Java Talk: Profound Moments In Our Lives


Today let's discuss profound moments we have experienced in our lives. It could be happy or it could be sad. It could be an event, meeting someone, going someplace. Whatever first comes to mind. 

For me, it was being present when my best friend passed. I drove from Texas to be with her, because I was told she wouldn't last long. It was May 2006. 

When I got to her home, she was set up in her living room in a hospital bed with two hospice nurses standing by. Her family came in and out. 

Oddly enough, she was not just my friend. She was my first mother-on-law. We had not been close when I was married to her son. Just the opposite. But fate intervened down the road, and we became very good friends. 

It was difficult listening to her struggle for each breath. My daughters had not arrived from out of town. I hoped they did not have to hear that sound, one I will never forget. But they did not arrive until she was gone.

I made a choice right then that I will be eternally thankful for. I asked the hospice nurses if it would be okay if I got into the bed with her. They moved forward and put the railings down. 

I remember holding her, talking to her, thanking her for being there for me. I told her I loved her. How important she was to me and my children. She could not speak, and I don't have any idea if she heard me. But I continued talking to her, trying to remember everything important I wanted to convey, she and I alone in the room with the two nurses. Until she was gone. 

The sound of her struggling to breathe ceased. I felt the life leave her body. The thing that had been most important to me was that she did not die alone.


She was a feminist long before we knew what that word meant. She was a college professor, and she wasn't treated by the mostly male colleagues as female professors are treated today. They resented her gender back then. 

She was a trailblazer who mowed the path for the rest of us women. She was an talented artist and an educator. 

{I had this made in her honor, and it graces every garden I've toiled in since 2006}

And you see, I owed her.

I still mourn her passing. I miss her. I can still, in my head, hear her laughter. 

I owed her because she is why I'm here today.

Six years previously, I had experienced a particularly bad bout of depression, and it was she, living 100 miles away, who kept me going. Quite literally. 

When I didn't want to take another step or live another day, she was faithfully on the phone talking to me daily, checking on me, telling me why it was I needed to stick around. 

I probably would not be here today if not for her daily efforts to make sure I didn't slip away. She leaned over into the dark abyss, arm extended, until she could finally pull me out.

She told me that the highest form of intelligence is creativity. Her medium was paint, and mine was words.

She made it clear to me that I had miles to go before I slept. Important things to achieve. I don't quite know if I have, but I am here. 

I am still here. Because of her.


***

"Our tears are what happens when it rains deep inside our hearts and we cannot hold the rain any longer."







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59 comments

  1. Sheesh Brenda that was beautiful and touching and...profound. :) Can't follow that act :) I'd have to say childbirth. When you've finally pushed that baby out and there it is and it is healthy and ok...and you are so glad that it's over...the pain, etc.

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  2. Everyone has a story. One is not better or more profound than another, as this is a relative thing to each individual's life. I was not able to give birth naturally. I had two c-sections. So I don't even know what that's like!

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    1. Well back in the day..it was c-section or the push for 'natural ' childbirth / nowadays the girls get those epidurals and don't feel a thing! :) They have shots on FB of them in the hospital : hair and makeup perfect as if they'd just come from the beauty parlor versus having a baby! :) Amazing....:)

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  3. I'm sitting here with tears in my eyes thinking what a wonderful, giving act that was that you did for your Mother-in-law, Brenda. I wish that I had done that with my husband and my mother.. I wasn't present when my Dad died.
    I remember the day that my husband had a heart attack in our front yard after spreading dandelion killer. It was a windy day and I think he inhaled the dust and it cut off his airway... A neighbor, who was never home on Sat. just happened to drive in his driveway and see John laying on the ground.. He called the rescue squad and one of the EMTs just happened to be just around the corner from our house. John had turned a navy blue color and CPR was done. I had gone with my son to get take out lunch and got home just in time to see what was going on. . Due to the neighbor being home at just the right time, the EMT being just around the corner and our rescue squad being just up the street, John's life was saved.. He went on to have two open heart surgeries. At the time he was 36 years old, our son was 14 and our daughter was 13 months old
    .
    We had so many good times, though, going to Disney World, Key West, New England and to Chicago to see our son graduate from Navy boot camp.

    I'm now getting the pleasure of seeing my daughter graduate from college with her Associates degree in Early childhood education, a Bachelor's degree in English and a Master's degree in Instructional Design and Technology. She has taken the GRE to see if she can be accepted into the doctoral program. We'll know in a few months..

