Archive | September, 2011

Losing my religion and finding my husband

25 Sep

My husband and I are separating.  We have been married for 26 years — since I was 21 years old.  He is moving to London.  I’m staying here.  We are deeply, sometimes even madly in love.  We have decided to live apart for this year for many complicated and convoluted reasons orbiting around his career, my career, our children, my personal need for some alone time, and money.  Money always seems to play a role in decisions.  I have spent the better part of three months working full-time on getting two kids situated comfortably in colleges that are in cities four hours apart, literally touching and sorting every single thing we have ever owned and deciding where it should go next, applying for passports, setting up both local and international bank accounts that can talk to each other, forwarding mail, searching for lost mail, changing insurance companies…the list is endless and boring.  I have spent the last two years in a  tail spin of loss and confusion — see my other post.

What is important is that R.E.M. broke up for real. They didn’t even warn us or ask our opinions.  They just freaking did it.

As you can imagine, when my husband and I got married in 1986 after only knowing each other for ten months — when I was still in college and he was in a rock band – things did not go well.  We fought a lot.  I spent a lot of time with a knot in my chest feeling like “Holy Shit, this is forever!”  Everything seemed to hold deeper meaning and I felt like I was getting nothing I needed from him.  We fought so much, one morning he threw our bagged lunch “toward” (he tells it as toward, I know it was AT) me and hit me in the back of the head.  We were about seven months in when this happened.  Blind with rage, I took a swing at him.  Yes, domestic violence happens!  His response has defined our marriage ever since.  “I love you — I love you more everyday.  Nothing will change that.  I chose to be with you.  (“Now calm down, you crazy woman” must have been his subtext.)

When I met my husband, I was rife with questions.  None of the rhetoric of my conservative upbringing was ringing true within the context of my liberal arts education.  My heart and my intellect were leaning way left and my roots held right.  I felt crooked and unlovable; yet, he did.  My husband loved me unconditionally because he just did.  And in that confidence and safe space he created, some times in silence, I learned to feel safe.  Who gets this luxury?

I know I’m not alone when I repeat the cliché that R.E.M. provided a soundtrack for those formative years, but c’mon, it is true.

Today while we were driving on the Interstate for him to bid farewell-for-now to his family, he began singing “You are The Everything.” He knew all the words and he can sing in tune. He sang it softly and tears rolled my cheeks as I listened.  I looked at him and I knew his love has saved my life.  His unwavering love has changed me into a better person.  I am more because of him: more kind, more interesting, more informed, more patient, more reliable, more of lots of good things.  Now, we have made this choice to separate for a while, and so many people are baffled and worried about us.  Relax, I am confident that it will be okay because it is truly what I need right now.

I need time to write, time to work, time to think, time to listen to R.E.M and memorize the lyrics.  I want time to walk without feeling distracted by anyone and without guilt for wanting my time.  Life is complicated and short.  Love is powerful.

I know I am so damn lucky to be able to make this choice.  I am so damned lucky to be so loved.

“That’s me in the corner…”

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My Grandson

21 Sep

In the summer of 2009, Grant was born.  His mother was a beautiful, radiant girl of 19 with long brown hair and his father was a nervous boy with pitted-pale skin, a blond afro and searching eyes.  Grant was pink and perfect when he made a very quiet and uneventful entrance into the world.  He was my grandson at that moment he was born.

The next day, the lawyer arrived at the hospital and undid all that was done.  Grant became the son of a wonderful couple who were beginning their lives as parents.  They stepped in. My son and his first love stepped out.  These teens went back to being carefree college students; Grant went home to the suburbs; and I left my heart in the hospital where it all happened.

That day’s tears came in floods while the moans of a broken heart nearly choked me. The emotion was visceral and guttural and unimaginable. I can only compare it in a small degree to grieving the death of a child. – to which it does not compare because no one died.

I waited a year before I could make contact with Grant’s mother again. I am not referring to my son’s girlfriend but to Grant’s adopted mother. Wait, using the word “adopted mother” has too many dated and negative stero-types to fit the love and respect and hope I had and have for Grant’s family. I like to refer to them as Grant’s “life-parents.” We who have had children, know that the actual birth is often joyous, but the real stuff of parenting happens afterward: diapers, doctor’s visits, clothes, school, homework, healthy snacks, reasonable limits, loving guidance, swim lessons, soccer games – it never ends. These are all the things every grandparent would want for their grandchild; all the things that his birth parents were not ready or able to provide. So, I waited because I could not let these kind and generous people see the struggle in my heart to reclaim my grandson.  No matter the logic or illogic of it, I had a battle on my hands about what to do. In my head, it was clear – he would enjoy a stable and privileged life with parents who adore him and have the resources to provide for him.  They can give him a safe and happy home with little or no chaos.  In my heart, there was a cavernous hole that echoed with despair.  He is part of our family.  How could I walk away?  The adoption was open.  Grant’s parents have a generous spirit about sharing Grant with us.  They have offered visits, pictures, updates.  I was terrified by their generosity and confidence.   The depth of my desire to have Grant for myself, to assert my rights as his genetic grandparent seemed overwhelming, totally engulfing.  Yet, I knew it was just plain wrong to try and change it.

