Celebrate we will
Because life is short but
sweet for certain (Dave Matthews)
Sometimes I look at my daughter and, for just half a second, I think, "What if she . . . wasn't?" What if she simply wasn't here? My brain can't fully form the thought. I've tried, but her presence - her spirit - is simply too big to picture a life without her. She makes me laugh so hard that my eyes water. She makes me so angry that I have to count to 10 so that I don't throw her iPad in the driveway and run over it with my car. She makes me so proud that when she's in swim class or choir rehearsal or even just playing video games at Chuck E Cheese, I secretly hope that someone will ask me "Which one is yours?" so that I can give them an incredulous look and respond, "Why, the best one. Of course." I mean, duh. Sometimes, my daughter slips and calls me, "Mama" (I'm usually just "Mom" these days) and I think my heart might explode in my chest. I can scarcely remember a time before this curly-haired dynamo ruled my days.
I won't get all pro-life-y on you here. I'm not a pro-life person but nor am I a staunchly pro-choice person. I think that when you find that you cannot have kids the old-fashioned way (and suffer four miscarriages), it certainly colors your view of such things. As such, there are times when I can't help but think about my daughter's birthmom and the hard decision she made. A decision that means that her heart will always be just a little bit broken, in a way that's not fixable. The world, though, is just a little more awesome because of her sacrifice and selflessness. This is the dichotomy of adoption - happiness and sadness all wrapped up in one story.
I think about how happy my daughter makes my parents (plus: her aunts, uncles, cousins, and everyone who loves her). I think about how many friends she has and how she loves to hug everyone. She has the gift of making everyone around her feel special. I think of her fashion sense. I think of how she lies about dumb things. I think about her impossible-to-comb curls and her beautiful green eyes. I think about how she spends most of her morning singing inappropriate song lyrics and admiring herself in the mirror instead of getting ready for school. I think of all the places we've gone (the three of us, as a family) and the adventures we've had. It's good. It's all so very, very good.
A few years ago, a woman named Sam started reading my blog. I can't recall how she found it. She left comments on my blog that were funny, sharp, and insightful (and on one occasion she busted me for some clumsy wording I had used, which came across as being slightly offensive - and she was right). Eventually we connected on Facebook. She lives several states away from me and unfortunately, I've never met her in person. I like to think that if we lived near each other, we'd get along famously. (Well, until she came to realize how annoying I am.) Yesterday, Sam's five-week-old baby died of SIDS. Amirah was a beautiful dark-haired girl who probably would have given her older brothers a run for their money in the spunk department.
What does one say? I mean, if there is one occasion when the English language fails us, it's this one. Like everyone else, I offered my condolences to Sam and her husband, though the words did not come easily. I cannot begin to imagine how they must feel. I suppose they probably feel leaden or maybe shell-shocked. Just how does a parent start to process and grieve the death of their child? I can't even offer a guess. My hope for them is that they find the strength to move forward. As parents to two young boys, there's really no other way. I hope they find a way to cherish and honor the five weeks they spent with their sweet baby girl. I'm sure they will do just that.
I know that people always want to take a lesson from everything that happens. They want to say things like, "Everything happens for a reason." I can't imagine taking any sort of lesson from the passing of a newborn. If there is a reminder to be had, it's simply the oldie-but-goodie: take nothing for granted. Life is precious and short and sweet. And sometimes bad things happen for no reason.
Sam, I am so sorry that you will never have a chance to tell your daughter to brush her teeth or to stop dilly-dallying. Or to try to stop her from singing inappropriate song lyrics that she heard on Top 40 radio. I'm so sorry that you'll miss out on the good things and the not-so-good things that the future might have held for your daughter.
As for me . . . I will try to yell at mine a little less and to praise her a little more. And yes, never to take her for granted.