Go Easy…


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Sometimes thinking about the past is appropriate, especially when you get news about someone that meant something to you, even if you haven’t spent much time with them in recent years.

Families are such slippery things–they are fragile and sometimes easily shattered. They also are defined by many different things, not just by blood. And often the ones that aren’t put together by blood can mean more. We define them ourselves.

When the some things that created them, like a marriage, dissolve, then they seem to disappear too–at least in the physical sense. But we may realize, especially at critical moments, they still linger within deeper parts of us; that these people who were once family are still dear.

So when I heard my ex-father-in-law is now in hospice, I found myself extremely sad. He was someone who had been very good to me while I was married. It’s been easy to recall so many memories of the kind things about him: his easy acceptance of our decision to adopt a HIV positive child, and his special love for her. And his overly enthusiastic attitude (and long conversations and questions) about my career as an EMT/Paramedic, something I didn’t always feel at home from his son. He loved the stuff!

I picture him as the typical unassuming New England man, quiet but always willing to help; that crooked smile, bald head and slight limp. He was my go to guy, always aware of what was happening with the weather, and loving to talk about it.

Maybe he’s not officially ‘family’ anymore, but in my heart he will always hold a very special place as he made me feel welcome and a part. I felt like family because of him.

Thank you, and may the rest of your days be easy…

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Small Town


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Sometimes I wonder how pathetic I am.

Today there was a post on my Instagram account (if anyone wants it, please just let me know) from one of my friends who is hiking the Appalachian Trail. Very cool. The AT goes very near where I grew up in Connecticut. A lovely little town in the NW region…a very little town.

It got me reminiscing. I honestly have way too much time on my hands these days, because when I get in one of these moods, I can really get on the track of things. First I went on Google. That came up with some pretty typical stuff: the town page and all. I wasn’t too surprised to find that one of my Ex’s was listed as a prominent figure on the list of ‘important’ figures in the town. The town sexton actually. I had to look that one up: a sexton. In this case, they may be referring to taking care of the town?

I had contacted him a number of years ago as part of a healing process. We were married very many years ago (and divorced). He was very glad to hear from me (thank goodness), which isn’t totally surprising as he was really a very nice man. He still lives in this beautiful town in the family home. Cool.

After the Google search, I decided to dive further and went to YouTube. This was where I hit gold. There was a video of the town, apparently one of many (all the others to be found in the town library), that actually was a bit of a historical and present day visit to it. The best part was that it had actual footage of my Ex!! There he was making maple syrup, just like his Dad did many, many years ago.

It kind of hit me (this is where it gets pathetic I suppose), how life goes. I remember going out on freezing nights and checking the temperature of the sap to make sure it didn’t burn. And I think to now: what an amazing gift to still be participating. It’s just the kind of life I envision–we had envisioned long ago. What happened?

I look back on so much of my life and wonder about it. How a part of me must have known that some of the people I picked were right, but then I couldn’t see far enough to stick with it. What was it in me that didn’t have the ability to stay?

And now I’m simply so jumbled about it all to even want to step into it all again. It all felt so much simpler when I was young. Looking at someone and thinking you could be with them. But when I was actually there–I always seemed to see something else.

Now I don’t know what I see these days.

It’s so easy to get lost in these fields of that little town; in the hope and the green and sounds of the stream. Is it all just something from long ago? Or will I someday walk again in a place and feel something is right?

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Poem Art: Elusive


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I had a conversation today with a person who played a prominent role in my past. He said something that triggered a visceral, and for me, odd reaction. It was odd, because it surprised me, that I could feel such a ‘gut’ feeling (like I had been punched in the gut) to a very simple thing this person said in a perfectly normal conversation. It wasn’t like we had delved into the past or were reminiscing… and yet, the comment, in a sense, was about the past, because it referenced a place we had shared together.

This moment touched off many thoughts in me. Like what constitutes relationships and ‘falling in love’ with someone? And is love even the right way to approach a relationship? Should it be more about wanting or needing something–for yourself; in others?

Certainly at my age, love seems a far cry from where I am these days. My relationships with people close to me seem to be based on things much more involved than love. Things that seem even more important and lasting than love if that makes any sense. The things that keep people together–the glue.

Those of you that have lasting relationships of any kind know what I mean here, so I won’t explain what I am talking about. Love can be fleeting and fickle and hard to get a grasp on. But we can still build strong, solid and meaningful bonds even after the love may turn into something strange or convoluted. Or maybe if the ‘love’ was strange from the start.

