Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The Universe at 31

[press play]

The night before I turned seven years old my mom was sitting on the edge of my bed tucking me in. I remember how soft her hands were, but not the expressions on her face; her voice and how it sounded hopeful. I'm not sure if I know the moment more from her re-telling of it or because it was such an identifying instance from my childhood like who your first kiss was (although mine wasn't until college). I can still recall my room being the ideal temperature and that I was in a nightgown that felt like a hug, with even the backs of my ears feeling clean after a bath. There's all of that and then the most dominant memory of all from that moment: how I felt a lack of control in the universe. 

Trying to evoke the sense of elation and eagerness I was expected to have for the approaching festivities, that she herself probably had after planning them, my mom asked me a fairly traditional question on the eve of my birthday..."Are you excited?" I just started crying

"But Mommy, I'll never be six again!" 

Maybe I've told this story here before. In fact, I'm sure I have, but I just thought I'd bring it up because that story, just like being a sentimental six-year-almost-seven-year-old, is part of the past. If you read my sister Maddie's post the other day you know that after the doctor told her the growth in her colon was cancerous, the darkest thought she stewed upon for hours was: what if she died? Of course that's what her mind fixated on. It's what we all wondered in the weeks following her diagnosis.

With Maddie completing her twelfth and final chemo treatment five days before my birthday this year, I never thought once about being sad that I was getting older or that I'd never be 30 again. With Avalon hugging my neck and slobber-kissing my face, I just sit thinking how a real baby is all I've ever wanted. I think about this line from Marina Keegan's short life..."The middle of the universe is tonight, is here..." 

My universe is Scott and Avalon and my family and friends. It's this tiny house that might be ours for a few more years or forever. It's salty waves and sun damaged skin and fingers with tortured nail beds and too many rings that love to type truths as best they can. It's relatives that seem to revel in being happy, or sad. It's curly hair, it's passing anxieties, it's lumpy couches and big dreams that I try not to be scared of. It's a husband who I have such an all-consuming crush on. 

My universe is here, is now, is tomorrow, is not mine to control. And I just might ride the mini-ramp Scott got me every day until I'm 32 or 79. I might ride it right to the hospital. I might ride it with Avalon and whomever might come next and whomever might come into our lives after that. 

And I will be so in love with every tomorrow I have, even if sometimes I'm afraid of it.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Dear Momma, (on your birthday)


Dear Momma,

You always smell so nice, even when you aren't wearing any perfume. You *always look pretty, even when you aren't going anywhere or have worn your "uniform" to the store three days in a row. I love making fun of you because you almost always laugh the hardest. Food always tastes better at your house, even if you're making  "crap-ass" leftovers. Conversations are always more fun when you're in them. I love watching you look in the mirror when you're getting ready; you fluff your bangs with both hands and put your chin down.  I love how you love jewelry, but you are the one who makes it look good. The doctor who delivered you was right, you are a total sparkler. 

Every year I get nervous writing your cards because I feel I'm not capable of truly telling you how much I love and admire you. 

One true thing I know is: I love living life because of you (and Dad, too). You have shown me all the special things about it like how to skip and read and pack for the beach and cook and believe in things I can't see. You took me places to make friends; you showed me how to be one. You have shown me how to appreciate what I have; how to save it, organize it, clean it, treasure it, love it. You have shown me how to grow someone and help them to be their best. You have shown me how to nurture someone back to health. 

You give so much of who you are everyday, which means you have given so much to everyone around you, and you have the best laugh. I hope I can hear it forever.

Happy birthday! Thank you for making everything better.

Love,
Devie

*except when you have crazy "sailing hair!" 

Monday, April 18, 2016

Since September // Maddie's Cancer Story : Chapter 2



The night I found out the news of my diagnosis, I ruminated about everything you could imagine when you find out you have cancer. What if it has spread to my organs? Will I have to do chemotherapy? What do I do about my job, my apartment, my life in Los Angeles? How will this affect my family, my friends, my boyfriend? Then I thought about the sequence of events that led me to finding out this news. What if I didn’t go to my colonoscopy because I didn’t want to miss work? What if I didn’t have that hemorrhoid to signal the doctors to further inspect me? But the most concerning thought that I stewed upon for hours…what if I die? What if my life is taken from me and this is the moment that commences it all coming to an end? Shit, that’s dark.

