Ice Breakers

If you are new to this blog of the upcoming book Viking Funeral, celebrating the life of Dave Linane with booze, words, and fire, welcome.  The timeline above shows you where we are in the book. While each chapter can stand on its own if you wish to read from the beginning, click here.  More info is available, About Dave or the FAQ section explains who the book is about and the arc of the storyline. If you found me through a grief group, this page of my perspective of why we are all here in this place right now may be helpful. XO M

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Before I had a date with my now darling husband, I was compelled to approach dating differently because I was a single mom, which changes everything. I could not afford to make a mistake; there was simply too much at stake with consideration of my son in the balance of everything. I created a 72-question survey, basically internet dating before it existed. I had to try to discern as much as possible about him before ever having a date. I formulated the survey from issues and lessons learned from previous relationships that had crashed and burned badly on the side of my life’s Audubon.

We took more than a month of evening hours, answering and asking why I included that particular question. So much more insight was gained by both of us compared to traditional, dinner and a movie type date where most people just burn away hours on a clock together and think it means something by way of flirtish looks, grazing touches, and wet kisses. A movie consumes otherwise precious time to actually get to know each other through pointed questions. Historically I had never asked brave questions. Instead, I uncovered painful realities of who I was with on-the-fly over wasted years. Character traits are critical and need to be understood and aligned before taking the relationship to an emotional point of no return. By our first date after finishing the survey, we both knew everything we needed to know, including favorite and unfavorite things.

I feel limited by description and dialogue to create an accurate portrait of Dave in the traditional sense. As I take my first-stab at trial-by-biography-under-duress-fire, I thought I might employ some hybrid of atypical tactics. I hope to expand small, even silly personal insights further to fill in the broad strokes of who I have illustrated to this point without which he would not be who he was or exist in my memory.

I have broken things down into a series of lightning round posthumous ice breakers. To say that Dave really ENJOYED, SAVORED, LOVED to the FULLEST extent, not in any particular order: music, movies, food, company, laughing, helping people, is still not giving enough emphasis to his reality. I am hard-pressed to say which he loved the most. These are all merely fragments that imbue his era on this earth, beyond his hilarious adventures and accomplishments, his likes, dislikes, some of the essence of Dave.

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Ice Breakers – The Music:

At the time of writing this section, I met my mom at the gym three mornings a week. We walked side-by-side on treadmills and would chat about the remains of the day since as ours was stretched out before us when we left the gym. At some point, I was brave enough to tell her I was spending my days working on Dave’s bio. I wasn’t sure if it would make her upset, so I had waited for years to mention it.

***

A few days after his accident, he had an all-day surgery. They were home waiting with many of their closest friends, waiting for a call from the doctor afterward. No one would be able to see Dave, nor would he be awake for quite some time, so the doctor told them to wait at home. Talk of the surgery, everything they knew to date was ongoing. I spent portions of the day under the table listening. I didn’t understand all that was being discussed, bone grafts, fusions. I came out from under the table and spoke in front of the crowd for the first time in days: “Why don’t they just sew him up?” From spotty details of previously overheard adult conversations, I had envisioned in my child’s dramatic and runaway imagination that he had some sort of bloody gaping wound on his neck. It had to be gaping and bloody to have made him completely paralyzed, didn’t it? I thought. I had no understanding of what the hell a broken neck meant other than it had to be very bad.

My dad put one arm around me as he explained, “The spinal cord cannot be touched without inflicting damage.” He illustrated his point by taking a pencil and lightly touching the back of my hand with the eraser end, “That,” he said, “would have caused irreparable damage to the spinal cord.” I nodded in understanding, but I still cannot begin to fathom the delicate intricacies of the human nervous system.

I have already spoken of the shock and horror of my first visit to see Dave in the hospital two weeks after his injury and surgery, the nuts, bolts, and sandbags attached to and hanging off his body. I NEVER asked my mom or dad ANY questions about ANYTHING related to Dave’s injury after that day. Some things are not necessary to know in this life, and I was perfectly fine, not knowing all the gory details. I guess it’s a thing for me, a dislike for gory details. But in an effort to lay things out in an orderly fashion in the book, I realized I had a few questions.

