Category: Uncategorized (page 2 of 3)

Entering the Gates

I suppose everyone has their own idea of when adulthood is reached. For some it is as simple as passing a particular year, like sixteen (driving), eighteen (enlistment), or twenty-one (alcohol).

For myself, it was not an age but a checklist of mental milestones begun in 5th grade that I perceived would sweep me beyond the simple meandering trail of childhood and through the Great Golden Gates of Maturity. I was certain that the realm of Adulthood was staggeringly superior to the world of submission, school, and simplicity that formed the days of my youth.

The Checklist began simply enough:

    • Begin Menstruation
    • Wear a bra
    • Shave legs
    • Get boyfriend

These items were triumphantly checked off in due time, and I congratulated myself on navigating the trail with relative ease. The gates glimmered on the horizon. I would have stepped through in record time, but for one problem: I kept revising and lengthening the list. Items I had not considered in 5th grade became essential additions. Soon it read:

    • Graduate High School
    • Go to College
    • Get Job

Suddenly things became complicated. I graduated and went to college. I got a job (I was the Godfather’s Pizza salad-bar-nazi. Important work, that.) But somewhere in my junior year of high school, A Young Man had appeared. A Young Man who turned my simple list on its head with one crooked smile. He was a mess; a college drop out, unsure about what he wanted and who he was. He had no prospects, but me-oh-my, could he swagger. When The Young Man appeared, all reason took flight, and my list took on a curiously new and urgent direction:

    • Kiss Frequently, and Well
    • Get Engaged
    • Get Married

The Young Man gave me an engagement ring halfway through my senior year in high school. He proposed under the Christmas tree in suitably romantic style. Our parents called it a “promise ring” in the vain hope that the magic would wear thin and we’d come to our senses.

Vain, indeed.

I wanted to be his wife. The sooner the better, preferably. I wanted to wake up every morning to those soft green eyes, to cook his meals and fold his undies. It became the embodiment of adulthood, this setting up house with the object of my every hormonally-charged dream.

By the end of the next year, I had his name. I was eighteen, and he was twenty-one. We lived in a tiny apartment with a waterbed and a small black cat named Buster Ninja Crabb. He (my man, not the cat) went to school and I cooked grilled cheese sandwiches and cookies, reveling in the “Mrs.” on every envelope and medical form. The sparkly ring danced on my finger with its plainer gold partner and reminded me with every load of laundry that I was a Real Lady now. The gates were securely shut behind me.

Sometimes I felt that I was only playing house, a little girl in grown-up clothes with a grown-up name. No one expected us to make it; fully half the people at our wedding were probably unconvinced we’d last a year. My own parents didn’t make the trip from Norway to Texas for the ceremony, so determined they were to convey their lack of approval and preponderance of doubts.

I wanted desperately to be taken seriously. And so I added another item to the list, the One Thing I was sure would seal the maturity deal:

  • Have Baby

But when I brought my firstborn home from the hospital, I didn’t feel like a grownup. If anything, I felt less adult than I ever had in my life. None of my play-acting and daydreaming had prepared me for the responsibility of a new life. Even over the next few weeks, it stubbornly refused to sink in. I would find myself wondering if I should call this child’s parents to come and pick her up, because I was fed up with babysitting.

Instead, adulthood was calling me. In the middle of the night when she would wake and need me…adulthood was calling. Struggling with breastfeeding, and changing poopy diapers that required four hands and fifty wipes…adulthood was calling. Wondering how to love this being who only ever demanded more from me than I had ever given…adulthood was calling. Persistently. Urgently. Adulthood called, and knocked, and rang the doorbell, and eventually broke the door down to get to me.

As our child grew, she was as reluctant to pass common adolescent milestones as I was eager to meet them head-on. I called her a late bloomer, a tomboy…a mystery. Sometimes I wondered if she would ever be content in her femaleness, so vehemently she disdained the trappings of the gender. Encouraging her down the trail to maturity frequently felt like herding a flock of gelatin sheep.

Yet, eight years ago, I watched as that baby girl pledged her life to a Young Man who possesses a smile and a swagger all his own. If she felt like a pretender at any point, as I had, her serene demeanor never betrayed it. And when she announced (just a month later) that she was making me a grandmother, her contentment only deepened.

