- That’s no longer relevant.
April looks at books she hasn’t read in ages, clothes too flimsy and light for combat, and makeup and jewels she never has time to use. Most of these things she hasn’t spared a glance at in months.
Her sword and fan lay on her desk, along with her jumpsuit and armor. They’re waiting for her to finish up, and then for her to don them and escape into the night. Her friends wait for her there, and she just needs to finish cleaning out her room so she can join them.
April moves items that used to mean everything to her into a box for give-away, and closes the lid on what her younger self had imagined to be valuable.
- He can’t do that to us.
“He can’t do that to us, right?” April asks, shooting a look at the four brothers as master Splinter shuts the dojo doors. With him out of the room, her frustration is free to be expressed. “I mean. More specifically, can’t do that to me. He’s not my dad. He can’t ground me, right?”
“I think he just did,” Donnie says with an awkward, apologetic smile. Leo shrugs, and maintains a similar expression; while Raph just grumbles along with Mikey.
April throws her hands up in the air, and slumps onto the lair couch morosely. “I blame all of you. I wanted to see that movie.”
“Me too,” Mikey sighs in agreement, flopping dramatically onto the couch with her.
“And yet, you were the one who let slip we were going to it,” Leo points out, sitting down with less drama than Mikey, but with an air of disappointment regardless.
“I forgot, alright? Besides, can you blame me for getting excited? The original version of Akira, playing in a theater, like, not even twenty blocks from here!”
Raph whacks Mikey’s shoulder as he and Donnie join the pile of disappointed teenagers, and Mikey whines wordlessly about the punishment.
April just sighs, and tries to remember when she agreed to having a second parent in her life.
- Why did you shift the tone?
April just wanted to have a nice dinner out with an admittedly cute girl who’d helped her out with a vending machine. Not this. Because this is definitely not what she intended to happen, but someone is insisting on being what April can only describe as a flirt.
She feels her heart stutter every time Harmony looks over, or smiles, or tilts her head just right and her bangs fall out of place. And the way Harmony wears a too big jacket and makes it look as flattering as an evening gown, and the perfectly sharp eyeliner that should clash but doesn’t, is just driving April crazy.
April focuses very hard on keeping her words steady and her eyes from staring at Harmony’s lips. It’s a hard thing to do, especially once they leave the restaurant and Murakami’s slight barrier between them.
April O’Neil has a quiet sexuality crisis for about two hours, and doesn’t know what to do with it even afterwards. She never really thought about girls like that, but oh does she now. She definitely does now.
Even after Harmony turns out to be Karai, and tries to kill her, April very guiltily admits that yeah, she’s still cute. Foot clan ties and all.
- I ache all over.
“Ninjutsu sucks,” April proclaims, lying on the floor of the dojo and not even caring about appearances anymore. Everything hurts and she is never moving again.
“Welcome to the club,” Mikey says in an only half mocking tone, slumped against the random tree the family has growing in here. Seriously, April doesn’t understand why or how the tree is here. But it is.
“Diligence is rewarded with… something,” Leo says, clearly trying to start a leaderly speech, but also clearly too tired to do so. “Wait I know this one, hold on.”
“Everyone stop talking, I’m trying to die in peace,” Donnie mutters belligerently from his position splayed on the floor. Raph grunts an agreement, and makes no move otherwise from his spot beside Donnie.
“Sucks,” April says with more emphasis, because when she signed up for ninja training, she did not think it would include six hour plus sessions of pure and utter agony.
- Let’s wait for them.
“Can we just give up and leave them?” Mikey asks April, once the second hour rolls by.
April scans the alien market they were- not lost in, just momentarily confused by- checking again for any sight of Leo and Raph. “No, I’m pretty sure we still need them.”
Mikey makes a drawn out sound of annoyance, and flops his head backwards against the bench they’re on. “Oh my god, how hard is it to get one measly electro-converter-whatever?”
“Apparently hard enough it takes two plus hours,” April says dryly, shielding her eyes to the blinding three sun sky. Why was it always desert planets lately; she had sand in places she never wanted to.
Something catches her eye, and April turns her search towards it. Then she grimaces.
“Uh oh,” She says.
“Why the ‘uh oh’?” Mikey asks in a wary voice.
