Laughter

There is no right or wrong way to behave when grieving: anger, bitterness, guilt, joy, tears, laughter and then some. I’m learning that through this life it’s important to identify my feelings and if I allow myself to feel all of these emotions, even the good ones, I can Grant myself healing and find joy once again. Grant, what a perfect name for him. Every meaning of the name describes him, especially the word gift.

I was gifted an amazing, fun, and loving son, maybe not for as long on earth as I would have wished for, but he made my life full. As each day presents itself to me I’m learning to recognize the completeness of the life I had with him instead of drowning in the emptiness of his physical presence.

Telling humorous stories about Grant helps me cope. It makes me think of happy times with him. If even for a moment I can remove myself from the present and reminisce back to my happy place it gives me the gift of laughter and a reminder that even through the sad times he and his memory are still with me.

We all approach humor and laughter differently. I think it returns in its own time… some days more than others but surrounding myself with the right people has been a part of true healing.

For the first two years or so after losing Grant I felt guilty for existing much less laughing or feeling joy. I envied it, I wished to feel happy again. There was a pit so deep inside that I always knew I wanted to feel whole again and to desire some bit of joy to cradle my sadness…

I’m learning to understand the healing benefits of laughter. I really don’t think I appreciated laughter in my past the way I do now. Do I still find myself in a puddle of tears four years after my son’s death? Of course… any given day, at any moment. Am I different? Yes, but my family, my friends, my co-works knew me better than I knew myself. They knew my humor, my positive look at life and even though they knew I was drowning in sadness and deep heartache they continued to breathe the fresh air of laughter in me. They are the people who helped me recognize I have room for laughter in the face of my tears.

These past few weeks I’ve thought a lot about finding joy in the midst of sadness, I started thinking about how Grant would make me laugh. If I ever seemed down he would make a fool of himself just to turn my frown upside down. He would give that big pouty look with his bottom lip as he tilted his head to the side.  When I reminisce about these times I can smile again. I can remind myself he would want me to laugh again. How can I not when he lives through these beautiful smiles below…

 

I LOVE YOU Grantie,

mama

 funny faces

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Spring

I’ve felt spring coming all around me this past week.  I foresee the disappointment of getting dumped on one more time before the trees bloom… but so far, I have savored every breath of fresh spring air I take in.

As many of you know this may be my father’s last spring… only God knows. I’ve thought a lot about the seasons this past year since he was diagnosed.

For the past four years I have deeply grieved the seasons without Grant, especially spring.  I grieved life returning while my soul felt stuck… trees in bloom, planting flowers, the rain washing away the gloom of winter and the long awaited longer days of sunshine. In the past springs all I could think about was everything that was returning to life… except my son.

There’s something different about this spring.  As difficult as this journey through loss is and has been… the heartache that has consumed me has begun to a unfold. It’s still there, it comes in different waves of emotion but I’m beginning to feel again. I’m beginning to feel again; although learning through loss is heart breaking and difficult, it’s extremely powerful.

This spring it’s different. It’s about life again, holding on to what I still have. This spring its not only the flowers blooming but that I still have my dad. That I have all my parents… I am reminded that I want to appreciate the life that does surround me.  I want to allow my heart to bloom again. I want to permit the heartache that has consumed me to unfold into a treasure of memories I now recognizes as gifts and gratitude.  I love my dad. I love all my parents for the perfectly imperfect people they are. I’ve been blessed to have had all of them there through the hardest time in my life, loving me for the perfectly imperfect person I am, loving me equally on the good days as the bad.

This spring I have life blooming, maybe not Grant’s, but life blooming all around me. I have a garden of loved ones with an amazing cherub watching over.

Over the past winter months our family has been working on the bunk house next to the house at Grant’s Place. This little bunk house was our cabin, also known as the hunting shack, while our kids were growing up. It was nothing overly fancy but some really great memories were made in this little space. Working on it this past winter was a trip down memory lane as we worked away making a fresh new place for future memories to unfold.  Reading messages written on the ceilings and walls from times past, wondering where things came from and why they were there. The whole experience was reminiscing to a place and time I treasure.  I thought I’d share a few pictures… I know how proud Grant would be.

