Monday, June 30, 2014

All of Me

I am not a huge John Legend fan, but every time I hear this song, I find myself turning it up.

'Cause all of me
Loves all of you
Love your curves and all your edges
All your perfect imperfections
Give your all to me
I'll give my all to you
You're my end and my beginning
Even when I lose I'm winning
'Cause I give you all of me
And you give me all of you 

Well I have lots of curves and edges and perfect imperfections, and yet I am fairly certain this song is not about me!  The difference is that I am not super proud of all my curves and edges!

I have battled my weight for as long as I can remember.  Diet after diet, fad after fad.  Each time I think I have a grasp on it, I realize I do not.  Doctors and health coaches and group meetings and online support groups and therapy sessions....I could go on.

In my 20's, I wanted to be thin.  In the30's, I wanted to be lean.  Now I just want to be healthy.  (Although I would take thin, please don't misunderstand!).  But I want to be healthy first.  I want to be able to keep up with my daughter.  I want to be here to watch her grow.  I do not want to pass my food issues on to her.  That has to stop with me.

I can tell by the way she looks at me, that she thinks I am beautiful and I love that.  She does not know from fat or thin.  I can tell by the way her dad looks at me that he feels the same way - and he does know.  The lesson here is that it's not how others see me - it's how I see me.

I am in negotiations now for my part time job which is supposed to start next week.  I think we are close - just ironing out a few details.  I think I come off as strong and assertive but I want to make sure I do not come off as aggressive or  needy.  I need to feel the comfort from within and then I know that I will be perceived the way I truly am - and if I am not, that is not my problem, really.

I want to raise Miranda to be strong and compassionate and fierce - and I think I am.  She has great role models and examples.  I did, too, and yet I still struggle.  Maybe that is just human nature.

It's crazy to me how much of what I do impacts her.  How much of what I am might one day impact her.  I love being that responsible for another life but I also love that she has a mind and will of her own and will pretty much be who she is going to be with or without me.  I hope she takes some of my best qualities, though.

So to all our "perfect imperfections"...be proud of them!  And if you are not, do something to change them.  I think it's time that I listen to my own advice.  


Sunday, June 22, 2014

Dear Miranda

Someone I love recently lost someone.  Right before the funeral, a stack of letters was found, written by the deceased.  A letter for his wife and a letter for each of his children.  This man did not know that these letters would ever be found or read - he wrote them over a year ago before some routine surgery that he was worried about.  He came out of the surgery fine and forgot about the letters.  Luckily for his family, the letters were still there when they were needed, waiting to be read.

I keep thinking about this story and wondering - if something were to happen to me, would everyone I love know how much I love them?  I think the answer is yes.  I am a very open person and I believe strongly in hugs and affection.  I believe in letting those I love know and I believe that I have touched many people in lifetime (and have been touched by so many in return).

But what about those that can't really speak yet?  Those that are so young that their memories will not retain the laughter and smiles of the past few years?  My nieces all know I love them.  My nephews certainly know, too.  Allie surely knows as I have written her letters and talked to her in my dreams and seen her spirit in butterflies and sun bursts.  But what about Miranda?  Does she know?

She knows.  I know she knows.  But with the story above still lingering in my brain, I want to be 100% sure...
____________________________


Dearest Miranda,

Hi sweetie.  It's mom.  I just wanted to take a few moments to let you know how much you are loved.

From the moment we got the call that you were here, nothing has been the same.  And in the best possible way!  You are everything that is right in our lives.  Your dad and I love you more than you can imagine.  More than you can ever know.

I love to watch you play when you do not know I am watching you.  I love watching you discover how to do something that just yesterday, you could not do!  I love dressing you up and taking you out for a day of shopping or playground fun or lunch with friends or family.  Or all of those things.  I love the way you grab my hand when you are navigating the steps because you know I will catch you if you stumble.  I love the way you open your mouth wide when we go outside so you can literally catch all the fresh air you can.  I love the way you lay your head on my shoulder when you want to be comforted.  I love the way your toes wiggle with delight when we tickle you.  I love the sounds you make and the words you are trying to form.  I love the way a bath is an adventure and how Zoe is your best friend, even though she is a cat and you step on her tail.  A lot.  I love the way you brought smiles and laughter back to our house and I love that you bring the best qualities of your dad and me out into the open.  I love when you are awake and I miss you when you are sleeping.  I love watching you sleep and love the way your skin is soft and warm when you wake.  I love your laughter.  Most of all, I love you.

