The thing they share

For two days I’ve come downstairs to find them glued to the 24 hours of LeMans. Though they vowed to simply watch the first and last hour of the race, there has been quite a bit of intermittent checking in.

The only time the TV is ever tuned to source 1 and regular cable TV is on race days. Formula One, the Indianapolis 500; spring is nothing if not a season of automotive racing. They have this in common: A love of motorsports. Before he was born, his father used to watch alone, or with me half-heartedly showing interest, but now he has a real partner, a true believer in the house.

As a metaphor, there is much to be learned from the international race circuit. There is a camaraderie the drivers share, regardless of their country of origin. In Formula One racing, a tire change takes less than two seconds. Blink and it’s over. At LeMans, it takes closer to 20 seconds. Either way, imagine the teamwork and training it takes to make that happen.

The living room debates — Astin vs. Porsche vs. Honda vs. Ferrari, and so on — have become more studied, more intelligent as the years fly by. If you think for one minute that the father is schooling the son, you would be wrong. It’s the know-it-all young man who absorbs the facts and figures and trivia like a sponge; he is the one who knows strategy and engine speed and how much time a driver has until the next pit stop.

I have come to love these mornings, the sound of racing engines, the commentary, the civilized intensity of global motorsports. But most of all, I love the way it brings them together, father and son. The thing they share. Allegiance to the checkered flag, to each other, to this incredible life they live.

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads. May your day be filled with shared moments, checkered flags and the things you love.

This life

Friday we celebrated our anniversary. Twenty-seven years of marriage. I can’t help but think what a long, strange trip this has been. Lately, we’ve both been a little nostalgic about all the traveling we’ve done together, most of it in the first 12 years of our marriage, before we were parents and homeowners.

Though there were plenty of other trips and other places, we spent so much of our time in California. Our lives continue to be drawn west and east; our footprints in the sand from Point Reyes to Montauk. Our hearts split between where we are and where we have been.

We met in LA as I was preparing to move to NY. He was the art director at the NY-based sport magazine where I had just been hired to write about performance fabrics and apparel. Our first assignment together was a surf story in Malibu and he showed up in a black rented turbo T-bird, which I later learned he drove illegally down a dirt fire road off of Mulholland Drive. The road, of course, was narrow and had no turnaround, so he had to back out in that big old boat of a car — about a mile back to the pavement. I would learn that this was pretty much his approach to traveling in general. Asking directions and turning around were not in his DNA. To this day, he swears the map showed a through road.

His passion for cars and culture is still shaping our lives. There have been times when I’ve felt myself lost to the things he loves, and yet, my life is richer too because of those things. He gave me the West Village and Dylan and Patti Smith; I gave him California and all her treasures.

Marriages are complicated and messy and 27 years is a long time. But here we are. Once I tried to catalog every place we had been. But the list was too long. There was a time we lived in the moment, when tossing a bag in the back of the car and seeing where we might end up was just about every weekend we knew.

I have loved our life and sometimes even felt smothered by our life, but through it all there has been us. Together. And I don’t always understand how or why, but somehow it just works. Twenty-seven years is a long time. It’s been something of a magical journey, a little wild, a little free, a little out there at times.

And maybe it’s been a little miraculous too.

k&jcollage

Scenes

I often think it is the men who have fucked things up. I know. But still.

I am the mother of a son dancing awkwardly among other mothers of sons. I wish we knew someone who had daughters, I recently said to a friend. I am compelled to remind my mama-sisters that our sole purpose is to raise these boys to be strong feminists. To teach them that women are equal, that no means no, that honor and respect go hand in hand with just about all things in life.

I wonder aloud if I am doing this: Is my son merely parroting back my beliefs or does he see — really see — the beauty in all of us, in social justice, in saving that which needs to be saved? We build bridges, not walls, I tell him. It really is that simple.

We watch the late night comedians, but we are past the point of shock. Nothing that happens in the world surprises us anymore. And the irony of the humor is that it no longer plays like a fictionalized account of the news. The truth is ironic enough.

At school, my son tells me, there are kids who cheer for the president. They don’t see the irony or or the unbelievable hypocrisy of it all. They feel empowered. There’s an undertone of superiority, a not in my back yard elitist attitude among his peers that troubles me. I wonder if these kids are parroting their parents’ dinner conversations or if they truly believe the words they throw at each other like fastballs from the pitcher’s mound.

