Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
I feel like I've been doing that a lot lately...facing demons. I don't mean it literally. Mostly. But I've had some experiences this month that have really thrown me back into the nightmare of my battle for Gracie.
First, I spoke with her. That alone was facing the demon of again wondering every single day when/if I'll ever speak with her again. I also spoke to her other mother in a way that felt very peaceful, familiar and normal. Then I ended up back at the same courthouse where I spent years (many) fighting against hurtful/hateful people that I never even knew existed. And today, I sat before the Utah Supr*me Court Justices that changed my ruling and took my daughter away.
I was attending a reception for my friend that just received his law degree. They swore him in and continued to talk about justice and ethics, equality and righteousness. I had no idea they would be there and listening to the Chief Justice brought a heaviness in me that left me full of tears. She stood up for my daughter. She, alone, cared about her and not the law. She, alone, said her name. It mattered to her what my daughter would lose. But no one else. The others that sat on that stage today never said her name - never thought about the loss.
I stared at them and wondered what it must be like to make decisions like that. Do they look out into an audience and know that they've changed a life sitting right before them? Do they wonder about her and how her life might be now?
In a strange way, I feel like I've been full circle. I suppose something else could happen that would prove me wrong.
To keep the ball rolling, I called her. No answer. She hasn't answered since that day and it breaks my heart every time I try. And it makes me question what I did right the day she picked up the phone. How can I re-do that?
I miss her. It seems like planning for another baby makes me ache for her so much more. I miss her being my baby. I miss the idea of knowing how happy she'd be to have a baby sister. I miss the funny things she says. I miss her lisp and every "l" word that starts with a "yu" sound. I miss her perfect little lips and squinty rootbeer eyes when she smiles. I miss the way she tantrums. I miss her poorly painted toenails and fly away hair. I miss her prayers. I miss her songs.
I miss you baby girl. I miss you tonight. And I'll miss you again tomorrow. I wish I were lying next to you and running my hands through your hair. I wish I could wake you tomorrow and spend Halloween trick or treating with you. I will think of you a thousand times. I will think of every costume you've ever worn and know that this year, you'll be a beautiful Princess...again.
Monday, October 29, 2007
We spent the weekend with old people. Cristy's mom, of course. And with my grandmother, who turned 80 on Saturday. We had an open house reception and it was full of people I didn't know or that I hadn't seen for years. I was reminded of how old eighty is. My grandparents just don't seem that old to me. But then I see all their friends and hear them talk of people that have passed - it's just odd.
My mom & aunt put a video together of their lives and, of course, it included some awful pictures of me. I had a good 3 years of really just looking ratty. Remember when we used to bleach our levi's? Remember when our hair was puffy? Yeah, those are the days I'm talking about. & do you think I smiled EVER back then? I don't think so. Was I too cool to smile? Or was I just permanently bitchy? There were pictures of my brother who passed away and it's so strange that he's frozen in time like that. I mean, I can look back at pictures and cringe but I know there will be others that prove I learned how to do my hair and smile when asked. As I've said before, my brothers are twins. My living brother grew up to be a terribly handsome 30 something with good hair and good clothes. But my other poor brother is frozen in time with bleached levi's and colored sweaters. Adorable, but frozen. This is a lesson in always trying to look your best in photos. :)
And then the pictures jumped to me & Gracie. Her little face smashed up against mine. Her hair short then long. She was beautiful. Everyone commented on her every time she came up. I heard, "oh! She looks like you!" over and over. And she does. And it's not just the chubby cheeks. And it's not just her hands.
So I started thinking about that. And I wondered, if we decide to adopt or if it's decided for us, will I miss out on the "she looks like you" or will (s)he look like me/us anyway? Everyone says that Yegs looks like Cristy. Is it mannerisms? Is it that big noggin? You decide. Still, it's something I think about and wish for.
I used to dream of this little dark haired girl on the shoulders of my partner while I walked next to her, holding her hand. She was sticky with cotton-candy hands and I would somehow be watching us from behind. I never saw faces but I knew it was us. I knew she was mine. It never mattered that she looked like me - just that we were a family. But I love it when people tell me I look like my mom or my brother or my nephew. It's connection, definition.
