The Bishop Who Blows Me Away


When I moved to North Carolina 21 years ago I had no idea of all the perks I would find in living here, least of all the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina. From the first time I ever met Michael Curry I was dumbstruck and have never once felt anything less over all these years. I heard him again today, albeit briefly at a noon service at Church of the Good Shepherd downtown and was as mesmerized as ever.

His interpretations of gospel and his sermons do have a common thread and that is “love.” I realize this is an overused, often exploited emotion and yet when Curry speaks of it, it is as if it is a completely new invention! I find myself following Curry’s “appearances” like a groupie especially during Lent. When he spoke as part of a special lunchtime Lenten series at my fancy, upright, downtown church, it was completely thrilling. He was funny, irreverent, intimate, and there were no holds barred when he made snide references to Fox News and right wing Republicans. He did it in jest but my friend and I relished in the possibility that he really meant every word. Basically, he was intimating that if one could love and accept all things and all people that might have to include Fox News! I suspect this met with some cringing from the pews, but I never looked around to notice as I was too riveted on Curry.

The thing that has always gotten me most about this guy, is passion. Rarely am I not moved to tears, unable to control them from pouring down my cheeks and it is often not related as much to WHAT he is saying, but HOW he is saying it. The absolute conviction, sheer passion and power that he speaks as he flounces around almost doing a dance to match his beat, are what get to me most. As my friend and priest said when introducing him, he could read the phone book and make us religious zealots of the phone book!

When he last preached he began and ended with reference to the “balm in Gilead.” He spoke it at the onset and sang it softly at the end. That moved me to tears in and of itself. This balm of healing and soothing with its universal cure has perhaps never been needed more than now. Curry speaks of love that we know through God as if it is the transcendent love and not the love of greeting cards and songs. He asked us “What is the opposite of love?” Of course this seemed like a most simple question with a most simple answer being, “hate.” Not so, he says. He believes that the opposite of love is selfishness, self-centeredness, feeling as if one is the center of the universe. This was a stunning statement to me and one I have pondered over for the last few weeks. It makes complete sense to me. And indeed, the opposite is true when one is generous and giving and caring at all costs, that is likely true love and akin to the love of God.

When I was leaving church this afternoon, I hugged Bishop Curry and I said to him, “I believe I am one of your groupies and I might in fact walk miles in my barefeet to hear you speak.” “Oh,” he laughed, “why thank you, thank you so much. Glad you have shoes on today. It’s chilly out there!” I walked to my car on a beautiful, sunny day, grateful for all I have, all there is to learn, and feeling the love and passion of God in my heart.

                            There is a balm in Gilead
To make the wounded whole;
There is a balm in Gilead
To heal the sin sick soul.



Dark Side of the Full Moon

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Oh dear. I went to the viewing of this film yesterday. My head spun. My perspective and my life were altered. My practice needs to change. It was mind blowing in so many ways.


The big message I heard was that our care of mothers, particularly in the post partum period, sucks. We do not ask the right questions. We do not pay attention to how a woman is actually feeling. We ignore the red flags. We shy away from suggesting help and when we do, it is often the wrong kind. Women experiencing post partum depression or post partum psychosis are in great danger and so are their newborns. We easily screen for gestational diabetes, blood pressure etc and yet this IS life threatening, pervasive and occurs commonly but we look the other way as is the case with most mental illnesses.


As a lactation consultant I have always been directed to refer a mom to her OB when she seems to be having post partum depression symptoms. I have come to find out that the OB then refers her to a psychiatrist who in turn refers her to her OB! So, no one is jumping on board to save this sinking ship. Most of the time none of us are referring her to anyone for help because we miss the signs and skip using a simple diagnosis tool called the Edinburgh Diagnostic scale. This is an approved list of ten questions that appraise a woman’s mood and intentions. I have used it actually and I have evaluated the results, which in each case except for one, told me that mom was okay. In the one case where she was in trouble, I referred her to the OB! God only knows what happened from there. I have referred moms to local therapists who typically do not accept insurance so this usually ends up not happening. It turns out that ACOG (American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) are behind in their education in this arena and worse, in their skills in identifying and treating. As for pediatricians who are really the ones likely to see the mom at the crux of her struggles, well, they are focused on THEIR patient, which is the baby, not the mama.