I felt such a lack of control in the matter, but to assuage my morbid introspection, I did what most people would do, and tried to find romantic comedies on Netflix. I watched My Best Friend’s Wedding, cause I love me some 1990’s Julia Roberts. I finally fell asleep (thanks, Julia) and haven’t really questioned my mortality since. Maybe because I convinced myself that night that despite this horrible thing happening, I have to get through this and be OK. There's no other option.

The next few weeks were a blur. They scheduled my surgery a week and a half after my colonoscopy because they wanted to act as fast as possible. I’m going to summarize each key event briefly, because even I can’t believe the following events took place in a little over a month’s time.

Week 1

Genetic Testing

My wonderful friend Britt accompanied me to my genetic testing appointment. This was to figure out if the cancer was hereditary. I’ve had cancer in my family…in fact, my cousin had breast cancer when she was 25. Shitty coincidence, but there was no connection of mine to hers. And it turns out my cancer was not hereditary. It was a good thing, but also led me to question what actually caused this. More on that later. After the appointment, Britt and I went to Chateau Marmont to celebrity stalk, drink wine and eat fried calamari. We saw Kevin Nealon. I was trying to enjoy my last days of being a young adult in LA while I could.

CT Scan

Andy, my boyfriend, brought me to this appointment where I had to consume a disgusting banana flavored ‘smoothie’ type drink to make your organs irradiate. We found out great news with this one - it did not spread to my lymph nodes or other organs, though the stage of my cancer would need to be determined by the surgery. My gastroenterologist told me that in his opinion, it was not that far along and I wouldn’t need chemo. He guessed Stage 1.

(*If you’re curious what each stage of cancer means, here’s a better explanation than I could give.)

Week 2

Surgery

The morning of, Andy had to wipe me down with antiseptic wipes before I got dressed. I don’t remember much about the rest, because I was very liberal with my morphine (they made the mistake of giving me control of administering it (without endangering me, of course). I recall before my surgery (already high on anesthesia), I proposed to Andy, because there was probably a chapel somewhere in the hospital and we could get married really quickly before the surgery. Clearly I am very logical on anesthesia. He politely declined and delicately explained to me that, basically, we had bigger fish to fry at the moment. I also vowed that, if I had complications and died, I would will my wealth (in the amount of $5.00) to my niece, Avalon. I didn’t really think I was going to die during my procedure, but I wanted to make light of it for my family members. Sometimes I feel that, me going under the knife, or even having cancer in general, is a little scarier for them than for me. I am in my body and experience everything. I know how I feel. They are left fretting with anxiety, uncertainty, and fear for their loved one. So a joke about my death and a nod to my current financial status seemed to lighten the mood.

Luckily, my surgeon was an angel. She cared for me as if she had known me for years. She called my family every two hours or so during the surgery to give them an update. I was out cold, but I could imagine this was comforting for my loved ones waiting in angst.

My sweet friends and family visited me in the hospital. Beautiful flowers adorned my hospital room. If my thoughts seem patchy, it’s because I don’t remember a lot about this portion. Unfortunately, my most vivid memory was when they took me off the morphine and I couldn’t stop vomiting. However, the best part about the whole thing was that, to put it simply, they got all the bad stuff (tumor, two feet of my colon, a few lymph nodes) out and I was on my way to recovery.

Week 3

Recovery

My best friend from college, Kara, came out from Brooklyn to take care of me during my recovery period. She ate soft foods and didn’t drink alcohol, just like me. We walked around the backyard every evening to watch the sunset and to help my body slowly recuperate. We binge-watched Grace and Frankie on Netflix (I highly recommend it…also, I’m not getting any royalties from Netflix by promoting their content). During that week, I cried a lot about not being able to do the things I wanted to do, or eat the things I wanted to eat. Because I wanted a big fat steak and wine, dammit.

Then, a couple days later at my post-op appointment, I found out I would have to do chemotherapy. My cancer was Stage 2B, which meant that it hadn’t spread to lymph nodes or organs, but it had grown outside of the colon wall. To ensure that no cells mutated in my abdomen, they wanted to do chemotherapy as a precautionary measure. For 6 months.

More rumination.