I’ve stopped following two of my writing groups on FB. I grew weary of the bickering. Squabbles over race, religion, who is woke and who isn’t. Within these small groups, anger and judgment has taken the place of kindness and sisterhood. Navigating it became a chore. There are better ways I can spend my time.

My son can’t wait for school to be out. There is a smallness to his world. He gravitates toward the few teachers who comment on the lessons hidden between the lines. An acquaintance told me she is thrilled with the direction our country is taking. Close the borders, she cried. Like my son, I can’t wait for school to be out, to escape, run away, even for just a little while.

I go to political meetings. I compose letters for like-minded friends so they can write to their reps in DC. I preach slow and steady progress, the importance of upcoming local elections, the imperative of flipping the house and maybe even the senate in 2018. I see no real end to the nightmare, but I act anyway, I do what I can. I organize and empower and mobilize; I concentrate not on changing hearts and minds, but on giving a voice to those whose hearts and minds are already in the right place — including, even, my son.

In the mornings I walk with a friend, or sometimes alone. I used to listen to Rachel Maddow but grew weary of her sensationalist shock and awe. She is the liberal Fox News. I don’t question her reporting, but I can’t stomach her delivery. Now I listen to Pod Save America and pine for the days when the grownups were in charge.

I never knew I cared this much. For years, I took my beliefs at face value. I felt safe in my small town. I walked through life with the confidence of my freedoms. But I don’t feel safe anymore, and it’s not terrorists who frighten me, but the willingness of so many to chip away at human dignity. To strip away the rights of those who are vulnerable and marginalized. The fear is pervasive.

Yesterday I was texting with a friend about the Paris Climate Agreement. There’s little to say that hasn’t been said. How anyone could think this move is good for the U.S. is beyond me. Even if the details of the accord are worth quibbling over, the symbolism of pulling out, of separating ourselves from the rest of the world, is shameful on every level.

This is what I tell my son: We are not special. We don’t deserve more or less. As individuals or as a nation. We are not special. But what we had… well, that was something special indeed. Two interesting points: “A constitutional democracy succeeds only if the constitution reflects democratic values alive in the citizenry,” and “Only four presidential democracies have lasted longer than 30 years.” The four? The United States, Costa Rica, Venezuela, and Colombia. Think about that. Of those four, go ahead, google Venezuela and Colombia — political overview.

I have taken to calling our democracy fragile, but beautiful. And if you know your world politics, you know that a number of countries have tried to create what our forefathers created. But of those countries, almost all ended in a dictatorship that led to a military coup. Authoritarianism is alive and well. I could speculate endlessly about the cause: lack of education, racism, xenophobia, greed, a breakdown in democratic values?

And yet, I do not believe that the vast majority of Americans are okay with the path we are on. Nor do I believe that there are simple answers to these complex problems. What I do know, without a doubt, is that these are dangerous times. When we elect leaders who have a blatant disregard for the rule of the law, who think they can go rogue, ignore the system designed to curtail their power, well then I think we need to send up flares.

I worry about my son’s generation. Old enough to understand what is played out on the world stage, but too young to have a voice. They will inherit the scorched earth, and yet none of this was their choice. I think about my son’s peers, cheering for a man who makes no sense. I think about all that we hoped to give them.

Someone will inevitably tell me to pray. Give it up to God. If only it were that easy. I read today that one of our politicians — and no, I don’t remember which one — thinks that if things get bad enough here on earth, God will step in and handle it. This news slips in and out of my consciousness. God is who they turn to when they choose not to take responsibility. The atrocities rendered in the name of God are yet another long and complicated history of people simply treating other people like shit.

The scenes of this life dance around me like pollen on the wind. I am a mother, a wife, a pre-existing condition. I have lived a life of privilege. And I have often turned a blind eye to things I cannot control or do not understand. Today I am guilty of all of this, but also of giving up on those who are already gone. I am not trying to change hearts and minds, only to give a voice to those whose hearts and minds are in the right place.

I tell my son we build bridges, not walls. But it is not that simple. I cannot bridge this one gap. I cannot figure out how to speak to those who disagree without losing my mind. Every conversation I have with someone who is undeclared in their beliefs is a study in superficial banter.

