Category Archives: Married Life

Date Night…Again

Yesterday, after a previous engagement I was looking forward to was canceled, my husband asked me on a date. He even went so far as to line up a baby sitter for the evening first, to make sure we would be able to go.

(This is where we cue a chorus of “Awwww” and this face:)

Awwww, shucks, ain’t he sweet??

Date night is always something to look forward to; am I right, ladies? But when you’re parents, and your daily schedules revolve around things like picking Cheerio dust out of the carpet and changing dirty diapers that smell like rotten cauliflower, the idea of a night out sounds like a straight-up vacation. And if there’s some kind of chocolate dessert involved, that vacation just got promoted from a weekend at a bed and breakfast to a week in Maui.

Or maybe that’s just me.

Anyway, my mood went from blue to “woo hoo” in the ten seconds it took me to say yes! Then I asked him the ultimate pre-date night question.

“Got anything special planned?”

And as usual, got the same response that I’ve gotten on every date night in the last 13 months. “Dinner and a movie?”

Insert pouty face here.

See, here’s the thing. We are creatures of habit. We frequent the same handful of restaurants. We frequent the same number of stores. And when it comes to fun time out, especially in the Deep South in the middle of the most miserable summer in recent history, the movies is it. Dinner and movie is great….but can you blame a girl for wanting a little romance? Candlelit dinners in some perfectly quiet restaurant with linen tablecloths and snooty waiters? A romantic stroll on the beach, holdings hands and strolling down memory lane? Maybe even an unexpected adventure, exploring this place we call home, but that has so much more to offer than we’ve ever really bothered to experience?

So I whined a little. “We always go the same places…we always do the same things…wah wah woe is me.”

And Brian, being the knight in shining armor that he is, suggested a NEW restaurant that we’ve never been to before! Placated, I agreed to the dinner and a movie date as planned, with the shiny new restaurant in my pocket as a consolation prize to not being whisked away in a private jet to Italy for dinner and drinks. (So sue me, I read too many romance novels.)

As I headed to bed last night, though, I really started to think about the way things had transpired between us. Here is this man—–this hard-working, generous, thoughtful man who went out of his way to make me happy. He secured a babysitter, looked into movie times, even asked his co-workers about restaurants, so he could take me on a date. This guy—the one I’ve been married to for almost 12 years, the one who still makes my heart skip a beat, the one who always knows how to make me laugh…

page

…that hunk of mine wants to take me out on the town. He wants to share a special meal with me, just us, where we don’t have to race through our meals as fast as we can because a certain little squirtlet is tired of his high chair. He wants to take me to a movie, where we can hold hands in the dark. He wants to spent time with me…just me. Just the two of us.

And that’s what date night should be about. Not about what fancy restaurant we try, or what others (read, wives who read too many romance novels) perceive as being “grand romantic gestures.”

So I don’t need the flowers and the ambiance and the “someplace new.” I don’t need the fanfare or the box of chocolates. But what I do need is a few hours every now and then to spend with the great love of my life, to remind ourselves that even though we aren’t as young and thin as we once were, we are still those two crazy kids who fell madly in love one summer in the mountains of North Carolina.

Blog 7

Besides, movie theater popcorn rocks.

A Letter to My Husband, on Mother’s Day

Dear Brian,

It’s here. That day I’ve dreamed of for much of my adult life–my first Mother’s Day. When you stop to compare this May with last, it seems almost impossible. Look at where we are now! Look how far we’ve come! We are blissful (if somewhat sleep-deprived) parents! We’ve become those people with a trunk full of baby supplies and toys, the ones who wallpaper Facebook with pictures and videos of our son, the ones who plan our lives around the happiness and well being of one, very small, very important person. I love being a Mom, so, SO much. I hope that’s as apparent to you as your happiness at being a Dad is to me.

mom blog 2

I know you’ve watched me in years past, struggling with the emotions of this day. Trying to find a balance between celebrating the moms in my life and the grief of not being one myself–I never quite managed it with the grace such a situation warranted. You stood beside me, reminded me that it was ok to cry, held me when I fell apart. I know you felt helpless, knowing I was so sad and there was nothing you could do to fix it. There are no words adequate enough to thank you for that support, throughout our many years of infertility struggles. So let me just put in black and white—I know how hard it was for you, too. I acknowledge with a full heart that I never felt alone on my path to motherhood. You were always there for me, holding my hand, swimming in that same sorrow, but somehow always managing to buoy me up when I needed it most.

I have so many things to thank you for. Thank you for going on this journey of parenthood with me. Thank you for being brave enough and strong enough for the both of us when it seemed we were destined to fail. Thank you for celebrating with me in our moments of triumph, but more importantly, in HIS moments of triumph. Thank you for telling our son how awesome his Mommy is, especially when you think I can’t hear you. Thank you for all the nights you’ve let me sleep just a little bit longer, specifically those when ten hours of sleep was the exact thing I needed most. Thank you for being wonderful, deliciously nerdy you: I get more joy out of watching you teach our son about everything superhero, and seeing how excited you are for what his nerdy little future holds. Thank you for being patient with me as I navigate this new path, for understanding why sometimes my brain is fried and my temper is short. Thank you for all the things you do that I never have to ask for: the poopy diapers, the long days at work, the longer commutes, the unwavering support, the unconditional love, the perfect way you parent. Thank you for being such an amazing Dad.