In reality, it doesn't mean a thing. We are a family. We will continue being a family no matter who is added to our lives. What matters is that we get to this baby making business already! Bring on the meds! Bring on the bills! This crock pot is not getting any younger! In fact...
I will be another year older in exactly one month! I do believe I've aged much more than that this year but I expect to be given some extra time in my eighties to make up for these last many months. When someone throws my 80ith birthday reception, please be sure the bleached levi's photos were mysteriously lost in the fire. Or something.
btw, Christmas is 57 days away. And I'm listening to Josh Groban - Noel.
Thursday, October 25, 2007
The time is near. Two more days until Gorgeous goes to the next sibling. Is it bad to say I'm tired? Have I said more than once how hard it is to entertain someone for this long? We really do love her - every little thing...but it's hard, right?
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Monday, October 22, 2007
Did I wake your walls when I walked through your door? Does my blood still run softly through the halls of your Kingdom? You carry part of me still - like a thick scar. I have left a piece of me with you. I do not want it back. It will always be.
Today I went back to the courthouse. It's the first time I've been there, when it wasn't about Gracie and my fight for her. Instead, I went there to support my sister & niece in-law. You remember...the story about the beautiful little girl with the mother addicted to heroin? Yeah, it was appalling.
Being there brought back many feelings of angst and fear and tragic endings. When I walked in the smell was so familiar - like I had known it my whole life. I walked through the scanner and felt like people were watching me, just like old times. But no one was looking at me. We were there to keep a family together and I tried to focus on that.
There was a long wait before we met before the Judge. We sat outside and I watched countless children with children walk by. My guess is that most of them were in situations they never dreamed they'd be in. Maybe some were fighting to keep their children, while others were giving them away. It was heartbreaking.
I thought about all of you. And me. All of us who want our children with all of our hearts. Some of us who haven't realized that dream yet and some that just want a second or third chance. And here are all these people who can't care for what they have. And even when they care, sometimes they don't care enough. The Judge had heard the story a thousand times. She didn't even bat an eye. "Admit heroin use, I'll issue a warrant for the father, temporary custody, come back in a week...bla bla bla"...another child who isn't being cared for by her parents.
Again, I don't know anything about drug use. I've been learning a little during this experience but I feel even more disconnected from the ability to sympathize after seeing all those kids today. How is this so hard? Why have a baby and make the promises you do and then make such a choice?
Sad, sad, sad.
Sunday, October 21, 2007
Company is hard. I feel like I've been complaining for days about it so why stop now, right? Kidding. Or not. It's hard to have someone here that does things a different way. Did I tell you she typically sleeps until at least noon? A couple of days she's slept until 2pm! Who does that? And do you know how hard it is to be quiet in such an old house? Until 2pm! I feel like I've said, "Yegs, be quiet!" about 300 times.
She's still warming over the stove. She even melted her newly painted nails. God help me. Why does this make me crazy? And KJ is no help - she thinks I'm trying to freeze the poor woman. I'm really not. It's not that cold! She's in bed 1/2 the day and then huddled in a long robe the rest of it. I'm going to hell. I'm a terrible, unsympathetic daughter in-law.
She did spend some quality time with Yegs. We had some functions throughout the weekend and he chose to stay home with her most of the time. Friday night we saw that fabulous movie I was telling you about. Last night we went to a Halloween party and this morning we celebrated a birthday with one of our favorite people. Lots of activity! Then, of course, every time we came back home we have a guest! A very lonely guest and sometimes I think C is going to slide out of her skin and seep under the couch just to catch a breath.
She's old. I think that's why she talks about death a lot. But she's not dying. She actually just got a clean bill of health so I'm certain she'll be around for many years. Her father lived to be 94. That's 21 more years if she's lucky. But she talks like she's already seeing the warning sign before the light that leads you to the bridge on the other side of the gate or whatever. She brings things to give away that you must cherish for all eternity. We're still getting to know each other so every time we're alone, I get all kinds of questions about my love for C and what our plans are for our future.
And while she adores C, she has little parts of her that still don't understand why she's gay. She's explained it to herself by saying 'C has always been a tom boy'. She has seen from her birth that she was "born that way". But I really mess her up. She said that if I had been her daughter - with bows in my hair and heels on my feet - she would've never been able to deal with it. How could I be gay? I am feminine enough to get a man! Ugh. A few steps forward, a few steps back...
