at first but it was no time before he began to walk the way he used to. It was such an emotional day for us when he walked by himself without help. The tears of joy that filled our eyes, the hugs, the kisses, it was an amazing day. Dave beat the odds. He never gave up once no matter how frustrated he was. It was probably the best day of our lives and now everything is back to normal and it's like nothing ever happened but Dave has said he will never take walking for granted again. He is doing amazingly well and he is thankful for getting back the ability to walk because he never thought he would be able to walk again after the incident.

My kids have been through hell just as much as Dave and I have been. I have always felt bad for everything they have gone through. The last year was probably the worst. Dave and me separated for a short time because of the truth about Ben's paternity, their grandmother died, their brother-in-law was murdered and their father was in a coma for months only to wake up to be paralyzed. Then once they think everything is going well they were relocated to Phoenix, Arizona for 6 months of their lives leaving their family and their friends. It's been tough for them but they have bounced back well. I am truly proud of how well they are doing.

Chelsea is 13 now. The teenage years but they aren't as scary as I imagined they would be. Chelsea is a good kid. She's a 9th grader but after the last school year we all agreed it would be best if Chelsea was home schooled. There was too much jealousy, hatred and drama for her to handle. Chelsea is a very sensitive person we learned that in the last year. It was her fame that was the downfall and triggered the jealousy. So many girls in her school were jealous of the life she lived and what she had. They gave her a hard time everyday. They did everything from name calling to assaulting her physically. It really took a toll on her self-esteem. The worst part was they called her ugly and they called her fat. That brought her even lower. Chelsea was not fat by any means nor was she ugly but being told that she was fat and ugly on a daily basis really brought her down. It took her to some dark places in her life. She began to resort to cutting which did cost her the role on the Disney show she had been working on and she resorted to not eating. She began her battle of anorexia. I couldn't say I didn't see it coming because the signs were always there but once it was put in her head by other people she was fat made her believe it. She lost 20 lbs in a month and then 40 lbs in two months. That's a lot of weight loss for someone that weighed a little less than a hundred pounds. She actually dropped to weighing less or about as much as Jordyn, who was only 5 years old. That's when we had her get the help she needed. She spent 3 months away from us to get her eating habits in check and she still has meetings about her anorexia. She is doing so much better now. She is back to eating and weighing what she should for her height and weight. I've been there. I know it's hard to bounce back from an eating disorder but she is doing fantastic. She was also away for her cutting and to rebuild her self-esteem. She has given up cutting and she is a lot happier. She got her life back and she is back to our normal, happy, life loving Chelsea. She got back into her dancing which she has told us was the one thing she missed the most and she's thinking about doing some acting but she's not sure. I wouldn't be upset if she chose not to go down that road.

Ben and Kaylee are both doing very well. They are both in 3rd grade. Time flies by pretty fast. I think it gets faster each year. Kaylee is our sporty type girl and she is NOTHING like her real mother. She is compassionate, loving, caring, friendly and considerate. She looks like Bella but she is nothing like her. Kaylee has never asked us about her real mother. She knows she's out there but she wants nothing to do with her. She prefers to be with us. She does well in school not great but she does well. She's still shy but her playing sports like basketball and softball have really helped her come out of her shell. Kaylee is happy with where she is and to be honest I'm happy that Dave and me adopted her years ago. It was the best thing that could have happened to her especially since her real mother did fall back into drugs and lost everything she had once again.

I am so proud of Ben. He is the one that went through the most hell. When he came back from being with Chris and Brian he was very quiet about everything that happened but over the last year he's really started to talk about it. He went through a lot of bad things but he is doing very well. We have him in counseling to keep him well. He keeps a relationship with his paternal grandmother and his paternal family. He reminds me of Ron everyday. There are just little things he does that Ron has done. He is like his dad in every way possible. He definitely has Ron's personality. He has a good relationship with Dave even though he knows the truth. He still calls Dave dad and looks to him as his father. Ben is doing great in school. He had a rough patch after everything that had happened with him but he's doing very well now. He is on the top of his class and surprisingly he doesn't get in much trouble anymore. He has his moments where he can be a terror but for the most part he stays out of trouble. He's my little man. I love him to death.