Today is hard. Tomorrow will be hard. But I advocate slow and steady progress. The one thing, the only thing, we cannot ever do is give up. I am the mother of a son dancing awkwardly among other mothers of sons. My sole purpose is to raise my boy to be a strong feminist. To teach him that women are equal, that all lives matter, that honor and respect go hand in hand with just about everything in this world. And maybe, just maybe, there are other mothers of sons and daughters out there teaching their children the same thing. Sometimes I believe this is our only hope.

Let the music play

Last night after dinner and a competitive game of Qwirkle, I looked at the rows and rows of vinyl lining the living room walls and asked James, “So what album should we listen to?” Somewhat taken aback (I so rarely express interest in his collection of 8,000 vinyl) he suggested something from his iPod. “No,” I insisted. “What good are all these albums if we never listen to them?”

I’ve been listening to my own playlist of Resistance songs on a virtually endless loop lately. From Bob Dylan’s Hurricane to Pete Seeger’s We Shall Overcome, listening to that playlist of 26 songs has pulled me out of a few dark places in recent months. It reminds me that good eventually trumps evil.

As Linda Ronstadt’s voice filled the room — there really is nothing like the sound of an actual record playing through the stereo system — I closed my eyes and let the music carry me home. Heart Like a Wheel was released in 1974, but I so clearly remember it as a part of the playlist that just a few years later defined my time in high school. There was a great little record store — The Turning Point — close enough to walk to, and we used to spend hours thumbing through the bins. I’m pretty sure it was also a head shop because we’d go there to buy rolling papers and gawk at the enormous bongs in the glass case under the cash register.

In the mid-70s, I became obsessed with the Vietnam War. I collected newspaper clippings on POWs and MIAs, and I made my parents buy me a silver POW bracelet. I had nowhere to put the overwhelming sadness or grief, so I tucked those clippings into a drawer, and spent hours sitting on the floor of my room listening to records. But I was a few years too late for that Resistance. Back then pop radio in LA was a mix of Rod Stewart, ABBA, The Eagles, and Frampton Live. There was no Dylan, no Seeger, no Barry McGuire. It wasn’t until years later when those anthems from the late 60s added another layer of truth to my memories.

I remember sitting on the front lawn and talking with friends about a band we knew. They were playing at Gazzarri’s on the Sunset Strip. Some of the older kids were going with their fake IDs and I so desperately wanted to be a part of it. At home, my dad was listening to Led Zeppelin and the Concert for Bangladesh. He served in the Korean War, but was called back in the early 60s to Vietnam. It was a strange time, a time of straddling two worlds. When I graduated high school in 1979, disco was already nearly a thing of the past.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about those years. My dad was a republican and my mother was a democrat. They used to joke that their votes cancelled each other out. Everything about my formative years, the life we lived, the neighborhood I grew up in, the advantages we had, should have led me straight down the path to the Republican party. But what’s supposed to happen so often doesn’t, and when I look back and note that the first vote I cast was for Ronald Reagan, I think maybe somehow that was my turning point. Pulling that lever was one of the last times I blindly followed my dad’s advice.

It’s all so fragile, this beautiful democracy. How did it become nothing more than a plaything for the greedy and the privileged among us? Hate your neighbor, but don’t forget to say grace. Yet when it starts to feel like the world is slipping away from me, when it feels like the very heart of everything I believe in is about to explode, I turn to my soundtrack and I let the music play. I close my eyes, and I’m home.

 

 

Mercy

I pre-existed. Even if I had never had breast cancer, the very fact that I am a woman, is a strike against me. If we are to believe that the GOP has just secured a victory for America by sending a bill to the Senate that denies access to care to over 24 million Americans, and jeopardizes those with pre-existing conditions by leaving it up to the states to decide if insurance companies should be compelled to offer them fair, affordable, and comprehensive coverage, then I have a little piece of the Brooklyn Bridge I’d like to sell you.

This bill — like this congress and this administration — has no moral compass. It penalizes the sick, the elderly, the disabled, women, and children. It divides us by fate and fortune. The healthy, wealthy, and young are all over social media claiming they should not have to pay more for the sick. They have no desire to be their brother’s keeper. Of course, when you believe you use “less healthcare” than others, or when you are wealthy enough for it not to matter, it is tantamount to pushing your way to the head of the line, to the very threshold of the red carpet because you believe you are somehow more beautiful, more worthy, more monied than those waiting in line. It is privilege at its worst.

