Friday, October 1, 2010

St. Milarepa

St. Milarepa
acrylic on paper

I heard about Tyler Clementi on the radio yesterday. As a mother, I felt utterly crushed. The shy, gifted young man took his own life after his college room mate outed him by secretly recording Tyler Clementi's romantic encounter with another man and streaming it live on the internet.

(From the Huffington Post)

The shocking suicide of a college student whose sex life was broadcast over the Web illustrates yet again the Internet's alarming potential as a means of tormenting others and raises questions whether young people in the age of Twitter and Facebook can even distinguish public from private.

(and from

Clementi's death was part of a string of suicides last month involving youngsters who were believed to have been victims of anti-gay bullying. Fifteen-year-old Billy Lucas hanged himself in a barn in Greensburg, Ind. Asher Brown, 13, shot himself in the head in Houston. And 13-year-old Seth Walsh of Tehachapi, Calif., hanged himself from a tree in his backyard.

I won't pretend to even know what was happening in the minds of Dharun Ravi and Molly Wei, the two students who have been charged with invasion of privacy. I can only say that deciding, somewhere in our consciousness, that another human being is not worthy of respectful treatment is just as hostile, just as hateful, just as damaging, as overt hate speech and physical violence. Excusing such disrespect as a "joke" or a "prank" is not acceptable. We all must be responsible for understanding our motivations. If our actions are not coming from a place of love, then where are they coming from? It is very, very dangerous not to understand the consequences of actions whose inception is in hate, disrespect and disregard. Ravi, Wei, their families, and the Clementi family will live with these consequences for the rest of their lives.

There are many spiritual teachings about the responsibility we bear for what resides in our hearts and how we allow it to direct our actions. My favorites are these:

"I have understood this body of mine to be the product of ignorance, composed of flesh and blood and lit up by the perceptive power of consciousness. To those fortunate ones who long for emancipation it may be the great vessel by which they may procure Freedom. But to the unfortunates who only sin, it may be the guide to lower and miserable states of existence. This our life is the boundary mark whence one may take an upward or downward path. Our present time is a most precious time, wherein each of us must decide, in one way or other, for lasting good or lasting ill." - St. Milarepa (emphasis mine)

"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." - Jesus Christ

and finally:

"People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered;
Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;
Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies;
Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you;
Be honest and frank anyway.

What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight;
Build anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous;
Be happy anyway.

The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow;
Do good anyway.

Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough;
Give the world the best you’ve got anyway.

You see, in the final analysis, It is between you and God;
It never was between you and them anyway."

- Author Unknown

I really wish Tyler Clementi had read this last part. If he had, he may have decided to live. As a mother, I want to say to any young gay person who is contemplating suicide: don't. You are loved, even if your family and community aren't accepting you, you are loved. There isn't a damn thing wrong with your being gay, except that a narrow minded, ignorant society is trying to make you suffer for it. Be strong, thrive, live your life, because the next generation is going to need you. The world needs you.


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Up-Cycled Cuteness!

Peaceful Earth Panda

As a person I'm very concerned about our environment. As an artist I love to make stuff. As a mom I enjoy surrounding my children with cuteness. The result of this equation is Baby D, a line of t-shirts featuring my original designs on up-cycled t-shirts and onesies.

Mama Bear

Why up-cycled? It's better for the environment! What good is a killer cute t-shirt if there is no world left to wear it in? The actual designs are printed in the United States on 100% cotton using an eco-friendly process and water based inks. Each shirt is lovingly selected from the thrift store. After being washed the design is ironed on to the front and the edges are machine sewn by me.

Bunny Luv

There are eight designs to choose from in sizes from infant to adult and more on the way, and upcycled Baby D tote bags are in the works!

Long Live Planet Earth!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Truth Is Out There

St. Dominic De Guzman- The Truth is Out There
gouache on paper 4.5" x 5"

In her book "The Verbally Abusive Relationship" author Patricia Evans writes that abusive personal relationships are a microcosm of abusive societal relationships, drawing parallels between the control an oppressive regime struggles to exert over it's citizens and the control an oppressive partner struggles to exert over their significant other. She points out that in both cases fear is at the root of these evils- fear that people will recognize their own power, fear of abandonment, fear of inadequacy, fear of exposure. Does the root of all evil stem from fear?

