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Thursday, October 26, 2017

Memoirs with Jeremy


Memoirs with Jeremy

I was so very lost after my son’s transition; I did not know what to do or how to handle my life that lay before me.  Since the day I began learning how to integrate this tragic tragedy; I was determined to reach out with my very personal experience even though it is dark at the inception.  Please know there is a dim light to set your sights on.  It does get brighter as time goes on.

My heart aches for parents who have lost their sons in war.  Those, who like myself are veterans have been in that dark place that feels there is no return.  So, this is especially for those who are in the throes of bereavement.  There are better days even though it is beyond comprehension how you could possibly make this journey.  It is the reason I share – in hopes my journey will help someone, somewhere. 

I have had a war on words trying to identify areas I am unaccustomed – I was told I needed to accept this travesty.  This has not set well with me.  Neither has the words overcome and recover.   You do not recover from losing a child and you do not overcome the loss.  It is so finale that the finality of it is almost too hard to bear.  It is a life sentence.

I wish I could gloss over what is ahead, but it would be a lot of untruths.  It is harder than anyone can even imagine.  It takes time, more time and much more time.  It has been nearly seven years for me and I have rebuilt my life stone by stone, brick by brick every day of every year.

In the tortuous minutes ahead and the agonizing day after day of grieving you will begin being functional again.  It comes slowly but it will come.  You learn to integrate this into a new life and weave it into your very existence that one day you will see muted sunrises, will begin to genuinely smile and laugh once more.  You will become astonished that you have gone a minute, an hour without crying.  You will be proud that you have become so engrossed in your task that the time has gone by with relative ease.  This is how you rebuild.  You don’t dodge the pain on this one – you weave through each day learning your triggers, your strengths and what potholes to reroute your life around.

You create a new life – I use to write a “new normal”, but then realized there is nothing normal about parents living longer then their children.   Overcoming suggests that you get over the loss and recovery suggests you return back to a normal life.  But, it is inconceivable that you would be returning to a life that has been immutably altered.   Find your life line, a reason to rise in the morning.  Do it for you and the loved ones that are with you still.  Hang onto anything that makes it more bearable for you and do not rush the progress.  You will go a step forward and ten steps back many times over.  I endeavor to not only make my daughter and her family proud that I have made it through this trauma, but Jeremy being a Marine, I like to think that I have made him proud as a Gold Star Mom.  I have had to take meds to help me find my equilibrium and have learned to be ok with that.  As my daughter has told me – “whatever it takes, Mom” (it has been a devastating life change for her as well).

You will begin to see the world and others through different eyes.  You will have changed in your perceptions, tolerances and understanding.  Your views will change, how you relate to others will be different.  Your values will change, you will be impacted spiritually.   You may be softer in areas and harder in others.  There are individual/personal changes from one to the next, but there will be changes in you nonetheless. There is no way we could go through and endure such trauma and it not affect us; it is life altering.  I like to think these changes make us stronger and better as parents and people. 

I love to talk about my son Jeremy.  I wish that the dialogue would open much more often.  But, people have the tendency to deflect due to not knowing that you need or want to talk about them.  They are trying to be sensitive and not flip switches for you.  If we could all share in the learning process it would be invaluable to us as survivors.  Remembering our loved ones helps us cope and adapt to the loss.  Sharing grief, anger and confusion would help by confronting the reality that has been handed us….. in my opinion,  needs to be shared with someone we trust.  Hopefully, a good confidant and friend will always be there to support you.

There is not a day that goes by that I don’t “talk” to Jeremy.  He is always with me and I have been fortunate in that we have had many spiritual accountings.  It has been my life line. I would not be honest if I didn’t say that I am still in some sort of denial….but I believe it stems from the fact that I truly believe that he lives….he is happy…..he has more love and life than here on earth.  His energy is so beautiful and loving.  I believe in the hereafter and I rest in that we will meet again.



Proud Gold Star Mom

In honor of:

Ssgt. Jeremy D. Smith USMC 03-09-85-04-06-11

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Memoirs with Jeremy

As I awake this morning the roiling tumultuous and dread of facing reality slams into me.  Some days it hits me hard.  Today is one of those days that it violently seeps into my consciousness as I am awakening from a deep slumber.  I am stuck; there is no other way than just facing another day without my Jeremy, my Sonshine.   I am irritable and sick to my stomach and I force myself to be up and about.  As I take my babes outside I am reminded that I still have things to be thankful for and breathing in the country air and watching the sun come up helped me stabilize my emotional roller-coaster........ I thought it would be healing for me and helpful to someone to pen my experience.

