Friday, July 3, 2015

A Sad Good-bye...and TWO Praise Reports!!!!

"Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints."
Psalm 116:15
(KJV)

Early the other morning, I was going through my little black Thirty-One tote.
I keep it right near our homeschool score keys, so it is always handy as we homeschool.
It is where I keep note cards and greeting cards of all kinds,
and once I get Zach started on his school work for the day,
I often reach for a few cards to fill out while I am waiting for him to finish so I can grade his work.
In this tote, I also store cherished cards, letters, and notes that we have received
from dear friends and loved ones.

As I went through those sweet remembrances the other day,
I came across a letter addressed to a certain Master Zachary.
I instantly recognized the handwriting.
Ms. Carolyn.
There it was....her name and return address on the mailing label in the top left corner.

Then, it hit me.
She hadn't called in quite a while.
Zach hadn't received a recent letter from her either.
The postmark on the envelope in my hand was a few months old.
I tried to remember if this was the last letter that had arrived from her, and I couldn't recall.
Life just stays so busy.

A feeling of dread...that certain emotion that causes your stomach to churn
and your heart to pound...swept over me.
I picked up the phone, and nervously dialed her number.

"We're sorry, but the number you are calling has been disconnected."

Instantly, I knew.
Either she had become ill and moved from her assisted living apartment to the actual nursing home,
or.....
 the inevitable had happened.

 My heart sank to the floor.

I grabbed my address book from my purse and began to search for her son's phone number.
Disappointed, I saw that I had his out-of-state mailing address, but no phone number.
I remembered that he is a doctor, so I began to search the internet for his office number.
I finally found it.
I called and began speaking with his receptionist, explaining that we live out of state,
and that my family and I were friends of his mother's, and we could not reach her and were concerned.

"Oh, she passed away a few weeks ago", her tone was so flat, unsympathetic, and matter-of-fact.
Downright cold...and unfeeling.

How do people get that way?
How do they reach a point where they no longer feel?
At least, that is how it appeared, from my end of the phone.

"Oh, no!" I replied.
I then went on to leave a message for Ms. Carolyn's son to let him know we had called
and that we were so sorry.

A few days went by, and Zachary received a thick envelope in the mail from the good doctor,
that contained a story of Ms. Carolyn's life and legacy,
published by a local newspaper.

What a life she lived!
We learned so much that we didn't know about her.


As I read her life story and looked at the pictures her son had sent to us,
my mind drifted back to the day we first met her.

It was an ordinary day.
We were in the throes of deep grief.
My own dear Mom had just passed away, and to say we were broken, is an understatement.

Kevin was at work, and Zach and I had gone to Taco Bell to meet
my sister, her husband, and my nephew for supper.
All of us were sad...I remember it well.
We were seated over by the window...I could take you to the exact spot....
when I happened to look up and see a sweet-looking, elderly lady walk over
to the booth that was catty-cornered from us.
She had a walker...just like Mom's...with the little tennis balls attached to the bottom of the back two legs.
She had on a little, blue sweater...like the kind Mom used to wear.
Her shoes looked just like Mom's.

I turned to my sister and wistfully said,
"Boy, she reminds me of Mom."

"She sure does", my sister replied.
I could tell she was near tears, as mine started to spill over.

I just had a desire to go over and talk to that little lady.
Another woman, several years younger, walked over and sat down across from her,
and they began to eat.

The longer I sat there, the more I realized I wanted needed to connect with this woman.

When it looked like they were nearly finished with their meal
I finally mustered the courage and walked over.
Zach came with me.

"Excuse me", I started, "but you remind me so much of my Mom.
I just wanted to say hi."

Her face instantly lit up, and we began to talk.

She told Zach and me that she was real worried about her son.
That he was a radiologist in New York, and he and his wife were moving from their home there
to Texas, because he had received a job offer there.

"He is traveling alone", she said.
"Just him and his dog.
His family has already gone before him to Texas, so he is making the trip by himself.
Will you please pray for him when you say your prayers tonight?"

"We sure will", both Zach and I agreed.

What I didn't realize is that Little Mr. Wisdom's wheels were turning.
Then he spoke.

"Would you like me to pray for him now?" he asked.

Oh, my word!
I wish you could have seen Ms. Carolyn's face!

Pleasant surprise...borderline astonishment...filled up every inch.

"Oh, would you?" she cried.

