Friday, September 30, 2011

Simple Gratitude

I began a project months ago. I started it when I found I was expecting for a second time. The project: my daughter's Big Girl Room.

I wanted to do it in Cherry Blossoms but I could not find pictures I had in my mind. So, I bought some canvases and paint, searched the internet for images I liked (the images in my head didn't hold the detail I needed to paint a picture) and I got to work. 

That was months ago, when I was still expecting my twins to come home.

Needless to say, her Big Girl Room project got put on the back burner. A lot of the smaller projects were done but the room was not completed. 

I made a step out of my grief, a step to begin a "New Normal", and I (well we, my husband helped by putting the appropriate holes in the walls) finished the room. We finished it while my daughter was at pre-school. 

When she reached the door way of her room her already big brown eyes became huge and a sweet smile swept over her face.

Did you get that lamp for me? It's so bootiful!

Did you do those flowers for MEEE! It's purtee! 

I have cutains! Yeah!!

Did you do this for ME? 

Thank you Mommy!

She expected nothing. She was content to have a bed to sleep in every night and blankets to keep her warm. 

She was pleasantly surprised by the completion of her room and she let her simple gratitude show. 

She noticed every detail. From the largeness of her curtains to the pink on the tiny petals. She was in awe. She was appreciative of what was done for her. 

She did not refuse to see the beauty of her room because she did not get something else.

In the first weeks of my new grief, I despised the sun. The brightness, the beauty of its warmth hurt. I kept the curtains closed. I kept myself locked indoors. I did not want to see what beauty God had created for my enjoyment. 

I wanted the Earth to weep with me. I wanted it to grow dark and for water to flood. 

When my daughter asked if I did all of that for HER, she was just simply grateful.

I wanted my daughters to live before me.

When I did not get what I desired, I closed off to what was to be held in awe. I refused to see what was done for me. Refused to open the eye to what I did have.

That little girl of mine, she teaches me everyday. She shows me what true faith is.

The process of completing her room was to help me make a step towards a "New Normal". It ended up being a slight tap on the shoulder to show me how to be grateful. How to praise. How to give thanks.

It is simple to be simply grateful.

All that is needed is to open the eye and then the curtains.


Thursday, September 29, 2011

Does Fear Hold You?

There is a book out called What Women Fear. I have only seen the cover of the book but I am itching to pull it back and digest words.

I follow a blog by Angie Smith, the writer of the above mentioned book. She is a talented writer. She also lends her talent to a little site, (in)courage, where faith is shared and doubled.

Bloom Book Club is a part of (in)courage, and they are doing a study of What Women Fear. On (in)courage, Angie made a little request to blog about ones fears.

That's hard to do. I sat before the keyboard ready to pour out fears. A few times I did this without a single key being struck. I couldn't do it. It is hard to peel back that protective layer even to ones self.

There is something so scary about, well...pulling the covers back on your fears. It makes you feel exposed, transparent, vulnerable.

Deep breath in. Lungs inflate. Here I go.

I have never had one solid, steady fear in my life. As my life has changed with the twists and turns, so have my fears.

When I was younger, a school girl, my fear was that I wouldn't be accepted. That I would be rejected. That I wouldn't be liked for me.

Those two fears were my companions for many years.

During my engagement and the planning of promise, my fear was that my Dad would not be present. I was fearful that I would not have his arm to link with mine and walk me down the aisle to my future.

With my abdomen swollen with life and future the first time, I was scared that my husband's life would come to end before he witnessed new life.

That same fear crept back in with the second swelling of life. Two lives.

During that time, I never imagined that I would not see those two lives live before me. Before us.

I have been like many. Knowing, even has a child, that I would one day live in this world without my grandparents, without my parents and possibly without my spouse. I never imagined, thought, that I would live life without my children.

I always, innocently believed, that my children would bury me. Not the other way around.

Some have spoken that they know what my fear is now. They whisper on their lips that I must cling tighter to my living daughter due to my fear of losing her as well. I nod when this is placed in the space between.

I nod but it is not true. I nod because I think that is what they want to hear. I nod because I don't want others to think ill of me.

I nod but it is not true.

I don't want to lose my living daughter. I don't want to have to bury her too.

I don't want to lose my living daughter but it is not a fear that consumes me.

