Archive | September 2012

Post Pregnancy with No Baby

This post is going to begin with a somewhat whiny tone – it will get better, I promise.

One of the greatest difficulties of losing Maya is that I have to deal with the aftermath of being pregnant, with no baby to show for it.  It sucks.  Yes, I say that often, but sometimes it’s the only way to express how I feel.  It’s hard enough to have a finished nursery, drawers filled with onesies and socks, stacks of bibs, shelves of books, and a glider that’s still in the box.  Add to that the physical reminders that I was recently pregnant, and we have ourselves a great big suck fest.

The first thing I had to deal with was recovering from my c-section and having my milk come in all at the same time.  The first few weeks after my loss, I was in a real fog, so I don’t remember much.  I cried a lot, I slept a lot, I tried to convince myself that this didn’t really happen to me.  All things considered, I recovered fairly quickly.

I gained too much weight during my pregnancy, and I was already overweight to begin with.  I lost about half of it fairly quickly and then my weight-loss flat out stopped.  I wasn’t breastfeeding, so I didn’t have that to help.  I refused to continue wearing maternity clothes and quickly packed those away in the attic.  So, I’m fat, my clothes don’t fit, and my feet got bigger too so most of my shoes don’t fit either.  Because of all this, I have felt like a slug.  As I’ve mentioned, functioning is exhausting so I’ve had little motivation to exercise when I get home.

Loss is so multidimensional.  Not only do I grieve the loss of Maya, I grieve the loss of the hopes and dreams I had for her and for us as a family.  Not only do I have to recover from giving birth, I have to see the scar and the stretchmarks every day when I look in the mirror.  Not only do I have to get up and face each day without my daughter, I have to go work when I was supposed to be on maternity leave.  Every thought that I have comes back to Maya and to what happened and to what should be.  This loss has found its way into every part of my life.  I cannot escape it.

With my new found clarity, I am learning how to embrace my loss.  I know that sounds a little strange, but I feel like I am starting to accept it as part of my life and I’m slowly figuring out what to do with it.  I’m learning who the new me is and I like her.  I’m learning how I can mother Maya and honor her life.  This week, I finally found the motivation to keep track of and limit the food I put in my mouth.  I have also walked Halee a mile and a half every day this week.  I feel so different.  My head is less foggy, I have more energy, and I am in an overall better mood.

Hackie and I have a lot to look forward to and plans for the next 4 weekends, which include a birthday party, 2 walks (Walk to Remember and March for Babies), and a wedding.  All of these plans are helping time pass and helping me to live on.  There are a lot of celebrations coming up and I think I will be able to find the joy in each of these occasions.  I’m starting to find glimpses of the happiness at my core – and that feels good.

Maya is Home

A lot has happened this week.  And I feel different.  Things have started to shift.

We decided to do the March for Babies, which helped me release some of my guilt and regret.  Last weekend we received our touched-up pictures from Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep, which is an incredible organization.  Since Maya had tape across her upper lip holding her breathing tubes in place, she has a very red bruise across her upper lip in all of our pictures.  The photographer who donates her time to this wonderful organization touched up these photos so our baby’s face is just perfect.  Once we got the pictures, we created our Maya wall in our living room:

It gives me so much pleasure to have these pictures finally displayed.  I feel like she is now more a part of our home – her home.

As I mentioned previously, we put off purchasing Maya’s urn for a long time.  Originally, we didn’t think we’d get one and thought we’d mix her ashes in with the soil that will be used to plant her tree in the spring.  We asked the funeral home to hold onto them.  Right around her due date, I changed my mind and we started looking at urns.  It didn’t take long to find one we liked.  What took a while was mustering up the strength to purchase it.  I found every excuse in the book and put it off for weeks.  It felt so final and I didn’t want to admit to myself that, at 27, I needed to purchase an urn for my daughter’s remains.  Then, I started to feel guilty.  When it arrived, it took another week to call the funeral home and inform them that we were ready to have Maya home.  Yesterday, she arrived.

I thought I would be more sad.  I thought I would cry.  Instead, a feeling of comfort and contentment came over me.  Maya is now home.  I look at her urn and smile, knowing she is here with us.

