Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Dog Days of Summer-Saying Good-bye to Another July

Really, the dog days of summer are said to be between the dates of July 3 and August 11, but that is only if I decide to be precise about things.  Which, I most usually am not.  A little literary license keeps things much more interesting.  During ancient times, it was believed that the constellation Sirius(the dog) was  brightest in the sky during these dates, therefore joining with the sun in heating up the earth, hence the dog days.  But since we have all been experiencing some extremely steamy days recently, I decided to describe this most recent set of memories as our dog days of summer.  And since the photo above is of our very majestic dog, Micah, watching attentively over the shoreline below our home, for me, these are the dog days of summer.
Our family is quite big on hugging.  Yes, we are all huggers.  If you meet one of us for the first time, chances are you are going to receive a hug because that is the way that we roll.  I certainly did not grow up in a family of huggers, but it was something that came naturally to me as I ventured out into the world on my own.  It feels good to hug.  It feel good to be hugged.  Embracing another person allows us to connect on a level that waving and saying hello or good-bye cannot achieve.  Lord knows the world can be a cold and lonely place these days, so I say HUG AWAY and if I am ever lucky enough to meet you, feel free to give me a hug.  I am absolutely positive that there is a study out there somewhere that proves that hugging can increase your life span by seven years.(I just made that up but somehow I am sure that it is true!)  I recently decided that capturing photographs of people hugging is a very good and sneaky way to discern their heartfelt feelings for one another.
Look at the body language, look at these faces.(Look at my expensive and coveted Mexican Cokes being hijacked by my children!)

Witnessing how they hug on one another makes this momma's heart swell.

Even when they are posing for me, the genuine love that they feel for each other shines through the camera lens.
Mark is so lucky to have four daughters who dote on him more and more with each passing year.  They are so lucky to have a father who loves them so dearly.  I am lucky to have them all.  Ah, this family we have created is all I really need in this world.  Well, I would not complain about also having an entire fridge filled with ice-cold Mexican Coca-Cola bottles, but maybe I ask for too much.
With summertime comes three birthdays, Angel Daughter Number One(thank you, Mark!  I cannot tell you how often I confuse my children by name, let alone, number) turned twenty-four.  And I turned...Well, we have already discussed that.  Tomorrow would have been my little brother's forty-fifth birthday.  45.   He will be forever young in our hearts and in our minds.  He was forty-one when he died.  I will definitely blast a few Springsteen songs for him just to see if I can still feel him close.  It would make me very happy to think that Rob might be partying with Clarence somewhere.  The Big Man, The Master of disaster, The Minister of Soul, The King of the World...The spirit of the E-Street Band.  Clarence Clemons' passing a couple of weeks ago, also broke our hearts.  So thinking that my brother and Clarence might be tripping the light fantastic creates a huge lump in my throat.  My brother was a huge Springsteen fan and so are we.  It is a part of our history.  A part of who we were.  A part of who I now am and will always be.  Always...
Summertime also brings with it the beautiful House Finches who always seem to nest in the same places every year.  How is it that they know to return to a place that has been secure for them in the past.  In some other homes, the front door would be an extremely precarious spot to build a nest.  In our home, the nest rests securely between our wreath and the glass on our door.  AD1 is bravely climbing the later for her vertically challenged momma to see if she is able to spot any eggs in the nest.  Each year I place a sign outside saying that there are nesting birds on our door.  I duct tape the door shut and nobody is allowed to open it.  The sign tells visitors to come to our side door and most people do listen.  The thought of that makes me almost as misty as the Finches who return every year to raise their babies.  Human Beings can be painfully kind.
This summer, we also got to meet sweet Scarlett.  Scarlett is the granddaughter of my oldest friend, Donna, who I have known since we were twelve.  Donna's Daughter, Jessica, and her adorable husband stopped by on their way to San Diego so that we could finally meet their gorgeous baby.  
We all attended their wedding, last year.  Scarlett is what is known as a "honeymoon baby".  What a fantastic souvenir Jessica and Brock returned home with!  They make such adorable parents.  

Angel Daughter Number Four decided that pink would be the color of the summer.  Maybe not the entire summer because her hair is now blonde, but much of July.  Not exactly sure what colors are left for her to try but I am sure that she will come up with something.  I cannot complain.  AD4 is such a wonderful, responsible, and very mature-for-a-seventeen year old child(Believe me, after having made it through "17" three times before, I could not ask for more).  Her loving and compassionate nature make this momma proud down to the very core.
A little bit more Scarlett.

