Grace after the Choice :: My Abortion Story {Part 3 of 3}


If you have landed on this post, 
so that you might understand what's happening 
in this part of my story, 
I suggest that you start at 
Part 1, HERE 
(there'll be a link to click at the bottom to bring you to Part 2
and a link at the bottom of Part 2 to bring you back to this page). 

Thank you!

Part 3
{Parts of this story are extremely graphic.}

After I got back into my own bed, I was shocked and horrified by what began happening to me. My abdomen had begun to convulse, violently. It was as if whatever was in there was fighting for its existence. I didn't make sense why a tumor of tissue would jump and thrash like this. I had never felt this much movement from the fetus before. I watched the skin on my stomach roll and undulate, and it was terrifying. It was at that moment that I began to question if I had been misled. The thrashing suddenly stopped.

Then the pain started in my back and in my front. I had no idea how long I was in labor because I didn’t care. I was in anguish as I tried to understand where I was, what I was doing, and who I was. Even as I remained silent, inside I was screaming. As I felt the urge to push, I also decided, like the girl had, to not call the nurse. I would rather have been alone than to have been with a stranger. Soon I felt something large and warm pass out of me. I was afraid of what it was.

Just then, the nurse came into the room to see if I’d like some more ice. It was the nicer nurse, the one who’d held my hand tightly. She could tell that something had happened, and she came over and asked if I was all right. I told her that I had pushed something out, and she lifted the covers and looked. She said she’d be right back, and to just hold still. I did. She returned pushing a rolling cart upon which was a white bucket; she shut the door behind her. I looked over at the bucket, which was the size of a Crisco can, and saw upon it a long hyphened number and below it my last name, with my first name on a hastily handwritten label on the side.

The nurse took the bucket and its lid and placed them on the bed beside me. She put on her gloves, lifted my gown again, and reached down to retrieve the mass that I had just expelled. I could smell blood and something I can’t even describe except to say it smelled like something that was decaying.

I knew now that this so-called tissue mass was not simply a mass of tissue, and so I asked her, as she was placing it into the bucket, “What is it?” I expected her to tell me it was a fetus, or tissue, or even nothing. But she turned her head to look at me between my bent-up legs, and she said, softly, “It’s a girl.” And my heart broke apart into a million little pieces.

As I retell this story, it is still amazing to me that this nurse answered me in this way. Why did she admit what I’d been wondering all along? Was it cruelty? Was she trying to shame me? Why did she say “it’s a girl” instead of “it’s a fetus” or “it’s a baby”? Why did she tell me it was a “she”? I think, now, that that nurse wanted me to know what this “procedure” really was. I am convinced that her motivation wasn’t to distress me, but to enlighten me.

And then, once again out of curiosity, I asked, “Can I see her?” And after glancing toward the door to the room to make sure no one else was present, she held the bucket down at an angle so I could gaze at a most beautifully, intricately formed little person. She had ears and fingers and toes, and even a tiny behind. She was also red and bloody and burned. And my soul collapsed in that ten-second glance where I witnessed the truth. If I could have died right then, I would have.

The nurse neither smiled nor frowned. She put the lid on the bucket, put the bucket on the cart, and rolled my baby away and out of the room. Another nurse who I hadn’t seen before came in and removed the soiled bed pad below me and put a fresh one under me; she gave me a sanitary napkin contraption consisting of elastic and metal clips with which to hold it around my waist. I was told that, if I had to go to the bathroom, then I could, but I had to call a nurse for help in assisting me to the restroom.

Shortly after this, I was moved into a room a few doors down, the recovery room. It had a window (I could see that it was dark outside, even though I had arrived at the hospital clinic waiting room at eight that morning) and a television. I was alone, near the window, and I was brought a tray of food; however, I cannot remember a thing that was on it.

The nurse turned on the television for me because the remote that was on the side of my bed wasn’t working, and she left the room. I tried to change the channels to find the news of what was happening outside, but the buttons weren’t co-operating. I looked up as I heard a woman with a British accent speaking to me. The bottom of the screen read “The 700 Club”, and I was familiar with the show because my grandmother watched it. This woman said, “It doesn’t matter what you’ve done. You may have committed adultery, stolen, lied, had an abortion… it doesn’t matter, because God loves you, right where you are.” I heard nothing she said after that. (I found out later that the woman was Sheila Walsh.)

