Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Was the Gift Worth the Cost?

A birthday party for Jesus at my house this afternoon got me thinking about gifts.  We had a cake, sang 'Happy Birthday' and went around the table and told Jesus what we'd like to give Him.  I gave my plans.  I have lots of things going on and I like to think I can anticipate His next move in my life.  He keeps trying to let me know that He can outwit me with out so much as a blink of an eyelash but I like to frustrate myself by playing the game anyway.  This year, I'd like the plans to be solely His.  My 5 year old daughter wanted to give Jesus a telescope so He  could see all the stars.

"Don't you think He can see all the stars from Heaven, Honey?"

"Yes, if He closes one eye.", she replied squinting and contorting her little face to show me how.

As we wound down the party I started to think of who wasn't there. My late husband was one.  He would have liked the tradition.  Carli was too young when he died to start it but we did talk about it one night.  Next I thought of Alex.  I thought of what a gift she was to her parents and how much they must have realized that last year, which was their first Christmas with her.  I thought about what traditions that she would have with her parents and would they maybe have a birthday party for Jesus as well?  It's been a while since I've heard from Alex's parents.  Maybe 4 weeks or so. I've been so wrapped up in Christmas chaos that I hardly noticed, until today.  I've been evenly keeled about everything but emotions sneak up on me once in a while.  I run at too fast a pace for anything to catch up usually.

After everyone left I decided that I needed to head to the gym.  My brain was going too fast for comfort and a good workout always does the trick for me.  I loaded myself and Carli into the car and headed for the 'Y'.  As I drove, I noticed the twinkling Christmas lights adorning the neighborhood houses and shrubs.  My mind recalled a recent picture of Alex. She is 14 months now.  She was sitting on a hillside in the grass.  Her mother had dressed her a prim purple pleated skirt with grey knit tights and brown riding boots.  Her hair swept back and to the side by a matching plum colored bow.  I focused on her face.  Her round chubby face has the sweetest cheeks.  I thought of what it would be like to sit her on my lap like I used to do with Carli and kiss her baby little face over and over again.  As I continued to daydream, I could almost smell baby lotion and feel her skin on my lips.  Before I could bring myself around, I was sobbing in the driver's seat trying to contain myself so I didn't upset Carli.

How am I going to workout like this?  I wanted to turn the car around and come back tomorrow.  Thankfully my sensibility took over and I resigned to the fact that the workout may be just what I needed.  I could cry later.  I tried to get the images out of my mind as I checked Carli into KidWatch and walked onto the gym floor.  In my distraction and disorganization from being lost in thought, I put everything every where and just sat down in the stretching area to try to get myself warmed up.  As I leaned this way and that, I wandered through my social networking sites on my phone and glanced at posts.  I came across a post from a man that I highly respect.  It was shorter than most of his usual and it didn't look funny so I clicked to see what needed reflection.  "God...Your love makes it worth it all" came off of the screen at me.  I think I stopped breathing for a few seconds.  My mind started rifling through images of what 'it all' was to me.  Was His love worth it?  Yes!  I don't even recognize my relationship with God.  I thought I had God all figured out and stored in a tidy box before Greg died. My pregnancy and adoption journey with Alex was what drew me near to Him and got me to ask the one question He was waiting to hear from me, "Who are you, really?".  I could never have what I have in Christ today if not for those trials. I didn't choose this but I am strangely grateful for what I gained in the endurance.

I typed a reply but I heard myself say "and I lost a spouse and a child in the same life" most find it puzzling who don't know Jesus to hear me say that I would do it again to have what I have in Him.  I wanted to reply again when I was struck by a recollection of a conversation that he and I had in my car in the summer.  He had lost a child and a spouse too.  The events weren't the same but the pain was.  He knows what I mean.  I have some idea as to what makes makes him post that statement and know that he can stand behind what he said.  Because it's true.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Final Countdown

Tests, final paperwork, phone calls to make arrangements and my mother's arrival signaled that I was really at the crest of this wave.  Save any early contractions, I had a date and a time for the arrival of Alex.  Her parents were deliriously happy.  Why wouldn't they be? The end of 5 years of waiting was almost over for them.  They were at a crest too.  For me, it wasn't as happy as I was waiting my wave to come in to shore.  I'd been riding this one for 9 months and I was frankly anxious to get off my board.

I picked up my mom at the airport. The Arrivals area at the Key West International Airport is about the size of a finished basement in a large split level house.  You can't miss the luggage carousel, it's the only one they have not mention, it is right next to the door as soon as you walk in from the tarmac.  I knew she wouldn't miss me.  I was the size of blue whale.  I sat and waited until I saw her come through the automatic doors.  We hugged and chatted about her trip but it wasn't a happy greeting.  We both knew what was coming.  It wasn't so much what was happening but the anticipation of the unknown when something big is about to go down.

I wanted to put it out of my mind and just focus on the fact that soon, Alex's father would be out of my life.  No more drunken phone calls, tirades, threats, sobbing pleads, and frustration.  The idea that I would never have to speak to him again should have made me giddy.  When ever I'd get sad, I'd talk out loud to my mom about how happy I was for Brett and Kayla.  It was a happy time.  Two people were going to become parents!  No one was forcing me to do anything, it was my decision so why was I so sad?  No matter what I tried to do to rationalize that being sad was selfish, my heart wouldn't have it.  I had to accept what I was feeling.

The morning came when it was time for me to go to the hospital.  I had to report at 5AM for my c-section.  Brett and Kayla would be meeting me there for the big arrival.  The plan went that my mom would stay home with my daughter until later and my wonderful miracle of a friend, Angel would drive me to the hospital.  I had my bags packed for the hospital from the night before.  I sat on my bed in the dark and waiting for Angel's text message to let me know that she'd be downstairs waiting for me.  I couldn't help but think of my first pregnancy.  The contrast was polar.  Carli was not only planned but prayed for.  My late husband and I were so thrilled to await her arrival.  My onset of contractions kept us up all night and the excitement was tangible between us as my body let us know that our little girl would be joining our family in a matter of hours.  It was such a special moment as we drove together in the car to the hospital.  He was by my side the whole time and his face let me know that he was elated to share in this and didn't want to miss a moment.  This morning, I never felt so alone.  I wasn't going  to welcome a new baby with her father and bring her home.  I wasn't fantasizing about what it would be like to take her into her new room and rock my new little precious as I placidly stared down at her.  I was going to deliver a child that would be leave with someone else.  The sadness and the reality covered over me like a canopy.

I lumbered down the stairs with my bag after briefly waking my mother to tell her that I was leaving.  I made my way into the car and we drove to the hospital.  It was still dark and and silent on the island.  The revelers and bar staff were all gone.  Just me, Angel and her car.

We pulled up to the front door and the bright lights of the main lobby beckoned us from the black of the empty parking lot.  I hugged Angel good bye and walked toward the light as the doors parted for me.