I love you Grantie,

mama

 Grantsplace

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Time Hop

Facebook/social media is bursting with all kinds of emotions, events, victories and yes, grief… some love it, others hate it… For me it has been an escape from my own life, while other days I’ve shared some of my deep sadness. Most of my feelings are usually private journaling, some which I’ve blogged, but much of which stays safe from the eyes of others. I’ve never found reason to scrolled back and read what I’ve blogged or journaled these past 4 years. I’ve always thought I’d never want to relive some of my thoughts. Much like seeing a therapist, I’m sure I’ve repeated myself many times over and over and do not have desire to go back to those words. I’ve cried myself through a lot of unspoken words as I type and other days were a sort of meditation; not a tear or a word spoken, just my heart pouring out of my fingers releasing every word into a document those of us living in deep grief would want to scream from a roof top. In a strange way it was a sense of relief and letting go. The words that courageously made it to my blog were so those who felt comfortable reading, could. Those who were not…no need to… I get it.

Several times a day I pop on to Facebook, I like to see what the girls may have posted, the jokes and the vacations my friends are enjoying. I like it, actually I love it. Facebook has brought a smile to my face on days I really needed a lift.

For the past few months I have noticed something different as I scroll my way down Facebook feeds. I’m thinking most people love it…. “Time Hop”… reposting photo memories from the past,  something that didn’t happened in past years. Sure, a casual Throwback Thursday of people reminiscing their own life was something I enjoyed looking at too. Don’t get me wrong, I understand the fun and excitement of great memories. While some of these photos that come up in my top hop were posted of the girls or grandkids and it brings a mile smile to my face, others are a painful sword-through-the-heart kind of moment. Four years ago I was barely surviving, my heart was broken and I was so afraid that people would forget Grant. I posted many pictures of Grant the first several months after losing him. Based on my top hop I guess more than I even remembered.

Facebook lifted my heart many of those days, friends from all 45-some years of my life would post kind, thoughtful, encouraging words to my page or message box or just simply like the many pictures and memories I shared of my boy. Some understood and for others I’m sure they just didn’t quite know how to reply at times. My friends have liked the happy times and understood how to reply to the worst days of my life. While at the time this is exactly what I needed for the past month Facebook has been my Grief Shadow, Grief burst… It’s a very scary feeling. Losing a child is not only the deepest kind of sadness, it’s frightening. The fears of never seeing or touching your loved one ever again is torture. I have what I call scare attacks, an intense sadness that overcomes me when I least expect it at any given time of the day or night.

I have pictures of Grant all around me… but when I see a captured moment that I haven’t seen before or for a long time, when I inhale a scent that he wore or hear his recorded voice, it causes moments of anxiety… sometimes I feel like I’m suffocating as my fingers enlarge him on my iPad touching his face, wishing I could just pull him back to me. I study his hands, I study his ears, every part of my beautiful child.

I’m learning how to cope with these unpredictable emotions… whether it be calling my family or any one that will answer or remove my computer from my docking station and sitting in another area of the building. My office is a shrine of my children, all my children and Grant resides amongst the clutter just as he did the day he left.

I sure I’m not the only one on Facebook that has faced these “Time Hop” fears. I’m sure just seeing how your children have grown brings an emotional tug to your heart.

But thoughts from a mother who has used Facebook as an escape, entrusted her social media friends with her heart… Thank you. And for those who have cared and just didn’t know how to reply… it’s okay. And for those who just don’t know how to reply… thank you for just understanding this process of learning to live a different kind of life.

Mama

grant

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Woulda, Shoulda, Coulda

December 2nd… A haunting date. The last day I would walk this earth with my son.  The “woulda, coulda, shoulda’s” race through my mind daily, but today, December 2nd each year it consumes my thought. Every second, every minute, every hour of the day…

I think for anyone that has lost tragically or unexpectedly the days and hours before are just as painful as the day of the loss. For those who have forgotten the significance of this day they maybe wondering why I’m distant and maybe extra quiet. This day the shoulda, coulda, woulda is the day I regret the most in my life.