I must have slept well, because I remember nothing else except driving home (the hospital required me to be driven by someone else, but I lied and told them that I had a driver) the next day with my left hand out the window, staring at the mark left by the IV, which had started to bruise slightly, and hoping that no one would notice it and ask me about it. I spoke about my secret choice with no one.

Let’s flash forward seven years. I was twenty-six, married, saved and baptized, blessed with a three-year-old daughter and a newborn daughter, and during this time where I should be overjoyed, I can’t understand why I can’t shake the feelings of worthlessness and self-hate. The tormenting emotions of those days I spent in Miami were haunting me in my dreams and in my waking moments. Most of my nightmares consisted in my chasing the cart with my baby in a bucket down a long corridor, but never catching up to it.  When I found myself driving to the Amtrak station because I wanted to lie down on the tracks and be obliterated by a train, I knew there was something seriously wrong. Thankfully, I turned around, went home, and confessed to my husband why I was drained of every ounce of joy and life that I thought I should be having as a new mom. I also sought the help of a friend, who prayed for me and directed me to a women’s center.

At the woman’s center, a new group was starting, a post-abortion recovery group. I was invited to join. Initially, I was reluctant to commit to the meetings, because I didn’t want to be judged, labeled with a big fat figurative “M” for murderer or “A” for Abortion on my forehead, but I felt compelled to go. And there, with other women who felt just as ashamed and just as unworthy as I did, I learned that what Sheila Walsh had told me all those years ago: that despite my Choice, God loves me, no matter what I've done, right where I am.

And this I finally believed. 

I gave my daughter a name. Her name is Morgan, because she is a person with a soul and a mother who loves her. I know that I will see her again, and I know that she's forgiven me. I've also learned to forgive myself and all of the people involved.

In fact, I found out that there was grace offered to me (and them) a long, long time before my Choice:

God makes everything come out right;
he puts victims back on their feet.

God is sheer mercy and grace;
    not easily angered, he’s rich in love.
He doesn’t endlessly nag and scold,
    nor hold grudges forever.
He doesn’t treat us as our sins deserve,
    nor pay us back in full for our wrongs.
As high as heaven is over the earth,
    so strong is his love to those who fear him.
And as far as sunrise is from sunset,
    he has separated us from our sins.

Psalm 103:6-12

And that's my story.
When the nurse broke all sorts of hospital policy rules that day,
I can't help but think that she'd wanted me to talk about what really happens. 
I wasn't going to let her bravery be for naught,
and so it's in her honor that I've shared the truth with you.


If you are reading this right now and have had an abortion, if you are struggling with any of the feelings of hopelessness and self-hate that follows it, and if you can’t find peace with it, then I beg you to re-read Psalms above and believe it.

Did God see me there in the Miami-Dade Hospital? Of course. 
Was He there with me when my eyes were opened in horror at what I had done? Absolutely. 
Did He still love me? More than ever.

And so it is with you. God was there when you made your Choice. He knows what happened and what you did. He loves you like crazy anyway. 
The lies that you've believed since that day: that you are no longer good enough, that you do not deserve to have good things in life—that you are tainted, less than, and dirty? 
The even bigger lie that God can't forgive what you've done?
They're just that: lies.

But the truth is that there is Grace after the Choice.
I've experienced it, and so can you.

Start here, sweet friend, and find truth, because it truly will set you free:
If you can't quite yet reach out, then watch this series; it is a wonderful new television program called Surrender the Secret. It follows the lives of five women as they meet together and heal from their abortions. 

Grace is calling to you, too. Can you hear it?


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Grace after the Choice :: My Abortion Story {Part 2 of 3}

If you have landed on this post, so that you might understand what's happening 
in this part of my story, I suggest that you start at 
Part 1, HERE 
(there'll be a link to click at the bottom to bring you back to this page). 
Thank you!

Part 2
[Warning: parts of this story are graphic.]