Watching her struggle to bring my first grandchild into the world, I wept with frustration that I couldn’t make it easier for her. She, on the other hand, wasted no energy on tears, but poured herself out with a determination and courage that left me breathless with awe. When her pelvis’s ability to get a baby through was called into question, she summoned a strength I didn’t know she had and pushed him out with sheer indignation. Since then, she has blessed us (and the world) with two more amazing children, all called into being with grit, determination, and no small bit of love.

As I watch her parent my (brilliant, sublime) grandsons, I stand amazed anew at her maturity and natural, effusive affection. She has a confidence and joy that it took me years to grasp. My own Young Man and I can only smile and shrug when asked to share how she became such a natural…we are wondering as much ourselves.

The process of growth is unquantifiable. It steals softly over your consciousness, incrementally creeping, like the dawning of a new day. Who can tell when the light finally breaks over the horizon? In spite of my best efforts, my daughter arrived through the gate in her own good time. And I find that, instead of being miles ahead, I’m content to walk alongside her and share the journey.


I awoke
from a dream of you
to reality
and the noise
of fighting
and thus
the day began
Yet you followed me
the scent of you
cut grass
your voice
like rumbling
in my ear
telling me
all will
be well
and so
I continue to dream
though I am


I feel better than I have in a long time.

Like, a really, really long time.

Much of it is proper medication. During my last low point, a couple of months ago, my doctor put me on Effexor, and that is when things slowly started looking up. I quit dreading each day. Things like taking a shower no longer seemed insurmountably difficult. I no longer felt like I was walking through peanut butter. People ceased annoying the hell out of me. I stopped weeping at random moments. The crushing weight on my chest lightened.

The sky was bluer. The sun was shinier. The birdsong was tweetier. My kids’ laughter was brighter. The thought of the future didn’t fill me with apprehension.

This may sound ridiculous to some, but to others, it may offer a glimmer of hope. If you, or someone you know, is suffering from depression, it can take time to get the meds right. Don’t give up.  There are infinite combinations of medications. One will work for you, if you keep working with your doctor to find it. I was diagnosed as bipolar over three years ago, and I have been on various meds for just that long before hitting upon this magical combo (Latuda, Abilify, Effexor). Also, I’m taking turmeric, which has been shown to decrease inflammation (inflammation has been linked to depression).

Other than medication, I’ve been doing some things just for me. I’m taking banjo lessons, and going to a writer’s group. I’m writing a little each day. Sometimes a lot. These are enormous things, and things I have to fight not to feel guilty about. How twisted is that? I start to feel guilty for leaving the house, or telling Judah “I’m working” when he makes his 1,001st demand on my time, and then I slap myself (metaphorically) and keep going.

Then there’s the weather. Sunny. Highs in the 70s and low 80s. Fresh breezes blowing. Fluffy clouds in the sky.

I’m so glad I can appreciate it.

There was a time, not long ago, that I wouldn’t have been able to.

That was then, though. For now, I’m riding this wave as long as I can.


I Wish You Summer

Summer is upon us. Summer. Oh, what a glorious word! Even though I am an old woman of 46, I can still well remember the bliss that was waking up the first day of summer vacation and the enormous sense of relief when the thought bloomed: I have no homework. None. Zip. Nada. For like, ever.

Or it might as well have been forever. Because, come on? That fateful day in late August when the larnin’ all begins again? A million miles away. At least a million. Maybe more. Who can tell? The calendar no longer holds any meaning. Days of the week blur together in a wash of sun-drenched hues.

What do I wish for you, oh children of summertime? It’s pretty simple, really.

I wish you a summer like I had when I was a kid.

I wish you long days full of heat and cicadas and fireflies and sun and stars. Long draughts of root beer with vanilla ice cream floating in the midst of it.

I wish you watermelon, cut into slices that you hold by the rind in your hand over the green lawn, letting the juice drip down your chin and all the way to your elbows, taking turns seeing who can spit the seeds the farthest.

I wish you chases and games of tag and skinned knees so you can pick the scabs later when you are bored and your mom is too busy to drive you to the mall.

I wish you trips to the library, air redolent with ink-saturated pages, hundreds and thousands of worlds to visit with the turn of one page; vibrant covers that entice and draw you in to places far beyond your small experiences, stories that enrich and light fires within your breasts. I wish you flashlight-reading under the covers of your bed, in tents out on the grass, and at sleepovers when everyone else has succumbed to the sandman already but you…you’ve got to read just one. more. page.