I am forced to go along with my routine because I have four-legged kids who need my attention.  I am very thankful for them.  They sense my despair and do what they can to make me feel better and they do.....I love that they love me unconditionally.  I am so thankful for their companionship and love.  They are light and healing for me.

I miss Jeremy with all my heart and soul.  I have many things in my past that I wish I had done differently with and for him.  I tried to be the best mom ever, but fell short of the mark on several occasions.  I thought leaving Arlington and moving to Plano was a best laid plan, but Jeremy did not want to leave his school and friends and....wanted to try living with his dad for a change.  It broke my heart and I was at a loss without him.  But, the move was being executed and there was no turning back.  With that said, he spent all his free time with me and we did have an adventure and did many fun things that we couldn't have done if I had stayed in Arlington.  It is complicated in a sense and simple in another.  When I address this regret I am reminded that he was given a lot in return for this action that seemed so defining for me.  He was only preteen, but I knew deep in my heart it had to be his choice.  So my regret is full of good memories as well and provided a life for Jeremy that would have been otherwise very boring.

I am doing much better six years and four months later than I ever thought I would - it is astonishing to know that you can plow forward with such heart breaking devastation as losing a child.  My heart goes out to parents who are facing their first few years of learning how to cope with such loss.  It is such a dark black hole - a living nightmare - all encompassing torture that never truly ends.  But, you do manage to start seeing light again even though your life has been irrevocably changed forever.

I hung on for dear life because I wanted Jeremy to be proud of me and mostly for my daughter and grands - they truly kept me grounded.  I have read that most parents want to give up and go be with their beloved - I know I did - but never could such a selfish act consume me for I love my daughter so much that I would never leave her to deal with this alone.  She adored Jeremy and her loss was right next to mine - devastatingly-devastated. 

I rather write of a spirit-filled journey and share the encounters I have had with Jeremy which were life saving for me.  But, I felt today that such a dark place needed to be shared for it is never discussed among the living.  Such darkness is usually hidden and leaves one to wonder if others feel the same.  They do - I would say probably 100% of us do - I have know way of truly knowing that and it is assumed on the basis of how difficult it is for your child to pass before you.  But, I will say it is, unfortunately, common among us to have these feelings.  I would never act on these feelings for I would never want Jeremy to feel responsible for me.....again, I would never do that to my daughter.  It is a dark place but you manage it - you just do. 

We still have the choice of making our lives as bearable and eventually functional as we can.  In the last six years I have made progress that seemed to never come.  As I look back I see how gradual it has been yet the progress is definitely there.  It is still as painful and there is a hole in my heart and an empty place in my life in all dimensions.  But, I live in hopes of bringing some kind of honor and life to Jeremy's memory and do many things in his stead. 

After I move along my morning and grasp my emotions - I am so thankful to have been given the honor of being Jeremy's mom, I am so thankful and proud to have been his mom, to spend time with him and to know him as no other could.  I am thankful that God/Spirit has provided for me and has righted me in a place that brings healing.  I am so very thankful for my daughter, her husband and my grands.  There is still much to live for - for me.  There is still much to do for others.  There is still much to be thankful in the beautiful and gorgeous Universe that has been created for us to love.  I realized that I will have an eternity with Jeremy but life on earth will be a short journey and I want to enjoy what is left of it.

Peace and contentment are much to be thankful for.  You will find it - it just takes excruciatingly snail pace time and time and time......

Proud Mom of Ssgt. Jeremy D. Smith USMC 03-09-85-04-06-11

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Memoirs with Jeremy


Memories with Jeremy April 3, 2017

For all surviving parents:

I have learned much in the last six years; mostly about love, forgiveness and a deep appreciation of nature and the world we live in.  I am learning to live in the now and endeavor to be present at all times.  However, I still struggle with the mundane things of life and more importantly the absence of my son.   

I can only write and share of my experience.  I am fortunate that it has been an intense spiritual journey for me personally.  I share only as an avenue of reaching someone, somewhere that would benefit or identify with my life changes.

