Sunday, January 25, 2015

Expressing Gratitude

My husband, Tom, has known me since before I was pregnant.  We met in our late teens, working together at a small roadside cafĂ©.  He was a short order cook and I a waitress.  We hit it off immediately.  

Our friendship is one of the brightest spots of my youth, with specific moments of happiness I cherish to this day.  We could talk on the phone for hours at a time and, I admit, there were many nights I hardly slept during those years.  What we talked about is not important, it’s how I felt: appreciated, respected, and valued; smart and worthy of love.  We went to campus theater productions and concerts together and we played guitar with his dad in the basement of his split level.  We were the best of friends, with that sprinkle of chemistry that still gives me butterflies to this day.  This all continued until his girlfriend said “Enough!” and with good reason.

When we talk about it now, we are so grateful we were parted from each other.  If we had tried to make a go of being a couple we would have likely self-destructed.  Instead, he went off to college.

A couple years later he came home for the holidays and happened to run into me at the mall.   I was eight months pregnant, alone and lonely.   I remember he came over to my house, and sat with me.  Actually sat with me and held me on the couch, cradling me in his arms while I leaned into him, his hands on my belly.  Many years later, when meeting my son for the first time, he asked me if Tom was his father.  I told him no, but that he was the only person to truly share, even if for a brief time, in my life during that time.  And he was the only person to truly feel you in my tummy.

Today, I can’t imagine my life without him, and I need to say thank you. 

Thank you to the man who always encouraged me to pursue a relationship with my son, who shared my hopes and dreams for our future, who grieves for my loss, and recognizes it as his own.  Thank you to my best friend, who has shared this journey with me, from that day on the couch to celebrating his 7th birthday in Taxco, Mexico to standing next to me at his graveside.  Thank you for holding my hand, wiping my tears, and guiding me through this process with gentle strength and kindness.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Me & My Crazy

I continue to find that the grief I am experiencing since he died is so similar to the grief of placing him for adoption.

I have spent a lot of time the past 25 years wondering what might have been and grieving for what would never be, and although that hasn’t changed, it’s different. Now when I wonder what it might have been like to parent, instead of shutting myself down because it’s too painful I’ve given myself permission to really consider it, and I’ve learned a painful new truth: I could have done it. Really, I could have, and we likely would have been okay. In the end, no matter what life would have thrown at us, I would have loved him and he would have loved me. And never, ever, not once, while he lived could I admit this to myself. I never could say that love was enough because there was no way I could have gone on if I had. And, consequently, this brings with it its own set of ramifications. I’ve only just begun to delve into this new phase. I don’t really like it.

There literally are moments when I think he’s still here, that it’s just the same old pain, the same crazy I’ve always felt, and then I remember it’s more than that. More.

So, there is an upside to all of this.  Hard to imagine, but true. His adoption made me realize how resilient I am. How time and time again I can come back from the edge. That edge where I can’t breathe. Where the hole in my chest feels like it will envelop me and I will disappear. Where crazy seems acceptable and even desirable. I have an intimate knowledge of what it’s like to be at the edge/on the edge and sometimes I actually enjoy being there, but I know how to turn away from it too; I know how to come back.

I think about his father, his real father, the man he grew up with. I think about him a lot.  And my heart just aches for him. I wonder how he is going to get through this. Because I believe I have an advantage. I believe that having lost him once in some ways makes it easier the second time. And I am actually grateful at times, and how crazy is that?