So can I re-evaluate life and how to live it more openly? To be open to a different way to to be with someone if love isn’t the defining point? It’s another perspective really, but not unfamiliar. It’s a theme that has repeated in my life.

What is the ‘want’ then…or the ‘need’? These become the hard questions to ask. Because simply hoping to exchange love with someone, I feel, is not where I should place my hope.

It seems it should be in far more reliable, tangible and maybe simple things that will help to grow a connection with someone else; things that will ultimately not vanish, just in case the love remains elusive.

 

Doing Wrong


Sometimes we do something wrong to someone. Sometimes we know we do, sometimes we may not. How the other people handle this can be completely different.  And those differences have completely opposite outcomes for us.

I’ve been thinking about only two of those ways in which people deal when I have done something wrong–or even have ‘supposedly’ done something wrong. I say this because in one case, I don’t even know what I did.

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In that instance there have been a couple of times where I had very dear friends that just stop being my friend without any explanation. Even though I tried to find out why or what I may have done to illicit this behavior, I never could find out why. This, of course, is disturbing and hurtful. But eventually, something we must move on from.

The second is where someone doesn’t let you forget something that you’ve done wrong and continually reminds you. While they still are your friend, family or whatever–it can come up in conversation when you least expect it. They haven’t let go, completely forgiven or whatever, even if you may have apologized. This, while is slightly better because you are still communicating, can be difficult. It’s a constant reminder and keeps you both stuck in the past.

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I guess in the first case, a simple explanation would help. Everyone has the choice to move on from a friendship. But, to me at least, it seems kind to tell the person why, especially if you had something invested in your relationship. And the second case, once you have discussed the wrong doing, we must try to put it behind the best we can and not let it keep staining the present moments.

Of course there are many more times where wrong doings are completely forgiven and we go on even better because of them. They enrich our relationships because of giving us insights to each other and all our facets. When we can love all of someone, even the not so perfect, then that is really an honest kind of love.

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Only Silence


Once upon a time, many, many years ago–a little girl made a make-a-wish to go to Disney. It seemed like a pretty boring wish for her Mama, but she had her heart set on it (even though Mom tried to talk her into a more interesting wish), so the whole family was escorted to the ‘magical’ (plastic) world of Disneyland.

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It was an odd trip for me (yes I was the Mama) and my other two daughters, going on a trip planned around a kid who wasn’t considered healthy. While my HIV positive daughter reveled in the attention, the rest of us noticed the “Alice In Wonderland” qualities of everything encountered. Sort of like a bad drug trip….

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But she wouldn’t hear of doing anything different. It was Mickey or nothing! So there I was: trapped in the surreal world of Americana, with no vegetarian food in sight and our nights spent in a ‘special’ place designed for all the make-a-wish kids. It was like being in the ward of pediatric hospital gone carnival. Spooky to say the least. My oldest daughter hated it. Well, so did I…

Today, that daughter is alive and well and 25 years old. Her disease is under control. HIV is more like diabetes now a days really. It’s quite amazing. No real cure, but manageable.

Unfortunately, she still refuses to listen to me–like most kids of course, but for her, this can be a slippery slope. She’s pregnant and it’s not a great situation. Her life is no Disneyland. She did not find Prince Charming and she lives more like Cinderella still. It’s a very sad, and often scary situation.

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She called today to say she had a car accident. Her fault, rear ending the person in front because of something careless on her part. I’ve been trying to coach her about straightening her life out to get ready for this new addition. But I’m more like the Cruella Deville than Mom…I get nowhere. So now she has no car along with the rest of her sad life.

Some things never change really….They do what they want when they are 5 or 25 but the choices they make at 25 can be much more damaging. Because now they are making choices for someone else.What if that baby was already in the car? Or what if she hit a child instead of another car? I get no replies when I ask these questions….

Only silence…..

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Zoe The Only Child: The Thanksgiving Box


As Zoe lay groggy in bed, she thought about yesterday. It was vacation time from school because it was almost Thanksgiving, so Ma had taken her into the big town to get prepared. This year it was their turn to have the family dinner and everyone would be there–all of Zoe’s very favorite relatives!

Auntie Frieda was Ma’s oldest sister and was Zoe’s secret most wonderful Aunt. She brought special treats for Zoe because she knew that sometimes Zoe was sad that she had no brothers and sisters.  There were others too and everyone would laugh, sing, and eat lots of food! Zoe thought there was almost too much food and she never liked that it was sometimes wasted. She had heard in school that there were many people in the world and in our own country that were hungry.

