Sunday, May 10, 2015

To My Husband on Mother's Day

The other night after dinner I went for a walk with our oldest son. It’s rare that the two of us have time alone together these days. Which is funny because there was a time when that was all we had. We had alone time almost every day. As we were walking he was asking a lot of questions which of course is nothing new. The sun was at that point right before it begins to set. It’s my favorite part of the day this time of year. The breeze was blowing and I looked at my oldest boy and I couldn’t help feeling nostalgic. I looked at his sweet face and I realized how much he has changed. He is becoming a beautiful little boy. He is learning about the world and about life. I could see the change in his face. There is still of course a sense of wonder, but somehow there is also a sense of knowledge.  At that moment he turned to me and asked, “Mommy, if you and daddy didn’t meet would I be here?”  The simple answer is no but I thought about it for a minute.

 There is something about the change of the seasons. There is a feeling of joy when the cold air gets washed away by a warm breeze. There is something about the way the sun feels just as it is about to set for the night, the way it lingers a little bit longer than it does in the dead of winter. When we met the change was already happening. The breeze was warm, the sun was staying around longer and whether we knew it or not a change was upon both of us.

Our love story was not one pulled from a movie or a novel. We were two regular people who met and went out on a date.  We laughed. We talked. We drank too much sangria and we knew we wanted to see each other again.  It was a great first date.  It was a date that led to many more. Before we knew it the summer was fading and the leaves were changing. The air was shifting again. It was around that time that I knew we were falling in love. Fall turned into winter and winter turned to spring. It was that spring that you asked me to be your wife.
I spent the next six months planning the wedding I had always dreamed of having. I chose the flowers and the place. I tried on four dresses until I found “the one.” I picked out the perfect invitations. We chose the band. We planned our honeymoon. It was all I had hoped for and more.

As I stood on the altar that day and said the words that would make me your wife I could never have imagined what they would really mean to me one day. After all how can you know the true meaning of words until you live them? How can you know just how much they mean until the dress is put away, the guests have all gone home and life together actually begins?  I don’t think you can.

Our wedding day does not tell our story. It’s the day our story began.  You can make plans on how your life is going to go but life does not always go according to those plans.  We knew we wanted a family. We had just moved into a new home and I was screaming “baby!!” from every room in that house even if I was not actually screaming it out loud, you knew.  We decided it was time and we were blessed that it did not take long to find out we were in fact going to be parents. 

When we went for our first ultrasound we knew something was wrong. We knew by the look on the technician’s face. It was then that we found out our baby had no heartbeat and we were devastated. That night I went for a walk, alone. I wanted to be alone. You sat in our kitchen with my mother and I went for a walk.  I walked with the warm breeze washing the tears from my face. I felt the sun as it was getting ready to sink for the night and I wondered what the future held for us. I wanted to be a mother so badly but I made a promise that day that no matter what I would not allow that moment to define me. I would not allow it to define us.

The summer came and went and as the fall breeze arrived we found out we were expecting. Everything went as planned that pregnancy and we welcomed our first beautiful son the following summer. Life was beautiful. Our son’s first year of life flew by faster than the seasons seemed to change and before we knew it he was a walking, talking toddler.
The fall came and the winter followed. It was a regular morning for me. I changed the baby. Put him in his high chair and made the coffee. You came home from a doctor appointment and sat at the kitchen table staring at the wall. “Do you want some coffee?” I asked.  “No thanks. I need open heart surgery.” you replied.  I could feel the shift again. The winter was here to stay. I stood in our kitchen hoping that you were joking, but knowing that you were not.  I looked at our son. I looked at you.  “When?”  “Thursday.” you replied. It was Monday. It was an aortic aneurysm. We didn’t plan for this. How could we have planned for this?
We made it through that surgery and that winter. The seasons changed again and life was happy. We welcomed another beautiful boy a couple of years later. A couple years into his life we found out he too has an aortic aneurysm and while we were both scared we decided to tackle it the only way we know how, head on. He is our brave little bull and somehow when we least expect it, it’s our kids who teach us how to be brave.