Since I have handed Emmerson and Vivienne back to the Lord, I have become someone I no longer recognize. I look in the mirror and I see someone who has aged. The reflection that stares back is someone who has lived a lifetime in 32 years of the heart beating.

There has never before in my life been such a distinct Before and After as there is now.

Before I was energetic, silly, motivated, smiling and laughing through life. I was eager for the future. I loved to teach my daughter all in life that was still so new to her. I was delighted.

After all of this, I am a place in the space. I sit. I go through the motions. I have no energy. It is used to just be.

When the darkness sweeps in, it becomes too black to see. What once was rationale has now become senseless. And what is senseless? Well, that just seems to be the missing link.

There are moments when I don't want to be taking up any more space in this place. I want the sharp, shearing pain to end.

This is pain. This is grief. This is what is ugly.

How do I function in a world where my babies are not present? How can I be expected to live when the heart is too heavy to squeeze?

So my fear now?

That my daughter will never know the silly, lets-have-fun, I-just-want-to-make-you-smile, make-you-laugh-mom I used to be.

That my husband will look in the eyes where the light has gone out and miss his wife.

It is this, that my grief, my hurt will overwhelm me and then become me.


Monday, September 26, 2011

Smiles and Sorrow

I used to think, believe, that lips turned up causing eyes to crinkle and joy making its way through laughter could not live in the same space as the body that aches with sadness, tears that weep through the pores.

To me, they lived in separate spaces. They were heard in different instruments of different songs.

The day that my daughter told me that I was indeed sad even though I had just laughed, I learned something.

Tears and sorrow, smiles and laughter live together. They are the same cord on a guitar, the same key on a pianos ivories.

The blending of what is sorrow and what is joy, is what makes life.

Behind the smiles is a story of brokenness.

Within the tears of heartache, lies a joy of life that lived.

The blending of it all, all of life, is what makes glorious sound. It is what gives beauty to life.


Friday, September 23, 2011

What a Child Sees

You sad, Mommy? I hear those words at least twice a day now. I don't think my daughter even had the word, sad, in her vocabulary three months ago. Now she asks about my emotional state multiple times a day.

We arrived home from Cincinnati on a Friday evening. Our friends had our daughter playing in the front yard when we pulled into the driveway. Our daughter got a huge smile on her face and started running towards the car.

I was excited to see her but once I did, it was like being stabbed in the heart with a dagger. It hurt so deeply to see her and to hear her talking.

She ran to me when I got out of the car and I picked her up (against medical advice).  I was sobbing. She took one look at me and terror swept over her face. My face was swollen, red and covered in tears. She had never seen me like that and it completely terrified her. She immediately reached for my husband.

The rest of the evening, she remained concerned. She wanted to be in the same room as me but she didn't want to get too close.

It hurt me so much to look at her. I hate to admit this but for the first two weeks after we lost Emmerson and Vivienne, I didn't like to be around our daughter. I am so thankful for our family members and close friends that would take care of her and love her when I was incapable of doing what she needed me to do. The twins resembled their older sister and every time I looked at my daughter, all I could see was all that I would never have with the twins. I would never see them walk or call me Mommy and it killed me all over again.

To say that she saw me cry multiple times everyday for the first six weeks would be an understatement. I would cry at the drop of a hat.

A few days after we returned home, some family members brought dinner to us and we sat around the table and ate. Well, they ate, I think all I did was stare at my food. There was laughter and normal conversation. By normal, I mean conversation that would have taken place before I lost my twins. After I lost them, nothing was normal. I suddenly had this very strong feeling that Emmerson and Vivienne were just sleeping in their bouncy seats or swings. This was a scene that was to take place after I had them and brought them home - people bringing us dinner. This feeling was so strong. I looked up and expected to see them but I didn't see bouncy seats or swings. I saw no baby gear anywhere. I couldn't find my babies and I started sobbing.

My daughter saw me crying and became concerned. A family member instantly removed her from the dinner table and started to take her out of the room. She began screaming hysterically, I want my Mommeee! My husband got up and took our daughter out of our family members arms and brought her back to the table. Our family member did not feel like she should be seeing this, her Mother heartbroken.

