5 years his story

Warning: trigger post on loss.
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I’ve never fully shared his birth story. It’s been 5 years and I’m finally feeling ready because I know his soul is being redeemed. Thank you for reading if you decide to continue. I fully understand if you don’t read more.

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5 years and 2 days ago I awoke to Xavier’s Mommy’s post in the group about Xavier’s passing at 19 weeks and my heart broke. I was in bed and just stunned, never before realizing loss like that could happen. I thought once we were past the first tri we’re good! (I know, so naive!) I prayed for her and him and started my day.

5 years and 1 day ago, I was 19 weeks and I went to the gym to rest my hips in the hot tub. After avoiding the hot tub during my whole pregnancy, due to the warnings I heard non-stop, I was in so much pain I just had to go this one time. I settled in and tried to be brief. I felt him tell me he was too hot, with a little flutter and a feeling of panic. I begged him for just a couple more minutes and hovered with most of me out of the water. (I spent months regretting that until I realized it would have just been something else later that would have evoked the same response.) I finally felt a little relief and climbed out and dried off. I met Raul in the lobby and he looked at me concerned and asked if I was ok, if I got too hot. I said no, that I felt better (with a flutter of doubt), and we went home. I slept so well and was looking forward to the first Food Truck Rodeo in Seattle the next day, Saturday.

I awoke 5 years ago and pulled out my Doppler, and feeling worried from the night before, tried to listen for his heartbeat and couldn’t find it. I called my friend, who was studying to be a mid-wife and would be my doula, and asked her. She assured me that they sometimes don’t find baby easily at this stage and to rest and try listening again later. I got up and got ready, worry heavy on my heart. We went to the ‘rodeo’ and I was freezing cold the whole day, colder than I’d been for months. I knew something was wrong. I called my doctor’s office and the best they could do was an appointment on Tuesday.

But I knew. I knew he had died.

I waited until Tuesday in complete conscious oblivion and praying that what I knew in my heart wasn’t true. We checked in, the doctor who had confirmed my pregnancy was still ok just 10 weeks earlier pulled the portable u/s machine in the room and there he was, still. Still. They sent me downstairs to the big u/s machines, where I still had an appointment the next Friday for his 20 week anatomy scan. The tech didn’t say anything but excused herself and left the room. We knew. Raul held my hand and I turned my head and started crying. They sent us back upstairs. My options were a D&C or induction. My mom was flying in to town on Friday. Surgery terrified me so I opted for induction and asked to wait until Fri. They booked me a check in for Thursday morning. I told just enough of my clients and colleagues to buy a few days.

I spent two days with my angel inside of me. He would move only in reaction to my movement. I cried. I was panicked. I was numb. He was a “threatened miscarriage” from 6 weeks but they said at his 12 week NT scan he looked great! How could this happen to me? WTF do I do with myself with a dead baby in me? Well, I googled and I cried. I tried to piece together an ‘action plan’ for my hospital stay.

I took one last bump photo. I tried not to cry while Raul took my pic. He hated me for making him take it. I have NO regrets about taking it.

I had been seeing 222 frequently in the days before his death. When I got in the car to go to the hospital, our car had a range of 222 and it was 12:22pm. In that moment, I knew what it meant and I hated it. I am right where I’m supposed to be. And it is hell on earth. On the radio came the song Sail by awolnation. That became his song, my anthem of grief. It used to make me cry instantly but now I find a strange comfort in it, a ‘hi mom, I’m thinking of you,’ instead of suicide (which I did contemplate a few times when the PPM pain was too great). 222 is now comforting, I know when I see it, for better or worse, I’m where I’m supposed to be.

We pulled in to the hospital parking garage, got checked in. They made me sit in a wheelchair and pushed me to the end of the hall. It was dark, there was a white butterfly on my door. They hooked up an IV and started fluids. They put pitocin tablets up against my cervix and we waited. Slowly the contractions started to build. The dr came to check on me. She told me rather matter of fairly but with a soft touch that I could have any pain meds I wanted. I held off for quite awhile. Once the sun came up, the contractions got stronger. I asked for something for the pain, they gave me morphine. My doula came. My mom arrived. The contractions got stronger. Cervical cheeks came and went but I was little fuzzy, a little more numb. Finally they said it was time to push. It wasn’t too hard, I remember feeling his sack slide out. They popped it, cleaned him up and helped me birth the placenta. They asked if I wanted him autopsied but I declined, the thought of cutting him open made me physically ill. I was ok with having the placenta checked out. (The only thing his placenta results revealed was that he was missing a blood vessel in his umbilical cord. I believe the bleeding I had at 5-6 weeks in, just before I met you ladies, was related to that blood vessel issue as that’s when the cord forms. But that’s another story.)