Week 4

Quitting My Job
I decided that I needed to quit my job, move home, and focus on getting through this. Leaving my job was hard. I graduated three years ago, and have worked at the same company since I moved back to the west coast. I worked my way up from an essentially out of work freelancer, to receptionist, to staff production coordinator. I love my coworkers; they are my family. And the opportunities were remarkable. I went back a few times during my recovering period to train my replacement. Then I packed my desk into a sad little cardboard box with handles on each side, just like you see in the movies when someone gets fired.

Hormone Treatments, Egg Retrieval & Portacath Implantation

Because I was going to have to endure chemotherapy, I had to preserve my eggs because it can cause infertility or even early menopause…what a treat. Then came the awkward part…did I want to freeze embryos? Apparently it was a higher success rate if they were fertilized eggs. As in, ask my boyfriend if he wanted to freeze a potential baby with me. Luckily, Andy is a loving and amazing person, so the conversation was not uncomfortable. He told me he would be willing to do whatever I wanted. What a gem.

Shortly after, I found out that it wasn’t proven to be beneficial to freeze embryos, as opposed to just the egg. So we left it at that. No embryos. I began hormone treatments, administerinng shots into my arm every other day, for two weeks. It is identical to the prep for in vitro fertilization, if anyone reading this has experienced that before. I’m already an emotional person, so finding out I have cancer and then on top of that, to have to undergo hormone treatments…I’m sure I was a delight to be around during this time.

They were able to retrieve 25 eggs, which apparently is a lot for this type of procedure (probably because of my age). That amount of eggs can potentially yield 1-2 children (if I recall correctly). I had my eggs retrieved on a Thursday, then I got my portacath implanted Friday, the next day. A portacath is a small device just below the surface of my skin to access during chemotherapy, so the chemo drugs don’t burn my veins.

It was a lot of sedation in a 48 hour period, but since I was still recovering from surgery and two other procedures, it was a welcomed feeling. I remember crying when they gave me whatever they gave me to knock me out, because I was so happy to be feeling good again. This would unfortunately not last very long.

Week 5 

Move Out of My Apartment & Say Goodbye to My Life in LA

I figured if I was going to be doing chemo, I would need some help during that process. My parents let me move back in with them in Orange County for the duration of the treatment. I found someone to sublet my room in LA, because I hoped to return when this is over.

My friends threw a Halloween pre-party at our place the weekend I moved out (to give you perspective, it was the day after the portacath implantation). They respectfully consulted me beforehand and asked if I thought it was a good idea, and me, wanting to be normal, cool and fun, over-excitedly agreed. Unfortunately, I was still recovering from the two aforementioned procedures, and was very bloated and tired and couldn’t go out to celebrate. I felt very ugly and cried in the bathroom while my friends took shots and snapped pictures in their cute costumes. Maybe I was even a little resentful that they got to act like 20-somethings and I was thrust into adulthood.

Amongst the beer cans and alcohol rings on my coffee table, I packed up and moved out the next day. I was ready to move into my parents’, and ready to start chemo in a week. But then there was a small complication, because I guess I didn’t have enough on my plate already.

OHSS & Hospitalization
I’m 25 years old, so I am younger than your average hormone-treated patient, because like I said, it’s identical prep for in vitro fertilization, which older women typically pursue. So I reacted poorly to the treatment and got what is called Ovarian-Hyper Stimulation Syndrome. Basically my ovaries were too stimulated, and too many eggs were producing. I was so bloated that I joked that I looked like Shrek. My gut was swollen with fluids for days, which exceeded the range that my fertility doctor told me was normal. Eventually, the pain got so bad that I had to be admitted to the hospital. I ended up having to stay there for 3 days as they ran tests and tried to coordinate with my fertility doctor. My parents brought beer and wine for themselves to the hospital room each night to make light of a bad situation. We’ve managed to make some good memories amongst the bad ones. I was discharged from the hospital on a Thursday.

Week 6 
Chemo

I started chemo the following Monday.







//
Thank you everyone for all the support for Maddie and this series. I love her so much and I thank you for loving her too. 

Other stories from this series:

My first post about Maddie's diagnosis:

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Dear Sprout,



Dear Avalon,

I miss you when you’re sleeping. I’m gonna be honest, I’m totally glad you sleep well because it helps all of us be better, but I miss kissing your cheeks and the way you buzz your lips when you’re examining something new. I love the way you dance, shaking your tiny butt to Taylor Swift. I love the way you scream-laugh when I kiss your tummy or push you on the swing. I love how you’re always making noise.


