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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Document

I have in my possession a piece of paper that no parent should ever possess.
A death certificate for my son.
I looked at it tonight. It is so stark, to see it all written out there in black and white. Name: Gabriel Leslie Wheeler. Cause of death: Extreme prematurity. (Yet later on down, it states that he died before labor even started. When I first noticed this, I was a bit concerned that it might cause me problems. About what, IDK...I even asked my doctor about it. Then I realized that no one would really care.)
I have the card that I need should my husband and I ever decide to bury his ashes, or for the day when one of us dies and we bury him with whoever goes first then. Right now his ashes are sitting on a shelf in my living room. Most, if not all, who walk into our house do not notice them unless they know to look. The urn is not like they show on TV, easily opened and breakable. It is a very small, plain wooden box that is sealed quite securely.
This is the stuff that I now know about. I know what it takes to get a doctor to sign a death certificate for a dead child. Usually, it takes a lot. Dr. Gingo, the man to whom I will be eternally grateful for doing this, did not dick around with it and signed the death certificate that day. This meant we could have the funeral home pick him up and had his ashes home with us in days....no small feat considering it was over a holiday weekend. I know that the use of "passed away" is frowned upon by newspapers due to the stupid Norwalk Reflector changing the wording of my son's obituary without our permission. I know that the funeral director will help you write that obituary. I know that that room in the hospital, the one they told us was for mothers who's babies had to stay during the tour I took while pregnant with Alexis? Yeah, it is for women who have to deliver a dead child because it is far away from all the other rooms. Unfortunately it is still within earshot of all the living babies crying; you also have to pass by the viewing window of the nursery to leave.
I know what it is like to have to tell your daughter that her brother is dead. I know what it is like to have to plan a memorial service for a child I never even heard cry or felt move in the womb.
All of this I could have gone my whole life without knowing.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Hips

So, for a variety of reasons, I decided to go on the Dukan diet. This was after a lot of careful thought and research and whatnot, so it was not something that I did on a whim. I needed to lose some weight, and this diet appealed to me. So far, it is working too, which is a bonus.
My husband was talking to me about my weight loss. He commented on where it is most noticeable, specifically around my stomach area. I noted that while that was in fact where I had lost most of my weight, my hips remained stubbornly wide. No diet in the world is gonna fix this. I for sure have child-bearing hips, which is a cruel joke considering the hell I have to go through to get my children as well as the horror that tends to be my labors and deliveries. Even when I was at my skinniest, I had definite hips.
My husband's response was very simple, yet had such a huge impact. "I like your hips."
This (shocking, I know) got me thinking. That statement meant more to me than he will probably ever know. It is not a traditional compliment, sure. But the fact that my husband continually and unconditionally accepts me and loves me exactly how I am right this very second means the world to me. He loves me now, not how I was 9 years ago when we met, not how I was when we first got married. Now. Present tense. As is. No warranty, either implied or otherwise.
I am a very lucky woman.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Daddies

Happy Father's Day to all the daddies out there, both here on earth and in heaven.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Toothbrush

There is an empty spot in our toothbrush holder. Again.
Elizabeth has left to go visit her father out of state for the summer, as she has for every summer since 2006. It never gets easier, to put her on that plane all by herself, to be gone from her for that long. A big hole gets ripped in my heart for 6-8 weeks every year.
It is only because I firmly believe in the fundamental right of every child to know their parents that this happens. I believed this even before I began studying and working as a family therapist and saw the damage that happened when a child had a parent bad mouth their other parent. I have never ever said anything to Elizabeth about her father that could be construed as negative. There is a lot about our relationship that I have not and will not tell her. He is half of her, like it or not.
Not to say that there has not been conflicts...God knows, there has been. I have said some things to him that I now regret, and I like to think he feels the same way. We get along a lot better now that we don't live in the same state. I have come to accept him for what he does do for Elizabeth, not try to make him to live up to what I think should be done for her. It has at least made my life a lot easier.
But, every night, when I see that empty spot, I think about what could have been. The past will never be changed...but I do think about how very different my life would have been had I made some very different choices. Do I regret Elizabeth? Absolutely 100% beyond a shadow of a doubt not. She was the best thing that ever happened to me. She came at a time when I desperately needed her, though I did not know it at the time. She was what drove me to be who and what I am today. I stopped trying to get approval from where it was not ever going to come from and started to live for what was best for her...and by doing that, I learned how to take care of me.
So when I look at that empty spot, I think of two things: First of all, pretty soon we will need a bigger holder for when Charlie gets teeth (bad mommy does not brush her gums, as supposedly you are supposed to...). Second of all, tough as it is to let her go, to see that hole in that holder, she needs this time with that part of her family. Sometimes letting go is the only way you can show someone how much you love them.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Anniversary

Seven years ago today, at about this time, I was driving to the hairdressers to get my hair done for my wedding. Elizabeth and I stopped at McDonald's before getting there. We walked into the hair salon to be greeted by entire wedding parties getting ready. It was just the two of us, though, in our last few moments together as just Mommy and Elizabeth. Soon it would be Mommy and Elizabeth and Charles.
She went off with her hair stylist and the woman doing my hair got to work. We chatted about how my hair was shorter...thanks to my mother-in-law who gave me a "trim" that took off over an inch of hair. (Needless to say, that was the last time she cut my hair. I started paying for my haircuts after that.) We discussed her mother-in-law, and how to put my veil in, and her adopted son. Elizabeth came out with a huge grin on her face, her hair all ready. The curls in it would end up falling out by the time we got to my aunt's house to get ready.
I arrived at my Aunt JoAnne's. I had spent a couple of nights over there as a child, and I adored her deceased husband, my Uncle Fred. She had this whole spread for us, bless her heart...appetizers and a champagne punch. It would be that punch that would help me to walk down that aisle. As the day went on, I became increasingly convinced that I was not doing the right thing...that Charles deserved someone better; someone easier to deal with; someone without a child. I ended up drinking most of the punch myself, and obviously did walk down the aisle. I never regretted the decision, even when we were at our low spots.
You see, I never really wanted to get married or have children. I never thought that I would find someone to make me want to forsake all others and whatnot. Back then, I did not know about domestic partnerships or open relationships and things like that. Would that have changed things now if I did? I don't know. I did know, though, that trying to imagine a life without Charles in it was worse than having to get married. So I gradually became acquainted with the idea that yes, I could make a marriage work. I did try to convince him to just let us live together for the rest of our lives, but that was a no go. And while I still think that the whole concept of marriage is totally unfair (especially to women, who are expected to take on a new name, and to gays and transgendered folks, who aren't even ALLOWED to get married in most places), I must admit that it has its benefits.
My husband has made me grow in a hundred different ways that I don't even know if he is aware of. With him by my side, I have more confidence. Not because I feel that I am less than without him or "he completes me", but because I KNOW I will have support. Even when I am wrong, he is on my side. I can truly say that unlike most partnerships I know of, we are equals. We both have our strong suits that we bring into this marriage and we make it work. Is it perfect? Hell no. Is it ours? Absolutely. And I can say honestly that I would not change a minute of it. Even all the heartache we have gone through (and we have had more than our fair share, that's fo shure...), even after all my doubts....
Happy Anniversary, Baby. I love you more than I ever thought possible.
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