I have been thinking about this for a long time. I have been considering it in the light of recent events, including Arizona law SB1070, the argument over the cultural center near Ground Zero, Dr. Laura's racist verbal crap explosion, and various and sundry things being said by Sarah Palin and members of the Tea Party, and local cases of child abuse, domestic violence, and homicide. To name only a few. The sadness of the harm done, the ugliness of the rhetoric, the wrongheadedness of the self righteous, the shocking disregard for our fellow human beings. Ten years into the new millennium, this is what we've got. It's a damn shame.

The common thread I see among all of these things is fear, but when I think where could that fear have come from, what I get is : ignorance. Some ignorance is very easy to identify—words or actions that reveal a deficiency in knowledge of a subject. Some ignorance is very willful ignorance, serving an agenda, a play for power, stoking the fear engendered by the ignorance of others. The most basic ignorance, though, is the ignorance of self. When we fear to look within, to address our hurts, to know ourselves and to heal ourselves, then we can't know peace. We act out- whether it is by violence towards our spouse or children or by getting up on a podium or a radio show and spouting really hateful, condemning words about people we don't even know, we are acting out. Fear, not love, is what motivates our actions when we are ignorant of our true selves. We live our lives in knee-jerk mode, and a lot of other people get hurt, maybe even in spite of our best intentions.

So, ignorance: the root of all evil. The solution? It would be really nice if human beings could just agree to acknowledge that by the time we are twenty some one or some thing has probably seriously fucked us up in some way—a trauma, a messed up set of beliefs about our selves and the world, some jerk messages our parents instilled in us—whatever. And it would be really nice if everyone accepted that before they got married, had children, went into a professional practice, spoke in public or held a public office, you would get some kind of therapy, get to know yourself, heal whatever your wounds are, and learn to be at peace. How else is anybody going to act with pure intentions? Because otherwise, there is a whole lot of fronting going on, a whole lot of the right hand doesn't know what the left hand is doing, a whole lot of nastiness and needless suffering.

I will end with some quotes from the Dalai Lama:

"If there is love, there is hope to have real families, real brotherhood, real equanimity, real peace. If the love within your mind is lost, if you continue to see other beings as enemies, then no matter how much knowledge or education you have, no matter how much material progress is made, only suffering and confusion will ensue."

"I believe all suffering is caused by ignorance. People inflict pain on others in the selfish pursuit of their happiness or satisfaction. Yet true happiness comes from a sense of peace and contentment, which in turn must be achieved through the cultivation of altruism, of love and compassion, and elimination of ignorance, selfishness, and greed."

And lastly:

"Where ignorance is our master, there is no possibility of real peace.


Thursday, April 15, 2010

What I Found Out

"St. Dorothy, Patron Saint of Gardeners, Buries Land Developers to Make Room For A Field"
7"x8" acrylic on paper

I don't believe in statistics. I just don't believe in them.
I don't believe that the bad things people do to each other have to happen. I don't believe violence or dumping toxic waste in a river are probable based on sheer numbers. Pick any one of those numbers and you will see a whole chain of decisions that were made, perhaps even generations before the incident of child abuse or environmentally caused cancer occurred, you will see individuals making choices. Assuming these events are just the roll of the dice or somehow inevitable allows us to abandon our responsibility to each other and to our planet. There may be reasons why people do what they do, but they are not excuses. Excuses let us off the hook, but understanding the reasons allows us to effect positive change.

My rejection of our dependence on statistics is the result of 40 years of struggling to understand the nature of evil. I grew up in the very incubator of American bad behavior-the middle class suburb.
I never felt comfortable here. I was very aware that I didn't "fit in": my weird last name, my hand me down clothes from a sister who was several years older, my autistic brother. More than that, though, was the awareness that others suffered and I did not. It was personal in the case of my brother: why was he autistic and apparently doomed to a terrible life, why not me? Couldn't it just as easily have been me? I felt guilty for getting off scot-free. As for the rest of the world, I had seen the plight of Cambodian refugees and terribly malnourished African children on the news, I had read enough books about children during war time. I somehow knew I was living in an illusory bubble in which people were focused on things like having designer labels on their clothes, and that somewhere else at that same moment other people were in grave danger. It was the unfairness of this arrangement that troubled me. I could not have expressed it in words, it was a feeling, a feeling that I was enjoying safety that I wasn't entitled to, that I didn't deserve, yet here I had it and other people didn't. Why? Why? It drove me nuts for years.