She then told me that a laminaria would have to be inserted in the opening of my cervix. “What is that? What does it do?” I asked. She explained that it was a piece of seaweed that would expand to dilate my cervix. I asked to see it, and she showed me what looked like hardened tobacco rolled into a cigarette. My feet were put in the stirrups; a cold instrument assisted the nurse in inserting the laminaria. “That wasn’t so bad.” I had thought it would hurt more.

She told me that I would need to wait for an hour. I was to drink as much liquid as I could in that time. I got re-dressed and slipped off for an hour to visit the local Burger King, where I sipped as many sodas as I could. I returned to the hospital waiting room, where my name was called again. I was inspected to make sure that the laminaria was still in place and doing its job. It was.

I was once again escorted to a room and instructed to put all my belongings in the bag I had brought, and to put on another hospital gown. I was helped into a rolling bed and rolled through several corridors and through several sets of double doors. Finally they rolled me into a room along the back wall and set my bed (Bed B) up in the corner. My belonging were put into an armoire at the foot of my bed.

The same nurse as before soon rolled in another girl, who was accompanied by her mother. The girl was only fifteen and had gotten pregnant by a much older ex-boyfriend; the mother wasn’t happy about it, and I could tell that the girl was terrified of her mother and of what was about to happen.

A different nurse came in the room, drew the curtain between us closed and took my blood pressure and inserted an IV into the top of my left hand. She also asked me if I wanted some juice or crushed ice. I accepted the ice. And I waited some more. I recall not knowing exactly what time it was because there was no window in the room. Neither was there a television.

A hospital intern pulled up a chair next to my bed, introduced himself and started asking me all kinds of personal questions, and as I answered, he jotted on the forms on his clipboard. The questions, which inquired mainly about my sex life were quite humiliating to answer, especially to a male stranger. He then went to the other side of the curtain and as he proceeded to ask the girl in Bed A the same set of questions, Bed A’s mother angrily replied, “That’s none of your business” and told him to get out, which he did. I’d have told him the same thing, had I known his inquiries weren’t mandatory. I found out later that they were a gathering of facts with which the hospital could use to advertise their abortion services better. 

Then, the two nurses I’d gotten familiar with seeing came in the room together, accompanied by the doctor.
A stainless steel rolling cart with a few utensils, what looked like a large folded blue paper towel, a bottle of betadine, some cotton pads, and a clear plastic bag (of what looked like water) with plastic tubing coming out of it were on top of the cart.

The doctor was gentle, but unfriendly as he asked me to pull up my gown, which I did. A nurse washed and dried my lower abdomen twice with the betadine and pads, which left it stained brown. Then the blue paper was draped across my stomach. It had a cut-out hole about 3” across in it. While this was being done, the doctor was connecting the plastic tubing from the bag of water to a large needle. I got scared. I hate needles, but I asked the nurse nearest to me if I could hold her hand, and she let me, as I looked the other way. Thankfully, the doctor wiped an anesthetic over the skin exposed by the hole in the paper, and I didn’t feel the needle entering me. Nor did I watch what the doctor was doing, however, when the bag was emptied, he simply left, taking a nurse and the cart with him.

The nurse that had held my hand told me that I would probably feel contracting, and that that was simply the uterus expelling the fetus, that it may take up to four hours, and that when I felt the urge to push, to call her by pushing the nurse’s station button on the side of my bed.

I then heard the same procedure being done to the girl in Bed A, I heard her wimpering. When her mother heard that it was going to take her daughter up to four hours to be finished, she decided to go out and get some dinner.

Her mother was only gone about a half hour when the girl started groaning and crying and I asked her if she was okay and if she wanted the nurse. She didn’t. A few minutes later, she called me over to her bed, so I climbed out of the left side of my bed because my rolling IV bag pole needed to come with me.

She told me that she had pushed something out and asked me to look to see what it was. I was kind of shocked by her request, but said, okay. Apparently, she had been as curious as I as to what was happening. So, I went over by her bent up knees and looked down below them at what was lying near her bottom. I saw in a puddle of blood and water, what looked like a red, wet tumor about the size of an eggplant (I know now that the baby was facing her body and that I was looking at its back) and decided that it was just that: a mass of tissue, like a tumor. I described it to her, and we were both relieved that that was all it was. 