“Uh oh because it looks like the deal went bad,” April says, grimacing further as she watches the two brothers try to run through the thick crowd. Their pursuing enemies look really angry, and April isn’t eager to find out why.
Mikey doesn’t move from his slump, apparently unbothered by the turn of events. “Welp, can’t say I didn’t expect that one. Should we wait for them to escape, or help ‘em out?”
April watches the way Leo and Raph scurry through the throngs of people, Leo carrying the engine part they need for the ship. None of them aliens pursuing them have drawn weapons yet, but April doesn’t like the look of the swords on their backs.
“Let’s wait for them to escape,” April says, leaning back and pulling up her hood. They’re both tucked into their sand-resistance cloaks, and seem innocuous to the aliens passing by. Hopefully. “If they can’t shake them in five minutes, we’ll intervene.”
“Sounds like a plan,” Mikey agrees, still not bothering to even lift his head.
- It wasn’t very convincing.
April grins for her aunt, and swears it’s just a self-defense club. That’s why she’s asking for money to buy new workout clothes, and why she’s been keeping such weird hours.
She conceals the guilt of having to lie about her friends, about her father, and about why she comes home with bruises and cuts not caused by training. She tells her aunt that the self-defense club is because she’s still shaken up about losing her dad, and can’t handle being unable to defend herself anymore.
It’s partially a lie, that explanation. April is past being shaken, and moved onto being angry. So very angry.
She conceals that anger too, and smiles for her aunt every time she asks about her martial arts.
April keeps things vague, and knows that it’s not as half convincing as she needs it to be.
- It went to dark places.
She listens to his half mumblings and shrieking shouts and shuddering, slow breaths as he calms down, and sometimes wonders if she really saved her dad at all.
Kirby O’Neil is not the man he was, and April O’Neil isn’t the girl she was either. Neither of them are the same anymore; and hearing the pained, distressed sounds her dad makes in the dead of night, trying so hard to cope with the things he endured for her, breaks April’s heart in ways she hadn’t thought it could still break.
The sound of her father breaking down takes April along with him, because she can’t stop the vague connection of empathy she has. Her powers are still something new, and she doesn’t have enough control yet to completely shut everything out. Including the strangling, terrifying fear and despair that sometimes grips her father.
Even if she knows that he’ll recover, stand back up and smile like none of this happened at all, and go to work the next day like any other normal dad- the anxiety attacks and night terrors still drag April down. Down into visions of metallic cells and cold restraints and dark things that make her fear spike without fail, and she struggles to pull herself free each time.
- We like the darkness.
April doesn’t know if she was ever afraid of the dark. Maybe as a small child she’d been, but now, she dances through it without fear.
After all, her closest friends dwell there, and she’s learned the shadows better than the light.
And as she does, she learns how to melt into it, to make it a part of her very being. Learns what shadows can hide her wholly, and how to make them cling to her like a second skin.
Her four friends, strange and otherworldly as they are, are much better at this than her. A lifetime of experience makes them masters at something April has just begun to take into herself.
It doesn’t bother her often, because she’s far too busy racing with the night wind and playing training games in the slanted dark of each street.
- I was ready to go.
April glances back at the farm house, thinking about the temporary peace it’s given them all the last few months. But also, about how the basement had held secrets she wasn’t ready to learn, and how those secrets weigh on her still.
It’d been a place to hide and heal their wounds, a beat of quiet in a time of raging wars and hard losses, but it had also slowly become a place where the walls felt too tight. So tight and cramped that April had wondered if they were getting smaller by the day. The six of them all but snarling at one another some days, when cabin fever became too much and there wasn’t enough room in the world for them to feel comfortable with their lives. A sanctuary that had slowly turned prison.
“Are you ready to go?” Donnie asks, calling over from the Party Wagon. They’re all piling in, food and weapon supplies already inside and locked down for the drive. Casey honks the horn once, and the other boys shout at her as well.
April smiles, shakes her head, and starts towards them. Turning her back on all the things she doesn’t want to linger on any more than she has. “Ready when you guys are.”
- We all talk about it.
Sometimes, when one or more of them hit a wall and just can’t anymore-
April, and her five closest, (only), friends will sit down in a great big pile, and just talk.
Especially after they lose the earth, and they drift through space and galaxies, someone will have a nightmare or an anxiety attack or just a bad day in general; and so they all react accordingly.