    I guess all of us could write a book about the moments in our life that either devastated us or gave us pure joy.
    May all of your readers experience more joy than sorrow..
    Charlotte

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    1. And all those events that happened to coincide (or was it karma?) gave him back to you and your children to enjoy for years to come. Your daughter likely would not have remembered her father otherwise.

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    2. Jill had her Dad for sixteen years and soooo wishes he was here now to see her accomplishments. He was 52 when he passed away..

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  4. Brenda, my son was born the "normal" way and Jill was a C-section baby.. If I had to do it again and that "ain't" happening, I would prefer the C-section route.

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    1. I think the C-section is so much easier on the baby. Jill was much more alert than my son was when he was born. She was crosswise,. in distress and couldn't be turned so I had no other choice.

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    2. LOL !!! My first one was induced and NOTHING in the natural childbirth class prepared me for that, since they gave me so much of the stuff that I had no break whatsoever between the pains. I screamed so much I was hoarse for two weeks. I'd have taken a c-section over that too. The other two ....NOT induced...were normal. As in painful but breaks between.

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  5. Your MIL sounds like a very good woman, who was of great importance in your life walk. Your story is very touching...
    My own profound moment was 10 years. Just before my 50th birthday, I nearly died of a sudden bowel perforation. It was nearly a year before I was totally put back together and feeling well. I never realized how much I was loved by my family until that time, and how even strangers cared. A GREAT gift to me was realizing as I went into surgery, knowing I might not make it out...I was not afraid to die and nothing was left unsaid or undone. I sure didn't mind turning 50...and I didn't mind turning 60 this month either. I am grateful for every single day.

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    1. And if you hadn't made it and started a blog, I would not have known you. And I'm so glad to call you blog friend! People need to live each day fully, not project so into the future. Today is what we have. Stop and smell the roses, I say, and pause to reflect on the nature around you. The simple things are really what make up a lifetime.

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    2. Amen, Brenda! I'm glad we are friends, too!

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  6. Brenda, your story has moved me to tears. Such warm, wonderful memories for you to cherish always...

    I gave birth to both of my daughters via emergency c-sections. When my sister gave birth to her only child, they asked me to remain in the room and experience the birth with them. I watched the miracle of my nephew being born! I will never forget how I felt at that moment. What a gift my sister and brother-in-law gave me!

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  7. I've never been in the room when someone gave birth. Must have been nothing short of miraculous!

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  8. What a beautiful post! I adored my second mother in law very much and she adored me. I believe certain people come into our lives at the right moments; I truly do believe that. A profound moment for me was when my friend gave birth to her daughter. I was her birth coach, so I cut the cord and saw everything and I mean everything. It was a gift from God. It was the most remarkable thing I have ever saw in my life. I have no children of my own, so to really witness the miracle of it all, well it still takes my breath away. That baby is 20 years old now.

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    1. So you watched her enter the world, and you watched her grow to be a young adult. Priceless.

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  9. Today I'll reflect on the profound things throughout my life.... and also a bit on the people who have gone from it.

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  10. I believe one of the most profound times in my life was when John and I were sitting in the Neurologist's office and heard the words "latter stages of Alzheimers". My heart just broke but at the same time, I realized we still had lots of quality time together. I decided right then and there that he was my #1 priority. Before that, we were both pretty independent. But, it made me realized that every minute we have left, we should enjoy and treasure it completely. And we do!

    Judy

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    1. You're one very wise woman, Judy. And a loyal and special friend. If you weren't so wise, I wouldn't seek out your advice or then follow it! Yes, this time for you both is precious and special. Enjoy it.

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    2. Your right July, we should appreciate every moment we have. I'm can somewhat relate, I think Mr. C has Alzheimer but he won't go check it out. Wishing you and John blessings!

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  11. My profound moment came at an early age, I was staying over night at a close friends house and I became acutely aware of a "loving and caring" atmosphere between the family members. They really loved and liked each other. I was very sad when I realized my home life was not this way, and I wondered what I had done wrong not to have this. Sorry for being a debbie downer!

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    1. Oh, please don't think that! Mine wasn't exactly slap-happy, Cathy! Don't apologize. Everyone's experience is vastly different. I know just what you mean. I was in your shoes in another friend's house, and just found it all so miraculous. And then I, like you, had to go home.