By now, I had started having cramps and I got back into my bed to wait.

Go to Part 3 HERE.


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Grace after the Choice :: My Abortion Story {Part 1 of 3}

This post is not about home staging, interior design, or organizing. 

This post is in honor of National Sanctity of Human Life Day and of the memory of my daughter who I lost to abortion through a choice that I made. I am going to be sharing my story with you here. However, it is somewhat graphic at times; I wanted you to know that before you began reading.

Some of the details may be unbelievable, but I assure you that they happened. I saw them with my own eyes, heard them with my own ears. For many years, I have wanted to share this story of sadness and grace with you, but thought that it would cause controversy or that some of you would no longer want to read my blog. But because it is a story of grace, of a makeover of the heart, I feel that it is appropriate to share with you how my past made me who I am today. 

I know that one in four of us women reading have had one or more abortions; I wanted us to be reminded that, no matter what we have done, we are loved by a Father who gives us a grace covering all sins. The world calls abortion a choice, a reproductive right, a freedom, but after this choice I experienced nothing but the knowledge that my right had been wrong; my so-called freedom resulted in nothing less than the chains of depression and the bonds of suicide. God found me in the midst of my shame. He gave me His grace after my choice.

How do I share what happened so long ago (though it is still so fresh in my memory), but to start at the beginning?

I was nineteen, sitting in a lobby in a Miami, Florida clinic. It was a mid-spring day in 1987, and I was waiting for my name to be called, waiting and watching the dazed faces of the other young women who also waited for their names to be called. While I waited, I mused over the months that had led to this appointment.

Too many long nights with too many strangers had led me to too many bad choices, and somehow I knew that this would be one more bad choice to follow up the rest, the last bad choice to hide the other bad choices. But it had to be done.

A few months earlier, when my period hadn’t come, I hadn’t been worried right away; it had always taken me a few months to get worried. Anemia and juvenile rheumatoid arthritis had made all of my periods unreliable. It had been at least four months, though, since my period had last come, which was unusual. One night, reclining on the sofa in the living room, I felt movement in my lower abdomen.

Something was alive inside of me, but I was in nineteen and in college. I couldn’t decide then which I felt more strongly: that I didn’t want to be inconvenienced with a baby, or that I didn’t want anyone to see the evidence of my behavior. Anyway, abortions were legal, and, after all, it was just a fetus.

I got out our phone book and searched for abortions through the yellow pages. I found an ad claiming to assist pregnant teens and made the call. When I told the woman on the other end of the line how long it had been since my last period, she made me an appointment for the next day. I pulled into the parking lot, surprised to see that it was actually a branch of Planned Parenthood. After a free urine test, it was confirmed that I was twenty weeks pregnant. Since I was in my second trimester already, I couldn’t “terminate” at a clinic; I’d have to go to a hospital. The appointment was made for two weeks later.

It would cost $1,000 in cash.  I didn’t have enough, so I asked my dad’s friend Maria if she’d loan me some money. I lied, telling her it was for my textbooks for college. She obliged, and I soon had the cash in hand.

I carried on as usual for the next few weeks, anticipating the trip with some fear and yet some excitement. I packed a small bag with a few things, since I had been told that it rarely was, but it could be, an overnight trip, depending on my body’s reaction to the “procedure”.

“Leslie Brill?” I was called to the open glass sliding window by a middle-aged woman who handed me a clipboard upon which a plethora of forms was attached.  These were just your everyday hospital forms: name, address, SS#, allergies, etc. I wrote down all I knew, signed, and handed it and the cash back through the window.

I waited, picked up a magazine, pretended to read something, flipping pages, nervously flashing a half-smile at the waiting room people. Then my name was called again, and a nurse holding a clipboard escorted me into the examination room.

“Get undressed and put this gown on. I’ll be back for you in a bit.” I did what I was told, waiting on the papered exam table. When she came back, she rolled in a machine and had me lie down. She lifted up my gown and squirted some cold, clear gel below my navel, and then turned to watch a screen that faced away from me as she moved an odd paddle attached to the rolling contraption back and forth across my belly.