This new, seamless little routine we have going right now is so much more wonderful to me than I think anyone can understand. I look forward every single day to you coming through the door, to our dinner around the table as a family, to Jeopardy and bath time and evening giggles and games. We are most complete in those moments between dusk and dawn. We are one. We are family.

mom blog

In short, I wouldn’t be “Mom,” if you weren’t “Dad.” We are in this together, as ever. And I love you more today than in the almost 17 years I’ve known you. Today may be Mother’s Day, but in my heart, I’m celebrating us, and our family. Our gorgeous, perfect, awesome family.

I love you to the moon and back,
Abby

Days to Remember

On the day I found out about you…
Daddy was at work, and so was I. The day was slow, and uneventful, with only the long Memorial Day weekend ahead to look forward to. We’d tried so hard to remain positive, and to hold each other up, as we made our way along this emotional, bumpy path toward you. But it seemed, on that day, that you would never come.

Until the phone rang.

When I heard the words, “She picked you and Brian,” you could have knocked me over with a feather. We had applied for you over two months previous to that phone call, and had given up hope that we would be chosen. We’d tried to forget about you, to move on with our lives. And then…this. I never even saw you coming, Baby Boy. Until that moment, you were a lovely dream; one that seemed far away and hazy around the edges.

And then I heard those words, and you came into sharp, gorgeous focus. And our hearts soared.

On the day I met you…
It was hot and sticky and unbearably humid outside. Once again, your Daddy was at work, and we’d planned to just get through the weekend so we could finally, FINALLY start packing our bags and getting organized for your big arrival. Your nursery was mostly done, your crib had been assembled. We’d stocked up the shelves with diapers and wipes and even a few onesies. We’d done almost everything we needed to, except get ourselves ready for the big day. We had three whole weeks, and were convinced we had the time.

Until the phone rang.

When I heard the words, “He’s coming! The baby is coming!” my heart nearly fell at my feet. You were coming 3 weeks early, and we were 3 hours away, and I was desperate to get to you before you made your debut into the world. I scrambled to pack while I called your Daddy, and your Grammy, and our lawyer, and our social worker, and everyone else I could think of. When your Daddy got home from work, we hugged, we cried, and we marveled at the miracle of you. And then we made the three hour trek to finally, finally meet you.

You were born while we were stuck in rush hour traffic. But two long, frustrating, heart-fluttering hours later, I saw your face for the first time.

first time

And my whole world changed.

On the day that we brought you home…
We’d spent ten days hovering over you, worrying about every feeding, every med, and every hiccup. Yearning to touch you when we couldn’t, wanting to cuddle you when you needed rest more than snuggles, made those days a mixture of grief and gratitude. We gazed in wonder at your tiny perfect fingers, the shape of your chin, the sound of your cries. We loved you before we ever even knew about you, but in those ten days, you made a permanent home for yourselves in the hearts of two people who wanted you more than you can ever know.

And when we finally heard the words, “He’s cleared for discharge,” we hugged, and we laughed, and we whispered in your ear.

“It’s time to go home.”

first time 2

As we pulled away from the hospital that had been starting to feel like home, your Daddy looked up into the rear view mirror and caught my eyes. There were tears shining there, and even though I couldn’t see his face, I could hear the smile in his voice when he said, “They actually let us leave with a BABY! Can you believe it??!”

And we laughed.

On the day you became official…
My heels clicked on the marble floor as we entered the court house. The reverence of the day settled over me like a warm sweater, and I felt the emotions well up in my chest as we passed by the giant statue of Lady Justice in the foyer. Your Gram pushed you in the stroller through the corridors, bustling with activity, and your Daddy and I followed in her wake. When the elevator doors opened, we met up with our lawyer–the woman who is solely responsible for bringing you into our lives. She quietly walked us through what to expect during the court proceedings, reminding us to be calm, telling us it was okay to be emotional. She went over the questions she would ask each of us on the stand, and your Daddy and I exchanged a glance of worry when we were told we would be asked to explain to the court why we wanted to adopt you.

“I’m going to cry,” I said.

“And that’s okay,” our lawyer said.

And so, in we went. I held you snuggled to my chest, and you slept as Daddy was sworn in, and gave his testimony. When asked “The Question,” he paused, gathered his thoughts, and said, “It’s just what we’ve always wanted–to be a family. We have so much love to give. And I know we’ll be awesome parents.”

I heard your grandparents sniffling behind me, and knew if I turned around, I would join them. So instead, I kissed your head, passed you to Daddy, and made my way up to the stand.

I had a whole speech planned, Kal. You would have been so proud of me–flowery words that would weave the tale of our journey to you in such a way that everyone would understand exactly what you mean to us. But when she asked me to explain why I wanted you, all of that went out the window. I simply shrugged, a single tear trickling down my cheek. I leaned forward to the microphone, took a deep breath, and answered the only way I knew how.

“Because he is everything.”

first time 4

And you are.