The testimonies in this documentary are heart breaking. The woman who wouldn’t do any research on the internet fearing her I.T. husband would follow her research on women who contemplated hurting their babies. The woman who was contemplating suicide and wanted to talk to someone but instead her OB/GYN burst into the exam room shouting, “Okay, let’s talk about birth control.” Great. She said nothing of her plans. The woman who could not stop visualizing stabbing herself with a knife and then doing the same to her baby, so her husband hid all the knives in the house. The woman who jumped out the window of an eight story building with her baby strapped to her back. The stories were endless and alarming. The frustration of those aware of their struggles and of those in fields trying to help them, was disarming. It is shocking and I sat watching stunned. I felt ignorant and negligent that of all the thousands of women I have worked with, I have not known enough to pay attention to this. It is likely that I could have been a first responder many times over and yet I didn’t get it, focusing only on breastfeeding and how to help make that work.

So, my take away was that I vowed to be more cognizant and to screen more frequently. I am committed to referring appropriately to the caregivers and support groups in my community which happens to be way better than most. My consciousness has been raised and I have been better educated as to just how invasive and dangerous post partum mood disorders are and moreover, to remind these fragile women that this is a short term condition in most cases and that they are “not crazy,” though they sure do feel that way.


But, even more poignant than this, is what really clobbered me over the head. From what I know about my mother’s early childhood years and her photos and history as a young woman born to Hungarian immigrants, there were clearly some mental issues. She married fairly late in life at 34 and gave birth to her first child (me) at 35. She had her second child at 41. Women with a history of mental illness are 50% more at risk for post partum depression than those who do not bring that diagnosis along with them. My memories of the time after my sister, Alice was born are horrific. I was not yet six years old and my mother’s PPD symptoms began shortly after the excitement of meeting my new and only baby sister. My mother cried and wailed day and night. She crawled on the floor begging for someone to help her. She was unable to listen to my sister cry. My father was gone and working three jobs to support us. At the ripe old age of six, I was left with the burden of caring for her and this has stayed with me for a lifetime.


My sister was shuttled off to safety with an aunt in Long Island at the strong recommendation of some doctor who did not feel that Alice was safe at home. My mother got worse (I wonder now if taking away her baby exacerbated the conditions) and was sent to a psychiatrist who gave her “shock treatments” week after week, obliterating her memory and rendering her dazed and lethargic. She was given “Miltowns,” potent and addicting tranquilizers also referred to as “mother’s little helper” in their day. I was left to care for my mother and to hold her as requested as well as slamming the dresser drawer shut when she threatened to “take all the pills and end it all.” My sister was kept away for the whole first year of her life and my mother bore tremendous resentment towards the aunt who cared for her along with her three other little ones. It was a nightmare of dark and huge proportions and I have resented m mother and blamed her for all these years for those times when I wished that “she would have gotten some help.” But in watching this film I had this epiphany when I realized that there was no help and in many ways, all these years later, there still isn’t. At one point in the film I found myself tearing up thinking that perhaps I never really got just how awful it must have been for my mother and I began considering forgiving her for the first time in my life. I mean it will be a long time, if ever that I can reconcile the verbal abuse and mental illness that raged on in my mother for the rest of my life, but understanding this piece will go a long way to my reassessment.


See this film. Consider the consequences of our avoidance of moms whose hormones have crashed and foreign, insidious demons have taken residence in their minds at a time in life when they are expected to be living in sheer bliss. It is eye opening and disturbing, but deservedly so.

Etchings in Stone – My Vietnam Guilt


The North Carolina Museum of History hosted a performance today about the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. It is after all the 50th anniversary of the war. I decided to go, not really having any idea what I was in for. Basically, the creator of this play, Ron Harris observed visitors to “the wall” over the years and noticed how each one seemed to be talking to the name on the wall that belonged to their friend, their comrade, their husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, and worst of all their sons and daughters.


The play is performed with an imaginary wall and one by one a visitor comes out, seeks out the name of their soldier and a recording of what they are thinking is played. Each member of the cast is an actual survivor or family member. It is rough. It is wrenching. It is deeply moving. After every few of these, attention is turned to video clips of what was going on in America and in Vietnam at the time. There lie startling reminders of the chaos we may have allowed to slip our minds.