I mentioned that things have started to shift and that I feel different.  About a month ago, CarlyMarie posted a project that involved making prayer flags for a candle lighting that would take place on the same beach where Maya’s name was written in the sand.  I thought it was a beautiful idea, but could not find the motivation to participate.  Yesterday, that changed, and I decided that I needed to make a flag and I needed to do it right away so it would get to Australia in time.  Hackie and I went to the fabric store and I was up until after midnight (very late for me) making this:

I wrote the poem, I hand-stitched the fabric, and I thought of my Maya the whole time.  This morning, it got sent to Australia and I am so happy that I found the strength to participate in this wonderful event.

With all of these things, I have felt very different in this journey called grief.  The foggy haze that I have felt myself in for the last three months has lifted slightly.  Someone at the hospital told us that we will somehow figure out a way to make meaning out of this horrific tragedy.  I’m starting to understand what that means.  Physically and mentally doing things for Maya – the walk, our wall, her flag, and having her home has helped me make meaning out of her life.  I feel motivated to go forward and I’m eager and excited to do as much as I possibly can to honor my little girl and keep her memory alive.

March for Babies

I’ve felt a lot of things these past 3 months and 4 days.  Sadness, anger, confusion, gratitude…. it’s exhausting because my emotions and feelings can change in an instant.  I also feel regret and guilt – two things that everyone says I shouldn’t feel.  I can’t help it.  I regret that I did not hold Maya longer.  I regret that I gave her back and said goodbye as quickly as I did.  I feel so guilty that I didn’t look at every inch of her body and that I didn’t hug her close to my chest.  One of the biggest reasons that I feel regret and guilt is the fact that we did not have a service for Maya.  No funeral, no gathering, no words spoken.  Sometimes I feel like she simply faded from our lives.  With no service and an inconclusive autopsy report, there has been no sense of closure.  I have come to realize that there probably never will be.  For the rest of my life, I will ask the ‘what if’ questions and play the ‘if only’ game in my head.  I don’t know that I’ll ever reach a point of acceptance.

This past month, I have felt especially terrible that we didn’t have a service for our precious baby.  I have felt a strong desire to dosomething to honor her little life.  Knowing that October is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month and that October 15th is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day, I started looking for something that Hackie and I could do in memory of Maya – to celebrate her life and keep her memory alive.  I quickly found that there would be a March for Babies walk in a town just west of us on Saturday, October 13th!

I am very excited to be doing this walk.  I’m hoping that our friends and family will join us, though I know this is somewhat last minute.  Hackie and I are going to design t-shirts and work as hard as we can to raise money in memory of our precious Maya.  I’m hoping that this walk will become a yearly tradition for our family – a way to remember Maya and to help bring more healthy babies into this world.

After making the decision to do this walk and beginning the fundraising process, I have felt a sense of relief come over me.  The feelings of guilt and regret have lessened slightly and I am proud that I have found a way to honor my daughter.  I now understand why so many women who have lost a baby start non-profit organizations, offer their talent to creating memorial jewelery, photographs, etc., or publish resource material.  It goes back to a previous post where I mentioned needing to find a purpose.  We want so badly for our babies’ lives to matter.  This walk will not be the only thing I do to honor Maya’s life and keep her memory alive.  I’m not sure yet what the future holds, but I trust that, just like the idea to do this walk came to me, something else will inspire me and I will find other ways to honor my baby girl.

If you would like to join our team or donate, please visit our march for babies team page.

We are forever grateful for your love and support.

The Healing Power of a Dog

How can you not smile when you see this face?

This is my lovable labradoodle Halee.  She is almost 5 and we’ve had her since she was a puppy.  Halee is a special dog.  Sometimes, I think that she thinks she’s a person.  She gets mad when she isn’t involved in a conversation, she tilts her head to one side when we say most anything as if she’s listening very intently, and she loves pillows (just like her daddy).  Halee is the third member of our family, and she has made quite the impact and difference in our lives.

Halee is the reason that I am still teaching.  My first year was very bad.  Very very bad.  I cried at least once a week and felt so terrible that 14 years of yearning to be a teacher and working towards that goal had landed me in a position where I taught in a room referred to as ‘the dumping ground’.  As I said, very bad.  I brought Halee home just after Thanksgiving that year.  This was the very first picture I took of my new puppy once I got her home:

I would come home stressed, exhausted, and emotionally overwhelmed.  She would greet me, wag her tail, and remind me that there was so much more to life than my horrible job.  Dogs are amazing.