After moving through what was so much less of a hurdle than I expected to tell my mom I was 70K words into Dave’s bio, I began asking for clarification as questions arose and shared what I was working on at that point in time. Learning the answers to what was happening behind the scenes with my parents, in her head and heart, has been in some ways shattering but mostly beautifully insightful. I explained why I was using this ice breakers tactic to her, starting with the music Dave listened to. She was always eager to hear of my progress and listen as I read finished chapter essays to her. After I read the first chapters to her, she said, “Wow, that took me right back to there.” I apologized. She brightly redirected, “Oh, no. I have no more tears left in me. It’s a beautiful story. Really, I’m fine.”

***

Our first conversation on our treadmills spanned the awareness we both had come to understand, having witnessed life up close with Dave, that a paralyzed person’s senses are enriched differently than the rest of us and that Dave’s available senses were definitely heightened. They just had to be. We have senses to survive. If one is wiped out, the others step-up to help compensate. He loved the things that saturate our senses and heart so damn much; it makes perfect sense in hindsight that all of the other ways we derive simple pleasures in this world were heightened in his.

Dave had a great deal of isolated time both when he was stuck in bed for whatever reason or up in his wheelchair. My mom was always home, which was a fortunate thing for all of us. Still, she was not glued to his side; she had those aforementioned maintenances of life things to manage for our family’s existence, mountains of laundry, bathrooms to clean, potatoes to peel, all the rest of the things you come to imagine therein.

My dad worked, my siblings and I had school, social lives, or later work and then moved out to start our own lives. If Dave didn’t have company, everyone who lived at home spent some portion of our day with him in his room, but that was typically in the afternoon after school, evenings, and weekends.

Dave filled that unstructured time alone with everything he could; music, movies, reading (Playboys) for the articles, drawing, afternoon talk shows, and visiting with people, sometimes by phone, sometimes in person. Imagine not leaving a room with no view all day, for days at a time sometimes. His friends all had lives to lead, classes to attend, work to work, families to grow.

Our parents never had to encourage us to go to Dave’s room and talk to or just hang out with him. His room was the heart of the house unless he was up in his wheelchair in the kitchen, then the heart was in the kitchen like most homes. Unless he was outside, then he was lighting up the outside world with his warm magnetism that was a source of both touching connections and laughable entertainment.

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Dave had a badass stereo. He had a minuscule insurance policy from the college that paid a little over a thousand dollars if a player were injured. Well, …he definitely qualified for the $1500 bucks, and he bought a badass stereo with that money. BADASS. The powers that be at the hospital allowed him to have it set up in his room from the first months of his stay there. Another thing I am grateful to the hospital staff for, allowing him to have music. My darling husband, my research team of one when it comes to calculating things like inflation for comparative purposes, advised me that stereo would be about $7000 in today’s (2020) money.

I know the cost of most stereo and electronic components has dropped dramatically over the years, but he had top-of-the-line stuff for audiophiles for the rest of his life. Components were replaced over the years, and being a guy, he loved gadgets in general, but especially high-quality electronics. He kept up with the latest technology and transitioned through a range of devices from an amplifier, reel-to-reel, eight-track, turntable, double cassette tape players, new turntable, new amplifier, pre-amplifier, CD player, multiple CD player to a jukebox CD player that held I forget if it held 100 or 200 CDs, all I know is it held a shatload of music. His last set of speakers were enormous four-foot-tall Bose speakers that were amazing.

Dave taught me how to listen deeply, to isolate, hear, and critique all the parts and qualities of any given song’s production. We read the fine print of the liner notes on albums. He listened to talk radio shows on KLOS, a rock genre radio station in L.A. One of his favorites was The Seventh Day with Joe Benson, which would feature an entire album and details of the artists, production, history, facts.

He listened to Mark and Brian on the same station daily every morning. Listening to those two guys reminded me of spending time with Dave and Brian, the way they loved to laugh, and their passion for music and funny shit across the board. It was not uncommon for Dave to ask “Did you listen to Mark and Brian this morning…Oh my God, it was hilarious!” Then he would proceed to tell me what took place. I will never forget him telling me about the guy who pooped in the cat box of his girlfriend’s new kitten, how she freaked out thinking something was terribly, terribly wrong with her kitten, and took it to the vet. He called Mark and Brian to get them to help him tell his girlfriend it was just a joke. I responded with mounting disgust but could not help laughing at Dave’s face as he too cringed at the grossness, hilariously laughing as he eked out a few words between breaths to the point of tears rolling down his cheeks.