"Sure, I will", Zach replied.

So, right there...out in the open...standing in Taco Bell,
Zach broke out into one of the sweetest, most sincere, heartfelt prayers I have ever heard.
He begged God to protect Ms. Carolyn's son, Joseph,
and he asked God to give him a safe trip from New York to Texas,
and to take good care of him and his dog.

When Zach finished praying, I don't remember if there was a dry eye in our midst or not.
By this time, my sister, brother-in-law, and nephew had walked over,
and they had joined in the prayer, too.

Ms. Carolyn was astounded.
She couldn't believe that this sweet 11 year old boy of ours would stand there,
unashamed and unembarrassed, in the midst of the supper-time bustle,
and utter such a prayer.

But, he did.
That is just Zach.

And that was the beginning of a precious, unlikely friendship.
This caring and wise beyond his years 11 year old boy, sorely missing his Nana,
 and this loving 82 year old grandmother, who was worrying about her son, the doctor,
took to one another like a moth is drawn to a flame.

They would mostly write letters back and forth...
Zach telling Ms. Carolyn about how much he missed his Nana,
about his ailing grandparents in West Virginia,
his schoolwork and how much he struggles with algebra,
his dog, his vacations and trips, and his adventures....
Ms. Carolyn writing back telling him that she kept his picture on her nightstand,
and how she prayed for him every night before she went to sleep,
how his picture reminded her to pray for him,
how she still played the piano in her church, but how someone had to help her walk to it these days,
how her health was failing and she had almost passed out while driving the other day.

Every now and then, she would call us, or we would call her.
She would mention how she wanted us to come meet her for lunch,
and we would speak of how we wanted her and her friend to come have a meal in our home.

She was very hard of hearing, and phone calls were difficult.
Finally, the calls stopped.
Then the letters became less frequent.

Until, the other morning when I realized they had ceased altogether...
and I found out the dreaded news.

Oh, I hated to tell Zach!
At first, I thought I just wouldn't.
Why upset him?
Hasn't this child suffered enough grief over the past few years?
Maybe I should just let him think he would be getting another letter from her...someday.
If, one day, he wondered aloud why he hadn't heard from her,
perhaps I could just tell him at that point.

Then, I knew.
That wasn't fair.
And even though life is hard, and grief is even harder,
Zach deserves to know...to always know....the truth.

So, when he got up, I told him...in the most gentle way I knew how.

He actually took it better than I thought he would.
Because even though he loved Ms. Carolyn dearly,
and even though he called her "Gran-Boo", just like she told him he could...
just like her biological grandkids did,
he knew that Ms. Carolyn was tired and unwell and ready to go home to Heaven...
where his Nana is.

I wonder if they met yet.
I wonder how all of that works.
Since none of us have actually been there, we don't know.
We don't have too much information upon which to base our assumptions,
so I won't speculate.

I would like to think that Mom has met Ms. Carolyn and they are enjoying each other's company.
I would like to think that Mom knows how much comfort Ms. Carolyn brought to Zachary
during the deepest stages of his grief from losing her.
I would like to think that she has thanked Ms. Carolyn and that they are fast friends by now.

Of course, that is only me...wishing for the way I want things to be.

Whatever is going on over there, I know we are missing both of them here.

I will miss seeing her letters and the way Zach's eyes would light up
when he would come slowly up the walk, having already torn into and reading one of them,
on his way back from checking the mail.

He and the doctor, Ms. Carolyn's son, have corresponded, too,
so maybe that friendship will continue, and they will keep sending letters back and forth.
I hope so.

Zach needs that.
Perhaps the doctor does, too.

One thing I learned through the relationship between Zach and Ms. Carolyn
is that true friendship has no boundaries, no generational gaps, and no discriminatory qualities.
And children need older people in their lives.
They need that connection to the past.
They need the stability and settledness factor that elderly people inherently possess.
They need to hear their stories of days long ago.
Bridging the distance between their generations is of vital importance.
I can see that.

Today, I opened email, and I saw Lisa Newton's latest blog post.
In it, she mentioned a post she had read this week about something that has really, really,
really touched my heart and hit a nerve in light of Ms. Carolyn's passing and the impact
she has had on Zachary's young life.

There is a nursing home in West Seattle, Washington
called The Providence Mount Saint Vincent retirement home that also houses an intergenerational learning center preschool.
Evan Briggs is making a movie of the amazing effect these children are having on the elderly,
and the overwhelming impact these elderly residents are having on the children.

