"To Sarabi: Thanks For Everything"
by Jeffrey Robert Reed

I believe that my favorite memory of my mother is the day that she told me the whole story of how I was conceived out of pure love, shared by her and my equally wonderful (bless his heart!) father. But before I get into that, I'd like to share a word or two about my mother so that you'll get to understand her better.

She was a very magnificent lioness, so full of grace, courage and power. She was certainly the strongest member of her pride (only my father rivaled her strength) and was almost always successful in her hunts. I can imagine it must have been hard being a full-time provider, queen, wife and mother, but she handled all her responsibilities exceptionally well.

Also, modesty was obviously *not* my mother's strong point. She was never afraid to express whatever was on her mind, or do whatever she had to do, even if it meant passing water in the presence of her husband or son without shame.

But most of all, she was the most beautiful, gentle, kind and loving female that I'll ever know. I absolutely loved her cuddles, her soft kisses, and the warmth of her body as she hugged me closely to her breast. That is also one of my most fond memories, and the earliest one I can remember: as far back as two weeks old, as she informed me once.

While she was bathing me with that wonderful tounge of hers after I had finished nursing, she would turn me over onto my back and start tickling my belly with her nose. I especially loved it when she blew warm puffs of air from her nostrils: that always felt so ticklish, yet so comforting all at once. Well, when she had her fill of listening to my mirthful laughter, she'd roll over onto her own back, pick me up and place me up upon her great chest. Then, she would wrap her gigantic forepaws around me, pulling me closer to her beating heart.

You know, even when she held me so gently like that, I could sense her strength and just how truly powerful she *really* was. It gave me an immense feeling of security, knowing that even though I was small and weak, I would be safe in her embrace and that she would always protect me from harm. While she held me close, she would gaze into my eyes, smile in her special way, and speak softly her words of motherly love to me. She would say how lucky she was that I was her son, and even when I'd become the king, so big and so strong, she'll always love her 'little lion cub.' On some occasions, she would sing the sweetest lullabies that always succeeded in putting me to sleep by the time she finished. Finally, her last deed would be to kiss me so gently over and over again before going to sleep herself.

You know, even to this day, whenever I think about those sweet lullabies my mother sang to me then, I can't help but spill a few tears of nostalgia. After all, who could ever forget a mother like mine?

Anyway, now I shall get to the point of my story. You see, about one month before my father died, I asked what is known as "the big question" to my parents: where did I come from, and how did I come to exist? Well, after she exchanged a few words of "Should we tell him?" to my father, my mother turned to me and promised that sometime in the near-future she'd explain it all to me in the privacy of a 'very special place.' Sure enough, a few days later, after we had fed well on an entire zebra, she said to my father, "Mufasa, I'm ready to tell him. You'd better get back home and wait for Zazu's report." Then she turned to me and said, "Simba, come with me. The time has come for you to learn how you came to be."

The two of us walked on for a great distance before we got to that special place she was talking about: a remote acacia tree upon a gentle slope in the middle of the savannah, far away from any other trees. As we laid down on our bellies facing each other, she spoke up and said, "I chose to talk to you about your creation here because this place is very, *very* dear to me. But I'd like to save that reason until after I tell you how your life, and every other life for that matter, began."

"You see, all life, whether plant or animal, started out extremely tiny; no bigger than a single grain of sand, kind of like seeds. But unlike plant seeds, that start growing under the earth, the seed that brings forth animal life grows within the bodies of their mothers in a special place called the womb. The time that the mother spends with this unborn life is called pregnancy, which varies greatly among many animals here in the Pride Lands. A mother elephant can be pregnant for up to two years, but most other mothers' pregnancy periods are much shorter. As for our race, we lionesses spend about 109 days, or three and a half months pregnant before giving birth to our cubs."

"Believe me, Simba, the time that I spent carrying you was a very special time for me indeed. But it was the very day that I bore you into the world that I consider one of the most precious memories of my life." At this point, she broke off her narrative and cast her eyes upon the tree. As she smiled sweetly and let out a sigh of happiness, I realized without her saying a word why she had brought me here: this was the very place where I was born.

