Friday, January 19, 2018

Since You've Been Gone

This time of year is hard for me. I try to pretend it isn't. I hope for the year when it just comes and then goes and I look back and realize I forgot to be sad. But that year is not yet. Instead, I count the days until the day. I think about how one split second took me from eager anticipation to destruction. That moment where the what-might-be's turned into might-have-beens*. I wish I'd been doing something extraordinary, something I'd never do again, something that wouldn't forever remind me of the phone call. I wasn't. I was sitting on my bed, my laptop open on my legs. Exactly as I am now. Three years later.


God has blessed us so extravagantly in the years since. I never could have dreamed that I'd be loving my girl's biological brother, but here we are. I did somehow think that would soften the blow of grief but it did not, really. In many ways, it just makes me want her more. To be here with him. With all of us.

I guess time numbs the pain. The days fade into years and that is both comforting and devastating. I wonder of the time when her grave is bare and no one stops by to clean the dirt off and leave a toy or flower. I know that day will come--when we are all old and senile-- but it is not now. It is not yet. For now, her impact continues to shake us all. 

I think often of the 24 inch casket beneath the grass. I think of all that she would be by now. And on this day I relive it all. The crushing weight of sadness. The broken heart that I'm beginning to understand will never beat exactly right again. The feeling of her body in my arms just the one time. The flowers. The journey. The enduring love I have for a child I never saw with my own eyes.

This post, about her beautiful service, is one of my favorites. It reminds me of the outpouring of love we had and of the beautiful way my God said, "I am El Roi, the God who sees."


*Some Other Me from the Broadway musical If/Then by Tom Kitt

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Insurance

Recently, my son was asking me how insurance works. Specifically, he wanted to know exactly how big our life insurance policies are. So, I mean, I guess if we turn up dead in the near future, interrogate him for a hot minute. I explained life insurance and car insurance, homeowner's and renter's insurance. I even talked about how there are things like earthquake insurance if you live in, well, California. I don't know if that's a thing anywhere else.You know what I didn't educate my 5th grade son about? Domino's carryout insurance.


When I first saw the commercial a month or so ago, I was absolutely dumbfounded. Was this a problem people were having? It's not outside the realm of my imagination that a pizza would be dropped here or there, but enough to offer actual insurance on pies? 

Even more odd, to me, is the fact that it's only being offered for a limited time. I mean, if we all agree that pizza misfortune is a common problem (we don't, by the way, we don't agree to this at all) then why the limited time? 

Life insurance! Get it while you can! It's only good for a limited time. Car insurance for 2018 only. After that you're up a creek. Can you imagine? This is the most bizarre idea I've ever heard of, maybe.

"I'm not sure why sales are down, J. Patrick Doyle. I know we need a new gimmick to compete with all the other pizza takeout places. HOW ABOUT PIZZA INSURANCE? I mean, it works for Californians with their earthquakes. And, I mean, what if an ACTUAL EARTHQUAKE damaged a pizza? We should definitely reimburse them. For a limited time only, of course," Bob the Delivery Boy said.

"Great idea, Bob the Delivery Boy," J. Patrick Doyle responded. "Let's work up some commercials that won't make people laugh hysterically but will make them pause with confusion."

I can't see how this is going to increase traffic to Domino's. If I was deciding between two places, I'd go with proximity to my home and cost of the pizza. I wouldn't drive to Domino's because they offer crazy insurance. I do feel, however, that now that I've written about it and thoroughly expressed the fact that it is not needed, I'll drop my next pizza right on its face. And it won't be from Domino's.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

They Told Me There Would Be Tea

So. Usually I watch some TV on New Year's Eve. At least enough to see the ball drop. I've only thought minimally about my bucket list. Write a book. Visit every state. Go to Italy. Visit the Florida Keys. Spend New Year's Eve in Times Square. Basically, my bucket list is traveling.

I can't say why, exactly, I want to spend New Year's in Time Square. It looks miserable and freezing cold. I do not enjoy being miserable or freezing cold. I want to spend New Year's in Time Square the way people want to climb Everest. To say I did it. Not because I actually think the experience would be even slightly enjoyable. And Times Square seems a lot less strenuous than actually climbing Everest. And so, I turn the TV on and I watch the ball drop, thinking of a day when I can cross this particular challenge off my list.

This year, though, I never even turned the TV on. My middle son started vomiting again. He, at nearly nine, has never been known to throw up into a toilet. Or a trash can. Or, even, a bathtub. No. He just hurls his guts wherever he happens to be. It is as though he has no physical warning whatsoever. My oldest has been effectively throwing up into a toilet since he was three. Not Matthew though. He prefers the car. Or the staircase. Or, most recently, ALL OVER THE PANTRY. Let me explain that there is a trash can less than two feet away from the pantry. Still, my son decided to hurl all over two shelves and the floor of the place we keep our food. This resulted in Troy and me scrubbing our pantry on New Year's Eve. Meanwhile, Matthew threw up again. This time he got it into a bowl. But then he spilled the bowl all over the floor. You can't make this stuff up.

We cleaned barf. We cleaned the child. He was so very sad at the early end to his New Year's Eve when, at 10:00, we set up a bed for him in the bathroom, with a toilet directly to the right and a bowl directly to the left. I spent a little time with my sister-in-law, niece and nephew, who are visiting and then went to check on Matthew. He was fine but couldn't sleep because he was lonely and his New Year's Eve was cut tragically and unfairly short. The world was a mess, the year, a total loss. I told him I'd stay with him.

Eventually, he fell asleep and I went down to pour cider and holler, "Happy New Year!" And the whole entire point of this mess of vomit and Times Square drivel is that I completely missed the whole Mariah Carey Situation.

I did, however, catch up the next morning. Let me just say that the thing about Mariah Carey is you're never sure if she's trying to be funny and not quite getting there or if she's really and truly one of the biggest divas on the planet.

"They told me there would be tea. Oh. It's a disaster. Ok. Well, we'll just have to rough it. Imma be like everybody else with no hot tea."

There are so many gems there that I just want to thank Mariah Carey for giving me such amazing catch phrases as we move into 2018. I can hear the conversations now.

Troy: We're out of cereal.
Me: Oh. It's a disaster. Ok. Well, we'll just have to rough it.

Me: Can you change Will?
Troy: No hot tea.

I mean, I wonder where she thought this tea would be. She turns around to look for it behind her. This leads me to believe that it would have had to have been there BEFORE her first song. It was 8 degrees outside and it was reported that it felt like -6 with the wind chill. She sang for four minutes. #coldtea. Also, she is wearing only slightly more than nothing. She really looks like she's roughing it out there on the frontier, the way our ancestors did. It is as though, for a split second, she realized that she was a person just like everyone else who was standing on the streets of New York. An actual human, she is. Forced to sing another song and get paid a ridiculous amount of money before she could procure some tea for herself. Oh the great tragedy of it all.