ALERT....
you will definitely NEED a box of tissues before watching this.
I bawled like a baby.



If video doesn't load, click here.

Whoever came up with the idea of merging children with the elderly in a setting like this
deserves an award of some sort.
This is just an amazing thing.
I can only imagine how much comfort these children bring to the elderly people,
and how much the elderly are enhancing and influencing the lives of these young ones.

God bless them all.
So precious and touching to see!

It hurts me to the core to know that the elderly are so often cast aside and disregarded and undervalued in our modern society.

They have so much to teach us...we have so much to learn from them!

I poured out my heart about this here, should you care to read it.

Ms. Carolyn came into Zach's life at a time of deep loss and sadness for him.
She took time for him, prayed for him, reached out to him, and she cared...deeply and sincerely.
Her presence in Zach's life was a Divinely-orchestrated gift.
And, I somehow believe Zach's relationship with Ms. Carolyn was mutually-beneficial.
Her son mentioned how much she loved Zach in his letter the other day.

Had we never gone to Taco Bell that day, Zach would have missed out on a treasure.
God always knows what He is doing...even in those little, seemingly-insignificant details
like deciding where we are going to go for a meal.

So, until we meet again on God's golden shore,
good-bye, Ms. Carolyn.
You were a special lady...from an authentically-loving and sincerely-kind generation.
Genuine friends like you are a vanishing breed.
We will always thank God for allowing you to come into our lives...
right when we needed you most.

We will never forget you, dear friend!

******************************************************And now, moving on to a happier note....
God answered your prayers for James Furrow!!!


He came through his surgery on June 30th just fine, praise God!!!
Before surgery, James was told that the cancer was outside his kidney,
and there were also two suspiciously swollen lymph nodes nearby that would need to be removed.
On the Sunday night before James' surgery, he attended a healing service.
When the surgeon went in to operate, his lymph nodes were HEALED!!
They found nothing wrong with them.
They said they got all of the cancer on his kidney, and he is now recovering!

Praise you, Lord!
And, a big thank you to all of you who prayed for James.
To God be the glory!

To read original post about James Furrow, click here.

******************************************************And for more good news....
Baby Daxton came through his heart surgery very well.
He was recuperating and progressing, then, on July 1st, he began having more health issues
and had to undergo brain surgery to implant a drain mechanism.
He came through this surgery well, also, and is now recovering.

God has brought this dear baby a long way, and we are believing Him to continue
to heal him and make him whole.


Please continue to keep Daxton and his family in your prayers!!
God is working!!

To read former posts about Baby Daxton, click the following links:

You may follow Daxton's story as often as you like, by visiting here.

You can also make a donation to an account that was set up
to help this dear family with expenses by clicking here.

Thank you for your faithfulness and prayers, dear ones!

In closing, is there anything you would like us to pray with you about?
We are here, if you should need us.
God bless you all!!!


44 comments:

  1. Oh, Cheryl, I am so sorry to hear about your friend. She sounds like an awesome lady. I pray that you all will be comforted in knowing Ms. Carolyn is now safe at home with Jesus. I'll keep you all in my prayers. Your Zachary is such an amazing young man. What a tender heart he has. I'm happy to see the praise reports. :-)
    Much love to you...♥

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    1. Thank you so very much, dear friend. Your sweet comments were such an encouragement and blessing!!! Love and appreciate you so much! ;)

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  2. I love that you shared that video here. I am so very sorry to hear about the loss of your friend. She sounds like an amazing lady.

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    1. I'm so glad you brought it to our attention! Such a moving, touching story...I can't wait to see the full video when it is completed. Thank you for your kind words...she was truly amazing. :) God bless you, Lisa...thanks for stopping by.

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  3. What a beautiful story; I love how God brings people into our lives. Thank you for sharing.

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    1. I love it, too, Briana! It is so neat to look back and trace God's hand...like connecting the dots. Little events that seemed so inconsequential at the time often turn out to be big and important and life-changing. God is so good!

