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Liberty & Independence

There aren’t many young American girls who reached puberty in the 1980’s that can’t say a John Cougar-Mellancamp song didn’t affect them in some way. Whether it was the rhythmic beat of “John & Diane” or the rural familiarity of Pink Houses, John had a way of singing your life through his music. One of my personal miracles, or what I understand to be divine intervention, was completely influenced by a song off of the album SCARECROW, released in 1985. The song’s name was Justice and Independence. Just like many artists, John has a way of building a metaphor around his lyrics, this song being the most exceptional of such a task! The song itself is sung like a love story between Justice and Independence (the characters), and while describing the troubles of their relationship, he describes the current struggles happening within the American culture. This song was my teen anthem, and some day, if the chance ever arrived; I would surely name my children Justice and Independence.
The day did arrive, and was sad to say the least. I gave birth to a still-born daughter on December 6, 2000 who I aptly named Liberty Independence. Burying her tranquil tiny casket has remained one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. As with all burials, the duty arises to place a headstone or marking upon the grave. Due to the lengthy amount of time it takes for a headstone to be carved; Liberty’s was ordered in February of 2001, with an approximate finish date of 6 months. Those six months are very foggy in my mind; but at the same time glorious due to the fact I was growing a Justice (the baby boy I would give birth to in October of that year). The new pregnancy helped heal the pain and those six months were filled with worry and fear attached to the memory of loss, and bitter sweet comfort as each month passed ensuring a bigger, healthier baby boy.
Too make a long story short; my daughter’s headstone was delivered on September 11, 2001. Upon arrival, the two drivers looking pale with awe set the stone and we all three stood there with tears in our eyes; mine attached to the finality of loss, theirs to the two words on that headstone that until that morning, many Americans had forgotten about…Liberty & Independence.

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