Fortunately, among the gifts afforded to me in adulthood is faith in a loving God, and the knowledge that I'm not any better or any worse than anyone else. What a relief. I know for a fact that every single person who shows up on this planet is loved by God, from the baby who barely gets to draw a breath because she was born in the midst of a famine in Ethiopia to the Emperor of Japan, we are all loved. We all deserve to live in safety- whether we get to or not is an accident of birth. And that still isn't fair: that Ethiopian baby didn't have to die, neither did the victims of Union Carbide in Bhopal India, or Karen Silkwood, or Reverend King, but it isn't God's doing, it's the direct result of humankind's shortcomings, the dire consequences of our hubris and our miserable failings. So the question for me next became: are we all so completely broken that this can't ever be fixed?

It occurred to me long ago--as I observed the "norms" of middle class America with bafflement--that just because something is "the norm" doesn't mean it's normal, or even a good idea to begin with. The very institutions we made that condition how we think and perceive ourselves in relation to the world, and that dictate our social and economic structure are directly causing much of the suffering in the world. But how to resist the seemingly inescapable pull of the social/political/economic moral black hole that is just "business as usual" in the United States: driving and polluting, working far too many hours so we can buy things that are produced at the cost of human life and health, eating food that is so far removed from nature it maybe shouldn't be called food, every dollar spent funneled into a large corporation that is murdering the poor and killing the environment? Why are we as a nation driven to be like gerbils on a wheel that never stops? Why are we so technologically advanced and yet so spiritually under developed?

Well, seek and ye shall find: last year I picked up a back issue of the excellent Orion Magazine and read an eye opening article titled "The Gospel of Consumption" by Jeffrey Kaplan. This illuminating history of the birth of American consumer culture answered some of the questions, born of helpless frustration, that have dogged me for years upon years. Kaplan writes:

In a 1927 interview with the magazine Nation’s Business, Secretary of Labor James J. Davis provided some numbers to illustrate a problem that the New York Times called “need saturation.” Davis noted that “the textile mills of this country can produce all the cloth needed in six months’ operation each year” and that 14 percent of the American shoe factories could produce a year’s supply of footwear. The magazine went on to suggest, “It may be that the world’s needs ultimately will be produced by three days’ work a week.”

Business leaders were less than enthusiastic about the prospect of a society no longer centered on the production of goods. For them, the new “labor-saving” machinery presented not a vision of liberation but a threat to their position at the center of power. John E. Edgerton, president of the National Association of Manufacturers, typified their response when he declared: “I am for everything that will make work happier but against everything that will further subordinate its importance. The emphasis should be put on work—more work and better work.” “Nothing,” he claimed, “breeds radicalism more than unhappiness unless it is leisure.”

By the late 1920s, America’s business and political elite had found a way to defuse the dual threat of stagnating economic growth and a radicalized working class in what one industrial consultant called “the gospel of consumption”—the notion that people could be convinced that however much they have, it isn’t enough. President Herbert Hoover’s 1929 Committee on Recent Economic Changes observed in glowing terms the results: “By advertising and other promotional devices . . . a measurable pull on production has been created which releases capital otherwise tied up.” They celebrated the conceptual breakthrough: “Economically we have a boundless field before us; that there are new wants which will make way endlessly for newer wants, as fast as they are satisfied.”

-Jeffrey Kaplan "The Gospel of Consumption"
Orion Magazine May/June 2008

Finding out that our soul-sucking, resource draining, money driven way of life is just a big trick perpetrated with malice of forethought by a bunch of rich industrialists was such a relief. It means that it doesn't have to be this way. Stop the gerbil wheel, I want to get off. And that equally culpable partner in crime, the United States government?