I have more to do than I ever have time for in our days, but these days give me more than all the rest I’ve ever had.

Aunt Maddie and Nonny are visiting us today. Auntie Maddie told me she noticed a seashell under the heater in the hall when she was sitting on the toilet. I laughed and said I noticed it too, but neither of us picked it up. I didn’t get it because I noticed there was also dust under there and if I got the shell I would’ve had to clean that dust and all the dust that’s other places. I feel so sleepy and unproductive somedays, most days, even though I’m pretty sure I’m constantly working; working on something. But still, there’s always dust somewhere; sometimes there’s dust everywhere.


This afternoon when I tried to work on this letter while you were awake, you climbed inside of the bar stool, then tried to play the ukulele, then crawled over to me and held onto my leg, tapping it it with your palm until I stopped to play with you.

I cried last week telling Dada that I worried you liked me the most you ever would right now and that slowly, slowly you would grow away from me. I don’t know why I think this. I’ve only grown closer to my mom, your Nonny. I know she won’t ever be perfect. She pulled my hair once when I said something sassy and she wouldn’t take me to Costco once because of the way I had styled my hair, but she tries every minute to be her best for me and for those that love her, and for herself too because she respects who she is. She is the mom I’m always 
trying to be.

You get so excited when we get home. You kick your legs and sometimes squeal and it makes me happy not just that you love the home we’ve made for you, but because it means you are happy with little: me, dada, the tiny kitchen, your room that used to be a garage, that broken fireplace you’ve always had an affinity for.

When you wake up from your naps, your eyes are still in your dreams, but more happy about what’s in front of you and your hair is stuck to your face. You scratch your tummy sometimes and point at things and smile.

Isn’t it wild that I’m the keeper of these memories for you? And isn’t it crazy that some days I still wonder if I’m doing important work?

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

In Between // Spring Surf and Skate Video


This movie sort of tells the story of me trying to get back in the groove of riding water and concrete again now that I have a daughter looking on. She has made me tougher and more inspired than ever. 

♥ p.s. I want to send out a big virtual hug to you all for sending Maddie such love for her first post in her series about her cancer battle. She was on a high all week and is now working on the second installment. This community is special. Thank you for being here. 
+wetsuit by wetsuitwearhouse.com (awesome).

Monday, March 28, 2016

Since September // Maddie's Cancer Story: Chapter 1


Maddie is a film maker. I remember the first stop-action film she made with her Pokemon action figures in the late 90s. It's still pretty riveting stuff. 

I'm sure most of you are aware that Maddie, my youngest sister, was diagnosed with stage two colon cancer in September, just after she turned 25. She is currently undergoing chemotherapy and has moved home to live with my parents. 


I am going to help her share her stories here over the next few months, and maybe longer, as long as she's feeling up to it. 


I don't know how to put myself in her shoes. God knows I wouldn't have had the same grace and composure she's had if I'd been in her place. Actually, my mom said that I took the news of her diagnosis even harder than she did. But the thing that Maddie and I have in common in this situation is that we deal with tough circumstances best when we can use them to fuel our creative passions. I know someday these stories will come out in the films Maddie makes, one way or another, but for now she and I are really excited to share them here. 


Here is the first installment of Maddie's story. 


I'm not the first person to have cancer, and unfortunately, I won’t be the last. I don’t want to share my experience because I think it’s exceptionally different than others, or that I’ve had any amazing revelations during this difficult process. I simply want to shed some light and share some details about my journey. Or maybe I just need to get it off my chest. Either way, here’s my story if you care to read…

I was diagnosed with colon cancer in my 25th year, only two months after my loving boyfriend threw me the most amazing birthday party I’ve had to date. I only mention it here because I want to illustrate how quickly the rug can be pulled out from beneath you.

The beginning of my story starts on a beautiful August evening. I vaguely remember the sky being pink. I was mostly so appreciative and excited because I got the privilege to leave work an hour early, catch the metro and go see Taylor Swift perform at the Staples Center with friends; something your average 25-year-old white girl would do. The night was fantastic and makes me happy looking back on it…I got to see Ellen DeGeneres dance on stage, be with my friends (and boyfriend) singing to some catchy T Swift songs, and sneak beer to the almost 21-year-old next to me who attended the concert with her mom.