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  12. The profound moments have been many in my life but the few that truly turned my life upside down and then back again, have all happened within the past eleven years. Events that brought about everything from hate to love, death and understanding. A series of events that nobody should ever have to deal with. I won't go into details, suffice it to say my heart was crushed, my spirit was taken away, and the joy I feel today, is nothing short of a miracle. But let me tell you this. If it had not been for God lifting me up, I would have drowned.

    Grace & Peace.

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    1. I'm so glad it did not defeat you. That would have been an even worse tragedy.

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  13. what you did was a beautiful thing, Brenda. You helped to ease someone out of this life and into the next. Before my father, who was blinded by his MS, passed he looked across the room and got such a sense of surprise on his face. He couldn't speak so I don't know who or what he saw in that moment. The births of my two daughters were the two most important and life changing moments for me. I realized that I was responsible for two human beings. I experienced a pure love at those moments. xo Laura

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    1. All just mere moments, and yet forever special.

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  14. Oh Brenda, How beautiful. I too have been present at the deaths of family members. My wonderful mother in law died with her two daughters in law at her side. We held her hands and stroked her brow. I massaged her feet and legs and held her in my arms. We told her just how much she meant to both of us, I wouldn't trade those memories for anything. My sister and I held our mother and told her we loved her. I only wish we had sang her favorite hymn, I just didn't think of it until later. Those times meant as much to me as the birth of my girls.

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  15. It is a sort of birth in some ways. The leaving of a life. The remainder just a body. I wouldn't trade that for anything either. I'm just so very thankful it came to mind to do that. Not one family member was there to comfort her as she made her exit, and I found that terribly sad. They were in her kitchen chatting and eating the food people had brought. There were the two sons and their wives. They didn't come back in until I said: She's gone.

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  16. This is a moment that always sticks with me. I'm sure that many of you have experienced something similar. Our young family was living in an apartment building, and my three children and I crossed the busy street to go to the small store. The baby was in the stroller, and my three-and five-year olds were holding onto the stroller. As we left the store, my five-year-old saw my husband driving down the street, called out "Dad!" and darted across. Praise God he was not hit.

    That has always stayed with me, even 35 years later. I felt instantly that God had protected him. How different our lives would have been if tragedy had ensued. There have been other near misses, too, that I think of at least once a week, and to this day, I thank God for sending those angels to watch over us. Thanks for sharing, Brenda.

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    1. All those near misses. And the ones that never came close to occurring. And the ones that did that stay with us.

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  17. Brenda, what you did for your friend/former m-i-l was such a beautiful, generous gift. I'm sure it brought both of you great comfort. I've had many profound moments in my life. A few that really touched my heart are when my mom passed away after a 13 month battle with lung cancer. As she was in the hospital and under a haze of pain medications, several family members were gathered around her bed. There were two of her brothers, a s-i-l, many nieces and nephews, her children, her husband and the hospital Chaplain. There were almost 20 of us standing in a circle around her bed. She woke up, looked around her and starting with the nephew closest to her left shoulder, she said each persons name and told each of us that she loved us. When she got to the Chaplain (who she hadn't met before) she pulled me in close and asked who he was. I told her his name and who he was and she told him she didn't know him but she was pretty sure she'd love him, too. We all had a good laugh but there wasn't a dry eye in the room. Her passing taught all of us about Grace.

    Another extremely profound moment was when my son passed away at 29. He had battled leukemia for 21 months. In his final days, he was unconscious for 3 1/2 days, not opening his eyes or responding to anything. Just seconds before he passed, he turned his head towards me and opened his eyes and looked right into my eyes and passed away. To this day, I am so grateful for that. I've never written about that before now. Whew, a bit overwhelming.

    To end on a happier note, another moment I'll never forget is when I saw my brother's face for the first time. I was 44 y.o. and had been given up for adoption at birth. Amazing to finally see someone who looked like me! Sorry to have written a novel!!! This apparently opened my flood-gates!

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    1. Wow. I feel as if all I can say is wow and it seems so lame to say that word. That truly was a gift. A moment that your son said good bye with his eyes. A connection. So very beautiful! Thank you for sharing that.

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  18. Oh please, write a novel! Those were great moments. I got chills when you wrote about your son looking at you, right in the eyes, and then died. What a gut-wrencher. I wish I'd been adopted. I don't care to see what relatives I might have. Nothing but trouble from what I can tell.

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    1. I have had an interesting life. Friends always use to tell me I should be on Oprah. I was blessed to be adopted! I located (but did not meet) my birth mother 15 years before I had the guts to contact my brother. Finally met her but haven't had a relationship with her. I'm very happy to know my brother and his family but I'm SO glad I was placed for adoption!