I wish you swimming. I wish you jumping for the first time off the high dive, dizzying heights and staggering limits, freefalling into the sparkling blue water and making the biggest splash possible with your small body. I wish you the clean exhaustion that comes from being out in the sun and in the chlorine-scented water, the feeling of satisfaction from pushing your body and your courage to its limits.

I wish you bike rides and tennis matches, roller-skating forays and hopscotch battles drawn with chalk lines over the uneven surface of the sidewalk.

I wish you boredom, and the challenge that it brings your numbed imaginations to come up with something new yet again to do. I wish for your parents to not feel the need to fill your every waking second with activity, so that you are forced to stare into empty space for just a while and fathom something deeper than yourselves.

I wish you fishing. I wish you worms on hooks and thrashing trout and sunfish and crappie on the end of your line. I wish you someone to help you get them off in case you are squeamish. I wish you the feel of cold scales in your hand and the joy of releasing them back into the water you drew them from. Or, if you prefer, the taste of fresh fish you caught yourself fried in a pan with butter and breadcrumbs.

I wish you freedom, just a hair more than you were given last summer. After all, you are one year older. I wish you shenanigans. I wish you just a small amount of trouble that never gets found out, that remains the secret between you and your very best friends forever and ever.

I wish you movies with lines that wrap around the block in anticipation. I wish you darkened theaters and popcorn and previews and gasps of surprise and jumps of alarm and giggles of excitement and all the things that the torn ticket represents.

I wish you relatives, plenty of relatives to visit and to come visiting. I wish you grandparents and aunts and uncles that put you on your best behavior and then relieve you with a wink. I wish you trips in the car with the steady thump-thump of the highway below you as you play the alphabet game and license plate bingo. I wish you lots of time at the kids’ table with cousins that make you laugh until milk comes out your nose.

I wish you siblings, and friends. I wish you people to fight with and hang out with and imagine with and dream with and laugh with and cry with.

I wish you memories. So many memories. I wish you plenty of time in the long, sun drenched days to come to make your own.


Things Nobody Tells You

So somebody just placed a wet, squirmy newly-born babe in your arms. It’s beautiful. It’s the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen, actually.  It’s perfection, from its exquisitely formed fingers to its nubbin of a nose. Perfection. A vision of the Almighty.

Yes, that newborn might as well be God Himself, in the flesh. He’s come to earth to save your soul from selfishness, pride, impatience, and greed. He’s come to show you just how imperfect you are, until you fall to your knees and cry out for help.

He’s come to make you something bigger, something better.

But here’s what no one tells you.

Here’s what no one tell you it will take.

It will take you, watching that wee babe struggle to tie his shoes until you want to grab the laces and soothe “I’ll do it” for him. It will take you, watching her labor over a homework assignment that you can’t help with because you weren’t there, hanging over her shoulder all day at school so that you know what the teacher wants, until she’s done in the wee hours of the morning. It will take you, throwing your hands up in the air more times than you care to admit and saying “I’m sorry, I don’t have the answers you need.”

It will take ADHD diagnoses, dyslexia tests, fretting about mental issues, and sleepless nights worrying about scores and grades and countless meaningless numbers.

It will take you, letting go when you most want to hold on tight.

It will take you, trusting when you want to snatch back and say NO.




It means sometimes your kid tells you that they’re constricted with social anxiety, overwrought with the terror of human interaction, afraid they will never feel at ease in any given situation that other seem to have no problem with.

It means sometimes they don’t leave when everyone else’s kid seems to be moving on, doing the normal thing, and achieving all the societally-approved markers. It means sometimes they need more help than you were sure they would need, just to get from point A to point B.

It means sometimes your kid falls in love with the wrong person, or the right person at the wrong time, and is left holding the bag in a relationship full of empty dreams and long-reneged promises.

It means conversations full of tears and helplessness.

It means committing to be there to the bitter end, when everybody else bails and everything feels hopeless.

It means being the last one standing.

Standing on promises that you stubbornly cling to.

Standing on the tattered remains of what was your certainty when they were placed, wet and squirming, into your arms.

Nobody tells you things will be this hard.

Nobody tells you, but still…they are.

I’m here to tell you that you are not alone.