 Our lives have been full of seasons filled with memories. Summers of swimming, running in the yard, giggling under the stars, and making S’mores. Winters have been filled with holiday traditions, skiing, sledding and ice skating (or really just ice falling.) Our Falls have been filled with apple picking, hiking, fishing, and football watching.  Springs have been filled with bike riding, star gazing, movie watching, and flower picking.

Looking back I realize now that the dress meant nothing. The flowers meant nothing. The place meant nothing. Marriage is not built on these things. Marriage is built on all the things that come after the wedding. It is built on the ups and the downs. It is built on the past and the present. It is built on the good and the bad. It is built on the changes that come just like the seasons. You have held my hand during the birth of two beautiful boys. You have made me laugh when I needed it the most. You have loved me at my worst. You have made me feel my best. We have fought the fight. We have been met with surprises and dealt with them together.  

When I think about how to answer our son the obvious answer is no, he would not be here if you and I had not met. It’s so much more than that though.  I can’t help but feel thankful for you on Mother’s Day. A thousand Mother’s Days could come and go but you have already given me the best and only gift I will ever need. You made me a mother.  You give me laughter for the rough days and support for all the days in between.  We did not just make a house together, we created a home.  As I walk with our oldest son and the sun warms my face and the breeze blows the warm spring air I can feel that summer is upon us. I am reminded that both our boys will turn another year older this season. I am reminded of just how lucky we are. Life might not always go as planned but it certainly seems like the change of the seasons has always brought us life. It might not always be the life I planned for but it is definitely the life I always wanted. Thank you for making me a mother. 

What I'm listening to:

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

It Was You

It was you.

It was you who held my hand when I said “I don’t know if I’m ready for this.”

It was you who told me to push before the epidural ran out, and boy did I push.

It was you who stayed long after your shift had ended because you were just as excited as I was to find out whether we were welcoming a boy or a girl.

It was you who took the camera and captured our first moments without us even having to ask.

It was you who made my child laugh while the doctor checked to see if he needed stitches after a bad run in with a coffee table.

It was you who cried with me after the doctor told us that our son had an aneurysm.

It was you who brought me coffee while my husband was in open heart surgery.

It was you who let out a sigh of relief with me when the doctor came out to tell me the surgery went well.

It was you who answered the phone at 3 am like an old friend to comfort me and tell me that my husband was sleeping comfortably while I was home caring for our baby.

It was you who hugged me when the ultrasound showed that our baby had no heartbeat.

It was you who made me laugh when my water broke as I walked to the bathroom.

It was you who made me feel like I was capable of anything.

It was you who ran into the room to comfort my son during a CT scan when you looked at me and knew I was at a loss on how to do it.

It was you who jumped up and down shouting “It’s a boy! It’s a boy!” making me feel like you were part of our family even just for that brief moment.

It was you who brought me ice packs and chocolate chip cookies at 1 am when you knew I was not able to sleep.

It was you who helped me navigate the unknown waters of motherhood.

It was you who finally latched my son onto me as I cried worrying he was in fact going to starve.

It was you who spoon fed my grandmother.

It was you who stayed to pray with the family.

It was you who cared.

It was always you.

You are a nurse. You were our nurse. Every day you go to work you deal with the good and the bad and you do it in a way that only you can. You care. You love. You grieve. You don’t expect anything in return but today I want to thank you. Thank you for doing what you do because without you the hospitals would feel empty. The doctor offices would feel empty. The delivery room would feel empty. The waiting room would feel empty. You do more than you know and long after the doctors go home you are there. Long after the surgery is over you are there. You are there checking in on us and taking care of us. When we go home you are the one we remember. You see being a nurse is not just your profession it’s who you are and we love you for being exactly who you are. You may not realize it but we think about you long after we have returned home. 

Thank you.