Spending time with Dave meant you were likely to be taken on a deep immersion of the senses as well. I had already had five years of music lessons by the time he returned home from the hospital. Yet, he taught me about what was going on in music more than my piano teacher. He pointed out the separation, clarity, crispness, air, openness, extension, rhythm, tone, texture, feel, and space within, and throughout any given song or album he shared with me. I learned to listen decades before surround sound existed, but yes, he moved into that realm of music experience when it arrived on the scene. The tangible quality of sound from records on his stereo setup is unparalleled to this day with any stereo setups I have since owned, which are much less sophisticated by far and don’t get me started on dreadfully disappointing standard-issue car stereos!

Queue the music:

For a time, he LOVED Iron Butterfly: In-a-Gadda-Da-Vida (honey), a transitional song bridging the psychedelic and hard rock world that was between 17 and 35 minutes long. When he first came home from the hospital, he would have my mom or me set up an album for him. With this song, in particular, the extended version comprised the entire side of the album, and he LOVED having it turned way up to a Spinal Tap 11. I would drop the needle, turn it up and leave, closing the door behind me. Soon the entire house would be pulsating with na-na-naa-na-na-na-naaa-na-na… “In A Gadda Da Vida Honeyyyyy.”

I would be going about my ONE Saturday chore of emptying the trash cans in the house as what I perceived to be the most annoying and overrated song in the world was permeating the house. I should state for the record; we had a very old, very solid, concrete block Spanish style house that was otherwise reasonably sound proof-until this stereo was turned way up. I would open Dave’s door to get his trash can in my hours-long endeavor of emptying all the trashcans in the house that should have taken 10 minutes and be penetrated with the wall of sound that had been 90% held back by the solid wood door. The sound forcibly assaulted my internal structures boring down to the molecular level.

Dave would be there in bed, rocking out so to speak, belting out the lyrics at the top of his lungs, nodding his head with each strum of what I felt to be the most obnoxious chord progression in the history of chord progressions. He would shout above the cacophony, ‘ISN’T THIS AMAZING?’ He had to shout because the music was so fucking loud. He would then return to the beat, catch back up with the lyrics, continuing to sing again. He would encourage me to come closer, like moving anywhere in his room would have helped me hear any better. He asked me to REALLY listen with a “WAIT, WAIT. YOU GOTTA HEAR THIS DRUM SOLO-COMING UP, I.T.’S 12 MINUTES LONG!!!!” I would stand there holding his tall metal mock Coors beer can trashcan in both hands, vibrating against my abdomen, a completely unimpressed nine years old, staring flatly at his face just waiting for it all to end. When the torturous drum solo was finally done, I would wordlessly shrug conveying a ‘NOPE’ and walk out to continue somehow dragging out my ONE chore for the rest of the day, closing the door, immediately cutting the sound back to 90% inundation.

As I wrote this, I put headphones on to listen again. This time I did not have his Coors trashcan vibrating against me. I felt differently about it. I mean, ya, it’s still a grating song, but it made me crack up thinking about Dave belting out those or other lyrics, head-nod dancing, in his bed with his ridiculously limited mobility that refused to be stifled for the music. Listening to it jolted a secondary memory of this song. I had a flashback to the movie Man Hunter. The scene following the very moving tiger petting with the lovely blind woman abruptly jump-cuts to the creepy serial murderer’s equally creepy murder-y lair of a house with In a Gadda Da Vita blaring throughout the dark space.

Dave, of course, shared this movie with me. He knew what was coming, that I hated this song and cracked up at my instant reaction of irritation to it, I snapped a wide-eyed look at him, taking an annoyed breath in as I rolled my eyes out of my head at that God damn song, then proceeded to freak out at the scariness of the final scene. *Shivers again*

I listened to the song from cover to cover, so to speak via Spotify (Dave would have LOVED Spotify by the way), with my adult more tolerant persona. The drum solo is…still NOPE. I am happy to say his music taste was much broader than this one song, much more, thank goodness. I think in those early days, he was mesmerized by the greatly improved level of sound that his new stereo put out compared to how he used to listen to this same album on our shitty ancient hi-fi stereo in our living room with dusty fidelity and volume.