There have been so many days to remember in the three months you’ve been in our lives. Moments that left me breathless, that have solidified our bond. Quiet moments in the middle of the night when you wrap your fingers around mine and fall asleep. Laughter and giggles and moments of sheer joy that fill my heart with so much gladness. Those days will only continue, my love, my heart. My son. Welcome to the family.

Conversations With My Husband: Romance

I was sitting at my computer yesterday, diligently doing research on new and exciting fundraising ideas, when my husband came in from mowing the lawn. The scent of freshly cut grass and sunshine and spring came in with him, and I smiled as he took off his headphones and kicked off his shoes.

“I’m gonna hit the showers,” he said, and made a beeline for the bathroom. Just as the door closed behind him, I heard him say, “I always feel so manly after the first mow of the season. Man. Arrrr.”

Brian on another "manly" day.

Brian on another “manly” day.

A few minutes later, he emerged, clean and fresh as a daisy. I hear him rummaging around in the bedroom, drawers opening and closing, and a momentary conversation with one of the cats. As I’m typing away at my keyboard, I suddenly felt his hands on my shoulders, his fingers kneading away some of the ever-present tension residing there.

“Whatcha doin’?” he asked, brushing a hand over my hair.

“Just some quick research,” I mumbled, focused on navigating my mouse.

“I have plans for us tonight,” he said quietly. His hand brushed over my hair. Playfully. Seductively.

“Oh?” I say, becoming distracted by my husband’s roving hands.

“Yeah.” He walked around to the side of my chair and pushed my hair away from my neck. “As soon as you’re done with work, and you’re home from the gym, we’re gonna have some fun.” He bends down and kisses my neck, just below my ear, in that spot I like best. Lingering.

And even after all this time, my heart skips a beat.

“Fun, huh?” I say, leaning into him. “So…whatcha got planned, hot shot?”

“I’m gonna kick your ass at Mario Party,” he whispers. And then he retreats to his favorite video gaming spot on the couch.

Romance sm

Romance. We’ve got it in spades.

(We did play Mario Party last night. And he won. Twice.)

The Downside of Dreaming

It’s fun to dream. Planning a future you can’t quite see yet, that’s still fuzzy around the edges; filling in the shadowy bits that aren’t quite in focus–everybody does it. Maybe you’re imagining what your next job might look like, or what a move to the city might feel like, or even where your next vacation might take you. Either way, we all spend time dreaming about, planning for, and being excited by that upcoming phase in life.

For us, the dreams have been pretty specific for several years. Baby, house, new careers. That’s been my mantra since probably somewhere around 2005.

Dreams 1

My husband and I have shared these dreams for years, though my version is colored in a little differently than his. (He sees wood cabinets and tile floors; I see white cabinets and hard wood floors.) But we still pull out that imaginary blue print from time to time, talk about our likes and dislikes, our wishlists and our deal breakers, and we continue to color in the dreams for our future together.

As time passes, and those dreams have yet to become a reality, dreaming takes on a different hue. There’s more blue there than before, and not because we’re selecting paint colors for Brian’s man cave. I find that, after an afternoon of house-shopping or adoption talk, my mood swings from delighted to deflated. It feels like we’ve been waiting on these things to happen forever–and in many ways, we have.

Being patient, especially when it comes to things you ache for, is really hard.

Sometimes, the “we don’t have a baby” or “we can’t afford a house just yet” blues can stick around for awhile for me. Despite knowing that I already have a pretty amazing life–husband, family, friends, cats, fun–it can still be hard to sit in ‘today’ when what I really want is to be sitting in a shiny, new ‘tomorrow.’

But sometimes, all it takes to jar me back to my awesome reality is a bit of wisdom from my husband.

Brian

(Ok, so he might not have been so poetic about it, but that was the gist.)

I may not have a big house in the woods, with a little nook set aside for me to write the next great American novel. I might not have an agent, or a publisher, or a novel on the shelf at the bookstore bearing my name. I might not have an adorable, precocious toddler demanding every bit of my free time and attention and adoration.

But the word that’s missing?

Yet.

Those things will come, in time. And for now, I will revel in the things I do have, and try to keep the blue out of my blueprint of dreams.

A Year In Review–Abby Gabs in 2014

Everyone has a favorite place. I actually have a few. There’s nothing like the instant calm that washes over me when I’m sitting on the beach, in the sunshine. I can’t describe the feeling of walking through the front door at my parents house–it’s a combination of comfort, safety, and love. And there are fewer places I’d rather be than snuggled up in my giant king-sized bed with my hubby and 3 cats, a good book in hand and my feet in warm fuzzy socks.

This place is one of my favorites, too. Abby Gabs has come to mean more to me than a super-cute website where I can write about silly things and make my readers laugh. It’s become a sanctuary of sorts to me–a place where I feel safe to share my creative side, my silly side, and my emotional side. It lets me flex my writing muscles and share my passion with the entire internet–even though only about 10 of you regularly read it. (Hi, Mom!) My blog is my safe place. My happy place.

It’s MY place.

And so today, on my 4th anniversary, I needed to come here, to delve into the last year’s worth of posts. While I haven’t been as prolific this year as I have in years past, and the tenor of my writing has changed along with the ebb and flow of our life, I still managed to bang out a few gems last year that I’m pretty danged proud of. So I’m sharing them with you here today.