Or, maybe she was just trying to be funny. I have no idea. I don't understand the lifestyle of the rich and famous.

I did, however, discover that Mariah Carey took the stage at roughly the same time Matthew spewed his guts all over my pantry. Twenty minutes later, when he was sitting on my bathroom floor, covered in his spilled bowl vomit, I went to him. His face was dripping with regurgitation. In my mind, though I never would have said anything like this to my sick child, I've rewritten the conversation between us.

Matthew: My life is over. The world is a terrible place. I am sick on New Year's Eve. I CAN'T EVEN at the injustice of it all.
Me: I'm sorry that you have to stay up here on the bathroom floor while the rest of us eat brownies and ice cream and watch movies and enjoy New Year's Eve. It's really a shame that you're throwing up again!
Matthew: (blinks) They told me there would be tea.


Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Merry Christmas

Last week was filled with vomit. Will's vomit, my vomit, Garrett's vomit, Matthew's vomit, more of Will's vomit. We all just dropped like flies. The older boys and I, however, recovered within a day while Will just went on being sick. He was sick on Monday and on Tuesday and Wednesday. He seemed better on Thursday but started throwing up again on Friday and into Saturday. On Saturday night, I ended up at the children's hospital with a dehydrated Will. While we were able to orally rehydrate him without the need of an IV, it was a little scary for me. I'm just really aware of how fast organs can start shutting down in little people. He ended up being just fine and I'm very grateful that we were home within a few hours. I know that isn't the case for the parents of super sick kiddos.

Still, Christmas kind of sneaked up on us after six days of the swirling puke virus. I stayed home on Sunday morning which was tough for me since it was Christmas Eve. I almost never, ever miss church and being home, instead of with my brothers and sisters always makes me sad. I was so glad to be with Will though, rehydrating him and celebrating every wet diaper.

That night, since he'd been puke free for more than 24 hours, I was able to take him to our candlelight service. This was good because I was singing, the older boys were part of a living nativity and Troy was, of course, busy being the pastor.


I'd post a picture of Garrett as Joseph and Matthew as a wise man but I don't want to put other people's children on my blog. When they weren't busy being dressed as biblical characters, my kids were looking dapper. Will was excited to finally be feeling better.


I'm not a huge fan of the snow. But I am a huge fan of the snow on Christmas. Several years that we've lived here have resulted in brown ground on Christmas day. It almost never snows on the actual holiday which was also true this year but what did happen was magical. The snow began to fall, in giant and beautiful flakes on Christmas Eve. The twinkling lights everywhere were made more beautiful by the white and wintery wonderland as it softly fell. It was so fantastic and, as I watched it drift silently down, I had the thought that I would remember those few moments, with my kids in Christmas jammies and our tree framed in the window, for the rest of my life. Garrett is so close to being a teenager. The age gap between him and his baby brother is big and real. I have only these few seconds where all my boys are children. I want to soak up their relative smallness as much as I possibly can.


Monday was late and lazy like our Christmases always are. We opened our stockings and then had breakfast. The boys played in the snow while I cleaned up and Troy shoveled the driveway. Then we rushed through Will's gifts because he was turning into a nap needing tiny toddler tyrant. After we laid him down, the rest of us quietly and calmly opened our gifts.


Garrett received twenty trillion books this year, much to his delight. He's a history and literature loving bookworm. 

Matthew loves science and math and was truly overjoyed to get a chemistry set from my brother and sister-in-law. He loved all his gifts but I think you can see how happy he was about this one.


And Will loved everything, especially toys that made noise and his Busy Board which Troy made him. It's full of gadgets and gizmos he can flip and twist and zip and turn.

 

Our day was lovely. We're so thankful to our Lord for entering into humanity as a tiny baby in the tiniest of towns, in the lowliest of places. And we're so thankful for our family. Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Barf Comes to the Toddler

On Monday night, my youngest boy projectile vomited all over me at church. I stood, immobile for far too long, contemplating where to even begin to begin. Stomach contents dripped from my jacket, ran down my legs, and were plastered to my shoes. The kid was worse. Two incredible women cleaned the floor while Troy and I worked on getting the kid into a clean outfit. We left as soon as we could.

He threw up in the car.

And then he threw up every ten minutes for a couple hours. Although, thankfully, those sessions were small amounts. Then he stretched it to every 30-40 minutes before finally calling it a night at 1:30 am. We thought his first round of the stomach flu was behind us. Troy stayed home with him yesterday and he seemed fine in the morning. Then he threw up twice and whined and cried and was generally miserable.

This morning, after sleeping for more than 13 hours, he woke up dehydrated and dry diapered. He guzzled Powerade and milk (I know. I know. I shouldn't have given him milk but HE WANTED IT and HE WAS THIRSTY and I felt like ogre telling him he couldn't have it.) and then he chucked it all over me and him making the score Barf: 2, Mom: 0. I spent my day force feeding him small amounts of liquid. He's been the saddest little lamb, alternating between sitting calmly and quietly in my arms and screaming non stop.

This afternoon, he watched ten minutes of a show (maybe a record for him), quietly looked at books, and played with Play-Doh. He was like a regular toddler. Nothing about Will is regular. He's go-go-go 100% of the time. (Also, he's way cuter than regular.) So, while I hope he can finally keep food in his belly soon and while I hope he doesn't become so dehydrated that he needs an IV, it has been nice to see that he can sit still for longer than two seconds. Even if it does take some kind of super flu to make it happen. To clarify, I do not want my child to have the super flu. I want him to be back to his old self as soon as possible. Like, right now.

It's been rough.

And as you all know, I vomit when someone in the the next town over has the barfs. There's little to no chance of me surviving toddler puke all over me, toddler lying on me, toddler stealing my water bottle and drinking from it, toddler trying to shove his cup into my mouth. It's almost inevitable that a few (or thirty) visits to the porcelain puke collector is bound to be a part of my future. True to this prediction, and despite the fact that I've washed my hands 12,000 times since Monday, my stomach started feeling pretty unhappy a couple of hours ago. I'm holding on to a small thread of hope that it's psychological and I can will myself not to get sick.

I'm also wondering if it can possibly make its way through my family before Monday. I'm guessing that's a mathematical impossibility. But we'll see. I really just don't want Santa bringing vomit to anyone for Christmas.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Girl in the Ground

My friend grieves. Not death, but we mourn for so much more. There doesn't need to be a body in a grave. I told her that I would beseech the Lord on her behalf, that I would pray the words she cannot find. Because I have been there. Because there was a season in my life where the only thing I could pray was, "Oh God!" In the numbness, in the stabbing heart pain, in the days and weeks where it felt like there wasn't enough oxygen in the air, beloveds lifted me up.