He was so tiny, he fit in my hand. He was not a typical 19 week old bc of that missing vessel. His left arm was not fully formed, his head and torso were excessively swollen. But his feet and legs were just perfect. (His right side was visible in the NT scan and was formed properly so that’s why they didn’t catch anything amiss.)

I was told I could have as much time with him as I needed. The nurse dressed him as best she could, but he was too tiny for regular hospital clothing. My doula left to tend to her life. My mom went to get some food. DCW stepped out too. I ordered food for myself, and sat with my son on the pillow next to me. I pretended he was ok. I talked to him, I held him. I WILL NEVER AGAIN JUDGE A POST-PARTUM MOM FOR ACTING “CRAZY”. I get it now. I understood what a ‘mother’s love’ meant finally and it did me no good. I didn’t know before that it could hurt this terribly. I didn’t know before that it would be so beautiful. He was so beautiful. I could see Raul in him. I could see all the hard work our bodies did, G’s and mine, to build him as he was.

I spent a good 8 hours with him by my side before the nurse came to take him away. He would be transported to a nearby funeral home. I couldn’t watch her walk away with him. I wanted to scream to bring him back. To let me take him home, please just let me take him home. (Repeat after me, I will never judge a PPM mom again.)

The grief counselor came but I was too numb and in shock for her to be any good. The u/s office downstairs called wondering why I wasn’t at my 20 week scan and that they’d have to charge me for no-showing (um, hello, you saw me three days ago, who the fuck forgot to cancel my appointment?!?). That was the first, but not last, person I had to tell that my baby died. Pretty sure I cursed those words at her on the phone. They checked on me a couple more times then said I could be released. It was dark by now. Raul helped me pack. They put me in a wheelchair again.

Coming out to the lobby and to the elevator was a LARGE, maybe 30+ family of a patient. Happy, excited, cheering, with balloons. I wanted to scream at them to shut up. Instead I looked away, trying not to burst into tears. That moment, that moment right there, has been the hardest moment of my life. To wheel past all of those happy people without my baby. To go home without my baby. I succeeded in keeping my composure until the elevator doors closed. Raul helped me into the car and drove me home.

We held a small funeral service for G a couple days later. I got to see him and say one more good bye. I didn’t want to leave. Raul had to pull me away bc it was someone else’s turn.

I don’t remember much after that. The day I checked in to the hospital was the last day of summer. The day I left it was fall and started raining. It rained for days. I couldn’t get out of bed. My milk came in, a stinging giant Fuck You from the universe. Raul made me sage butter pasta for a week straight. I wore allthebras. He forced me to go outside on walks, and pointed out the lovely bits of nature. He watched me slide down and wouldn’t let go of me. For all of my bitching about him, he saved my life.

After 2 weeks I had to go back to work, to deal with my projects and the volunteer gig I had signed up for (as Madam President of a professional organization.) I threw myself into distractions. I still bled for 6 weeks.

I joined the FB group Stories of Babies Born Still. I learned how common this is. I heard stories of heartbreak worse than mine. I didn’t have a fully put together nursery I had to dismantle. I was not due in a week or due last week.

If I had a super power, it would be perspective. I can see both sides of the coin. I can understand the other’s point of view (even when my ego doesn’t want to admit it!) and if I ever seem callous or dry or harsh, it’s because of this power. Seeing these stories of others, of still born babies, of nicu babies lost, and since then of Syrian babies killed, of women who choose abortion, and so much more, gives me a weird comfort. Comfort that I got off easy. That my experience was only this bad. And I felt guilt about that for a long time, but a special reiki session helped me make peace with this. I understand now that he chose me as his mother and he only needed that little amount of time on earth to reach perfection.

