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My other mother caresses her prayer beads, her mouth forming words I don’t understand.

I am moved by her devotion.

She prays formally five times a day, in a sacred corner of her apartment, surrounded by artifacts of love.  I know she prays all day, informally.

My other mother prays next to her holy book. I’m humbled that her place of prayer includes joyous photos of her youngest son, Hadi, ecstatic by the Pacific Ocean, and photos of me, smiling, at the Golden Gate Bridge.

My arrival interrupts her prayer, and she welcomes me over for hugs.

It’s a glorious morning, and a swirl of sparrows appears at her balcony, trilling at the seed she sets out so carefully for them.

Joy! she exclaims, telling me how the birds and her family keep her so content at 88.

In a ritual that deepens with every visit, we put our hands over our hearts and express our love for each other.

My other mother raises her hands to the skies, thanking God.  I pat my heart, in response.

We chatter away, although neither understands the other’s language.

What words are needed to express the heart’s true feelings?