Friday, September 10, 2010

The Story of Us (Part 8), Life: In Love

Over the next two years the family struggled some. The little girl was head-strong and single minded. She was fast and agile, slippery and silly. The little boy was often frustrated and wished she had never been born. The boy and girl, while worn out from constant parenting, were still amazed by their children every day.

The boy's health worsened and he started to experience pain for the first time as a result of his MS. The boy got a cane, but did not like to use it, he felt self-conscious and seemed to be battling his body daily. The girl was tired and worried all the time, she did not know how to help the boy and her heart was full with sorrow.
What plagued the family most was the almost constant bickering and often out-right fighting between the boy and girl.
The boy constantly struggled with fatigue and a wish that he was still working. It was hard for him to completely enjoy being at home when his whole being cried out to be in the world working, providing, being the father he imagined he would be. But still. He did enjoy being with his children, he felt very lucky to share such an important part of their growth everyday. This sometimes caused him more pain, he felt guilt on those days he let his anger and hurt seep into his parenting, into the precious time he spent with the little girl and little boy.
Alongside the boy's struggles the girl had her own. When the boy was in pain the girl felt helpless. When the boy was sad, the girl felt helpless. When the boy was angry, the girl felt angry and frustrated. She wanted him to speak more kindly when he felt so much ugliness in him. She was not always patient, and was often demanding. She could not understand why he couldn't just focus his energy on what was good, what was wonderful in their life.
They hurt and they hurt each other.

Somehow the boy and girl got through this troubling time. They endeavored to restore happiness to the home and once more surround their children with harmony. They listened more and yelled less. They tried hard not be demanding and negative. They sat and talked in the evenings and remembered what it met, what it felt like to support each other.
Her sister began to bring them regular meals to try and bring some relief in the daily chores of life. Their mothers offered to help with childcare more and the girl's cousin picked the little girl up once a week for a play date that also gave the boy and the little boy and break. Everyone who knew and cared for the family offered help and support, and love and love and love.

The girl asked the boy to take more time for himself, to please take more care. She told him she would do anything needed if only he would ask. The boy began to ask, he began to pause, to lay down and relax when he needed. The little boy and little girl seemed to settle back into the delight of life, the boy and girl saw the change were grateful.

And now the boy and girl and the little boy and the little girl are continuing on, living and laughing and loving. They adore each other and relish each day. Sometimes the boy and the girl still fight; and most days the little boy and little girl push the wrong buttons, with each other and with the boy and the girl.

But still. The boy makes the girl laugh, and the girl rubs his back. And at least once a day they witness a tender moment between the little girl and little boy. They are a family, they are met for each other and that is enough, that is perfectly extraordinarily right. What A Wonderful World.

To The Boy
Happy 11th Anniversary
With love and immense admiration,
The Girl

Thursday, September 09, 2010

The Story of Us (Part 7), A Family

The boy and girl learned to live with his condition. They moved on with life and tried to keep smiling and get the most out of every day. The boy continued to work, the girl took the medications her doctor prescribed. She wanted to be healthy, quickly, she wanted to take care of the boy.

Soon the boy and girl were expecting another little one. This time felt different, this time her belly grew and grew. They moved again, they chose a midwife and home birth. They were happy and ready to start their family.

The boy worked hard and the girl was winding up her work at the office. She was ready to be at home with this baby, to cuddle, and breastfeed and love, cherish, and be captivated by her little one. The boy and girl spent many nights talking late and imagining what life would be like. They were excited and nervous.

One night almost a week past the wee one's due date, the boy was at a friend's house and the girl was getting ready for bed. She took the dog out to pee and he jumped over the gate right into the street. The dog was hit by a car, he came back into the yard and seemed ok, but the girl called the boy and told him to come right home. He took the dog to the vet, they said he would be fine, but they would keep him overnight.

At midnight as the boy and girl were going to bed her water broke. The boy and girl were overjoyed, this was the beginning! Labor lasted more than thirty hours, it was hard. But still, a little boy was born and life was magnificent.

The girl stayed home for most of six years, working some here and there when the need arose. Mostly she spent time with her little boy and loved being a mother. They chose to home school him and practice attachment parenting. The shared a family bed, nursed the little boy well into his boyhood, carried him, talked to him and tried to honor the person he was and was becoming. The boy worked hard and took time off here and there when the need arose. Life was not easy, but still, it was so very worth it.