Finding a life purpose again has been a challenge.  Six years ago to get up and dressed was a challenge.  So to speak of having purpose is a big step going forward.  Losing a child forever changes your life and everything in it.  At some level everything changes.  It takes strength and sheer determination to find a way to continue and years to let life and grief coexist.  Grief is a life sentence; it never dissipates nor does it grow less in its intensity.  But, we can and do learn to cope with what destiny has handed us.

How we process grief is an individual process.  It is unique and solely griever’s choice.  It is personal choices we make and our instincts that help with the ebbs and flows of dealing with the magnitude of emotions that arise in the rollercoaster of healing.  But, through the darkness blinded by fear and grief – we do find our way.  We do survive.

For me survival mode has been my spiritual beliefs.  I believe in destiny but I also think that our free will choices are what paints and fills in our lives – each and every detail.  I believe in the hereafter, always have, but especially now that I have had soul communication with Jeremy.

Our lives will never be the same again.  How could it be?  The “new normal” is what I reached for only to find there is nothing normal about my son’s transition in the earthly realm.  Places and things can be replaced by mixing the old with the new or starting over in an environment or location that helps you with a fresh start.  The weight of grief, however; never changes.  It goes where you go and it has whatever power you lend it to make your day.

There are reprieves from grief as time goes on and the breaks last longer.  We learn to start living again.  There are no timelines – some take longer than others and everyone’s process is different.   It has taken me years to find ways for grief and healing to coexist.  We finally get there, the darkness begins subsiding and the breaks from grief are more often – we are healing and will continue to heal and move forward coexisting with our grief.

I read once that children are orphaned, spouses are widows and we as grieving parents are survivors.   The loss is so unbearable that we hope to one day learn to live again - surviving without our child.

What I have learned, spiritually, is that Jeremy is always with me.  Always; I speak his name and he says I am here mom.  I find that in some ways I am spending more (spiritual) time with him than I did earthly or real time.  I share sunrises and sunsets with him; my thoughts seem to blend and bind us.  I find much peace and hope in “until we meet again”.  I think of him and he is there; there is so much truth in the spiritual realm of loved ones helping those who are bound by earthly realms to survive.

I have learned that the soul bond never diminishes or evaporates.  It can never be broken and our loved ones are a thought away.  When we think of them; they are with us.   I believe they help us with the healing process and join us in our efforts to move forward.   I could not have made it without my son’s presence at the inception of our tragedy – and still today – there is always the thought that he is a breath away to help me move forward.

Grief transforms us.  We are not the same.  It changes how we look at our lives, our values and thoughts that have shaped us.  How we look at the world is altered at best and the “loss” of our loved one impacts us the rest of our lives.

The personal choices – the ones that color our world – are what shape us into who we are to live the destiny we have been handed with our loved ones.  I wish for us all to transcend the darkness and be enlightened by our children’s and loved ones in the spiritual dimension who are helping us.

It is a challenge we must face.  I am a Marine Mom and my strength came from my son’s bravery and I never want to disappoint (although in truth in the spirit realm I could not).  I challenged myself that I be as brave in life as Jeremy was in death.  I find the strength in he is still alive just in another dimension.  I find solace in that I can feel his presence and with a thought our souls communicate.   I love that I think of him and he assures me time and time again “I am here Mom”.  I love that he is a breath away and that we will reunite again. 

I love him with an immutable love that breaks barriers between earth and the spirit realm. 

I love you Sonshine – I am honored to be the proud Mom of Ssgt. Jeremy D. Smith USMC  03-09-85-04-06-11

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Memoirs with Jeremy

Jeremy's birthday was Thursday the 9th.  I spent the day sharing pictures and poems of my son.  It helps and is a process of keeping his memory alive....I love honoring him. Jeremy would be 32 years old - he would be married with children and would be buying a home.  I think he would have furthered his career in the Marines - he loved being in the military.  There was red tape as in any profession but he loved the Marines and his fellow brothers. 