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  19. Brenda when I read about your being with your friend at the end, it made me cry. I was with my sweet mother for several weeks before her death and constantly with her the last two days of her life. Her last words to me were, I love you. I remember singing her favorite hymns to her and praying, telling her if she was tired...She died January 20th and my dear brother died January 1st, not 3 weeks before her after fighting cancer for a year. Before my mom was dying, we had some wonderful news, my daughter was expecting our first grandchild, She was born 6 weeks ago, Cora is such a joy to us. A wonderful bright spot in what started out as a trying year for us. Thank you for sharing your story.....Jean

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    1. And thank you for sharing yours. I'm so sorry for your losses just months ago. I can't imagine those two tragedies so close together. You are blessed to have your grandchild. I hope the rest of your year is made of good memories.

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  20. As always the stories of your life amaze me Brenda..

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    1. Everyone has stories. Just not everyone share them.

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  21. This touched me deeply. Thank you for sharing.

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    1. And thank you for reading and commenting.

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  22. First of all Brenda- a wonderful topic that elicits so many beautiful responses. Everyone who has shared here has something beautiful to say. How rich of an experience to read these words.

    One of the most profound moments of my life happened when I was 10. My Grandfather lay dying from cancer. His children (eight of them) took care of him around the clock in his home. There was tense moments but overall it was a very unifying and gratifying experience. I even sat with him a while when my Aunts and Uncles needed rest. He was kind of delirious talking out loud about getting something from the barn. Maybe going over his life while he readied himself for a transition to the next life. One of the moments when there was friction: he wanted some borcht, his daughter in law who was a nurse said no, that would not be a good idea. My mother, who is not a nurse but might I say, the woman was quite a healer in her own right, told my Aunt the following. "L, he is dying, no soup will make him worse. In fact it may give him comfort in these last days of his life. Something that he is eaten so many times. I insist he has some." He was given the borscht for which he only had two tablespoons. In my years working as a social worker in situations where people were near dying, I have remembered that moment. That it meant quality of time not necessarily quantity of time. I remembered that people need choices. I remembered that we have to honor those choices to the best of our ability. I remembered that even though we might see a loved ones care a certain way that we need to be flexible to see it another way (as my Aunt finally did). I remembered the beauty in those final moments of family and friends surrounding their loved ones.

    As a social worker and volunteer at hospice I had many profound moments for which I am eternally grateful for. I was allowed or invited to share in those moments that are most profound. I cant think of anything more amazing and profound. I am grateful to all those souls whose lives have touched mine. I think of them. I remember their stories. I pay honor to their memory.

    Besides death, birth is also most profound. When my daughter was born my OB/GYN said to her little face, "welcome to the world little one." I shall never forget that. I just love her for saying those words to my brand new baby girl. BTW, there is a doc who delivers babies that sings, "Happy Birthday" to each and every one of them. If you would like to see it search it up. His name is Dr. Carey Andrew-Jaja.

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    1. You seem to have had many profound moments, having also been a social worker and volunteer at Hospice. I have always wondered if being a volunteer would be terribly sad or incredibly rewarding. Or both. What was your role? The lesson we all learn from this, is, as you said: Quality over quantity. If borscht was one of his final wishes, then I am glad it was given to him to enjoy.

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  23. How do I pick a profound moment? It seems I have had many to choose from, but for the life of me I can't pick just one. I'll try.
    My cousin was my most favorite person in the world. He was a musician, an artist, a poet, a woodworker, and so very tenderhearted. I loved him. He was like an older brother. When he came out of the military he bought a big shiny red convertible. He used to drive me around with the top down. He could play any instrument put before him. ANY. We had a favorite song together. "Ghost Riders in the Sky", he would play guitar and I would sing. I can't sing, not a lick, but he didn't care. It was our special song. Memories.
    He died in 2006 of lung cancer. He was the hospital in Minneapolis a while, and I asked his wife if I could come see him. She said please do not. I ignored her, and am ever so glad I did. My son drove, because quite frankly driving in the city scares the holy crap out of me. We found his room in this massive hospital, and the look of love and welcome on his face warms me even today.
    He was told later that day that there was nothing more that could be done. He told, " them I want to go home to see my cat." An ambulance drove him and his paraphernalia 6 hours home. He cuddled in his chair with his cat, and peacefully died that night.
    The profound part of this story is two things. The gladness and sense of right when we were visiting and saying what we knew were our last good-byes. I don't usually barge my way into someones life when asked not to, but I knew I had to see him one last time. I will never regret that decision.
    The other part of this story helped with my grief. I was driving to see my aunt, his mother, and "our song" came on the radio. I cried so hard I had to pull over to the side of the road. I didn't know how I was going to live in a world without him. I missed knowing he was only a phone call away. My heart was broken, with no sense of any healing.
    I had a lovely time with my aunt. On the way home from her house, in the same spot of my journey as the the first time the song came on the radio again. Again! I stopped and cried, but this time I heard him say it was OK because he would always be with me. It might have been God, probably was God. It might have been my cousin. Whoever it was I knew at that moment that I would get through the rest of my life without him, and that someday I would once again sing our song with him.
    I still miss him. But, I can now listen to our song, and sing along without breaking down. I figure I need to stay in practice so I am ready for the day we meet again.
    He died July 18, 2006

