Bruce had run away to Virginia and left me and the children evicted, car being repossessed, penny less and cleaning up his mess. Not only did I have to explain where daddy was, but I had to reconcile that he had also cheated on me with a flesh and blood person and I couldn’t even confront him. He was a coward. My mother agreed to let me come and live with her in her duplex in West Palm, I would either work or go to school or both. My children were 4 and 2 1/2 years old now. I baby sat for Pam’s children, the woman from the Wellington cul de sac who informed me of my husband’s indiscretions. I began looking into trade schools. I didn’t have the money for college, didn’t know the first thing about grants and student loans. I ended up finding a school for Medical Assisting not far from the house. My mother and I worked out an agreement, I would work babysitting during the day while she worked at a bank and we would trade when she got home. She would watch the kids and I would go to school. We had one car between us, so she would either give me a ride or let me drive depending on the day. It was exhausting. For both of us. My body issues started to rear their ugly head when I was back out in the world. Before, I had the safety of the cul de sac. I had no one to impress, no one cared what I looked like, I went to the gym enough to keep myself halfway decent but I was around women much older than me and I was focused on watching 2 small children. Going to school surrounded me with people my own age and that competitive thing that females do to each other. During the day I would eat a half a can of red beans with salt & pepper and drink water by the gallons. I would exercise in my mother’s living room when the kids napped and I was dropping weight. I never got down to the size I was in high school 85-95lbs but my weight was an obsession. I did excellent in school, graduated after 14 months at the top of my class, passed the state boards the very first time and had a job right after graduation from one of my instructors who liked me so much. Things were progressing for me. I was finally starting to feel pride again, like i was making a life for myself. And then, it happened. Bruce during this time had moved back to Florida and took a sales job with Auto Trader magazine. We talked from time to time, he would come see the kids occasionally, pick them up, take them for an evening or two. One day at my mother’s house, I want to say it was a Saturday or Sunday, because we were both home during the day, we were cleaning. I was inside with Josh cleaning the bathroom, my mom was doing laundry and hanging clothes on the line outside and Laura my daughter was going from inside to outside, playing with our dog and our neighbor. We had a duplex and we shared the back yard with a really sweet couple and their 2 dogs. I remember a scream and my neighbor Shelley carrying in my daughter Laura who was completely limp with blood pouring from her face and neck. She laid her on the kitchen table and I instructed my mother to dial 911. Shelley said that while she was playing with Laura and her dogs that one of the dogs attacked Laura, biting her face and neck. My daughter was 2 1/2 at the time and this dog was about 125lbs. I remember being very calm and very quiet. I instructed Josh to get Laura’s favorite toy and towels from the bathroom. Even at 4 years old, he understood and went to do it. My mother was talking with the dispatcher and they were sending paramedics. Laura wasn’t making a sound. Not a moan, a cry, not a peep. My neighbor was hysterical. The paramedics came and stated the obvious, she need to go to the hospital now, she needed surgery now. We went to JFK medical, I held her the entire time. They did Xrays, CT scans, called in a plastic surgeon. She had a fractured nose, fractured jaw, broken teeth, puncture to her skull and several lacerations requiring stitches. I remember my brother coming and bringing me clothes, when I looked down for the first time at myself, while Laura was in CT, I was barefoot, covered in blood, wearing a tank top and board shorts. I had been cleaning. I was a mess. I remember that I didn’t cry until a tech came up to me , put his arm around me, and asked “how’s mama doin?” I lost it. I cried and cried and like text book, I started vomiting. When we were finally able to go home the next day, Laura was wrapped like a Q-tip, face swollen, bruised beyond belief. It was so bad that half my family wouldn’t come see her because they were so traumatized. The first thing she wanted to do was kiss the dog. We couldn’t believe it. She had no fear. Still doesn’t. She has healed beautifully and you can barely tell she ever had such a terrible injury. She’s resilient like her mother. …and no we did not have the dog put to sleep, it was an accident. And no we did NOT sue the homeowner’s insurance, although looking back we probably should have, just to cover medical expenses, but we didn’t. But I did call her father Bruce and let him know what happened and he came running.