Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter Best

I love going to church on Easter morning.  I love seeing all of the kids sporting their Easter best.  Little girls with their hats and gloves, spinning in circles to watch their new dresses float in the air.  Little boys with sweater vests, ties and shiny shoes stuffing their hands, or anything else they can find, into their pockets.  I loved Easter morning before we had Addison and now, along with watching all of the other adorable kids, I get to watch my own little girl become angelic in her own Easter best. 
For parents waiting to adopt, holidays can be difficult.  For parents who have lost babies, holidays can be difficult.  Many of our recent holidays have been mixed with joy and sorrow.  We do everything we can to make each and every holiday as special as possible for Addison.  She knows no differently than the traditions we have created with only her.  She does not see the same dreams we had for our family or feel the absence of those who will never be here or of those who are not here yet.  We follow her lead and celebrate wholeheartedly to give her the holiday she deserves. 
This year Easter was just beautiful.  Our hearts were lighter this year, our smiles more genuine.  Addison was thrilled with the Easter bunny, very particular about her Easter outfit, and most excited to spend the day with family, especially her cousins.  It was a peaceful day filled with family and food, relaxation and catching up, laughing and talking.  The sun was even shinning and our bodies truly felt the warmth of new beginnings.

I welcomed the peaceful, hopeful day and tried to savor the moment and not surrender to the constantly flowing thoughts within my head.  For me, as it relates to our losses and our waiting to grow our family through adoption, the preparation and anticipation of an upcoming holiday is emotionally harder than the actual day.  As I sat in our family room on Easter eve quietly stuffing eggs and filling baskets, my heart ached.  I wondered what Connor might have been like this Easter and longed to know how our family might grow and change by next Easter.  I stuffed a few extra eggs and overfilled Addison’s Easter basket with chocolate, thinking that these extra treats would somehow make up for the fact that she wouldn’t get to share this Easter with a sibling. 
I have my moments when I crumble, as I said, usually in the days prior to a holiday. I have my moments when the pain of the past is still unbearable.  I have my moments when the unknown anticipation of the future feels crushing.  And then I have moments when I realize that I am breathing again.  I have moments of warmth and peace.  I have moments like Easter day that remind me of the beauty of this life and the beauty of this holiday. 
I am so thankful that this Easter I was able to enjoy my little girl and truly feel the presence of so many blessings in my life.  Even at peace, it does not escape me that others were suffering yesterday, not able to find peace or realize blessings.  I know that others who wait to adopt, waiting without any children, without any Easter bunny, and with the same uncertainty about their future were hurting deeply yesterday.   My heart goes out to anyone who has journeyed down these shared paths and who is still so deeply in pain that it is hard to find light.  For those who have lost, it is true what they say, it does get better.  For those who wait, together we wait and hope and never give up hoping…

As Addison slept and the sun set on our drive home last night, Chris and I talked about how good Easter felt.  The Easter best, proudly worn that morning, was now stuffed in the bottom of a bag, but the feelings of peace, hope and joy were still felt as we safely arrived home.   

Friday, April 15, 2011

1 Bookstore, 2 Movies, and a Glass of Lemonade

I stood in my dorm room waiting.  I was ready.  My outfit carefully selected, my dorm room as clean as a dorm room could possibly be, and the butterflies in my stomach just starting to pick up speed.  I was awaiting my very first date with “cute president boy”.  (You know how when you live in the dorm and you see people all the time, but you don’t know their name, so you make up your own name for them?  Or, maybe that only happened in my dorm, or maybe that happens everywhere and not just in dorms?)  Regardless, it turned out that “cute president boy”, the president of our dorm, had a name…Chris. 
He was late.  He was late 12 years ago and surely he will be late arriving home this evening.  Apparently late is his thing.  He was cute-as-can-be when he, and his huge smile, the same smile that saves him to this day, finally did show up in my doorway.   We walked out to the car…the ’84 Chevy Citation that Chris shared with his sister.  He made some joke about the “elegance” of the car as he opened the door for me.  I didn’t care about the car … well, I kind of did care about the car.  I hated it the night I got pulled over, alone, because it stalled at a red light, and felt pangs of love for it when we signed it over to its new owner years later…but that night I could have cared less about that the old, ugly car that Chris called “Buchanan”.  Chris was proud of Buchanan and I liked that a lot. 
We started that night off by heading to a bookstore.  Chris was in need of a gift for a baby shower.  Who knows why he was going to a baby shower…these types of oddities or breaking of social norms just seem to happen with Chris.  Regardless, he thought it would be fun to have me help him pick out some books for the new baby.  Brilliant!  I love bookstores.  I love children’s books.  I love babies.  He was obviously a guy who was sensitive and secure enough to tackle a baby shower…we both were banking points. 

We were planning to see a movie next and had some time before the show.  There was a small coffee shop next to the bookstore so we sat and had lemonade.  No, we did not sip out of straws from the same glass!  We talked.  We talked about our families, our friends, the people most important to us.  I already liked him.  I liked him a whole lot.

The movie was next on the agenda.  Never Been Kissed.  Yup, that is what we saw.  So, not the greatest of movies … OK, a really bad movie, but it didn’t matter.  For nostalgic purposes that same movie sits on our DVD shelf,  surely never to be watched … it really was terrible, but rather as a tribute to the night that would forever be remembered as our “first date”. 

You know that things are going well on a date when the “planned” events have run their course and you just want to find something else to do to continue being around one another.  So, I know this next part sounds very scandalous, but I can promise you that movie-watching and talking is all that happened.  We went back to my dorm room and somehow, I have no idea how, decided on watching Shawshank Redemption.  Really?  I sat on the floor and Chris sat on the couch.  Really!  We watched the whole entire movie and when it finally ended we sat talking, both enthralled by the feelings that began to stir that evening.
Chris left me that night with a hug in my doorway.  Yes, just a hug!  It was the perfect end to a perfect date.  I was sold…and so was he.  He called the next day, and the day after that.  We had started dating just weeks before finals.  Our test scores suffered that year, but boy was it worth it.  Falling in love with him was the most fun I’ve ever had. 
It is hard to believe that this weekend we will celebrate 12 years together.  12 wonderful years filled with…friends, family, vacations, graduations, cars, dorm rooms, apartments, houses, celebrations, loss, children, grief, job loss, new jobs, remodels, a whole lot of painting, holidays, adoption, good days, bad days, and all of the days in-between.  Our story is certainly not remarkable ... and our first date certainly not a romantic fairytale to which Hollywood will be seeking the rights.  We have lived life, just as many other couple do, together, doing the best we can as we travel down life’s path.  What is remarkable is that on that very first date 12 years ago we became partners, a team, a couple.  Our lives intertwined that evening and began what has been a simple and uncluttered partnership.  Through the last 12 years our solidity has never wavered.  We are “us” and we always will be.  As we look back, we remember all that has brought us to today, and as we sit here looking forward to all that might be ahead, we know that that “first date” 12 years ago was the best gift ever given to us.

Here’s to “us” reminiscing about the past and looking forward to the future!