It will be six years soon - April 6th.  It is still very hard and unfathomable - I still have trouble totally wrapping my mind around that he isn't with us in the earthly realm.  I miss him more each day and love him even more every second of every day.  I am lucky in the fact that he died a hero - saving at least six Marines and giving them the opportunity to return to their families.  He knew he wasn't going to return - as did I .  He was the only one of his platoon that had any experience - none of the others had ever done a tour - he knew he had to go with them to Afghanistan.  I am so proud of him and I hold no resentment or jealousy of any kind toward these men....they love my son and we are all thankful for his strength and bravery.

I don't mean to sound as though I am "bragging" - it is such a sacred time to me and it gives me strength and courage as my son had - his to die - mine to live.

Proud Mom of
Ssgt. Jeremy D. Smith USMC 03-09-85-04-06-11

I love you Sonshine

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Memories with Jeremy

I am heavy hearted with the divisiveness of our country. I am – I suppose – a moderate. Definitely an independent. I don’t sway left or right, but try to find the middle of the issues to be fair for all. I am neither Republican nor Democrat; I believe in some of what they both stand for.
I do not claim to be an authority on global warming, but believe there have been changes to our weather. Nor do I claim to be an authority regarding Revelations, even though I have read it many times. What or who do you swing with – that the weather is indicating that we are at the inception of the end of the world – according to Christians. Or…that it is global warming and throw tons of money into climate change. Where is the middle ground?
I believe in the American way and the American dream. I think anyone who wants to come and share that with us should. However; I believe it should be done properly – legally. Like everyone else who has been here and dedicated themselves to become an American. Why should some accept that and others do not…..I believe the system should be simplified for those who are here and those who want to be part of our system.
I do not see anything wrong with vetting. I know for a fact you cannot go into the Middle East or Mexico without proper documentation or overstaying your visa. I had to come home every 6 months – when my daughter was a baby and reenter according to Saudi Arabia rules – not mine. My daughter was born in their hospital – but it did not give her immediate citizenship. That did not offend me even though I had lived there for years.
I have been exposed to many countries and religions. My family is composed of some Native Americans and Hispanics. My daughter was born in Saudi Arabia. I had a boyfriend from Saudi some time back. I made many friends while I lived there – from Australia, England, India, Middle East, Far East, France, etc. I was married to a German; his family spoke broken English. I travelled a large part of Europe and the Middle East and loved everyone I met. It was truly a blessing having met each and every one of them.
It is sad that we are taking precautions at the airports with our brothers and sisters coming in. But, I do want my country safe. My son fought in Afghanistan and died there. He served 4 tours – 3 in Iraq and the last in Afghanistan. We talked about how it was necessary – according to the Marines – to keep the fight there and not let it come to our beautiful nation. Jeremy joined the Marines righter after 9/11. Many of his friends did the same. Much controversy here. But I believe in better safe than sorry. It saddens me that much of what my son went through has been reversed – many lost their lives in Iraq. I do not – again – claim to be an authority, however; if a Marine believes so do I.
I also, know for a fact, that our military needs upgrading. I have been a family of the Marines for years now and I have heard the issues that have been raised…including and not limited to our men having enough food for them while on deployment. Not to mention old gear, etc.
I believe in sharing our country to anyone who wants to be a proud American. I am not an alarmist, but I would like to know that there will not be bomb attacks on our land again. What is wrong with better safe than sorry?
I do not judge anyone for their color, race or religion. I believe to each his own and it is none of my business what or who someone else chooses. Including same sex couples – marriage if they wish. I am a little iffy on marriage, but not who marries whom. In fact, I am going to a gay wedding in March – the couple is family to me and I have loved them since they were in elementary school.
I believe in women’s rights – of course, equal pay and promotions. I have gray areas regarding abortion. I do not believe it should be used as a contraceptive and I do not believe a full term – half term baby should be murdered. I believe they are human in the womb. However; there can be unfortunate and humane reasons to abort. I have issues personally on this subject and think we should turn down the dial a bit.
I would love to see new roads, bridges, environment and water upgrades. Also – borders more protected. I think our educational system needs a lot of help – my kids received a good education and really I am not in that dimension of children going to school – but, more pay better schools. There are so many safety issues and teacher’s pay, etc. But I believe in the best of both worlds for teachers and students.
It didn’t bother me that we had a half black/white President…no more than it would bother me if they were gay, a woman or purple. I did not care for Obama’s term, but that is just a personal opinion….there are those who loved everything he did. But, I sure wouldn’t argue or start a personal war over it. I LOVED Ben Carson – I think he is one of the most intelligent people I have ever heard. However; the Christian way is not always spot on. I vote only for what I personally believe would better our great country.
I don’t have issues with transgender people in the army or any aspect of our world. They are who they are and should be loved. Christianity has been poked down our throats, but since people have been “coming out of the closet” so much has been accepted in the last decade. I think we will all come around and find that we are who we are – no matter what that entails. We should never judge or create drama to fit our way of thinking, believing or living.
I am a deplorable – I voted for Donald Trump. Yes he is rough around the edges. But, I hope and believe that our POTUS can make some very sound and great changes. Just as those who believed in Obama….why am I wrong to have a belief? I allowed you yours. I respected anyone who voted for Obama and didn’t vote for Trump – that would be my daughter and her husband. It didn’t tear our family up – we were kind about our differences and spoke about them respectfully.
Let’s meet in the middle people. Let’s put our country first and our personal needs after. Just like our military and my Marines. PEACE TO USA AND THE WORLD
Sandra Kay Harris-Smith
Proud Mom of Ssgt. Jeremy D. Smith USMC 03-09-85-04-06-11