The hospital classified him a miscarriage because he perished at 19 weeks, one week shy of the ‘cut off’ to be recognized as still born. I didn’t get a death certificate. I did get a cremation bill.

My grandma, who had 3 early miscarriages of her own, has, for the last 5 years, knitted small little baby blankets for me after she first heard he was too little for the hospital clothes. I tuck a card and a blanket in a ziploc and deliver them to hospitals in his name.

It was hard to be an invisible mother. It’s much easier with a rainbow baby because at least now the world recognizes I am a mom. But it’s still hard. He’s not in pre-k. He’s not losing teeth. He’s not riding his bike next to me. All these things he will never do are thoughts I usually just try not to think.

Then I’ll be alone in my car and that song, Titanium, comes on. There’s something about it, I can’t explain. It transports my heart back to that hospital bed and I’m instantly in tears. Tears of sorrow. Tears of joy. Tears of strength. I am titanium. I remember my lesson from my first son. My purpose is to pick up the pieces of my broken heart and carry them forward, to grow them into a new love. To spread love. To be love. To calm my fears, to trust my strength. To run in the fields on these most perfect feet I have, with angels lifting me up, and Bear by my side, reminding me of all I have lost and all I have gained.

I am sitting on the floor in Bear’s room as I type this, crying of course. And just as I typed that last sentence, in his sleep he rustled and then said, “whoaaa!” and I have to giggle. Thank you my son.

 

I love you forever.

I like you for always.

Beyond when I’m living,

my baby you’ll be.

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Happy World Down Syndrome Day_ a tribute to eternal love

It was decades ago but I still remember snippets like it was yesterday. Sitting shotgun in Oma’s station wagon, my flute case on my lap, rain misting over the car as we barreled down the back streets. Into the waterfront community we went. We drove to where the gardens are shaped like animals and everyone’s lawn is immaculate and level. Beautiful flowers peek out of the rockery used to secure the hillside to each home.

We pull into the driveway and ascend the stairs to the front door. I look behind me at the Sound, the water glistening off in the distance, a dreary dark blue grey with just a pocket of sunshine hitting the waves and glistening back at me. Stepping inside I’m hit by the smell of them. Not in a bad way, but in the way that everyone’s home smells a little bit different. I gaze up at her cases of trophies and collectibles while Oma and her chit chat. We walk down the stairs past photos of her, of him, of their son.

I don’t remember if I was ever able to meet her son. She talked about him a lot and had photos everywhere and I always left feeling her love and grief. The love made sense to me. The grief, not so much to my small self. I could not put words to it, but I could feel it’s cloudy presence over her heart.

She would walk me to her music room, help me get set up, kindly ask about my day while Oma sat to the side, or upstairs some days.

© Yiannos1

Joy would teach me about music. She would teach me about playing the flute, about proper breathing, reading music.

© Argument

© Argument

What I didn’t realize until many years later that she was also teaching me the strength to love in the face of grief. She taught me how to have an open heart, a patient mind and how “disability” is a state of mind and environment, not a reflection on someone’s soul, their heart or them at all.

She loved to talk about Davey. She loved to share his photo and tell me about what a loving a warm heart he had. Her beautiful son, Davey, was born with Down Syndrome.

Pilot with down syndrome

*not Davey, but a close stand-in

She always wanted a child. Joy and Herb had tried for many years. Joy was a former beauty queen and dedicated musician and singer. Herb was a brass man. Keen to the trumpet, her to the winds, together they would teach children to love music, to be good at music.

Then came Davey.  He grew from a baby to a toddler to a young boy. It was as he was turning into a young man that his generous heart gave out. They loved him so much, and I’m sure they grew to love him more and more each day even after his passing.

The look in her eye would be bright and shiny at first, then as her memories moved forward in time, the twinkle would dim and a veil of grief would sneak in. He was her only son and he was perfect.

Davey was a fighter who would constantly defy the odds. Growing older against doctor’s opinions. Going to school and embracing his life, he was a lover who welcomed every person he encountered with an open heart and compassion. He is an angel and an inspiration.

Joy was a mother who loved her son unconditionally. Her love for him was so great it gave her the strength to be a mentor to and love other people’s children. She tutored many dozens of kids in her years teaching music. The photos they would send her, for years even after going to college and moving away, are a testament of her work. (Any woman who can love someone else’s child as if he or she were her own, in the face of her own loss, is superwoman to me.)