Curious, I asked her if I could see what was on the screen. “No” was the answer. I asked her if it looked like a baby. “No, it’s nothing but tissue and membranes,” and even if I did look, I wouldn’t know what I was seeing anyway. Although disappointed, I accepted her answer. She was, after all, a nurse, a professional. She was probably right. 

Go to Part 2 HERE


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Shared at Richella's Place: Grace at Home

How to Create a Foyer (when there isn't one)

There is something about coming into a home that has a foyer, an entryway, a vestibule.
It says, "Come on in! Welcome. Stay awhile."
It's the welcoming committee for the rest of our home.

But not everyone's home or apartment is blessed with such a space.
Many front doors open directly into the living room.
However, it's not hopeless! You can create the feeling of a foyer.

House to Home Elements to Consider:

  • Lighting: table lamps, hanging swag lamps, floor lamps, uplights (can lighting), candles
  • Softness: rugs, rug runners
  • Seating: benches, chairs, ottomans, stools
  • Storage: dressers, credenzas, armoires, large covered baskets, stacked luggage, night stands, umbrella stands, hooks
  • Personality: family photos, travel prints, souvenirs
  • Reflection: mirrors, glass, mercury glass
  • Life: plants, flowers, clocks with pendulums

The primary thing to remember is that you'll either need a physical barrier or a visual one.
A physical barrier literally blocks the view of the rest of the room.
A visual barrier gives the viewer decor to instantly view in the front door area;
it separates and sets the entryway apart from the rest of the house.
Even if it's only a few square feet, give your home a place
in which to pause before entering the rest of the house.

Make it Organized & Pretty

If you only have one wall near the front door and no coat closet or console,

compact helpers work perfectly here.

If It's Compact, Make an Impact

A slim and sleek shelf  topped with a gallery wall of precious photos
makes a spectacular statement.
The drawers below the shelf hold keys, gloves,
the dog's leash, gadgets, whatever. 

Source Unknown

Define with Molding

Give the spot its own personality.
Frame the wall you'll be using to draw attention to it.

Define with Wallpaper

Accent wallpaper makes a dramatic statement
that can be fun for a transition space.

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Define with Wainscoting

Easy-to-apply wallpaper or the traditional wood panels
create instant cottage appeal.


Paint It Happy

A dresser or console painted in a fun, vibrant color is a sweet way
to say "Hello" to your family and friends.

Display It Happy

Your collection of heirloom and thrift plates needs to be displayed somewhere.

Why not the entryway?

Use a Hall Tree

If you only have three to five feet of space
(and perhaps you're renting and can't alter the wall in any way),
the classic hall tree may be just what your entryway needs.

More Sources

Focus on the Front Door

Painting the inside of the door is probably

the easiest fix and the most eye-catching.


Illuminate with Swag

You can create a small square of foyer space simply by

flanking the front door with sconces,
spreading a rug upon the floor,
and hanging a lamp from a hook over the spot.

(If there's no nearby outlet, use an extension cord;
secure it as close to the floor molding as possible.)


IKEA to the Rescue

A tall or low Expedit shelving unit can be used

between the space near your door and the rest of the room.

(We have the black/brown 5 cube by 5 cube unit and love it!)


A House (Er, Room) Divided

In a larger or longer room, a screen or hanging divider
is an excellent solution for a lack of defined landing area
once you've entered the home.

Source Unknown

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Tile Transitioning

My friend Gina from The Shabby Creek Cottage

tiled a tiny space by her front door.
She says:
"Making a grand entrance isn't all that easy
when you have a 2 ft. by 4 ft. square to do it in.
No room for big furniture. No big open space to decorate.
That's okay, I like to keep things simple..."


Family Friendly

Children love their own personalized space!

Give them one (or two, or three, or more...).

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Lean a Mirror

Even a chunky wardrobe mirror works well to define a visual vestibule.

I like Old Time Pottery and Hobby Lobby's selections.

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Nook Necessities

Maybe you have a bitty spot that is more like a crevice than anything else.

Shelving, hooks, and baskets can help to organize your homecomings.



Not only is it great (hidden) storage, but it looks great, too!

A mirrored one is perfect for last-minute primping.


Recycle That Pallet 

Yet another pallet creation, and it's fantastic!

