Category Archives: Serious Post

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.

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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.

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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

We Are Charleston Strong

Charleston. My beautiful home. The place I’ve written love letters to a thousand times over, the beaches I seek for mental clarity, the city I adore.

Photo credit: Abby Chamberlain

Photo credit: Abby Chamberlain

When the news broke last week about the brutal murders at Mother Emanuel AME Church in downtown Charleston, my heart shattered. “Not here,” I thought to myself. “Not our people. There has been enough blood spilled here—please let it not be true.” But the news kept coming–nine lives lost, for no other reason than blatant hatred and racism. A grandmother, a recent college grad, a senator, a beloved librarian, more. Their faces graced my news feed and my television screen, and I mourned their loss with the rest of the country.

The Charleston Nine. Photo credit to Live 5 News

The Charleston Nine. Photo credit to Live 5 News

And then, in an outpouring of love and unity, in the wake of tragedy, my city came together. We walked together into the sunset, holding hands and waving signs, hugging each other and singing hymns. Black and white. Young and old. Man and woman and child. We, Charleston, took the hatred that had been poured through the barrel of a .45, turned it into LOVE, and multiplied it by thousands.

Photo Credit to Buzzfeed

Photo Credit to Buzzfeed

Photo Credit to Live 5 News, Charleston

Photo Credit to Live 5 News, Charleston

Through tears and with sad hearts, we spoke their names from our lips. We flew our South Carolina flags, and we donned our blue and white in honor of those we lost. And we made a vow to push for true social change.

Strides are already being made to remove the Confederate flag from the capital grounds in Columbia. That led to other states re-examining their own laws in regards to that symbol that reflects hatred as much as heritage. When rumors came about that notorious protesters from Westboro Baptist Church were on the way to Charleston to picket outside of the funerals of the dead, our local governments stepped up and banned their rallies, sending them packing. Charlestonians showed up to the events in droves anyway, standing shoulder to shoulder, refusing to let hate leech into the love we as a city have worked to hard to display over the last several days.

We cannot change our history; we can only learn from it. We cannot affect change by remaining silent; so we raise our voices to the sky. We cannot learn to love our fellow man from the pages of a history book; we must look at one another as humans, and embrace one another regardless of religious affiliations, belief systems, and the color of our skin.

And we continue to teach future generations that love will always win.

*****

Addendum: As I was working on this post–one I started days ago and have been tweaking and editing ever since–it seemed remarkable to me that EVEN MORE love came across my news feed. The Supreme Court ruled today that gay marriage is now to be legal across the nation. As I sat on my couch and watched the President deliver his eulogy at Senator Pinckney’s funeral, as I listened to him sing the first verse of ‘Amazing Grace,’ I felt that same love Charleston displayed being felt across the country. And so I came back to this post, so I could finally publish it. All in the name of love.

Graphic credited to the GLAAD Facebook page

Graphic credited to the GLAAD Facebook page

 

A Letter To My Mopey Self

Dear Self,

Life has been tough lately. For whatever reason, you’re sitting around in your cookie pants, watching re-runs of Friends and wondering if things are ever going to get any easier. You’re not getting what you want in the time that you wanted it in, and you keep stumbling over road blocks or speed bumps, and that’s frustrating. I know it’s frustrating. I know that you sometimes sit in the shower, with the water cascading over your shoulders, your hair hanging in your face, and you cry your eyes out because no one can hear you over the sound of the spray. I know that sometimes, you sit in traffic and suddenly feel the overwhelming need to scream, and so you do, never sparing a thought for what the driver in the car next to you must be thinking. I know that sometimes, when the alarm clock sounds in the morning, that your first thought is “I don’t wanna.”

Well, friend, I think what you need is a little perspective. Sure, things are hard right now. It’s probably not going to get any easier in the next week, or month. You probably won’t have that thing you want more than anything else in the world by then. But here is what you DO have:

You have a husband that would move heaven and earth to make you happy. And he has done, on multiple occasions. And now here you are–you and that beautiful man you married almost 11 years ago–sitting on this same island of despair together, holding each other up when you both want to fall over. There are a lot of people in this life that would wish for a love like the one you have. So embrace it. Revel in it. Remember it in the darkest of times when you feel like your dreams will never come true.