After a long pause of gazing lovingly into my eyes, my mother continued to speak: "I remember it as if it were only yesterday. I sensed that you wouldn't wait any longer to be born, so I, like all expecting mother lions, left the pride to find a private place of seclusion. I chose this place for an obvious reason, but I'll explain that later. Anyway, as soon as I arrived here, I reclined on my side under the shade, among the tall green grasses. I must admit that I was feeling nervous, and yes, even a little scared. I had heard stories from the other mothers in our pride about the pains of labor, and I wasn't sure whether or not I would die from them or not. But I tried to forget about that and focus instead on trying to get you out of my yoni and into the outside world, free to live on your own, to breathe the fresh air and to feed off my own milk, made from my own body. Do you understand, my son?"

I said, "I think so, but there's one thing I don't quite understand. What is this 'yoni' that you mentioned where I came from?" For a short moment, my mother fell silent and seemed to be contemplating whether or not she would tell me. Then, she finally said, "Well, I guess you're old enough to understand and see for yourself. Stand behind me and I'll show you what it looks like." So I got up and positioned myself behind her, patiently waiting. After building up her courage a little, she raised up her rump a little bit and tilted her tail away to an angle. In that moment, I looked for the first time upon that most special place which I have learned to love on the part of my dear, sweet Nala. Believe me, I was rather fascinated by the sight of this engorged mound of bare skin that seemed to be slit straight down the middle; it gave me the impression that she had this constant gaping hole between her hind legs which she always kept discreetly concealed by her tail. As I stared on, she said in a voice full of tenderness, "*This* is my yoni, Simba. This is from where I felt you leave my body and enter the outside world. Climb up on top of me, and I'll tell you more." She rolled over onto her back and gestured me to recline upon her chest. I did so immediately, because as I said before, I could never resist her beautiful warmth. After she had wrapped her huge forepaws around me, hugging me close, she continued her narrative.

"Well, around sunset, that was when the first real pains of labor hit me, which was natural because even though you were very small, you were barely small enough to pass through my yoni lips. Now, throughout my life I've lived through many forms of physical pain, especially on the hunt and when I've had to defend myself against those nasty hyenas. But nothing could compare with what I was going through at that moment. It felt like I was being turned inside-out and ripped cleanly in two!"

At this point, I spoke up and said, "Mom, I thought you said that that day was special to your life, but from the way you're talking, you make it sound terrible. Am I not that important to you?" Upon hearing this, she gave me a look of shocked concern. "WHAT? Of course not, my son!! You'll always be *extremely* precious to me! You just didn't give me a chance to continue and *explain* my situation.

"Yes, even though I was in a great amount of physical pain, I also experienced another strong feeling. I know it might sound silly to you now, but the immense joy that I felt in my mind and my heart, knowing that I was going to be a mother soon was *much* stronger than any pain my mortal body could ever feel. Finally, my ordeal ended when, concentrating all my strength upon my yoni muscles, I pushed three times and to my great delight, I felt you slowly, yet satisfyingly slide right out of me. It wasn't until that incredible moment that I finally allowed myself to smile, knowing I had indeed survived the experience.

"As soon as you were out, I had to put my great happiness aside for the moment while I tended to you; licking off the afterbirth about you, making your coat all clean and fluffy. It was while I washed you when I realized that I had given birth to a son! I thought to myself, 'Mufasa will be so proud to know that he's the father of such a beautiful little cub.' After I finished giving you your first bath, you started to hunger for nourishment, and you found it and began nursing. That was exquisite, Simba, feeling you suckle upon me for the first time. It made me feel almost omnipotent for a brief moment. Think about it: to be able to create a life and make it grow within your body; to bring it into the big, wide world and to nurture it. That's a powerful emotion, you know what I mean?