Well, this year I have been reading "A People's History of the United States" by Howard Zinn. I had long been aware that what I was taught in school about the founding of the United States was a load of happy horseshit, but this book really reveals the the dirt, and dirty it is. From the murder of the Arawak people by Columbus to the deliberately constructed architecture of racial discrimination that allowed the depraved, barbaric treatment of kidnapped African men, women and children caught in the American system of slavery, to the classist economic privilege that existed from the time the first European set foot on this continent, this book is answering all of my questions, born of years of disappointment, mistrust, and disgust, about why our government is so broken and corrupt. Why are lobbies allowed to exist? Why are our elections privately funded, effectively shutting out everyone but the rich from running for office? Why are the interests of corporations set above the good of the people and the environment time and time again? Why is there such a disconnect between our ideals and what actually happens? It turns out that our "founding fathers" were all a bunch of rich guys who wanted to protect their wealth from the king of England. Our purported ideals were what they waved around to get everyone who wasn't rich to help them out with the revolution. It worked, and they structured their new government to first and foremost benefit their business endeavors and real estate schemes, and to protect their wealth and privilege. Oh.

And yet, a relief still, because it doesn't mean that Americans are too inept to run a healthy, fair system of governance, just too greedy and self-interested to actually create one in the first place. Ineptness may not be curable, but I'm enough of an optimist to believe that greed and self-interest are choices. Knowledge is power, and finding concrete answers to the questions that have plagued me has allowed me to examine my own role in our current system, think about solutions, and try my best to change what I don't like about my own behavior.

And if we don't decide to change? I don't know about you, but I can feel the wobbly, reckless, blinding speed of our downward trajectory. I've been expecting a crash for a long, long time.

Which is why I've just re-read Margaret Atwood's two most recent novels, "Oryx and Crake" and "The Year of the Flood". Set in the not too distant future, science and technology are still in the hands of large corporations and profit, as an ends, still justifies any means. More species are rapidly dying out as all of the world's resources are used up and global warming gains momentum unchecked, and the only government that exists is the creepy Stasi like CorpSeCorps, paid for by the corporations to maintain law and order so that their profits can continue to grow unimpeded by citizen protests, conscientious objectors, or anti-establishment free thinkers. This world is inhabited by bio-engineered super viruses that can dissolve people into puddles, new species of bio-engineered, gene spliced animals-including the horrific chickie knobs, a chicken that is all meat and no brain that grows in a lab- and cyborg bees developed by the CorpSeCorps for spying and surveillance. Margaret Atwood's genius is not only that she presents her warning about our probable future as an involving and masterfully written story, but that you can see the future she writes as the logical, natural consequence of, say, our current decision to buy a pair of sneakers even though we know they were made in a sweatshop, or any other of the seemingly innocuous moral lapses we citizens of the first world make a hundred times a day-decisions based in the blissful ignorance of safety and plenty, or by throwing up our hands in frustration and saying: I'm one person, I can't change anything, or by simply deciding to not care. We have that luxury now, but our time is running out. We are caught in the gears we have made out of material gain and creature comforts. The global economy in it's present incarnation is running every aspect of our lives-we serve it, and it only really serves the very few. It has sneakily fostered a self-indulgent way of living among the better off that directly causes much suffering to the poor and is destroying our planet. But-it doesn't have to be this way. Margaret Atwood's warning doesn't have to be our future. About this, I'm not terribly optimistic, but I remain hopeful. So far.

The very heart of all of this mess is, of course, that our abilities far exceed our wisdom. Any parent of a toddler-or a teen for that matter-knows what I mean. Human beings invented the wheel and a ton of really good and helpful things since, but we've also made nuclear weapons, various other killing machines including SUV's, and a billion of those cheap little plastic McDonald's Happy Meal toys that are toxic as hell and wind up in landfills. We've done terrible things with even good inventions, tainting them with unfair and unsafe labor practices and pollution. Not to mention we're still bashing each other on the head with rocks.