When I was telling my mom about writing this section, I told her the first song that came to mind was “In a Gadda Da Vida,” and her response before blinking was, “Oh God! Yes!” And a laugh. I described how I remembered the sound filled our not so small house to the rafters but was exponentially louder when I opened the door to collect trash on my day-long five minutes of actual work every Saturday. She laughed a long laugh at the accurate description of my truly pathetic single chore work ethic and maybe the wall of sound description. “You know he played that song before he was hurt, and I just HATED it.” She rolled her eyes and shook her head the way only a mother does when remembering the antics of one of her baby chicks. “After he was home from the hospital, though, I came to love that song because I realized that it was such a simple thing that gave him so much pleasure.” It’s incredible how we can love a song on its own merit as well as where the song transports us. She loved that escape for him, if even momentarily. I was retroactively even more grateful for that badass stereo that transported him.

The House of the Rising Sun. He had a deep voice and love to sing—there I.S. a HOUSE in New Orleans… Do I really need to say more? He loved belting out these old school classic rock lyrics.

Riders on the Storm, Nights in White Satin, A Horse with No Name are classic rock songs that invariably remind me of sitting in his room surrounded by rich sound vibrating my bones. I never thought to ask if he could feel the music in his bones, maybe that was why he liked it turned up, to feel something.

Steely Dan! Dave would listen to the Aja album from cover to cover. Track one side A, “Peg, it will come back to youuuuu. PAAAAAAYG…” Michael McDonald, with backing vocals, was a brilliant addition to this song. “Do it again” from Can’t Buy a Thrill album was another favorite. Oh, the inevitability of fate!

Eric Clapton (Derek and the Dominos). LAAAAAAAY-LAH. Na-na-na-na-na-na naaaaaa. NA-NA-NA-NA-NA. With the original and unplugged version of this song, he never tired of listening to it. He shared the sad details of the origin of the song that Layla was, in fact, Patti Harrison, George Harrison, his close friend’s wife. We both theorized that he made a bad move because seriously, no one divorces a Beatle dude. Not even for a Clapton. Well, at least he created a legendary song from that experience like only the biggest pains of our life can.

Doobie Brothers- “What a fool believes” from the Minute by Minute album… “The BLIND man has the power…” “Wait,” I corrected HIM on this occasion because I had the piano sheet music. “Those are not the lyrics! It’s “the WISE man has the power.” “Oh.”

This sparked a hilarious conversation about weird lyrics in songs, as well as those that are wildly misinterpreted. Keep in mind this was WAY before the glorious internet and access to anything important, like the lyrics to any song in the world. We hated when liner notes didn’t include the lyrics, those stingy bitches! This conversation meandered to the most misinterpreted song ever, “Blinded by the Light” What in the hell do they say? He clarified that he heard a discussion on Mark and Brian (so it must be true), that the words were “Rolled up like a deuce” followed by, he couldn’t remember the next jumble of syllables of sounds meant to be words that neither of us could discern as much as we threw out possibilities.

“What in the hell is a deuce supposed to be anyway?” I inquired.

“You know, a deuce, like two people, rolled up together. Like romantically rolled up in a blanket?”

“Oh, I was thinking about playing cards, you know a 2 of hearts, a deuce or something like that. STILL, two people rolled up together? A deuce? Like in a sleeping bag? That just makes no sense at all.”

I swear it’s “rolled up like a deuce.” He repeated, “They talked about it on the Mark and Brian show.”

***

My son, like most people, would ask me how the book was coming along. I told him I was at this part, the music part, specifically the misinterpretation of lyrics part, and how Dave and I would just crack up making alternative lyrics. Sven reads Rolling Stone magazine and is one to read about music in great detail anyway, smugly explained the actual lyrics, Its, “Revved up like a Deuce. Another runner in the night.” “So, I stand by my, what the hell does that even mean comment.” “A Deuce is a Deuce Coup; you know the car? It is a song about racing cars.” “Ok, that makes more sense then.” Guys write about women, booze, or cars, am I right? Or horses with no name, like you, can write an entire song about it but not name it?