But more than sharing them with you, it’s been about sharing them with myself, as a reminder of why I keep returning to this blog of mine.

Abby Gabs in 2014

Feb 2014-Dialogue: Real Life Vs. Internal
A peek into a conversation I had at a party, and the first time I referred to myself as a real-life, honest-to-goodness writer.

March 2014–Letter To My Son
This was a follow-up post for Letter To My Daughter–two of my most heartfelt blogs I’ve ever written. In fact, my husband loved them so much that he insisted they be included in our adoption portfolio. I still can’t read either of them without crying.

April 2014–A Letter To The Dancing Kid
I was all about letter writing in early 2014, apparently. I love this one because I still think about this kid during trying commutes, and when my patience is frayed, I still follow his lead. Because after all, dance is life’s most pleasurable therapy.

May 2014–Happy Anniversary,
Guys, you know it has to be true love when I blog about a television show. Even calling FRIENDS just a television show hurts my heart. It is still one of my all time favorite shows, and I quote it regularly. (Could I BE any cooler?)

Friends cast

Click for Source

June 2014–Grown-Up Birthday Do’s and Don’ts
It wouldn’t be an Abby Gabs anniversary celebration without a list blog. This one touches on some birthday etiquette for the “thirty-something” year old. Also, you learn about my affection for cake.
Birthday-Cake

July 2014–To Me, From My Fiercer Self
I love this post. Like, true love. I might buy it some flowers on Valentine’s Day. In this post, I tell you all about how much my Werq class (hip-hop dance fitness) has changed my life for the better. I remind myself that I’m Beyonce’s cousin (twice-removed), and that my ferocity comes with a side of passion. It’s the best pep-talk I’ve ever given myself.

August 2014–The Day My Brother Stabbed Me
I didn’t do too many illustrated blogs last year, but this was one I’d been dying to tell since I started Abby Gabs 4 years ago. It’s a story we tell around the Thanksgiving dinner table almost every year–one of those that we look back and laugh about now. And I also love this post because I wrote it on my brother’s birthday. (Because that’s just the kind of big sister I am.)
Snake 3
September 2014–Tacky Fun Day
This is a really long post filled with tons of pictures. It’s not particularly well-written or witty, but it’s on this list today because it’s proof that my husband and I know how to party. (With neon t-shirts, miniature golf, and science.)

October 2014–365 Days (Times Four)
This one always goes on the list. It’s the most profound, honest, raw blog I’ve ever written. I tell you the story of the day my husband had life-saving surgery to remove a cancerous tumor from his colon. It’s a day that changed our lives in a hundred different ways.

November 2014–It’s That Time of Year Again…
Nanowrimo has become an annual tradition that I don’t just look forward to, I crave. An entire month dedicated to the craft of writing quickly–what a concept! I’ve participated–and won–four years in a row, and even completed my first ever novel from the words written hastily in those thirty days. I’m already plotting for this November.

December 2014–Enthusiastically Eating My Veggies Today
This is it–my favorite post from last year. I love it when a dream turns into a hilarious blog post, and this one definitely takes the top prize. If you haven’t read it yet, you should if you are 1) a Justin Timberlake fan, 2) a fan of broccoli, or 3) interested in seeing how the inner workings of my subconscious function.
Sexy back 2

January 2014–For The Love Of The Game
You guys already know I’m a fan girl, and that I was a cheerleader in high school, and that I have a tendency to be super-passionate about a lot of things. In this post, I show my hand and reveal to you how deep my love of football runs. I’m a mega-super fan. #TheMoreYouKnow

Did you have a favorite that I didn’t share in this list? Let me know below. And thank you, readers, for another year of friendship. I’m hoping to be more active in my fifth year of blogging. I’ve already got a list of blogs waiting to be written–so stay tuned!

365 Days (Times Four)

Today I observe a tradition that I started on AbbyGabs 3 years ago, at its inception. It started as a post to honor the battle my husband fought, and won, against a rare cancer that threatened to destroy our lives. It ended as one of the most honest, heartfelt things I’ve ever written.

I share it every year because it serves as a reminder of how far we’ve come since that devastating diagnosis. The “C” word doesn’t get used that much around here any more, and considering it filled our lives for so long, that’s a major accomplishment in itself. But more than any other reason, I share this post every year on the off chance that there’s someone out there in the webiverse who’s going through the exact same thing we went through 4 years ago. Maybe there’s someone looking for comfort, or words of wisdom, or a shred of hope. So I share our story, in case it brings comfort. Take it from one who knows–having a lifeline, no matter how thin, helps. Tremendously.

This is the story of the day we got our lives back.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *   *     *     *     *     *    *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *    *     *     *     *     *

The alarm clock blares into the darkness. It is 4:15 a.m. We wake in the same position in which we fell asleep: flat on our backs, staring at the ceiling, our hands still clutched together between us. It brought enough comfort in the night to allow us to sleep, even for a few short hours.

My husband gets up without a word. The shower and the antimicrobial surgical soap are waiting.