I plan to be alive for at least 100 more years so I won't miss a thing in either of our lives!  Here is my contingency plan in case that does not happen.

I love you, my little rainbow.  Thank you for loving me right back.

Forever and a day,
Mom





Sunday, June 15, 2014

I Love You More

"Though I know I'll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I'll often stop and think about them

In my life I love you more"
The Beatles


"I love you more" is something my family has said for as long as I can remember.  I think it started with my Pop Pop Louie.  At least in my mind, it originated with him.  He passed it on to his daughter (my mom) and she passed it on to us.
Father's Day "Breakfast for Dinner"

It's no wonder, then, that I say it to my daughter and my husband every chance I get.  

This song plays in my head often.  I first heard the Bette Midler version from the For the Boys soundtrack.  I was in high school.  Seems like so long ago.  I guess it was.

Time is such a fluid thing.  I have written about it in the past.  I feel like I often want time to stand still so I can enjoy a moment or speed up so I can get past a certain phase.  I struggle with living in the present and I want to be better with that.  

It's hard to not look back - to remember what I have loved and lost, to ruminate about how I got to be where I am in my life.  It's hard to not look forward - to dream about what the future will bring and the hopes and dreams I associate with it.

I feel like I am at such a strange stage in my grief.  Allie died over 3 years ago.  She is such a part of me - there is no denying that.  There are reminders of her everywhere - in the butterflies that float around, in the rays of sun that filter through the sky.  More often than not, her memory soothes me.  She comforts me. She makes me feel safe.

I rarely cry for her anymore.  I rarely have arms that ache to hold her anymore.  My head and my heart finally caught up to each other and are on the same page.  At least today they are.

I wonder how I will teach Miranda about her sister.  I know we still have time, but I think about it a lot.  I do not want to make her sad and I do not want her to learn about death before she has to, but I know Gary and I both want her to know about Allie.  It's so hard.

I rarely read the blogs from the baby loss community anymore.  (Side note: I still hate that there is this rather large community of us and yet we still do not have much of a voice outside of cyberspace.)  It was hard for me to read them once many of the moms who lost babies when I did started to become pregnant with their rainbows.  With each cycle that did not work for us, I felt more and more out of touch with them. Then when we decided to adopt, it was such a unique experience that it was hard to relate.  I did not have to make it through another pregnancy.  I had to fill out a home study.  I did not have to go through non-stress tests and ultrasounds.  We had to get fingerprinted and make a video on why a potential birth mother should pick us.  See?  Not really the same thing.

My blogs used to be so sad.  They used to make me cry just to write them.  Now they are more positive and uplifting.  They are about lessons learned and experiences.  They are about both of my daughters, but not cloaked in sadness.  Because I am not cloaked in sadness anymore.  That is the difference.

I am so grateful for what I have.  I know how lucky I am.  I have loved and lost in the most deepest of ways and I am a stronger women for it.  Most days I am happy.  Many days I smile for the simplest of reasons.  And some days, if you listen closely, you can hear me singing, "In my life, I loved you more"...
Allie and Miranda both on the slide on Father's Day


Daddy's Little Sunshine

Monday, June 9, 2014

Perspective

Spending my days with a 14 month old put a lot of life into perspective.  Things that used to be such a big deal to me simply do not matter any more.  Things that never mattered, suddenly do.

I love watching my daughter discover the world around her.  Last week she (finally) started to walk and the pride I felt was akin to to if she had cured cancer.  Seems silly to be so excited over something that most of us take for granted, but it was so special and watching Miranda learn how to literally put one foot in front of the other was amazing to me.  

I love taking her to the playground and watching her navigate the slide the and the steps and the swing.  I love how she likes to explore the terrain and how she tilts her head back to stare at the sky.  I can't get enough of her doing the most basic of things.

This past Saturday, I went to a Coach Bag Bingo to help raise money for a family in need.  I went with one of my oldest friends and part of the reason I went was just to spend time with her.  We had an absolute blast and I can't wait to hear how much money was raised.  I actually won a bag (yay me!). I walked into the church with my girlfriend and walked out with lots of new friends.  Women bond in the most unique of way and there in that cavernous church, playing Bingo with 150 strangers, we all became friends.  They shared their wine and their snacks and each time someone won, everyone applauded.  It was a special night and I was glad to be a part of it.

