We experience many connections in life and in this issue we take a closer look at the ties that bind. Within these pages you’ll see two prominent threads are inextricably woven into this issue:  family and deafness. Our featured piece, “Voice” by Paul Hostovsky, contains both. The sign language interpreter shares the parenting choices he and his wife, who is Deaf, made in raising their daughter. He also beautifully describes nuances of the culture and language they use to communicate, giving those in the hearing world a glimpse into their experience and the reasoning behind the decisions they made. Their choices might not reflect those you would make, given your circumstances, but they were the right choices for their family. And, let’s face it, we all make decisions based on our lived experience, our culture, the way we were raised, the community we are a part of and the curve balls life unexpectedly sends our way.  

The family thread includes perspectives of varying hues. “Sister Secrets” is a sweet story about an older sibling caring for her sister with multiple disabilities, while their parents are out for the evening, and harmless high jinks ensue. Benjamin Decter and his wife go to great lengths to ease their daughter’s struggle by trying a non-pharmaceutical treatment to reduce her seizures in “The Ketogenic Diet,” which is one chapter from his memoir in progress. “Two Fathers,” by Ujjvala Bagal Rahn, reveals something unexpected in her poignant poem. Conversely, in “Silence Her” by Lori Lindstrom, the actions of parents can be detrimental to children. For this author, opening a box from her past was like opening a wound, causing her to relive the pain she felt as a child.

In addition to our featured essay, we take a closer look at deafness through the poetry of S. Leigh Ann Cowan who compares lipreading to a puzzle, describes how the game of telephone can go awry for a child who cannot hear and contemplates what it means to be “deaf enough.” Rebecca Brothers has Meniere’s disease and shares her experience through poetry as well. One fictional story includes a character who has lost his hearing and our featured artist, Kelly Simpson, is Deaf. She shares how a workshop about Deafhood emboldened her to be confident in who she is and her incredible talent.

Ties can provide comfort and security, become tangled and constricting, or unravel when those we love leave too soon. Examples of all of these are evident in the selections we’ve included in this issue. While “The Shape-Shifter’s Mother” is fiction, the message conveyed by author, Wendy Nikel, is a relatable and powerful one. A mother wakes each morning to find her son transformed into a different creature. Daily, she must assess his needs and adapt in order to properly care for him, each evening reassuring him with comforting words. If only we were all as understanding, flexible and accepting of the differences of others, this world would be a better, more beautiful place. Each thread woven into loops, knots, and swirls, revealing a beautiful tapestry.

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