I make the bed, wake his Aunt Tina, and start the coffee maker. I debate for 5 solid minutes over whether I should lay out his clothes for him. I decide to do it. This isn’t a normal day, so why should I act like it is?

Dressed and completely awake, we decide to get an early start to the hospital. The interstate is deserted. I’m unused to driving in the dark, and the empty highway startles me. Our headlights slice through the pitch black, and only road signs greet us along our asphalt path. For twenty minutes, we are silent. The radio plays quietly in the background. Tina asks me a question, I answer it. Brian sits in the seat next to me, hands folded in his lap. He tries to appear calm, but I can see the nerves dancing under his skin.

As we pull into the parking lot the sky just begins to turn pink. Morning has officially arrived. We gather our belongings–bags and afghans and books and sweaters. Changes of clothing. Warm socks. We trek to the sliding glass doors, a small caravan of modern day nomads.

The fluorescent lights are much too bright. I feel like I want sunglasses. Tina takes our stuff and makes a beeline for the waiting room “to get us comfy seats near the coffee maker.” I smile. Brian and I head the other direction. I stare at the dark blue veins under the skin of his hand as he signs his name and hands over his driver’s license. I rub my fingers down his back, feeling every bone in his spine. He smiles weakly.

We sit. We wait. It feels like days, but it’s only minutes. He plays Angry Birds. Tina and I make small talk. I want to stand up, pace, fidget. Finally, they call his name, and we walk back to finish the paperwork. I could let him go alone, but I can’t abide it. So I squeeze in to the little cubicle with him. I listen as he answers the same 25 questions he’s been asked so frequently these last few weeks. He jokes with the nurse who taps away on the keys of her computer. We sign where we’re told to sign.

They send us to another office. Here we go over how the surgery will happen. What the doctors will do. What we can expect. This nurse has less information for us than she likes. She keeps looking as his file, glancing at her computer monitor, swishing her mouse in search of more facts.

“Did the surgeons tell you what recovery was going to be like?” she asks gently.

No. We don’t know what to expect because they won’t know how bad it is, and they won’t until they open up my husband’s abdomen.

She nods once, plasters a smile on her face, and continues to walk us through the surgery plans she’s aware of.

At this point we are separated. They take him back to prep him. I can’t go. It’s the first time we’ve been separated since the cytoscopy. I feel the panic start to creep up and I stamp it down quickly. No time for that now. He kisses me, squeezes my hand, and disappears through the thick wooden doors.

Thirty five minutes later my parents arrive. Dad hugs me, Mom squeezes my arm. I tell them all that has happened. They ask if they will get to see him before the surgeons take him to the OR. I say yes, we should get to go back any minute. Moments later they come for me. We pick up our bags and afghans and books and sweaters and head to his room.

Brian lays on the gurney in his blue cotton gown. It looks so thin, I immediately want to ask for a blanket. He has a shower cap on his head, and blue booties on his feet. He’s already got an IV in each arm. His skin looks grey in the too-bright lights.

Mom goes over to him immediately and smooths back his hair. “How ya feelin’, kiddo?” she asks. She’s been so strong throughout this whole ordeal. My heart swells. Dad and Tina talk about everything but why we’re here. The C-word hasn’t been used once today. We’re denying its existence even as we are trying to eradicate it from my husband’s body.

One of Brian’s surgeons knocks and comes into the room. He is young and handsome and calm and kind. Brian and I share a secret smile–he’s known in our house as Dr. Superman. I can feel Brian’s nerves begin to settle as Dr. Superman walks us once again through the procedure. He reaches out a hand to me when he mentions how unsure they are of the outcome. “We won’t know how much the tumor has spread until we’re able to get a good look at it. It could be attached to his colon. It could be on his bladder. If it has infiltrated the wall of his bladder we will have to remove it. I don’t think that will happen, but you need to be prepared for that.” He gives my hand a squeeze. My heart is in my throat.

The activity in the room increases. There’s no room for us in there anymore as nurses and doctors hover over my husband. We’re allowed to kiss him goodbye. I lean over him and we lock eyes. A tear escapes even as I swallow a sob. “I love you to the moon and back,” we say. And we’re ushered back to the waiting room.

I can’t stand it. I can’t sit there and wait. So I leave Tina and my parents and I head to the financial aid office. I spend an hour asking questions, filling out paperwork, discussing our options with a social worker. I get a sense of calm knowing I’ve accomplished something. When there’s nothing left to do I go back to the waiting room.

I keep waiting for the phone at the nurse’s station to ring. It doesn’t. Why aren’t they calling? Shouldn’t they call for an update? It’s been nearly 2 hours and I’m beginning to worry. I’m contemplating getting up and asking the volunteer about it as Dr. Superman rounds the corner in his scrubs. He looks grim. My heart begins pounding so loudly I can’t hear anything else. He asks to speak to us in a private room. Episodes of ER and Grey’s Anatomy flash into my mind. The private rooms are bad. They only take you to the private rooms for bad news. My knees buckle. Someone steers me by the arm.

Dr. Superman turns the knob on the private room’s door and it is locked. “Well, I don’t have a key,” he says. “And I don’t want to keep you in the dark anymore. The surgery was a success. We got the entire tumor.”

