Saturday, December 26, 2009

Dear Nick

Dear Nickolas,

Yesterday you turned 13. For weeks now I have been preoccupied with this birthday which seems to effect me over any previous birthday any of us have had.

Scenes from the day you were born flash though my memory as you blow out 13 candles with your super cool floppy haircut and devil may care half smile. Your braces cannot even detract from the effortless cool you carry. I won't gross you out with details but there was blood and screaming and your father had to leave the room when things reached... when they got bad. When you finally arrived, you did not scream and cry as you should have. You barely gave us a whimper and I knew, innately that SOMETHING WAS WRONG. It was just like that too, a big meaningless sentence. No one spoke to me as you were poked and prodded and then finally cried, soft but alive. I cried too. I was not allowed to hold you but they let me see you, briefly. Already they were sticking needles in your tiny arms and a plastic tent over your head to keep you breathing. Ask me what terror feels like.

A moment later you were gone and the anesthesiologist spoke as your Daddy walked back into the room, pale and shaky. (Later he would tell me he had gotten sick in the hallway from the stress and the fear and seeing so much blood)

"You must be starving, I'll get you a meal."

"That would be nice." I replied.

8 hours later I woke up. It was Christmas afternoon and a Doctor was there, telling me things that I couldn't wrap my head around. Water in your lungs, transient tachypnea of the newborn , birth stress, oxygen levels, MRI, CPR.. too many big words and mismatches initials. All I heard, all I could understand was that my son, who I had not yet held, was dying.

For two days I sat in the Newborn Intensive Care Unit pumping breast milk for you (don't be grossed out, really) and talking to you. I made you promises.

The impossible.
"If you just be strong I will take you to the park every day for the rest of your life."

And the important.
"I'll never let you go, never leave you."

You heard me, I think. I'd like to think you did because you came back to us. The hood was removed, needles extracted until one day as I sat in my room, still recovering from blood loss and my own injuries, your Daddy walked in the room and gave me the best gift of my life.


It was the first time I had ever held you in my arms. You were six days old.

Today you are a teenager but you are still, sometimes, that cute 3 year old who fell asleep on his wooden ride on airplane because you couldn't bear to part with it. It was pink and second hand but you did not care. It was an 'arghpaned!' and nothing else mattered.

When you were 5 I gave you a bucket of homemade bubbles and left you in the yard while I got your baby brother down for a nap. When I came back, no less then five minutes later, you were soaked in soapy water, bare ass naked and running around with the bubble wand gleefully. You invented happiness.

I watched you Christmas eve with the mug you did not want. When you smiled and said it would hold lots of hot cocoa I had to refrain from reaching over and hugging you. You always see the bright side. Did you get that from me? Or is that all your own?

Last night you heard me tell Pepe that you were the 'great event' in my life that made me wake up. Having you, nearly losing you and then getting you all over again was exactly what I needed then. I needed to understand the value of life. Of my own life. Every day since then has been a journey to be better then I was before, a better mother, a better friend, a better human being. Thank you.

Lastly I want to tell you I am sorry for how much responsibility you bear. I wish you felt more carefree and had less to worry about. Our lives have not been easy, I know. But I hope one day, Nick, you will look back and be grateful for your childhood, for it's hardships and struggles and shining moments of unrivaled joy because those will be the things that make you into the wonderful man you are so close to being.


Friday, December 25, 2009

A heartbeat away

Images snagged from Peter.

Last night from the window of Vega Yoga I watched an apartment building on Lyman St burn. 15 families lived there and countless families have lived there in the past. It was heartbreaking to watch. My thoughts, as they always do in such situations, turned to the after effects of this fire. Homelessness, tragedy, loss. No one died in the fire but it looks as though everyone lost all their belongings.

Two days before Christmas.

It was a low income building and it is not lost on me that I have lived in a similar building, I know first hand what Christmas is like in those places. I know how much it hurts to lose hard earned Christmas gifts, things you have scrimped and saved for. I know what it is like to eat ramen noodles 3 days a week to buy some trivial but coveted gift for a child. To lose that feels like all your insides have suddenly burst into flames and then melted, the world tilts a little and you feel overcome with an urge to cry and stomp your feet and shout “It’s not fair!”

It is not fair.

I called the Red Cross but they were unable to offer any way to help those particular families. You can send them money or drop off clothing but it all goes into a pool for disaster relief which is great and all but I would really like to do something for the Lyman St families.

This Christmas is a tough one for us but nothing at all compared to how tough it could be or has been. One Christmas we were robbed. Once there were only a few dollar store gifts and once there was only a paper tree. In comparison this is a wonderful Christmas for my children and me. We are together; we are warm and well fed and happy.

Christmas eve we will be with wonderful new friends who have come to mean so much to us. Christmas Day we will be with people we are not related too but have been my family in every way that matters since I was an angry and confused 14 year old girl who needed someone to look past my outrage and my mother and see the girl I really was. People who, without fail, love us.

I will keep in mind, every moment, those 15 families who just lost everything at the end of a year that was full of growth and laughter for us. Keeping them in mind will remind me (as if I need reminding) that we are all only a moment away from poverty and devastation.

More Photos from amazing local photographers and dear friends.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Naked girls.

It seems like last week that Nick was still shorter then me. Actually it very well could have been last week, he grows so.. fast. Sometimes I look over at him at home and my heart flutters in a sort pf panicked way. Every inch is another pull away from my own youth and from his youth.

People keep commenting on how pretty soon he won’t want to talk to me anymore but to those people I thumb my nose. I am pretty sure Nick will always feel comfortable talking to me. Not every child becomes a surly angry teen. I have already laid the groundwork with my children for openness, even when it makes us uncomfortable or angry. My boys know I am always ready to listen.. even when I don’t want too. Even when it is about girls.

The boys are sharing a birthday party this weekend and I ordered a Sponge Bob cake for them.

Nick: You got me a Sponge Bob cake for my 13th birthday?

Me, happily: Yes, you like Sponge Bob.

Nick stares at me, waiting.

I sigh.

Me: Well, what did you want? A cake with swimsuit models on it?

And he grinned.
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