Sunday, April 21, 2013

On Loan

One of the many lessons from grief is that every one and every thing we have in this life is ON LOAN...that may sound harsh, but for me, it's an understood and accepted fact.  Our loved ones, our cherished photographs, our homes, our material items, our clothes, all of it, ON LOAN for the time we have with them, however amount of time that is destined to be...all of it, simply, ON LOAN.

At Allison's memorial service and celebration of life, a dear man, Mr. Dickson, stood at the pulpit and read for us the poem, GOD'S LOAN, a poem written by Edgar A. Guest about the "loan" of a child.  Mr. Dickson knew full well the meaning of every word, as his own Jasmine had entered the gates of heaven at ten years old. I had never run across the poem until it was time to find just the right words and tributes to express our lives with Allison.  I could have never truly understood the words had Allison not left us all too soon.  But, once Joe and I read it, we knew it said everything we felt and needed to say.

"I'll lend you for a little time, a child of mine, " God went on to say about the child...He'll/She'll bring his/her charms to gladden you, and shall his/her stay be brief, You'll have his/her lovely memories, as solace for your grief.

I have read the poem more times than I can count in these six years since she's been gone, and every time since, when another "child" leaves his/her mother, father, sister, brother, family, friends.  Whether it's the baby who was here for less than 24 hours to bring faith and hope to her parents, whether it's the son who was killed on the motorcycle, the daughter or son who felt this side of heaven was too much and took matters into her/his own hands, the soldier killed in war, or the son whose short life was taken by cancer.  Every day, whether we know them personally or not, we learn of another "child" who leaves grieving people behind. And each time, for me, I hear the words of this poem ring more true and more real.

I cannot promise he/she will stay, since all from earth return,
But shall the angels call him/her, much sooner than we've planned,
We'll brave the bitter grief that comes,
And surely understand.

This brings me back to our children, our possessions, everything we know in this world being ON LOAN to us.  This has never rang more true than in recent times.  Losing our loved ones in circumstances none of us ever grew up in... Our homes to storms and to financial ruin... Our material items, the "things" we once thought were necessary that we now know we can live without.  Our images, the ones we put on for the world we entered each day and night.  Our youth...our health...our clothing, jewelry, furnishings, livelihoods, everything that surrounds us, all ON LOAN. For in one tiny little instant, life as we knew it can be gone, wiped away, destroyed, and vanished. As we know, ashes to ashes, dust to dust...everything on earth this side of heaven.

For me, the lesson comes in understanding the loans of life.  Recent events in Boston have driven home the point even deeper and more soulfully.  The tragedy.  The pain.  The unbelievable losses of limbs and lives.  Yet, the resilience.  The coming together of mankind and a nation to forget differences and to unite as one.  Tragedy and loss can do this, and in my family, I am so proud to say, through the time God loaned us Allison, we have been able to comprehend the meaning of being ON LOAN, we have understood the definition of words like embrace, savor, persevere, love, live, hope and try.  We truly know the meaning of one day at a time. We have our challenges, grief still brings us to our knees, my heart cries daily, and then more deeply when I hear of one more loss, one more child, one sweet boy who went to watch his father at the Boston Marathon, a young policeman who was basically executed in his patrol car, a beautiful young lady whose grandmother shared the thoughts that no grandmother or mother should bury the young, and the student at a local university who came to the city of Boston for all it has to offer.  For those of us who call Boston "home", this is yet another reminder that the gifts and blessings ON LOAN from above are to be cherished and adored.  The view of the city as I get off the plane and on the boat, I stand there each time and get chills.  The bay, the ocean, the history, the people, all ON LOAN for as long as the terms stay standing.  One day, as the poem says, all of us from earth will return.  In the meantime, from sea to shining sea, whether we leave our hometown or homes or not, the blessings remain and we can find them, we just have to keep looking.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Through My Eyes

I did not realize until I opened my blog this morning that it has been a year to the day that I last posted (I began writing this on 3/15/2013).  I have thought about it, attempted it, only to find that I had no words....thoughts, feelings, emotions, yes, but no words to explain them.  So, I let it go, and in doing so, a part of me maneuvered the journey of life without expression, at least verbally, and without words.  I have come to understand that writing was, and is, a part of my own personal therapy.  It helps me grieve, release, move, grow, express, and in doing so, live.