If you couldn’t tell from that tidbit, I was a little over-served. I worried myself when I found that my stool was bloody the next morning. ‘It’s just my stomach being sensitive to the hangover,’ I thought to myself. But then I had a fever, and knew it wasn’t something to take so lightly. My boss, Nancy, took on her usual motherly role and encouraged me to leave work to go to urgent care. They examined me for hemorrhoids (one of the least invasive procedures I’ve had amidst this mess) and they couldn’t see any trace. So they ordered a colonoscopy for me. Woah, I thought to myself. That’s a little drastic for someone my age. I consulted my parents and my boyfriend’s dad who is a physician, and they all agreed with me, but thought I should go through with the procedure anyway. I dreaded asking for the day off from work, but reluctantly agreed to attend a date with my gastroenterologist and a camera up my butt. Thank God I did.

During my colonoscopy, they ended up finding a mass that resembled a shrimp, and the doctor’s reaction was far from comforting. Turns out the bleeding was related to a hemorrhoid, but they stumbled upon the mass as a result. This is one of the many lucky coincidences I’ve experienced. I had a pit in my stomach the moment after he came to me with the pictures that would not subside until we knew what it was. The next day, Nancy drove me to go bowling with my coworkers to make sure I took my mind off the pending biopsy results. It was probably nothing, we all thought.

Two days I waited in agony for the call. Then, on what seemed to be a typical Wednesday afternoon around 4pm, I got a call from my gastroenterologist. My heart was pounding in my ears. I walked outside. I think I always assume the worst will happen, because I’m human and I like to prepare myself. But in the back of my mind, I really didn’t think it was going to be bad. Then I heard the words you never want to hear…“It’s cancer,” he said. And I swear it sounded like he was about to cry. Then I started to cry, hyperventilate, and pace next to the dumpsters. I only could think of asking him questions about how to proceed. By the air conditioning units of my building, amongst all the littered cigarette butts on the ground, I tried to find some privacy and gather some semblance of sanity before I returned inside. But I was a wreck. Cancer? Seriously? I couldn’t catch my breath. What the fuck just happened?

I walked through the reception area of my office in disbelief, straight into my other boss, Dan’s, office. “I just found out I have cancer,” I said to him in between breaths, completely red in the face and hysterically crying. I remember how calm he was. I’ve found that in frantic situations everyone has to take their role. I was a mess; he was my constant. He endearingly tried to come up with all of the silver linings, but it was falling on deaf ears. It was kind of like a moment in one of those movies where all you hear is a high pitched ringing noise. I didn’t know what to do. Dan instructed me to go home, but little did I know that would be the last time I was in the building as their employee. I started to digest the information and call my family, boyfriend, and some friends. I still couldn’t believe it myself as I said it.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Swimming, Et Cetera


I've had a lot of fantastically wild dreams lately. I lie in bed thinking about the completely batshit things I could put here if I told all the details of what's been going on while I've been asleep and awake lately. Maddie was back in the hospital for three nights last week because she got sick from sitting in the hot tub. There's mold in my parent's house for the second consecutive year. Avalon has teeth. I knocked the wind out of myself skateboarding twice in a row.

Last night I dreamt Scott and I were offered free accommodations at this outrageously cool resort that was somehow super inland, but next to a surfable coastline that I’d never known about. I was carrying a surfboard down the hill when all of a sudden I realized it wasn’t mine. It was a longboard that belonged to my dad’s best friend Kevin’s daughter Kelsey. She was in the dream too. We were hiking down a dirt trail with about seven other surf girls towards a rocky, but pristine cove with tiny waves and big caves. When I asked her if she needed the board she nodded “no” and looked at me bemusedly like I had asked her if she wanted me to cut off all of her hair. 

I turned around, surprised I hadn’t noticed the weight difference between her nine foot board and my five foot board, and hiked back up the hill. Suddenly the trail transformed into the ocean and I was swimming without the board. The water was so clear and just warm enough that I could wear my bathing suit and feel it on all of my skin, but still cool enough to be awakening and refreshing. I was able to hold my breath for so long and I thought, cockily, I always knew I had this ability; I always knew I was magic. 