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In My Home

My basement cafe has no foyer to speak of.

Here's how I used the wall behind the door
so guests can park their purses or primp.

I hope that this encourages those of you who have lost hope of having a foyer!
Try creating one; you will feel proud to enter and to invite others into your home!

Have a beautiful, blessed day making your home!


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A Season of Light

I decided not to decorate for Christmas this year.
I opted, instead, to decorate for the season of Winter
with a special theme of "light",
Jesus being the Light.

Now I'll show you our slightly Christmas decor
and our slightly more wintry decor.
Some of these pictures were taken during daylight
and some were taken in the evening.
(There's nothing wrong with your monitor.)

We'll start outside.

I love the warm and welcoming feeling of candles lit in windows.
It reminds me of trips that my family has taken to Pennsylvania,
where it's common to see lights in windows in many homes during evenings all year round.
I brought that tradition back with us to our home here in South Carolina.

(It's a really sunny day!)

On our porch, you are welcomed by this triple-tiered planter
that I found at Lillian Vernon years ago.

I cut some cedar, pine, and arborvitae branches off of the trees in our yard,
added some large silver plastic ornaments and a few pine-cones, and called it "good".

I found this iron bistro set on Craigslist for $50.

This glass box displays greens and a candle,
while the vintage door cone has been lined with burlap and filled with green.

C'mon inside out of the cold, y'all!
I'll make you a mug of hot cocoa and whipped cream to warm your tootsies!

Take your shoes off, grab a throw, and snuggle up on the love-seat.

Above our precious piano is a pin-board of a few of my favorite things: 
Christmas and New Year's antique postcards, circa 1910.

Evergreens are so much fun to use in decorating.
Why? They add color and life to a dreary season.

I smile every time I see these roses, which were given to me by a dear friend.

I fashioned bitty boxwood wreaths from trimmings of the shrubs in our yard
and added them to the shelves in our dining room hutch.

Vintage silver glass ornaments and sparkly silver shine happily.

My grandmother's Shiny Bright ornaments hang from the candle sconces.

In the living room, the mantel displays a forest of glass and glitter trees.

Hanging behind the window panes are some swallows that I fashioned from sheet music.

Can you tell that I love birds?
(There's a nest under the smaller dome.)

Adjacent to the fireplace is a credenza,
huge and heavy and perfect along this wall.
(It is also getting a makeover some time soon.)
The black and white prints are of Charleston, South Carolina,
my favorite city on the planet (so far).

If you squint, you can see that the bitty houses under the cloches sparkle with glitter.
Squinting will also ensure that you don't see the dust on the lamps.

More candles, more greenery, more ornaments!
On the left, you can see the arm chair that I've slip-covered.

This is the basement theater room, which I hardly ever share with you, 
since it's dark and hard to photograph (there are no windows in the room),
but I did my best, and here is one wall of it.

More silver ornaments in tall jars!
The tiny "fireplace" is actually a heater, and works very well, I might add.

The room next to the theater is the basement coffee house, le Cafe de Sous Sol 
(which, oddly enough, means "the basement coffee house").

In the windows of the cafe, Miss S hung paper snowflakes 
that cast their snowy shadows through sheer curtains.

Along the ledge, another forest of silvery trees await snowfall.

This is the side yard of our home, the entrance to the cafe.
The pine needle-filled boxes are raised-garden beds which now lie fallow.

This mirror greets you as you enter the cafe.
(Here's more about this space at Christmastime.)

Across from the window in the kitchen area are a few of my favorite things, too.
The open shelving holds a few heirlooms, but the rest of the things
are Goodwill, Salvation Army, and yard sale finds.

English ironstone in many different patterns!

I don't regret painting this whole wall in chalkboard a few years ago.

My friends, family, and even I  have designed vignettes on this huge black "canvas".

And last, but not least, everyone's favorite decor of the season,
back upstairs in my kitchen:

Lord, you keep the lamp of my life burning brightly.
You bring light into my darkness.
Psalm 18:28

How do you decorate for winter and bring light to this season?


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I'm hanging out with Richella for her 41st Grace at Home Party.
Partying with Kate at her 135th Flaunt it Friday gig.

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