My husband repeated to her what he and I had since we had arrived home that Friday evening. Remember how Mommy had babies in her belly? Well, they are now with Jesus. That is a very good thing but we are sad because they are not here with us and we miss them. It is okay to be sad and to cry. It calmed her. Every time.

The family member did not feel it was appropriate that we were letting her know what was going on.

I felt it would be inappropriate to not be honest with her.

Children are very receptive to what is going on. She knew something was not right and she would have sensed if we were not telling her the truth. I couldn't and still am unable to know when I am going to breakdown and start crying. It is not like I can schedule my "sad" times. They come when they want.

While I was pregnant with the twins, my daughter would give the babies their vitamins. We all took vitamins every morning and she felt the babies needed to take one as well. She would walk up to me and pretend to put one vitamin in her hand and use that hand to touch one side of my belly and then she would do the same to the other side. Then she would say, there babies, you have your vitamins now. Grow big. She would lift up my shirt sometimes and ask to see them or hold them. I would let her know that for a few more months, they had to grow on the inside but that she would be able to hold them soon. After that, she became very vigilent that the babies got their vitamins.

She asked about the babies on a daily basis while I was pregnant. Once we arrived home from Cincinnati, she never asked about them.

Then one day, about six weeks after we lost them, I was eating dinner with her. My husband had just left for a trip so it was only her and I that were home. During the meal, she asked where Baby was. Baby is the original and unique name of one of her cloth dolls. She is attached to this doll. She can never be more than a few feet from it and if she is, she wants to know her whereabouts. I informed her of where baby was, she looked and saw her and became calm. She then looked at me and asked, where are your babies? This threw me! I was shaken. I collected myself and replied, they are in Heaven with Jesus. She says, no, they are in your belly.

I lost it and had to retreat to another room.

Just a few weeks ago, as life slowly and painfully has resumed a new "normal", my daughter and I were on the floor playing basketballs. Basketballs is really anything that involves a ball but it usually consists of sitting on the floor, across from each other, and rolling it back and forth. While we were playing, she did or said something that made me laugh. She stopped rolling and asked, Mommy, you sad?

No, baby. I was laughing because you are so funny and silly. 

She thought about this for a minute and then replied, No, Mommy. You sad.

Now I was the one who had stopped to think. I had run everything I had said and did that day with her through my head. I couldn't recollect any thing that would make her think I was sad. Specially after I just got done laughing! Then I realized, there is always a part of me that is sad now. I am different and she knows that.

Other people have judged us and criticized us for being honest with her and not protecting her from this. For the first time in my life, I don't really care what they think. My husband and I are sticking to our guns with the belief and assurance that children are way smarter and more intuitive then adults give them credit for.

After she told me that I was, indeed sad, I stopped to think. I thought carefully about my response to her. By this time, her game of basketballs had been put on the back burner. She was sitting on my lap while attempting to wrap me up in her arms.

You know what, baby? You are right. There will probably always be a part of me that is sad. I miss your sisters and I will always wish that things had turned out differently. The fact is, they are not here and they never will be again. But they are in Heaven and I am so grateful and thankful for that.

She's looking up at me with her huge, dark eyes,  nodding her head yes and then she says, with Jesus! We resume our game of basketballs.

I know as Mothers and as parents we foolishly believe we can protect our children from anything harmful or hurtful. But here is the honest, ugly truth. We can't. We never could.

My parents are hurting and grieving too. My Dad cried with me one very dark day. With tears spilling out of his eyes, he tells me, I miss them too. But what really kills me is seeing you like this and knowing there is nothing I can do to make this better. I have always been able to make things better for you. I am so sorry that I can't!

My Mom worries about me. She has been angry and has asked a lot of questions. She wants to take my hurt away and she can't.

I know it is completely natural to want to shield your child from the worst ache, the most dreadful pain. But what do you do when you can't?

My job, my duty as my daughter's Mother is to prepare her to become an adult. She has learned something a lot earlier than most children and a lot sooner than I would have ever wanted her to. She has learned that things and people break in the worst way. She has seen hopes and dreams come to a crashing halt.

One thing she has learned because of all of this is that it is OKAY! It is okay to be sad. It is alright to cry. It is okay to ask why. What she has witnessed through all of this, is that her Father and I still love our King. We still praise Him for what we DO have. And because of that, she has seen hope live on.

We all have been far more blessed than we haven't.