I swam past a cave. I thought about how I couldn’t wait to show it to my dad, so I started swimming faster. I looked to the left, there was a huge drop-off, but I could see for so long. Staring towards the deep abyss only a few feet away from me felt scary in an invigorating way, like when you can’t help but pet a dog you’ve never met or you let the wind blow your dress wildly in the wind or when you hang your feet off of a balcony. As I swam I thought: wow, this is too good to be true and I wanted so badly to believe it was true, but I knew better. Then, as I swam towards the surface where the resort was, I felt a current pulling me down. It was just like in the movies where you think everything is going awesome and you are wishing you are one of the characters, but then suddenly there’s an approaching waterfall or a car crash or a scary lurker revealed in the plot. 

The current started pulling me faster and I struggled to swim against it to make it to the doorway of the hotel. Normally I would have panicked, but since I felt like so many things lately had prepared me to face great big challenges, I just started swimming harder until I made it back to slab rock driveway where two hotel valets were playing hacky sack obliviously. I woke up feeling excited for the day.

"Promise me you will not spend so much time treading water and trying to keep your head above the waves that you forget, truly forget, how much you have loved to swim." Tyler Knott Gregson

// p.s. my wetsuit is from Wetsuit Wearhouse. It's an amazing suit (the Roxy AG47 Performance) and the site is an awesome resource for finding every kind of wetsuit.\\

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Desert Road, Colon Tunnel


The first thing I ate today was potato chips; not a good sign. There were ants all over the kitchen so I had to wipe them out before making scrambled eggs for Avalon and I. It’s one of those days where the ground is really cold and the sky is very blue. The ocean actually looks olive and brown from all the recent wind and rain. But I want to rewind back before all of this to when it was hot and dry and Maddie was sick.

On Friday I drove up to Orange County to visit her at the hospital. Due to the weakening of her immune system from chemotherapy, she had caught a virus; maybe the Noro virus all those people got from Chipotle around the holidays. I don’t know why we always end up talking about sex when she’s at the hospital, but we do. Then a priest came in and then Maddie’s boyfriend’s mom. It was a funny order of events.

The priest came to give us communion. If I miss church all the rest of the year, I always seem to make it back there for lent, but I haven’t this year. You could blame Avalon or you could blame me, but really I’m not going to blame anyone because I’m realizing as a 30 year old that blame seems to be one of those things that is unproductive and also excessively abundant.

So the priest gave us communion and absolved us of all of our sins with his Irish accent. I tried to assess him at first to see if he seemed like the type to touch alter boys under their garments, because even though I hate that I have the tendency to do that now, I think we’d all be lying if we said we didn’t. He seemed innocent and pure, and of course, how can you really know, but he appeared to be so full of God that it was both comforting and intimidating to make eye contact with him. Maddie and I both cried as we took communion, something we’ve been doing together since our Catholic grade school days. I never feel self-conscious crying in front of a priest. And maybe it’s a conditioned response, but somehow, in the moments before and during and after I take communion, I feel God’s presence; a voice so strong and confident about things that I know it can’t be mine; a love that feels weighty and whole.

After that Scott, Avalon and I drove through the California desert, past the wind mills and outlet malls to La Quinta, near the Coachella Valley.

Avalon chased a Maltipoo named Frankie which made me actually consider getting a dog; she was so happy, she was so occupied and I was just sitting there with relaxed shoulders. We drank almond flavored tequila after she went to bed and cooked tacos like my dad’s mom Jo-Momma the second night. We swam in the cold pool and took hikes on the sand and gravel paths. The owner of the AirBnB we rented warned us that the community hadn’t totally embraced the idea of vacation rentals yet and to keep our presence obscure, but on our walks in the neighborhood, 16 couples and five babies, everyone seemed so excited and happy to see us. It was an ideal reunion of friends who I can honestly say have only grown closer since college.

Maddie got out of the hospital on Saturday and Avalon and I spent the day with her Tuesday. She only has three more chemo treatments left! Then we are going to have a huge party. My dad even bought a tunnel that’s shaped like a colon for their driveway. And now it feels there’s a light at the end of this tunnel too.



p.s. thank you all for your kind, sincere words to Maddie and to my family and I. I feel I can't properly thank you for the ways in which your support has lifted me up. Love to you all! ~Devon
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