09 April 2009

To The Girl Sobbing On The Phone

Dear Girl,

Should I be saying "girl", at our age? "Woman" sounds so grown, and I don't feel that way yet. Maybe I never will.

When you told me about the test that you took, the three of them in all, about how you were staring down three pink plus signs, about how you didn't think you could possibly do this, about how alone you would be--and then there was silence on my end, with your tentative, "Jenn?"--I am writing this to tell you what I wanted to say in those moments.

I wanted to tell you that I know that there was a point in my life when you weren't a part of it. That doesn't seem possible now. I wanted to tell you that of my friends, you have been among the most true. I wanted to tell you that I will never forget your kindnesses.

I want to talk to you about that plus sign. I wanted to tell you of the time my sister sat on the edge of my water bed, two days short of sixteen, and told me of her pregnancy. I know you know her son now; I know you know her strength now, and I know that you have that within you.

When you said that you'd be alone--I wanted to talk to you about that. I've been alone and pregnant. I've gone to doctor's appointments and tests alone; I've ridden an elevator to his office on the top floor, where they would tell me whether my child had made it through the night within me, or if she had died. I've delivered a baby that was between life and death for sometime. I've sat in a hospital room alone, sobbing, begging, bartering, multiple times.

This will not be you.

I promise you that I will be there every moment, for every appointment. If I cannot be, I know that you have a network of people that love you as fiercely as I do that will make sure you won't be alone, in the physical sense.

Because you already know that there is the other sense; the sense of being--and there are no words that I can say to promise that I can ease that feeling. If I could, I would do it, but no matter the honesty, you cannot change the truth.

It will be hard. You will think that you cannot do this. You will be shamed when people look to your swollen belly and then your empty ring finger. You've known my shames. None burned so hard as the side-ward glances, the whispers, the forms filled out without a father's name written in, the judgement.

But I wanted to tell you about judgement. That no matter what you feel now, no matter what you will feel when your cheeks are burning and you can't lift the dog food to put in your car and you feel this thing kicking inside of you and you just want it to end--those aren't the judgements that will matter.

The real judgements will happen daily, every time you catch a glance of yourself.

The real judgements will happen the first time your child says, "I love you mommy".

Those are the only judgements that count.

Will people you thought were close to you be some of the ones to bring you pain? Most likely, yes. But you learn who your friends are, and believe me, you will need them, and they will want to be there for you, and you will learn about accepting mercy and kindness, and I know that someday, you will pass those along when you can.

You will feel like a burden. I want you to understand right now, you are not. I want to help you, I want to be there, and I know that others around you will feel the same.

I want you to know that in the dead of the night, when you are lying there alone in your bed, one hand on your stomach, one hand pulling at your hair, your chest heaving with fear and regret and anger, when you are thinking that it is too late in the day, that there is no one that you can call: You are wrong. I am here, and there is no hour, no distance, nothing that will change that.

I am but a heartbeat away; I will always be such, until the day that I die.

I wanted to tell you that there wasn't a lower time in my life than when I carried Little A inside of me. I wanted to tell you that today, there is not a moment that brings me more joy, more love, more happiness--almost beyond what I can physically bear--than when I hear her laughter and feel her head upon my chest.

It will be a path that is not for the weak and weary--and though that is how you will feel--when you are walking it, know that every single step is worth it, a thousand times over.

Mostly, I wanted to say this:

There are few truths without exception.

I want you to know this one:

You are not alone.
I am here.
I will always be here.
I promise you this now, with each reader as my witness.
I will hold your hand and hold your baby and fight your fights and will do so with a heart that is so grateful to have been so fortunate as to have you in my life.

In that silence; that pause; that is what I wanted to say.

Now chin up and face forward, dear one.

All my love, always,

08 April 2009

To Whom It May Concern:

Dear Sir:

In order to help you avoid death at the hands of anyone with a brain and a driver's license, I thought I would kindly point out the error of your ways this morning so that you can avoid further unfortunate incidents such as the one that you were involved in at the crack of freaking dawn on this beautiful day.

