Tuesday, October 27, 2015

American Greetings

I am a card person. I love a good card. I love when someone takes the time to come up with a card that is perfect for me and then takes the time to get it to me. I have mentioned before how I love getting mail, but I am also a fan of personal delivery. I also like to find and give the right card, too. It's a great feeling.

Now, said card does not have to be $4 or whatever crazy price cards are going for these days. I am just as good with grocery store cards or dollar store cards!

Growing up, there were no cards for step-parents. I remember this vividly because I used to want to get a card for my then step-father for Father's Day, but there were no cards for him. I could not get him one that said "dad" or "father" because I had a dad and he was not it. He also had kids of his own and I never wanted to stand in the way of his relationship with them. I am not sure if they make cards for that relationship now, but I would not be surprised.

I learned 4 years ago that no card company took on the topic of miscarriage or stillbirth. I can't say I blame them. To make any kind of profit out of a loss like that seems just plain wrong. Most of the cards we received were sympathy cards. Or "thinking of you" cards. I did read an article lately that said some organizations are making those kinds of cards available. I guess that is nice. We saved each and every card in Allie's memory box and will one day go through them again. I went though the box a few years back and it was still too hard to sift through. I will know when the time is right to look again.

The last card that I have come to realize does not exist is to birth parents. M's birthday was last week and we had one of our biannual visits this past Sunday. I ran out that morning to get her a card to go with the little gift we got her and I was stumped. How do you say, "Happy Birthday to the woman who gave birth to my baby?" I guess I see now why there is no category for that kind of card. I settled for just a generic and pretty card. She seemed to like it.

M has such a big heart. She was not expecting a present from us and seemed genuinely touched. I got her a little bracelet that I also wear that is supposed to bring awareness to adoption. We also gave her a toy of Miranda's that she used to sleep with when she was little.

The visits are easier than they used to be. I do not feel in competition any more. I just feel so grateful that there is a woman out there who loves our daughter as much as we do. I never heard of any one having too much love, after all.

One day, maybe I will revolutionize the greeting card industry. I already see, "Congrats on your weight loss! I never knew you were that heavy!" or "You ran a 5K? With those boobs?" I am still working out the exact wording.

Perhaps I should just stick to buying and sending cards and let the professionals handle the rest?

Miranda hugging an early Hanukkah gift from M
 

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

October 20th

I will always remember your birthday. Mainly because it was so important to you and it was drilled into my brain! If it were up to you, we would stop everything and celebrate you. All day long. Bonus if your birthday fell on a weekend and we could celebrate for more than one day.

I am not judging. I am like that, too. Always have been and I suspect, always will be.

Dad, you would have been 74 years old today. It's hard to grasp that you are not here telling us where you want to go for dinner.

When I think of you now, I mainly remember the good. This fact is pretty shocking considering most of it was not good. You were hardly the ideal father. I used to think no one was in the day and age. And then I saw the dads of my friends and realized that no, it was just you.

Did you love us? Absolutely. Did you love yourself more? Absolutely.

Now that I am a parent, I am navigating the waters of what comes first...my child, my family or me. I am learning that if done right, they all come out on top. It's hard, do not get me wrong. Sometimes I even make the wrong choices. But I try to learn and grow from them.

I was at an event a few months ago and had one too many glasses of wine. I called the bartender "young fella". Then I almost choked on my laughter as that was such a "you" thing to say and I had to think that somehow you knew I had said it.

I still look like you. I thought the fact that we were both "big boned" is what made us look alike. Now, all those pounds later, I discovered that no matter what I weigh, I still look like you. I like that.

I am not sure what I believe about the afterlife. I am not sure if you are singing in a Gay Men's Chorus right now and telling your stories to anyone that will listen. I am not sure if you are with your sister or your parents or if you would even want to be if you could. I hope, though, that if you can, you can put Allie first for a little bit and check on her. You should know her right away. She looks like both of us.

I miss you and I wish you the peace in death that you were unable to find in life. 

Happy birthday, Dad. I love you. Always have. Always will.


Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Once a Day

"...You always think it's gonna happen to another person,
And it's never ever gonna happen to you.
You got your friends, you got your money,
Got your family, got your honey,
You think you got a million days.
But then life comes along
And it knocks you right down to the ground and that's why I say.


Everybody oughta hug somebody, at least once a day.
And everybody oughta kiss somebody, at least once a day.
Everybody's gonna miss somebody, at least once a day.
And everybody gotta love somebody, every day!"
-Michael Franti & Spearhead

I heard these lyrics today and they resonated very loudly in my head. My brother, Dan, really digs this band and has shared many of their songs with me. I have heard the song before, but not like I heard it today. 

There is so much in life that we cannot control. We act like we can control it all, but we simply cannot. This song was a good reminder that no matter what happens, be happy for what you have and don't take any of it for granted. "Life comes along and it knocks you right down..."  Wow.

Gary and I ran a 5K together on Saturday. We pretty much matched our strides which is hard to do since he is so much taller than me, but we were together the whole time. The race was like a living metaphor for me. We started together, we kept up with each other, we encouraged each other, and we finished together. It was the best race I have had yet. We have another one in 10 days and I can't wait.

Tomorrow is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. We will head out to a Balloon Release as soon as Miranda is done with school for the day. We will surround ourselves with other families like ours. Families who have babies that only we can see and feel. Then we will come home and light a candle at 7pm as a part of the "Wave of Light". It's a neat tradition and we do it every year.

This year, I suspect Miranda will have some questions. We will do our best to answer them. Little does she know that we still have questions, too.

At the end of the day, we will certainly hug somebody. And kiss somebody. And miss somebody. And love somebody. And then we will do it all again the next day, too.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Name

"I think about you all the time
But I don't need the same
It's lonely where you are
Come back down
And I won't tell 'em your name"
-Goo Goo Dolls 

I do not know Allie's name like I know Miranda's name. Miranda's name gets spoken very frequently. We use it when we address her. We use it when we talk about her. We insert it into songs in music class and books and stories of make-believe. We utter it over and over and over.

Allie's name is more like a whisper. We do not get to use it nearly as much. Once and a while, Gary and I say her name when we have a memory that we are trying to hold onto or a story we are recalling. It's very different.

October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month. For this month, I wear a special bracelet. I
change my profile picture on Facebook. I make plans to attend a balloon release with my family. I try to say Allie's name even more.

Then what happens? November rolls in and everything goes back to the way it was? Not for us. Never.

It's such a tangled web to grieve four years after a loss. Thankfully, the emotions are not nearly as raw or sharp, but that means they are also easier to tuck away. 

I am starting to think about how we will tell Miranda about Allie. We mention her now, but not in a way that she understands and I think that is deliberate. When we went to pick out our pumpkins this year, I wanted Miranda to get two. I did not specifically say why, though. I always want things in pairs - for both our girls - but that is hard when one is not here. 

When the time is right, I know we will know. Just like we will know how to talk about adoption. And religion. And politics. Ok, we probably have time for politics!

I guess I just miss Allie. I miss what she would have been. I miss what she could have been. I miss the sound of her name. 

A Year In the Life

One year ago today, I became a bona fide published writer. I was ecstatic to get my first piece published and to share my words and story wi...