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I am a middle aged white southerner from North Carolina and my friend is a decade younger native Beijing woman working on her dissertation in Los Angeles, California. Five years ago, we traveled together for our work, ate all our meals together and worked together for six months. We became close friends. So three years later when she mourned the loss of her father and then two years after that, she discovered she was three months pregnant while writing her dissertation, I could only think one thing: "Go to her". It made absolutely no sense. I live on the other side of the country and we are so different, but all I could do was make it so. I rearranged my work and it was much easier than I thought it would be. My husband was so supportive and then finally when the time came four months later to make arrangements, I tried to wriggle out of it by asking her if she really needed me? Her reply was an adamant YES! So I arrived November 26 at 10 PM supposedly a month before the baby was due to help complete her "nesting phase" and to attend birthing classes, when she awoke me on Sunday morning, just 30 hours after my arrival and still jet lagged, with "I think my water broke".

First off, I have never given birth and just had a hysterectomy in June. I thought my life would end without me catching a glimpse of the miracle of birth. "Push" will never mean the same thing to me! I was so privileged to be in the inner sanctum of that delivery room, I am moved beyond these words.

One week later as I listen to downloaded podcasts back in the real world, I am again pulled back to the miracle of life after changing diapers and cooking and cleaning non stop for a new mommy and baby for a week. Tensions can run high which is understandable, but we talk and share hopes and fears and tears. Then this morning, John O'Donohue's interview rang in my ear and I found this on the website: "I have spent time since pondering a wonderful statement he made, so true for me right now, that beauty isn’t all about “nice, loveliness like” but a “kind of homecoming for the enriched memory of your unfolding life.”

God as beauty is alive and well in LA today. Thank you God.

Cheers to love, gratitude and forgiveness!
Vivian Fulk