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Today I noticed the sound of a young girl singing “Happy Birthday.” I was walking underneath the window of an apartment building in late afternoon. There were no signs of a birthday party. No balloons or decorations. No sounds of other children singing. Just one child’s voice. As the song came to an end her pause matched four of my steps before she started again.

Two blocks away the remnants of a real birthday party littered the park. Weary parents smiled as they rounded up toys and all the paraphernalia that go with bringing young children to a park. Near the edge of a sloping hill was the birthday girl. She looked about three, in a red dress and brown leggings. Even though she should have been able to walk on her own she tightly gripped the fingers of a woman who walked behind her. The woman had the look of simultaneous pleasure and pain. The child was bald, and thin and I can only assume battling some disease like cancer. Her face was sunken and not at all like a child’s, except for the fascination she clearly found in this simple act of walking in a park.

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