So, why today?  I would imagine it has so much to do with Allison's upcoming "birthday", and as I read part of last year's entry, I know the birthday serves as a type of trigger we grieving parents and siblings and relatives know all too well.  She would be 28 years old, yet through my eyes, she is that baby born on March 19th, she is the dawning of spring and sunshine and flowers, she is that "forever 21" young woman on the threshold of all of life, she was imperfect in this world, as are we all, but now, she is perfect.  She is pure and whole and well.  She is beauty in it's most natural state.  She is my constant companion, my delight, my joy and my compass.  She is, and always will be, my baby.

Still, through my eyes, I wonder.  I experience such pain when I wonder who she'd be today.  What would 28 years old mean to her, and to us?  She'd be an aunt to Isaac, she'd be making decisions about a career, a life, maybe a spouse, maybe her own children.  The pain often comes from seeing all of her friends make career decisions, hold baby or wedding showers, housewarmings, and such.  Painful?  Indeed! With the social networking available to us, I still seek her face in the pictures posted on Facebook, at the weddings, when all her friends are gathered as bridesmaids OR as the bride, at the baby showers, when everyone is congregated around the pregnant mom, OR last year, when her sister was waiting for Isaac to be born and being adorned with all sorts of festivities.  I look for her face in yesterday's St. Patrick's Day celebration photos because I know she would be right there, but she is not.  She is no longer there.  But, through my eyes, she is, she is there.  I see her when perhaps no one else does, maybe in a shadow, maybe in the eyes of others, maybe as her face would look to me now, growing and aging as her sister and friends are doing, appropriately so, and beautifully so.

Through my eyes...I look in the mirror and I see her reflection in my own eyes.  I see that she continues to be in all of us.  I see her in EVERY season, for she truly embraced them all.  They each held excitement and wonder for her, and now, with every bloom, snowflake, ice storm, humid and hot day, there she is, through my eyes, I see her, and through my spirit, I feel her, and in my soul, I know her.

Through my eyes, I truly cannot help but see things differently.  I live with one part of my being in the present, and the other, in the future, and the future being eternity.  Sure, I look back, the memories DO sustain me, they aren't as painful now, they bring a smile to my soul, and an image to my mind.  But, in doing so, it is still the future I look to, and not the one necessarily HERE, on this side of heaven.  I suppose one cannot lose a child or a loved one without looking through the eyes of eternity.  I know that I cannot!  I also know that one cannot reach the physical age of nearly 60 without understanding that we are in our twilight years.  I sometimes wonder if that seems morbid, but to me, through my eyes, it does not.  I want the sweet assurance that Allison had that eternity would be beautiful.  She knew it in her beliefs, but she also knew it as I rocked her to eternal sleep, in my arms like a baby, not a full grown woman, uttering words that came to me from someplace deeper than my self.  Through my eyes, I envision that moment, often, thanking God for the wherewithal to utter the sweet words in her ear, help to calm her fears, and help her go to the place we will all someday be, forever and ever, for all of our eternal days.  So, it is truly no wonder I see life after this one, through my eyes.  I can't say I always give thanks for this knowledge, for I know how I attained it.  Others learn it earlier than I did, and live all of their days with the eye on the life hereafter.  That is what I strive to do, to learn, to read, to say NO when I must, and say YES when I can.  I yearn to assure my own place in eternal glory, knowing that what we have here is temporal.  I have known it since the day Allison was diagnosed and later, passed in our arms.  All things can be replaced, but not time, bodies, or often, health.

Appropriately, years ago, I titled this blog, "This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it"...I do falter, I do stop, I do not know how to go on some days, I do miss so much about our Allison that I would give anything to see her again.  Anything.  But I don't have the option.  I have choices that only I can make.  I have never stopped looking for that daily miracle, the reason to keep going, getting up and making movement, growing in spirit and love.  Even in my darkest hour, I came to accept that bringing Allison back, having her here to welcome Isaac into the world, celebrate her birthday, travel, join her on holidays was not going to happen, again, ever again...there are no more options.  So, through my eyes, I find her, I often don't even need to seek, she is there, she is in Isaac's incessant laughter, in Jennifer's beauty as a new mother, in her friends' celebrations and life's milestones, in her father's sensitive heart, in the beauty of spring, in upcoming family weddings and future babies, and on this 28th birthday, through my eyes, I see her even more clearly, she is reflected in all of us, and as we were told most recently, "you all wear her well", I hope we do, Allison, I sure hope we do.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