"Well, when you finished nursing, I picked you up ever so gently in my mouth and placed you in front of me, encircling my forepaws around you. Then, as I continued to gaze upon you with such joy, you opened your eyes for the first time and looked straight at me! When you did that, Simba, I finally let out a soft laugh of contentment while I shed many tears of love as I kissed you again and again. Suddenly, an old lullaby that my *own* mother sung to me came flooding back into my mind. As all the words to it became clear, I sang it very softly to you, in a voice filled to the point of bursting with love and adoration. This is how it goes..."

I believe in little things That you can hardly see, Like honeycombs and spiderwebs And stars that shine brightly.

I believe in little things Like icy drops of rain, That melt into the morning mist, When winds are warm again.

I believe in little things Like colors in the sky, And noticing the clouds roll past, And how the flowers die, And knowing they'll be back again Whene'er the sun is high.

I believe in little things.... Like you....and me...., And just how big....little things can be....

By the time she got to the last verse, her eyes were starting to get brighter. She had a great deal of difficulty singing the last few words, due to her voice becoming choked with emotion. When she finally finished singing the last word, my mother did something that I'll never forget: she actually started crying very openly before me. I was absolutely shocked to see her tears gush freely down her pretty face and to feel her mighty breast rack with sobs, because my mother *never* cried at all, ever.

I asked her in a sympathetic voice, "Mom, why are you crying?" She had calmed down some at that point, and she answed me in a very profound way. She simply said, "Because I love you, Simba." Then, after a pause, she added, "And I also loved my *own* mother, Avina, so much, too. You see, she and I were always very close and felt that we could share our little secrets with each other. Well, only a few days before you were born, she died from being attacked by several hyenas at once. Although she was greatly outnumbered and her death was inevitable, she put up a hard a fight as she could before her strength and will entirely failed.

"Anyway, before she passed on, I asked her if she could teach me to sing her lullaby that I loved so much as a little cub. She glady agreed to, feeling so happy that her song would live on inside me...and later on, inside you. That's why I'm weeping, my son, because my heart is filled to bursting with emotions; sorrow because of the death of my mother, but also pride and joy, knowing that *I* too, am a mother now. She always used to say that I could never truly understand those true feelings until I had cubs of my own, and she was right. My only regret is that she couldn't have lived to see her beautiful little grandson, but maybe she can up in heaven..."

She then fell silent for a little while and seemed to stare into nothing at all, yet still continued to hug me close with those great big paws of hers. In that moment, I thought seriously about everything she had told me up to that point. Needless to say, I was very impressed by her frankness and honesty. I knew that not all mothers would be that descriptive, let alone show off their own yonis to their own sons. I guess that meant that she did *indeed* love me with such a fierce compassion, and I've always respected her for those qualities.

When she finally snapped out of her reverie, she looked at me and said, "And now you know how you were brought into the world. Always be proud of the fact that you were born under this very tree, and that I love you very much. But...."

Her speech just broke off like that, so I asked, "But what?" Then it occured to me that she was building up her courage to tell me the second part of her story. So, she *wasn't* so invincible to insecurity after all, I thought. "But," she said, "it takes just as much a father's love to conceive a life as it does a mother's. Remember how earlier in my story I told you that all life grows from seeds? Well, in animals this seed is in liquid form, and it is contained inside the bodies of the male of the species. Tell me, Simba, have you ever seen that grayish-pink, long and fat thing nestled between his hind legs before?"

Remembering how sometimes, when I'd be reclining on his belly while he slept, I'd see this "thing" often move about freely and growing bigger before my eyes, I said, "Yes. I have." She continued. "Well, located directly behind his....I like to call it his 'maleness'....is a pouch of skin that contains the very precious liquid seed of life. It's a mantle that he proudly carries, much the same way I feel about my womb and how it can make the seed grow into a new life."

When I comprehended this last fact, I said, "Mom, if what you say is true, that his seed is inside his body and your womb is inside yours, then how does his seed get inside of you if your bodies are seperate from each others?" I couldn't believe her reaction: she smiled broadly and said, "Son, you have *no* idea just how much that question means to me. Of course I'll tell you how, but first I want to share with you a little history about your father and me."