It takes a lot of energy to be happy, yet there are still a few moments that I can just laugh and feel normal. What may seem frustrating or disappointing to some has become less critical to me. I’ll listen, smile and nod but if I were brutally honest today I don’t care about the stupid, unimportant stuff that will resolve itself by tomorrow.

My woulda – I’d have said I loved him one last time. My shoulda – stayed by his side all night. My coulda – a million different things. But the truth really is if I could just take back this one day, this one day, December 3rd would be different.

In the work place when something goes wrong there’s always a “why.” Why did this happen? There is always a “What should we have done different?” I can beat myself up daily trying to answer these questions but in the end it doesn’t change anything. For others maybe it will, but for our family it’s hard to embrace.

Has Grant made difference?  I know so. I know my son didn’t die in vain. I know he made a difference in the lives of many and I know my son’s death saved lives.

When I was on the Walk for Hope Pastor Jeff and I walked and talked for a bit. I told him that as important as the walk is for the awareness of addiction I have a really hard time listening to the testimonies of the young lives struggling with this disease, praising God for healing and new life. I asked Jeff the same question I ask God daily… “why my boy? Why didn’t he save my boy?” Those are the words that stream down my face daily. I do have faith, I do have hope and I know I’ll have the answer to all my questions someday but how do I live the remainder of my life with only memories? I know that through God’s grace that I will… but that doesn’t change that I miss him. I miss him with every single breath that I take.

Jeff’s response was “Kim, God did save Grant.” Those words somewhat mirrored Grant’s from a time back. I remember the very stop light we were at. Grant was very open and honest about his demons with me and how he felt that he was fighting a huge fight. His words that day I will always remember.  “Mom, I think the only thing that will save me from this hell, is God.” I think that at the time I thought of being saved as being his life on earth getting better and that addiction wouldn’t be a part of our lives any more. I thought being saved would mean that we could be free of the demon and that my child could once again live in peace, giving his testimony of grace, healing, serenity and freedom.

Dec 3rd I lost my son, I lost a part of myself, I lost a part of my family, and I lost a part of my heart and soul. Grant was finally free, free from pain, free from the sadness and fear and free from the demon he fought so hard to fight.  Grant was saved by the God he prayed so faithfully to. Some may think that addiction is a selfish disease not worthy of sympathy or understanding. Addiction and mental illness is a very lonely misunderstood disease. Few are cheering you on, sending you cards or hot dish. Very few even know how to address you about the subject. Most either don’t know the illness, or they do know it all too well and fear the ending that lurks in their own lives.

Grant died of this disease. There should be no shame, he lost his battle. He was a loving kind person that won the war he fought. We all have a war on this earth, addiction, cancer, mental illness, obesity. There is no shame in the fight…

Today at work one of my coworker so kindly asked how I was going to spend tomorrow…. I don’t know..

Very much like every day I suppose… one day at a time.

Grant Steven Sawyer, Grant's Place

Grant Steven Sawyer

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Happy Birthday Grantleigh

image image

One year ago I walked down the hospital hallways holding the hand of my best friend. I felt a million feelings. Two in which were pain and fear. The others were pure excitement and happiness. I didn’t know what to expect. Was it going to be today? How hard was it going to be? Is she healthy? I felt more determination than I ever felt in my life. Determination to do a good job… Was that a thing? Can you do a ‘good job’ delivering a baby verses a ‘bad job’? That rush of thinking, “Oh my gosh… my life is about to change.” I couldn’t get too deep into thought over all this because 1 hour and 40 minutes later she was in my arms. I’d say I did a pretty good job.

Fast forward to today… One year later. My life is changed. I just can’t imagine life without our Grantleigh. My heart hurts that her Uncle Grant is missing from this lifetime of his niece; as I can’t believe we have no choice to continue life on Earth without him. I constantly imagine what he would have said in response to the imaginary text picture I sent him or that she points up to heaven in response to his name. Today I’m thinking of how much he has missed this past year and how much more he will in the upcoming years.

As I have been carefully planning Grantleigh’s “Alice in Wonderland” first birthday I fell upon a quote.
Alice: “How long is forever?”
White Rabbit: “Sometime, just one second.”
As most mothers say cherish every moment as they let down their head and say “it goes too fast”.