We are in this together.

It’s not just hard, it’s impossible.

But here we are.

Can we set aside our preconceived ideals, our notions of what good and right and perfect look like? Can we see the perfection in struggle and the beauty in the agony?

Can we love one another through to the other side, where victory awaits? Or if the other side tarries, can we love one another anyway?

I just don’t know. I’ve rarely seen acceptance like that in action. Far too often, I see parents rejoicing in other parents’ perceived failures because it makes them feel better about their own job. Or parents distancing themselves from other parents who are hurting, as though the pains of one family are contagious. But I believe it is possible.

There are things nobody ever tells you, on the day that newborn is placed in your arms. Are you there, in that hard place now?

You are not alone.

I am there, too.

Can we remove the falsehood and just be real? This shit is hard, folks. I’m here to testify.

Can I get an amen?



What if

What if the dark night of the soul never ended? What if it went on and on with no relief? What if the valleys never began to rise underfoot, and give way to vistas to take the breath away? What if the shadows remained heavy and suffocating?

This is where I’m at, people. This is my life. The dark night of the soul that goes on and on and on and on and on and on…

I’m opening my veins here. I’m bleeding all over the keyboard.

I’m a fake. I’m a fraud. I say I’m a Christian but I lost my faith several years ago. My life is divided into two time periods, Before and After. I don’t know how to get it back. I don’t know if I’m supposed to get it back. I don’t know what I’m supposed to do. So I fake it every day and hope that the fog will lift eventually, but it never does.

There is medication that I take, and sometimes I think it helps. Mostly I think it doesn’t. Again, faking it. Just gritting my teeth for all I’m worth and soldiering on. But my feet are bloody stumps and nobody notices.

Perhaps I live only to be a warning. Don’t come this way, people. Turn back while you still can.

Who else out there feels the same way? I know I can’t be alone. I want to be real, but I am afraid of being judged. Yeah, judged. Afraid of people telling me to pray more, study more, get on my face more. Afraid of being told it’s all my fault that I’m where I am today.

I’ve said my sorry’s. I’ve pleaded for forgiveness. I’ve admitted my mistakes. I’ve repented. And yet the darkness consumes. Why?

The days grind forward and I’m a clod of dirt beneath the wheel, broken and crumbling. Perhaps that’s exactly where God wants me. I just need to learn to surrender. What choice do I have, anyway? He’s going to do what He wants to do in the end, no matter how I feel about it.

Joy comes in the morning. If only there was one.


Sober October

October is a month set aside for Infant and Pregnancy Loss Remembrance. Many people will mark the passing of children who left too early, and writing is therapeutic to some.

Like me.

I have had ten miscarriages, a number that will seem, to many, as ludicrous as the number of our living children. Ten? That’s just crazy. Am I in some sort of sick competition? Am I a glutton for punishment? A miscarriage masochist?

None of the above.

With the first (if you are very blessed) you get a modicum of sympathy and understanding. People step forward to tell you about their own experiences; there is a shared community of suffering. As you have more, however, people step back. I don’t know why. Most likely they just run out of things to say.

My own mother fell into this camp. A devout Catholic woman, she was fully vested in our decision to give our reproductive processes up to a higher power, but with each successive bodily betrayal, she grew frustrated, and that frustration was directed at me. I sat drinking my third beer as my body expelled the baby it didn’t want*, and she fussed at me over the phone.

“Well, at least you should be used to it now,” she finally sighed.

Used to it? Used to bleeding into the toilet the life I thought would develop into a breathing soul? Used to the feelings of abandonment, the certainty that I was being punished? Used to the bitter loneliness as I faced the moments in the bathroom alone, struggling to make sense of it all?

These aren’t things you get used to.

She didn’t mean anything by it. She just didn’t know what to say. Having successfully carried five children of her own with relative ease, she is uninitiated into the darker side of pregnancy.

The thing about miscarriage is that you don’t get better at it the more you have. In fact, the pain and sorrow become increasingly horrific. The guilt and confusion multiply, they don’t divide.

With one of our later miscarriages, I birthed into my hands a sac five inches long. A space capsule enclosing the body of its voyager, I could not see the contents and didn’t want to probe the silent depths, but I was certain it was a girl. I wrapped the entire thing in maxi pads and carried it breathlessly to my husband. He suggested we have a burial service at my childhood home.