"We have known each other ever since we can remember. We did so many things together in our youth: we played so many games, explored many places, and confided in each other so many secrets. In those ways and many more, we were very best friends. And since we were almost inseperable, we watched each other grow up as well. We especially took notice of this change during the time when we were no longer cubs, but not yet full-grown adults. He saw me transform into a sleek, beautiful young lioness and I saw him evolve into a stronger, rather handsome lion. I also got to see his mane grow into the magnificent protuberance that it is today. As time went by, we realized that our friendship had reached the next level: love. And after his father's time came to an end, we reached an even higher status of love: marriage. Of course, we knew in advance that we were betrothed from birth, but we had no trouble acknowledging this, because deep inside our hearts, we knew we were made for each other."

"Now, after we had become the king and queen of Pride Rock, life was good. In spite of his inordinately busy duties, he always, and still does, makes sure that he spends some time alone with me. In return, whenever I was successful in my hunts, I always made sure that he and I got the 'lion's share'. As the months went by, we knew that sooner or later, we would eventually rise to the highest level of love shared between a husband and wife.

"And then one day, it happened. I can remember that it was very hot, which made us feel rather giddy and playful. We had finished eating an entire antelope that I killed by myself when suddenly, we had this overwhelming urge to start chasing each other across the savannah and engage in wrestling matches when one of us caught up with the other. It was as though we were young cubs again, with one noticable exception. In our youth, our strength was pretty much equal and the outcome could go either way. But on that day, Mufasa was the obvious winner as he pinned me down every time within only a few seconds. Now, as I've told you before, Simba, I pride myself upon being the strongest lioness of the pride; perhaps maybe the strongest queen that ever lived. However, for the first time in my life, I actually felt helpless and weak when he pinned me down under his great bulk, and strangely enough, I *loved* him for it! I especially loved the fact that he didn't patronize me or feel like he should show any mercy on my part just because I'm his wife.

"Anyway, when we finally grew tired and he had pinned me for the final time, we were lying under the cool shade of...guess what?...the very same tree that I would later give birth to you, and at this moment, tell you this story. We (your father and I) took the opportunity to catch our breath, and I whimpered playfully to him, confessing that his strength was much greater than mine. Then, as we smiled softly at each other, something very, very wonderful happened: our eyes sparked up with such a strong sense of arousal and the need to express ourselves in a loving manner that we began kissing and licking each others faces, all the while still embracing firmly together from our last bout. After a long time, we finally came up for air and I said sofly the words that every husband loves to hear his wife say: 'Take me now, Mufasa, for I am ready.' With those words, I told him that I wanted to reach the highest level of a relationship with him, and that is the pasttime of making love."

I spoke up and said, "Mom, what you say sounds rather nice, but I don't understand something. If you and Dad were already in love, why did you need to make more?"

"Because, Simba, the reason for making love is so that a husband and wife can create a brand-new life by engaging in close, physical contact. The start of this process begins much like I've already told you, with plenty of kissing, licking, cuddling and carressing. Then, we began to get bolder and without any shame or guilt, started to bathe each other all over, letting our tongues go wherever we pleased. You see, we firmly believe that my body and all of its sights, smells and tastes are just as much his to enjoy as they are mine, and vice versa with him. Now, what I am about to say might gross you out, but I want to assure you that what Mufasa did next to me *is* normal and I love it very much. When he finished bathing me, he focused all his attention on my yoni. He loves to tell me how beautiful it is as he licks, kisses, and even rubs his face up against it. Maybe one day, son, when you're married, you'll enjoy doing it to your own wife. Believe me, she'll love you for it.

"Well, when he had his fill of kissing my yoni, as if he was thanking it gratefully for what it was about to do, I brought on the last stage of our lovemaking. I got up off of him, walked a short distance ahead (still staying in the shade) and dropped down onto my belly. Then, with my heart beating furiously with anxious anticipation, I showed off my yoni, all engorged and tingling to his eyes, much the same way that I showed you a few moments ago. His response was just as I had hoped for: his maleness, which usually stays hidden inside a fleshy sheath of skin, began to grow longer and fatter, like the way it does when he has to pass water. But during these times, it's because he's so excited, knowing that I'm giving him permission to put it inside me."