Before the play began, I was choked up. The color guard marched in and asked that all rise to say the Pledge of Allegiance. I guess it has been awhile since I’ve recited that, because I was surprised to find myself so emotional about it. I think it always brings me back to days standing next to my father, the ever so proud veteran of World War II, who loved to say these words. It was rote for us growing up reciting this every single morning in school, but I can remember distinctly how important these words were to my dad. It came back to me and left me too choked up to say the words today.


So many surprising thoughts came to me. I came away feeling deeply ashamed. I have had these feelings nudging me for some time now, but I think I put them on the back burner. Here is what I am ashamed of. Why didn’t I learn more about that damned, unnecessary, profit-driven, shameless war? Why did I simply listen to my father, who likely simply listened to his father and remained “patriotic,” “determined to fight the ‘commies’,” and a fan of William F. Buckley’s and Young Americans for Freedom? How did I attend a most liberal minded college with a significant gay population (long before being gay was so acceptable) and feel apart from all the war protestors, as if I was really better than them all because I was so “right?” Why oh why oh why was on the Nixon Campaign bus singing “Nixon’s the One, Everybody, Nixon’s the One?” Are you kidding? Why did I allow a group of war protestors in my college to shove me against a wall one day when I insisted on “Supporting our Boys in Vietnam?” Why didn’t I say, “Yep, you are so right, hand me your flyers to distribute?” I should have gotten on my knees and begged them and Jane Fonda to forgive me for my sins. Why was I the only one at graduation who did not have a big fist painted onto the back of my gown? What the hell was I thinking and did I f’in realize that 58,000+ of my generation were dead when all was said and done? Was that okay with me in the name of patriotism?


Instead I was singing Beatles and Rolling Stones tunes, shopping, designing fashions and holding fashion shows, decorating my apartment, buying a car, dancing in discos, and dating like mad. I was disconnected and yet not my generation who were dying in the streets of Kent State University protesting the war. Seeing the clips shown also reminded me of the chaos that was around us as we were in our college years with presidents and peace leaders being shot, massacres in the streets hatred, violence, and active rebellion, There was SO MUCH GOING ON and yet, I just assumed that following my beloved dad was the only thing I needed to do and trusted that this would be the right path simply because it was his. I am deeply sorry and am grateful that somewhere along the way I had the fortitude to take a look and reassess my beliefs and my understanding that there is simply no good war; never has been and never will be.


The biggest question I was left wondering was indeed, why we blamed those who fought in Vietnam for the war. They simply went to do the hideous job they were ordered to do. There was a draft and many I knew were drafted so off they went. Most did NOT want to go and were willing to defect to Canada or the like giving up their friends and families and good reputations just to avoid serving at all costs. Soldiers came home to civilians spitting in their faces, calling them names, and worse, being unable to receive services, find homes, or jobs. Many became homeless, addicted and suffered for the remaining years of their lives from the horrors, the memories and the trauma. It wasn’t their fault that this war happened, yet they seemed to bare the blame.


Finally, the play terrified me and some of my tears were tears of fear. I have twin sons who at 16 are very interested in the military. They have been active members of Civil Air Patrol for four years now and attend almost all functions, weekends away, flight trainings, search and rescue missions, etc. The first time I saw them in their BDU’s and then their dress blues, it was shocking to me. And yet, they look handsome and healthy and their hair is always kept short and shaved. They say “Yes sir” and have a strong, earnest handshake of which my dad would be ever so proud. I too, am actually proud of what they do, especially when they go out and help folks stuck in snow storms, and the like. But, quite honestly, I am so frightened that I can barely think about the possibility of them being sent somewhere to carry arms and fight. And while I know this appeals to them, my nightmare was revealed to me on that stage today every time a mother came up to “the wall” and said, “Hello son, I miss you so much. That day when they came to deliver the news was the worst day of my life. I wonder who you would be, what family you would have. I love you so much.” Please God, never let me be that mother.

How Did I Get that Save?