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Precious Baby Girl

My heart is heavy tonight.

I received some heart wrenching information earlier today. I woman who is a relative stranger to me, a friend of a friend, has had her heart shattered (of this, I am sure). Yesterday she went to her OB/GYN for her 20 week appointment and ultrasound. The ultrasound revealed a piece of earth shattering information. Her baby girls heart had stopped beating.  She later delivered her precious little girl.

From what I know, she has two or three boys at home and this would have been their first girl.

My heart hurts so deeply for her. I am no expert on grief (I can't even get a grasp on my own) but I know this road before her is going to be long and treacherous. Everyone grieves differently and so I am confident that her road will not look exactly like mine but I know there will be a lot of hurt, a lot of questions and a lot of tears.

She is a Mother, a Mommy. A Mother's love is unique by design and complex in nature. Nobody loves like a Mother. It is a such a wonderful love.

I am sure that she had and still has a unique and wonderful love for her Sweet Baby A.

Please pray for her and her family tonight. Pray for peace and grace and comfort from the Only One who can truly give it. I pray that the Prince of Peace picks her up, wraps His comforting arms around her and carries her until she has the strength to stand on her own. I pray that their marriage is strengthened through and by this. I pray that God gives her answers.

I like to imagine that my little Emmy and Vivi were at the gates of Heaven when Baby A entered them.


Monday, September 19, 2011


On the right front tooth, there is a slight chip at the corner. It is one of many things that endears me to my husband.

Years ago, while we were still dating, he asked me, do you think I should get this fixed?

I did not. I do not.

I sometimes can only focus on that tiny chip when he is talking. I often have to ask him what it was he just said. I realize that all I have done was stare. I stare at something that once was complete, but by and through life, it was broken. Broken but so beautiful.

Other times I catch a glimpse of it when he smiles at me and I am captivated, pulled in his direction to let a kiss rest on his lips.

All because of the slight chip in one of his teeth.

To me, it is beautiful. It is just a small piece (or lack there of) that makes him, him. My husband. The father to our children. A child of God.

Years ago, when he asked me if he should get it fixed, he saw it as an imperfection. I saw it as beauty.

Are the imperfections what makes life beautiful?

A chipped life is imperfect but it is beautiful and since it is beautiful, it is made perfect.

Through pain, tears, cries, heartache, there are smiles, laughter, joy.

From the cracks and holes and weeping wounds, there is more clinging to what is good. What is joy.

Would those not be beautiful and perfect if there were no imperfections?

Through the cracks and the holes and the weeping wounds, He comes and feels them and then fills them with His glory. His perfection.

He makes everything perfect. Everything joy. Everything beautiful.

Only by the imperfections of life is anything made perfect and beautiful.

I love that chipped tooth.

I am learning to love and appreciate all the chips.


Saturday, September 10, 2011

The One Chosen

A little over 11 years ago, the words I do fell from my lips, passed through a sanctuary of over 200 and fell gently, softly in the heart of my love. I do, a promise. A promise to live all of life with the one chosen.

Eleven years holds miles of smiles, eyes over flowing with salt flavored tears, words, glances, touches.

I wonder in the silence and in the hurt if I would have forfeited it all? The joys, the heart swollen from love, to spare the pain? Would I have absorbed more of it? Allowing more love to swell? Scrambling to grasp every morsel of joy and hold it tight? Hoping that all the good would see me through all the bad?

Eleven years ago, I innocently, naively, believed that nothing but good lay before us.

I feel as though the last thread of innocence has been cut, lost forever.

When exhausted, bated breath means the promise of new life, but to give life means death, how to reconcile that? How do you believe good could ever enter that room again?

Can hope and hopelessness live together in the same breath? Do they have a right to?

I don't know. I don't know what lies before me.

I don't know. I don't have any of the answers. I just need to believe.

I hope the words I love you, from the one chosen and the one who chose me fall into my heart and allows it to swell. To swell once again with promise of more life, more good, more hope.


Friday, September 9, 2011

Thursday, September 8, 2011


I love stained glass windows. They are so pretty with their different shapes and various colors. Even as a little girl, I was mesmerized by the way the light penetrated through the glass, casting the different colored hues on whatever was on the other side of the light.