By now we all know that the Senate has deemed the House bill unsustainable. They will amend, or they will start over, but our fate is still in the hands of a political party and politicians who feel no sense of obligation to the greater good. They are the pull-yourself-up-by-the-bootstraps crowd. They simply can’t imagine why government needs to provide for its citizens. They have no compassion, no empathy, and no sense of responsibility to those they represent.

I’m happy to go on record to state that I will gladly pay more. I will pay more to ensure that those less fortunate do not go without. I support every effort to make access to affordable care universal — I do not believe I deserve more than my neighbor, even though my neighbor may believe he deserves more than me.

The lack of leadership in Washington is bringing this democracy to its knees. But we cannot give up; we cannot go quietly. Our voices must be heard. We don’t need to be perfect or solve all the problems, we just need to show up. There’s honor in that alone.

And if they still think that some among us should be penalized with less access to care and higher premiums, well then nothing anyone says is going to give them a heart or convince them that caring for each other is the reason we are all here. They can gloat all they want about being young and healthy, or rich and immune (like some members of congress) — but let me just say this: There but for the grace of god they go.

And should the moment come when they find themselves standing in my shoes — or in the shoes of anyone whose health and financial security is at risk — I pray that someone kind, someone with a heart, someone who has selflessly chosen to be his brother’s keeper, has mercy on their souls.

Random and spontaneous

I let my mind drift frequently these days to the alternate universe, the one where we have moved to California and all our problems are somehow washed away by the blue waters of the Pacific. I stand on the cliffs and look out to sea and I am surrounded by blue and that amazing California light. The dream heals my soul.

Yesterday as we rushed from ophthalmologist to ophthalmologist in what turned out to be an epic day of doctors and lasers and waiting, all to repair a horseshoe tear in James’s retina, I completely forgot that I was waiting for a call from my oncologist. I held my cell phone in my hand through the first two appointments, sure the call would come at a moment when I couldn’t talk — caught between two doctors, the one in the room and the one on the phone — but eventually, I stuck the phone back in my bag, overwhelmed by what was happening in the moment. I forgot, too, that I had silenced my phone, so when the call came sometime after 7 pm, I almost missed it and then, not recognizing the caller id, almost decided not to answer.

The body seems to have a mind of its own, and mine is unwilling to go quietly into menopause. My ovaries insist on continuing to produce estrogen despite the fact that I am 55 years old and have been drugging them into submission for two years. I am unsure, but maybe beginning to regret that I didn’t have them removed at the time of my surgery — removing them now is complicated by the fact that I have so much scar tissue in my abdomen, a byproduct of my reconstruction. I don’t think removing them at the time of my original surgery was really an option either, but I wish it had been. I don’t think we knew until after my mastectomy what type of breast cancer I had, I don’t think we knew that estrogen was the enemy.

For now, the plan is to wait a month and retest. If my numbers aren’t what they should be, then I will go back on the Lupron, or maybe revisit what surgery would look like at this point. When I asked my oncologist if being off the Lupron for another month was going to somehow make recurrence more likely, he said that’s not really how it works. It’s complicated. And while he applies mathematical formulas and plays a statistics games, the reality is we don’t have any idea what the future holds.

Sometimes life is as random and spontaneous as a horseshoe tear in the retina, sometimes it is as beautiful as my California dream, and sometimes it just is what it is — a long string of fortunate and unfortunate events. I used to think there would be plenty of time, that I could hold on to my dreams for years and they would be there, waiting, whenever I was ready. But I know more now. I know that time is the one thing there is never enough of, and dreams don’t wait.

I no longer think about my cancer every day. But every once in a while it pushes its way forward, demands my attention, and the only way to push it back is to address the fear all over again. In the end, I know my body will betray me — despite my best efforts. No one has forever. Yet, I hold tenaciously to my dream, to California, to the misguided notion that moving my family across the country — to the place I still call home — will somehow heal me and set us free.

Current Events

It never ends, does it? I really don’t understand how anyone can still support this administration. I know many of the headlines are meant to bait us, to solicit an emotional response, but when the Washington Post, the New York Times, NPR and Dan Rather are screaming a collective WTF, you might want to pay close attention.

