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Saturday, September 14, 2013


So the truth is there is a lot I'd love to write about, but those experiences often include other people who have not given their express permission for me to include them in my prose.  So often, I just leave it out.... out of respect.  It's not my story to tell, and so I leave it be.  But sometimes, there's a story that I can talk about, if I do it right and today, I need to.

See...there's a person I love so very much going through a very, very hard time right now and the things they are struggling with I am not.  Namely, the baby thing.  If you've never had a baby, or wanted a baby, or pined and wished and hoped for a baby, you may not understand, but let's be clear here.  It's agony.

But what would I know about that right?  I have seven.  I've obviously never struggled with that particular thing right?  Well...actually I have, and I'll get into that in a bit, but first...let me tell you about being female...

It sucks.  Oh yes, it does.  I mean, long before you can emotionally, or financially or even logically handle becoming a mother, your body is ready.  Every. Single. Month.  There's this reminder, "Hey, you're female and guess what?  The one good thing that comes out of all this can't have for a long, long time, but don't worry, you should be happy you work at all..."  As time goes by and motherhood becomes more and more a real possibility, you learn to pay very close attention to the ebb and flow of suck, because eventually you get to the pause button and start working those parts that have been practicing for so long...

But what if that pause never came?  What if you spent years training for a race, only to show up and be told "Sorry, you don't qualify..."  You see, infertility is a cheat.  It's a thief that comes in and takes something you've essentially been promised for years and months of putting up with the work that should, inevitably, have some sort of tangible reward.  Worse yet, you still have to experience the work of the reward, without any say so about it.  Yeah, you could quit, rip out all the parts and say, "to hell with it..." but then you throw away hope...that hope....the hope that so many women have completely crushed month after month after month.

I can't think of anything more demoralizing than for your body to work in every other be espoused to the person you want a child with, to have a reminder every single month that something's working in there, just enough to make you miserable, but not quite good enough to do the thing it's SUPPOSED to do.  And very often, there is no concrete answer.  Just "We don't know...we can't really find anything..." or even worse, "You have this thing going on that's making it impossible to get pregnant, but if you DID get pregnant, it would provide some relief."  HOLY CRAP.

Infertility is a cruel bit of lightning.  It strikes people who absolutely do not deserve it.  Loving couples with stable homes and room to spare.  It makes no sense, it really doesn't, but it's really boils down to simple biology,  Sometimes things work out and sometimes they don't.

And this...

This IS something I know about.

This is Autumn.  She came to us in December 2005 and those who know me, already know the story, so I won't repeat all that, but take a look at that little face.  18 months old and a little trouble-maker, as she should be as such a curious age.  She was exposed to heroin while her little body was forming.  While every cell was coming together to form this perfect little person, my sister was injecting herself, into her VEINS....with poison.....

And this is Matthew.  His momma was drinking spinach smoothies and taking horse-sized prenatal vitamins, sipping herbal tea and seeing my midwife and doing all the "right" stuff.  And well, he didn't end up that smiling, happy toddler....

He had no lungs.  His arms and legs were tiny, his heart was HUGE, filling up his entire chest cavity  So, know, just a complete cluster mess of everything that can go wrong....

And why?  What the flip happened here?  How on earth is this fair?  In short, it wasn't.  I mean, there's absolutely nothing just about this.  As a matter of fact, when my mom found out about Matthew, she actually called my sister and told her that this should have happened to her.  That I didn't NOT agree with because it really shouldn't have happened to anyone.  I mean, who deserves that kind of heartbreak?  No one in my opinion...

It's just life.  I mean, is....Shit really does JUST happen and there's no rhyme or reason or justification.  You can't grab some dice after a long day of serving the homeless and expect them to roll any differently than they would off the hands of a man who just beat his wife.  It's odds.  It's chance.  It's random. There is no qualification for certain life events. 