Then we have Jordyn and Josiah. These two could not be anymore opposite. Josiah is such a sweet boy. He's still very quiet and very reserved. He doesn't say much and he's always polite. He's very well mannered. He hardly gets in trouble and he is our little athlete. Dave has money on him being a wrestler when he gets older. I guess I can see that because there is not one sport out there he will not try. He's done it all from soccer, to baseball, to football and basketball. He's not just an athlete but he is also a scholar. He does very well in school. He's in the top of his class too. Never gets in trouble, always willing to help. He's pretty much every teacher's dream child. If I had a classroom full of Josiahs I would be so happy. He's an excellent young man and I wouldn't change him for the world.

Jordyn, oh, Jordyn! There's not really much to say about her except she is her father's daughter through and through. She is our wild child by far. I thought Ben was bad but what he did was nothing compared to the things Jordyn was capable of. Jordyn managed to get herself expelled from school in kindergarten! We had to switch her to another private school which she managed to get kicked out of too. I don't' know what happened to her. She used to be so sweet when she was little but now she is a terror. We home school her too. Home schooling seems to work for her. I think she needed that one on one time. She is very vocal about what she wants and how she wants it. She's not as polite as Josiah but she's not too impolite either. She always says what's on her mind and truth be told she reminds me of her older sister Keilani. She is Keilani the second and I remember all the trouble we went through with her, I am NOT looking forward to dealing with the same thing from Jordyn. She is still a daddy's girl. She loves her dad deeply and I like to think she has him wrapped around her finger. He says he's not but it's so obvious he is. The thing with Jordyn is she's smart but she doesn't apply herself like Josiah and the others. She's her own person and she's definitely a leader. Don't get me wrong there is still some good deep down in her but she lets her badness out more than her goodness. I love her despite her behavior problems and I would like to thank Donna for cursing Dave with a child that is just like him but 10 times worse. Thanks, Donna.

Now onto little Reagan. She looks more and more like her mom everyday. She has just now began to understand what happened with her mother. I have kept her mother's memory alive for her. Now that she's older she understands. It's sad but she gets it. She is about a year out of being in kindergarten. She's a good girl. She never really gives us any problems. She fits right in with our family. She's also very intelligent. She doesn't miss a trick. She is an amazing little girl and there are days that I wish Lindsey was here to enjoy her daughter. Lindsey lived her life for Reagan and I know she would love to see her now. Reagan is such a girly girl. She's into getting her hair done, her nails painted, wearing make up and she's a little dancer. She's also a very happy child despite everything that happened. Even though she was two when her mother was taken from us she has NEVER forgotten her and she has never stopped loving her. I know she's going to grow up to be a wonderful person and she's going to make Lindsey proud.

Then we have Sicily. Oh little Sicily she is as sweet as can be. She is into the terrible two's right now even though she's a month away from being two. She is into everything and we're working on potty training her. She's still so young she is the only one of my children that will never remember anything that has happened to our family. She will never know her dad was gone for the first 7-8 months of her life and she will never know he couldn't walk for a couple months. I think she will be the happiest out of all of the kids. She is a mini Dave. The older she gets the more she looks like Dave. She's independent and chooses to dress herself. She has a mind of her own and she can be strong willed when she wants to be. She sort of reminds me of Chelsea when she was this age. Sicily is a joy child and I'm glad that God graced us with her last. Sure by the time she's a teenager there is NOTHING she will get away with since she has so many older brothers and sisters that will have done everything in the book but she is our baby. If we didn't have so many kids and my tubes wouldn't have been destroyed I would probably have another one if I was guaranteed that they would be just like Sicily. She is also a major Mama's girl which I take complete joy in since most of our kids are daddy's girls or daddy's boys. Now she has me wrapped around her little finger and I wouldn't change that for the world.