I started thinking about her then. Thinking about grief always makes me remember her. Really, she is with me almost always. In the sweet smile of a two year old running chubby legged through a store, she is there. In flower pink dresses hanging on a rack, she is there. In her name, every single time I hear it--which is always--she is there. Whenever I see those four letters together in print, she is there. That name, the one we'd chosen for a daughter nearly twelve years ago, is simultaneously a melody to my ears and a deadly dose of kryptonite.

Grief comes like a foamy swell I somehow wasn't expecting. My stomach sinks the way it does when you go up, up, up and over the peak of a wave, sliding down its backside. This agony does not exist from the pain of having loved and lost. It comes from never having been granted the privilege to have known at all.

I think of my girl in the ground. Spiritually, I know that she is the lucky one--to have shot straight to heaven like an arrow of light. But in this oft-wrecked mama heart, when I get to forgetting that this world is not our home, I imagine a life for her and there is sorrow that she missed it.

I have not yet been where she has gone. This world is all I know. And so, in the twinkling of Christmas lights on a tree filled with memories--she's missing this. In the wiggling of toes in warm, salty sand--she's missing this. In the sticky fingers of pancake morning--she's missing this. I think of how she will always be with me, getting older every year and missing all of it. Slumber parties and graduations, a wedding and the chance to have her own little girl one day. She's missing this.

And I'm missing her. 

A kindergartner came to my class. Tears streaked his face and I asked the reason. "I miss my sister," he mumbled through silent sobs.

"Where is she?" I asked.

"She's in Heaven," he wailed. When I could, I pulled him aside.

"When did she die?" I gently asked, pulling him in closer.

"For two days she lived, is all. She is seven now. I could never meet her, ever. And I miss her." He was destroyed, this boy who was born after his sister went to Jesus. With two dozen kindergartners staring at me, I fought back tears.

"My little girl went to Heaven. She's almost three. Maybe your sister is playing with my daughter. What do you think?" He wiped tears and nodded. We moved on. As much as one ever moves on from gutting grief.

I could never meet her, ever.

There is peace in knowing where she is. But there is anguish in knowing where she is not. It catches me, unguarded. It's in the mourning moments of others when I most remember every detail of my unraveling. There were minutes and hours when I tried to invent ways to follow the clock back to her beating heart. I failed. Eventually, the fifth stage of grief overtook.

Still, there are flashes in time where acceptance eludes me. I hear someone say her name--a common name, an unavoidable one--and I'm instantly dreaming of the life she might have had. Then, she is with me. Her soft, bouncy curls press against my face as she snuggles in close. Somehow, these many years later, I find it possible to exist, for a split second or two, in that very first stage of grief.

Denial.

For in those few seconds, I can pretend that my girl is not in the ground.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

18

Dear Boy,

I'm sorry that in honor of your one and a half years on planet Earth, you have managed to catch the creeping crud that has your dad and me both on amoxicillin. Me for a cold turned sinus infection and him for a cold turned ear infection like a common four-year-old. Here's to hoping your snot stays in your nose and doesn't venture to other places in your head. Meanwhile, I'm sorry for sticking that green bulb up there and sucking your brains snot out.

Today, when I picked you up from the nursery, the worker commented, "He's exhausting." It's not the first (or fiftieth) time I've heard this from someone. A little old lady who spent approximately five minutes observing you at a party recently expressed the same sentiment before asking, "Is he always THAT busy?" It was almost as though she thought she was making a never before expressed revelation.Yes. I am aware that you never stop moving. I live with it all day, every day.

You are busy. And you are some kind of mechanical baby genius who loves taking things apart to see how they work. It's not that you can't entertain yourself because you most certainly can. It's that your idea of entertaining yourself is to remove every DVD from the cabinet in record speed. No, no, Will. Or climb on the coffee table so you can flip the light on and off and back on again. No, no, Will. Or grab fistfuls of kitty litter and throw it all over the house. No, no, Will. Or climb on the chair and then the kitchen table to quickly destroy my centerpiece. No, no, Will. Yes, you can self entertain but it almost always involves a moderate to serious level of destruction.

It's a good thing you're cute!



And you are very, very cute. You've recently entered that very brief phase where someone crying (or fake crying) will cause you to run to them immediately. You hug. You gently rub their back. You cuddle. It's adorable. You've also started to make a smack sound when you give kisses. And, to further build my case for how cute you are, you also wave to everyone you pass, alternating hands and acting only half interested. Much like a celebrity in a parade. Your smile lights up whatever room you're in and sometimes I feel sorry for the other babies because your fun personality is as big as that smile. Which is to say that you have a larger than life personality. It might not be fair to all the other babies that you got the looks and the charms.

You don't say much yet but you're still well on your way to being a full fledged talker much sooner than your brothers. You can say, mama, dada, Garrett, Matt-Matt, dog, kitty, Tessie, tree, thank you, shoe, sock, food, fish, nana, and side (outside). There might be more but those are the ones I can think of off the top of my head.



Speaking of outside, there is no where you'd rather be. The tub is a close second. Evenings are still a bit of a witching hour for you, but if we take you outside or stick you in the bath, you are a happy dude. You also love to play with your brothers, throw balls, and dance. You adore Tessie. You're obsessed with microphones but only if they're turned on and capable of amplifying your voice. And right now, you're pretty impressed with the large tree that is set up in our house.

You are still so tiny but so mighty. And, in all honesty, I'm so thankful that you wiggle and move and are so smart and coordinated. If you can harness your incredibly strong will for good, you'll do great things. But first, you'll need to stop throwing food at every, single meal.

You are my very most favorite small person. I love you so much. I'm so grateful that you're here with me.

-Mama

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Santa Claus is Coming to Town

Let's just start off by saying that some of our holiday traditions are weird. Or, at least, counter to what we do or say for the rest of the year. Take Thanksgiving, for example. We teach not to waste, not to be a glutton, to think of how much we have compared to people in, say, third world countries. And then we gorge ourselves until we can barely move.

Halloween. We teach our kids not to take candy from or talk to strangers. And then we tell them to knock on doors and TAKE CANDY FROM STRANGERS.

Christmas. Don't talk to strangers. Certainly don't climb up on the lap of a strange man. "Hey, kids, come here and talk to this stranger. And get on his lap. And then ask him to break into your house at night. While we all sleep." We are a weird bunch of Americans, y'all.

Anyway, all that recognition aside, we do the Santa thing in our house. Not as a focal point. We most definitely teach the real meaning of Christmas. Santa is a fun bonus tradition for us. Of course the older two no longer believe in Santa. Thank goodness. I mean, I'm not judging kids who believe in Santa until they're ten, I just find it weird. I was six. My kids were both pretty young. Still, we've taken pictures with Santa every year.

Last year, Garrett DID NOT WANT TO VISIT SANTA. We forced him to because we wanted just one picture of our three boys with the bearded jolly gift giver. This year he begged us to let him abstain. Matthew also begged us to let him forego a visit with Santa. We begged him to please please please participate because Will is a hater of strange men and also facial hair. He obliged. He's a good egg like that.

