reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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just know. [two artists tuesday]

loves me loves me not

we passed the daisy on the trail and i went back to take a picture.  it was instant recognition of  “loves me, loves me not” as i saw it.  the questions we threw willy-nilly to the universe, the don’t-step-on-a-crack, knock-wood, bread-and-butter reflexes of our 60s-70s childhoods.

were it all still to be so easy.

i remember sitting in the grass making clover chains.  i remember the transistor radio playing on the bazooka bubble gum beach towel.  i remember playing in the woods out back with the neighbors.  i remember kickball in the street and badminton and croquet in the yard.  i remember hula-hoops and skateboards on my driveway.  i remember the “boing” the pogo stick made.  i remember koolaid and ice pops that seemed to never run out.  i remember bike hikes with sue and carvel ice cream cones with chocolate sprinkles.  i remember frisbee at the beach and making apple pies.  i remember listening to cassettes and practicing piano.  i remember the trunk of the maple tree against my back, the branches holding me as i wrote.  i remember the sound the pressure-filled-from-the-sun-light-purple-hosta-flowers along our sidewalk made when popped.  i remember it was time to go home when it got dark and i remember catching fireflies in jars with holes punched in the lids.  i remember sunday drives and picking apples and kentucky fried chicken on picnic tables further out on the island.  i remember cabins in state parks and wide-eyed flirting with older lake lifeguards upstate.  i remember duck ponds and friendly’s.  i remember my puppy riding in my bike basket and ponytails.  i remember loves-me-loves-me-not.

it seemed an innocent time.  a time of marvel.  a time of safety.  never did i wonder if my parents loved me.  i just knew.

babycat just rolled onto his back, all four paws outstretched, his big black and white belly just begging for a pet.  he doesn’t ask questions.  his world is relatively small – since his kittenhood adoption, the littlehouse was the only other house he has known other than our house.  yesterday we brought him and dogdog into the basement as the tornado siren went off.  dogga was nervous but babycat adapted, finding a place to lay on the carpet.  his only demand is for food, several times a day with clockwork precision.  otherwise, he is unconditional.  his presence in my life has brought me eleven years of a gift i really needed when he arrived.

babycat is laying right next to me now as i type.  tucked close in, his snoring is punctuated only by his purring – it’s a two measure repeat in 4/4, each breath a half note.  it is the 11th anniversary of his “gotcha day” and he’s marking the day with a celebration of naps. no worry of “loves me, loves me not” crosses his mind.  he just knows.

read DAVID’s thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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words. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

kawaii raccoons

“look it up,” my sweet momma would say.  i blame her.  for my word-curiosity.  for my policing of spelling, punctuation, grammar.  for my love of dictionaries and my commitment to learning.  at 93 she was still asking questions, being curious, looking it up.

black and white composition books, of both thick and thin variety, populated my growing up, my teenage years, my college years, and ever since.  though i do have a thready fondness of using My Girl’s and My Boy’s old unfinished spiral notebooks these days, we have piles of waiting-to-be-used composition books and they beckon when i open the supply cabinet in the sunlit office upstairs.  places to jot poetry, thoughts, reflections, stories, lyrics, these composition books always make me think of my mom.  they are places to process, to remember, to dream, to sort.  they are the beginnings of stories, lyrics to ponder, the coda to the song.  to someone else they are simply words on the page.  to me, it is my breath that gives them life.  we each have stories to tell, songs to write.

in the last few days i have had the frustration of feeling silenced.  as i wrote in yesterday’s post, someone marked all five of my blogposts of last week on facebook as “spam” and that somehow triggered facebook to pull every last one of my blogposts – and any mention of my blogsite – down.  every word – the simple ones, the ones that require looking-it-up – pulled down.  with 650 posts, even averaging 500 words, that is 325,000 words.  MY 325,000 words.  gone.

in these times of chaos and unrest and pandemic, there are plenty of words out there.  foul words, words of peaceful mantras, words of untruth, twisted words of conspiracy theories, imploring words, scientific words, words of wisdom from giants of wisdom, accessible words, words we have to look up, words we can hardly believe we’ve heard from various people-in-the-spotlight, words at which we roll our eyes, words we find reassuring.

