The private journal of Redbud Bough–secret, locked, and password protected.
This journal is set to self-destruct ten seconds after opening, unless you know the secret keycode.
Put the diary down and walk away. Far, far away. You might want to plug your ears, too.


Our world has collapsed, and I’m not really sure how we’re going to pull through.

Just yesterday, I was so happy. It was my birthday. I was an A student, and I had already completed my first grown-up aspiration, Friend of the World. Things were looking pretty amazing.


I woke up early in the morning. We’d been sad for days and days after the death of our uncle Doug. But this morning, though I still missed him more than I can say, I wasn’t sad anymore.

I was feeling ok.

Great Aunt Sugar, home from a night at her chef job, was hacking her way into her work records. “Don’t worry,” she said, “If they try and ping me, they’ll get the computers across the street.”

She’s sneaky, my aunt Sugar.

I decided to use the early morning hours to work on my next aspiration, body builder. I felt inspired running under the portrait of my grandma Salix. She was a body builder, too, and when I was a kid, she always told me, “Body, mind, and soul, Tam. Take care of all three, and all will be right with the world.”

So here I am, on my young adult birthday. Making friends with the world was for my soul. Body builder is for my body, of course. Next aspiration will be something for my mind. And then, I will have put my grandma’s words to good use.


Mom and Dad gave Alder and me big congratulations at breakfast. Mom kept talking about enjoying every minute.

“We’ve got so much,” she said. “Just keep remembering that, ok, Tam? Remember how much we’ve got to be thankful for.”

I wish now that I had listened more carefully to her words. I was too busy dreaming of being an adult to really hear what she was saying.


Alder just completed his body builder aspiration a few days before–that’s his second grown-up aspiration, so he teases me about being a slacker. I say his first one, Mansion Baron, was a gimme, so it doesn’t count. He says everything counts.

Anyway, while we waited for the party to start, he coached me. He’s got great tips, I must admit, even if he does look goofy when he gives them.


When I finished the workout, my mom wrapped me in a big hug. “I’m so proud of you, honey,” she said.

I was surprised. I mean, she’s hugged me, what, maybe three times in my life? And I don’t think she ever told me she was proud of me before. I just took in the hug. I just accepted the praise, like it was my birthright. I wish I had really listened.

If I could turn back the clock, I’d say, “Mom. I’m nothing on my own. Everything, everything comes from you.”

It’s true. Look at anything good in me, anything good in Doug, it’s from my mom, our uncle Doug, our dad, and our aunts. We’re nothing without them.


It was time for the birthday party. I was feeling pretty smart.

I think my mom’s compliment went to my head. I felt like she had every right to be proud of me. In fact, I felt like everybody who was coming to the party was pretty lucky to be even invited.

This was just yesterday, but what did I know then of anything? What did I know about what really mattered?


My favorite time of any party are the minutes when we’re waiting for the guests. I sat with my mom and my aunt, and we listened to music. Mom was talking on and on, all sorts of advice: “If you’re the heir, this, and if you’re the heir, that.”

I was just too excited to really listen. Now I wish that I had eaten every word.


Alder and I, sitting at the table surrounded by all the family friends, felt like royalty. Just yesterday, and we felt like a prince and princess, waiting for the coronation.


I went out alone to make my wish. If only I could do it over, now I know what I’d wish for.

As it was, I made a good wish–and it wasn’t too selfish, and it felt true. But it’s not what I’d wish if I knew about today.


I rolled the trait of snob, like my mom, my uncle Doug, and my brother. It’s a good trait, they’ve shown me. It’s got a bad connotation, but what’s at its core? Appreciation and the ability to analyze and value excellence. For an artist, it’s a trait that keeps our aesthetics on true course.

Vadish, I said to the universe.


Sugar was there to watch Alder as he blew out his candles.

Alder rolled Mean. I felt a little cheated when I learned of his new trait. This is Alder! My brother who’s never said a mean word once in his entire life!


Now, after today, I feel that it was a blessing: Alder and I each rolled one of my mom’s traits.

In us, she’ll live on.

I watched my brother paint as the sun set. He’s the same guy he always was. Taking on my mom’s nature doesn’t change who he is.


And, this brings me to the big news of yesterday: with Alder rolling Mean–and not the elusive Goofball–that makes me, the first born, the new heir. Yesterday, it seemed so amazing. Our friend Jamie, who’s still a teen, stopped by, and I blurted it all out to him.

“So, I’ll need a husband, or at least a baby daddy, and now, all of this and keeping the family going is my responsibility.”

Guh! I can’t believe I said all that.


Jamie ended up staying over all night. He ran on the treadmill while the rest of us slept. When I got up, he was taking a bubble bath.

I can’t help but wonder if maybe he’s got plans to move in when he’s older, now that I’m the heir and all. I can’t make any promises, but my mom did tell me often that Park Boys make great husbands once they grow up.

At this point, I’m hoping I can carry on the family tradition, just to be doing one more thing that my mom did.


This afternoon, I saw my mom and aunt sitting out together at the bar, chatting like best friends. Mom told me that they were best friends when they were kids, always talking and joking. I didn’t see so much of that when I was growing up, for with my mom being mean and my aunt being a little off-balance sometimes, they would sometimes get into yelling matches.

I watched them talking, and I thought how nice it was to see them getting along for once. But I didn’t really think that much of it.

Now I wonder what it was that they were saying.


Right after that, my mom collapsed in the kitchen.

“Vadish,” was her last word.


And that’s my mom. Maybe she yelled sometimes, maybe she was mean. But she loved us. She loved life.

And her last feeling was gratitude.

Mind, body, and soul. I’ve got such big shoes to fill, and I don’t know how I’m gonna do it.