Tonight she pulled out pictures of relatives from Texas - one of whom "married a Mexican". I just quietly rolled my eyes at the detail but things like that shake C to her core. Her mom is old school. She also had to point out that one of her great nieces got pregnant by a black man. We're not used to that. It's odd to hear someone point out the color of someone's skin when you're simply asking a name. Some of the stories she tells are awful. She lived way before segregation and I'm still not certain it would be her first choice, had the law not changed the idea for her. I was inches away from telling her we had a hispanic donor... I sat quietly instead.
She told us of her nephew who signed away rights to his daughter and "for some strange reason there isn't a bond between them" EIGHTEEN years later. Again Gorgeous, biology does not create a bond between two people. But it's a lesson unnoticed. She's come a long way from where she's from - from the way her parents lived and loved. I suppose you just listen and speak with conviction about that which stands strong in you. No reason to scream and yell like I would a neighbor or stranger. :)
We love her as she is...just wish we could make wishes...
Friday, October 19, 2007
Thanks for all the love around the MIL. I knew she'd make you smile. Now if I could somehow record her speaking...she'd have you all mesmerized. K seems to be pretty defensive about the accent so she obviously understands. :)
You really think she looks like Cristy? I don't see it...
Last night I over heard her telling Cristy how she loves her "with all my heart". It's that part about her that I adore. Her whole life is her family. She would love, more than anything, if Cristy called her every day to tell her exactly what her day was like - piece by piece. She never forgets to ask her what she had for lunch or dinner. She wants to know where we went and who we saw. It really is very sweet. I'm not sure if she's just bored or if she just doesn't want to miss a thing. Does it matter?
But then there's that part of her that makes me a little crazy. You know, like when she turns the gas stove on but leaves the "click" on so long that the house smells of gas. And then I walk in there and she's warming herself by the FIRE from the burner. & seriously people, our house is not cold. 69 degrees. That's okay, right? She spends 25 mintues outside, smoking 6 cigarette's and wonders why it takes her so long to warm up when she comes back in - just to got back out an hour later. Cristy bought her an electric blanket. She couldn't take the complaining anymore. And I decided that, even though I detest them, it's much better than her warming herself over open flames. Give and Take.
We're heading into a very busy weekend. Tonight we're hosting a movie for our community.
For the Bibles Tells Me So.
If you have a chance to see this, Do. I can't stress enough how amazing it is - especially for those who might not think you're on your way to heaven. Take them. It will prove them wrong. It's playing here in my city for a few days so if you're interested, shoot me an email and I'll give you details. Otherwise, check out the website and see if it's coming to you.
The rest of the weekend will be full of candidates, friends and Halloween! Busy but good.
I received this link at some point yesterday and it took my mind off of all the craziness that I've been wading through this week. I thought you might benefit from it too.
Thursday, October 18, 2007
"Gorgeous"! This is not the name I gave her. It's just the only name she'll allow you to use when speaking of or to her. (other than "Mutha", of course.)
This isn't that great of a picture but it's the best I have for now. I'll try to sneak some through the week - and maybe one of the tool box that is her make-up case. I just didn't want to let you all down and make you wait any longer.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Well, she's here. She arrived Monday night and so far it's been really nice. I know, only two days but still - we're on a roll.
She really is a lovely lady. But with her includes 3 giant suitcases (the biggest you can get), a giant make-up suitcase that unfolds like a tool box, 6 or seven bags of things and a box or two full of "give-aways". It took a full night to unpack.
She doesn't just visit, she moves in. I cleared a shelf in my serving dish closet so she could put her make-up there. I'm not kidding about it being a tool box. You open it up and then it expands another 4x. She likes the light in the dining room so that's where it stays. She also keeps her instant coffee and sweet and low on the kitchen counter with the same spoon on the same napkin the entire time. She is not wasteful. She even gave me a lesson last night about using the same paper towell to wipe your dishes before putting them in the dishwasher.