As for Athena she is doing a lot better than she was. She was pretty close to having a breakdown a couple years ago but she kept herself together for her kids. She has met a new guy since then. His name is Rich. Rich is very good with Lexie and David. For awhile Athena didn't want to move on and be happy but we all told her that Tony would want her to be happy. And she couldn't be happier. She met Rich about 10 months after Tony died. They were friends first but they became much more and then one thing led to another and they ran off and got married. Dave wasn't thrilled on the idea that they eloped but he was happy to see Athena happy. Athena is now currently pregnant with her third child; a little girl to be named Angelica, she is due in two months. She's happy and that's all that matters even if she did leave New York with the kids and Rich to live in Arizona. There were too many bad memories for her in New York and she had to get out to start her new life. Lexie and David are normal happy kids. Lexie still misses her dad and often asks about him. She had a tough time for a while after Tony died because she was very close to him but she has gotten better. She was angry for the longest time but her anger has turned into happiness. She loves Rich but she will never call him Daddy because she knows that's not her dad. She was upset with Athena for getting involved with Rich in the first place but over time she accepted it especially when she learned that he was not trying to replace Tony. David on the other hand has no memory of his dad whatsoever. Tony was just a name to him. He looks like Tony but he has no idea who Tony was. Athena did her best to tell him about his dad but in David's eyes Rich is his dad. It hurts Athena but she understands that David was only 3 months old when Tony was taken from us. Lexie and David have suffered the most. They didn't have their dad but my kids got lucky and they have their father. I wish things would have been different for Athena and the kids but things happen for a reason I guess. They are all doing well and that's all that matters.

As for my dad? He has a girlfriend. I wasn't happy about it at first but my dad deserves to be happy. He can't lay around and be sad over my mother's death forever. My mom would want him to be happy. I want him to be happy. I don't want him to be alone especially now. I wasn't fond of Renee at first but she grew on me. She truly loves my dad and she makes him happiest. Renee is a good person and she's perfect for my dad and she loves my kids like they were her own grandchildren. My brother Brian finally gave in and decided to marry Marissa. As much as my brother didn't want to be married he gave in and popped the question. They've been married for about 3 months now and I'm pretty sure my dad and Renee aren't too far behind them. I can't say I'm thrilled with the thought of my dad getting married but it's his life and he knows what he wants.

As for me I am still a 1st grade teacher. I'm moving to a new location but I still want to teach. I'm the happiest I could ever be. I've waited 18 years to feel this peace and serenity. I've waited 18 years to feel completely safe. I did have a bit of a health problem about 5 months ago. I went to my doctor after finding a lump in my left breast. I just broke down knowing that breast cancer ran in my family. All I could see was myself having breast cancer and leaving my kids and Dave. The doctor did some tests and while it was cancerous it was removed quickly. It was caught in time so nothing spread and it wasn't as serious as it could have been. I was relieved. I know there's still a chance of me getting breast cancer but I'm not going to worry about that. I want to focus on my life with my husband and my kids.

As for Dave and me together we decided to move to Phoenix, Arizona. We wanted to start new. We fell in love with the city while we were down there for 6 months so we are now headed to the house we had built for us. Dave is opening up a new barbershop in Phoenix and I am opening up my second women's shelter in Arizona. I feel very accomplished having two domestic violence shelters. I want to help women that have gone through the same thing I have but during the day I'm going to teach 1st grade at a local elementary school. Dave and me couldn't be happier. I never thought it was possible but I have fallen more in love with him in the last couple years. We've gone through hell together. We fell down a couple times but we always got back up. It was like one storm right after another but we were there for each other. Our love is as strong as it could ever be and there is nothing that can break it. It's been proven time and time again that nothing can break us; not being raped, beaten and left for dead, not numerous affairs both of us have been guilty of cheating on each other at some point but we have gotten through that, not Dave fathering other children, not me having another man's baby, not Dave being shot, in a coma and being paralyzed, nothing can break our love for each other. Life happens to us but we can't let the things in life bring us down. We may have fallen a couple times but we got up and loved each other harder, stronger and more compassionately. Love isn't easy but as long as we got each other nothing can break our love. I honestly believe that if none of that stuff could break the love we share that nothing can. Our love is unbreakable and I believe we have many more years together. I don't' know what the future holds but I do know that everything that's happened to us in the past has shaped our lives for the future and allowed everything to fall into place for us so that we could share this unbroken love.

*THE END*