Halee is Maya’s big sister, and she was very aware of that.  Soon after I found out I was pregnant, Halee seemed to understand that something was changing.  As we began to work on the nursery, she would go in there and walk around.  Just a week before we had Maya, we were sitting on the floor and Halee curled up on the rug – it was almost as if she was telling us that she was going to be a very protective big sister.

Halee would lay on my belly at night and snuggle up close.  Whenever we referred to ‘Baby Boo’, she would wag her tail.

On the day we returned home from the hospital, Halee cried with us.  It was one of the most amazing things.  She sat on the couch and wailed as Hackie and I cried too.  Halee knew that a member of her family was gone.  She knew how sad we were.  She was affected by this loss as well.

In the weeks following Maya’s birth and death, Halee became very protective.  She was not thrilled with the number of people coming and going.  She barked at anyone walking by and seemed to be on high alert.  She would not leave my side.  Any time that I cry, Halee comes to my side and snuggles up with me.  She puts her head in my lap and looks at me.  Her beautiful eyes say it all.  They tell me how much she cares and that she is here for me.

Halee frequently hangs out at the nursery door.  I can tell that she is sad too.  She would have loved having another playmate in the house.  She would have been so protective of Maya.  I pictured her sleeping under her crib and sitting at my feet when I held her.  Maya would have loved Halee too.  They would have had a special bond.

I’m not sure what I would have done this summer if I didn’t have Halee to keep me company.  I talk to her, I laugh with her, I take her for walks, and we play together.  Though she cannot talk, I know that she knows what I need and she has provided that for me.  When I sit and pet her, I feel a calm wave come over me.  Dogs are incredible.  They are intuitive and have an amazing healing power.  I love you Halee!



Three Months

My darling Maya,

You would have turned 3 months old today!  I’d probably be wondering where the last three months have gone and be marveling at how big you’ve gotten.  I would have learned what makes you happy and your favorite song to fall asleep to.  We would spend lots of time rocking in the glider.  I would have read to you, sang to you, and talked to you every chance that I got.  That glider is still sitting in the box.   I want so badly to really finish your nursery since it was so close to being done.  We have opened the door now, and I don’t want it to look like a storage room.

This past month has gone by very slowly.  It’s been the slowest moving month since we said hello and goodbye.  Daddy and I miss you so much.  We were so looking forward to adding you to our family and raising you.  Now, we struggle with what’s next and what we can look forward to.  I think we’ve found something to focus on for the next month.  For you my dear girl, we will walk in the March for Babies and raise money to help bring more healthy babies into this world.  I’m looking forward to doing this for you and I know you will be with us on that day.

I had to go back to work a few weeks ago.  It’s been really tough, especially this past week.  I’ve cried many tears – I want to be sad whenever I want and be able to cry when I need to, but I can’t.  It bottles up and comes out all at once – life is so hard without you here.  Somehow, I am getting through.  I have felt your presence so often.  You are giving me the strength to get through each day and to foster a love of learning for my students.  I often pause and think about you – that brings a smile to my face.

As things in my life have settled down and some sort of routine has returned to our lives, I’ve struggled to understand my purpose in life.  My routine was supposed to include hanging out with you all day and my purpose was to be your mommy.  I know I am still your mommy and am figuring out what that means for us.  This past week, I received a note from a friend who became a mommy just 8 days before I did.  She explained how much your story has affected her as a mother.  This note made me realize that my purpose as your mommy is to share your story and to help others realize just how precious our children are.  If those who read your story hug their kids a little tighter, spend 5 extra minutes enjoying the nice weather outside, or simply take an extra minute each day to acknowledge the good things in their lives, I will have served my purpose and I will have served your purpose.  Together, my darling Maya, we are helping others acknowledge and appreciate the beauty in their lives.

Oh Maya!  How I wish you were here with me and with your gigantic family!  We all miss you so much.  Continue to smile down on us – we feel your presence every day.

I love you my gorgeous girl!

Love always,



BOOM! I am an Adult Now!