In both my heart and my mind, I believe that children come first.  I am certain that Grant is having a better life as an adopted child than I could provide him even as a step-in grandparent.  Much of my despair was rooted in fear – as most bad feelings usually are.

When I first heard the news of my son’s predicament, I sought the comfort of my 77 year-old neighbor.  After telling her the tragic story of what they were planning to do, she told me her story of adopting her two oldest children.  “They were mine from the minute I touched them.”  She assured me that there was absolutely no difference in the way she felt about her “surprise” daughter who was born several years later.  She told me how deeply she loved all her children and that I should find comfort in knowing how much and how well that baby would be loved.  She was right.

Grant’s second birthday passed recently. It is true that time heals all. I only cried a little this time as I gazed into his beautiful face on my computer screen. Mostly I smiled and thanked those brave souls who were willing to risk heart-break of their own in order to adopt my grandson.  I am thankful for their regular reassurance  to me…”Grant is loved and cherished.”

One day, I will be able to be a grandmother for real and out in the open – complete with my brag book of photos and bags of presents for every single visit.  One day, I  may even get to touch Grant and tell him that his story was written with a very real double dose of love and generosity.

My Grandson

20 Sep

In July 2009, Grant was born.  His mother was a beautiful, radiant girl of 19 with long brown hair and his father was a nervous boy with pale skin, a blond afro and searching eyes.  Grant was pink and perfect when he made a very quiet and uneventful entrance into the world.  He was my grandson at that moment he was born.

The next day, the lawyer arrived at the hospital and undid all that was done.  Grant became the son of a wonderful couple who were beginning their lives as parents.  They stepped in. My son and his first love stepped out.  These teens went back to being carefree college students; Grant went home to the suburbs; and I left my heart in the hospital where it all happened.

That day’s tears came in floods while the moans of a broken heart nearly choked me. The emotion was visceral and guttural and unimaginable. I can only compare it in a small degree to grieving the death of a child. – to which it does not compare. No one died.

I waited a year before I could make contact with Grant’s mother again. I am not referring to my son’s girlfriend but to Grant’s adopted mother. Wait, using the word “adopted mother” has too many dated and negative stereotypes to fit the love and respect and hope I had and have for Grant’s family. I like to refer to them as Grant’s “life-parents.” We who have had children, know that the actual birth is often joyous, but the real stuff of parenting happens afterward: diapers, doctor’s visits, clothes, school, homework, healthy snacks, reasonable limits, loving guidance, swim lessons, soccer games – it seems endless. These are all the things every grandparent would want for their grandchild; all the things that his birth parents were not ready or able to provide. So, I waited because I could not let these kind and generous people see the struggle in my heart to reclaim my grandson. No matter the logic or illogic of it, I had a battle on my hands about what to do. In my head, it was clear – he would enjoy a stable and privileged life with parents who adore him and have the resources to provide for him.  They can give him a safe and happy home with little or no chaos.  In my heart, there was a cavernous hole that echoed with despair.  He is part of our family.  How could I walk away?

In both my heart and my mind, I believe that children come first.  I am certain that Grant is having a better life as an adopted child than I could provide him even as a step-in grandparent.  Much of my despair was rooted in fear – as most bad feelings usually are.The adoption was open.  Grant’s parents have a generous spirit about sharing Grant with us.  They have offered visits, pictures, updates.  I was terrified by their generosity and confidence.   The depth of my desire to have Grant for myself, to assert my rights as his genetic grandparent seemed overwhelming, totally engulfing.  Yet, I knew it was just plain wrong to try and change it.

The decision did not come easily.  When I first heard the news of my son’s predicament, I sought the comfort of my 77 year-old neighbor.  After telling her the tragic story of what they were planning to do, she told me her story of adopting her two oldest children.  “They were mine from the minute I touched them.”  She assured me that there was absolutely no difference in the way she felt about her “surprise” daughter who was born several years later.  She told me how deeply she loved all her children and that I should find comfort in knowing how much and how well that baby would be loved.  She was right.

It is true that time heals most things. Grant’s second birthday passed recently. When I opened the familiar email, I only cried a little as I gazed into his beautiful face on my computer screen. Mostly I smiled and thanked those brave souls who were willing to risk heart-break of their own in order to adopt my grandson.  I am thankful for their regular reassurance  to me…Grant is loved and cherished.   He is taking swimming lessons and going to museums.  His birthday party looked like one I would have thrown with a home-made cake and a few friends.  It was reasonable and loving.One day, I will be able to be a grandmother for real and out in the open – complete with my brag book of photos and bags of presents for every single visit.  One day, I  may even get to touch Grant and tell him that his story was written with a very real double dose of love and generosity.