in a daily email he receives, david shares a new word with me.  “kawaii,” he reports, “means cute.”

the baby raccoons, most definitely kawaii, peeked out from behind the tree trunk.  upon seeing us on the trail, they had scrambled from the little pond up the tree.  they stared at us; we stared at them.  they didn’t move, quizzically grasping onto bark and watching quietly.  we didn’t move either.  we just stood quietly on the trail and watched.  the story they would tell about our encounter wouldn’t have many words.  all was silent.  all was motionless.  they were safe; we were safe.  for a few minutes, we shared the serene woods together, a little eye contact in hushed regard of each other.  maybe, in their re-telling, in their speckled composition book, they would just tell the coda – “and then they left.”

every now and again i take out an old composition book.  it’s astounding.  i was so…..wordy.

read DAVID’S thoughts this NOT-SO-FLAWED WEDNESDAY

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a long while. [k.s. friday]

last i saw you

a long while.

since last i saw you. and you. and you. it is dizzying. the yous and the longwhiles.

it makes me want an RV, updated map apps and a little bit of time.

i’m finding myself talking to people these days – people who have gone on to different planes of existence like my sweet momma or my poppo.  i ask them advice.  i tell them tales of the day.  i bemoan the challenges of our world with them; i wonder with them.

twenty-eight years ago today my big brother crossed over.  the transition of here to there is something of great ponderance for human beings.  we don’t know.  we profess to knowing, but we hardly know.  we only know what it feels like to be left behind, missing and yearning.  i will forever-and-ever yearn to be within embracing distance of my parents, my brother, and loved ones who have no tangible form but whose silken threads-of-being are eternally wrapped around me, always reminding me.

it’s like that for people still here on this very planet, people who we have not seen, people who we pine about when last we saw them.

truth be told, i spent the last couple of days in tears.  not slow-motion-tears that quietly weep down my face.  but the kind of tears where your ribs and your back hurt the next day; the kind of tears that swell your eyelids and make mascara application undoable.  the kind of tears that remind you how much you love someone and how much you miss them.  for me, this time, this was about my children.  it’s impossible to really explain what this missing feels like.  i can say it is wrapped up in the act of breathing, in every aspect of living a day, in the darkening of light.

the pandemic has brought exponential pain to people in our world.  suffering its disease, we worry about those who have been diagnosed, we grieve those who have succumbed to its ugliness, we wrangle with the illogical, implausible, grossly inadequate response of our land.  we are floored at those who are picking fights over this monster that is on a path of destruction which has unfathomable fallout.  we cannot understand the division and the planting of flags-of-the-ridiculous when peoples’ very health and lives are at stake; what truly matters more than that? it’s insanity: how can so many people be so lost? we try to sustain good attitudes and do the right thing.  we try to protect each other.  we try to avoid being a reason that this pandemic is spreading.  and we miss everyone we love in the process.

we wonder:  when?  when will “last” be now?  when will we see you?

and we hope, with great desperation, that it is not a long while.

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things i learned at the little red schoolhouse. [merely-a-thought monday]

a bar owner

the little red schoolhouse on cuba hill road was the place i went to kindergarten.  built in 1903 it was a place of important early learnings – the stuff you learn at five and six – things this back-in-the-day first teacher, who you fall desperately in love with, would impart to you through kind, objective, steady lessons.  it wasn’t that my sweet momma or poppo weren’t teaching me kindergarten-level-rules, but learning them in a place where i was surrounded by other children and could practice them immediately in-real-life i would guess had more impact.  lasting lessons are often those that come through experience, through feeling and doing rather than simply hearing.

share your toys.  take your turn.  say please and thank you.  wash your hands.  do your own work.  hold the door for others.  keep your hands to yourself.  be kind.  help others.  listen when others speak.   be respectful of your elders.  follow the rules.

i don’t specifically remember days in kindergarten but i know that i have always been a rule-follower in school and would not imperil another’s playground time by not paying attention, by disobeying, by being impervious to an adult’s directions for work that needed to be done or instructions for safe practices.  i would not have ignored the be-absolutely-quiet rule during fire or duck-and-cover drills.  i would not have continued talking or wreaking havoc were my teacher – or any other teacher, for that matter – to have asked for silence.