YOU GUYS! We were ten feet away from Santa. He stood up, kindly said, "Hi kids!" and my youngest son managed to usher in the apocalypse all by his little 17 month old self. Still in my arms, he started violently shaking and sobbing. Not once did I even so much as attempt to put him on Santa's lap or give him to Santa in any way. And still, copious amounts of hysterics. 

There was not a single other child in line and Santa and his good little elves kindly tried to get my son to take JUST ONE GOOD PICTURE. Will was perfectly happy to take candy canes straight out of Santa's hands but he would not smile AT ALL. In the following picture, I am standing exactly 18 inches from Will and he is in the lap of his most beloved Matthew and still, he thinks he has been assigned the tragic fate of living the rest of his life at the North Pole in the sweat shop sometimes referred to as Santa's workshop.


"Why don't you get in the picture, Mom?" Santa suggested. Because Mom did not even do her hair before she left the house. She ran a comb through it and called it good. But oh alright. What's that, Will? If you eat a candy cane and sit in my lap you will at least stop whimpering? Ok. Deal.


That lasted all of ten seconds before he launched himself off my lap and watched from a safe distance while Matthew sat with Santa, dramatically said, "Look Will, I LOVE Santa," and hugged him.


And then. AND THEN. While I was paying for my gold plated pictures, the photographer caught this. Yes, my toddler DOES take candy from strangers. Great.


Seriously though. If you're looking for a very patient Santa and very kind "elves" you should head over to Valley Fair Mall. I can't vouch for them when it's crazy busy but today they were amazing. Santa even told me that my kids were the best behaved of the day. Since one of mine cried almost the entire time, I continue to be very afraid of the direction our society is going.

Matthew asked Santa for an air soft gun. Santa seemed surprised. I thought, at first, that he was silently judging me for letting my kid ask for a toy gun. The more I think about it though, the more I wonder if he was surprised that what my son asked for can be purchased for under $30. I'm guessing a lot of kids ask for an electronic version of the moon.

Oh well, who am I to judge? I tortured my kid with a bearded fat guy today.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Three Little Girls: an adoption story

I have this abstract, floating idea to one day write a book about adoption. Perhaps it would feature the voices of adoptees, birth families, and adoptive families. Perhaps something else entirely. The idea wiggles around my mind and I have a hard time pulling it into focus. But regardless of whether it ever takes shape, the inspiration that I had for adoption will always be the same. During this, National Adoption Month, I thought I would share the story of how three little girls influenced my own adoption journey.   

           It was the late 80’s. Our bangs were high, our socks were slouched, Debbie Gibson reminded us that our youth was electric, and New Kids on the Block taught us to hang tough. In our small, bedroom community, I was carving a childhood without a care in the world. Winters were mild and summers were sticky hot. From June until September, the boys on my street ran sweaty, bouncing from house to house, for hours. We spent long, lazy afternoons at the local pool, splashing with kids who’d trekked yards or miles to seek solace from the heat. Summer nights were often made of running through sprinklers, bouncing on trampolines, and the more than occasional sleepover.
            Maybe it was the community pool or maybe it was all the hours serving on the PTA at the only elementary school within an eight mile radius, but friendships were forged between mamas. Those relationships led to a network of kids bound together by chlorine, Otter Pops, and the nagging dread that a new school year was coming.
            Somehow, though I do not remember the details of my introduction to her, I became instant friends with a gangly girl one year my junior. I can only recall pieces of our early friendship; her hideously broken arm, achieved by falling off of a jungle gym at a backyard Vacation Bible School, her subsequent enormous cast that dwarfed her tiny body and her impressive side ponytail at my surprise 8th birthday party, her superior Barbie voice skills—especially when performing the role of Ken, and the fact that she was adopted.
            For whatever reason, I became obsessed with that last bit. Long after our parents had fallen asleep, as we laid giggling on the floor of one of our bedrooms, I would hear a nagging voice in my head, begging me to find out the details of her first life. I would try to hush the voice but, eventually, it became too much and I would blurt out some intruding question that felt innocent enough but probably sounded a lot like, “What happened to your real parents?” (Oh, how I hope not. Lord, let it not be so. I’m slowly dying inside at the mere thought that it may have come out like that.)
            She would tell me the stories. Of her parents. Of foster care. Of being adopted. And I would listen, riveted to her tale. I don’t think there was ever a conversation that ended because I was bored of the story. I think she spoke and I listened until, eventually, her narrative faded into the quiet rising and falling of our breath.
            My friend was the first adoptee I ever knew. Decades later, I would apologize to her for being so intrusive, for asking her, so frequently, to divulge every detail of her first handful of years, for wanting her to tell me deeply personal and, often, incredibly painful stories. I had felt, then, that I needed to whisper, that, perhaps, it was a secret. But I hadn’t realized the weight of what I was asking her to share with me and, as an adult, I felt guilty for how careless my curiosity may have seemed.
            She was quick to respond that I had nothing to apologize for, that talking about it was a release for her. So many years, and a great deal of maturity later, that was such a relief to me. To know that she had first kindled my passion for adoption, to know that I had served some purpose, however small, in her own journey gave me the sense that, in those early years, we had lived in perfect symbiosis. Me, presenting her with a space to share. Her, subsequently piquing my every interest in the complex odyssey of adoption.
            Nearly a handful of years later, my aunt and uncle announced that they would be bringing home a baby girl. I sat on my parents’ bed and listened to my mom chattering on the phone with my aunt. I didn’t know how infant adoption worked. I only knew that, when my mom hung up the phone, she announced that I was gaining a cousin. I welcomed that little girl with every excitement that a baby obsessed preteen could muster, which is to say that I wanted to hold her every waking moment of every day.
            Being so much older, I never grilled my cousin on how she felt about being adopted. In fact, I really never thought much about it. My aunt and uncle had a baby. And that was that. Except for one thing. In my cousin’s room was a photo album. The album contained pictures of her first family and photos of her birth. When I flipped through that book, I had this nagging thought that there was this whole other family that she belonged to.
            There was a woman who had chosen to place my cousin in another home. She gave her position to my aunt and handed over this tiny blessing wrapped in pink to be raised and loved and snuggled by someone else. And I was so grateful that she did it, that she chose life for my cousin and that she gave that life to our family. Adoption had brought me a friend and a cousin. Even though I knew the loss and had a limited understanding of the grief that would come from that, to me, it was only beautiful.
            To me, adoption was my cousin, toddling around with chestnut hair and big, wide eyes. It was my friend, now half grown, flailing wildly with me in a dance party gone bad and laughing until our sides ached. It was the little girl in an orphanage in Mexico.
            When I was in high school I went on a mission trip. Part of our time was spent at an orphanage. One day, as my peers ran through the yard playing games, I walked through the bedrooms--alone. I wondered what it would be like to grow up there, where the ratio of adults to children seemed like eleven million to one. As I walked through the maze of bedrooms, certain I was hopelessly lost, I heard a soft cry coming from several walls over. Quickly brushing through rooms of hand-me-down comforters and lone dressers--of which each child had one drawer to call his own, I searched for the soul belonging to that cry. The nearer I got the louder the cry became until I burst through a door and skidded to a halt when I saw her. She was sitting in the middle of the crib, fat tears dripping down her precious face, naked, except for the bulging diaper. She saw me and reached her hands to me. Inside, something yanked loose. The women had their hands completely full with all the other children. And me, well, my arms were holding nothing. My hands were completely free.
           In some ways, that one act of picking up that one child shaped me forever. I wiped her tears away and whispered to her in limited and broken Spanish. I tried English. She frowned. Hard.
           Her eyes were glued to my face almost constantly. I tried to get her to smile. But still, regardless of what I did, the frown. And then something happened and she giggled. The frown didn't reverse, it simply shook up and down as she laughed. I realized then that she wasn't frowning. She was smiling, upside down.
           Over the course of my time there, we became virtually inseparable. When it was time to leave, the lump in my throat felt like I'd swallowed a grapefruit. She clung to me and sobbed as they tried to take her away. I pulled her arms off of me and shoved her toward her caregiver. Then I spun on my heels and climbed on the bus. Looking out the window I saw her reaching her arms toward the vehicle, mouth open in a loud wail. I couldn't control the tears flowing down my face. It felt like someone had reached into my chest and squished my heart in his fist so that parts of it were sticking out between fingers while the rest thundered against palm. I couldn't breathe.
            In my tears I knew that I loved her.
            I knew then that I could love my own child, born not of my flesh but of my heart, instead. I knew that I could unconditionally love someone else's son or daughter. I knew that ethnicity and gender and circumstance didn't matter. I was in high school. I hadn't learned most of what I know now.
             I have loved her for many, many years now. Though we will never, ever, be reunited, separated as we are by cultures and miles and years, I am so thankful that she tugged on my heart in that crib. So thankful that, in her outstretched arms, I was granted the spirit of adoption.
            Adoption is sometimes a lot like an upside down smile. It is foster care and orphanages. It is first families making painful choices. It is grief and growth and learning to love in new ways. But it is beautiful. It is joy. It is recognizing that there is more love in the world than we can ever  know. It is a pilgrimage worth every mile. It is friendship and family. It reaches across blood and borders. It is, at times, disheveled and chaotic. But it promises to be the most beautiful of messes.