Just for fun, I decided to document what was in my FB newsfeed this morning. I bypassed all the questionable and flat out fake news sites and put together this:

Is it any wonder we are stressed out and overwhelmed? Short of not paying attention, not reading the news, I don’t know what the solution is. Every single one of these headlines makes me want to push back. Every single one of these headlines demands outrage and counterpoint.

Here’s the thing: whether you are liberal, progressive, or conservative, whether you believe in big government, little government, or no government, the question I have for you is this: do you care about your neighbor? Because if you do, then the path this country is on, the direction this administration is taking, should worry the hell out of you. I’m not going to incite inflammatory rhetoric (though “First they came for…” is on auto-repeat in my head), I’m not going to employ scare tactics, or preach my bleeding heart liberal mantra. I’m simply going to say that if you care about your neighbor, about your fellow man, about the less fortunate among us, then you have to ask yourself, what in the holy hell is going on here?

One of them

February was a blur. The 10th marked two years post surgery and reconstruction, a thing I just couldn’t imagine acknowledging in any way this year. When I think back to my experience with breast cancer, when I focus on the details — the 12-hour surgery, the long and challenging recovery, the worry and frustration — I have to quickly look away, change the subject in my head. I don’t know if I will ever stop worrying about recurrence, about roque cancer cells silently waging war inside my body, but I have learned to live with the uncertainty, and today, my mind is focused on so many other things.

A week ago, James and I went to a town hall meeting hosted by our congressional representative. While she spent close to three hours answering questions and discussing the climate in Washington, two moments stood out for me. When she introduced a Planned Parenthood representative, the room rose to its feet. I thought in that moment about all the women who receive early detection cancer screenings at Planned Parenthood clinics, women who now have access to healthcare, who don’t have to show up in the emergency room because they feel a lump in their breast. I thought about how lucky I was — how lucky I am — to have insurance and access to incredible doctors. But I also thought about the cost of that access. If I told you what my family spent out of pocket during my first two years of treatment, you would not likely believe me. And that’s in addition to our monthly premiums.

The second moment that stood out for me was when our congresswoman expressed her thanks for a free and independent press.  When she asked the audience to continue to support investigative journalism, the room exploded in applause. The truth is, we owe the media right now — and I’m not talking about pundits and talking morning show heads, I’m talking about investigative reporting teams at the Washington Post and The New York Times, at Politico, Democracy Now, and The Nation — we owe these people an enormous debt of gratitude. These investigative journalists are digging and doing the hard work of holding a hostile administration accountable. These reporters are heroes. And while some of you may not like what these teams are reporting, you may prefer to stick with Fox News and Breitbart and the president’s own Twitter feed, I will settle for nothing less than news that is fact-checked and double fact-checked, and reported through organizations widely respected and known for being fair and impartial.

This place we find ourselves in, this shadowy place where truth is willfully ignored or shoved into a dark corner, cannot become a comfortable, familiar place. We have to resist the temptation to think of what’s happening around us as normal. It’s not normal. I’m not going to tell you what to think. I’m not even going to hope you come to the same conclusions I do. I’m simply going to beg you to educate yourself. To accept nothing at face value.

The world we are living in demands active participation — no matter which side you are on. Remember, decisions are made by those who show up. And that’s my plan. I’m showing up. I’m getting actively involved. I’m thinking globally but acting locally. Because if this election and its outcome have shown me anything, it’s that I love this country more than I ever knew possible. And yes, it’s flawed. We are flawed. But we have come too far and made too much progress to take a step back.

During its time, the Civil Rights movement was very unpopular. Polls from the 1960s indicate that a majority of Americans thought sit-ins at lunch counters and Freedom Riders were a bad idea. An overwhelming majority of people polled thought mass demonstrations would do more to harm the movement than initiate progress. We are seeing a similar backlash today. When people question the relevance of the Women’s March or the motivation behind A Day Without Women, they are essentially saying, “we do not approve.” So, while many of us (remember the popular vote?) are in favor of social justice, human rights and equality on every playing field, others prefer to support an administration that chips away at those things under the guise of “smaller government.”

I don’t know where this is headed. I don’t like the fact that I barely recognize the world I’m living in. But I’m not going to sit on the sidelines. You won’t see me running for office, but I am already deeply entrenched in the hard work necessary to right the course. I am joining and organizing and mobilizing and donating and calling and writing and marching. I am showing up. And that, my friends, is what enables me to sleep at night.