It's THAT Time Again

It's THAT time again, it's always THAT time. There is no break from it, this thing called time. And I don't need a calendar to tell me it's THAT time again, her birthday, and dreams have been circulating of what she would be like at age 27. I'll never know, and it's TIME to spend this sixth birthday without her. I never saw her 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, and now, 27th birthdays. Allison is forever 21 in my mind, at least tangibly. And why oh why we humans must put things in the "physical" form, I'm not sure, but we do, I DO, and it takes all the work and energy and emotional stamina I have to focus on the spiritual, especially at THIS time, her birthday. But I do, and I will, because it is knowing her spiritually now that brings me the closeness of the heart, the connection, and the comfort. I shall never hear her voice, touch her hand, kiss her cheek, rub her back, nor will she do the same for me. It is THAT time again, and the middle of the night tears tell me so.

It's always THAT time, indeed. No, not just her birthday, but everything under heaven. THAT time can hold so much meaning, and the heart just knows. It's ALWAYS THAT TIME! Seasons change, and there it is, the relentless grief that pours when the trees bud, the snow falls, the children play outside. Holidays occur, and there is not a need for a plate to be set for her, an Easter basket sits empty, and Christmas gifts are purchased for those less fortunate, in her name. Mother's Day, and her sister does everything she can to make the day special, knowing there is now one child, and not two, physically present. Father's Day and what was special and meaningful now is tiptoed around, yet celebrated. An ordinary day that holds no real significance at all, yet holds the world in its hands, a day to be honored like any other, living, loving, laughing, but through it all, pain that is relentless and deep and eternal. Family news to be shared, and she is not here to call, yet, she is within reach, thus, making the pain more bearable, yet unbearable. It is THAT time again, with every passing day, it is always THAT time again. It's THAT time again, to select this year's recipient of the Allison Haake Memorial Scholarships, reminding us of the beautiful legacy, but also, that she is gone. It's THAT time when I hear a song that she sang relentlessly, or when I hear a new one I want to share with her. It's THAT time again, THAT time when I would curl up in a ball and let the world pass me by if I could. If only I could. But I cannot, for in doing so, I would miss the moments, the treasured minutes with my living family, and the beauty of the life around me. Even in the devastation, I cannot, I will not allow it, it's THAT time again, and I must embrace what I can.

TIME holds so much meaning. Time passes, stands still, regresses, and through it all, I must cling to the fact that I am here, and she is not. It's TIMES such as these, the birthday celebrations, the milestones, the anniversaries, the special, and not-so-special remembrances of life that bring me to my knees. I do my best to honor all of TIME and all those who fill my life. I fall short. I know I do, but I keep trying. That's the best I can do. I try with everything I am given, and can resurrect, to live, breathe, honor and embrace. I would not have ever wanted to know she would leave me so soon. I would not have ever even believed this would be my life, and the life of so many I love and have come to know. But it is, and I must do what I can to make meaning of the TIME I have right now. Easy? Not at all. But I have come to know that "easy" is no longer in my vocabulary. "Easy" was before, I just didn't know it.

It's THAT time again, a time to live, love, laugh when I can, wipe the tears when I must. It's THAT time again, when something so deep tells me what is happening before I wake up, before I turn the calendar, before I look at a clock. TIME to keep going, know her spirit, feel her presence, and make life in a new way. TIME to show my love for her and all those around me, it's THAT time again. It's always that TIME.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Sacred Silence

I must say I was most likely one of those people who often felt the need to fill the silence. Fill it with words, activity, noise, whatever was needed. Silence used to seem rather awkward. When I was teaching, I learned that we must give "think time" to students when asking a question. At least three seconds, was the rule! Give a student "think time", what a concept!! Sometimes, when I would call on a student, those three seconds would seem to drag on and on, especially when others who knew the answer were waving hands and trying to be called upon to give the appropriate response. Still, I tried to teach them to honor the silence and let the called upon student THINK!