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    1. Oh Trudy, this was so touching. I got chills when the song came on at the same juncture in your road trip! So many things like this happen and we don't know why or if it is destiny. Why would his wife ask you not to come? Was she petty that way? You were his family, knew him from childhood. How could she refuse you that way? Hurts me just to think of it.

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  24. I think she thought she was protecting him. I think she was afraid he would get over tired. I think so thought there was still hope. We never really cared for one another, and to this still don't. I am just thankful that I listened to my inner voice that told me to GO.

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    1. Just as I listened to my inner voice that my friend would die with another heartbeat next to her. We are both glad we listened to that voice that can ofttimes be just a whisper.

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  25. Brenda thank you for sharing this. You have been my rock for many years, though you may not know it. I've followed your blog for so long now. And the story you shared is the one I am living, currently, with my mother who is in end stage hospice. She is a COPD patient whose lungs have almost failed. I love hearing how you climbed into bed with her. My mother loves when I sit on the edge of her hospital bed and tell her stories about everything I've been doing, and all the places I've been visiting. I gave up my writing career one year ago to become a full time artist and teacher. I don't get to see her every day because of my travels, but when I am with her, I try to be fully present. She has been my muse, my pillar, and the person I love most in the whole world ever since I was a small child. When my sisters and I were 21, she brought out a large notebook binder and announced, Well kids, I am a poet. She had been writing poetry our whole lives and never told us. She had been published multiple times, and won several awards. Life is full of surprises, and even in these hardest moments, life can be full of joy. Thanks for remind me of that, Brenda. Wishing you so much joy in your journey, my friend.

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    1. Oh my, I wonder why your mother never told you about her poems and achievements! I laughed when I read: Well kids, I am a poet! She wants you near and to hear about your life and think about you out there. Because she knows it's the only way she will experience it. I admire this kind of love between a mother and a child.

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  26. That was a beautiful story. She sounds like a special lady as you are also. I believe she heard every word you said to her and it helped her go peacefully.

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  27. Such a touching, and sad, yet beautiful story. xoxo

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  28. Isn't it funny how things can be sad and yet beautiful at the same time. Like sweet and salt together.

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  29. Brenda, what a lovely gift to your friend and to yourself! Nothing left unsaid, a loving moment that will stay with you forever. I have had many important moments in my life, the birth of both of my children were really life changing, but I think one moment was when I first heard from my birth father. My parents separated before I was born. I never met him, he never saw me. My Mom went on to marry and I was adopted by the best Dad a girl could want. Still I always wondered. At the age of 52 I contacted my birth father my mail. Months later he called me and it was unbelievable. The sobs came from the depths of me as the call ended. I went on to meet him and have him in my life for several years before he passed away. It completed a piece of me that was missing.

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    1. Linda, I was actually thinking of you when I came up with this topic. I just can't imagine how that must have felt, hearing his voice for the first time. Your heart must have been beating like a hummingbirds'! I'm so glad you did that, before he died and it was too late. What a gift you gave yourself, and him!

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  30. Brenda,
    I don't have the gift of words however I will do my best . Your story today has touched me deeply. Your mother-in-law was right! Hugs, Mary jane

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  31. We all have our own special gifts. Just have to tap into them.

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  32. My moments were being with my grandson when he passed, when my dad died, my ex going to prison for man. controlled substance meth and selling..how could that BE! All of this happened in same 5 years. Such an effect on me and still is. Good things my 3 grandsons! My children really dont care for me but my grand children are everything. <3

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