What I took away from Joy and Davey was not a tale of loss, but a tale of dogged determination, hope and love. I don’t know if Joy and Herb are still around, but that doesn’t stop me from thinking of them and thanking them for their love.

For more information on World Down Syndrome Day click HERE

Even a Rex sometimes cries…

I cried the other day. That doesn’t sound like much of an event, especially when I have friends who cry at least once a day over what seems like trivial events to the outside world. I realized afterward that it’s been about a year since I had a really good, ugly cry. That’s a long time for someone who previously would cry at the sappiest of movies.

Leading up to my dry spell, I spent so much time crying, mourning my lost loves, that one day, I had to stop. I had to stop crying. I had to stop to survive. If I kept mourning with so many tears I would wash away my resolve to live. So I stopped crying. I put up a wall and tried to find other outlets for those emotions. Crying couldn’t be one of them.

Then the wall was punctured. A long, stressful day led me to crumble the next morning over a seemingly dumb event. It wasn’t the event that made me cry. It was the build-up of all that emotion that I tried so hard to acknowledge and let go but never really let go of. It’s the emotion that hangs onto the edge of your heart or gets stuffed into the fringes of your mind. That emotion needs out, and like water flowing downhill, it will find a way. It will leak out in the worst of places if it’s not dealt with, felt and really, truly let go.

I admitted defeat. I admitted the Universe got the best of me. I let down my walls.

Time stood still for a moment. That pesky and persistent resolve to carry on swelled up. My emotional self wanted to bash it back down.

It is in these weak moments that I think of a young woman* Oprah interviewed many years ago. Her ex-boyfriend had set her on fire and she survived but with terrible scaring. She’s had dozens of surgeries and just living is a challenge. Although she wanted to give up, her sister tells her to take 5 minutes a day to feel bad, to cry, to let down her walls. At the end of the timer, she has to stop crying and carry on.

That interview has stuck with me. That young woman was honest, vulnerable and so sad. Her strength and carry-on-ness has stuck with me.

Allowing myself a few moments to feel sad, it was soon time to stop crying and carry on.

When I looked up after drying my tears, this is what I saw.

heart in the sky

When was the last time you let down your walls? When was the last time you really felt, and then truly let go of, those bottled up emotions?

*I tried to find the story of the particular woman mentioned above, but could not find it. If I do, I’ll add it in the comments.

Mug Alert: The first Om Nom Nom

My neighborhood is in the beating heart of the coffee phenomenon. I am surrounded by caffeine addicts. They are everywhere. Before 9am it’s like the streets are overrun with zombies and only the children remain normal, happy and giggling. Standing in line at one of the thousands of coffee shops leaves you recounting the list of rules from Zombieland. Then, almost like magic, there’s actually HUMANS leaving the shop, not zombies! That coffee fix is a serious thing, not one to be messed with. My beloved coffee addicts have taught me that coffee comes before words.

© Duskbabe | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images


© Duskbabe | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

I am the one in a million that doesn’t drink coffee. There’s something about it’s taste that just, well, isn’t my cup of tea. It’s mostly drinking it that repels me, but I’m not opposed to making it for my beloved coffee addicts. It’s taken a few years but I actually like making coffee now. It’s a great way to make easy friends… the zombies always smile at the person handing them a hot cup of java. It’s become an act of love.

In honor of my beloved coffee addicts, I’m starting the Mug Alert post. Now you can remind yourself and those you love to let out their inner RAWR, first thing in the morning with a cup of coffee done just right.

The OmNomNomivore

onnomnommug

Love, All Grown Up

“The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit. Be a tree, give fruits, flowers, shade to others without expecting anything from others. Whatever you want from others first you have to give that to others. Whatever you give to others, you will be given in return. If you give love, respect to others then surely you will be given love and respect from others. That’s why we should learn to give good things to others.”- Deepak Panwar freeimage-814506 A couple years ago, my husband and I found ourselves in the midst of a marriage crisis. We had no idea how, but we had gone from twitterpated young lovers to disillusioned married people. We fought constantly, and our words were almost always disrespectful, sarcastic, and unkind. We tried everything we could think of to reconnect: Date nights, talking more, sharing interests… it all just ended up serving as the Band-Aid over the gunshot wound. We were toeing the line of ending a marriage and splitting a family.