She brought out the give-aways last night. Old receipts of her mothers father - or something. Receipts from 1891, no kidding. Deeds and things. Very old and, I suppose, very cool to some. Cristy and I aren't sure what you do with "things" like that. She always brings things she thinks her children will cherish so we just kind of fake our way through it and try not to seem uninterested. Cristy needs to work on this, actually. Honey, listen to me. It should go something like this, "Ah! Wow! I've never seen such old documents! I'll treasure them always!" Got it? :)
Cristy set up a smoking station on the side smoking porch. She wants to be tucked back so she can see the neighbors but they can't see her. She's out there every hour or so - I'm sure we'll learn a lot from what she sees.
She carries a blanket with her wherever she goes. It's colder here than it is in Houston and she's a frail little thing. She has decided she's never coming this time of year again. She has no idea what winter is...
She uses two hands and steps sideways to get up and down the front stairway. Thank God for the back stairway or we'd never get up there. She's cautious. She's much older this year. She's moves more slowly and her face looks so thin. She still talks about needing to lose a little weight because she has a "pooch in front" but she must be losing her sight because there is Nothing there.
She adores Yeager almost as much as she adores Cristy. I think she had tears in her eyes after his dinner prayer last night. Very sweet. And he loves the attention - so much that he's offered to babysit her this Friday while we go to a movie. Does he need a baby sibling or what?
We have a pretty quiet week planned with her but next week we're hosting our monthly game night so all of our dearest friends can spend some time with the wonder that is Cristy's "Mutha".
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
I wrote this blog a few days ago but haven't had the heart to post it. I feel like a broken record some days and this day is no different.
Back to bad news.
My friend Gina, who shares my city and has shared her thoughts here on a few occasions, has been fighting for the right to see her daughter since February. The day of my ruling, her ex-partner cut off visitation between she and her daughter. The ruling gave her the ammo to take such action and unfortunately, the courts just gave her permission to use it.
She lost this round but she's a fighter. Her attorney is amazing and together they will do everything they can to get her back to her daughter. But for now, we wait longer than we had hoped. And more wounds are made that will have to be healed.
When will it stop? When will we stop hurting each other like this? When will we stop punishing our children to prove a point? Fine! You're the biological parent! So what? Explain that to a four year old. And I've said it thousand times and will obviously continue but please, do what you can While you can. Talk about what will happen should your relationship dissolve. And maybe it won't help anyway. It didn't help my daughter. But some day it will help some one's daughter. It has to.
I know I'm preaching to the choir. I think you've all heard this a thousand times but a new day comes and I meet another mom who wants to challenge the law with nothing other than emotions. I'm meeting with a woman today whose ex-partner just took their daughter to live in another state. She left and she has no way of finding her. And no defense. No contracts. No legal guardianship. No will. Nothing. What do I say to her?
The biggest loser in this situation is always the child. This little girl of Gina's woke up on Friday, February 16th, not knowing that my ruling would affect the rest of her life. While Gina fights to maintain that relationship, the other mother finds it perfectly appropriate to still frequent the gay bars every weekend, participate in Pride Day with a new girlfriend, new friends - her life goes on like she's done nothing. Her new friends don't even know what she's done. They think she's just making a decision on behalf of her child. But she's making a decision on behalf of all of our children and we just let her do it. If we can treat each other this way, how on earth can we expect the world to treat us fairly? But what can we do? Picket the bars? Chase her out of Washington Square? How do we put a face to this? How do we convince ourselves that this behavior is not acceptable?
I wonder if the mother of her knew the kind of ripple effect she'd be causing by her actions. I wonder... if she knew it now, would she change her mind? Tell me what to do. Tell me where to start.
We have to do something. Isn't there a quote that says something like "the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing"?
Let's do something.
Monday, October 15, 2007
It’s a big day at our house. My mother in-law comes to stay for two weeks today! I say that with a half cheery smile and a half exhausted body. She’s lovely. Really.
She’s a southern woman in every sense and it’s always interesting to talk with her. But she’s also very spoiled. Cristy’s dad was a lot like she is. He took care of her mothers every need. She never worked. She woke up one day and decided she would no longer cook or clean. She’s a queen. She won’t let anyone call her anything other than “Gorgeous” because “grandma” makes her sound old. She’s seventy something. She Is Old. Someone should tell her.