I have come to know, honor, and embrace the silence. I no longer feel the need to fill it like I once did. I understand that it is necessary in life, through the joys, the sadness, the living, the healing, the dying. There is a time to speak, and there is a time to remain silent, and I am learning a lot about both.

Coming from a person who enjoys talking, listening, socializing, teaching, well, silence can be daunting. Could be, at least, until Allison died. Then silence became the shadow, the constant companion, the pain, the brokenness that no words, activity, social activity, or sound could fix or change. Silence. I came to know it all too well. It came in the form of friends and family NOT knowing what to say and me assuring them that saying nothing at all was just fine. There were no words, anyway, that could be said. Nothing could fill the empty chamber, and if truth be known, still cannot. Yes, I do find myself in social situations, now, and even early on, but mostly ones orchestrated by myself, or ones I can tip toe in and out of easily, in case the emotion becomes too strong. In case I break down. In case there is a trigger that brings me to my knees, or a flashback, or a memory. God knows how painful it is to do some of the things we/I have done, to fill the silence, when it would be so much "easier" to just stay in the hollowness of no sounds.

Even early on, there was nothing that could fill the gaps. I rode in the car for months without music, without noticing the sounds around me, the cars, the noises, the bus stopping outside my house. I knew the phone was ringing but I couldn't really hear it. I heard the conversations but I couldn't differentiate the words, sounds, meaning, vocabulary. It all sounded the same. I didn't want to go near it. I didn't want to hear anything, I simply didn't know how to exist. Over time, however, I could turn the music on, and participate in conversations, go to a movie, attend a gathering, or turn on the television.

I now find that what I term sacred silence is part of my day. I must shut off the sounds. I know there are moments, or hours, when time is best served in silence. The silence is my familiar companion, now, and for whatever life hands me, the good, the bad, the ugly, the beautiful, I must learn to embrace it in silence.

Silence is golden, so I have heard. I understand that, now. I no longer feel the need to fill it. I honor it, I embrace it, I choose it over noise any time! It's in the silence that I can learn more about who I am, pray to the divine one and let go of all that burdens me, reflect, write, capture, and dream. The silence has taught me so much. It is sacred and pure. It is often my first choice. It was brought about by tragedy, I have no need to fill it up. I can accept it and just BE. In it, I am closer to God, to Allison, and hopefully, closer to healing the broken heart that beats within. Silence has taught me to live life, to make choices, to follow the spirit within, and to honor myself. The silence of this day, and these times, is sacred. I will honor it at all costs, and not try to change it. I will treasure it as I do any gift I am given, and I will be thankful for it.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Concept Of Loss

Loss has been the predominate theme to maneuver through the last weeks and days. Most likely because of the events leading up to a new year when all was shattered and torn, lost, and never to be the same again, yet, we didn't know it at the time. Our daughter, sister, loved one, GONE, deceased, celebrated and buried in her resting place, five years ago this very day. Our Allison, precious and beautiful, humble and positive, the face of hope and love, strength and courage. Gone before her time from a dreadful cancer that raged and moved so quickly that she did not have time to really comprehend its path, its daunting course, and what was to be left in its wake for those of us left behind...LOSS.

LOSS is all around us, and is unavoidable. We know this in theory, in reality, in life's lessons. We all lose. To live, is to lose. Yet, the concept still mystifies me, at times. I can make sense of it all with my right brained self, but the left side just cannot comprehend. More importantly, and again, prevalent, my heart cannot understand. On this day, and every day, I know I buried a part of my heart with her, under the ice and snow on a true New England day, right here in the heartland. No other time had we seen such weather, and practically everyone knows where they were during the ice storm of 2007, January 12 and 13th, the two days chosen to honor Allison's life. Yet, there they were, hundreds of people, braving the elements to be with us, to hug us, to cry, to laugh, to say nothing, or to try to find the right words, to celebrate, to take a step in finding that peace that passes all understanding...the LOSS, the pain, the sorrow, yet, the LIFE, the living, breathing, strength, and love that binds one family, that now ripples out to so many others, all the while, trying to comprehend the concept of loss.