Sometimes it’s April’s turn for those. Bad moments where everything is just too much and too heavy, and she’ll just want to curl up and not be. Those moments are made so much easier, because she has five willing ears to listen to her, and she pays them the same affection.
Sometimes she talks about her dad, about the Kraang, about being something that’s neither human nor alien. And they listen, and she listens to them.
They talk about the Shredder, and what he’s done and taken. They talk about how they miss home, and how they miss things from before. Maybe they weren’t as close back then, because trauma and war ties people together tighter than anything, but they’d had less to worry about. To fear.
They talk about master Splinter, they talk about April’s father and aunt, they talk about Casey’s own father and sister, and they talk about the mutant allies they’ve made. They talk about who they count as their family.
They talk, and it makes things easier. And then they keep going, until the next time one of them needs this.
- Can we kiss you?
“Can… can we kiss you?” April asks tentatively, because this is really, really weird if she’s honest with herself. Even by their standards.
Donnie blinks, eyes darting between April and Casey on his other side, and the way they’re all a little too close to be platonic. No one else is in the room, Donnie’s brothers taking their turns for a sleep cycle while the three of them keep watch of the ship.
Or. They’re supposed to be. They’re doing this instead.
“Uh…” Donnie glances between them both again, looking confused and lost. “Both of you?”
“That is the plan,” Casey confirms, and April can sense the nervousness squirming in his aura. They’ve all been dancing around this for a long time, and now, with space from the earth, lost in literal space as they try to catch up with the timeline, they can’t dance any longer.
Donnie’s eyes widen, and his lips purse in the anxious way they always do. “I. I’m not really sure how to respond to that?” His words turn into a question, as he shifts uncomfortably on the sofa between them. “I mean, um, I wouldn’t be- be upset if you did, but are you sure-?”
“Yes,” April says, and cuts Donnie off by catching him in a messy kiss. She used to take her time deciding her actions, but these days you just did or didn’t, and chances passed by in blurs. They have this moment alone, finally, and she’s going to seize it before it’s gone.
It’s probably wrong, what she and Casey are trying to make happen. But monogamy is for ordinary people, and the three of them are anything but that.
April watched an entire world die, and then went back in time to save it. She can handle a little thing like having two boyfriends, who happen to be boyfriends with each other.
When April leans away from their kiss, Donnie’s staring at her with a sort of awe that makes her insides warm pleasantly. He’s been giving her that look for so long, and now she feels she’s returning it.
Of course, Casey breaks the moment they’re having, and April can only smile in amusement as he and Donnie start something that’s both a kiss and an argument at the same time.
She winds her hand into Donnie’s, as he and Casey break apart to stare at one another like the quarreling yet affectionate idiots they are. April gives Donnie a grin as she leans across his lap, and meets Casey at the halfway point for a kiss just between them.
The look on Donnie’s face is shy but attentive, and he watches them the whole time. It makes the exchange all the more exciting.
Things get a bit blurry from there, but April finds she doesn't mind that at all.
- Can we shoot them?
“I’m just saying-”
“-if we shot them, this would be over,” April says, pointing her laser gun at the captured aliens they have. “Seriously, we could just go ho- back to the ship if we shot them. Like, one blast for each of them, and I wouldn’t miss from a point blank range so it’d be a quick death-”
“April!” Leo scolds, giving her a wide eyed look. “We’re not shooting them! Jesus!”
“It’d destroy their connection with the machine!” April says, waving her gun and free hand at the giant whirling death machine they accidentally got tangled up with. How many plots for world destruction could one universe hold anyways? This was ridiculous.
“We’re waiting for Donnie and the professor, and we are not shooting people.”
April threw her hands up. “Oh my god, literally just one shot each, and then this’d all be over-”
- These people are ridiculous.
April can’t help the laughter that comes out of her nose, and struggles to not swallow her now burning drink down the wrong hole. Her laughter is half snorted, and she coughs as she keeps going anyways.
Leo’s embarrassed shouting is barely heard over the howling laughter of everyone else; Mikey’s cheeky, completely unrepentant smile only egging both reactions on. April’s lost the thread of conversation between them now, but the growing noise serves to bolster her laughter anyways.
She’s returned to this, after weeks of fiercely refusing to see any of them, and it feels as though she never left. They’re all here, even with the new addition of Casey to their group, sitting around a kitchen table and eating a combination of pizza and Japanese takeout. Like nothing ever drove them apart; like there wasn’t a period of heavy, furious tension at all.