  • If it is 6:12 a.m. and you are looking to pull out from a driveway (note: your current speed is zero) and a car, let's just say a navy blue mommy-mobile, is approximately 15 feet from you and appears to be traveling closer with each passing millisecond, it is considered good form and a basic tenement of traffic laws that you allow said car to go by prior to pulling out from said driveway.
  • If the above circumstances apply and additionally you drive a freaking 1978 Ford Escort with acceleration rates that are equal to those of a dying sea turtle trying to crawl back into the ocean for one last swim, it is just common sense that you DON'T PULL OUT UNTIL SAID MOMMY-MOBILE HAS PASSED.
  • If, despite good form, traffic laws and common sense, you proceed to pull out anyway, forcing the driver of the navy-blue car to slam on her brakes, thereby catapulting her briefcase, all contents of said briefcase and her Diet Mt. Dew onto the floor, it probably is not in your best interest to then look into your rear-view mirror and flip off the driver of the navy blue car, for apparently tailgating you?
  • Once you've committed the acts above, for you to then chug along and not even go within ten miles per hour of the posted 35 mph speed limit, well sir, I've heard that juries have acquitted admitted murderers in the same circumstances for something called "justifiable homicide".
  • For you to then drive down the center of the road so that the car behind you cannot pass you and then laugh while smoking your cigarette and sipping your coffee, forcing the driver of the mommy-mobile to abandon her daily vow not to swear so early in the morning (which on most days, takes until at LEAST 7:02 a.m.), it's just asking Karma to come and give you a nice, swift kick in the ass.
  • Upon committing the above atrocities, if you then watch the driver of the mommy-mobile cut through a bank parking lot to avoid the red light you're stopped at, as she's pulling out of the said lot onto the road in front of you while you're still sitting at a red light and appears to be laughing manically, it is not considered good manners to watch such actions with both of your middle fingers apparently sprouting from your steering wheel, mouth agape. 
I hope this letter has cleared up any confusion that you may have previously suffered from regarding not being a complete asshole who should not be allowed to drive basic traffic knowledge.


A Concerned and Considerate Driver

With Deepest Sympathy

Having once held a 3.5 pound baby in my hands, willing her to breathe, begging God to take my life if he would just give her one, I cannot quit crying.

I am so, so, sorry.

Please go here and consider donating to the March of Dimes:


Godspeed, sweet one.

(Post Scrip: You cannot go to the personal blog of Maddie, because Blogger has suspended the account due to a large amount of traffic. Their prematurely born daughter passed away, after 16 months. They have been taken by surprise and are in need of support, please consider it in any form, including prayers.)

07 April 2009

It's NOT the Economy, Stupid

Some of you may or may not be aware that last night Michigan State played North Carolina for the Men's College Basketball Title.

Regardless of whether you knew it or not, let me give you a little back story.

Michigan State wasn't supposed to be there, playing North Carolina. They defeated two number one teams to have the honor of playing for the title in front of a crowd hailing from their state.

In the days leading up to the game, the stories playing on the news and in the papers sang a familiar tune: How this championship could help the Michigan economy, how this would be such a Cinderella story for a citizenship in desperate need of a fairy tale, etc.

And then, of course, the game began. And, then, there are those that would say that it ended nearly as soon as it began. It wasn't pretty; what ensued. It was what some might call a routing, a massacre, an easy victory for North Carolina.

And then, of course, the media reports today. Since we listen to ESPN each morning on our drive to work, I got to hear the tail end of a Roy Williams quote (He's the coach of NC), where he was laughing with Mike and Mike in the Morning, joking about how he did his part for the economy and went and spent some of his money at the casino. Laughter all around as I shook my head and bit my lip.

I was driving to Lansing, where I work, the town where Michigan State hails from. In the same city of our state capitol, on a daily basis, I meet with individuals struggling to find employment who also happen to be struggling with some sort of disability, from being wheel-chair bound, to being displaced workers stunned by the closing of doors where they worked every day for the last twenty years.

Our state has been hardest hit by this downfall of our nation's economy. Our unemployment rate is in double digits, the highest in the nation. Our factories, which once were the fore-front of this nations industry, now closing all around us. We drive through town, every other house with "For Sale" signs in their abandoned yards. And each day, I walk out into a lobby full of people desperate to work, desperate for anything good.

It wasn't ever about the economy, Roy.

It was about hope. It was about overcoming the inconceivable. It was about, for once, instead of the usual, "Have you heard from any employers this week," answered with the shake of a down-turned head, it was, "How about those Spartans?"

It wasn't about your damn dollars tossed down in a casino.

It was about spirits lifted, if just for a minute, towards a sun that we haven't seen for a long time.

It was about a client that we still have on our roster who I couldn't get Taco Bell to call. It was about a letter I sent off to one Mr. Tom Izzo, head coach of MSU, talking about my client and how he couldn't recite our presidents or verbalize very well, but about how he could recite stats about Michigan State Basketball from the 1970's through today.

It was about a phone call that I got back, a four-color book on MSU basketball sent to my client, with his name written in it, inscribed, "Dream Big. Tom Izzo". It was about basketball tickets given to him, right behind the MSU bench, it was about Tom Izzo walking up to him after the game, shaking his hand, and taking him back into the locker room. It's about a kid that never believed in himself for one minute, that finally believed maybe he was worth something. That's what it was about, Roy.

So you can take your game stats. You can take your criticisms of when a time-out should or shouldn't have been called. You can take your talk of, "Well, maybe they shouldn't have been there in the first place", and you can take your lousy dollars dropped within a casino.

What you cannot take is what was finally true here: There was hope. And for a state full of people that forgot what that looked like, that will not be forgotten.

There is a long, hard road ahead, no doubt. We know that. But if a group of kids in green and white jersey's can make it to the final game, who is to say that we can't?

It wasn't ever about the economy. It was about what it took to get there.

And you can't buy that, no matter what the media and certain head coaches want you to believe.