The Fourth of July was a fun day around beach central.  Our home is fairly close to Camp Pendleton which makes our area very proud of the young men and women who choose to serve our country.  Encountering these wonderful individuals on a regular basis makes me very proud to be an American.  Mark and I make it a policy to thank each and every individual who we come across wearing a uniform throughout the course of our days.  It never ceases to bring a smile of pride to their faces and a bit of a bounce to their steps.  
On the eve of the Fourth, we sit on our patio and watch the firework show that is put on off of the San Clemente pier.  If the wind is blowing, we get quite a bit of smoke.  This year was not as bad as some years have been.
Angel Daughter Number Three and her boyfriend, Jacob, invited a couple of their friends to join us for the weekend.  We made a fire and they made s'mores while the fireworks exploded in the distance.  Not a better seat in the house.

This was one of my favorite parts of the evening.  Fireworks cascaded down from the pier and lit up the water in such a fantastic display.  Look at all of the folks down in the water!  Not sure that I would be brave enough to watch the show from their vantage point, but it must have been quite a perspective.
The next day, I spotted the boys doing what kids seem to do no matter where they are, fiddling with their phones.  Not exactly sure what we did before the invention of cellphone!
The dog days of summer also brought us together for a little shopping.  Can you guess which Angel Daughters these are?  I know that one is pretty easy to discern.
I have heard that the next week will bring back milder temperatures here in Southern California.  I hope that wherever you are, the same will be true for you.  I prefer cool ocean breezes to being able to fry an egg on the sidewalk!
Since I began this with one of our dogs, I will wrap up the month of July with two of our cats.  Yes, they have enormous ears and yes, their coats are different from that of a domestic cat.  They are Cornish Rexes and in many ways, they are much more dog-like that cat.

Being that we are only going on to the end of July, it seems as though there is a lot more summer left to enjoy(depending on where you live).  According to astrological folklore, there are even two more weeks left to the dog days of summer(just hopefully not the extreme heat).  I wish for you celebrations and fireworks, and if not fireworks, then definitely shooting stars.  I wish you sun-filled days that never seem to end, but blend down into the night.  I wish you bird nests and s'mores and babies, if you are lucky enough to be able to find one that you can hold for a while.  I wish you family who you like spending time with, friends who are family if you do not, and maybe a Mexican Coke or two.  But most of all, I wish you hugs.  Lots and lots of hugs.  Because in my mind, there is nothing quite as validating, quite as life-affirming, quite as energizing as an honestly gifted and well-received hug to remind us of how truly important we are in the lives of one another.

So much love.

Monday, July 18, 2011

L'Chaim-To Life

A little more celebration because what is life if we do not celebrate the joy.  The accomplishments.  The love.

I don't really drink alcohol.  On both sides of my husband's family, alcoholism is an enormous problem and definitely hereditary.  As for my side, Jewish families generally do not drink very much.  A little wine, especially on the holidays(What is Passover without the Manischewitz?), but for the most part it isn't really commonplace in a Jewish home to see a lot of drinking.  So, I did not grow up around alcohol and my husband did.  We both learned from our environments and when we moved to California from New York and New Jersey twenty-six years ago, we decided that alcohol was something that we could and would live without.  We made a conscious decision to separate ourselves from drinking.  My husband knew that he had a serious predisposition toward over-indulging because of his family history.  I knew that in order to really support him, I would have to follow his lead and give up something that never really mattered to me anyway.  And together, we raised our children in an alcohol-free environment.  Now you might wonder what, if any effect, this might have had on our own children's decisions to drink or not drink.  My answer is this.  Our two older daughters who are both over the age of twenty-one do enjoy alcohol.  But, they do understand their own family history because we spoke openly and freely about it from the time that they could comprehend.  All of our girls understand the concept of moderation and over-consumption and I pray that nurture trumps half of their nature and that they never, ever, ever become physically or emotionally dependent upon any substance that lurches them out of their own sensibility and control.  I hope that we have provided a strong enough example of what it is like to grow up in a household with very clear-minded parents and that they will do the very same for their own children.  But enough of my aside and back to a bit of celebration...