Today and always I will cherish the incredible daughter God placed in my arms. Life on Earth goes so fast, but is only a second compared to the eternity we spend in heaven. Happy first birthday to our incredible baby girl. We love you from heaven and back.
-Karmin

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Why I walk…

I attend a bible study at my church called Sojourn, which means a temporary stay – this group breathes life into me weekly, gets me thinking about life, pondering some of the questions life brings. I think it is much like my mom’s blog – the purpose is for others to know that they will not walk alone, that this life is our temporary home, and gives us hope in the future. We will stay here temporarily, waiting for our time to call heaven our eternal home. I was sitting in my church’s women’s bible study this week. The subject in our study this fall has been, “lies women believe” and this week’s subject was on hope. It made me start to think about this weekend and the Walk for Hope and why we do it.

A question was raised about hope… when was there a time you felt let down or that there was no more hope?… when was hope deferred in your life?…

Mine is pretty obvious in losing my brother… those were some of the darkest days a person could endure. Life felt like it was hopeless, meaningless, and tragic. That day and the months and years to follow hope felt very far away, still does some days.

Some days I feel like, “why do we walk?” Our hope has been lost because my brother is gone and then I start to think about how many people Teen Challenge has helped and how many families it has healed and will continue to heal with the help of others and with the power of prayers. I received a text last week from someone who wanted to donate to Teen Challenge in memory of my brother. When I thanked her she said that her brother was currently in the program. It broke my heart and then reaffirmed the reason we walk. I walk for a million reasons. Here are just a few…

I walk for the 14 year old boy and his mother who falls to her knees every day praying. I walk in celebration of those whose hope has been restored; for those who have walked out of this program a changed man or woman. I walk for the children whose daddy is finally home. I walk for the struggling war going on in the lives of those who are working on their hearts and trying each and every day to free themselves of addiction. I walk for those who feel there is no hope. I walk for the choir of Teen Challenge participants – for them to see how many people support them in their recovery. I walk for all of the brothers and sisters out there; all of the sons and daughters. I walk for my children and our future.

My kids talk about the Walk for Hope all year long. Come about spring time each year they continually ask me, “Mom, how long until the Walk for Hope?” My usual response is … we’ve got some time, six months away, two months away… til finally… THIS WEEKEND.” It’s become a family tradition that they know brings our family and friends together each fall! The bouncy houses, face paint, free food, prizes, foam alley, and the mention that “Elsa and Anna” might be there this year are some pretty good perks too…

If you feel compelled to walk with us we would love to see you on Sunday as a part of our team – and walk with a huge group of friends and family!

We would love for anyone to join us in memory of my brother and in support of all of those who are struggling with addiction. We currently have a team of 20 people! We are so excited for our kids to make this a personal experience, to honor those lives that have been lost, and restore hope. Adults are $15, kiddos are FREE.

Sunday, September 27th

11:00-1:00 – Registration, Kid’s Corner, DJ, entertainment and Picnic

1:00-2:30 5K Walk

2:30 Choir Concert/Testimonies/Prizes

Harriet Island Regional Park Pavilion

200 Dr. Justus Ohage Blvd

St. Paul, MN 55101

Here is a link to our team if you’d like to join us in the fun…

http://givehope.mntc.org/site/TR/Events/General?team_id=1560&pg=team&fr_id=1080

Password: grant01

walk for hope

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Blessed

Writing things down in a tablet, my documents, or even some random scrap of paper is a way to express my racing thoughts and find some clarity to my scattered emotions. I’ve always jotted down my thoughts in some sort of way whether it be a to-do list, bucket list, or even writing down how mad I am about something before I say it. Sometimes it is my odd way I guess for thinking through what I’m suggesting or for-warning myself to bite my tongue before I’m forced to swallow words I may regret.

In this blog I may repeat myself some days, take two steps forward, and another a huge leap back… feel happy, moving forward…  just to find myself back at day one. And even on those days I feel like I am back in the rut I know I continue to move forward, looking at things more positively. That hasn’t happened without the love and support from my family and friends; they are the ones who have had patience with me on the bad days and celebrated with me on the good.