the rules seemed simple at five.  we were each individually and as a group asked to follow them.  those easy rules were designed to preclude chaos and our freedom to learn and have fun was never sacrificed in the process of following them.  the consequences of disregarding them seemed dire – staying in during playtime.  one child’s misbehavior often led to the whole class missing playground.  to be THAT child was not a sought-after title.  instead, we would work together – in our five-year-old beehive fashion – to clean up the classroom and desks and chairs so that we were all ready – together – to go play.

it’s the way i feel about masks.  it hasn’t been recommended to us by medical and science professionals to wear masks as a lark.  this recommendation comes with passionate imploring.  it is a simple rule.  if this, then that.  conditional.   if we wear masks, we will dramatically lower the transmission of this global pandemic raging through our country.  it is a proven fact and other countries have shown their adherence to mask-wearing has flattened the curve of the disease.  pretty simple, yes.  a mask.

instead, there are those people who flagrantly ignore this simple if-this-then-that.  we see them everywhere.  it’s breathtaking.  and their display of arrogant individualism at a time of an intense need to care-for-community means one thing:  we will not get to go out to play.

read DAVID’s thoughts this MERELY-A-THOUGHT MONDAY

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“it matters not.” [merely-a-thought monday]

we all fruit

i never let it stop me.  it didn’t matter to me the title someone held or the notoriety they had.  i always reminded myself that this person i needed to call or meet with or contact was human.  “this person breathes in and out, just like i do,” i would think.  i felt this person – whoever it was – must have some human quality in common with me, regardless of a possible overly-amplified ego or the protected life bubble they might live within.  “it matters not,” my momma, a lover of language, would say.  in the end, nothing really separated me from this person, him or her, human-wise.

and so, my slightly-dialed-back-new-york chutzpah would dial the phone and expect nothing less than speaking with the person i was calling, no matter what rung on the ladder that person clung to, no matter how high the ladder, no matter the pecking order or the person’s perception of self.

because:  people.  we are all people.

now there’s a starting point.

but you wouldn’t know that looking at this country these days.

my sweet momma would be 99 today as i write this.  99.  even in her time on this planet – which devastatingly ended five years ago now – she had seen a lot of change.  “it matters not,” she would say.  we are where we are.  she read, she researched, she asked questions.  and she always arrived at the same place:  people are people and should be – in the crux of all things – equally treated as such.  period.

empty words ticked momma off and she warned me of people who would talk the talk but not walk it.  her sixth sense of intuition was often caution enough in friendships and relationships where people would get all virtuous and principled and, yet, be the same people who could clearly not see the irony in their supposed loftiness, the empty in their words, the do-as-i-say-not-as-i-do-ness, the falsity in their stance.

my momma, our beaky, subscribed to kindness.  it would be to her horror to see the hateful rhetoric nowadays.  she would have no patience for it.  she would point to the horrors that hatred had produced in years past.  she would state in simple terms:  “it matters not,” she’d say, “be kind to each other.  in all things, be kind.”

if momma were here today, she’d wear a mask.  not because she would be in a high-risk category, but because it is the kind thing to do.  a lover of math and science, she would point to the words of scientists, researchers, epidemiologists, medical professionals and she would insist on listening to them.  “it matters not what you think,” she’d point out.  “what matters is what they know.”

if momma were here today, she might protest.  she’d point to inequity and ask what we could do about it.  she’d not draw lines of color or race or gender or sexual orientation or economic status.  “it matters not.  people are people,” she’d insist.  she’d wonder at a country, with so many smart people, continuing to head down such a dark road.  she’d question, she’d challenge, she’d debate, she’d be stalwart and she would hold steadfast to being kind.  period.

it may be oversimplification, but gus had it right in my big fat greek wedding.  “apple and orange…we all different, but, in the end, we all fruit.”  he and my momma would have been grand friends.

because in the end, we are all human.  we breathe in, we breathe out.  we can reject hate; we can choose to love.  nothin’ wrong with a little oversimplification.