Angel Daughter Number Three and I went out to spend an afternoon together the other day and ended up in a cozy, little cheese/wine place down near the beach.  The wine menu was gigantic and extensive, as was the selection of lovely cheeses.  Acoustic versions of The Kinks and Jewel songs serenaded us through the speakers and we bounced a bit in our seats.  We decided to share a three cheese sampling which had the most delicious cow-milk cheeses served with a fresh sliced baguette.  And then, something enticed me into ordering a glass of sparkling wine.  I felt a bit naughty as I never order wine, but even more never during the day.  I half expected the server to ask me for my ID;)  I do not even love wine and I sometimes even have an allergic reaction to it but it was a couple of days after my 49th birthday and I felt like toasting in my new year.  To sparkling beginnings.  To Life.  A very, very good life.

Both AD3 and I ordered Mexican Cokes in glass bottles(Mexican Cokes are still made with pure-cane sugar and not high fructose corn syrup) which we poured over ice.  I allowed her to have a couple of sips of my Prosecco which only has about an 11% alcohol content, even though she is still just nineteen years old(BAD mom!  Bad, bad mom-slapping hand, hard).  Funny thing is that when I was her age, I had been legally allowed to drink for a year because the legal age was eighteen at the time.  My birth year was the last one that could legally drink at the age of eighteen.  Seems to me that almost everything has changed so that kids end up doing everything at younger and younger ages these days, but they have to be older to drink.  I cannot figure out the logic.  Anyway, I marveled at how lovely and mature my third Angel Daughter has become over the course of the past couple of years.  She and I went through a bit of a rough patch when she was in high school and it scared the bejeebers out of me.  I could not seem to do anything right.  Don't get me wrong, I completely understood and had experienced this phase with my two older daughters who went before AD3 to some extent or the other, but for some reason, this one just hit me by surprise.  It was a rough wave that we had to ride out, but ride it out we did and I must say that our relationship is even better than I had ever hoped it could be. She is funny and responsible and very respectful to her daddy and I.  She makes good choices and works extremely hard.  She is sensitive and loving and affectionate.  Not to mention that she is also very pretty...

Even though I am a week past my birthday, I might just have a little more celebrating left in me.  I deserve it.  I really do.  It has been a tough year.  Actually, it has been a tough bunch of years but I am getting through it.  At the end of this week, we go back to court(AGAIN!) because my nieces mother is now trying her best to sue us for her excessive attorney's fees.  I suppose he led her to believe that she could collect from us when all was said and done so she just ran up the bill but the judge cannot seem to find any law that says that aunts have to pay if they lose a visitation case.  What makes it even more ridiculous is that the judge ruled that I did everything with good intentions and a loving heart.  In his judgement, he complimented me and said that he knew that I did what I did out of love for the children and that I am a very good person and parent.  He did not have to put any of that on the record, but I guess he wanted everyone to know that his personal opinion about me was a good one.  So, even though I know that these are all just lessons in this big classroom called life, it wounds my soul every time we have to go back into that courtroom.  Nine days from today, my beloved brother would have turned forty-five.  I miss him like the dickens and I have faced the reality that it will never get easier, only harder.  There is other stuff going on with my mother.  She seems to think that Mark and I are her retirement policy and her husband asked me for "figures" as to how much we would be able to hand them every month from now until???  And I wonder why I have been feeling somewhat depressed lately even though I am not a depressive person.  It truly never ends.  So why not sit back and enjoy a glass of sparkling Italian wine with my amazing daughter on a crystal blue summer day?  Why not indulge in the little things that make us feel extraordinary?  Why not go to a cheese and wine bar at three o'clock on a Wednesday afternoon and by golly(;) order a glass of wine?  Why the hell not.  L'Chaim.  To Life.  Because life is so much sweeter when we remember to celebrate in spite of the pain...