I often feel like I just graduated from high school.  It’s been 9 years, but still – seems like just yesterday.  My closest friends are mostly still the ones I had in high school or even in junior high.  College went by quickly and I eased so easily into adult life that it didn’t feel like adult life.  My husband (who was my boyfriend at the time) and I moved in together, got a dog, got jobs, and played house.  At least, that’s what it felt like.  Even though my first year teaching was all sorts of awful, in the grand scheme of things, life was easy.  Looking back, I was a very mature teenager with many leadership qualities.  I don’t consider myself all that different now.  Perhaps that’s why I felt that I never really had to ‘grow up’.  I never had a moment where I acknowledged the transition from being a child/teenager to an adult… that is, until recently.

The fact that I am an adult and have to deal with adult things has hit me square in the face – very hard.  In a nine hour span of time I went from being a naive mother-to-be still gripping to pieces of my childhood self, to a mother holding her dying baby deciding if I wanted an autopsy performed.  My husband and I were thrust so fast and furious from our naive selves to full on, 100% adults with no warning or preparation.

This afternoon, I got a bill from Children’s Hospital for Maya’s care.  I assumed it would be coming.  Most was covered by insurance, but we need to pay the $200 co-pay.  While I can acknowledge that the care she received comes at a price and that the team of doctors and nurses who never left her side need to make a living, I also can’t help but feel totally gypped.  $200 for what?  A whole lot of heartache?  UGH!  This sucks!  Sure, I’ve been paying bills for years, which I know is a very adult thing to do.  This bill, however, plays a big role in shutting the door to my childhood self and making me an official adult.

On top of the bill, we received another thing in the mail that serves as yet another reminder of just how adult I have to be.  Maya’s urn arrived today.  I put off ordering it forever.  I came up with excuses as to why we should wait.  It’s so final.  Then, I started to feel guilty that her ashes were still at the funeral home so I ordered it last week.  When it arrived this afternoon, I thought, “I’m 27 and I’m unpacking my daughter’s urn – what the hell?”  I feel like I’m too young to have to be dealing with all of these ‘adult’ things.

What sucks the most is that I will never have another ‘naive’ pregnancy.  I will never be able to carry a baby with the confidence I had when I carried Maya.  I will never be able to celebrate the ‘milestones’ of pregnancy like other naive mothers do.  Hitting 12 weeks and then 24 won’t mean as much.  I know it’s not a sure thing no matter where I’m at in the pregnancy.  It upsets me so much that the naivety of childhood has forever been washed away from my soul.  I know how dark life can get.  I resisted for so long.  I didn’t want to grow up.  My carefree attitude towards life was just fine with me.  Now, I am forced to find my adult self.  Who am I?  What kind of adult will I be?  I thought the transition towards true adulthood would be so joyous and smooth, happening as I learned how to be a mother.  Though the path was much shorter and more abrupt, I still believe that my adult life will be good.  I am different.  My life story as I saw it has been revised.  I will forever be a mother to an angel.  And because of my precious angel, I have been changed for the better.  Because of my Maya, I will be a better adult with a greater purpose in this world that I look forward to figuring out.

It well may be
That we will never meet again
In this lifetime
So let me say before we part
So much of me
Is made from what I learned from you
You’ll be with me
Like a handprint on my heart
And now whatever way our stories end
I know you have re-written mine
By being my friend…

Who can say if I’ve been
Changed for the better?
I do believe I have been
Changed for the better

And because I knew you…

I have been changed for good…


Taking what I Need

Over the past 12 weeks (is that right?  I’m starting to lose count), I’ve had to learn that life goes on after the world stops.  As I settle into my new routine of getting up at 5:30 and being at work all day, I’m learning how to grieve differently than I did throughout the summer.  Grief now has to have a time and place.  I can’t leave 22 eleven year olds unsupervised so I can go cry and I don’t want to make my colleagues feel uncomfortable.  I’ve started to come up with different tactics for getting through the day.

The car is a great place to cry.  This morning, before I left for work, there was an email that one of the women I was pregnant with delivered a baby girl this past Friday.  I knew she was pregnant and due any day, but I wasn’t prepared for the email (how can you be?).  It hit me hard.  It made me physically ill.  I was supposed to get to send work the “It’s a girl” email and I never got to do that.  Instead, my baby news was shared with the crisis team and at an emergency staff meeting.  It’s not fair.  It sucks.  So, I cried in my car and was able to pull myself together before walking into the building.