BE KIND MASKS – in honor of the wisdom of my sweet momma ❤️

FACE MASKS

BE KIND small print face mask

BE KIND large print face mask

read DAVID’S thoughts this MERELY-A-THOUGHT MONDAY

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everyone else. [two artists tuesday]

rustic bread

everyone else baked artisan breads in march or april.  we baked it in june.  well, specifically, david baked bread in june.  i merely had to watch the process, savor the wafting of baking-bread through the house, tear off a chunk and devour it.

he’d been talking about it for a while, that he wanted to bake bread.  this loaf is gluten free – he adapted it from a rustic bread recipe of bill’s.  bill baked bread in april and then moved on to homemade gnocchi.  a bit trend-resistant, we picked up the dangling carrot at the tail end of bread baking so posting this picture feels somewhat passe.

we aren’t so much everyone-else-is-doing-it-so-we-have-to-do-it people.  we are artists so that’s our first excuse.  our second excuse is that we are often not pop-culture-informed.  that was much easier for me when my children were right here, keeping me in the loop.  if cnn or aarp aren’t talking about it, if it’s not in our itunes or the stacks of cds and records we own, we are swimming upstream.  third, we tend to make do.  as a child of the infamous soap-sock beaky-beaky, who had a mantra of saving new things “for good” and turned bottles of shampoo upside down for weeks draining the last vestiges out, making do is an inbred way of life.

baking bread was no exception.  until june.  when we wholeheartedly jumped on the well-vetted train, rice-flour-research in hand.  voila.  heaven-in-a-loaf-of-bread, we wondered why we hadn’t done it sooner.

everyone else had an iphone.  i was one of the last dedicated razor-phone fans.  i could text with my eyes closed, even using the phone keypad without an a-z keyboard.  and then my children bought me an iphone.  a convert, i wondered why i didn’t get one sooner.

everyone else has granite countertops.  ok, or marble.  our kitchen is old but i’ve made over 11,300 breakfasts and 11,300 dinners in it and this sweet old kitchen has had over 33,000 days nurturing its families.  we chop and saute and mix and fry and bake and roast and pour – all successfully – in this old kitchen every day.  maybe someday we’ll have different counters.  and we’ll wonder why we didn’t change them sooner.

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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“voter freud” [flawed wednesday]

voter freud

my sweet momma taught me to use a dictionary when i was very young.  “look it up,” she would tell me.  the dictionary held an esteemed place in our house.  if i didn’t know what ‘it’ meant or how ‘it’ was spelled, i knew where to go.  i developed a love for dictionaries, thesauruses, all manners of the tools of research.

now, it seems dictionaries have lost their status and spellcheck has become a way of life for those too lazy to ‘look it up’.  spellcheck has a few obvious limitations; context, usage and intent presenting the biggest challenges.  if only spellcheck and auto-correct could reach out of the device screen and (gently) slap the person committing the spellingcrime, life’s communications could be better understood.  punctuation joins the game of laziness and, i must say, punctuation makes a difference.  consider “i’m sorry i love you” or “i’m sorry.  i love you.”  there is a marked difference.

so when people, who never graced me, the nerdy-look-it-up-type, with even one word in high school but who have ‘friended’ me on facebook, post multiple nonsensical, poorly articulated and division-inciting arguments using the term “voter Freud”, it raises the hair on the back of my neck.  i want to post back “look it up!” but i refrain.  borrowing leonard pitts’ words, there seems to be a “matchless capacity for mental mediocrity” in the united states these days.

i suspect if this not-really-a-friend-just-a-friend-on-facebook was standing across from me (mind you, at least six feet across) she would be screaming at me in a loud raucous voice.  i wonder if she would call it – this thing she has taken from fox news and run full speed with, never looking to see if she had a spotter or even a bottle of water in her full-out sprint to falsificationland – “voter Freud” in person.  or would she actually say “voter fraud” in her zeal to make me a believer of her layered cake of conspiracies.