I am always and ever thankful to my Father in Heaven for imprinting me with a deep curiosity about adoption. I am also so grateful to Him for giving me a spouse with a desire to adopt. Finally, I am ever thankful for the mess of infertility. For even with the desire to adopt, had we easily conceived time and time again, I don't know that we would have been brave enough or bold enough or, perhaps, reckless enough to choose this life. And I am blessed, every day, because He built my family in this remarkable way. I've heard it said that when we get married, we are better capable of understanding the complexity of the love that Christ has for His church. When we have children, we have a wider comprehension of the way the Father cares for us. I would submit that when we adopt a child, we are given a deeper understanding of what it means when we are adopted into the family of God through the accepted gift of salvation. It's truly an experience like none other. If you would like more information on infant, foster, or international adoption, please feel free to contact me. I would love nothing more than to share ways that you can be involved in caring for little ones in need. I would also challenge you to pray and ask God if adoption is a part of His plan for your life. I've heard so many people say that they are not called to adopt. But I wonder if they have ever actually asked God what He would have them do. Sometimes, He has abundant blessing in store for us and all we need to do is ask what His plan is.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Sub for Santa

In the middle of National Adoption Month is World Adoption Day. According to their website www.worldadoptionday.org, "World Adoption Day is a day to celebrate family. World Adoption Day is a day to raise awareness for adoption. World Adoption Day is a day to raise funds to support families in their adoption. Ambassadors from all over the world are organizing events and parties, bringing together people from all walks of life to celebrate World Adoption Day. Join us as we create a day to celebrate the power and beauty of family brought together through adoption."

They ask supporters of adoption to put a smiley face on their hand and post a picture to social media. Of course, we participate in this.


Sometimes, though, I think it's easy to find yourself wondering what you can do. If you can't* afford adoption, you might ask how you can help. Since it's World Adoption Day, I thought I'd link here to an amazing opportunity. Perhaps you don't know how you would come up with $40,000 to adopt a child, but do you have $100? If so, you can sponsor a child in foster care for this holiday season. I was told by a former foster kid that Christmas is everything to a foster child. In the middle of all the chaos and turmoil these children are experiencing, we can help bring them joy on Christmas morning. Please consider responding to the information listed below. You can make a cash donation or choose a child to sponsor. There are still several hundred children waiting to be chosen.

I posted about this on Facebook and my friends and family responded. Together, we're sponsoring 5 children. Stand with us for adoption, for foster care, for orphan care. Stand and donate to a child in need. Click here https://www.adoptex.org/get-involved/donate/subforsanta/ 



*Time and time and time again, I have seen the Lord provide in incredible ways for those who faithfully answer His call to adopt. We couldn't afford it either. And yet we did it. More than once. Because He was so very faithful to us and He used so many people to help us bring our babies home.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

This is Us and this is National Adoption Month

My blog could easily go from being a place where poignant or funny or, at least, moderately interesting things used to be written to a place where I discuss episodes of This is Us on a weekly basis. Except they wouldn't be discussions that most people would want to read because I'd be all, There's a girl named Kate and a guy named Kevin but let's not talk about them. Let's talk about Randall and Rebecca all the time! All the time.

Because listen, I do not generally identify with Kate or Kevin. There was an episode a few weeks ago where Kate got into it with Rebecca. Kate is a year older than me. I should take her side. But I wanted to slap her across the face and tell her she was a horrible person and APOLOGIZE TO YOUR MOTHER RIGHT NOW, KATE.

Then, there I was, talking about the episode with friends and one of them just gets Kate. She explained that she identifies with Kate's struggle and how authentic the show is in regard to her feelings. It didn't make me want to slap Kate any less but it made me so happy to know that they're getting Kate just as right as they're getting Rebecca. And, let's face it, the country isn't tuning in just to watch this transracial adoption storyline unfold. Some people are tuning in for that. Some are watching for Kate.

I've mentioned before that this show makes me cry but not every week. Goodness, I'm a statue. Or I used to be. I don't know, strange things make me cry unexpectedly sometimes now. But, anyway, last night's episode really got me there at the end.

It's National Adoption Month. And I know, everything single thing, every single cause, every single issue has its own month to be celebrated these days. That's okay. Because if we listen to the passionate voices on certain issues, we just might learn something. Those of us who are the passionate voices, certainly have a lot left to learn.