I broke in at this point, thoroughly confused. "Wait a moment. 'Put it inside you'? What do you mean?"

"Keep listening, and you'll know soon. Upon the sight of my special place, along with my intoxicatingly coquettish smile, he smiled broadly back at me and walked slowly forward, savoring the moment. As he did so, his elongated, yet still flaccid maleness swung about proudly between his hind legs. But it's not so much the sight of that massive piece of flesh that makes me feel so happy; it's his incredible smile. In doing so, he tells me without a word that he likes what he sees. It assures me that I'm worthy of being such a giving wife. You see, by offering my yoni, it is my silent way of saying that I love him unconditionally and that only he has the right to penetrate my most secret place.

"When he finally reached me, he then climbed up on top of me, scissoring his powerful forelegs against my body and resting his broad chest upon my back. Now with the tip of his large maleness, now as hard as a rock, barely brushing up against my yoni lips, he whispered in his magnificent deep voice, 'Are you ready, Sarabi?' I answered back in the same quiet voice, 'Yes, Mufasa, I am ready. Take me now.' With that, he pushed his hips forward and, ever so gently, little by little, he inserted the full length of his maleness inside my yoni."

Upon getting a rather uncomfortable mental picture, her words made me cringe with shock as I said, "You mean Dad does that to you?!" She chuckled softly and smiled warmly at me. "Well, that's quite obvious, Simba. How else do you think you'd be here now to ask me that question if he didn't?" The next question I asked her was especially brave on my part: "Do you like it?" Now, if she was shocked at all by my brave inquiry, it barely showed more than just a slight shifting of her eyebrows. "Do I like it?", she repeated, and after a short pause she answered me with the same warm smile. "Yes...yes. I suppose you could say that...I love it. And your father loves it, too."

I said, "Well, I guess what I meant to ask was, 'Does it hurt?' I mean, it sounds like it's awfully painful, since your yoni seems so small compared to his long and hard maleness."

She said gently, "No, my son, it doesn't hurt at all. You see, my yoni actually runs much deeper into my body than it appears to, and at the end of it is my womb, which would soon receive plenty of his liquid seed, if you'll listen on. Anyway, he loves the feeling of such a smooth, tight yoni, and I in return was able to use my yoni muscles to rhythmically squeeze and caress his maleness in a very soothing massage." She broke off at this point and asked me, "Er, I'm not getting to graphic for you, am I?"
"Oh, no, of course not," I lied, "It's just that I'm still so amazed that something so big can fit inside something that looks so small."

"I know, son. I'm still surprised now, as I was then, that such a thing can be possible. I know that I might sound graphic and too intense for you, but that's only because I care about you enough to tell you the truth. It really *is* a beautiful, sacred thing, when two lovers' bodies join together in such a profound way. And just like during the time when he constantly pinned me down, I had no objection to being dominated. Remember, I WANTED him to mount me and I WANTED him to enter me, because damn it, I love him enough to make him feel special!

"Suddenly, your father's breathing became short and rapid and he began grunting as though he was in pain. But when I craned my neck around to check up on him, he was still smiling as broadly as ever! So I took it as a sign that he was getting awfully close to...Oh, I guess I should probably explain at the end of making love. When a male and female come to the end of this very precious, sacred act, they experience a very strong physical emotion known as 'jubilation'. It can be felt either consecutively or simultaneously between them, but it always feels good no matter who jubilates first.

"Anyway, he just kept on thrusting in and out until at last, he grunted as loudly as I've ever heard before as pushed his maleness as deep inside of me as it could possibly go. Then, with an incredibly ecstatic happiness, I felt his warm liquid seed rush out the tip of his quaking maleness and splash lovingly inside my belly; into my womb. Now usually I refrain myself from using profanity, but that splashing sensation just felt so damn good that I couldn't help but grunt joyfully along with him as my yoni muscles, now way beyond my control, tensed up in a final tight squeeze during my own jubilation."