this is not just about lazy writing.  this seems an indicator of a bigger problem.  it’s the metaphoric tip of the iceberg.  i’m not just kvetching about spelling and punctuation, much as i wish that were the whole problem.  it’s an imploring plea to ask questions.  in today’s deep-fake world, a reminder to not make quick assumptions.  to not jump onto a band wagon stoked with tear gas, rubber bullets and flash bangs to quell those speaking out, enable dictatorial nationalism, silence what needs to be said.

in this pandemic-laden-chaos-wreaked-leaderless-divisive country of ours i would encourage research.  i would encourage fact-checking.  i would encourage dictionaries.  i would encourage more listening and less reactionism.  i would hope that each of us would understand that every word we utter, every word we write matters, every attitude, every nuance.  we are not in a world of one; we each affect and effect the next.  over and over.

and i don’t know.  last time i checked, john glenn high school in elwood, new york – more than four decades ago – had pretty high standards in english class, in sciences, in history, in math, not the least learning of which was how to use deductive reasoning.  i, for one, was paying attention.  because it mattered.  “voter Freud?”  indeed.  it still matters.

read DAVID’s thoughts this FLAWED WEDNESDAY

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with to without. [k.s. friday]

in a split second

it was but a mere second – nigh unto 4:30 in the morning – when my sweet poppo was on this planet and then wasn’t.

i said a wee-hours-goodnight to him, propped in a hospital bed at home in their house.  he whispered back to me.  i tried desperately to memorize his face, the love in his eyes.

and before the birds woke up in the morning, that morning eight years ago yesterday, i went from with to without.

three years later, we left my sweet momma sitting on the edge of her assisted-living-bed, grasping onto the blue-notebook-that-documented-their-moments-in-europe, her expression dancing with excitement, waving to us.  i tried desperately to memorize her face, the love in her eyes.

it wasn’t but a couple weeks later, on the road back again to florida, around the time the sun is highest in the sky, i went from with to without.

suddenly, i was orphaned.  suddenly i was without the two people who gave me life.  suddenly i was without the two people who could answer any question i had about my growing up.  suddenly – in a split second – nothing was the same.

100,000 families.  in the past few months, due to the global pandemic decimating our country, 100,000 families have desperately tried to memorize a loved one’s face.  they have held tightly to the memory of love shining in their beloved’s eyes.  they have moved from one split second into the next.  with to without.

and last night, on the solemn occasion of this number passing from 99,999 to over 100,000 – that one second – one person- one life – one with to without – i expected, foolishly, that something would change.  that there would be gut-wrenching acknowledgement.  that there would be communal nation-wide mourning led by the person in the highest seat in the land.  that there would be kind, generous, thoughtful words spoken, grief-filled heart-soaked empathy for all that the withs-to-withouts have gone through.

and nothing.

we need remember.  all of it.  these are our split seconds.

”…in a split second, our lives can turn around…”

they have.  they continue to.

this is real.

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IN A SPLIT SECOND from AS SURE AS THE SUN ©️ 2002 kerri sherwood


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we deserve better. [merely-a-thought monday]

we deserve better

“words matter,” my sweet momma would tell me, “things people say matter!” she was right, of course.  even back then.

so i did an experiment.  i deliberately straddled the ideological fence and listened.  and this is what i heard and saw:

“masks. eh, they’re a symbol of fear!” he spouted.(*1)  what?!

on reporting on his own viewing of a reporter at a protest on long island getting verbally attacked, he mouthed off, “it was pretty entertaining!” (*2) what?!

on the president haughtily announcing ‘we’re back!  with or without vaccines!’ she cheered,  “i was doing the fist pump there!” (*3) what?!

and then she needled, “democrats are favoring lockdowns over liberty!” (*4)  what?!