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Anything by The Rolling Stones. Anything.

Dave and Brian were excited to point out who was backing vocals on Carly Simon’s You’re So Vain. They were both staring intently at me as it was playing. A song I had heard…I don’t know a thousand times at that point in my life. I was a teenager when we were attending a party when Dave asked: “You know who is backing vocals on this song, right?” I didn’t understand the question at first. Of course, I don’t know who backs Carly Simon like I would know the nameless people who back famous singers. They both were excited about sharing what felt like some sacred meaning of life type of information with me. Brian chimed in, “Listen, listen during the chorus…wait, wait, listen, not to her, the background singer.”

I tried my best to isolate hearing the background singers from Carly Simon. Ok, I heard voices other than hers but could not identify them. Brian placed his tongue across his upper lip to make his lips look enormous, a gesture that could only imply in my mind, Mick Jagger. “Is that…I really concentrated…Mick Jagger??” Their faces lit up! A joint “YES!!!” Like I had actually figured out the meaning of life. Well, that was an interesting fun fact. I love that song, and I love the Rolling Stones, probably from my exposure through Dave and his analog playlist.

Speaking of The Rolling Stones, Dave was excited to ask me if I could figure out who was being alluded to in the song Sympathy for the Devil. I listened. I was probably 9 or 10. I didn’t know the name of the song at that point. The lyrics began…

Please allow me to introduce myself
I’m a man of wealth and taste…

Again, I had heard this song many, MANY times, but this time I listened intently on the lyrics.

By the way, who listens to this song and doesn’t sing the Woo Woos I ask? I know, right?

Woo Woo Woo Woo Woo Woo
Woo Woo Woo Woo Woo Woo
Woo Woo Woo Woo Woo Woo

I listened to the end, bouncing to the rhythm; it is undeniably a great song that you would be hard-pressed to sit still while listening. It turns out I could not guess his name.

The song finished, I shrugged an, I got nothing, shrug. Dave excitedly said, “The DEVIL! The song is called Sympathy for the Devil!” Ok, that’s creepy. I acknowledged that it made sense considering the words after the fact, but added it was a weird concept for a song. Woo Woo…

It was Dave who had to explain that Mother’s Little Helper was valium or some such drug being alluded to in that song. I was so young and judgmental questioning what was up with drug use among rock and roll singers anyway?

The song You can’t always get what you want was among the many songs Dave might belt out as it played at the Spinal Tap 11 volume. He mostly belted out the “You CAINT always get what you want” part the way Mick Jagger put his inflection on that word tightly annunciated with closed teeth. Again, another song you cannot sit still while listening. Again, another song that featured drugs. Oh my! Those stones boys were really into drugs.

At a New Year’s Eve party at our house, Dave gleefully stated that he would LOVE to meet her! The woman featured in Start Me Up by The Rolling Stones. He shouted over the loud music after the line, “girl…. you make a dead man cum.” He nodded to me to give him a sip of his beer. I held the bottle up for him to do so. I could not help responding to my brother of all people; it was a softball; I couldn’t let it lie. I raised my eyebrows, gave a bored shrug… and said offhandedly about my then ‘off again’ love interest, well he’s dead to me. He thought he had the last laugh with his quip. He half spit out his drink as he snorted both a laugh and cough. I asked him if he wanted me to hit him to help him catch his breath, a type of Heimlich maneuver where you push on the stomach while facing a paralyzed individual, I called it hitting him as a joke, but that is what it came to be called. He emphatically shook his head NO, as he continued coughing on his inhaled beer. I could have killed him with what I might add was a very well dropped joke, and what a story that would have been. I automatically play things out to the nth degree in such scenarios, I could just envision myself having to give a statement to a police officer as to how exactly he died. “We were listening to the Rolling Stones song Start Me Up; you know that song?…” We laughed and laughed at all of it. For the record, I never had to hit him with a Heimlich maneuver, ever.