On a regular evening, she drips in gold and diamonds. Her hair is always done perfectly and it takes her hours to put on her make-up. You would never guess that Cristy came from her body. You would never guess that any of her children came from her body. And she has five of them. Cristy is the baby and also her favorite. She’ll admit it. She can’t even say her same without putting “darling” after it. Imagine it with a long, deep accent. “Cristy Da’lin, can you get me…” It’s terribly delicious. She smokes about 58 cigarette’s a day. I’m exaggerating or just guessing. If that sounds like a lot – well, it is. She smokes a lot and it gives her a very deep, raspy voice. She’s probably 5’4” and 90 lbs. Do you have a good enough vision of this woman yet? I'll try to post a picture very soon.
I should have some interesting stories to dazzle you with over the next couple of weeks…
In other news, we hosted our cities gay/lesbian family group yesterday. Very fun! All the kids were adorable dressed up in their costumes. Yeager hasn’t had that many kids in his yard Ever! We had a great time. There were probably 40 people there and I’m always surprised at that for some reason. So many families here and I hardly know any of them. It’s so easy to think that the people who surround you are simply the only people out there. Cristy and I rarely see people with little kids anymore. It made us each ache for our own!
Again, bring on the babies!
* Cristy wanted me to add that it's not just that she smokes 58 packs a day, it's also that they're non-filtered cigarette's. Supposedly that makes it even worse. (or better if you like that raspy voice) :)
Friday, October 12, 2007
Isn't it crazy how things can so quickly seem wrong? - how one day can be great and the next not so great and then suddenly you're no where even resembling great?
I'm having a bad day and it's still pretty early.
It's been a week since I talked to Gracie. Part of me thinks the joy I felt that day should've lasted longer. Or lasted, in general. But I'm back to feeling worlds away from her and her life, maybe even more than I was before the call.
I remind myself every day that the phone call was a blessing, not a promise. I say that to myself over and over. It was what it was. I've prayed for months for the opportunity to say what I was able to say and I feel blessed to have had that chance. But it wasn't enough. Of course, it will never be enough.
Some of you have wondered if it would actually make things worse - harder. And I suppose I don't have a solid answer to that because all of it feels bad on this day. Some of you have questioned the intentions of the mother of her - did she send the email to hurt me? ...to rub in what I'm missing? Did she have Gracie answer the phone to derail any progress of healing I was showing on this blog? I don't know what to think. My heart wants to discount everything you're saying and believe she's trying to reach out with no intentions other than to see how it feels and where it goes. My heart also knows better and knows not to trust itself when it comes to her.
And so it goes.
Thursday, October 11, 2007
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
So the idea is to start a support group. You know, for those of us in this awful situation of either having lost our child, in the process of losing our child or waiting to see if we're going to lose our child. The idea floated around a few months ago and was brought up again the other day. I guess it's time. There's obviously need for it.
I started this blog in hopes of keeping open communication between non-bio moms in my situation throughout the county. Some of our cases are now over and others are still pending. Some have won and other have settled. At the time of my ruling, I didn't know anyone here who was in my same situation but within days of my ruling, that changed. Now there are 7. 7 women in this very city whom I've spoken to in one way or another - some I'm close to and others I only know through phone calls or emails. Either way, they all think it's time we meet in the same place. Face to face.
I have mixed feelings about us all meeting in one place. As much as I love the idea of supporting each other, I have fear that it could somehow make it worse. Believe me, in no way do I feel like I'm healed or even closer to healing than I was 9 months ago. But I also really try not to focus on what I've lost. I just hold it quietly and when I fill up, I do what I can to let some go. But when I let myself sit it in, I'm consumed. I think about everything that went wrong and how unfair life is and how I will never truly be able to explain this to her.
The best thing I see happening is sharing information on what works and what doesn't. How do you get to sleep at night? What argument did your lawyer use? Who is your lawyer? How did you pay for your case? Wen do you say when? How long is too long? What I'm afraid of is everyone telling their story and having it be a big, sad experience where everyone goes home feeling worse and more lonely and more afraid than when they started.
Somehow I wish we could all be together and have one big cry fest. Just once. All of you - even those way over there in the middle & on the east coast. I miss you somehow when we're talking of meeting. And not seeing your faces seems unfair. I almost said, "you should start the same kind of group where you live" but then realized there probably aren't any others like you where you live. My
ruling made other people like me. I created monsters. Not me, really. But my life. Really.