I’ve also learned that sitting at my desk and taking a deep breath is a great way to cope.  Even with students in front of me and in the midst of a busy lesson, my mind goes to Maya.  As soon as I have just 30 seconds, I take the opportunity to breathe, think of Maya, acknowledge the grief and go on with the lesson.  So far, this has worked and I am proud that I am coming up with coping mechanisms.

The most important thing that I need is time alone.  I have spent a lot of time reflecting on this.  It takes so much mental energy and stamina to function, period.  Add engaging with eager 6th graders and being “on” for 50 minutes at a time, often three times in a row and I am downright exhausted.  Sometimes, I opt to eat lunch by myself.  I am trying not to be anti-social, but I’m finding that I need to spend those 25 minutes a day thinking about Maya and feeling sad.  I need a break from engaging.

Most people around me don’t want to bring up my loss.  They think I’ve “moved on” or that bringing it up will upset me.  They may also be uncomfortable talking about it themselves for fear they will say the wrong thing.  I totally get it and I have no expectations of my colleagues.  The fact of the matter is, it’s always on my mind.  I try very hard not to bring up my loss at work.  I don’t want to.  It’s a tough subject to talk about and I don’t want to make anyone feel uncomfortable.  I need to think about it though and reflect throughout the day – so sometimes, I need to take the time to be alone with my thoughts.

I also need to decompress at the end of the day – as do most people.  Sometimes, I cry in the car on the way home.  If I didn’t get enough time to acknowledge my grief throughout the day, it bottles up and comes out on the way home.  When I get home, I talk to my mom since I don’t need to hold back any of my grief from her.  When I get off the phone, I often just sit, stare, and feel the sadness, anger, frustration, or whatever other emotion is present at the time.

Grief is not something you can get past.  It’s something you have to go through.  It’s ugly and unpredictable.  It’s always present but can be louder or softer depending on the hour.  By living through my grief and feeling it with every ounce of my soul, I am acknowledging Maya.  She is with me every step of the way as I climb this mountain of grief and she is helping me through.

New Job

Let’s start at the beginning.  I decided that I wanted to be a teacher when I was 8 years old – a third grade teacher to be exact.  I spent the rest of my years in school making mental notes of the best and worst practices of the teachers I had.  I entered Boston University as an elementary education major and quickly learned that, with two additional classes and no extra semesters, I could graduate with a dual license in elementary and special ed.  I thought doing this would make me more marketable as an elementary teacher.  The summer after I graduated I sent countless job applications and had very little luck.  I had some interviews but got to the end of August with no job and no plan.  With two weeks left until school started, I interviewed for a third grade position and was very hopeful.  While in the interview, the principal noticed that I was also certified in special ed.  And so it began… I got the special ed. job because they had other candidates for the third grade position and not for their special ed. position.

After a year from hell, the search began again and again, it was nearing the end of August and I had to start applying for SPED positions, which is what I ended up with.  I’ve spent the last four years in the same district, but I’ve been bounced around.  I’ve had three different jobs in two different schools.  Last year I worked with kids with more severe needs and was quite miserable for most of the year.  Looking forward to having Maya was getting me through.  In March, I met with my principal and expressed my desire for a regular ed. job.  I was very honest with him about how SPED was never my intention when I became a teacher and while I was good at it, I was not happy.  A 6th grade math position opened a week before I had Maya and I immediately emailed my principal my interest.  Then I had Maya.  Then she died and my world came crashing down.

One of the first things that came to mind when I was in the hospital was that I had to get a new job.  I realized so quickly how truly precious time is and that I could not spend another year miserable.  At first, I wanted to leave the district all together.  I felt like a fresh start might be best.  After a couple of weeks, I started to realize the benefits of staying put at my school.  Still, I had this burden of wondering if I would get this math position.  I was advised by a colleague to email my principal again as he was hesitant to contact me in my fragile emotional state.  I emailed him, interviewed, and waited.  Ultimately, he emailed me and asked if I would be interested in teaching 6th grade science as a position had just opened.  It took me about 5 minutes to realize that teaching science is easier, more fun, and more creative than teaching math.  I accepted the position and felt a massive weight lift from my shoulders.

I counted the weeks until school was to begin.  Once school started, I felt more anxious than excited.  I finally got to do what I wanted to do and be a classroom teacher.  However, the transition has been bittersweet since I was supposed to be on maternity leave.  It has been a mixed bag of emotions and I have had moments of pure panic wondering if I could really do this.