But this year, as Zoe looked out her bedroom window and saw the pretty leaves that were still left on the trees, she wasn’t as happy as last year. Zoe was thinking about what she saw in town yesterday with Ma and she couldn’t stop seeing it in her head.

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It wasn’t often they went into town! It was kind of far away, and Ma said it was crowded and everything was so expensive. “But this time of year is special sweetheart,” she said with a smile, “and maybe we can start our Christmas shopping too.” It was extra special for Zoe to be shopping and spending time with her Mom, so she grabbed her little purse and they had hopped in their old car.

The countryside was so beautiful as they had driven along and Ma played the radio loudly. Sometimes her Mom would sing–Zoe thought her Ma had a really nice voice, but Ma only laughed and said, “You silly doodle, I sing like a goat!”

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Even though Zoe’s tummy was beginning to grumble for breakfast, she still wanted to lie in bed thinking about yesterday’s trip. She liked to daydream and many grownups told Zoe that she seemed older than her real age.

When Ma and Zoe finally had gotten to town it was buzzing with people. It was a much busier place than her small village! There were so many shops, restaurants and lots and lots of PEOPLE! It was almost a little scary to Zoe. But Ma was right with her and held her hand, so off they went.

After they had walked a while down a big street with lots of cars, Zoe had begun to notice something strange. There were very large boxes on the street and in those boxes were blankets. And on those blankets were people.  Zoe had become confused and could not understand why people would be in boxes on the street.

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“Ma,” Zoe turned and pulled on her coat, “why are there people in boxes? It’s cold outside–won’t they get cold? Why aren’t they inside?” “Oh Zoe dear,” her Mother had said sadly, “those people don’t have a place to go inside. They are homeless. They live in those boxes on the street.”

Zoe stopped walking right there when Ma had told her about these people! They lived in boxes? How could that be? This didn’t see fair, wouldn’t they get sick? “But how do they stay warm at night,” cried Zoe getting very upset. “Sometimes they make fires to stay warm and cook their food,” she had said, and Zoe could tell that her Mother was very sad too.

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Wearily, Zoe remembered all this while she lay in bed. “I know I live in a little house and we don’t have much, but I don’t have to live in a box. I guess I am very lucky,” mumbled Zoe out loud. (She often talked to herself).

Finally she got up and Zoe stumbled through the day trying to help Ma get ready, but kept trying to think about what she could do to help the box people. Wanting to help and to see what it was like not having a home or enough to eat, she began to think of an idea.

That night, after Ma was sound asleep, she tip-toed into the shed. Her Ma would never wake up because she was always very tired from working so hard. Zoe remembered that there was a big, huge box left in there from when the man came to bring the new refrigerator! Zoe decided to drag it in the house and sleep in it.

“I want to see what it’s like for those people I saw in the street,” she thought. Zoe knew she could not do it outside or her Mother would be very worried and upset, but at least Zoe would feel how small the space was–how dark and lonely.

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Zoe pulled it in the living room and tugged in some blankets from the couch. She made a little nest inside the box and crawled in. Inside the box, Zoe felt cramped and whispered, “it’s so dark in here. It’s a little creepy and I’m glad the box is in my house.” She thought about all the people living in real boxes outside that very night and drifted off to sleep having bad dreams about people asking her for food.

In the morning Zoe’s Mom came into the living room and saw a big box in the middle of the floor. “Good gracious,” walking slowly toward the box, “what have we here?” With her foot she kicked the side of it. Of course Zoe’s Ma had seen Zoe’s little toes sticking out the end of the box, so guessed who might have been inside.

The tap woke Zoe and she jumped hitting her head on the inside of her box-home. “Ouch,” she snapped, “where am I? Oh wait, I’m in my box, that’s right, I forgot,” said Zoe as she started to wake up.

“Good morning Sweetpea,” Ma said, “what are you up to with this box?” As Zoe crawled out she explained to Ma about wanting to see what it was like to live in a box. Zoe told her it was spooky and dark last night and way too small. “And I wasn’t even outside!” Zoe said understanding how hard it must be for the people in the streets.

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Zoe had learned some things from sleeping in the box, but it wasn’t enough.  She wanted to do more. In her dreams, the people in boxes had been asking for food. She wondered if maybe she could help by giving food too? Now she really had to think hard about what to do next.

In school kids had whispered about a boy named Joey. They said he dressed funny, was too skinny and didn’t like to play with the other kids. Some of the kids said his family was poor  and they didn’t like him because he lived in a trailer. Zoe never thought Joey was any different. She had always tried to play with Joey on the playground, but he always seemed sad and shy. Zoe thought that maybe she shouldn’t bother him because maybe he didn’t want to play with other kids. She wasn’t really sure before, but now she was wondering about Joey.