The Dalai Lama said, "
Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive." I pray and pray that each individual person on our planet will gain in spiritual wisdom so that the choices we all make will be more responsible towards our fellow beings, healthier for our children and our planet, and motivated by kindness and compassion. That world is possible. I don't care if it isn't probable, because I don't believe in statistics.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

St. Dymphna, again

St. Dymphna and the Lights of Gheel 2
watercolor and ink, 6.75 x 11

I'm thinking about fear and anxiety a lot today. I dislike anxiety so much that even thinking about it or having someone close to me experience it causes me a feeling of dread and unease. Anxiety was practically my address for a lot of my life: a constant gnawing in the pit of my stomach, the sure feeling that something was terribly amiss, that I must have done something wrong, that I was somehow responsible for all of the pain and chaos going on around me. When I tried to banish that feeling by deciding I just didn't care I actually did cause other people pain. It wasn't until I started therapy for co-dependency in my late twenties that I began to enjoy some peace of mind. I began to trust that good things could happen and I wasn't going to have to pay some terrible price for them later on. I learned to turn it over. I learned to pray. I learned what faith really is. I have also, through this process, come to view my life-it's particular circumstances, the shame, pain, confusion, and mistakes as well as all of the good things-with acceptance. I appreciate the journey. I understand that without fear there is no courage, without despair no need for me to gather my strength and affirm my life. I have been able to put all of that free-floating anxiety and irrational fear in perspective: I understand where it came from, how it functioned in my life as a co-dependent, and how to deal with it proactively.

I believe that the healing I have done is a gift from God and that with out it I would be devastated by the real and tangible anxiety of watching someone I love very dearly deal with a mental health issue. Feeling that I don't understand my friend's thought process, knowing that I can't make them better, fearing for their physical and emotional safety, seeing them feel tormented by their own mind and not knowing what their future will hold are the worst fear and anxiety I have ever felt. My ass was being roundly kicked and I did allow some catastrophic projections to overwhelm me for a little while. I think, then, that it was no accident when I picked up
"A Mind Apart : Travels in a Neurodiverse World" by Suzanne Antonetta.

To say that I found this book mind expanding would be an understatement. Susanne Antonetta shares her own story of having manic depression as she explores our neurodiverse world, providing an illuminating perspective on mental health. I really like that Susanne Antonetta has friends from all over the spectrum. It is evident that she values and respects each one and, as she introduces her reader to Dawn and N'Lili, so do we.

Coming from my place of anxiety I also found this book to be very comforting. The author manages her manic-depression with medication. She is talented, creative
, successful, and has a rich life and a loving family. In a world where stigma is still attached to mental health problems she has the courage to write about herself and her experiences. The world is fortunate indeed to have such a gifted writer, mother, friend, teacher. The journey she writes about was filled with suffering and confusion, but who's isn't? Certainly not mine, and probably not yours. And so I apply these lessons to my own friend over whom I fret so much, for who am I to wish they were other than how God made them?

Saturday, January 16, 2010

What It Looks Like From Here, Part 1

St. Jude
4.25 x5.25 gouache on paper

I base all of my St. Judes on my brother Wally. Wally was born with autism, developed grand mal seizures as a child, and was diagnosed with ALS in 2003. Life has been very hard for my brother, and it has been hard for the people who love and care for him. Born at a time when no one yet understood the mind of the non-verbal autistic child he was labeled as "severely mentally retarded". My parents were told that he would never progress, would never understand anything they said, and were advised to place him in an institution. Fortunately, although they were young parents charting completely unexplored territory, institutionalizing their son was simply not an option for my parents. Given the option of dumping my brother (and parents back then were encouraged to do it) they chose the harder road.

I've written a lot about my brother Wally. I absolutely love him and I am so proud of him and all that he has accomplished. I am also very grateful to my parents for sticking by him. They are good people who did their best under immense stress and pressure. Were they perfect? Of course not. If your parents are perfect then you'd better check the basement for pods. Being perfect is not what is required. The ability to grow, to change and adapt and enlarge your spirit is. And my parents had to achieve this in the midst of what often felt like a disaster zone. So this time, I'm going to write about the rest of us.

First off, looking back on my childhood, there was not much grace and dignity. That comes later. I remember the chaos of Wally's seemingly endless bouts of screaming and throwing himself on the floor, his destruction of anything that wasn't nailed down (and some things that were), and the fear that he would bolt into the road and be killed by a car or stick his arm into the washing machine and break it to pieces because he was fascinated by the spin cycle, and how we had to constantly guard the kitchen because anything he got a hold of-raw chicken included- he would swallow whole. I remember the sadness, the frustration, and the anger swirling around. I think we all went through periods of depression, Wally especially. Where was this all leading? What would happen to Wally? Would it ever get any better? Any easier? We were in the soup up to our eyeballs, living from wet bedding (mine included) to food grabbing to grand mal seizures to angry loud knee jumping and yelling all day and get the picture.