"After we calmed down and got our breath back, he pulled his once again limp maleness out of my body, rolled over onto his back and motioned me to climb up on top of him. I did so, and then, just like I'm doing to you now, he wrapped his huge forepaws around me, hugging me close to his firmly muscled chest. I found it rather nice to see that although he's so incredibly strong, he can also be so wonderfully gentle when he holds me like that. As we basked in the afterglow of our lovemaking, we didn't even need to say a word; we simply nuzzled one another's faces for the longest time, throwing in a few kisses every now and then. Well, when he finally did speak up, he looked me right in the eyes and said, 'Thank you, my wife, my lover, my sweetest friend.' Those words alone already made me feel teary-eyed enough, but what he said next made me weep softly from pure joy, as he continued to hug and caress me. He said:

'Sarabi, don't ever that you are weak just because I pinned you down repeatedly this afternoon. In many ways, you are the strongest lioness of all in the Pride Lands. Your might, mixed with such speed and stealth can bring down the antelope, the zebra, and even the mighty wildebeest. My belly is full from the antelope that you hunted down for us, just like I made your belly full with my liquid seed as repayment for the way that you always take good care of me. Sarabi, when you bore your yoni to me, you proved that you unconditionally trust, respect and love me more than words could ever say. *That* is your strongest and most precious commodity, because your beauty has the strength to possess my mind and my heart completely.'

'And now that my seed has been sown within you, it will stay warm and be able to grow into a tiny little cub of our very own. True, it will be a challenge for us, but I believe you'll be the best mother that any cub could ever wish for.'

" 'And you,' I said, 'will be the best daddy that a future king or queen could ever have. And maybe one day, we shall tell it the story of how we conceived its life in the shade of this very special tree. After all, it's important that we teach him or her that there is nothing shameful at all about our making love, so that he/she can one day enjoy it with their future mate.'

"Then, and I couldn't believe it myself, he did something very, *very* uncharacteristic of his position: Mufasa, your father, my husband, the king of Pride Rock, actually wept softly along with me and he said in his gentlest, softest voice, 'I love you, Sarabi.' As for me, all I could say was, 'Oh, Mufasa,' before I let out a tremendously contented sigh as I snuggled my head up against his ample mane and slipped into a blissful slumber. But before the sleep overtook my body, I could still feel his soft tongue kissing my face over and over again as he continued to hug me close. And I swear that I felt his tail coiling itself around my own tail as well."

While she was telling me that part of her story, about my father's sweet words, her tears began to overflow her eyes and run down her cheeks again, but this time she was much more stoic and managed to keep talking in a clear, steady voice. I didn't blame her for feeling emotional because I was starting to feel a little lump forming in my throat myself. Well, after a long pause, she summed up her story in such a poignant, touching way that I swear I'll never forget it, not even till my dying day.

"That's the most important thing to me, Simba: when he bears his soul to me and isn't even afraid to cry in my presence; when he holds me so tight that I can feel our hearts beating together as one. It was in that moment that I received a very profound epiphany: even though I do indeed love it when he puts it inside me, and even though I did jubilate happily when he planted his fertile seed within me, I think that I'd rather be cuddled and have him tell me that he loves me than have another jubilation ever again.

"That's why we're an excellent couple, because he and I always take care of each other. I know that he would gladly give his life to save my own, and he knows I'd do the same for him. We tend to each other's wounds when we're injured, comfort one another in our times of sorrow, and we gladly give freely our souls and bodies to each other when we make love. But I believe the greatest shared moment of our lives came after we consummated our relationship, for when we held each other near afterwards, we experienced the deepest emotional bond of all: we cried together; not in grief but in the happy knowledge that we would soon be blessed with a cub all our own.