Zoe was wondering if maybe Joey didn’t have enough food all the time, or maybe he didn’t get to go to town like she did and buy things with his Ma. Maybe being poor meant that your were sad and afraid to be near other kids. Zoe had heard they came here from another country and were all alone, just like she was in the box last night. Alone and scared.

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Suddenly, she had an idea! Maybe she could invite Joey and his family for Thanksgiving! There was always plenty of food–and isn’t that what the Native Americans did way back in history? Aren’t we suppose to share and be grateful for what we have? “I will ask Ma right now,” shouted Zoe as she ran to her Ma skidding into the kitchen.

Zoe told her Mom the great idea she had about inviting Joey’s family. And, because Zoe had the best Ma in the world, she said yes! So now Zoe just had to find his house and invite them.

She knew that he lived at the end of the village and it wasn’t a very long walk. Ma said she would go too just in case Zoe got lost, so off they went hand in hand, hoping to find the right trailer!

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Once they arrived to the street where Joey lived, it was luck that Joey was outside feeding their chickens! Zoe loved all the chickens in the yard and was happy to see her classmate.  “Hey Joey,” Zoe called! “Oh hi Zoe,” Joey said in his shy voice, “what are you doing here?” “My Ma and I know you are new in town and have no family around here and wanted to invite you, your Mom and Dad for Thanksgiving dinner at our house,” Zoe said with a huge grin on her face!

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Just then a door slammed and out came a pretty woman. “Joey, who are these people,” said a woman with long dark hair? “Mama, this is Zoe from school and her Mother. They want us to come for Thanksgiving dinner! Can we Mama, please? Zoe is my friend!”  The woman looked startled and a timid smile came over her face, “Let me ask Papa first, but that is a very nice thing to ask.”

The woman went back inside and in a moment, Joey’s Papa came out too–he was tall and slim with big muscles. “Hello, I am Joseph and this is my wife Carla. We would be so happy to go to Thanksgiving with you. You see I lost my job and it is very hard now. It is like a gift you ask us. This is what makes America great,” Joseph grinned widely!

Ma gave Carla all the important details of the gathering and they waved goodbye. With everthing settled, Ma and Zoe left and walked home. Zoe felt very good. She knew she wasn’t helping all the people in boxes, but she was helping one family. And now she knew that Joey was her friend!

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Thanksgiving day arrived bright and beautiful. All the guests started pouring in the house and it smelled so good. There was lots of food, almost too much! Zoe did not eat meat, but other people did, so there was all sort of stuff to eat. There was turkey, stuffing, vegetables and LOTS of desserts. Zoe hoped this year nothing would be thrown away. Maybe she and Ma could even give the leftovers to Joey and his family!

Zoe was especially thankful this year. She knew that she was a very lucky little girl. She had a home, even though it might be small, it was not a box on a street. Ma made sure she always had enough to eat and she never had to worry that she would be hungry. Zoe had family that loved her like Auntie Frieda. And this year, she had a special gift: she had her new friend Joey. Plus Zoe had learned how good it felt to be nice to other people, and Zoe thought this was the most wonderful part of Thanksgiving she had ever felt!

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The Open Gate


My father has been visiting me quite often lately. This is quite an interesting phenomenon given he has been dead a very long time. In dreams he has come visiting, though foggy memories as I awake, it’s clearly him–warm and wise. This is unusual as I rarely had dreamed of him before my move.

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A door seemed to have been opened, a gate to my subconscious thus allowing an ancestor to cross over into my realm. What smoothed the way for this meeting and caused the crack that let slip the apparition to appear?
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When an aperture is created, whether actual or unintentional, it gives the opportunity for its opening to allow entrance. If the gate is purposely opened and we welcome whatever is on the other side, then we are prepared for our guests.
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But often this may not be the case. A hole can happen suddenly in our lives, unexpectedly due to an unforseen accident or illness. This creates a gap that opens the floodgates of fear, anxiety and depression. Then the uninvited visitors may march into our deepest self and take residence without our permission.

Sometimes a planned change in our lives, like my own move or a divorce, can surprisingly pry open parts you might not think. My sweet, new relationship with my Mother is now tender and loving. It catches me at moments where I find myself overwhelmed by it. This passing through has put me on the other side where I have always longed to be.