April has walked out of the lair so many times, away from it and the bizarre family living here, and once swore it would be the last time.
Here she is, warm and welcome and laughing so hard her sides are aching. Accepted back even after the things she’d screamed at them, and finding herself having well and truly forgiven her friends.
The four brothers and their father, they always seem to accept her back, bring her home, no matter what happens. That sort of unfaltering loyalty astounds and warms April, and she can’t help but think how ridiculous it is that they would give so much of it to her.
April’s laughter, shared with four and now five people who seem to stand by her no matter what, makes her feel lighter than it has in weeks, and she hopes to never fall so low again.
- It’s not fair at all, is it?
April tries not to think about it too much. Dwelling on anything that makes her upset is dangerous these days, trapped in the farm house while Leo sleeps and New York burns. She knows her powers are growing, and the plate she accidentally threw across the room just yesterday - without even looking at it, let alone touching it- says all that needs to be said. If she lets her thoughts get too loud, too angry, she’s not sure what will happen.
But it’s not fair.
She’d just gotten her dad back, her life on track again, and now he’s gone and so is master Splinter. So are her aunt and every friend she has in school. All of them. Gone. Warped into mindless creatures or- or-
Or presumed dead.
April hunches her shoulders, and tries not to drown in anger and sorrow as she makes lunch. Because cracking the salad bowl in two won’t help anything, or alleviate the ever louder chant in her mind that it’s not fair, why me, why always me, it’s not fair.
But things haven’t been fair for her in a long, long time, and that knowledge gives her no comfort. Just a grim reminder of how things are, and will be for the foreseeable future.
- Are you crying?
April wakes up a day later, after That Night, and doesn’t want to.
She doesn’t go back to sleep though, because what’s waiting there could be even worse.
She doesn’t bother dressing, because she isn’t going out. She’s taking sick leave from school and training, and trying so hard not to feel the absent weight around her neck.
She makes herself breakfast, listless and not actually hungry, and finds herself reaching for a necklace she doesn’t have. To toy with it, like it really was a harmless pendant.
There’s nothing there, and she drops her hand. Ashamed.
She eats tasteless instant oatmeal, and barely finishes the meal. She doesn’t have any real appetite, not with the images and sensations still rising up her mind in unwanted, stinging flashes of memory.
It’s still raining. The windows of her apartment are streaked with it. The rain has just kept falling and falling, ever since…
Ever since the night she killed Donnie, and attempted to do the same to the rest of their family.
That thought remains lead like and suffocating on April’s consciousness, and it’s why she’s here at home. Because she doesn’t trust herself yet to look her friends in the eye, and not break.
But also because… she still wants the crystal back.
The sensation of Power, roiling and endless, still tingles at the tips of her fingers. The voice of Za’naron remains in her head, an echo of the alien’s soothing, sinking, strangling influence on her mind. The scene of her powers, her powers, tearing her best friend apart plays on repeat in her memories, and April feels heavy with exhaustion and guilt.
But outside of that guilt, that exhaustion, the feeling wanting remains. And April feels like the worst person in the world for that.
April doesn’t have to turn around from the window to know it’s her dad. She’d felt him moving through her ambient senses long before he’d approached the living room.
“April, honey… are you crying?” Her dad asks, stepping further into the room.
April blinks, and hastily wipes away a few tears that escaped without her permission. “No,” She says, forcing her voice to remain steady. She can’t burden her dad with yet another one of her problems. “No, it’s just the rain. I’m fine, dad.”
Her dad seems pale, paler than he usually is these days, and a stricken emotion crosses his face. April can feel his concern, his worry, and she can’t bring herself to look at it too closely.
Her dad crosses the room, and with gentle care, pulls her into a hug. Its warmer than how April feels- which is cold, cold and hollow without the burning power she’d held just hours ago- and she lays her head against her dad’s shoulder.
She’s so tired of this. So tired of tragedies and fights and seeing her friends get hurt.
She’s so tired.
Her dad strokes a hand down her back, and April closes her eyes as he murmurs to her. “I know you don’t want to tell me what’s happening, but please know I’m here for you. Whenever you want to talk, I’ll listen, April.”
April tries to suppress the emotion welling up in her, and only barely does.