Then, today, I had a moment when I thought to myself, “I love my job”.  It is the first time I thought this since I did my elementary student teaching in Sydney, Australia back in 2006.  I felt a wave a relief and pure delight.  I remembered why I became a teacher in the first place and I felt excited about the year ahead.  I have started connecting with kids and feel like I can spend my days teaching rather than doing paperwork and supporting students in other teachers’ classrooms.

I can now say I am happy with my new job.  I wasn’t sure I’d be able to get past the anger and bitterness I felt about being back in school when I was supposed to be spending my days with Maya.  I really wasn’t sure that I could do it.  Now I feel good.  I know that I will still have my days of feeling bitter.  I know that some days will be challenging and stressful.  However, I feel so content knowing that after five years of frustration, stress, and lots of job-related tears, I am in the right place.  In this moment, I feel like being a 6th grade science teacher is what I’m meant to do, and that feels so good.


Today I am feeling hopeful.  Hopeful for this upcoming week.  Hopeful for the month of September.  Hopeful for good things to come.  Last night, we had a blue moon – the second full moon of the month.  This will not happen again until July 2015.  I went outside with Hackie and we wished on the moon.

As you may remember from this post, I say “Rabbit, Rabbit” on the first of every month.  It’s supposed to be the first thing out of your mouth, though I’m not sure I’ve ever remembered first thing.  I tend to talk to myself in the morning and by the time I remember it’s the 1st of the month, I’ve said other things.  This morning, however, I looked at the clock at 1:50 and I whispered “Rabbit, Rabbit”.  It was definitely the first thing I said today.  I am so hopeful that September will bring good days.

Part of what has me feeling so hopeful today is that I have spent much of the day reflecting on how far I have come.  It has been exactly 11 weeks since Maya was born and died.  At first, I couldn’t focus enough to read, I cried several times a day, and couldn’t fathom how I would ever function successfully again.  I didn’t want to go to the grocery store or out to dinner.  With each week, I reached a new milestone.  I started and finished 2 books, I went to the grocery store, I did the dishes and the laundry.  Some of these milestones I remember vividly.  For a long time, I didn’t want to do any errands by myself.  I was willing to travel alone to reach a destination like a friend’s house or my mom’s, but I didn’t want to walk into a store by myself for fear that something would set me off or upset me.  One afternoon, maybe a  month ago, Hackie was building some shelves for our bedroom.  He needed wood glue and sandpaper.  He was covered in sawdust and asked me to run to the hardware store.  I remember thinking, “but I don’t do errands by myself”.  The rational side of me kicked in and I realized that he was building these shelves for me, and I needed to run this errand for him.  I remember that milestone very clearly because I felt like it was true progress in my journey towards healing.

Heading back to work was major progress.  Getting through each week will feel like progress.  Making plans for the end of September feels like progress.  Progress feels good.  I have gone shopping by myself both yesterday and today – progress.  I walked by children’s clothing stores and felt OK – sure, it stings, but baby clothes and I have to co-exist in this world so I have to figure out a way to be OK with it.  I went to the grocery store by myself and I found myself wondering – is this the first time I’ve gone grocery shopping alone?  Did I miss that milestone?  I honestly can’t remember – so maybe it’s not that big of a deal.

When I reflect on how much progress I have made, I am hopeful for what the next month will bring.  I am hopeful it will bring more progress.  I have had moments when I think of Maya and smile rather than feel sad.  I am hoping to have more of those moments.  I planted some sunflower seeds back in April.  Maya and I planted them together.  The flowers have opened.  They are so beautiful and they make me think of Maya and smile.

While shopping today, I found a pink candle.  The scent is ‘pink sands’ .  It is the prettiest shade of pink and it smells so good.  It now sits on my desk burning and it makes me think of Maya and smile.

Today went by fast.  I was motivated to get a lot done on my list and I was productive.  I feel good and I am so happy to start a new month with a good day.  A good day.  That’s progress too because for this longest time I would say that no day was good.  I would describe my days as ‘bad days’ and ‘better days’.  Now, I can say I have had a good day.  I know Maya is smiling down on me and is proud that her mommy is living on, feeling hopeful, and experiencing brighter moments.