I watch This is Us because I find so much of myself in Rebecca and because I find so much of Matthew in Randall. I watch because Randall grows up and Rebecca gets old and I'm not there yet. I'm not to the "being a white parent of a grown black man" stage of my life quite yet. But I will be. I am so hoping that the show is getting it right about adult Randall and Grandma Rebecca and that I can learn something now that helps me then. Goodness knows its getting it right about ten year old Randall and his mom. Sometimes, it gets it so right that I'm looking around my house for signs that the screenwriters have bugged the place.

Last night, when ten-year-old Randall couldn't deviate from his Halloween plan because THE WORLD MIGHT JUST END. Matthew. The things he can control, he simply must control, and if that control is taken away, he may just explode. And if he grew up to be as amazing as adult Randall that would be pretty okay with me but I'd rather he grow up to be a little less rigid and a little less nervous breakdowny.

When the show gets the dialogue so perfectly right, I just want to celebrate. Or cry. Or both. Because, thank you, Hollywood, for doing this.

Rebecca: You're not instead of anything. You are the way it was always supposed to be.

When there's infertility playing in to the story, I think it's easy for children to feel like they are Plan B. I can see Matthew feeling that way someday, feeling like we couldn't have another biological child and so we had him. I can certainly see Will believing that we only adopted him because we'd lost his sister. Of course, neither of those things are true. They are not instead of something else. They are the children that were always supposed to be a part of this family, since before the dawn of time.

Randall: What was his name?
Rebecca: Kyle.
Randall: Kyle probably looked like you and daddy. And them. Nobody looks like me.
Rebecca: I know.

These are real conversations that real adoptive families have. Add a biological child into the mix and it's maybe even more difficult. My oldest son is my mini me. Matthew and Will are not. I've never once had someone tell me that either of them look exactly like me. The tendency is to find things that are similar and that, in its time, is good. Matthew, Will, and I all have brown eyes. So we talk about that. But sometimes it's okay to just acknowledge that we don't look alike.

As I said before, though, it was the ending that grabbed me and made those tears spring out of my eyes.

Rebecca: (talking to baby Randall) Hi, little boy. I'm sorry it took me so long to get over here. I was really nervous to meet you. See, I talked to my other babies over there the whole time they were inside of me. But you weren't there so I wanted to come and introduce myself and say hello and let you hear my voice...Oh. I forgot to introduce myself. I'm your mom.

I felt this exact way with Matthew. He was hers and then he was mine but I didn't know him the way I'd known Garrett. And so I struggled to feel like he was really and truly mine. And then I felt guilty for not feeling the exact same way I'd felt with Garrett. I was so worried that I wasn't feeling things the right way. Now, of course, I feel sad that I ever wondered if I was loving him the right way. I was just loving him a different way. A way made through adoption. I credit Matthew completely for the fact that I didn't struggle with this when Will was born. I had already had seven years of loving an adopted child. I knew all the joy before me when Will was born because Matthew had taught me.

And then, lastly, there was this gem.

Older Rebecca: (talking to her baby granddaughter) And we lost a baby and we thought it was an ending but it was also a beginning.

Just today, as I was snuggling Will before his nap, I whispered to him, "Do you know how many things had to happen so that you would be here in our family? Do you know how God worked to change my heart in so many ways? Because He always knew it was supposed to be you."

I'll keep talking about this show for as long as it keeps getting adoption right. And I'll keep talking about adoption because it is one of my most favorite things in the whole entire world. Happy National Adoption Month!

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Gotcha

I hate the term Gotcha Day.

In adoption circles, Gotcha Day is used as the term for the day you meet the child you've been waiting for. Having adopted both of my children from infancy, it's not really a word I've much had to deal with in my own life. However, there are plenty of people who refer to the official court hearing for finalization as Gotcha Day. Adoption agencies, parents, lawyers, social workers, etc, use this phrase. And I really, really, really, really, really, really hate it. The kind of hatred that when I see it I shutter inside and want to scroll past whatever I'm looking at as fast as possible.

I mean, if you use it, you'll keep on doing it and that's fine. If your children really just think this is a fantastic term, then, "yay!" I guess. I'm certainly glad they like it. And, really, if you disagree, I would love to hear your positive spin on this phrase.

But, dude. Just think for a second about what other ways you use the word gotcha.

A rousing game of tag in which the person you are chasing DOES NOT WANT TO BE CAUGHT. You run just a hair faster than he does. He stumbles over a tuft of grass. You reach out your hand and with the tips of your fingers, swipe his back. "Gotcha!"

A hairy spider meanders quickly over the carpet toward you. His one intent, probably, is to devour you, piece by teeny, tiny piece. You jump up, stamp your shoe clad foot on top of his unsuspecting body, twist your toes to make sure he's good and dead and, with the tone of an evil murderer, mutter, "Gotcha."

You crouch quietly behind a door in the dark. You hear your unsuspecting victim coming up the stairs. Suddenly, you leap from your hiding place and scream, "Boo!" The victim squeals. She jumps a mile. You dissolve into hysterics. "Gotcha!" you laugh.

Someone is hanging off the edge of the cliff and you reach down. You take his arm in your two hands and hoist him back up to safety. You've saved his life. Without you, where would he be?

Gotcha is some slang term we use when we acquire something. It implies a forceful grabbing and I imagine Gollum snatching the ring and stroking it, greedily. (Look at me referencing LOTR in an adoption blog. My husband will be so proud.) It focuses on the parents' joy but turns the child into some kind of commodity, a thing to possess. Also, for every action, there is an equal opposite reaction. What should birth parents call these days? And for the child who is losing all she's ever known, is this a Lostya Day?

Gotcha Day implies that we've saved these children. Or that we've obtained them. It implies that we did something in our own power to snag them. When, really, it's God who allowed us the privilege of having them in our presence.

And you have to know that even if I agreed with the definition of the word being used for adoption, I'd hate the slang in the way that I hate it when mini marts are called KwickyStoppe. Why not call it what it is? Adoption Day. It's only one extra syllable.

What do you think? Am I wrong?

Friday, October 13, 2017

#tellyourstory

My friend, Kristin, and I were talking the other night about how deeply disturbed we are regarding Harvey Weinstein and the sheer depth and breadth of his hideous, nightmarish behavior. We need to tell our stories. We need to put faces and names to sexual harassment and assault.

This is my story.

"PASADENA--Police arrested a motel employee Wednesday after he allegedly groped two women during a breakfast buffet. 

Jose Martinez, 35, was booked on suspicion of misdemeanor sexual battery, Pasadena police Sgt. John Luna said.

Martinez was working about 9 a.m. at a motel in the 1200 block of East Colorado Blvd. when the incident occurred, the sergeant said.

He groped the lower bodies of two 29-year-old women, above their clothes, Luna said.

After his arrest, Martinez confessed to the groping, police said."