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Not Quite Half a Century

Birthdays have always been a time of deep, spiritual reflection for me.  A time to take stock and to contemplate the year that has passed.  A time to focus on my own personal growth.  A time to celebrate the good and to let go of the bad.  A time to bring into focus how I can become a better human being in the coming year.  And yet, I have always had a very difficult time with my birthdays.  It might have begun when I turned 18 and my dad inadvertently allowed the entire day to pass without so much as a phone call.  That was a tumultuous time for me and my brother as my father had finally made the final break from my mother by officially moving out of our family home which left me to deal with a very bitter and angry woman who took a good portion of her resentment out on me.  In some ways, I felt left behind and although the 49 year old me has long forgiven that difficult period in my life, birthdays can bring back flashes of the sadness that I experienced at that time.  A bit silly, I know, and I certainly have rationally worked through all of the emotions that came with being forgotten by my dad, but still, a small part of that 18 year old girl still lives inside of me and she likes to nudge me by reminding me that I might not have mattered all that much.  To my dad's defense, he still insists that I change the date of my birthday every year which I fully accept responsibility for AND he does not always recall the date of his own birthday or age, deferring to me when he needs the answer to that very confusing puzzle.  Fast forward 25 years from my 18th year, and my beloved grandmother who treated me more like a daughter than a granddaughter passed away on the morning of my 43rd birthday.  She was extremely ill for the entire week before my birthday and we knew that her transition was close at hand.  Having my grandma die on my birthday made her passing even more painfully poignant because I spent a lot of time caring for her, especially during her last six months while she suffered immeasurably, and because I loved her so much.   I do admit that I felt and still feel, that the date of her death had some spiritual significance for me which I still contemplate from time to time, especially when July looms closer each year.  So while many people look forward to celebrating their birthdays, I have a very visceral response to mine.  If I spend some time preparing for the date in my mind, things go a lot smoother, but if I allow the date to sneak up on me without a fair amount of spiritual and emotional preparation, I can end up in a bit of a funk.  This is sort of a "chicken or the egg" dilemma for me because I'm not quite sure yet if my "funk" begins with my deep-seated sadness or if my sadness comes from some birthdays being somewhat traumatic for me.  Ultimately, my wish is that I have many, many more birthdays left to contemplate all of this because I hope to be here for a very, very long time.  And the truth is that most of my birthdays are quite lovely.  My daughters make me the most heartfelt birthday cards that you can imagine.(I still require that they make me cards and not buy them from the store.)  Mark is thoughtful and loving and always arranges for our daughters to spend some time with us showering me with love and affection.  I love nothing more than having all of our girls around and the older that they get, the more difficult it becomes, so being together doing something fun is always a treat for me.

This year, I found a little wish kit that I decided would make a nice way of releasing the year that has passed and beginning my 49th year on this earth.  The kit contained sheets of tissue paper, matches, a small pencil and a little base on which to place the paper scrolls as you burn them.  The idea is that everyone writes something on a sheet of the paper and then rolls it into a scroll.  The scroll is then set aflame with one of the matches and as it catches fire, the paper is supposed to rise up into the air taking the wishes or sentiments along with it.  Angel Daughter Number One and Angel Daughter Number Two  were both busy with work on my actual birthday(And yes, AD1 did work The British Academy of Film and Television Arts gala hosting the Prince and Princess on Saturday!!!  More about that next time!), so they did not come down to the beach with us to set our wishes into the sky, but AD3, Jacob and AD4 did.  They were getting ready to head off to an Angel game which is why my girls have on their Angel's tee-shirts(quite appropriate).  Jacob just wasn't in the spirit!  Now I know what his wardrobe is in desperate need of.

Mark took turns lighting the scrolls on fire for us.

But instead of heading up into the sky, the flaming scrolls headed down to the ground which is why AD4 and Jacob are looking down instead of up!

When we were all finished, AD4 noticed that her scroll had not only landed on the ground, but it settled into the shape of a perfect heart.  I did not ask her what she wished for(wishes are private), but she was so excited about the final result.  Maybe, when I am singing her to sleep one night in the darkness of her 17 year old room where some secrets are still okay for a momma's ears, I will ask her what she wished for.  Knowing my girl with the sunny disposition, it was something that might make a mother's heart swell.  Looking at the beautiful smile on AD3's face, I have a feeling that her wish would have the very same effect.  Such sweet girls.

So cute!

The waves crashed along the rocks as we performed our little ceremony.  It was such a gorgeous day.

You never know what you are going to see down on our beaches and my birthday was no exception.  This beautiful bride was swept off of her feet and carried barefoot by her groom so that they could take some photos by the sea.  I love the cross-section of the ordinary and the extraordinary.  This is one of the many reasons that I constantly carry my camera with me.  It allows me to notice and to share tiny moments that would typically be missed throughout a day.  My children think I am a bit obsessive when it comes to stopping to take pictures, but I discover the most incredible things through my lens.  It is like having another set of eyes.  Oftentimes, going through the photos I have taken is like a treasure hunt for me and I am fascinated by what I find.