My life was blessed with Grant; for 23 earthly years. I am who I am today because of who he was. I’m a better person for the compassion, understanding, and empathy I now recognize more in me over the past 3 years than I did in the 47 years I lived before losing my boy.

I wish I could celebrate life with Grant. I wish I had my dance. I wish I could watch his children grow. I wish I could see all the dreams come true that I know he wished for himself. As deep as I grieve that these moments will never happen in my life they’ve become what I’m learning to recognize as the “important thing”… in the lives of my girls.

When tragically losing a loved one out of the natural order of death you change… no parent ever “gets over” or just “moves on” in the same way after the death of a child.  Saying “everything happens for a reason” is possibly the quickest way to get my blood boiling.  There is no reason good enough in all heaven and earth that my son is buried while my feet continue to walk this earth. I just miss him and no matter how well I know that I’ll see him again, no matter how deep my faith is in God, heaven and everlasting life the reality remains that on this side of eternity my boy will never be… I will never have my mother-son dance. There will never be a mini Grant to carry on the family name and as hard as it is for me to write and re-read these words it is my reality. However, as much as my heart aches that I’ve been robbed of his future I have to focus on finding room in my heart for the joy my three girls bring to my life.

Weeks back I was making dinner with my father; cooking for friends and family is a passion of his. I will forever be reminded of his insightful words that afternoon. I don’t remember how the conversation started but I do remember the gentle words he spoke that were intended for me to think about and remember. I told him that I felt a sort of jealousy that he may be with my boy before me. I spoke how I miss Grant so much, that still, some days I’m consumed with ache for him. My Dad looked up from the cutting board and said… Kimmy, Grant is happy. He has everything. He is in the most beautiful, peaceful place and he wouldn’t want you to be sad all the time… He doesn’t need you anymore. Grant is in paradise and you need to know that. Your girls, they are the ones that need you, your grandkids… they are the ones that will look to you for wisdom. This world is hard Kimmy and your family needs you. My father’s beautiful blue eyes spoke every word into mine… the words my father spoke that afternoon were a gift, they may be the greatest gift I can give back to myself every day.

A while back another grieving mother asked me “Kim, when does the pain begin to lessen?” At the time I didn’t know if I had that answer; I still believe for each person it’s in their own time. The greater the love the longer and deeper the hurt but my Dad words of wisdom gave me a sort of permission for the first time to let go of the regrets and learn to live my life as intended. Grant will forever own a piece of my heart but he’s okay, and he’s happy. I’ve learned that I need to learn to enjoy life again, that I’m still here on earth to serve a purpose.

I love you Grantie,

Mama

Gods faithful promise: “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away” (Revelation 21:4)

edAM0A2636

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September….

Where did the summer go? I feel like it was such a short time ago that I spent the week up at Grants Place and yet at the same time so many things have transpired over the past few months. Things I’m feeling very sad and sort of mystified about. Life sure gets me thinking. Life, death, living… I guess living is the “what we do between the two” and there’s not a lot of thought sometimes about how well we’re doing that. Tomorrow isn’t promised to any of us. I know that all too well. Losing Grant was devastating; unimaginable and left me completely empty.

I’ve thought a lot about whether I would or would not want to know my final days… would I love and live differently each day if I did? The fears of saying good bye would be heart wrenching and yet I wouldn’t want to leave earth without living or saying all the things I should have but maybe if I lived like I should I wouldn’t have regrets. I don’t remember my final words to Grant December 2nd but I will forever remember and hear his soft “I love you mom.”

I think when losing a loved one unexpectedly you become more in tune to today. By no means do I live each day as I should, but I’m more in tune and honest with myself about how I could improve, not only for myself but for others.

This has been on my mind day and night these past few months. My father is in stage 4 of the wicked cancer Mesothelioma. At first I think I just thought like I did with addiction: find the best doctors and fix it… and then the hard knock of reality hit me once again… I can’t fix it.  I couldn’t fix addiction and I can’t fix cancer, their days on earth, or my days on earth. I’m not in control of death. I’m only in control of living and how I live.

I’ve thought of the words and places I would have wanted to say and see if I had known I wouldn’t have had a life time on earth with Grant. While I will always wonder about the what- ifs in my past…. I can live and love better today.