A month later, we did so. My parents were the only ones aware of the loss besides my husband and me, and they left us to hold our small service in private. My husband held my hands and we prayed over the pathetic remains beneath their flagpole. I named her Zoe, which means Life. It is a special, healing memory, and I strongly encourage anyone who has suffered a pregnancy loss to hold a service of some kind, even if the pain is decades old.

It’s amazing how raw and fresh that old pain can feel, and how simple the things are that can administer relief. An acknowledgement of the loss, or a moment of shared silence while you hold someone’s hand…these are the things that a month of remembrance hopes to encourage.

It is a sad and bereft place, the infant and pregnancy loss camp. It’s not a place anyone chooses willingly.  For those who occupy its halls, a kind word goes a long way.

*this is NOT recommended, by the way. Elevated alcohol levels lead to increased chance of hemorrhage, something I cared very little about at the time.

A fable of sorts

Once upon a time, a man strode across his acreage with single-minded purpose.

He had things upon his mind, this man did. He was busy, with many distractions. His job as an executive in an oil corporation kept him consumed from morning until night with responsibilities and duties; he was, after all, expected to find oil, above and beyond all else, in the unrelenting earth that surrounded him and those who occupied the world at large.

If he did not find it, then his existence was in jeopardy, or at least his subsistence, which to his mind was almost the same thing.

He strode upon the earth that was his: the earth that he had won–hard won, mind you–in an auction where other voices had matched his tone for tone and caliber for caliber (urgent and wanting) and yet he had prevailed above all others and now it was done. The ground was his, the dirt was his, the hard-packed Oklahoma clay that yielded little and yet would (perhaps) give to him what he wanted, awaited his touch, only his touch, to bend to his will and give up its secrets. Perhaps even now it was germinating the same idea that he had–that of provision and affluence.

Or perhaps not. Perhaps it designed to keep from him all that he knew it could yield. One factor–the amount of sunshine, or the quantity of rain, the chemicals in the soil, or the infinitesimal creatures that inhabited its granular substance, could interfere with prosperity and happiness, and all his work would be for naught. No matter how many times he circled on his Massey Ferguson tractor, no matter how fluffy he yielded the hard packed soil, there were no guarantees…and yet…he would try…for the desire was less a desire and more an obsession.

Alongside his obsession, there were small people who complicated matters.

He told himself that all of this was for them–all the endless circling, all the churning and strife–but he knew that, ultimately, it was only for himself that he did it, for he loved the solitude that the tractor afforded him, and as the setting sun cast its golden rays upon the sculpted field, he knew his suspicions were correct and the urges were for him alone. Then, falsely rested all the arguments upon his mind, and restlessly did he sleep.

He had a small daughter, he did.

She looked upon him with adoration and fear and nothing less, that much was true. It frightened him, the awareness of her adoration, and so he buried it, as he buried so many things, deep within his psyche where there rested a million unresolved feelings and expectations and desires, and he told himself that it didn’t matter, not really. Not really.

But it did.

Because that small girl, she looked to him for comfort and solace, and found instead a vast chasm of nothingness to greet her questing heart.

And one day, as they strode upon the red clay, her small legs churning to keep apace with his strong, adult limbs, that she noticed the seething storm that gathered on the eastern horizon, the darkening billows that built ever larger upon the skyline, and she panted as she sought to keep up:

Daddy, what if lightening comes?

And her fear was answered by his strong, sure voice,

Why, then we will be with Jesus, in Heaven, and we’ll be all right

And for that, no matter how much error was in him, no matter how fraught with terror his presence was, no matter even if he himself believed the words he spoke, he had gifted her with the feeling of reassurance, and the thought that things might be–just might be–better in the great hereafter, and so she trusted that they would be.

So the child clung to that reassurance and tried to make her way in the world, for no matter how improbably it played out, she could not, would not forget those words, nor the assurance that accompanied them. She could not forget the feelings of joy that had flooded her small frame at their utterance, nor the peace that they had given her heart. For that, she would always love him, for all his horror and hideousness. For that, she would always crave his approval, for all his flaws and foibles.

For that, and for that alone, perhaps, would she cling to faith.

Matt. 7:11





Today I stripped down in front of a Target dressing room mirror and declared my body good enough.