"And that, Simba, is how you came to be. True, it does make us feel a little weird sometimes to think that for all of us to be here now, all of our parents had to unite themselves in that way, but remeber, my son: a world without love is a world without life. It was love that brought your father and I together, it was our love that conceived you, and maybe one day when you have children of your own, our love will enspire you to tell them the very story that I've just shared with you. This way, all our love shall live on in you, your children, and *their* children, forever.....and ever....and ever." And with that, she drew me close to her tear-stained face and kissed my own face once, yet so slowly and tenderly, with her ever so gentle tounge.

I was so moved by the tenderness of her last words that I felt as if I had never loved her more, and all I could say was, "Thank you, Mom; that was beautiful..." I don't know how long we spent cuddling each other, with her soft, damp cheek pressed against mine, but soon my mother broke the silence and said, "Well, it's getting rather late. I think we'd better go home now." So I got up off of her chest and she in turn got back up on all fours. I was feeling pretty tired, so I asked her if she would carry me home on her back. She thought for a while and said with a smile, "Well, all right, just this once." So she dropped down onto her stomach again and allowed me to scamper up on top of her back.

As we traveled back to Pride Rock, I contemplated once again how truly loving and caring she *must* be towards me. I mean, the second part of her story was much more graphic and blatant than the first, but it was the way she emphasized the love shared between herself and my father that made me put up with, and even admire, her gentle blatancy.

When we got home and entered the Royal Cave, Dad was already asleep upon the great stone slab that only the king and queen (and their son, of course!) can use. I waited for my mother to take her place next to him before I squeezed myself in between them. That, to me, is the most exquisite way to sleep: to be sandwitched by the bodies of those who love you the most, feeling all warm and secure. After a short while, when she went to sleep herself, I got up and moved closer to their faces. Even though I knew that they couldn't hear me, I still spoke these grateful words to them: "Mom, Dad,...I love you both very, very much....and thank you....for giving me my life." Then, I kissed both of them goodnight before I nestled myself between the two of them again, feeling so lucky that I had them for my mother and father.

You know, even if they weren't the king and queen; even if they were just common members of the pride, I wouldn't love them any less, because they're my parents, who created me out of love. But most of all, in spite of my faults and the occasional times when I exasperated them, they still accepted me for who I am and kept on loving me, because I was their son.

Well, that is my story, and I'm glad to have shared it with you. But before I conclude, I'd like to tell you briefly about how I'm doing, now that my mother has passed away only a short time ago. As you probably know, I've been the king for about three years, and my dear, sweet Nala has borne to me three children of our own; two sons and a daughter. I feel truly blessed to have such a wonderful family. Mom was right: you can never know just how it feels to be a parent until you become one yourself. Now that I'm a father, just like my father before me, I feel that my Circle of Life is complete.

Just a few days after my mother died, a little miracle happened. I was sitting at the top of Pride Rock alone, looking up at the stars. I hoped to find some consolation from my father's spirit to ease my tremendous sorrow. To my surprise, as I gazed on in awe, a brand new star appeared slowly in the heavens to the immediate right of where I knew my father's star to be. Upon realizing what this meant, I began to weep with profound joy and happiness. After so many years apart, Mufasa and Sarabi, the greatest parents anyone could ever wish for, were finally together again in heaven.

And even though both are no longer with me here on earth, at least I know I still have their love, for it lives on inside my heart. I am the product of their love.

At this moment, as I recline under their very special tree and look up at their stars, I realize that my life would not have been the same without her. I know she is gone to me in the physical sense, but whenever I close my eyes, I can still see her standing before me with her kind, gentle face and her eyes full of love. I rest my head upon my forepaws, preparing myself for sleep. As I close my eyes again, I can feel my tears run warmly down my face, yet I smile ever so slightly as I think to myself,....

Thank you, mom, for creating me out of love.

Thank you for saying that my birth was the greatest day of your life.

Thank you for giving me your milk.

Thank you for giving me baths and for tickling my belly.

Thank you for your lullabies and for kissing me goodnight.

And above all else....

....thank you....for teaching me how to love....

....thank you....for everything.