For many, Allison's service was the first dot to be connected in their own journey of loss. For others, the celebration left them changed in a spiritual sense, forever. For others, her journey precipitated theirs, although unknown to them, or any of us, at the time. I sense that God knew, though, and through His plan, helped us to plan and orchestrate something so meaningful that when it came their time, there was strength to draw from...yes, I speak of my brother-in-law, Michael, but I speak for others as well, for Barb and her family, for Debbie and her family, for future losses in the lives touched. We knew nothing about how to go about planning a "funeral" for a child, we are no miracle workers, we simply asked for divine assistance and there it was, all lined up, as the stars are when alignment and beauty prevail. We followed the spirit and in our last earthly act on earth for our daughter and sister, we managed, somehow, through God's grace only, to provide a beautiful ending, that turned into a beginning.

As I adjust, still, to the concept of loss, I embrace the bigger opportunity, the concept of life. I know now that nothing is a given, that the hole in my heart may never mend, but that there has to be room for more. I have asked God for the energy, stamina, fortitude, strength to face the day, looking for the pleasures and the blessings, understand the Beatitudes and through affirmation to find the hope and positive factors to keep living, instead of dying. The "easy" part would be to give in to the pain, immerse myself in the LOSS, and shrivel up...but looking at what I'd miss, the true joy of my living daughter, husband, family, I would not do Allison's life justice to ignore the blessings. The concept of loss is frightening, immobilizing, and filled with fear. I know not where I tread. I have not concept of time, yet, this five year anniversary is clearly "different". I don't know why. I don't have to. I have learned to accept where I am, take this day, this moment, seize it, find the beauty, yet know, that with it, does come loss. We cannot escape it. I sincerely hope that no other parent should know this type of loss, but I know that if they do, it will be God's grace and love that will be the glue that binds.

Loss is not a popular topic, yet, there is not one family, one person, who is not defined by it. While it is something we all hope to avoid, we know we cannot, and perhaps it makes us stronger, more in tuned, brings clarity and openness. I doubt that I will ever fully understand the concept of loss, and I pray that I will not have to face much more. Yet, I know, that to live is to face loss, and God has brought me to the highest mountain. I will be okay. Allison will be smiling. And I will choose life, over loss, any day.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Time Stood Still

January 9, 2007, 7:00 a.m., time stood still. Never did I look at a moment in time thinking that it would, and never would I have imagined the journey that was about to unfold. I thought the journey was over, but no, it had only just begun.

That moment, all time stood still as our daughter and sister, niece, granddaughter, cousin and friend stopped all breathing, our own breaths held in wonder, asking the questions, Is she gone?, Is she free from this pain?, Is it over?...slowly, we knew, heavenly peace was hers, Allison left us, at least physically. We would come to know that she would never leave us, spiritually. She was ours forever, but gone from our grasp, our world, our lives. She left us then, and thus, time stood still.

Sure, we moved through all the plans and motions of life, from planning a life celebration to honoring her birthdays, the "anniversaries" of sorts, never flambouyant, rather simple...after all, we didn't, and still do not, have a template to follow in living through any day, but especially THOSE days. Making no plans, we found our way by simply honoring what each other "felt" like doing, day by day, establishing no new traditions or ways to manuever occasions such as these, creating our own guidepost on the journey of loss. Through it all, time seemed to stand still.

In spite of this, we have found our way to a fifth year mark, and wonder how we got here. There are some moments so strong in our memories, yet others have faded, or don't seem to exist at all. We took trips, spent time with family and friends, gathered in small group settings, still finding large groups to be overwhelming and intimidating. The numbness set in long before Allison passed from us, and may subside at times, but still lingers. At times, it seems as if we are living someone else's life, watching from the outside, not yet realizing this is OUR life, OUR child is gone, never to come home again. We long to remember her voice, yet find it too painful to watch her on a video. We desire to be in the company of her friends, but can be brought to our knees, wondering...wondering who she would be now, where her beauty would have taken her, what she would do to fill her days with passion, would she have babies, who would she become? We have prayed for wisdom, strength, faith, blessings in a new day, perseverance, to heal through the tears. And in all this time, it is clear that we have not been alone. God has surely held us up, together, provided a path whether we can remember or not, brought light through the darkness, and shown us that this is not our home. Allison is home. I didn't need time to show me that. She showed me. God showed me.