The little boy grew and was incredible, they were stunned by him daily. When he was five another little one came along. She was also born at home, her big brother was there, with his arm around the girl's neck, cheering her on, "You can do it Mom, I know you can!" The labor was swift, the midwife almost missed it and a girl was born. Tiny and sweet.

The family was four and they fit together so well. The boy and girl were tired quite a bit, sometimes they wondered if they were wrong to add another, they worried they had ruined the little boy's life when he felt sad and missed all the attention he was used to receiving. But still. Not long after the little girl was born, as the little boy held her sleeping in his lap, he said, "She is the person I love most in the world." The girl and boy were thrilled and felt blessed.

The family moved again to another small house with a big yard. The boy had quit working completely and the girl went back to work at the preschool. The boy took over the responsibilities of the home: all the home schooling, the cooking the cleaning and walking the baby when she cried. He planned play dates, changed diapers, and worked hard to maintain the life they wanted to provide.
The girl was sad to leave each day, she saw herself as a mother, at home. She loved the job, the cooking, the baking, the afternoon naps and holding her baby. She pumped milk for the little girl and was rueful she missed out on so much of her little girl's babyness.

But still. She went to work with a smile, she knew in her heart this was best for her family. The girl wanted more than anything for the boy to take care of his body and mind - to be as well as he could. She came home each night so happy just to see their smiles. And they were smiling. Her little boy and little girl were truly happy and so the girl and boy were truly happy.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

The Story of Us (Part 6), Heartache

The girl and boy continued on, happy together. They took pictures of the girl's growing belly and wondered about their future.
One month later they found themselves in the emergency room. With them was her mom and his mom holding their hands and trying to comfort them. They spoke of their own miscarriages and how life works and the children who come after and the joys life would still bring. The boy tried to keep a brave face and make the girl smile. He told her jokes and brought comfort to a tragic night. The boy was her strength.

The doctor came in and took the girl's hand, looked her in the eye and said, "Your baby doesn't have a heart beat." And the girl felt broken and so sad, her heart just ached. She thought she knew, but still, she had hoped.
She wondered how this had happened, how had their baby died without them knowing? While life for them was so good and so happy.
She cried for a week, the boy held her and still tried to keep her laughing and rented silly movies and talked to everyone who came to the door so she would not have to.

At the end of the week they went south to attend her grandfather's funeral. He had died the day she went to the hospital, and for some reason that brought her solace. She did not believe in god or heaven, and yet she felt her grandfather was taking care, in some way, of her lost baby.

The boy and girl went on and the sadness stayed with them. But still, they found joy and reasons to accept their tragedy. The boy and girl understood they could still begin this wonderful life. They could move on loving that little baby, and at the same time appreciate each other, and their time as a couple before other children would change all that.

They had a big beautiful wedding. Her mother made her dress, her mother-in-law embroidered it with flowers. Her step-mom baked the cake. A friend sang to them, and they danced to their song, What A Wonderful World. Everyone helped, it was amazing, more than they had hoped it would be. The boy and girl went to Las Vegas for this honeymoon, they did not want to come home.

Soon they moved into a little house with a yard, they had cats and a dog. They fought sometimes, they laughed a lot. They worked and played. But still. Life had more in store for them:
the girl had some health problems. She lost too much weight, her left eye bulged, her body buzzed and she fidgeted too much. The doctor said she had an overactive thyroid. She started doing research, she wanted to treat herself holistically, her doctor wanted her on medication. He said she could use radiation, or have surgery, or take the meds. She took some time to think. They would have to do tests to find out exactly what was wrong. They would see after Christmas.

Then one day the boy woke and got ready for work, he was dizzy and could not see well. The girl was still in bed when the boy came back and said he had left work - he was sick and would stay home. The girl went to work, she had an appointment with her doctor in the afternoon, he would tell her what was wrong. She talked to the boy a few times that day, he asked her to come home once to find the dog that had escaped the yard. He felt horrible, he could not walk at all. The boy and girl thought he had the flu.

The girl went to her doctor appointment. She was ready to ask the doctor to help her treat what was going on naturally, she really liked her doctor and felt sure he would care for her in the way that she wanted. The doctor told her she had Graves Disease, and no, he really could not do what she wanted, she would have to find another doctor. He was quite rude and she left crying.