The rehearsals for the upcoming “Listen to Your Mother” readings are mandatory. I am one of the readers. The second one would be held on Sunday, March 15 and I would be making my way home to Raleigh from a lactation conference in Philadelphia. I attend this conference at this same time yearly and getting in and our of Philly is never reliable usually due to weather obstacles. Besides, I was catching the last flight of the day which was due to arrive in RDU at 8:30 pm. The rehearsal time to be held about 20 minutes from the airport was scheduled for 7:30 pm. I could not find another flight that would arrive earlier for less than $1000 and a six hour trip as opposed to under 90 minutes. And, technically my conference which fills every nook and cranny of my mind with new information would not end until 5 pm. What a dilemma, which I wrestled with for weeks before the conference. There was no way to solve this one and the directors of the show were most gracious and accommodating, allowing me the option of simply arriving late to do my reading.


I got to the airport early in an anxious effort to keep everything in my control, which of course I had none of! For once it wasn’t snowing and even though the plane was arriving late from NYC, it was only delayed a few minutes. They changed the gate just to add to my angst, but even that was minor. We boarded and I was seated in seat 15B next to my friend and colleague, Leslie. This would never work. I knew that as soon as the plane landed I would want to race off and get to my husband’s waiting car to get to the rehearsal as fast as possible. I asked the flight attendant if she would mind asking the passengers if there was any kind and generous person up front who would consider switching seats with me and amazingly, this sweet young girl stood up in Seat Two and offered to trade. I wanted to kiss her! I was now well poised for a rapid exit.


Once airborne, I began rehearsing my piece reading it over and over in my head. The flight attendant began serving beverages and got as far as the second row in back, when she announced that serving would cease and asked if there was a doctor on the plane. I felt panicked along with everyone else. The attendant ran up front and grabbed the oxygen tank. I was craning my neck all the way back to see what was happening. Was someone having a heart attack? A stroke? What? A tall man stood up and walked forward to the scene. It was in row 15 and it was a small child in his mother’s arms. The tall man was a doctor and even from as far away as I was, I could sense that he was calm and reassuring. I felt sick and terrified and when the attendant announced that we would be landing in 20 minutes instead of the 50 or so scheduled, I really did not know what to think. “Where are we going?” I asked her. “To Raleigh” she replied, “but we are going very, very quickly.” I had no idea such an option existed, but apparently it does when there is an emergency landing needed.


The landing was so fast and so impactful that I felt like I would catapult into the cockpit. Awaiting our arrival were ambulances and fire engines, teams of medical personnel along with lights and sirens. And then, I saw what I dreaded. A haggard mother carried her limp two year old, awake but blue lipped down the aisle and into the awaiting help. This was not about me. It was not one bit about me and as I prayed hard for that sweet boy who had experienced seizures in flight due to a fever I thought many things. I remembered going through this with my first child when he was 18 months old and recalled the terror I felt riding with him and my priest in an ambulance. I remembered the worst of all, which was when I saw the blue lips of my fourth child after he was retrieved from a swimming pool.


Then, this moment of grace overcame me. I was moved from that seat which would have been directly next to this event, because frankly, I would not have been a good candidate for helping, staying calm or simply bearing witness. Again, though this is not about me, the part that is about me, is that there are certain stretches that are still too big for me to make and this would have been one of them. So, I thanked the angels or God, or my higher power or masters of the universe or whomever you might be accustomed to thanking for a save. I sent all my most positive energies and hopes for this baby who seemed to indeed be coming around, but I could not have participated in any way.


I met the “tall man/doctor and shook his hand and thanked him for his presence. When I asked what kind of doctor he was, he shrugged and said, “I am a fertility specialist, but oh well!” We had to wait till all medical and emergency vehicles departed before we deplaned. And I was really no earlier to the rehearsal than I might have been if all went according to schedule. No doubt, I arrived shaky and tearful, but I did arrive, I did read, and I did feel ever so grateful to the sweet girl in seat number two.

How Did I Find that Dress?

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Buying a dress is not the most important event in the world. To someone like me whose priorities revolve around vital stuff like my sons and my husband, breastfeeding mothers and babies, healthy eating, avoiding toxins in the home and elsewhere, along with maintaining meaningful friendships and spiritual connections, it is a frivolous event. I have been told that I run deep, take things too seriously and am intense. So, dress shopping feels like fluff that is more suited to others. But, and here’s the big but – I still love and adore fashion and try with all my heart to “still look good” or at least “look okay” at my “advancing age.” I am self conscious and insecure which is yet another burden.