I stumbled across an advertisement for a marriage self-help book one day. In my head I scoffed and thought about how silly and trite it probably was. But, part of me knew I was running out of options to save my marriage. I ordered it, and jumped into reading. Of course, some of it was exactly what I expected in terms of catch phrases and fluff. To my complete shock, the main message was absolutely revolutionary to me. It told me to stop demanding and expecting from my partner. To stop speaking and behaving disrespectfully. My brain rebelled, “But, he makes me angry! He disrespects me! I’m not going to roll over and let that happen to me! I’m not going to bend over backwards for someone who won’t do the same.” I sat with these feelings for a good week until I finally figured I could probably swallow my pride long enough to give it a go… because honestly, what else could I do?

We decided to table the issues we had been arguing about for months. It wasn’t about better listening or communicating more clearly. It wasn’t about expressing needs asking for concessions. The focus was on the here and now- our words and actions towards each other in each moment. We were challenged to behave as we did in the beginning of our relationship with random acts of kindness and love. It wasn’t overnight, but change started to happen. We began to look at our relationship in terms of what we could bring to each other, and not what the other person owed us. Hearts softened, and we learned that though we couldn’t take back old slights and wrongs, we could forgive them without having to battle over who was right or responsible. Our words and actions towards each other became kind and respectful. The knot in my stomach that was all the old hurt and anger I had been hanging onto started to melt away, and I felt like I could breathe again. Of course, no couple is perfect, and sometimes old habits like to run amuck. But, we continually came back to the idea that we were in this relationship to love each other, not to tear each other down or win emotional battles.

What is left today is a relationship that feels all grown up. We are happy and, dare I say, still a bit twitterpated. We are tackling life one day at a time, and we do it knowing that we are a team. Not because we have to be, but because we choose to be. We love, laugh, trust, respect, forgive, and keep moving forward.
couple on beach
Relationships grow and evolve through so many phases- lust, twitterpation, adventure, comfort… But I truly think that love grows into its finest form when you realize that your highest calling to your relationship is to treat your partner with infinite kindness and respect. When you can look at them and know that you want nothing more than to never be a source of pain or disrespect to them… and that is reflected back at you. That it’s not about being right or in charge. That it doesn’t matter who makes more money or has more success. I think it’s when you realize that you can take on the world and anything in it… because you are a unit based in respect and driven by the desire to do right by each other. That binds you tightly to each other, and how can trials tear you apart if there isn’t a gap for a foothold to be had?

#Erin

Happy RAWR day

What? It’s not RAWR day! It’s Valentine’s Day silly!

I can see how you might think that but don’t be fooled!

Today is a day to celebrate love and by most accounts there’s a few types of love that we’re celebrating today. There’s friend-love- that “gosh-I-just-love-my-bff-how-did-she-know-I-needed-that-bitch-sesh?!?-How did I survive without her?” There’s hubby-love- that “ooh!-He-did-get-me-the-special-expensive-chocolate-today!” and of course, kiddo-love. “Aww-my-sweet-kiddo-look-at-what-they-made-for-me!” I won’t leave out family-love because “I-love-you-too-ma!” But beneath all that love, there’s more, much more.

the Portland RAWR

the bright RAWR behind love and passion

Beneath the chocolates and the pleasantries and extra texts and phone calls, there’s love. Beneath love is passion. Beneath passion is RAWR. “RAAAAWWWRRRRR” is where we find the strength to love so deeply, care so much and panic like crazy to express it. Real love, that passionate love that would compel you to leap before a bus for your loved one, comes from a most primal spot in our hearts and souls. From that same spot comes our RAWR. In my humble opinion, RAWR is what powers love.

Even when we don’t have love, we still got RAWR. So today, Happy RAWR day.

RAWR & LOVE <3 Marie

RAWR & LOVE, Marie

Mother’s Day Rawr…

I hope everyone had a wonderful Mother’s Day & were able to spend time with your Littles or your Mamas or BOTH.