My Mom was a stay at home mom. My Dad was ALWAYS at work. ALWAYS. Among the first conversations I remember my parents having is my Mom saying "You're not going in, are you? It's Sunday!" and my Dad saying something about something he had to do. I also remember my Mom calling my Dad, who worked just up the road at the family business, and telling him dinner was ready and Dad not coming home. It was this whole big thing. My Mom got so mad she pitched his supper out the door one evening. Even though I was too little to really understand it was evident that my mom felt abandoned.

I think that any parent of small children would feel unsupported if their spouse put work ahead of family time, but for my Mom the stakes were higher. Among my first memories is Wally, red faced and screaming, lying on his back on the living room rug with his knees bent under him and his back arched in an impossible curve, obviously in terrible pain. Mom and I stood by helplessly as that raw, animal sounding screaming just went on and on, and Mom was just beside herself. He would stop, eventually, but not until my poor Mom had run the emotional gamut and was completely wrung out and I was sick with fear. If my Mom felt so out of control then anything could happen to me. I didn't feel safe.

My Mom worked really hard at trying to help Wally feel better. Way before there was an internet she found as much information as she could. She learned all about food allergies, food additives, and the evils of processed foods and refined sugar. Long before it was cool we were eating tofu and wheat germ and home made bread. My Mom put up with my and my older sister's loud complaints over this state of affairs and did not waiver from her course. She learned about the connection between autism and gastric distress, about seizures and what could trigger them. She left no stone unturned. She is a testament to determination and the kind of mother love that is in it for the long haul and I am in awe of her. Even when she was tired and angry and sad she tried and tried.

When my brother almost died due to the ALS that has wasted his body I saw on her face such sorrow and resignation. "He's gone," she said softly. I could tell that she had been privately preparing herself for this. My Mom has become, since those early, crazy days, calm and stoic in the face of crisis. It has often occurred to me that she has not only had to witness her son physically suffer his whole life but has had to watch over his safety the way you look after a toddler, only for forty plus years instead of the usual three or four. As Wally's behavioral problems have waned and his physical needs have increased exponentially-he is now using a trach, vent, and feeding tube- our Mom has remained as dedicated to his care and to doing everything she can to help him stay in optimal health as she always has. Even now, she leaves no stone unturned.

This past Christmas I was looking through a batch of wrapping paper that had come from my Gramma Sara-who saved everything- and I found a piece that instantly brought me back to the Christmas my Mom used it to wrap all of our gifts. It is really pretty, but a certain kind of pretty that I'll always associate with my Mom. I remembered the way she would see a certain something and say -"I like that!" and I would be pleased because she was pleased. Looking at that pretty piece of wrapping paper that I so completely identified with my mother, I remembered how I always noticed, every year, what she had chosen to wrap our gifts. Even when I believed in Santa Claus I knew that wrapping paper was all Mom. She always chose something that was so right. And that made me think of how she always made everything so nice. She made our house pretty, she brought us to museums, she found the best place to have lunch in Saratoga Springs and would take my sister and I there, and she always loved every little thing I ever made, and made sure I had all the art supplies I needed. It occurs to me now how much strength and generosity of spirit it took to do these things in the face of her child's disability, a disability that by it's nature was so huge it unrelentingly pervaded every aspect of her life with no indication of letting up. Ever.

I don't know if Mom ever prayed to St. Jude, but she didn't give up in the face of a seemingly hopeless situation. I don't know how she did it. The choices she made, and everything that happened good and bad have proven to be the biggest gift she could ever give to her children. When you grow up watching the adults in your life grapple with the seemingly impossible, when you see them at their worst and you see them at their best, when you watch them try, when you watch them surrender, you learn a lot. When you watch them not be perfect, when you watch them grow and change, you learn a lot. When they show you a capacity to love that is so huge it weathers anything, and I mean anything, you learn a lot. If you are paying attention, you can put what you've learned to good use, and therein lies the ultimate gift our parents give to us, if we can see it clearly.

Furthermore, because my Mom is the woman she is my brother survived, and does until this day, and this is yet another gift she has given us, years in the making, one hard day after another.

Thank you, Mom.