I know we are going to lose some of the time. There will be bills passed and policies set that benefit no one but the wealthy and the privileged. Healthcare, the environment, rights to privacy, international relations — these things are already taking a big hit. But eventually, we will win one. And then we will win two, and soon the tide will shift and a sea change will be upon us. Because I don’t doubt for one second that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. And I plan to be one of them.

 

 

This is who we are

This morning as I drove my son to school, we passed the aftermath of a house fire. The street was blocked by police cars, and we could see fire trucks up ahead. We both commented that it must have been a bad fire if the street was still closed.

After I dropped him off, I met a friend for a walk at a local park. The morning was raw and cold, but it felt good to be out with my friend by my side. I mentioned the police cars and fire trucks, and she said she had heard the sirens throughout the night.

Later, I saw a post about it on FB. The fire had, in fact, been devastating. A family with three small children lost everything.

The last ten days or so have been difficult — emotional, frustrating, scary. I’ve made no secret of my concerns about this new administration, about how hard it has been to accept their agenda. I’ve watched (and called and marched) as this administration has turned its back on immigrants, on women, on minorities, on education, and even — shockingly — on the law.

But as I thought about what is going on in our country and around the world, I couldn’t get this local family off of my mind. I thought about how this little village, less than 20 miles from midtown Manhattan, has become my community, how neighbors and friends showered us with acts of generosity when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. And I had to act.

I went back to FB and read the threads asking for donations. I thought about all we have that can be shared, and I thought about how giving — how kindness — lifts the heart. I put together a small bag of warm clothing, a little cash, and dropped it off. As I drove home, I felt better than I have in days.

This is who we are. On Saturday night, I cheered as lawyers volunteered their services to people detained in airports across the country. And today I smiled as my neighbors rallied around a young family facing a devastating loss. This is who we are. We step up when people are in need. It’s what we do as citizens of this great nation and as citizens of the world. There is no excuse for closing doors, building walls, and turning our backs on people in need. It’s not about money or material things; a kind word and the gift of friendship go a long way.

On this point, I will not go quietly. Because this is who we are.

It’s not pie

This rapid-fire dismantling of democracy, of gag orders and executive orders, feels vengeful and punitive. It appears our new government is locked into the “I’ll show you” phase of leadership. Everything is about tearing something apart, or creating barriers, or stripping away rights. For every slight they’ve ever felt, for every compelled compliance with constitutional law or the bill of rights, there is a counter beat down action emerging from the Oval Office.

I am learning that despite our best intentions, human nature is at its very heart ugly and selfish, that our most primal instincts are self-centered. There is a loud minority of people who want us to believe that the only way to protect their rights is to take away ours. But here’s the thing: it’s not pie. We don’t have to fight for the last piece.

Compassion, empathy, kindness, love, inclusion — these things are not finite. They don’t run out. And even better, unlike fossil fuels, they are a renewable resource, just like solar power and the wind.

I know there are people who disagree with me, but I see this as we either move bravely into the new world, or backward into places that once felt safe and comfortable. I get that people are worried about jobs, about making ends meet, but the jobs that will enable our children to have a good life are not in coal mines or factories that no longer exist. They are the jobs that come from education and innovation, from technology and sustainable energy, from embracing America’s entrepreneurial spirit and the needs of the global community. They are jobs that a man like our president and his billionaire boys’ club have never even heard of, let alone developed an understanding of how to create.

It frustrates me that we aren’t all on the same side. That progress and equality, are not universal hopes for ourselves and our children. And it frightens me that so many of us are unwilling to hold our elected officials accountable. They are simply men, not gods. And right now, these men, this administration, needs to be held accountable for lying, for disregarding the law, for outright discrimination, for censorship, and for trying to drag us kicking and screaming away from the light.

Holding on to my better self is hard work, but here’s what I know to be true: despite our darkest instincts, we follow the light to survive. This may prove to be one of our nation’s blackest hours, but it will be followed by true progress, by an expansion of human rights, by a vibrant multi-cultural society, and by an age of innovation unlike anything that’s come before. We will not go back. There may be small victories and tremendous loss, but we will keep moving forward, ever slowly, to the light. Where there is pie for everyone.