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Memoirs with Jeremy


I am heavy hearted with the divisiveness of our country.   I am – I suppose – a moderate.  Definitely an independent.  I don’t sway left or right, but try to find the middle of the issues to be fair for all.  I am neither Republican nor Democrat; I believe in some of what they both stand for.

I do not claim to be an authority on global warming, but believe there have been changes to our weather.  Nor do I claim to be an authority regarding Revelations, even though I have read it many times.   What or who do you swing with – that the weather is indicating that we are at the inception of the end of the world – according to Christians. Or…that it is global warming and throw tons of money into climate change.  Where is the middle ground?

I believe in the American way and the American dream.  I think anyone who wants to come and share that with us should.  However; I believe it should be done properly – legally.  Like everyone else who has been here and dedicated themselves to become an American.  Why should some accept that and others do not…..I believe the system should be simplified for those who are here and those who want to be part of our system. 

I do not see anything wrong with vetting.  I know for a fact you cannot go into the Middle East or Mexico without proper documentation or overstaying your visa.  I had to come home every 6 months – when my daughter was a baby and reenter according to Saudi Arabia rules – not mine.  My daughter was born in their hospital – but it did not give her immediate citizenship.  That did not offend me even though I had lived there for years.

I have been exposed to many countries and religions.  My family is composed of some Native Americans and Hispanics.  My daughter was born in Saudi Arabia.  I had a boyfriend from Saudi some time back.  I made many friends while I lived there – from Australia, England, India, Middle East, Far East, France, etc.  I was married to a German; his family spoke broken English.  I travelled a large part of Europe and the Middle East and loved everyone I met.  It was truly a blessing having met each and every one of them.

It is sad that we are taking precautions at the airports with our brothers and sisters coming in.  But, I do want my country safe.  My son fought in Afghanistan and died there.  He served 4 tours – 3 in Iraq and the last in Afghanistan.  We talked about how it was necessary – according to the Marines – to keep the fight there and not let it come to our beautiful nation.  Jeremy joined the Marines righter after 9/11.  Many of his friends did the same.  Much controversy here.  But I believe in better safe than sorry.  It saddens me that much of what my son went through has been reversed – many lost their lives in Iraq.  I do not – again – claim to be an authority, however; if a Marine believes so do I.

I also, know for a fact, that our military needs upgrading.  I have been a family of the Marines for years now and I have heard the issues that have been raised…including and not limited to our men having enough food for them while on deployment.  Not to mention old gear, etc.

I believe in sharing our country to anyone who wants to be a proud American.  I am not an alarmist, but I would like to know that there will not be bomb attacks on our land again.  What is wrong with better safe than sorry?

I do not judge anyone for their color, race or religion.  I believe to each his own and it is none of my business what or who someone else chooses.  Including same sex couples – marriage if they wish.  I am a little iffy on marriage, but not who marries whom.  In fact, I am going to a gay wedding in March – the couple is family to me and I have loved them since they were in elementary school.