I want time to pass quickly. For others, I want time to stand still. But I guess, while we wait, we wait together.
Tuesday, October 9, 2007
This post is dedicated to my dear friend Leah. She lives in a state that doesn't acknowledge her parental rights nor the rights of her non-biological son. She has spent the last year fighting to protect him and maintain a relationship with him. She just found out they won't hear her case - they won't give her the opportunity to be with him.
My heart is broken for you.
At the same time, I know you're strong and willing to do whatever it takes. Sometimes that means you keep fighting your way up the ladder and sometimes it means you sit still and wait. Whatever it means for you, I know you'll see it through and I know he'll love you more for it.
You are amazing. You are thoughtful and brave. You love him wholly and honestly and he will know of these long days. One day he will know.
In the meantime, please let this email be a reminder to do everything you can - while you can - to protect your kids. Legally, no matter where you live and what your laws are, write it up! Hire a lawyer. Sign your names to something that says your family's intent. Do it now. Don't wait. And don't think you won't need it.
On a lighter note, but still terribly important, if you're still on the hunt for someone to vote for next year, here's a little quiz that might get you started in the right direction.
Monday, October 8, 2007
And this kid was 1/2 monkey!
The party began at 10am so instead of cupcakes, we had muffins. Instead of punch, we had apple juice.
Just like that, he was eight years old. Well, kind of. His birthday isn't until Thursday but he may as well be 8 this very moment.
He opened all of his presents but one - he'll open that at sushi on Thursday with Cristy's family. We had a party for him yesterday with my family and then, of course, his other mom will have another party for him next Saturday. Divorce sucks. But c'mon, more families mean more presents. :) I'm sure that's a bonus he's clearly thinking of today...
Back to boys...My mom had twin boys when I was just about three years old. I always thought she had them for me - like they were a present because I was so good. And when I was older and realized that's just what families are, I was a little disappointed. But in reality, that's what they've been to me. My little brothers were my playmates, kick boxing opponents and sounding boards. Yesterday, they turned 34! So, Happy 34 to my baby brother. (who's been bigger than me for twenty years!)
Saturday, October 6, 2007
You read it correctly. Yesterday was the best yesterday I've had in a very long time.
I typically call the mother of her a couple of times a week. Sometimes I leave a message. Most of the time I hang up at her voicemail. Since December 24th, she's never answered. Not once. But I call because I want to remind her that I'm always here, I'm not going anywhere and I'm not going to forget. So yesterday I called and it went like this.
Me: "who is this?"
Her: "this is Gracie!"
Me: ...in shock!!
Her: "hello? Keri?"
I was stunned. It took me a couple of seconds to say anything. I thought, for a minute, that Gray had answered and her mom didn't know. But then I heard her voice in the background, telling her to tell me about her birthday and about...her. I asked her if she knew who I was and she said, in a silly way, "ker-i!" I just started blurting out anything. I told her how much how miss her - how much I love her and how I think of her every minute. I asked if she knew that I miss her everyday and her little voice said, "yes" so softly. I asked her about her birthday, about her kitties and anything else I could think of. She told me stories about the boys singing to her for her birthday and how she cooked her pendant into her rainbow cake. It was perfectly lovely.
Then I talked to her mom for a while. The first thing she said was, "I'm not going to talk to you if you're going to put what I say on your blog..." But I assured her you were all wonderful and that I'd never give out her personal info (of course) and that THIS is the only place I talk about THIS stuff. If I can't talk here, I can't talk anywhere.
She seemed well. She said she was healthy and that things were going good. I didn't know what to ask and, to tell you the truth, I was scared to death. At times I would realize I was still on the phone just listening to the background. I couldn't remember what I had asked and what I didn't. I still can't. I'm not sure if we sat in silence - waiting of the other to speak. I was so afraid of her hanging up.
After a while I asked if I could say good-bye to Gracie. She called her back to the phone and we exchanged "I love you"'s and "I miss you"'s and we hung up the phone. I hung up. I sat and stared at my phone. My co-workers said I was beaming. I felt so full.
I heard her voice. I told her I love her. I felt like I could reach right into the phone and feel her little hands or see her smile when she told her stories. I keep looking at my phone in awe that she was actually right there. It was heaven and she hasn't left me all day.