I had a very nice day with my 3 Dudes.  We took the Boys to get their pictures taken for Mother’s Day & for Ryan’s 3 Month Birthday.  The pictures turned out way too cute & both of the Smalls did great!!!  We did a little shopping @ Target, had lunch @ home & the Boys took naps.  Hub’s mom came over in the evening & Hubs made us chicken, corn on the cob & roasted potatoes for us.  My 4 year old made the salad & he was so proud.  Dinner was great & then Hubs & I gorged ourselves on ice cream after James went to bed.  Although he did come out & caught us red-handed!!!  He goes “Heyyyy……. What’s THAT?!”  So busted.

I was in bed last night thinking about my nice day & thought about my most interesting Mother’s Day so far.  2 Years ago Hubs, James & I went to New Orleans for my Birthday (May 6th) & Mother’s Day (May 9th, 2010).  The day before Mother’s Day we spent all day running around New Orleans.  We walked down Bourbon Street (in the day time before it gets TOO weird), went to the Aquarium, walked around & shopped @ the RiverWalk, walked all around the French Quarter & ended up @ the Hard Rock for dinner.  Everything was going great; we were laughing & having a good time & James was just happy as could be.  Until the SECOND the food came & the poor Kid puked his little guts up!!!  Our Waiter was AMAZING though & totally didn’t even skip a beat & started cleaning up the table & asked if we wanted him to box up our food so we could get James home to rest & if he needed some water in a to-go cup.  We got all cleaned up, put the Dude in his stroller & hoofed it back to our hotel.  James still wasn’t feeling well & puked well into the wee hours of the morning on Mother’s Day.  There I sat @ midnight on Mother’s Day, on the bathroom floor of our hotel, propped up with the cushions & pillows from the couch with a pukey Kid.  Happy Mother’s Day to me.  LOL!!!  I guess that’s what I get for procreating.

*KODI*

What RAWR means to me, Marie

What RAWR means to me…https://allthingsrawr.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=40&action=edit&message=10

I started “RAWR”ing in the summer of 2011, while pregnant.

I watched my waistline expand, felt my hormones surging and encountered an appetite that would shame a truck driver. As my growing bean began suctioning off my brain cells, I found my vocabulary shrinking. My word choice began to revert to cave-man sounds. When I was hungry, I found myself unable to form complete sentences. Unable to utter words with any coherence. My hunger whittled my brain down to a simple “rawr” to communicate my immediate need for food. But it didn’t end there.

RAWR!

The rawr turned from a nice request for good food, soon -into a RAWR- the demand for good food, now! Not long after that, my brave partner, Raul, coined the name, “Preggosaurus Rex” to describe my dinosaur-like behavior and demand for a snack. So began my rawr, it almost ended there.

I was only pregnant for the summer. My son, George Alfred, did not survive the fall. He passed in mid-September and was born still on the last day of summer, half way to his due date. Overcome with grief, sadness and heartbreak, my rawrs retreated into little lamb bleats, barely vocalized. I slipped into the darkness of a gray, rainy, Seattle fall and winter, expecting the rawr to be washed away with the rain.

Through the darkest of days, I had a light that kept shining on me. I couldn’t escape it, as hard as I tried. The light of love from my friends, family, and fur-babies could not be escaped. They loved me no matter what. And their love kept my rawr alive. It was dormant, buried under tears and behind the walls of my heart, but it was alive. Love was like the little nightlight, burning dimly but just bright enough that you can find your way through the darkness.

I remember it clearly. The first real Brunch since our world came crashing down. The first mimosa and croque madame. The first time I could actually forget. The moment when the clouds parted and the sun shone on my heart, for just a second, came out of nowhere. The RAWR that escaped surprised me and my grief with it’s power. I still had it! I started to find joy in life again. Pushing myself to be better, feel better, live better. In one of these joyful moments, it occurred to me that when I feel the most RAWR is when my heart is the most full of love. (Even if my moment of rawr seems out of frustration or anger, there is an underlying current of love and joy required.) RAWR is love. Love for life. One has to be excited to “RAWR”!

releasing my inner rawr
hammer style

To support my journey of healing, and at the previous urging of friends, I decided to start All Things RAWR because I need a place to collect those moments, things and flashes of RAWR around me. I’ve asked some of my dear friends, those willing to walk beside me until my clouds lifted, to join me in documenting the RAWR around us.

May the RAWR be with you.

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