When she got home, the boy told her he had to go to the emergency room, and half way there he asked her to look at his eye. She felt so scared when she saw his eyeball, pointing off to the side, she knew something was happening in his brain.
The emergency room doctor thought the boy was on drugs. Once he realized that wasn't the case, he told the boy and the girl it could be one of three things: a brain tumor, m.s., or lupus. He was excited, he was an intern, he had never seen this before.
The boy and girl were floored and astonished, and so very afraid. They agreed that maybe a tumor would be best, it could at least be removed. She called all their parents, she felt horrible giving the news long distance to his family. His mother was in Thailand, she could not imagine the panic a mother would feel so far away.
They called in a neurologist and admitted the boy for the night. She wanted to stay with him, but they needed the other bed in his room, so she went home and tried to sleep.
The next morning the girl went back to be with him when the doctor showed him the MRI. The boy had Multiple Sclerosis.

The boy was sent home with an eye patch and steroids, a nurse came and set him up with an i.v. All his friends came to visit and drink a beer with him, they were worried and needed to see him, to touch him to make sure he was all right. The boy still laughed and made jokes, it felt like a party, but still - there was fear in the room. The boy would turn thirty in twelve days.

Monday, September 06, 2010

The Story of Us (Part 5), A Surprise

Soon the boy and girl decided to move in together. They found an old funky one bedroom apartment and made a home. The boy and girl were happy. They no longer had to drive back and forth between the town and city. They were not lonely anymore.

Then one day the boy and girl found out there was to be a little one. They were stunned and nervous. Soon they were excited. They had talked of marriage, they had talked of kids. They had been together for six months.
They decided to marry. The girl's parents said, "You don't have to get married because you're having a baby." The girl said, "I know'. But still. They wanted to.
The boys mom was surprised and happy. The boy's dad and step-mom came to town to meet the girl and buy them matching rings and fill their refrigerator with good food for the girl and her growing baby.

The girl and boy decided on a quick ceremony at the Clerk Recorder's Office in the city. They made an appointment for a Thursday. They went to Target for clothes. His brother and grandmother came to town.
That morning the girl's sister helped her get ready while the boy's brother ran last minute errands with him. The boy and his brother bought her a beautiful bouquet and he was nervous when they met up outside the building. They took pictures lots of pictures, it was the first time their parents had met. It was a small affair:
The girl, the boy, his mother, her mother, his grandmother, her step-mother, her father, his brother and her sister.
The girl and the boy were married. It was September 10, 1999. His brother and her sister were witnesses. It was beautiful and sweet. Everyone was teary eyed but the girl and her father. She was so happy.
They had dinner at Robin's with the family and spent the weekend - the honeymoon, in a Bed and Breakfast on the coast that their parents had paid for. They drove up Highway 1 to Monterey. They were in ecstatic, they were in love.

Just found this

It's not a joke, she actually filmed this about a year before she died of ALS. Sad, but sweet and uplifting and a truly amazing gifts for those that loved her.
I'm going to go through her blog now:

We Are...

fixing the broken bathroom sink drain. Fletch accidentally dropped a ring down it and when Jim took off the trap, the pipe just crumbled apart in his hand. Whoops!

making muffins, pancakes, breakfast burritos, syrup and cleaning out the fridge in preparation for our first week of my massage class.

out for beer, well, Jim is. Hi Jen.

watching more t.v. so mom can clean some more (and blog).

glad it was a three day weekend and so is next weekend. Not technically, but I took Friday off for our anniversary, it will feel like a three day weekend till I have to go to school on Saturday and Sunday.

so glad Grandma Paffy moved back to the area. We spent the weekend with her: Pinerado fun and enchiladas in Cambria on Saturday. Art in the Park on Sunday. Lots of fun.

potting training, seriously, buying those cloth diapers were a really good idea. And timed perfectly.

a little nervous about massage school.

really nervous about being away from home so much more.

enjoying the semi-arrival of fall. Feels amazing.

trying not to let Maggy nap so we can get her in bed earlier. Such a departure from our experience with Fletch, but worth it. I actually get an evening, and Fletch gets some much needed time with his mom and dad and maybe a bit of skipbo!

learning all over again what it means to be a parent. It's not about the t.v., the sugar, the lack of eating, the lack of sleep (though I know the importance all these play on my children's - and my own - moods) it's CONNECTION. Most widely know as attention. I am consistently reminded when my children are out of control. Fighting and fighting and being rude and sad and completely unmanageable. I need to: stop. drop whatever I am doing and just sit down, look them in the eye and say what are you needing? The answer is almost always, "Attention.". This is what most often works for us:

-reading together
-tickle fights, followed by a love sandwich
-sword battles
-journaling together
-family time: all four of us sitting in the living room talking, usually Jim or I pose a question for everyone to take a turn answering. Last night's question:
"If you could go anywhere in the world where would you go?":
Fletcher, "To Pokemon world."
Maggy, "To the beach!"
Mom, "To Disneyland!"
Dad, "To San Francisco."
-riding the grumpy horse
-playing a card game
-helping mom bake
-taking a walk
-sitting down to dinner together, which we only do about 4 days out of the week. It's another place we always pose a question for everyone to answer: "What was your favorite part of the day?"

It's amazing what happens after Jim and or I take a break from the constant chores and activities we are doing to spend time with the kids. They slow down, they laugh and touch each other more with love rather than frustration. We strive to remember this more. We fail often, but we try to go easy on ourselves when we do. It's hard you know? It's worth it though.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

The Story of Us (Part 4), Falling

The girl and boy started dating. Their first real date was dinner and a movie. The boy picked her up and took her to the coast. She had the salmon he had the thresher. She was nervous, he spent dinner talking about his ex-girlfriend. They took a walk on the beach and he talked non stop, she thought maybe he was nervous too. He let the girl pick the movie and was embarrassed they still had time to kill before it would start. The boy took her to Walmart, he said he needed new boxers. The girl somehow found this endearing. The movie, In Dreams, may have been the worst ever made.

They were together constantly, and she worried some. The girl still planned to leave, she did not plan to fall in love, she did not plan to stay - even for the boy.

The boy began courting the girl. They met for lunch each work day at the lake and sat on the tail gate of his truck eating burritos. He asked her to go to San Fransico with him two weeks after they met. He took her to Disneyland for her birthday a month later. The boy introduced her to his friends, but spent all his time with her.

Sometimes the girl said no to a date, she tried to keep her independence some, she tried to keep her goal in mind. The boy began to think of following her to Ohio if she left. He did not tell her this. He moved in with his mother to save money.

The time for the girl to leave drew closer, the boy and girl fought some and were sad. But still. They were falling in love, they enjoyed their time together. The boy always made the girl laugh and the girl rubbed his back whenever he asked.

By this time the girl was working part time at the preschool and part time in her father's office. She had given notice at the school, she was preparing. But still. She was not sure she wanted to leave. One day the girl's father told her that if she did not leave, if she decided to stay, he could really use her full time in the office.

The girl told the boy. The girl decided to stay. The girl was in love. With the boy.

Friday, September 03, 2010

The Story of Us (Part 3), A Party

The night of the party she was nervous, but determined to enjoy the evening no matter what. She knocked on the door and the boy answered. He looked a bit different, same smile, same light in his eyes, but he had shaved off all his splendid curls. She was a bit shocked, but did not show it. She came inside and sat down to wait for the friend, they would be going to dinner before the party. There was another boy there on the couch talking to the boy. He said hi to the girl and they introduced themselves. Then it was quiet. The boy would not look at the girl, not even in her direction. It was awkward and the girl was a bit bewildered, but still she was going to have fun.

The girl and the mutual friend went to dinner and then came back to pick up the boy. They headed to the party where the mutual friend began immediately to wind his way through the party. The boy walked into the kitchen put his six pack of Sierra Nevada down on the counter, opened one and spent the next half hour leaning on the counter drinking. He did not offer the girl a drink or even try to talk to her. The girl sat down on a couch and tried glancing at the boy a few times. He would not look at her. A few other boys said hi to her and one sat next to her talking for few minutes. The girl felt pretty silly. She really was here to see the boy, and she really was shy. But still. It all felt a bit ridiculous.

The girl realized she would have to make the first move. She walked into the kitchen and asked the boy if he had saved a beer for her. He smiled his beautiful smile and offered to make her a drink instead. She said she liked screwdrivers. He pour her the drink, half a cup of vodka with a splash of orange juice, she laughed and took the drink.

Pretty soon the house was full and people were standing shoulder to shoulder and chest to chest. The girl and the boy were talking and laughing and the party all around them seemed to disappear. The girl knew the excitement of meeting someone new coupled with a bit of alcohol (she really could not do more than sip the horrible concoction) was a combination sure to sway any young person, but still. She was falling, a little bit, just the same.