I am blessed with the opportunity to have time with my dad, to say the things I want to say, to listen to the stories I want to remember, to laugh with the man that tells the funniest stories… a good man…

I’ve attended several funerals over the past few years after losing Grant. I’ve listened to the stories people share about the great person lost and I have always wondered if the thoughtful words they spoke were ever shared with that person before they were gone, that maybe, just maybe, really living today like it’s our last would be sharing your heart every day and lifting people up by our words and kindness.

Living, is telling my Dad because I have him today that “I love you Dad. You are the funniest guy I know. Your great stories, your honesty, your love of life will forever live in me. When I look into your eyes I still see my blue eyed boy. You’ve always wanted the best for me even when I’ve expected less. You have a gentle heart and the gift of wisdom. You make me laugh when I’m sad and redirect me when I’m mad. You’ve been by my side on the happiest of days and your arms were always open on my saddest. You are and will forever be an amazing man and father. I am blessed to have each and every day on earth with you. Today we are living… I love you Pops.”

grandpa princesses

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33 years

33 years ago… WOW! I hadn’t really thought about how many years until Steve posted happy anniversary on Facebook this morning. I knew it was our anniversary but until I read the number 33 it hadn’t even crossed my mind.

So while reflecting on that day July 17, 1982 this morning these words from the hands poem read silent in my thoughts. I have posted them before. I hear this poem at many weddings and since losing Grant I tear up every time. Since the day I married Steve these words remain the truest of vows throughout the years.

These are the hands that will hold you when fear or grief fills your mind.

These are the hands that will countless times wipe the tears from your eyes; tears of sorrow, and tears of joy.

These are the hands that will tenderly hold your children.

These are the hands that will help you to hold your family as one.”

Author Unknown

Today I celebrate the 33 years I have been blessed with my best friend. Today we celebrate all the years we’ve had; the good days and the bad, happy and the sad.

I have thought a lot about marriage today. Blessed for all the happy days, maybe even more blessed on the hardest. Sometimes a marriage isn’t strong enough to make it until the end of time, but that never changes or lessens the one common love between two people; the deepest kind of love which remains between two people married or not. The deep love I am talking about is the love of a child and the love for that person who was the other half of creating, raising, and loving that child. I believe there is no love more profound, never ending, or unconditional than the love two people share for their child. And there is no greater heart break in a marriage than losing a child.

Marriage is hard. Sure there is the feel-good, beautiful, happy moments that make it easy but the hard days, the rollercoaster of anger and heartache in a marriage when hurting deep can be very easily chewed up and spit out, can be just plain hard. It takes work and it takes cherishing even the hard days for it can create a bond that is never failing.

I am blessed this 33rd year being married to Steve…

These are the hands of your best friend, who loves you even more today than yesterday, even more tomorrow than today.

These are the hands that will together rebuild a future when life has shattered.

These are the hands that will hold you on the most tragic days of your life.

These are the hands that will hold your broken heart with the most tender care.

These are the hands that equally love your children and equally feel their pain.

There are the hands that would do anything to bring joy to your saddest of days.

These are the hands that will love and forgive you on your ugliest of days.

These are the hands that till the end of time… love you.

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Another birthday in Heaven… Celebrating the Birthday Boy

It was another birthday in heaven for Grant this week. I hope in some magical heavenly way he was watching us celebrate his life. I imagine him sitting on some unique puffy white cloud smiling down on us all at play celebrating him in our own fun kid-like adventurous way. I can see the cute smirk of sweetness on his face as we celebrate his life.
For me it was a bittersweet day…. it hurts and it’s hard to even get my finger to type the words I wanted to say. The many emotions leading up to this day are indescribable… I can only wish to say “my son is 27.” The words “he would be…”  breaks my heart.
The guest of honor wasn’t at this party to hug. His sweet grin was missing as we spent the weekend/week at Grant’s Place with friends and family, singing, birthday cake food fights, boating, and honoring his life by doing some of the things he loved to do. The “thanks guys” and “love ya’s” are merely silent whispers from our heart. I miss him are the only words I can think of as we celebrate this birthday…

12 34gp4 gp3  5gp76gp1 7gp2  gp6 gp5

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