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  4. Hi Cheryl! If this isn't a witness to the power of prayer, I don't know what is. Wow. You and your son really impacted a life for a wonderful woman. I'm so sorry you had to find out about her death the way you did, but it just shows how special her life was to you. A true God-given blessing. And your son is such a witness to your teaching him and guiding him in prayer. I was cheering him on just reading this :)
    Hope you had a good 4th!
    Ceil

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    1. Thank you so much, Ceil! YES, her life was so incredibly special. It is really something how God orchestrates meetings like this and how His hand is always in every part of our lives, even the small details. :) Dear Zach is such a blessing to us and to so many others....thank you for cheering him on! I can't thank you enough for your sweet words and comments. We had a wonderful 4th, and I hope you did, too. God's best to you, dear friend!

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  5. I just love this story about your son! And the video! Absolutely moving!

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    1. Thank you so much, Jo! I so appreciate your words. And, yes, the video brought me to tears when I watched it again with my husband and son. SO touching! Thank you for stopping by and leaving sweet encouragement behind. :)

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  6. Love Zach's spirit and the joy he brings to others. Hug him for me bringing me joy just reading this!!!! I firmly believe the young and the old make great connections. My neighbor visits the assisted living center near us with her kiddos in toe and bring so much joy to the elderly. I remember when Carrie's neighbor was alive and had to spend her last months in assisted living and Carrie and her toddler (back then) would visit. Sometimes if I was in town, I would go too. It is such a gift to give this bright joyfulness to them and we do need them too!

    I'm praying for the baby and enjoyed the update! I'll keep praying!
    Have a great week,

    Mary

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    1. Thank you so much, dear Mary! I will hug Zach for you....he is SUCH a dear blessing to so many...especially his Daddy and me. Wish you could meet him, you would love him. I am still regularly praying for Amy and still believing God for her miracle...also, Kristen and Abby. I added them to my list, too! God is able. :) Much love to you, sweet friend.

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    1. Thank you, Michele. So happy you stopped by! God bless you. ;)

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  8. Yes it doesn't matter about age or location, friendship and prayers are boundless.

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    1. Yes, how true this is! God knows who we need the most, and He is faithful to orchestrate those details. God bless you, Sandra!

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  9. Thank you for sharing the story of Ms. Carolyn. Such a great example of the beauty of friendship.

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    1. Thank you, Bernadine. It was so nice to see you had stopped by and left sweet encouragement behind today! God bless you. :)

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  10. Devine appointments are never a happenstance. God must have a good chuckle as He orchestrates how different people meet and are encouraged by one another. The story continues with the good doctor, the son of Ms. Carolyn. Without a doubt Carolyn had a profound influence on her son, and now God is encouraging him with Zach. You son is sensitive to the Holy Spirit and God has special plans for this young man. No pushing, just allow God to do the work. I am happy for the two prayer requests and their progression in recovery. Thanks for sharing your lovely post with us here at Tell me a Story.

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    1. How true, Hazel! So thankful for your words about Zach. I appreciate you so much! God bless you, sweet sister. :)

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  11. That was a beautiful story Cheryl!! What a sweet boy you have in Zach that he would take the time and not be afraid to pray for someone in public. Amazing. So sorry to hear of your friends passing. ♥

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    1. Thank you so much, dear friend. So thankful for your dear, encouraging words. I am going to share them with Zach for his encouragement, too. :) God bless you abundantly!

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  12. Oh man. This hit me close to home. I too know the pain of dealing with loss. I also, like you know that our Father isn't in the business of coincidences. He's in the business of healing, preparing, and miracles. What struck me, not surprisingly, is that you thought to reach out to her. Or better yet the Holy Spirit prompted you and you were again obedient.

    This also reminded me of my childhood with my mom visiting elderly homes when my sister and I were little. It again reminded me of my wife who took our kids to do the same thing.

    It's a profound thing that the two groups of folks on this planet that would seemingly have the least effect on one another has the most. Isn't that just like our Father...

    God will use the memory of your and your son's sweet friend as another step in the path that He's using to prepare Zach for his calling.

    Thanks for the updates and I'm praying for Daxton.

    And thanks for all the things that you do when no one else sees... our Father sees.