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These wells, doorways, keyholes can be tangible or deep within our souls. Maybe we dig them with shovels and spades or instead they can be created by a diagnosis or footsteps walking away from us. Either way, we can ultimately decide to walk through–welcome the ancestors, walk over the threshold and see the gate as something to open, not slam shut.

So look for your openings, guarded gates,  daring doorways and hold in wonder what may be on the other side. For maybe they were flung wide beckoning you to enter the life you have yet to discover!

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Home Trapped


Like many, many other Americans I bought the dream about nine years ago and thought that buying a home would build me equity and bring me into a secure financial future. This was the way of our Mothers and Fathers and those before us for generations, right? But we signed onto something that turned out to be a bust. The recession hit and our dreams crashed.
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Many folks lost their jobs and in turn lost their homes. I have been more fortunate. My situation is different, but for me at times, does not feel any easier.
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I’ve been watching the Netflix mini series “Orange Is the New Black”. I’m not usually a “TV” watcher, but in my current situation of being bored and waiting for the new chapter of my life to start…I’ve gotten hooked. It’s made me contemplate prison. Of course I don’t know how much of it is true, but it’s made me look at my own situation of feeling imprisoned and what constitutes feeling trapped.
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One can say there’s no comparison, but everything can be relative. I’m not here to say that I’m as bad off as anyone in prison, because I know I am not. Only to say that at times each of may live with our own personal prisons.

If the feeling of captivity can mean being held against your will, then it can come to define many things. For me feeling helpless about being able to leave my current situation without taking huge financial hits in the future, or ruining my credit, or getting renters that my not be able to take care of the house often make me feel trapped in a situation that I can’t control.

Someone else may feel held captive by a body that doesn’t function the way they would wish, or a mind that faces demons. Or maybe you are imprisoned within a marriage that is violent and frightening. Drugs may grip a person and hold them in a cage of abuse.

We all at times face some sort of prison if we are normal humans–whether they are forced on us, or we do them to ourselves. Our friends and family may chirp at us to be optimistic and think positively, but when faced with the bars of our captivity looking out at freedom, it’s not always possible…try as me might.

There was an old saying that went something like: if you love something, set it free. We can’t always do this for ourselves. We can read every self-help book, meditate, go to church, talk to our friends…and yet we still find ourselves sitting in the cell trapped in the place we don’t want to be. The situation in which we are faced may be permanent, or may have a solution.  But the fact remains that for some of us, we simply know that the darkness exists.
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On Tuesday I have another showing. It’s a cash buyer. Maybe this will be the one that will release me from my captivity and set me free.

I can only hope.

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Storm Of Your Decisions


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Through this transitional phase of my life and a change in a friendship, I have been thinking about what we owe our children. When we make a conscious decision (or even if we don’t) to bring these other human beings into this world (or adopt them), so starts a chain of responsibility on our parts–or so it should.

But where do the boundaries start and where do they end? When do ‘our’ lives take precedent over theirs and when (if ever) can we ‘be selfish’ and do things that maybe in the long run could hurt them emotionally?

These are questions I’ve had to ask myself many times over the years as I made the choice for a divorce and then tried multiple times for a relationship to replace my failed marriage. I justified each and every man who passed through my home to myself saying that it was my time to be happy. Surely I considered my children as best I could, or so I thought, but in the end I’m not sure I did a very good job.

They certainly were hurt by my decisions (and told me eventually as older people) and I ended up not finding anyone anyway. I’ve even looked at the reason for my divorce and wondered about that and considered if that was the right thing for us all in the end anyway.

Each of my children suffered in their own way, and of course, maybe they would have had their own demons regardless. They are all OK now thank goodness. And we can never know how the paths would have been different had I truly put them first instead of my needs.

Where do we draw the line–at what age, at what need, at what emotional tugging? I had very little guidance when it came to these questions. Therapists aren’t my thing sorry to say, and most friends don’t really want to tell you what you need to hear. So you bumble along while the kids get lost in the storm of your decisions.

Looking back, I would do it differently, but we can’t take stuff back. Resentment still hangs in the air with one of my daughters, but we are slowly mending. It could have been much worse with her–we almost lost her altogether. And I would have certainly blamed myself partly for that if we did. But she healed and we are healing.

So when I see others and their children, I want to grab them and say: please, make some sacrifices in the short-term because it’ll be worth it for the long-term! What’s a few years of not getting everything you want in exchange for the trust and love from your kid? Because really, that’s truly the most beautiful gift any person/parent really can have, regardless of what you may think in the moment you are reaching for something else.