I was trying on a simple grey t-shirt dress. It required the removal of everything external, and I was surrounded by mirrors. A dreadful prospect, no matter what the circumstances.

For someone who grew up in a household where her beautiful mother was repeatedly debased and accused of being “too fat”, this was A Big Deal.

Who can say the impact that the words we hear over and over again will carry? My mother is a beauty queen–Miss Texarkana 1962 and runner up to Miss Arkansas in the Miss America pageant–and never was she anything remotely close to “too fat” for anyone but my father’s overblown and untouchable perception of what female beauty was.

It was okay to be large, but not TOO large, in some places, but not others. It was allowable to have some excess above the waist as long as it was carefully positioned and never overflowed the boundaries of social grace. To be lacking in that arena, however, was shameful.

I discovered, at some point when pre-tween nosiness was rampant, beneath their bed a strange apparatus made of plastic. My mother informed me plainly that it was a device intended to induce the growth of the bosom.

My father had bought it for her.

He (my father) is a study in inconsistencies and contrast. His view of perfection is irreconcilably narrow. Excess in any form is abhorred, yet, in some areas, excess is embraced, at least privately. Unless you are his own flesh and blood, in which case it becomes embarrassing.

Contradict much?

When I hit puberty and fat began to deposit itself willy-nilly over the contours of my body, he recoiled in horror. Wondered if my mother might be able to find some sort of foundation garments that would reign me in somehow. I was offered money to lose weight.

These things make an impact upon the psyche.

What the hell?

I mean, really? What the hell? What the hell is okay? What the hell is allowable? What the hell is abhorrent? What the hell do you want from me?

These questions have never been adequately answered. So I (and countless others like me) are left to answer these questions on our own. Perfection is overrated. Or perhaps it is within our grasp, if only we can stop the insanity that perfection itself engenders.

Today, when I looked at the dimples, the jiggles, the contours of imperfection and reality that made their mark upon my body, I had a choice to make.

Would I choose peace, or war?

I’m not talking health. I’m not saying the choice was to be healthy or not healthy. I am a pretty healthy person any way you slice it. Low weight. Small BMI. The choice was to be content or not content. The choice was to be at war with myself for ever ad nauseum, or to choose contentment with the body I have been given.

This is a big deal. When one has been handed a genetic profile that includes numerous tendencies including body dysmorphia, then being able to look at oneself, flaws and all, and declare it all good, is something akin to God Himself gazing upon His creation and saying “Yes. Yes, this is what I like. This is fantastic!”

I look fantastic.

I have overcome.

At least for today.

In Which I Speak of Myself in Third Person

She had not planned to be depressed. As a child, when asked what she wanted to be when she grew up, ‘morbidly despondent’ never factored into her answer. Yet here she was, standing apart and marveling that her friends could dance to the discordant music of the universe with such abandon.

When had the darkness moved in? She couldn’t say. It was a slowly creeping cancer, stealing the light ever so stealthily from the room and engulfing her before she noticed. People looked at her sideways when she mentioned she was on antidepressants; they became suddenly wary, as though she was an elephant carcass and they the poachers, approaching carefully lest she rise up suddenly and rend them with her tusks.

She was also diagnosed as bipolar, which was terribly trendy but not nearly as exciting as Hollywood made it seem. Bipolar meant that sometimes the darkness took her to new levels of emptiness that she had previously not thought possible. Or, contrariwise, to levels of hysteria that propelled her to dangerous and damaging pursuits.

It would be great to write The Great American Novel in a weekend, she thought. Or a symphony. Or a masterpiece in oils. Like those other bipolar folks. The ones who do it right. The Poes and Hemingways and Mozarts and Van Goghs and Munchs. Nevermind that they came to violent ends. That was part and parcel with the disease; the uneasy bedfellow to genius was madness, it would seem.

Even at being crazy, she felt like a failure. Not quite mad enough to be brilliant, but too unbalanced to focus on living life successfully. The small white pill she took every night seemed only to confirm her suspicions that she would never vault to the heights required for immortality, and it mocked her with its soothing promises of peace. How would she ever know where the mania could take her if she didn’t give it a chance? The encroaching darkness threatened ominously enough to keep her swallowing them, however; into the pit was not a place she wanted to venture again, and so she felt like a coward as well as a failure, and walked through the days cloaked in a veil of multiplying sorrows.




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