A friend of mine who I’ve known since kindergarten invited us to her daughter’s wedding on Valentine’s Day weekend in Florida. Two other old classmates would also be attending. I looked forward to this event and since North Carolina has had one of its coldest and snowiest winters in the 21 years since I’ve lived here, it was especially appealing. Shep convinced me we should drive rather than fly so we could relish the wind and warm air in his cherished BMW convertible. I was in.


What is it about old friends gathering that makes us fret so much over what to wear? Short hair/long hair, fair hair/dark hair/grey hair, flat shoes you can walk in or high heel torture shoes, which jewelry, what makeup etc? I can’t decide if this worsens as we age, but I suspect it does. And yet, I can remember keenly, the high school angst of a similar perspective. As I participate in what feels like “the competition,” I question my motives. Is it “I hope they think I look young or thin or just not fat?” or is it “I don’t want them to think I have not taken care of myself?” or “I want them to notice how up to date I am in my style and my fashion choices?” I have had no cosmetic surgeries, recently let my hair color go to its natural grey that was fighting to victory and always need to lose another 10 pounds or so. I try to stay fashion current but know that I am limited in my choices by age and budget appropriateness. When I check on my motives and question my intentions and honesty, I am just not sure if I am in a good place. But, one thing I am sure about is that the feelings are real and nagging.


Looking for “Florida” apparel in January is a little challenging even though I live in the south. I had this thought that I did not want to wear NYC black since that is always my go-to. I once met a couple that tickled me with a story about this. She was large and tall and very southern from the depths of Georgia. He was short and squat and very Italian from Staten Island, NY. Through the wonders of they met and married. When he first took her to NYC to meet his family she immediately noticed that everyone was wearing black. “George,” she said, “are all these people going to the same funeral?”


So, I got it in my head that I wanted something “peach” colored as that seemed Florida-ish. And, I assumed I would need two dresses – one for the dinner before the wedding and one for the outdoor/country club actual wedding. After multiple trips to all the local Raleigh stores, I spotted the dress from across the floor in Marshall’s. It was silk and it was a peach and almond print. It was love at first sight and when I tried it on, it felt great. As is typical of stores like Marshall’s there were three dresses, one each of size 6, 12, and 14. My painful “frozen shoulder” makes trying on dresses difficult. I held the size 12 up, took it home and put it on. It felt big and loose. I have lost weight but still see myself as big and floppy with breasts and belly that belong in a large size. That twin pregnancy and birth, late in my life wrecked my body in for eternity. But, the bigness of this dress really bothered me. I began the search, going from one Marshalls’s to the other in quest of the size 10 or even a size 8. I thought it would be easy. Nada. I started calling one North Carolina Marshalls’ after another. Half the time, no one knew what I was looking for in spite of me having the SKU, manufacturer’s name, etc. I became more and more determined but made less and less progress. And, I was becoming obsessed with finding this dress!


It was time to begin our journey to Florida. I packed the oversized dress and continued my search. Smart phones make stupid obsessions possible to sustain. As we drove south, I called from one state to another thinking we could just stop along the way if I found a store that had THE dress. No one had this dress in the size I needed and it was becoming more hopeless. This is one of the oddest and somewhat concerning parts of me. My drive is relentless and I am convinced I can find something or make things work no matter what it takes. Choosing schools for my kids is a prime example. If there was a great school in an area we lived in, then by gosh my kid was going to attend that school. It might have been way out of our reach financially or in every other way, but I would push and research and beg and steal to get my kid into that particular school. I garnered financial aid when there was none and found a way every single time so that each one got to attend some darned good schools. I have been the same way with housing, food, furniture, churches, activities and everything important to my family, but who knew I could also be this way about a silly dress?