The boy was funny and well liked, he introduced the girl to all sorts of people. He put his arm around her and smiled. The boy really was loud, he liked to be the center of attention, and the girl found she did not mind so much. She was having fun. Also the boy really was big; tall and muscular with a bit of a belly, but she found she liked that too. His arm around her was delightful, and so she settled in to enjoy the evening.

The girl slept on the boy and mutual friend's living room couch, but truly she did not sleep much. She was nervous and happy and wondered what he thought and what he felt. The boy had to work the next morning, she pretended to be asleep as he left. She was not sure what to say in the light of day.

It was the boy's 27th birthday and he had asked to see her that night, but the girl had plans and so things were left up in the air.

The Story of Us (Part 2), On the Phone

The girl went on with her evening and mentioned to her co-worker the encounter. The co-worker knew the boy and asked how he was. The night was fun, and the girl was happy.

The next morning the mutual friend showed up at the girl's house. They went for a walk as they often did and she took some pictures as they went. On the way back home he mentioned the boy. He said, "He told me he thinks you're hot.".

The girl laughed, long and hard. "He's so big and loud!", she said. These thoughts jumped right out of her mouth, they were not based on her experience of the evening before. They came from high school and talk around town. He was one of those two brothers after all. They both had reputations and seemed so far removed from her own life. And frankly, they both scared her a little bit. Still. She felt a twinge of joy. He liked her!

The girl and the mutual friend talked some more and he mention a party he and the boy would be going to the following weekend. She said maybe she would go. She thought about it all week and talked with her sister and wondered if she had the nerve to go.

As the week came to a close she decided she would. What did she have to loose? And she really wanted to see his dimples again. She called his house, expecting to talk to the mutual friend, but he answered. The conversation was excruciatingly quiet. She told him to tell the friend she would be coming into the city for the party. He said ok, and before they hung up he called her by the wrong name.

The Story of Us (Part 1), In The Beginning...

In the beginning there was a girl, she was happy and inspired by life. She may have been a bit lonely, but she was planning a big move, across the US to seek a new life. This girl had been working at a local preschool for four years since she was 18. She had been through one serious relationship and few short-lived-not-so-serious ones. She was single and just beginning to feel like an adult. She was not looking for someone new, she was looking for herself.

She was living with her mother and sister again after just one year out of the house. Saving up for the big move, she had plans, she would head to Ohio where her oldest brother lived with his wife and daughter. She would spend some time with them, but ultimately she would start her own life. Doing what? She really didn't know, and she was excited.

Meanwhile over the grade in the big city there lived a boy. He was renting out his friend's dining room. he slept on a couch and all his possessions fit nicely into a few totes, except the shelf of punk rock records which were lovingly stored and often used.

He was working in the girl's town Monday through Friday and spending each night and all weekend partying. He was happy, though maybe a little bit lonely. He had been through a long and ultimately heart-breaking relationship and maybe thought that was all there was to love.

The girl was a friend of the boy's roommate, but did not ever go to his house. She rarely went down to the city, the mutual friend would stop by her house when he was in town.

So, it must have been fate the night she went to the city to meet a co-worker for a few drinks and maybe some dancing. She knew where the mutual friend lived, and so when she past by the house on her way to the bar and saw a man standing outside, she thought it was this friend. It was just a glance and she drove on by. Then she remembered, she did not have his phone number. And so she turned around, she would zip in the driveway, say hi, get his number and be on her way.

As soon as she stopped her car, she saw her mistake. It was not the mutual friend, it was the boy. He was standing on the stoop in his work shorts, running shoes, gas-station jacket with a cigarette in one hand and Seirra Nevada in the other. She felt embarrassed. Really she was a shy girl, just beginning to come out of her shell.

But he smiled, and his smile was beautiful. It was an open and inviting smile. It showed lots of teeth and dimples and joy. So she smiled back. They talked for a bit and she was surprised. She did not feel the least bit shy with him. She told him about her upcoming move and where she was headed for the night. Then she said she had to get going and asked for the phone number and for him to tell the mutual friend she had come by.

The boy stepped inside for a moment, and when he returned he handed her a Spitfire sticker and on the back he had written the mutual friends name with the phone number underneath it. And in very small letters written in haste between the name and number, he had added his own name.