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    1. Thank you so much for your encouraging words, Floyd. I can't thank you enough for your perseverance to leave these comments...may God richly and abundantly bless you for being such a blessing and support. I so appreciate your encouragement to Zach, too, and will certainly share your words with him. Your visit here tonight has been such an uplift...thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

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    1. Oh, Denise! I was SO thankful to see that you had stopped by here...I have worried about you and wondered how you were doing. Then I stopped over to your blog and was so very thankful to see that you are as well as you are. Praying for you, sweet friend. :)

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  14. What a wonderful relationship for your son and this lovely lady, that is something so special and what an amazing young man you are rearing. Thank you for sharing that story with us and I am sorry for your loss but rejoicing with you that your friend is experiencing Gods perfect peace. Thank you also for the praise reports. We serve a wonderful God. Blessings dear friend xxx

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    1. Thank you ever so much for your dear, sweet comments...especially about Zach. It is always such a blessing to see that you have stopped by and left such precious encouragement behind. Much love and many blessings to you, dear friend. :)

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  15. Oh, what a wonderful story about Ms. Carolyn and Zach! Thank you for sharing that beauty with us.

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    1. And thank you for stopping by, Cat. It was so precious to see that you had been here! God bless you abundantly, my friend!

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  16. What a beautiful touching story Cheryl, of the amazing ways our Lord works in our lives, bringing people together, and allowing paths to cross for His purposes! I never cease to be amazed at how He can work, when we are just obedient to His voice... as I know you and your family are! What a precious testimony to the value of being obedient to the voice of the Lord! I truly enjoyed the video of the special work in Seattle with the elderly and children, indeed what valuable lessons, and experiences are happening because of this! And, so very thankful for the amazing praise report of healing! Isn't our Lord just amazing, each day He never ceases to care for us in ways I could never dream. This life with the Lord is a life that is like no other here on earth! I too believe the Lord has a very special calling on Zach's life, and your family too... and will be praying that the Lord continues to bless and encourage your sweet family in the path that He has for you! Many hugs across the miles!!!

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    1. Oh, thank you ever so much for your sweet visit, dear friend! So very grateful for your comments and encouragement and support. It truly means SO much!!! I could never thank you enough for your prayers for Zach and for our family, as we do our utmost to seek God's will and navigate this path. You are precious to me! God bless you abundantly and always! :)

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  17. Cheryl, may God comfort you and your Zach as you remember Ms. Carolyn. I loved reading her story and hope to meet her one day. (I am going to keep my eyes and ears open at Taco Bell from now on.). I do love a good God story. :)

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    1. Thank you, dear Lyli. I so appreciate your kind words! YES, it pays to keep our ears and eyes open at all times...God's stories are always in the making. :) Praying for you and your family. :)

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  18. Thanks so much for linking up at Mondays @ Soul Survival. Pinned on my Mondays ... board! Blessings!

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    1. Thank you SO much, Donna...for the link-up, for the sweet comment, and for the pin! God bless you abundantly. :)

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  19. what a sweet story about Zach and Ms. Carolyn.

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    1. Thank you so much for stopping by! God bless you. :)

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  20. Cheryl...I am sorry to hear of Ms. Carolyn's passing. And your tribute to her is truly beautiful. I feel like I know her. Thank you for sharing her and sharing at Monday's Musings. Have a blessed week friend. :-)

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    1. Thank you so much, sweet friend. I am so thankful for your visit and kind words. God bless you with a wonderful week, too!! :)

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  21. Dear Cheryl and Zachary,
    Thank you for that beautiful and loving tribute to my mother, Carolyn. She has loved many children in her life and Zachary has the special blessing of being one of the last children she was able to share her love and kindness with on this earth. Tell Zachary that I received his latest letter and thank him again for praying for my dog and me to have safe travels on our long road trip from New York to Texas... it has been almost 2 years now. :-)

    Sincerely,
    Joe Sutcliffe

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    1. Oh, what a wonderful surprise to see that you had stopped by! Thank you for your kind words! I read your comments to Zachary, and he was so uplifted by them. I apologize...I was thinking it was three years ago, that we met your Mom...it must have been longer after Mom died that we met her than I thought. I corrected it in the blog. May God bless you and comfort you as you miss your Mom, and may He reward you for your kindness to Zach, too. So happy to hear from you tonight!

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  22. im so sorry for this sudden loss in your life Cheryl! I am always thinking of you and your husband and Gawyn is always asking about Zach. I hope you guys are well and we would love to see you when you have a chance. please call me or email me whenever you need to. lilian

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    1. Oh, Lilian! It was so precious to me to see that you had stopped by here and left such sweet encouragement behind! Zach loves Gawyn so much, and YES, it would be so wonderful to see you all. I will email you soon. Love you, sweet friend. :)

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