When I talked to Brian about hearing all of the guys singing along to Miss You, he painted the image for me that I had always envisioned from upstairs. They were all standing, taking turns singing into that bar at the end of Dave’s bed that was meant to hang medical devices. He described it was perfect as a double for a mic in a recording studio so they could not help but sing into it. I was never in the room when these bashes were in full swing, but I could clearly hear them belting out the lyrics and can envision every bit of it. “Woo OOO OOO OO O O, Woo OOO OOO Oo O O, Lord, I miss you!” “Brown sugar, yeah, yeah, yeah, Wooooooo!” Or Honkey Tonk Women…”She blew my nose, and THEN SHE BLEW MY MIND!!!! It’s the Hon-uh-uh-uh-uh HON KEEE Tonk WOMEN!!!! Gimme, Gimee, Gimee, the honky-tonk Blues!” I loved hearing the opening measures of Gimme Shelter rise two-stories through our house, filling every and all space. I was usually in my room; my parents would have been watching T.V.  upstairs. He was NEVER EVER asked to turn it down, EVER.

There were other women in music he wanted to meet:

Dave loved, loved Robert Palmer’s Simply Irresistible. He didn’t sing any of the other lyrics, just that one. His eyes would light up, and his eyebrows would rise while he smiled and sang, “She’s so fine, there’s no tellin’ where the money went!’ And then he would laugh, every time.

Santana’s Smooth. He loved the stanza, “I would change my life to better suit your mood because you’re so smoooth.” He wanted to meet that woman because, apparently, she was extra smooth, which made us wonder about her shaving patterns.

He loved The Eagles in general. Among his many favorites, Hotel California, Take it to the Limit, and I am sure you are not surprised to learn, he also wanted to meet that Witchy Woman. We talked through many theories of her being Linda Ronstadt and settled on her being Stevie Nicks because we heard she was a witch.

He loved Angel Eyes by The Jeff Healey Band. He shared this song with me and was so proud of Jeff Healey being so talented and out there in the world making music as a blind man.

Robert Cray is an artist that we both fell for separately. I had heard Right Next Door (Because of Me) in the background at work in a retail clothing store, but I didn’t know the artist’s name. I was in Dave’s room hanging out, both of us reading with the CD jukebox playing random songs in the background, far from Spinal Tap 11. The song came on, and I perked up from whatever I was reading. “I LOVE this song!” He agreed and was excited to share the rest of the album with me. He had definitely grown to love the blues.

Stevie Ray Vaughn was an artist he began following after I had moved out of the house. I know he was fond of him, but I am not as familiar with his music. I chose to listen to VooDoo Child, as I wrote. As I said, I am not that familiar with his work, but the feel of this music has the bluesy essence of Dave written all over it.

The Blues Brothers both the movie and the album were among Dave’s favorites. He was forever Elwood, and Brian was Jake. Dave frequently joked, “We’re on a mission from Gawd.”

He loved The Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd. Along with me, he indoctrinated nieces and nephews, anyone who would listen with some Pink Floyd. They are the standard of sound engineering and quality music production. We loved watching the Pulse tour. I would have loved to have taken him to a Pink Floyd concert, but alas, the entire group was feuding and not touring for so long, he never had the chance. Bunch of bitchy little… incredibly talented musicians. Wish You Were Here is the first song that comes to mind when I think of Dave in general, even more than any Stones song, for obvious reasons.

Dave loved to share random album production trivia, who was producing what, the why and the how of a song, an album, an artist. He was excited to tell me that Huey Lewis produced Bruce Hornsby’s The Way it Is hit. We loved that song. Dave loved anything that helped the underdog or pointed out injustice the way that song did.

He was putting thoughts of paying attention to all the fine details in my head way before I was taught to pay attention to any details fine or otherwise. In school, for example, before I ever wrote a book report, I was thinking about the who, what, when, where, why, and what does it sound like of things. I have to think that those awarenesses are what helped me become an observant witness to this life, to his life. I am grateful for the fantastic music that connected him to people, lifted him, filled his life with so many rich experiences, and to have paid attention and hold it to memory.

Does anyone relate to these songs?

© Mardi Linane Copyright 2020

I have recreated the playlist from our Viking Funeral on Spotify click to check it out.

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2 thoughts on “Ice Breakers

  1. Wow! What a wonderful trip down Memory Lane with this music! I can almost hear it as I read this story. I am so impressed that your parents never requested the volume to be lowered. Your words are certainly written with love.

    1. Thank you so kindly for continuing to read Elizabeth! I appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts. Everything helps me, edit, work through my grief. XO M

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