Sure we can increase our chances of success in certain areas by the choices we make, but look many people do you know who are experiencing a life event that they had absolutely no control over?  Cancer?  Does anyone deserve that?  Surely it should only affect the 80 year old smoker and not the little boy who hasn't had a chance to ride a bike, let alone light up.  Or how about an auto accident that leaves a young father unable to walk or provide?  Did he make the wrong choice by getting into his car that day?   But honestly our gut reaction to any tragedy, whether personal or removed, is to figure out WHY.  Why did this happen to me?  Why did THAT happen to that person?

I mean, for a split second, I asked myself those questions.  I now make a little joke about the odds.  Matthew's defect affects 1 in 40,000 births.  That's a pretty slim chance and I often say, wow, if I was going to be that "lucky" I wish it was with a lotto ticket. Sheesh.  But then I looked at Autumn, so obviously a live and healthy and thriving and knew...

It was just meant to be.  She was meant to be.  Matthew wasn't.  I don't spend the anniversary of his birth pining for him or thinking about what he "would have been doing" at that age, because that wasn't ever on the timeline.  I wasn't robbed of 6 year old Matthew....Because he never existed.  I got to a place of total surrender with this and made a peace with the fact (and it is a fact) that our lives have a certain plan.  It's already in play right now.  For whatever reason, our experiences are carved out in eternity and we are here to live them, learn from them and love through them.  

I don't believe life is a Rubik Cube full of all these possibilities and with one shift of the blocks, we change the entire course of where our life was going to go one second before.  I believe we are here to learn and those lessons are already in place.  We might be able to pick the "curriculum" or the way we will learn those things, but ultimately, we're going to go through it, whether we want to or not.  

I've had to learn about loss.  When I was 8 and lost my dad, when I was older and lost other important people to me through other events (my cousin, my older brother and sister...all a part of my life until my family caused a drama with them that had them walking away...I still feel those losses), when I lost Matthew, when I let go of Amber and Autumn....loss after loss.  Things I was allowed to want and to have for the briefest moment that vanished.  

And it sucked.  But the thing about loss is that you learn appreciation.  You also learn to courage to let go of things that aren't valuable and aren't healthy and are helpful because you realize "Hey I've had to let go of that which I truly wanted....what's the big deal letting go of that which I don't"

I've been able to let go of expectations, of people, of physical places (I cry whenever we leave a place...I feel like I'm leaving something behind...) of ideas, of fear....

And this is surrender.  Knowing that whatever you are going through....whatever anyone else is going through, isn't necessarily about who deserves what.  Or who is better than anyone else or more qualified to receive  (or be denied) a certain something.

So when I say "I understand..." a struggle, I really do understand.  I may not be walking down the same path, or seeing the same things, or going through the same fire, but I am well-versed in looking at life and thinking "Seriously?  I mean are you SERIOUS?  Why?  Just why???? HOW IS THIS FAIR??"

And being just as clueless as anyone else . I don't have the answers, but I do have faith that everything, in it's time reveals itself and that God, whether believed in or not, has His hand on this thing.  

Something I was told all growing up...."Life isn't fair..." and oh man that  pissed me off.  Because it was said when an injustice that could have been corrected was not.  (You're a parent, one child has one-upped the other, the parent is too lazy or just over it to intervene and just throws out a one-liner to shut the kid up...)

But it's got some profound truth in it.  Life isn't fair.  And the sooner you realize it, the better off you are.  Not because it's RIGHT for other people to come out on top who haven't played by the rules...not at all...not because it's okay for someone who has something you've love to shit all over that something (Yeah, I do this can that drug addict get knocked up when that other couple is trying so hard?) but because once you realize that life isn't fair, you stop trying to beat the odds. To dance with karma in such a way as to guarantee that you'll get what you want.  When you really do understand that you do not DESERVE so much of what happens to you (good or bad) you can find surrender.  You can stop blaming yourself or anyone else for these things and just surrender to the randomness that is life.  You can stop trying to own what you did to bring down this "thing" that's torturing you so and realize, "It's happening because I'm more, no less...."

And being alive...well, that's a good thing right?

Because while life isn't fair....

It's still good.  

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