On Sunday, Angel Daughter Number One and Angel Daughter Number Two came down to spend the day with the rest of us.  Each year, there is an arts and crafts fair that is called The Sawdust Festival which is set up for about two months in the summertime.  I have taken the girls to it since they were babies because it is a nice way to check out some of the local artisans while spending a beautiful day outdoors(plus they really took good naps after being outdoors).  This year, I gravitated toward a wonderful vendor named Michele Taylor.  

Her colorful ceramic trinkets and her mixed-media pieces drew me in and I was captivated by her work.  The little pieces above representing mostly religious and spiritual icons are quite unusual.  She also adds them to her mixed-media creations adding a beautiful dimension and texture to her work.  I purchased several small pieces that I have not had the time to photograph yet, but I will do so soon so that you can see them.  I love artwork that makes me feel closer to God, and Michelle's work evoked that emotion in me.

Above is a picture of Michelle.  On her desk were elements that she was using to create new pieces.  I really enjoy seeing how an artist works.  Michelle's desk might look a bit messy, but it was a beautiful mess!

I really liked the way that these shawls caught the sunlight at that time of the day.

My littlest Angel Daughter trying to pull me along as I stop to take yet another photograph.

The Sawdust Festival is located in a lush canyon in Laguna Beach.  This gives it a very magical feel.
After the festival we went out to a restaurant called Mozambique.  The South African setting really made it feel as if we were visiting another country!  Known for their Peri-Peri spice, the food was deliciously seasoned and delivered quite a kick!

My loves.

One of my favorite parts of the evening was when the waitress asked with a very serious look on her face, if all of these girls were ours.  When we said yes, she told me that I did not look old enough to have daughters this old!  I must admit that it still makes me smile when people say that.  I certainly feel like their momma.  I guess that no matter how old we all get, they will always be my little ducklings.  

I am still reflecting back upon the year which has passed.  It was a difficult year filled with some very tough losses, but I am looking forward to this year being a more peaceful year filled with quiet moments by the sea.  I am still searching.  Searching for who I am now that I am a momma of almost fully grown daughters.  Searching for who I am as a now only child whose parents are aging seemingly faster than I am. Searching for what I will do next.  I do know that one thing is for sure.  In spite of the obstacles that are placed in my path, life is good.  Very, very good.  And I will continue to fight for love, something that I have always believed is worth any cost.  After all, without love, what is there?

Thank you so much for all of the lovely birthday wishes.  You encircle me with a feeling of encouragement, love and support.  For that, I am eternally grateful.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

In Celebration of Growing Wiser

I have changed as a momma over the course of the years.  Angel Daughter Number One truly blazed the trail for my other three Angel Daughters but in doing so, she missed out on things like pink hair and double(okay, maybe triple in one ear) piercings.  When AD1 was a teenager, I only allowed her to dye her hair with "natural colors", none of which are ever seen in a rainbow.   But now that I have raised three more teenage daughters and I have gotten to Angel Daughter Number Four who is seventeen going on eighteen, I have learned a thing or two about parenting and choosing battles and hair dyed in any color that one can imagine.  And you know what?

As long as she sticks to her curfew, is polite and courteous to everyone she meets, does well in school and keeps her sunny demeanor, if she would like to dye her hair pink, so be it.  I have learned one thing as a momma.  Hair grows out, but the effort, time, love, and sweat that goes into raising an excellent human being, never, ever does.
In celebration of my 49th birthday, I would love it if you would share some yummy chocolate cake with me!

*photo courtesy of Samir Hussein

And one of my daughters, may or may not be working with the couple above today during their visit to Southern California.  Shhhhhh!  It is a very top-secret gala and I promised I wouldn't mention any names.  So I'm not...