She wants to talk about it… but she also just wants it to disappear. She wants the nightmarish experience of killing her own friend to fade into nothingness, and for everyone to forget the time April lost herself in her own powers. She wants the memories, Za’naron, and the crystal gone forever.
April carefully bundles up her grief and tears, and pushes them far, far into the back of her mind.
“Thanks, dad,” April says quietly. “But I don’t have anything to talk about.”
Nothing at all.
Her father doesn’t have anything to say to that, and just holds her tighter.
It takes another few days, meditating on and off to fold the frayed edges of her powers and mind up and away…
…tucking the worst parts into themselves, hiding them so far inside her mind not even she can find them anymore…
…and then April can wake up again, and smile, and go on about her day like nothing ever happened.
She picks up her sword, her fan, and sweeps her hair back into a ponytail. She heads out into the night, and steps placidly over the still ongoing repairs to the lair.
She ignores the sideways glances she gets from her friends, and keeps complete and total iron control of her abilities.
And there’s not a tear in sight.
- It made no sense.
It made exactly zero sense to April, sometimes. How Leo will constantly say “Sorry April, ninjas only.”
Like she’s any less of a ninja. Like all her hours and hours of training mean nothing. Like she hasn’t spent the last year plus working her literal ass off to keep up with them, and damn near succeeding sometimes, despite their very large gap in years to learn ninjutsu. She’s done everything they’ve done, faced the same dangers and enemies as they have, with half the weapons and less than half the experience.
“Sorry April, ninjas only,” Leo says, limping along like he didn’t still have a bum leg or needs help walking when he strains himself, like she hasn’t put her all into keeping their family afloat and together while he slept, like she doesn’t deserve to have a mystical ninjutsu camping trip too. And then they all just leave, and April has to stand by and watch their shells disappear and ends up going and breaking the skin on her knuckles pounding those stupid planks right after.
And she still fumes through the night, the next, and the next, until the day they walk back out of the woods.
April may have been imagining Leo’s face, the moment she finally broke the board right down the middle.
- I was in love with them all.
Originally, April had imagined herself to not fall for anyone easily, if at all. People and relationships were just such a hassle, and she had her schoolwork. She’d thought she didn’t need anyone.
But then there’d been Donnie, and then there’d been a certain kunoichi masquerading as a normal teen, and then there’d been Casey, and before she’d turned out to be a spying robot, there’d been Irma…
At some point or another, or even currently, April had felt something dangerously close to love for each of them. Or at least slightly off-kilter attraction, mostly inspired by the desire to simply beat a certain someone at their shared profession. (She hasn’t gotten her yet, but April would give Karai her just desserts one day. Some day. Maybe a kiss too-)
April’s brain fizzles, and she hunches a little more over the lair’s kitchen table.
She needs to slow down on the crush accumulation. Seriously. Two boys are enough; adding a highly trained and girl of dubious morales to the roster isn’t necessary. Even if said girl pulls off armor like high fashion and somehow never has her makeup out of place and god dammnit did Karai sometimes make April want to wipe that smirk off her face forcibly through a furious sort of kiss-
April makes something close to a whine, and covers her head with her arms; feeling quite sorry for herself and her late blooming bisexuality, with the addition of the inability to just choose someone.
“What’s botherin’ you tonight, April?” Mikey asks, flipping a few midnight pancakes on the stove. “You feelin’ sick?”
“I’m dying,” April mutters miserably.
“…huh. That’s a shame.”
April groans again at her friend’s lack of serious sympathy, and thunks her head against the table top.
- Does anyone really want the ordinary?
April O'Neil isn't an ordinary girl in any sense. Hasn’t been for a long time.
Not since the night she fell into an alien conspiracy, and gained the strangest friends she could ever imagine. Not since she picked up a weapon, and decided she liked the sense of power and thrill that came with ninjutsu. Not since she spent the formative years of her teenagehood fighting one war after another, and somehow managing to still have teenage drama throughout it.
She isn't an ordinary girl at all, and she thinks that's fine by her.
- None of it mattered.
More often than not these days, April looks at her assigned schoolwork and just… can’t see the point of it.
College preparation used to be so important to her. Getting good grades and impressing her teachers used to rank close to the top of her priorities. She used to spend hours and hours studying, and love every second.