“libtards,” she wrote. (*5)  what?!

wow.

we were hiking and passed by a couple people on the other side of the trail.  moving into single file and off the path in an effort to avoid their non-single-file-ness, we heard, “i want to  keep people safe and this is a big deal, but….” she resisted.  (*6) but what?!

the wisconsin supreme court overturned the safer-at-home order and five minutes later the bars were crowded.  “i miss going out,” she whined to the news, maskless and inches away from the next person at the crowded not-a-mask-in-sight bar. (*7)  what?!

on america, he ruminated, “we don’t do critical thinking in this country.” (*8)

now there’s an understatement.

spouted.  mouthed off.  haughtily announced.  cheered.  needled.  ruminated.  whined. resisted.

he’s right.  we don’t do critical thinking in this country.  otherwise we would expect better.

we would expect a leader who is respectful and thoughtful, steeped in truth, who has an ounce of empathy and who recognizes that the divides in this country – economic, political, moral, prejudicial – are perilously close to chasm-esque, never to return to center.  a leader who sets an example.  a leader who wears a mask, just like the rest of us.  the centrifugal force is spinning out of control; the lack of careful, prudent and meticulous planning, the words from his mouth making us all teeter into the danger zones of no return, of never-be-the-same, of absolute division, of a dismal road ahead.  especially in matters of health.  in all matters of disease.

we would expect a country with a primary intention to attend to the most basic of needs for its populace (think maslow’s hierarchy):  physiological needs.  health.

we would expect the encouragement of the coming-together of people instead of the touting of ripping-apart division.  extremism, headstrong nationalism –  in the name of patriotism (def:  devotion to and rigorous support of one’s country) doesn’t consider the equality of all people and their fundamental rights and needs.  ie:  health.

we would expect that people will – in their willingness to acknowledge that their every behavior will impact literally everyone around them, everyone they come into contact with –  sacrifice and rally around that which protects all, that which will help eradicate the invader, this pandemic.  efforts to protect the health and well-being of all.

we would expect to take advantage of the brilliant minds of scientists, doctors, researchers in order to responsibly get the country back on track.  for our health.

we would expect consistency in message, consistency in plan, consistency in dedication and commitment to the well-being of the people of this country, the people of the world.

we would expect that the weight of a person’s life is far more important than the weight of that person’s (or any person’s) bank account.  for as my poppo would say,  “you can’t take it with you!” and any money or stock or holding or real estate or hedge fund pales in comparison with, say, your own actual life.

we would expect more.

yes.

because we deserve more.

————

* and if you are curious about the quotes:  *1: rush limbaugh, *2: sean hannity, *3: laura ingraham, *4: laura ingraham, *5: someone i went to high school with, *6: a young woman on the des plaines river trail, an Illinois park with signs posted requesting single file trail-walking, *7: a woman interviewed at a wisconsin bar, *8: chris cuomo

read DAVID’S thoughts this MERELY-A-THOUGHT MONDAY

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my lullaby. for them. [k.s. friday]

i will hold you forever and ever

and as yesterday passed into today and i drifted off to sleep i knew, despite that she is on a different plane of existence, my sweet momma was holding me close to her.  it was bracing to think of the five year mark that has just passed now since she has been gone and the every-day-missing-her that goes along with that.  no different with my dad.  in a month it will be eight years and i can hear his “hi brat” in my heart.  i have no doubt that he is right there, holding on tightly.  both of them.  forever and ever.

it is a fact.  this parenthood thing is mind-bogglingly paramount.  ever forward from the day they are born.  it is all-consuming.  in every good and every daunting way.  every most-jubilant and every brutally-difficult way.  every securely-confident and every tumultuously-distressing way.  every way.

in this pandemic time of chaos we pine for a sense of normal which escapes us.  anxiety barges in and replaces our regular routines; peace escapes us.  we long to see each other.  we feel tired; we feel restless.  we sleep more; we cannot sleep.  we are astounded by the surrealness of this; we are crushed by how real this is.  and we worry.  it is hard to be away from those whom we love and knowing that right now we cannot go to them compounds it.  my heart needs to hug My Girl and My Boy and see that all is well.  we feel anxious.  our wishes go unfulfilled.

and yet as today passes into tomorrow and they drift off to sleep i know, despite how busy they may be or where they are in the world, that i am holding them close.  that no doubt can exist –  i am right there, holding on tightly.

and i hope, like you with your beloved children, that they can feel it.  forever and ever.

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I WILL HOLD YOU FOREVER AND EVER ©️ 2005 kerri sherwood