By the time we got to Florida, I was out of ideas. I had called most of the stores that ran along I-95 and had no luck. This creepy feeling was running up my spine suggesting that I might be acting like someone I knew but did not want to emulate. My mother was relentless to a point of insanity, and that was before the internet! I had a dress to wear for the wedding and would conjure up something from my suitcase that would work for any other dinner together. We were getting close to our destination and I wanted to read my book rather than keep calling Marshall’s stores. Suddenly, I noticed this big shopping center as we drove through Daytona Beach with a huge TJ Maxx sign. For some unknown reason I got the brilliant idea that often TJ Maxx carries the same merchandise at Marshalls and so I asked Shep to make a U-turn and stop at this center. Of course he thought I was crazy at this point and nearly refused. “C’mon” I said, “we need a break anyway.” I never did go into the TJ Maxx because across from it was a big Marshall’s. I knew my dress was in there. I just knew it. I went in and headed to the back of the store where I was disappointed to find only one puny rack of dresses. My hopes were shrinking until the moment when I spotted that pattern of peach and almond. THERE IT WAS! Like a scene from a movie in slo-mo I nearly knocked the woman next to me over and reached out for it across the rack. Drat—it was a size 12!! I turned to leave but there having fallen on the floor was another and it was a size 10!!! I grabbed it as if I had found the Holy Grail and held onto it tight. I began texting Shep who was still in the car, “I found it, I found it!” but he had his phone turned off which is so often the case. I needed to share the thrill so I started telling the women around me who of course could not have cared less.


I was so excited that after I waited on the long line and paid for the dress, I actually ran out leaving my straw hat and my jacket behind! Much to Shep’s chagrin, we had to turn back after 15 minutes into our resumed trip to retrieve those as well. But, nothing really mattered then since I had the satisfaction of knowing I’d found the dress and proved to myself once again that determination and force can win.


I bet you’re waiting to find out how it looked, if anyone liked it, how I felt in it with my new almond colored sandals and my matching peach and gold earrings. I’m afraid I have nothing to report. The restaurant for dinner was a very casual, jeans sort of affair and it was a chilly night. The wedding was the next day and I had my more formal dress for that. So, the peach and almond dress hangs in my closet waiting for an event which I am sure will come, but in fact, it never got worn!!

Babies and Bob Marley

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Yesterday, I worked with a baby and mama as I do everyday. I am a lactation consultant in private practice so this is what I do. All babies grab my heart in one way or another and I am always in awe of their perfection and beauty. On most days I am convinced that even if I’d never believed in God, it would be impossible not to drop to one’s knees and say, “Oh, I get it… Yep, this had to be a God creation.” I mean look at those ears. Newborn ears are a complete work of art – a sculpture worthy of

a featured spot in the Louvre. So, is every bit of the rest of them.


Some babies grab me more than others. This particular baby was breathtaking. She had this luminescent pale skin, jet black hair and slate blue eyes that looked as if they might well stay just that way. Most babies fuss and fret when placed on the scale, but not this one. She stared right into my eyes, holding her own while remaining calm and patient with the process. I have often thought that biracial or “mixed race” babies are by far the most beautiful. They are a gourmet palette of a bit of this and a bit of that, resulting in the most well balanced blend. This baby was no exception.


Her mother was of course, madly in love with her and determined to get breastfeeding just right so that they could both continue to enjoy and benefit. While I offered her support and guidance we began to speak about her dreams for this first child of hers. We decided that by the time she was grown, the political glass ceiling would have been long since broken and that perhaps this child’s patience and insight (that were already visible) would lead her to presidency! It was a completely lovely and fun couple of hours we spent together.


Later that same day, I met a mom and dad who were in the deepest despair. Their 18 year old son had died four months ago due to an “accidental encounter with a drug prank.” Though I could not be clear on just what that meant, I didn’t really need to, in order to understand their wrenching grief. But it got so much worse when they explained that their 20 year old son was wandering around somewhere, living on the streets, and shooting heroin, bound for disaster. Their panic to keep this son alive was palpable and yet, I knew the reality of the complete lack of control they would have for whatever the outcome might be. It was a horrific story and the only thing to do was to bear witness in silence because there were truly no words. The best I could do was to hold this mom’s hands, look into her eyes and listen.


When I finally got home an odd and random ad for a Bob Marley shirt popped up on my computer screen. What I wondered about was this. At what point, on what day, at what age do our children end their worship for their mother, their God, the very magic of their blessed lives and head instead to worship at the altar of Bob Marley (the father of an undetermined number of children) and the parade of addicted celebrities and friends who have followed in his wake. At what point does ill health and addiction shine brighter than happiness and love? How do we as parents bear watching this journey into darkness while owning our complete powerlessness despite wanting to believe that we can save them or just keep them alive. They die because they can and we can only fall to our knees and beg that they don’t succumb. When does a divine being that comes into this world in all perfection and purity yield to the temptation of altered or being curious enough to see what it feels like?

Thank God I get to see them each at that very beginning.