I don’t realize I’m holding my breath until it all comes out at once. The tears that have been living behind my eyes for 3 weeks come out in a flood. My Dad is smiling, my Mom is crying, and Tina has a look of relief on her face I didn’t anticipate. She never looked worried for a second before this moment. Now I realize she’s been holding me up for days.

I hear only bits of everything else Dr. Superman says. The tumor was larger than they expected. His surgical scar will be about 10 inches long. The tumor was the size of a Nerf football and was only attached by a fiber to his colon.  Brian is going to be fine. He won’t even have to endure chemotherapy. Dr. Superman gathers me into a hug and his reputation as a superhero is solidified.

We flutter back into the waiting room like so many birds. We are light on our feet, there’s a song in our hearts. We each grab for a cell phone and begin the process of spreading the good news. I call Brian’s Dad first. Then my brother. Then Brian’s boss. I email and Facebook and text message. I could literally dance a jig in the middle of the hospital.

We’re told Brian is on his way from recovery to his room on the top floor. We grab our bags and afghans and books and sweaters and head for the elevator. We beat him up there. We stand in the hallway, afraid to occupy a room this isn’t rightfully ours yet. The nurses see our posse and begin rounding up chairs. It’s a private room, and we’re all impressed that Brian will be treated like a VIP while in house.

I hear the elevator doors open and a gurney coming down the hall. There is my husband, back in his blue cotton gown. The booties and shower cap are gone. They maneuver the bed into the room, plug in all his equipment, and retreat. I dash to his bedside, lean over him and say his name. I’m desperate to touch him, to connect with him, but there are so many wires.

Groggily, his eyelids open and I all see is ocean blue. He takes a moment to focus on me, and smiles weakly. “How’d I do?” he asks.

I run my fingers carefully through his hair, down his face, and smile at him, wanting him to see nothing but joy and excitement and exhilaration in my face. “They got it, baby. They got it all. You’re gonna be just fine.”

“That’s good,” he says, and drifts back to sleep.

My family talks quietly in the background. I watch my husband sleeping, and I allow myself to take in everything I see. I wrap my fingers around his bony wrist, stare at his chest as it rises and falls, wait for the pulse I can see in the vein of his neck. I’m no fool. I know recovery is going to be long and difficult. I know he’s going to wake up when the drugs wear off and he’s going to be in tremendous pain. I know we’re going to be living at this hospital for a week, maybe more.

But nothing could tramp down the feeling of good fortune in my heart. Brian was going to live.

It’s October 25, 2010.

Brian and his balloon

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *   *     *     *     *     *    *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *    *     *     *     *     *

Four years later…

The alarm clock goes off as sunlight peers through the blinds. It’s 8:00 a.m. I know what day it is immediately upon waking. I make the bed, yawning, then pad into the living room where my husband is playing a video game with headphones on. I smile and walk over to him, clearing my throat so I don’t startle him.

“Good morning, beautiful,” he says as I lean down to kiss him. Our eyes linger a little longer than usual. No words are needed.

I say them anyway.

“I love you. I’m grateful to have you.”

He smiles and kisses me again. “You’d better hit the showers. We’ve got a big day today.”

And so I leave him and follow through with my usual morning routine, knowing that later today, we will celebrate as two of our closest friends get married. We will celebrate love, and life, and happiness. It couldn’t be a more perfect way to spend the day.

It’s October 25, 2014.

us again

Tacky Fun Day

Today is our Tenth Wedding Anniversary.

wedding

We could’ve done any number of things to celebrate this momentous occasion–and in truth, we discussed MANY of them. A trip to somewhere tropical, a giant fancy party, a whirlwind tour of Europe–but when it came right down to it, we figured out the PERFECT way to celebrate the ten years we’ve shared together as man and wife.

We drove to Myrtle Beach–aka Tacky Capital of the East Coast–for the day and pretended like we were tourists.

Now why did we choose to partake in Tacky Fun Day, instead of those other fabulous celebrations I mentioned earlier?

It’s easier if I show you rather than tell you.

So we started our trip at one of the hundreds of beach ware stores you see littering Highway 17 between Georgetown and the North Carolina border. This particular one was a Pacific store, and we went in with a mission.

Find the tackiest t-shirts we could find to wear throughout our adventure.

1

I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty sure we succeeded. Brian couldn’t look at me if I was standing in direct sunlight because, well, my shirt was the color of a fresh new highlighter pen. (PS: I totally should have bought the hot pink sparkly fedora. I rocked it. Hard.)

Once we’d bedecked ourselves in All Colors of 1987, we booked it on over to the Hollywood Wax Museum. Guys? Seriously? Fun doesn’t come any tackier than this. We whiled away the morning jaunting around in the quiet halls of the building, taking selfies with pretend versions of our favorite celebrities. I took a TON of pictures, so I’m only going to share a few of our favorites here.

Top: Our separate reactions to meeting Captain Jack Sparrow. Bottom: The always lovable Tom Hanks, on the set of Forrest Gump.

Top: Our separate reactions to meeting Captain Jack Sparrow.
Bottom: The always lovable Tom Hanks, on the set of Forrest Gump.

3

My handsome husband proving he’s just as tough as Vin Diesel (and in my opinion, a MILLION times cuter.)

