Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Labor

Yesterday, it was explained to me that at a certain point in the grantwriting process in our office, the writing and editing can no longer be done by multiple individuals. Therefore, once I was finished with the section I was working on (which SUCKS apparently), I was to save and close out, and from that moment forward, I was no longer to work on the documents electronically, but instead, could make my revisions on hard copy.



"So, what do I do now."



"Well, you have to think of it as kind of like labor."



Which is like waiting while you are in extreme pain.



It was an apt analogy.



And you will probably think I am idiotic, but it actually took me about an hour to figure out that, in fact, eleven years ago yesterday, my waters broke and I began laboring with my first child.



For 24 hours.



I was waiting while I was in extreme pain.



And so, here I am, eleven years later, and once more, I am in labor.



But today, I would like to take the opportunity to remember that eleven years ago, a beautiful, smart, caring, and tender-hearted baby boy was surgically removed from my body at 6:58 p.m. He weighed 8 pounds, and was 19 or 20 inches long (horror! I can't remember!). When I first saw those chubby cheeks, the mirror of my own, I thought, "I know who that is." I recognized him.



Best thing I've ever ever done in my life. "Except for have my brothers," he corrected last night, when I told him on the phone that at that moment, that precise moment, eleven years ago, I had been standing in my kitchen when I thought I had wet my pants. While I was telling him this, I was at that moment, eleven years later, walking our sassy little big dog.



Hemingway wrote that you can pack all of the love of a lifetime into one night. How much more can you pack into eleven years?



I have discovered how much is possible to do in eleven years-- in that time, I have:

  • moved five times, with that baby boy,
  • given birth to two more children,
  • lost five cats,
  • left one church,
  • had four jobs in three years,
  • changed countless diapers,
  • made love more times than I could count,
  • bought two houses and two minivans,
  • adopted one obnoxious dog,
  • made countless friendships,
  • deliberately ended three of those,
  • had best friends move away,
  • and met the love of my life.

During that time:

  • one of my friends has had two children die,
  • many friends have had miscarriages,
  • one friend had a catastrophic stroke
  • my darling baby boy was hit by a hit and run driver and walked out of the hospital the next day,
  • he started his life in a NICU unit with group strep B,
  • his brother spent five days in the hospital at 5 weeks old with RSV, and
  • his other brother was in speech therapy for five years.
I can measure all of these things. These are all measurable benchmarks in my life, evidence to me that time has passed. I can record them and look at them and remember them and analyze them. It is as if my life began that day, with him. And I can tell you about the teeth he has lost, his first steps, first words, his first day of kindergarten, when he got onto the bus and I waved and smiled, and when it pulled out of sight, I burst into tears and turned to my then-husband, who smirked, and said, "Fuck you!"



I can tell you about all of these things. These are the tangibles, the concretes, the understandables.



But I cannot even begin to tell you about the love.

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