Friday, October 18, 2013

The Good & The Bad

I always sit down to write, but rarely do I ever know where to start. I am a broken record each and every fall; specifically, October. Such a bittersweet month. Six years ago this month I fell in love. Love that wasn't meant to last and ultimately didn't. But that doesn't stop me from remembering most of it like it was yesterday. Three years ago this month I made the choice to find out the sex of the baby I was carrying. I looked through books of hopeful parents with my unborn child's father. I met with the people who, almost three years later, are lovingly raising that child into an intelligent, polite, curious little girl. I remember every day of the month of October 2010 as if it were yesterday. I wonder when those memories will fade....yet, I don't want them to. It stings every day when I'm at work and realize what the date is. See, I have to talk about the date all the time. Being a receptionist entails scheduling appointments upon appointments. October 12. October 15. October 19. October 28 (one of the worst. Due date). October 31. Oh, don't even get me started on November.  We are having a work party for someone who has been with the practice forever and is leaving next month. I was so excited to go (I just started this job less than a month ago, and was looking forward to getting more acquainted with everyone) until I asked what day it was. "November 2nd." OH, SCRATCH THAT. Yes, I could go. But I don't want to make any commitments on her birthday. Her third birthday.

You might remember me mentioning here that my grandfather has been very ill for quite some time. He has survived by going to dialysis four days a week for five hour stretches at a time, and lives in a nursing home. This is a drastic change for a man who still has all of his wits about him and used to travel and enjoy life.  I had thought about asking A's mom to bring her by to meet him two summers ago, when she was 8 or 9 months old, because that is when he started getting really sick and that's when I finally told him about her. I'm ashamed to admit that I didn't tell him up until that point, but that's water under the bridge now. Nothing I can do to change that. I was afraid of what he would think, and I let that fear control a lot of my actions while I was pregnant. I focused too much on what her father said, which was that my family was "racist" anyway and wouldn't want to meet her. Couldn't have been further from the truth, however. He asked me each and every single time I saw him (a few times weekly) how she was doing, or told me how beautiful she was in the photos I showed him, or told me how much he saw me in her. Anyhow, I never asked, because I thought it was a very far-fetched request.

Fast forward to this past September. My grandfather was talking about how he didn't really have much to live for anymore and thought he might discontinue going to dialysis. In all reality it was the sole thing keeping him alive, and it was keeping him alive so he could go "home" to four boring walls in a nursing home. None of us blamed him, and we told him that if he was ready to stop and understood the consquences, no one would try to force their opinions on him.  He mentioned, again, that he had accomplished all he wanted to accomplish in life...except for meeting my daughter, his great-granddaughter.

I asked a friend - whose opinion I highly value - what she thought about me asking C if there was any chance that my grandpa could meet A in the near future, as his time was unfortunately short. She told me to go for it, but don't get my hopes up. So, I asked. I asked and I received. She wrote back within the hour asking if I could give her a day to think about it. Of course, I said. She wrote back a day or two later and said that she would be more than happy to bring A to his nursing home so he could spend time with her.  I can't even write this without the tears flowing.  We mutually agreed that I wouldn't be there - it would be just about her and my grandpa. We have an open adoption in every sense of the word, but we don't have in-person visits. So I didn't expect one. I wasn't trying to manipulate her into coming so I could see my daughter. She was 100% honest and said she wasn't sure if she was ready for me to see her again in person and felt that I might not be ready either, and to be honest, she was right. As much as I would LOVE to see my daughter, I would want to see her and never leave her again. Had I been there, it would have been about me, not him. I would have lost it when they walked away. I know I would have. So it was decided that she would go alone.

I still haven't wrapped my head around the miracle that she made happen. She drove an hour to visit a man who could do nothing for her in return, within weeks of saying yes. She made it happen. This was for a man she had never met before and would likely never meet again, just because she believes in family and roots and wanted him to be able to meet the child of his only grandchild.

She emailed me photos that very same evening. You can see the love in his eyes, and she warmed right up to him. She told me all about the visit; but my grandfather's version was much, much more heart-touching. I went to see him the next day, and he told me every detail that he could remember. He told me he was "simply amazed" by her and how smart and beautiful she was.  He said when she walked in, she said "I'm ____, your great granddaughter." How could I hear that and not burst into tears? He told me she was a little shy at first, but then she warmed right up to him and even walked him to lunch and pulled up a chair beside him. He was over the moon because of one simple gesture: she asked him to hold on to her stuffed bunny (the one she has slept with since she was an infant). He said "that's something, you know. That's really something...that she trusted don't give their most treasured belongings to just anyone." He was so, so proud of her, and just as proud of me. This was literally his dream come true. His "last wish." And to think, it was all because I had the courage to ask, and her mom has a heart big enough to see how important this was not only to my grandpa, but to my whole family.

I am the first to admit I have sometimes gotten frustrated with the waiting. With the promises to send photos on a certain day and then they don't come and I am heartbroken. But this was a huge, huge moment for me. This made me look at the big picture. No matter how late the pictures are, they still come...and she does care. I will never be able to put into words what this meant to me. I have a whole new level of respect for her and as hard as it is, still, to this day - I have been reassured sevenfold that I chose the right parents for my beautiful daughter. I didn't need her to prove it, I already knew it and felt it in my heart. But the fact that she went above and beyond in this way has spoken volumes to me.

And as if that wasn't amazing enough, in one of her emails to me about the visit, she said that my grandfather was an absolute delight and that she would be happy to bring A back to visit him again if time permitted. She volunteered to come back! And scheduled it for the 8th of November. Just shy of a week after her 3rd birthday.

Sad to say, though... I don't think my grandpa will get to see her again. He took a turn for the worst yesterday morning, and his body is too weak not only for dialysis, but even for food and drink. He chokes on everything he tries to swallow. Doctors have said that they have done all possible for him, and from here on out, we are just taking measures to keep him as comfortable as possible. He's been moved to a private room in the hospital with no commotion, no machines. Just him and us - his family. I knew this day was coming, but I'm still not prepared.

I'm heartbroken that there is an opportunity present for him to spend more time with his great-grandchild, and he won't be able to do it. But at the end of the day, I am still floored that he got to spend the hour + that he did with her on September 20th. Something he never thought would happen in his wildest dreams, happened. A little girl who he so desperately wanted to know and spend time with, introduced herself to him and hugged him.  He has been declining for over two years now. I am not sure it's a coincidence that he was sick all that time and has reached the inevitable "end" less than a month after meeting her. I'm not the most faithful person, but I do believe in fate, and part of me wonders if somewhere, deep down, he was waiting for her. His wish came true, and I owe it all to her adoptive mom. I will be forever indebted to her for that; but when I told her that, she said the same back to me. We have both done something immeasurable for the other (although I see my adoption as giving them to my daughter, not the other way around).

So with tears in my eyes, it's time for bed. Tears of happiness for the beautiful visit, and tears of sadness for my grandpa who is not long for this earth now. I'm lucky to have had my grandpa for 25 years. Some people aren't as fortunate...and I consider myself fortunate for that and for the fact that I can see, clear as day, my daughter running towards him.