I love you sweet girl. Every day - my whole, long life.
Friday, October 5, 2007
Yesterday was hard. And sad. I woke up many times during the night after dreaming of what Gracie's day was like. Did she leave school early? Did they see a show? Did she have cake or ice cream or both? Did her grandparents fly out for the occasion? How many phone calls did she get? I thought about her all day and loved all of your birthday wishes. Thank you.
I took the whole day off and volunteered to babysit my great niece on the in-law side. I thought it would be distracting and far better than sulking at home all day. It was. Brooklyn is a vivacious two year old who, I hate to rub it in, loves me way more than she loves Cristy. :) She loves being teased and loves Molly Tomato. We had a nice day.
Her story is heartbreaking and like nothing I've ever experienced. Her parents are drug addicts. Bad. I mean, I guess you can never be a good drug addict but they're really in a bad place. It's been a big family secret and we just learned of it recently. Her mother is barely twenty and unmarried. She's been addicted to one thing or another since she was seventeen. Seventeen! & now she's shooting herion. She has infected track marks all over her body. On her neck and between her toes. And to look at her, she's a scared child. Nothing more.
The baby has been cared for by her grandmother (Cristy's sister) off and on for a while but we had to take her back to her mother last night. We had a police escort and they looked through her house and at her before we turned her over. Even though she admits to using, they can't take the baby unless she shows physical harm. It's a new law. The apartment complex was awful but their place was clean. She came outside and told us that she's not in denial. She knows she needs help but no one will help her. All the programs are full for months and every time she/they try to quit on their own, they just save each other by getting more when the other is in too much pain. It's a vicious cycle and I have no idea how it's going to end.
She knows her daughter is better off somewhere else but she's too afraid to use the courts because she could ultimately lose her. Her grandmother is too afraid not to use the courts because she could legally come get her in any drug induced state. It's awful. It's made their relationship divisive. They can't trust each other. &, of course, I'm on the side that protects the baby so I want the grandma to get custody. At the same time, watching this other "child" on this path is so, so sad.
I have no experience with drugs. I've never even smoked a marijuana cigarette. I have no experience with relatives or friends that are users either. Nothing. I can't imagine what it's like to lose control like that. But I also don't have much sympathy. She keeps saying "we're going to treatment tomorrrow..." but why not today? Why not yesterday? She has a baby girl and every day there's a chance she'll find a needle in the garbage or get out of the house when no one's looking or find one or both of her parents dead. Tomorrow isn't soon enough.
But we left her there. We had to. We hugged them both good-bye and said we'd do anything to help. We drove away and just prayed that she'll be okay. All of them.
What do you do with that? If the law says you have to take her home, how do you help? I know she loves this little girl but she can't take care of her. She can't take care of herself. How can they hear her say she's using and let her child stay? I seriously don't understand it.
Thursday, October 4, 2007
Happy Birthday Gracie.
Today you are six years old. I can barely remember my life before you came. But I'll never forget the hours right before...
Doctor Stewart called our house and was talking to your mom. We knew you were coming early but when I heard her say, "tomorrow morning?", I almost peed my pj's. I started jumping around the kitchen. She laughed at me because I was so excited!
You were definitely early but we were ready. The showers had all come and gone. Clothes were washed - diapers were stacked. But nothing we had would fit you. We ran out and bought all the preemie jams that Mervyn's had and a few packs of preemie diapers. See? We were ready. & your nursery was ready - holding it's breath - just waiting for you to fill it up with your sounds and your smells. All of the families and friends that already loved you were just waiting on pins and needles for your arrival.
We finally met in person at 2:31am on October 4th. You were tiny, like a little doll. 4 lbs 10 oz. I held your hand through those first moments when we rushed you to the NICU. Your whole hand fit across my nail bed. I stayed with you those first hours through the needles, tubes and tape until they figured out how strong and healthy you were. I held you when you first felt water on your skin. Your first bath was in my arms. You were so amazing and so brave.
& I'll never forget bringing you back to your other mom and realizing that you looked just like her. She held you up so you were face to face. Your profiles were exactly the same. I took a picture of you looking at each other. I bet she shows you that picture all the time.