6

Y’all better watch out. Bruce Lee and Brian just opened up a can of whoop ass in here.

5

I may have squee’d and run past Jamie Foxx, some race car driver, and Mariah Carey to have my picture taken with The King of Pop. Can you tell I’ve been practicing my dance moves? Can you?

It really shouldn’t surprise you at all that I was willing and eager to jump in a photo with just about any celebrity that the Wax Museum had to offer….

6

Clockwise, from top left: Me with Hugh Hefner (not sure what he’s looking so smug about); Disappointed in Mark Wahlberg’s height; But not so disappointed I wasn’t willing to snuggle him; Dolly’s may be big, but I think mine are bigger; OMG y’all it’s Samuel L. Jackson; Walking like an Egyptian with Elizabeth Taylor.

But probably the most poignant moment, if you can have one of those at a wax museum, was when we came across Robin Williams. I felt compelled to pose for a shot that may have turned out to be the best one of the day.

7

We wiped away the tears and headed downstairs to find the BEST portraits that had been taken as we arrived. “Pose here with King Kong,” they said. “Make funny faces,” they said. And so we did. And I’m SO pleased with how they turned out!

Wax Museum 10001

Wax Museum 10002

We are champs at taking goofy pictures. I think we proved that at the Wax Museum yesterday.

After all that fun, we were still left with hours to fill up our Tacky Fun Day. So off to Ripley’s Aquarium we went. While it isn’t as large or as grand as some of the aquariums Brian and I have visited over the years, it still had a certain charm about it. And the moving pathway underneath the giant shark tank? Super cool. And hard to photograph. So you’ll just have to take my word for it and be satisfied with this blurry picture of me in front of it instead.

9

After a bit of lunch and shopping, we traveled a bit north to the MAIN attraction. We didn’t decide to just go to Myrtle Beach on a whim. Nay, good friends. We went with one specific goal in mind.

Mini Golf.

10

And not just ANY mini golf. Nay, good friends. We drove ALL THE WAY to North Myrtle Beach for the opportunity to play at Professor Hacker’s Lost Treasure Golf. After paying the price of admission, and collecting our clubs and balls, we were shuffled off into a train car and driven to the top of the hill.

That’s right. It’s a putt putt course with a TRAIN.

Now you know why we drove up to North Myrtle Beach. (Sheldon would be proud.)

Just to set things up for you a little, Brian and I are pretty competitive when it comes to things like mini golf. We play on a pretty regular basis, and whoever wins bragging rights…well, let’s just say it’s a fun little jab that we use in day-to-day life until the next mini golf game is played.

I’d also like to mention that the last time we played, I didn’t just lose. I lost SPECTACULARLY. By dozens of strokes. I was slaughtered on the greens.

However, luck was in my favor yesterday. I beat Brian not just once, but twice. And here’s the shot of the hole-in-one that sealed my husband’s fate as a mini golf loser:

11

…and Brian’s subsequent “I’m not happy” selfie.

12

Ha HA! Suck it up, loser! … … … I mean, don’t be glum, chum. There are SO MANY OTHER THINGS in life that you excel at … … … I mean, you played so well, sweetie! You should be proud of yourself! You came in SECOND PLACE!!! … … …

Ok, I’ll stop. The next 10 years of my marriage may depend on it.

The final stop of our whirlwind tour of tackyland was actually a bit of a fluke. We wound up at WonderworksI’d seen the wonky, upside-down building from the highway many times before, and never wondered what was inside. Lo-and-behold, it was an entire attraction filled with fun scienc-y stuff. YAY! Science is fun!

We experienced hurricane-force winds, learned about gravity and the pulley system, played trivia games based on everything from geology to theme songs from the 80s, and attempted to land the virtual space shuttle. (Brian’s aside: he SUCCESSFULLY landed. I crashed three times.) (But that’s ok. Because he sucks at putt putt, so it’s all relative.)

We also got electrocuted:

Made giant bubbles:

page

And got to pretend we were real live astronauts:

14

It was a Nerd’s Paradise.

We capped off the evening with a quiet dinner at one of our favorite restaurants, whiling away the moments between bites of awesomeness with recounted memories from that blissful day.

So, you see, I don’t need a week in the Poconos. I don’t want a cruise in the Mediterranean, or a big fancy party. Because what I have is a partner, a best friend, a teammate, a playmate, and a husband, all rolled into one. I’d say that makes us winners.

8

Except for at mini golf. At least in Brian’s case.

I Learned Something About Myself Recently…

I suck at puzzles.

How? How can I be horrible at something that requires such precision, such concentration, such….OCD? I mean, I ROCK at sock-mating, and color-coding, and label-making. How can I be bad at putting together a puzzle??

bad at something

You’re probably wondering why it is that I’m discovering this little tidbit about myself so late in life. Well, Brian and I are gearing up for yet another adoption fundraiser, and this one involves a 1,000 piece puzzle. (For more info on the fundraiser, you can click on the handy-dandy little tab at the top of your screen titled “Puzzle Pieces.”)

