I believe that the journey from life to death is a powerful lesson in love for those who stop this side of the gates to the other side. The greatest gift, and the most painful opportunity I was granted was to be with both of my parents at the very end of their lives and to be allowed the privilege of holding them close as they exited this life. I have no regrets, but the memory of their passing is indelibly burned on my memory, and on my spirit. I learned the value of closure, but the pain that accompanied that closure was beyond all expectations. My children stood by my side with each loss. I believe that the only way our children learn the value of family, sacrifice, devotion and dedication is to watch the example of their elders. However, although parents are expected to be the teachers, my children taught me more than I could ever have taught them as they held each side of their grieving mother, strong and devoted, as each of my parents took their last breath. I believe that my children were born to be the beautiful people they grew into, that the mistakes and bad examples they experienced as children did nothing to dent their impervious spirits. As little ones, they watched and listened and chose who they wanted to become. And as adults, they blossomed into glorious examples of loving kindness. Of course they, like all human beings, have their own imperfections, but their beauty outshines those defects. So what I have come to believe is that the amazing and often incomprehensible cycle of birth to death holds so many gifts. At a time when loss was overpowering and painful beyond words, gratitude and love balanced out the blackness surrounding my heart. I believe the ephemeral veil of living is intensified by sharing the loss of those we love and lose with those we love who remain here with us.