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Some Thoughts on Casey Anthony

I have been thinking a whole lot about motherhood today.  A whole lot.  I have been thinking about maternal instinct, about where it resides within our souls and if, indeed, there has been some sort of a disconnect over the course of the past several decades between what a mother should feel toward her own offspring and the selfish need to separate herself from them very shortly after they are expelled from her very body.  This is not to say that all or even most mothers suffer this disengagement from their own children but still, now being on the very tail-end of raising my own four daughters I have witnessed enough of it to call it a frightening trend as I see it.  And for the sake of argument and my own expert experience(I have a culmination of 81 plus years of practice as a mother), I am only discussing women here, as we are the vessels from which our children come forth, we are the ones whose bodies come equipped with the unique abilities to both birth and nourish our babies, and we are the ones who are supposed to protect our children with the force of a mother bear or even the instinctual anger of a mother bird whose young have been threatened.  Yet there is so much to the contradiction as to how we, as mothers, are internally programed to behave.  There is situation after situation after sad, unbelievable situation which leads me to believe that the predisposed instinct for a mother to guard her children with the strength of 1000 men, is somehow being mutated out.  Yes, mutated out.  And the more that I witness mothers placing their own needs before the needs of their young children, the more that I watch as babies are left behind so that mothers can fulfill their own desires, the more that I hear story after story about abuse, neglect and even murder, the more that I feel this inherent need to stand up for those whose voices can so easily be ignored or silenced.  Permanently silenced.
A couple of weeks ago, I sat and watched as this momma bird first taught her fledgling how to find food and then, how to eat without assistance.  Every year, we have several nests around our homes that we watch with great excitement.  The mother and father birds methodically build a nest tiny stick, by tiny stick finishing with the soft hair from our dogs that they somehow find from around our yard.  The momma birds lay several eggs on which they roost as the father birds stay close by and chase any predatory birds from going near the nest.  This is obviously all about instinct and survival as Finches are not really known for their intellect and rationality.  But we have observed as they have chased a bird that is four to five times the size of them away from the vicinity of their nest equipped with nothing but pure guts and instinct.  It is quite a sight to see.  Each night, after the eggs have hatched and the mothers return from foraging for food, they return to the sweet chirps of their hungry babies which they seem to feed with love and care.  It is after that stage of development that the mothers then bring the babies to the sources of food and teach them how to eat on their own.
Down at our beach home, we keep a feeder outside of our door and the birds have come to count on it as a regular food source.  As I observed this mother and her baby sitting on the top of the pole, the momma would also try to get her baby to follow her to the feeder.  After a while, the baby decided that it was much easier for its mother to feed it directly and so, the momma gave in.
She did not fly away from her baby.  She did not push her off of the pole for some hungry predator to consume.  She did not even seem to mind having to feed her growing baby.
She just instinctually, gently, and from my very human perspective, lovingly placed tiny morsels of food into the babies mouth.

When I looked at these pictures the other day, I had a completely different post in mind.  I was touched by the patient instinct of this mother bird.  I felt a sort of alliance with her.  This series of photos reminded me of what it is like to be a mother, of how at every stage of my children's development, I had the inherent desire to nurture, to nourish and to protect them from any harm that the world might try to perpetrate upon them.  This mother birds tenderness with her fledgling reminded me that I would always feel a sense of tenderness toward my own daughters.
After watching so much of the news coverage about Casey Anthony today, I was stunned, absolutely stunned by the idea that not only could a mother allow 31 days to pass without reporting the fact that her two year old daughter was missing, but also shocked and disgusted that there are 12 people down in Florida who could ignore this very basic, very non-disputable fact.  And although I do not usually use this blog to discuss my own sentiments about the conditions in this world, this one hit far too close to home for me to ignore.  You see, on the day that I had my first child 24 years ago, I became a parent first.  When I looked into the eyes of my newborn babies, we became connected for life.  For life.  No sooner could 31 seconds pass if one of my daughters went missing or was out of my sight than I would be frantic and absolutely panic-stricken with fear.  I would grab anyone who could help me by the collar and beg them to find my child, no questions asked, no tales spun.  I have heard enough about how we "all grieve differently".  I have heard enough about Casey's accusations of abuse.  I have heard enough about "fantasy forensics".  Have we truly thrown all common sense out with the evolution of so much me, me, me?

I am both disturbed and proud to admit that I can relate more strongly to a backyard Finch, than I can to a 25 year old mother, her defense team, and 12 jurors down in Florida.  My heart aches for a baby whom I never knew.  A baby whose grave was a watery swamp.  A baby whose body was picked away at by bugs and hungry animals.  A baby who knew too well, the juxtaposition of love and sheer hate.  A baby whose own mother spent 31 days dancing on her grave and now, gets to do so again.
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