At one point, as we were buying our raffle tickets, I heard someone call my name.  My maiden name.  I looked up and saw an old family friend.  She came over to say hello and see how I was.  We are Facebook friends but I had not seen her in years and years.  But I had seen her dad not too long ago.  He was the anesthesiologist when I delivered Allie.

I immediately told her how wonderful her dad had been to me that day.  How having him there was consoling and comforting and how he made me feel safe.  I remember his kindness and the look of compassion in his eyes.  It's been 3 years, but when I close my eyes, I can picture my delivery so clearly.  So much of it was filled with pain.  He took some of that pain away.

Then we talked about our kids and what we were up to now.  It was easy to talk to her and talk about Allie.  It was nice to be able to talk about both of my daughters.  I do not usually get to do that with people that I do not see that often.

As I sat at the table and the numbers were being called, it put so much into perspective for me.  My health is good.  My family is secure.  My daughter is thriving.  I have so much to be grateful for and indeed I am.  Does that mean it is ok that Allie is not here?  Absolutely not.  Does that mean I am finding a way to live my life in spite of my loss?  Yes.

The fact of the matter is, I never believed in angels.  I never thought much about heaven or the afterlife.  But I am SO sure, with all of my being, that Allie is up in the clouds, watching over us, protecting us.  Sometimes my heart skips a beat or the hairs on the back of my neck rise and I am not sure why...and then I pause to think...is that her? 

Allie was with us at the park on Saturday.  She is always with us.  We are lucky to have our personal angel looking out for us.  I think it's all just a matter of perspective.  I cannot change the fact that she is not here but I can change the way I think about her.  I think from now on, I choose luck.  And gratitude.  I would rather have her in some capacity than none at all.  Maybe it's all about perspective.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Reflections

Why do bad things happen to good people?  That is the age old question, right?  More and more, I have been wondering what it would be like if Allie were here.  Would I be writing?  Would I be home with her?  Would she have had a sibling?  What would my life (and the lives of my family) been like had she not died?

I watched The Normal Heart on HBO the other night.  The basic premise is about a gay activist who attempts to raise HIV/AIDS awareness during the early 1980s.  It was so emotional to watch.  My father came out in the 80's. He lost many friends to AIDS.  He was tested every 6 months for this awful disease.  But when it first started spreading, he was a gay man who was very much in the closet and ashamed of who he was.  I think he could have easily gotten sick.  I think he was very lucky.  This movie made me think so much about how hard it must have been for him to be gay in that time in history.  I always thought about how his being gay impacted my mom and my brothers and me.  I am not sure I ever thought too much about how it impacted him.  I wish he was here now so I could tell him.

A woman saw me getting Miranda out of her car seat the other day at the mall and walked over to say how beautiful she was.  I politely smiled.  She said appreciate her. Love her.  Some people can't even have children, you know.  Yes, I know.  I kept smiling and then walked inside.

The company I freelance for has offered me a part-time job.  20 hours a week.  2 days in the office and the rest from home.  We are still working out the details but if it works, it could be amazing for us.  Miranda will get the interaction and social activity of day care for 2 days a week and I will get adult interaction and the chance to really focus on some work that I have been really enjoying.  Then the rest of the days I get to still have play dates and walks and giggles with my little girl.  More and more, it seems like being laid off last year was a bad thing that turned into a really really good thing!

We went to the Adoptions from the Heart Annual Picnic this past Sunday.  It was a beautiful day and we got to spend it with about a 1,000 others whose lives were touched by adoption.  Sitting on our blanket, watching the kids interact, catching up with our social worker and some of our friends, feeling the sun on our faces - it felt so right!  What an event!  What a reminder of the joy and happiness that exists because of adoption. 

On Saturday evening, I am going to a fundraiser with one of my dearest friends to help raise money for a family who's wife just lost her battle with breast cancer.  She left behind a husband and 3 kids.  That takes my breath away. The least I can do is help them out like so many people have helped us out.

Every day I watch the news and something appalls me.  Every day I watch the news and something gives me hope, too.  It's such an interesting dynamic.  Being happy.  Being sad.  Finding a balance between the two.

I try not to let the things I can't control overwhelm me.  I try to take life one day and at time - one hour at a time - one moment at a time and that works well for me.

As I said to my mom yesterday as she was leaving my house after a morning of errands and lunch, "Who would have ever thought it could be this good?"  In spite of it all, or maybe because of it all, it really is that good.  




Vacation or Relocation?

I love a good vacation. Always have. I love the planning and the anticipation and the experience of discovering someplace new.  Once ...