Yet, time has seemed to stand still. A fog prevails. Sure, life has seemed normal. We have found our way, new routines, the 6:00 evening phone call stopped long ago, the sweet voice of "momma" will never be heard, she will not grab my hand as we walk through the streets or the mall, and she will not need a ride from the train or the airport. Those have been replaced for new images, new messages, new sweet nothings in my ear. She has been my pathfinder, my guide, surrounded by a host of angels, holding me up, GETTING me up, bringing new life to my soul, new purpose, new love. I have learned to release her, slowly, ever so slowly, knowing she will always come back to me, that she may need to take care of someone else for a time, but as she grew in my womb, there she is in my heart. I share her willingly, now. I don't hold too tight. I heed the messages. I listen. I feel. I ache and I cry, but I know, the peace that came in the sunburst of her hospital room five years ago, prevails, and is all of ours for the asking.

What does it matter if time seemed to stand still? What does it matter if I can remember certain things or not? What does it matter that the trips and vacations and family gatherings seem to blend into one? What does it matter if that moment in time defines me, her father, her sister? What does it matter? What is time anyway? Where she is, there is no time, no remembering, no constraints, no calendars, no worries and no designs on her time. She is free. And in being so, God has used her to teach us more about time. Time matters not at all. Five years, five days, five minutes, it's all relative and it's all the same. Allison knows no time, only peace and tranquility. She was created in love, and left in love. All she desired was to go home, in her mind, we knew what she meant. God had bigger plans. So, as her sister whispered in her ear, over and over again, "Allison, you ARE going home"...and she did. Allison is home and one day, when it is our time, there she'll be, to guide us, assist us, love us, and time will stand still.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Fresh Tears

It seems I have had buckets of fresh tears for over a month now...anticipating the holidays, the final weeks of the year, re-living the drama and trauma of what December has come to mean, CANCER, dying, living, crying. Just when I felt as though there could be no more, there they came, and still do. I even awakened to streaming tears from a gut wrenched body, proving, once again, that though we remain focused, poised and strong, the heart knows what it knows. Simply put, I/we cannot escape what is within.

Fresh tears pour and with them comes release. Clarity. New images. Objectivity. Reflection. They are good for the soul, so it is said. I am finding that to be true. However, I do suppress them at times. I am not sure why. Perhaps it's because they don't always come at the "right" time, or someone else is present, and I don't want to cause them more pain. Perhaps they come in a moment when everyone is opening their Christmas gift and there is laughter. Of course, I wouldn't, couldn't, change the tone with my fresh tears. So, I suppress, I push them down. I wait. I finally cry the fresh tears, not because I am weak, but because I have been strong for too long.

What do I see beyond the tears? What do I feel? Yes, the pain, the ache, the longing, the indescribable sorrow of having lost my daughter far too soon. I see the images, although I try not to, of her final weeks, days, hours, that we now walk through in this new year. I have worked too hard for FIVE years to let this life pass me by, or to not use the tears to my advantage, so I look through the clear liquids of my soul, I focus, and I see her, her sister, laughing, laying in bed every Christmas morning of her 21 years, of her image, through cancer, yet eating and laughing, and making sure she went out for that "last" dinner out, toasting the new year with her friends in her hospital room, smiling at her aunt as she had to leave that one last time, feeling so honored to have her family and friends lay hands on her in prayer, and I even see snippets of a little girl, a ten pound baby, one who slept and ate from the minute she was born, and who had a zest for life like no other I have ever seen. I can see clearly now, through fresh tears.

The tears are healing. I may never get to the point where I let them fall freely in front of certain people or in delicate situations. I will probably save them for when I can find healing messages from them, not out in public, but in the safe arms of those I love, or in the presence of others who will not be swayed or disturbed by them. I will allow them to fall when I can, knowing that I can only escape them so long. They will find me, my soul will open up and they will come, regardless of what I say or do. They are mine, and they take me to the next place of healing. I cry for her sister, for her father, relatives, friends, and for myself. But, I try not to cry for her. Her pain is over, she is free, she is soaring, and she resides in all of our hearts. She sends the messages when we need them, and she lives in heavenly peace. Through the tears of the season, any season, and through any reason, I find that the tears still come, serve a purpose, and give me strength to look beyond them, and see what is there to see, hold what is to be held, visit the place of light and darkness, and carry on, for her, for my loved ones, for myself.

For this moment, through the fresh tears, I can see clearly, now.