Today I will think of all those first moments with you. And a million other moments all the way through your fifth year. I feel so incredibly blessed when I think about us and the time we spent together. I will always be the happiest mom I know when I think about you. I carry you in my heart every day, Gracie. Every moment.
I am certain you have a whole special day planned. I'm praying you got my package and that you're enjoying what I sent. (minus the jacket as it's 93 degrees there today...) I'll be listening to our song and missing every piece of you. I used to sing this to you all the time but when you learned it, I was hardly ever allowed to sing it again - only You could sing it and you knew every word. I hope you hear it today. If not here, then in your heart.
(it's on the mp3 to the right)
You can't fool me, I saw you when you came out
You got your momma's taste but you got my mouth
And you will always have a part of me
Nobody else is ever going to see
With your cards to your chest walking on your toes
What you got in the box only Gracie knows
And I would never try to make you be
Anything you didn't really want to be
Life flies by in seconds
You're not a baby Gracie, you're my friend
You'll be a lady soon but until then
You gotta do what I say
You nodded off in my arms watching TV
I won't move you an inch even though my arm's asleep
One day you're gonna want to go
I hope we taught you everything you need to know
And there will always be a part of me
Nobody else is ever gonna see but you and me
My little girl
My Gracie girl
With all my heart.
Tuesday, October 2, 2007
This picture makes me laugh. Another toy recall, perhaps? When I think about all the things that can go wrong with toys, I start sweating about Yeager's birthday party this Saturday. We're taking five 8 year olds rock climbing at a local recreation center. God, help us. Never, since Cristy and I got together, has he had a regular party. It's always some big deal somewhere other than where he lives. It's always expensive and loud and dangerous. Is this a boy thing? Because I think Gracie would choose a glitter party at La Cantera mall where they do your hair in bows and curls and layer your face in sparkly glitter. No danger in glitter.
And for presents...yeah, he'd like a flat screen television for his room and a new stereo. What? What happened to robots and pirates? Do little kids really want stereo's? & do they really want to watch television by themselves in their room? Did I do that when I was 8?
I've decided it must be hard being 8. This little guy has more emotions running through him than a 13 year old girl! (well, maybe) He likes playing with the neighbor girl as long as there are no boys around. He likes hanging with the older boys, but they can't know he sleeps with Cristy's old stuffed dog thing. He wants a big man bed but still must be tickled to bed every night. He's a manchild. He's over 80 lbs and growing every day! HeeeUGE! Not chubby (& there's nothin' wrong with chubby) but thick! His donor is 6'4". I know, crazy. Not my choice.
Either way, we're risking the lives of babes this Saturday and if they live to tell the story, I'm sure it will be handful!
Monday, October 1, 2007
I started digging out Halloween gear today. I found a picture of Gracie from 2002. She dressed as Eeyore. Seriously, she could not have been sweeter! Her other mother was Uncle Sam and I was Lady Liberty. We told everyone we were the "symbol of democracy"...get it? Gracie was a donkey! She was born a democrat! :)
I set her picture on the shelf and sat in thought about what she'll be this year. Belle? Little Mermaid? Jasmine? She'll most certainly be a princess, right? It's her 7th Halloween and I was only there for the first three. Preemie pumpkin onesie, Eeyore and a mouse. God, I miss her. I wonder if Halloween is really that great to her since she surely spends days upon days dressed up anyway? And I wonder if she's still afraid of the Walgre*ns by her house because it had those scary decorations she saw? Months later, we'd drive by and she'd sink into her carseat saying, "stawy mommy!" I bet she still hates all those things.
I decorated Yegs room with skeleton's and evil pumpkins. He'll love it. He'll probably be a barbarian or some half dead gross thing. He'll change his mind up until the day before. But, no matter what, he'll be scary & bloddy & oozing with something. They have a big thing at his school every year where all the parents come and the kids roam around the school, showing off their costumes. He always has a big showing and this year will be no exception. I'm looking forward to it.
Halloween is fun. But more fun with kids. As I was setting things around the house I thought, "this would be so much better if there were kids here." Isn't everything? I mean, Cristy is pretty great but come on! She's got nothin' when it comes to decorating! :)
Time for babies, toddlers & kids. Lots of 'em!