My husband broke one of our plates the other day. When he revealed to me what he had done, he said, here, I thought you might like to put it back together. 

No! I want to break something! I want to watch something shatter just as my heart as been! Why didn't you let ME break it? You know how much I have been wanting to break something. 

After we had returned from Cincinnati, I saw my medication (the medication that was going to help my girls) and I went to the garage and got a hammer. I returned to the kitchen where my husband and daughter were and retrieved the bottle that contained the "magic" pills. My husband very gently asked me what I was doing. I informed him very matter-of-fact like that I was going to hammer the hell out of my medication until there was nothing left. Very calmly, he took the hammer from my hand and caught me as I fell into him and sobbed.

In the past, I would have gathered the broken pieces and tossed them in the trash but instead, I gathered them and laid them by the sink. Later that day, as I stood at the sink washing dishes, I thought as I looked at the brokenness, it can still be used.

That night, I laid all the broken pieces out on the counter, trying to figure out which pieces went together. I gave up in frustration. I contemplated throwing the pieces away but they remained on the counter.

For a week, the pieces, all broken, stared me down whenever I was by the sink. It can still be used.

Broken! Shattered! Some large pieces, some small. All of them having purpose.

I got out the glue and I went to work.

Pain doesn't always stop with the breaking. There is pain in the process of fixing. It continues with the mending.

In the process of repairing the broken plate, precise pressure was required. A lot of time needed for just two pieces to be sewn back together. After the pressure, came waiting. Time was needed for just those two pieces before anymore could be added.

I am broken. Shattered.

With the breaking and the broken and the fixing is a process and a purpose.

A stained glass window starts out with many pieces.

Some of those pieces have been uniquely cut by the maker. Others have been broken.

They are put together for the making of something beautiful.

The light shines through, and the beauty is to be held.

I am broken but I can still be used.

I'll leave the fixing to the Maker. I hope all the pieces are put together with His precise vision.

Let the Light shine through.


Sunday, September 4, 2011

Mary and Martha

I needed to see it. I needed to read it even though I have it memorized. I needed to see it in print.

It is the shortest verse in the Bible. Verse 35 of the 11th chapter of the Book of John.

Jesus wept.

I wanted to see on paper that I serve an empathetic God.

That was all I was going to do, read that single verse, those two words. However, I went back to the start of the chapter and read. I opened my Bible because I wanted those two words, Jesus wept, to soothe my soul. And those words did but so much more in the 11th Chapter of John did as well.

The chapter begins with Jesus receiving word from Mary and Martha that their brother, Lazarus, is sick. In response to the letter, He tells his disciples that this sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God's glory so that God's Son may be glorified through it (verse 4). Jesus remains where he is for two more days before returning to Judea.

Mary, Martha, and Lazarus were friends of Jesus. They believed He was the Son of God. They believed He could heal. They sent word to Jesus to let Him know that their brother was sick because they believed He could and would heal their brother.

In the time that passed between Jesus receiving the letter and returning to Judea, Lazarus had died. Jesus informed his disciples of Lazarus' death. If Jesus is not Lord, then how could He possibly have known that Lazarus had already died? He did not need to tell his disciples this news but I believe He did to demonstrate Who He is.

I'm sure His disciples were scratching their heads at this. Were they not told, by Jesus himself, that Lazarus' illness would not result in death?

Before they ever passed through the gates of Judea, Jesus was informed that Lazarus was already in the tomb and had been there for four days. People believed in that time, that a person wasn't truly dead until three days after their actual death had occurred. They believed their soul stayed with the body for three days after death. I believe this to be another detail to simply demonstrate who Jesus is.

Martha heard that Jesus was coming and she met Him just outside of the city.

I imagine her running to Him. I also imagine both her and her sister with mismatched clothes, their hair pulled back in a sloppy manner with loose strands sticking out around their face. I know, it's such a pretty picture but they are grief stricken.

What Martha says to Him isn't, I'm so glad you're here! or Lazarus loved you so much! What she says to Him is Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died (verse 21).

When I read this I thought, wow! She has some nerve! She accused Jesus of her brothers death! After that thought got done traveling through my mind, my next thought was, but she did recognize that He had the power and the authority to heal her brother. 