I just knew, when we read about this fundraiser, that it was gonna be a winner. I mean, not only was it going to give us a project to keep us focused and busy, but we were going to get to spend a couple of days putting a puzzle together, too. And I just KNEW, down to the very fibers of my soul, that I was going to kick ass at puzzles. I mean, I know I rocked them  hard core when I was in kindergarten. Watch out, alphabet puzzle. I’m coming for you.

But the puzzle we chose is…difficult. As in, if puzzles came in difficulty levels, with 1 being the alphabet puzzle and 10 being super-duper puzzle of hardness….well, we chose a level 25 puzzle.

The pieces are TINY. Not kidding. See:

tiny puzzle piece

And to make matters worse, the puzzle we chose is ALL words…so there’s lots of blank space. Ever tried putting together a bunch of plain white puzzle pieces? Yeah. It’ll make you go cross-eyed faster than reading ‘Dune.’

But I had no idea what was facing me as we happily dumped the puzzle out onto the table to get started. I jumped into organizational mode and promptly separated all the pieces by color, then bagged and labeled each color. Boom. Puzzle master.

We decided to start at the bottom and work our way up, and so I chose the correctly labeled baggie, and dumped the pieces out in front of us. After about 10 minutes, I had shuffled the pieces around and felt relatively confidant that, very soon, I was going to be able to locate 2 pieces that fit together.

That confidence was shattered when I looked over to my right and saw that my over-achieving husband had already successfully put together an ENTIRE WORD. In, like, 10 seconds.

Brian the puzzler

This is Brian’s smug face.”

“Ok, fine,” I thought to myself. “So he’s great at puzzles. No surprises there. But I’m sure I can be good at this, too….I just need to concentrate.”

So I stared at the pieces in front of me with a higher intensity, urging my brain to work at the level I know it’s capable of. And still…nothing.

After an hour of staring at the same 25 pieces, I managed to put together about 10 of them.

Abby's pieces

And no, it doesn’t say “YOLO.”

Brian, in the meantime, had managed to put together the rest of the phrase in its entirety, and had started on the next line, giving me the time I needed to feel like an utter and complete failure.

Oh well. There’s always sock-mating.

A Study in Patience

Waiting.

My alarm goes off and the first thing I do, before I’m even fully awake, is reach for my cell phone. I never used to leave it on overnight before…but I do now. I don’t want to miss that call. You know…THAT call. I wipe the sleep from my eyes as I scroll through the messages that came in while I slept. Junk emails, news alerts, a few stray comments on Facebook and…nothing. I toss my legs over the side of the mattress, make my way to the shower, and scrub it all from my memory banks.

Ten-Thirty A.M. I’m in the throes of checking my work email, perusing the internet, or playing Farmville, when my phone sounds. “DING!” It’s the sound I’ve designated for an email coming through. I close my eyes for a millisecond and wish. Hope. Then I reach for my phone again, swipe with my thumb, and guide my operating system to the email folder. When I see it’s another promotional email from this company or that store, I send it to my trash folder, sigh, and go back to whatever I was doing.

Lunchtime, and my four cats are not-so-gently reminding me that they’re hungry. I fill their bowls, and they follow me to their spots, meowing the whole way. Scooter goes on the dining room table, Pip to the bathroom, Dizzy to the master bedroom. Harry goes last, and follows me into the guest room. I pause after setting his bowl down; he doesn’t see me well up as I look around the room that will eventually, hopefully, become a nursery. For now, it is just where he eats lunch, and he goes about the task with gusto. I pull the door closed and dash the unshed tears from my eyes before Brian can see.

As the clock ticks on toward five o’clock, I know that the likelihood of an email, or a phone call, becomes slimmer. I begin to relax. Brian turns to me and says, “What’s wrong? You have your sad face on.” I brush it off. “Oh, it’s nothing,” I say. But I’m sure he knows. I see the same look on his face from time to time.

I stand at the kitchen counter, chopping onions, and the thought occurs to me that somewhere in the world, you may be brand new. The woman who carries you, who will eventually choose us to be your parents, may not even know about you yet. But there you are, waiting to come into the world, our world, to fill that void. I smile as I have that thought, and the excitement quickens in my heart. But I shut down the thought process when I start to wonder what your face will look like, what color eyes you will be, what your voice will sound like. It’s too early for that sort of wondering, just yet.

Dinner is served, and we sit and watch the television, enjoying our meal in silence. A commercial comes on depicting a couple who have finally put their children to bed. She offers him his favorite fruity cereal, and they celebrate their victory over parenthood by playing old school video games. Brian turns to me, a huge grin on his face, and says, “That will SO be us soon.” And there it is. I can see it in the glimmer of his eyes, in the smile on his face–his love for you. You’re not even here yet, and we already love you.

As I climb into bed, I check my phone one last time, setting it to “Do Not Disturb,” but leaving it on. Just in case. I dive into my book, or into conversation with Brian about our plans for the weekend, or a chore we need to accomplish, or a fundraising idea to add to the list. After awhile, my eyelids start to get heavy. I turn off my light, kiss my husband, and snuggle in to sleep.

Just as I begin to drift off, I think of you again. I whisper the words into being, so they have a life of their own, “tomorrow. It will happen tomorrow.” Only then do I allow myself to fall to sleep.

Waiting.

waiting