I wrote about this at the time. And, in truth, at the time, I was pretty disturbed by what had happened. However, when I wrote the story, I added in humor in some sort of attempt to make light of the situation. It's what I do. I make jokes to break the tension in my own life. It was minor, but it was NOT OKAY and it was NOT FUNNY.

In 2011, two of my friends and I spent a couple of days in Pasadena. On the first morning, I stood at the counter of the continental breakfast, waiting to make a waffle.

A male employee was going in and out of the room checking on things. He walked past me and groped my butt. My brain began to process what had just happened. Could it have been an accident? Was there any way that someone could accidentally grope a butt for that long? Was there anyway that someone could have mistakenly done something so overtly sexual? I walked up to my friend. "Maybe it was an accident but I think..."

We quickly realized that he'd done the same thing to both of us.

As I waited for my waffle to be done, I kept my butt firmly planted against the counter. When the waffle was finished, I turned to remove it from the iron. I saw him coming out of the corner of my eye. It was as though he'd been waiting for me to turn around. I saw him reach out and I felt the same unfamiliar hand inappropriately touching me in the middle of a breakfast buffet. I tensed. My nerves buzzed. At this point, I was pretty shaken. The first time I was disturbed but confused. The second time left absolutely no room for confusion.

I went to my table and told my friends, "It happened again." My arm was shaking and unsteady. Setting my waffle down, I hit the cup of hot chocolate I'd already made. It flew up in the air, sailed forward, and dumped down the front of my white pants. Embarrassed and emotional, I blurted out, "That's how worked up I am about all this." A man asked if I was burned and began to help clean up the mess. The man who had touched me, whose name I later learned was Alfredo or Jose (the news article called him Jose. The court documents call him Alfredo), came immediately over to our table.

I assured everyone that I was alright and I backed up into a corner to protect my butt from further touching. As everyone else tried to clean up the mess, I stood, frozen, against the wall. Jose/Alfredo asked me, repeatedly, if I was okay. I largely ignored him and then left to change my clothes.

I headed up to my room but, in my state of shock or panic or whatever it was, I wasn't sure which room was ours. I went back down to my friends, still covered in chocolate and asked them. As I got back into the elevator, I saw Jose/Alfredo coming toward me. I frantically pushed the button to close the elevator doors but he darted in just as the door was closing. I was 29. I should have screamed. I should have tried to jump out. I should have done something other than stand there, frozen. But I did not. I could not. I stared at the ground. His shoes were covered in paint.

I thought he was going to rape me.

The touching had been unwelcome, unexpected, unwanted, and completely inappropriate. But the elevator ride, the myriad of terrifying thoughts I had in those few seconds, was horrible.

"Are you okay?" he asked me.

"I'm fine," I said as firmly and unmoved as I could. Make yourself seem fierce. Make yourself seem bigger and braver. I squared my shoulders.

"Are you sure?" he asked.

"Yes! I am sure," I exclaimed. I should have slapped him across his face and told him never to touch me again. I should have, at the very least, told him that I was covered in hot chocolate because of him. I did not. I could not. All I could think was that he would stop the elevator between floors and hurt me. Or that he would wait until I was in my room and use some master key to force his way in.

He asked me my name. I have no idea why I told him. I should have said it was none of his business. I should have, at the very least, given him a fake name.

He repeated it, smiling. The door opened and I dashed out. Then I stopped abruptly, terrified that he was going to follow me. Thankfully, he went right and I needed to go left. I changed my clothes as quickly as I could and dashed back down to my friends.

"He followed me onto the elevator," I told them.

We all went back up to our room to decide what to do. We talked about our options. We knew we wouldn't stay a second night. We didn't feel safe there. Ultimately, we decided to call my dad, who is in law enforcement.

I think I somehow believed that it wasn't a big deal. Because society feeds us this lie that it's not a big deal. Because Harvey Weinstein can get away with rape and lewd and lascivious conduct for decades. Because it was only my butt. Because he hadn't assaulted me on that elevator. Because he didn't force himself into my room. The truth is that, yes, it was my clothed butt. A whole lot worse has happened to a whole lot more people. Thank goodness for my father. He knows the penal codes and he told me to call the police immediately.

In California, penal code 243.4(e) Any person who touches an intimate part of another person, if the touching is against the will of the person touched, and is for the specific purpose of sexual arousal, sexual gratification, or sexual abuse, is guilty of misdemeanor sexual battery. As used in this subdivision, "touches" means physical contact with another person, whether accomplished directly, through the clothing of the person committing the offense, or through the clothing of the victim. "Intimate part" means the sexual organ, anus, groin, or buttocks of any person, and the breast of a female.

When the officer arrived, he was so kind and caring. He said that what we described was minor sexual assault. I do not bring up the fact that he said "minor" to in any way imply that he made light of the situation. Rather, to hear an on duty officer who wasn't my father describe the incident as assault was simultaneously overwhelming and relieving. He gave us the option of pressing charges. At that point, wanting to be free of the situation, we opted for a stern tongue lashing by officers in uniform. Ultimately, we just didn't want this to keep happening to other women. We watched the scene unfold from our window. More cops showed up and, suddenly, Jose/Alfredo was being cuffed. We found out later that the officer had pulled surveillance video from the buffet. He said that what he saw was so obvious and so predatory in nature that an arrest must be made. One of the officers who had arrived on the scene, a female, commended us for calling. She said that all too often, these things go unreported. She said we did everything right.

I credit my dad. When I would have otherwise been way too afraid to speak up, way too worried about confrontation, way too embarrassed or timid, he gave me courage. I never saw the tape. I only felt what I felt. But, later, the district attorney was very disturbed by the footage she saw. She wanted a punishment more severe than we ever would have thought in those first few minutes.

It was only my butt. But it was unsolicited and wildly inappropriate. I stood with my back against things for a long while after. I became much more aware of my surroundings. The fear that he was going to rape me, the thought that I would be powerless to stop it if he tried, those feelings stayed with me for a long time. Still, I sometimes feel uneasy when I'm on an elevator alone with another man.

People are wondering why these young Hollywood women didn't speak out at the time. There were two of us. We were 29 year old wives and mothers and we didn't exactly know what to do or say. He was a motel employee. To expect young and terrified women to have stood up to a Hollywood mogul when they think that they're the only one is unrealistic.

We must first create an environment where women (and men) are not afraid that speaking up and speaking out won't make things worse. Until then, individuals in positions of power will continue to get away with horrible atrocities. Perhaps, in order to create such an environment, more people need to tell their stories. Perhaps then, the world would be forced to listen.

#tellyourstory

Think what you want of Megyn Kelly but this is a good and short watch. And then, if you're feeling like getting worked up, read the comments. So many of them blame the women. So many. What can we do to change this narrative?





If you hate Megyn Kelly, watch Anderson Cooper instead.



The link to the article about our encounter can be found here.


Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Memories That Mean Something

As has been well documented in this particular space, I'm not a crier. I almost never just sit down and have a good cry simply for the sake of crying. If people are around--forget about it. As I've said before, if you've seen me cry, you're in a rather elite group of people. Even my current television obsession, This Is Us, doesn't make my eyes spring a leak in quite the same way that it makes the rest of the world. I love it, don't get me wrong. It's perfect and poignant and almost always spot on, but I've only choked up a handful of times.

Last night's episode did me in. I mean, I can't even talk about Randall's character without losing it. "My whole childhood, I felt split inside." And then teen Randall, "It's like a ringing in my ears and, uh, it quiets down sometimes. It can quiet down so much I almost forget it's there, but then, there are sometimes where it's so loud, I just feel alone." I was basically a wreck thinking about my boys.

But that's not even what I want to talk about. I want to talk about Sylvester Stallone.

"So it's a funny thing, when you think about it, time. Your sister sings a couple of bars of Rocky and for a split second I can smell the ring again. And then she tells me that when you were little kids, you watched a lot of my movies, and I'm thinking for a moment about my kids when they were little. The messy hair. The matching pajamas and all that stuff. And I swear to you I can see it all so very clearly I could just reach out and touch it. In my experience, Kevin, there's no such thing as a long time ago. There's only memories that mean something and memories that don't."

I thought about Kate. Which is weird. Because I don't really have any memories of Kate. I never saw her running down the stairs in her pajamas to see what Santa had left under the tree. I never heard her voice or danced with her or snuggled her into bed. I never saw her kick a ball, climb a tree, or twirl in a frilly dress. My memories of her are mostly painful.

But even those excruciating memories mean something. I see it all so clearly I could just reach out and touch it. Her tiny body in my arms feels like yesterday. The way I could feel every nerve buzzing when I heard that she was gone forever. The sound of my own heartbeat banging loudly in my ears. Trying to get off the phone because I thought I was going to die, right then, and I needed to do it alone.

I visit her grave and sometimes I say hello to a soul that isn't there, wipe the dirt off her name, and get back in the car. And sometimes I want, inexplicably, to dig her up, cradle her once again, and breathe life into her dry bones.

My friend recently lost a baby to stillbirth. She asked me if I would share some of the things we did to honor Kate. In the course of our conversation, I said, "Thank you for asking me. I don't pretend to know what it is like to give birth to a stillborn baby and I really appreciate that you just look at me as a mom who lost a baby. Not a lady who got too attached to a kid she never carried."

She replied and said, "I think of you as a mom of a stillborn. Not like that's your label. But it's part of your story."

And really, it meant the world to me to have her say that. In her own fresh grief, she accepted my long time ago sorrow. That's not an easy thing to do.

It's in the ebb and flow of grief that we learn to live. Like a surfer waiting for the next wave. Life is calm and serene and full but we know that the pulse of the ocean will bring another swell. On a birthday. When someone else experiences unfathomable loss. When Sylvester Stallone says that there is no such thing as a long time ago.

It was three years ago that I first heard about this birth mother who was pregnant with this baby. To some, three years is a long time. In those years I have loved and lost and loved again.


I cannot tell Will's story without telling Kate's. Two hearts. One birth mom. Sister. Brother. And a mama who isn't sure that there will ever be a day where grief doesn't surprise her in the strangest of places. My hair is tucked behind my ear the same way. My face, somehow, looks the same even though the circumstances could not have been more different. Devastation somehow filled with hope that the Lord would fulfill the promise He placed in my heart. Joy filled with sadness that he would never know the sister who first stole my heart. These are memories that mean something.


It's a funny thing, when you think about it time.
Your sister sings a couple of bars of Rocky, and for a split second I can smell the ring again.
And then she tells me that when you were little kids, you watched a lot of my movies, and I'm thinking for a moment about my kids, when they were little the messy hair, the matching pajamas and all that stuff and I swear to you, I can see it all so very clearly I could just reach out touch it.
In my experience, Kevin, there's no such a thing as "a long time ago.
" There's only memories that mean something and memories that don't.

Read more: https://www.springfieldspringfield.co.uk/view_episode_scripts.php?tv-show=this-is-us-2016&episode=s02e03

Thursday, September 28, 2017

The Pygmy Antelope

I have an eleven year old. I used to blog about him here, when he was little and said hysterical things. I remember his chubby baby hands and his adorable baby voice. Daddy went to work and, for a minute there, it was just him and me all day long. I didn't work outside the home. There weren't any other kids until he was two and a half. I don't remember how we filled the days but there must have been a great deal of playing and reading. He took a nap or, at least, a rest, every day and I blogged a lot about life back then.

More children came. Preschool started. Then he went to kindergarten and first grade and second grade and third grade and fourth grade. Life barreled along with soccer, swimming lessons, homework, kid's club, scouts, and so many other things. I blogged less and less until it seemed the old fishbowl was just a thing I used to do.

But this first born of mine is pretty fantastic. He's always been one of my most favorite people on planet earth. He's an average kid in so many ways. Pretty average at sports, he makes up in heart what he often lacks in physical ability. A good student, but he's not a card holding member of the Genius Club. I doubt he'll graduate valedictorian or get a sport's scholarship to college. He's a loud mouth with more ego strength in his index finger than some people get in a lifetime. We're constantly telling ourselves that if we can harness all that confidence for good, he'll make a fine young man some day.

He's playing football right now. He plays down an age group because he's a miniature human. Even playing with ten-year-olds, he's one of the smallest. Even playing with ten-year-olds he made the B team. He didn't care. He shrugged off the disappointment, assuming he's right where he's supposed to be. He has a work ethic that won't quit, the heart of a lion in the body of a pygmy antelope.


He is small but he has all the confidence in the world. He made student council--a position he had to interview for. Last night, he earned his Tenderfoot rank--which required a Board of Review that he had to request himself. He's soaring so high above grade level in reading. He carries on conversations with adult strangers and experiences zero anxiety. He chooses to be a leader. The school librarian recently told me, "He is so kind. I do not know him very well, but I know that he is kind." 

He has befriended a student who struggles socially, sitting somewhere on the autism spectrum. This boy adores my son and is doing really well having Garrett beside him. In my drama class, I often ask the students to pair up. The other boy instantly stands next to my son. Perhaps Garrett would like, from time to time, to be paired up with someone else. But when asked, he shrugs his shoulders. "It's okay, Mom," he tells me. "He's comfortable with me and I don't want to leave any man behind."

He wants to be in the military when he grows up. Many mamas try to steer their precious boys away from such a career. But my son, at 11, doesn't want to leave any man behind. I can't imagine a better man to stand by on the field of battle. And I have all the confidence that he would run into enemy fire to drag a brother out of harm's way. 

He is average in so many ways. But he is also amazing. And as I think back 12 years, to a time when I was begging and pleading with my Lord for the gift of a child, I have to smile because this precious child is worth every second of the wait.