What Martha said to Jesus really resonated with me. I couldn't judge Martha for accusing Jesus because I had too. There were so many times after Emmerson and Vivienne died that I cried out to the Lord accusing Him of their death. A few people told me that I needed to focus on the fact that Jesus Christ was sent to suffer and die on the cross for me and my sins.

I have to admit, it frustrated me and upset me. I couldn't focus on that fact. The only thing I could focus on was the fact that my daughters were no longer with me. It also made me feel awful because I thought, what kind of Christian am I? But you know what? I never turned my back on the Lord. I did cry out but I cried out to Him.

I kept reading and what Martha says to Jesus next is very powerful. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask (verse 22, emphasis mine). She not only acknowledges that His Father is one who heals but also one who performs miracles.

Martha gets Mary and informs her that Jesus is present. When she hears this she runs to Him. When she reaches Jesus she also says, Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died (verse 32).  She left it at that. She did not follow it with a statement like her sisters. But she did acknowledge who He is, even if it was just a small portion of who He is.

After seeing where Lazarus had been laid, Jesus weeps.

I have read some commentaries that approach His weeping in different lights. Some have said that He wept because He is an empathetic God, others have stated that the reason He wept was because of death itself, and others have said that it was because He was frustrated with their disbelief.

I personally don't think He wept because He was frustrated with their disbelief. If that was the case, wouldn't He have cried all the time? Everywhere He went, every time He turned around, He was faced with people who did not believe.

I believe He wept with them. He felt their pain and their sorrow. I believe that He has wept with me. It is comforting to know that I serve a King who cries with me as He wipes away my tears.

He knew that Lazarus had died before He ever returned to Judea so I think its safe to say that He knew Lazarus would, moments later, walk out of the tomb. But He still wept.

While Jesus wept, some spectators declared, see how he loved him! (verse 36) and others questioned, Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying? (verse 37).

Jesus commands for the stone covering the tomb to be removed (verse 38) and Martha finds it necessary to inform Jesus that there will be an odor if the stone is removed.

I smiled when I read this because I too, find it necessary to inform Jesus of every minor detail. It would deter me. If it was left up to us to perform miracles we would say, oh, you are right ! It will stink. Well, lets not remove the stone then.

The details in life can stop us, deter us. A teachers grade or comment, a doctors diagnoses, or a physical or mental disability are all too often road blocks or dead ends for us. They are reasons why we can't. We often take those limitations to God and ask Him to work around those (not through them) for our benefit. We so often limit God with our requests.

I LOVE His response! Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God? (verse 40).

He didn't inform them of what was about to happen. He didn't tell them that if they believed, they would always have their hearts desire fulfilled or that they would never have trouble. He simply told them that if they believed they would see the glory of God.

If we believe, we will also will see the glory of God. We don't know what form or fashion we will see it but we will.

Jesus commanded Lazarus to come out of the tomb (verse 43).

I  picture that some of the people have their noses pinched between their fingers. I assume that others rolled their eyes and still others may have yawned.

No matter what they were doing or thinking or believing, I'm sure every one of their jaws fell to ground when they saw Lazarus walk out of the tomb (verse 44).

Jesus would have been glorified if He would have healed Lazarus of his illness. He didn't choose for that to be the vehicle of His glory. Lazarus died. I'm sure in those four days of his death, Mary and Martha were not only questioning why Jesus had not healed their brother, but why He had not even come. They never imagined or dreamed that Lazarus would walk out of the tomb in the flesh.

He would have been glorified if He had healed Lazarus. He was glorified more and by more people, some of those unbelievers, when Lazarus was raised from the dead.

On June 23, 2011, I sent word to the Lord that my girls were sick. I asked Him to fix them. In the days that followed, I felt much like what I imagined Mary and Martha must have felt. I felt like I had been deserted, wondering if He was ever going to come.

I would have glorified Him if my requests had been met. And He knew that. He also knows the after that I am unable to see or comprehend. No matter what, I am called to praise Him and give all glory to Him.

I don't want to limit Him and I don't want to doubt His ways.

We have a purpose, a divine destiny. Our purpose is to glorify God through our lives. If God should choose you to bring glory to Him in this world through pain, do it well. Obey. Bear witness. Through your suffering, some may seek and find the Savior.
Joseph M. Stowell
The Upside of Down: Finding Hope When it Hurts



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