I believe in women’s rights – of course, equal pay and promotions.  I have gray areas regarding abortion.  I do not believe it should be used as a contraceptive and I do not believe a full term – half term baby should be murdered.  I believe they are human in the womb.  However; there can be unfortunate and humane reasons to abort.  I have issues personally on this subject and think we should turn down the dial a bit.

I would love to see new roads, bridges, environment and water upgrades.  Also – borders more protected.  I think our educational system needs a lot of help – my kids received a good education and really I am not in that dimension of children going to school – but, more pay better schools. There are so many safety issues and teacher’s pay, etc.  But I believe in the best of both worlds for teachers and students.

It didn’t bother me that we had a half black/white President…no more than it would bother me if they were gay, a woman or purple.  I did not care for Obama’s term, but that is just a personal opinion….there are those who loved everything he did.  But, I sure wouldn’t argue or start a personal war over it.  I LOVED Ben Carson – I think he is one of the most intelligent people I have ever heard.  However; the Christian way is not always spot on.  I vote only for what I personally believe would better our great country.

I don’t have issues with transgender people in the army or any aspect of our world.  They are who they are and should be loved.  Christianity has been poked down our throats, but since people have been “coming out of the closet” so much has been accepted in the last decade.  I think we will all come around and find that we are who we are – not matter what that entails.  We should never judge or create drama to fit our way of thinking, believing or living.

I am a deplorable – I voted for Donald Trump.  Yes he is rough around the edges.  But, I hope and believe that our POTUS can make some very sound and great changes.  Just as those who believed in Obama….why am I wrong to have a belief?  I allowed you yours.  I respected anyone who voted for Obama and didn’t vote for Trump – that would be my daughter and her husband.  It didn’t tear our family up – we were kind about our differences and spoke about them respectfully.

Let’s meet in the middle people.  Let’s put our country first and our personal needs after.  Just like our military and my Marines.  PEACE FOR USA AND THE WORLD.

Sandra Kay Harris-Smith

Proud Mom of Ssgt. Jeremy D. Smith USMC 03-09-85-04-06-11

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Memoirs with Jeremy

I managed another year of holidays.  Started off fairly well for Thanksgiving, but Christmas threw me for a loop; it was extraordinarily painful.  With that said; I have made progress.  I decided to return to the assistance of medication support.  I am prone to depression and anxiety on a good day.  The meds helps take the edge off and keep at bay the panic attacks.  I have tried off and on not wanting to medicate, but it just makes life easier with the help.  My daughter says "whatever it takes Mom" and really that is the crux for us all.  It is different for us individually.....but whatever it takes to help deal with the pain, depression and anxiety- for any of us .  I have made more progress with the help of meds.  I am a lot more functional and even dress each day now.  I am more capable of shopping for groceries and doing the everyday mundane chores we each have.  I still have issues with driving; white outs and not knowing where I am at times

For some reason this has hit my brain hard.  Short term memory loss and anti-social from the inception of this tragedy.

Once again, I am only revealing such personal information in hopes that someone in need of help and identifying their symptoms is helped by sharing.  It is actually very embarrassing and has taken me by storm.  Now that I can identify that a panic attack is looming I can control my environment realizing what I personally need to do.  It has been anywhere from taking deep breaths to trying to not RUN from a get together with family.  My meds do not eradicate the symptoms but it does assist me in having a more normal life.

I spoke so often of a new normal and really there is nothing normal about this and there will never be.  But I have made a life for myself.  I have moved from the city to the rural area of East Texas where there is peace and quiet....serenity.  Being next to nature is being next to God for me and it has helped me to settle in with myself and endeavor to move forward.

Some things will never change.  The pain and the loss is incomprehensible.  I miss Jeremy more with each and every day and second I breathe.  But I am coping now and the meds are just a crutch to help me cope.  I have to be careful with alcohol.....only a glass or two of wine....on occasion...otherwise; it spins me into depression that takes days to overcome.  My vices are scrabble and cookie jam and the news.  It helps keep my brain from playing over and over the surreal fact that Jeremy is in another dimension.  More importantly focusing on all of the above spiritually has been the largest factor of handling all of this to the best of my (personal) ability.

It sucks .... it is heartbreaking - literally, but I know that my son is overseeing me and is with me at all times....until we meet again.

I love you son.

Proud Mom of
Ssgt. Jeremy D. Smith USMC 03-09-85-04-06-11