But now she’s seen and done so much more than those things. She’s fought crime lords and ninjas, aliens and mutants; defeated each one and come out of the fights even stronger. She’s learned how to manage finances and budgets and a household, lest she and her friends have starved while they were without parents those three months so long ago. She’s been to the edge of the universe and back again, and won’t ever be able to forget the other worlds out there, the other possibilities.
Looking at her math and history assignments, April can’t shake the feeling that it doesn’t really matter. Not in the grand scheme of things, and not to her.
Not for the first time, April wonders just how she’ll ever be able to live a normal life, now that she’s experienced the extraordinary.
- They know how to do this.
After master Splinter passes, after they made sure the Shredder would never hurt anyone ever again, and after they returned home to a home that felt empty…
April realizes with a heavy heart, that they know how to do this.
They know how to grieve, and they know how to move on. It’s happened to them before, the loss of the brothers’ father and April’s second parental figure. They’ve seen him die too many times, and now…
April hurts, bone deep and then to her very soul, and yet… feels almost numb.
There’s a gravestone this time, and that may be the only difference from all the others.
Splinter’s death flashes before her eyes often, the powerless moment she’d had watching the blades emerge from his torso. The world shattering second between feeling as though they might have finally won, and the moment she’d known they’d instead lost.
She feels grief, and sorrow, and regret for not being strong enough to save her second father figure. She wades through those emotions, and mires in nightmares and flashbacks that come to her in bad moments.
But more so than that, the feeling of vicious triumph of the Shredder’s death come to her, and April is far past being unsure if she likes it or not. She’s seen and done this more times than she ever should have, and she knows how to deal with it. Knows how to handle the balance of welling grief and whirling fury at losing someone so dear.
They all do, these days. The brothers and Casey and her. They’ve done the song and dance of losing someone so vital to their family twice before, and perhaps the greatest relief is that this will be the final time.
April hopes so. She’s not sure if she could do it a fourth time over.
- I have the sun.
A sun burns inside April. It grows brighter all the time, and sometimes she wondered if it would swallow her.
And then it did, for a single night, and she tore apart herself and someone she loved. It’d raged and roiled and burned her from the inside out. With the voice of a fallen angel ringing in her ears, screeching and singing and urging her on, April had lost herself in the torrent of white hot power.
And then she’d come back, the sun inside her not extinguished, but doused enough that she was herself again.
And just as that burning, ever growing sun had dimmed, she’d fanned its flames and torn apart reality one more time. To bring him back.
The power to change reality as she saw fit, it’s a dangerous, terrible power. Forged in her from the moment she’d been born, and designed to be used as a weapon by creatures that’ve done nothing but hurt her family since before she’d even existed. Yes she could use it to protect her family, her new one made of odd and wonderful people, but the things she’s been used to do already, the things she’s been forced to commit…
They weigh heavy on her, as heavy as the pool of energy inside her body. The one that feels like an ocean sometimes, and one she has yet to see the bottom of. An ocean of fire and white energy, bigger and brighter than April herself ever will be.
She’s scared of it. She worries about it. She loves the feeling of it. She can never let it tempt her again.
April has a sun inside her, one meant to break everything she sees and remake it in a twisted image, and she will never again let it burn her away.
- Celebrate them.
In between patrols and fights and tragedies-
-April learns to love the small things.
To celebrate them as they come and go, because everything is tenuous these days.
The days when her dad can walk out for work and come home with a smile, and then last the whole night without a panic attack; April celebrates them with extra-long hugs and truly bright smiles as they share dinner together.
The nights when she lands a jump just right, or executes a move perfectly, or earns an extra moment of praise from master Splinter; April beams and pushes herself harder, because she knows that now that she’s done this she can do better.
The moments that she gets to share with her friends, any and all of them, during patrols and training; when Donnie and Casey make the tips of her ears a little red, or Mikey and Leo make her laugh a bit too loud for ninja-ing, or Raph challenges her to a foolhardy bet neither she or anyone else in their group is going to really be able to win- April’s heart swells, and she lets herself experience the split seconds they’ve got with no other thoughts in her mind.
There are too many things that could interrupt those things, lately. Too many dangerous events and people that could take them away.
April’s learned, though. Learned that she has to celebrate them while they’re here and hope to god that there’ll be more in the future.
So as the moments come and go, the small interactions and smiles and hugs; she treasures and celebrates each and every one.