You have a family that loves you, and supports you, no matter what. They are unshakable, unwavering, and unquestioning. They will give you advice–some that you’ll use, some that you won’t. They will make you laugh when you thought laughter was impossible. They will hold you up, and give you strength. They will love you, even if you don’t reach your dream. Enjoy every moment that you have with them–they are priceless.

You have friends who are with you in the trenches, the same mud on their faces that’s smeared on yours. They will amaze you in a million little ways, and even more huge ways. They will sit by your side in the blazing heat, selling lamps and rugs and hand-me-down clothing, just so you can add a few bucks to your savings account. They will rally around you when you get news, be it good, bad, or somewhere in the middle. They will send you little cards and messages of support, just so you know that, even though it’s been awhile, they’re still thinking of you every single day. They will shed tears for you, ones that you’ll never know about, and they will feel every divot in the road that you feel, sometimes tenfold (since you tend to remove yourself from heavy feelings as much as you can.) These people are more than just friends–they are your family. And you are SO beyond lucky to have them.

Last, but never least, you have a DREAM. A dream of becoming a parent when biology wouldn’t let you before. A dream of holding a little one, so dear, in your arms and kissing their tiny baby cheeks, and knowing that they are yours. Of little giggles, and sleepless nights, and future Mother’s Days filled with flowers and handmade cards and slightly-chewy pancakes served in bed. Never let go of that dream, self. It is pure, and shiny, and filled with so much joy that no matter how many times you fall on your face in pursuit of that dream, it will, without doubt, be totally worth it.

So I’m just going to leave this letter here. That way, you can find it when you need it. Let it serve as a reminder as to why you should never even dare to give up hope. How dare you give up hope, when you have so many people on your side, fighting the same fight, wishing the same wish, and hoping the same hope that you do?

So get up. Knock the dirt off, sister. Put on some real clothes.  And get back to your life. You’ve got work to do.

Sincerely,

Abby

rainbows

A Dream Within A Dream

Laughter and quiet conversation surrounds us. I straighten your blue-and-white gingham dress and pass you to my closest neighbor, all smiles, with my heart in my throat. Your tiny hands curl into fists, your yellow floral headband slightly askew, as kisses are planted on your adorably bald head.

Sunlight pours into the room from behind us, filling the room with more joy than we can handle. A box of tissues makes its way around the room, but these are happy tears we cry, little one. Tears we shed because you are finally here, and we waited so long, and we are so blessed.

My mother walks into the room, her eyes red, her cheeks pink, but with a big, beautiful smile on her face. My father’s bold chuckle rebounds from the kitchen, where I know he’s taken charge of refreshments for the rest of our guests. A small child, all blonde hair and blue eyes, puppy dog tails and muddy puddles, sits near my feet, running a matchbox car up and down my leg. The sounds of a camera shutter click from across the room, with only you in the frame, my little love. My heart.

My arms already itch to hold you again, though you’ve only been with someone else for less than a minute. I watch you like a hawk, studying your body language, your face, the shape of your delicious little thighs and pointed toes. A familiar thought, one I’ve had before: “She’ll be a dancer someday.”

I see your face turning red, your eyes squinting in preparation for one of your spine-tingling wails, before anyone else even realizes it’s coming. With that first cry, I start to reach for you. But your Daddy is there before I can even stand up. He cuddles you close, giving you his thumb to cling to, and he coos at you in a soft voice, calming your sobbing to only a slight whimper. The love on his face, in his eyes, for you leaves me feeling a little weak. I love him more fiercely in that moment than ever before.

When you begin to nuzzle at his chest, he looks up at me with a knowing smile. “I don’t think I have what she wants, Mama,” he says and proudly hands you over to me. I kiss your cheeks and breathe you in, and we wave bye bye to our loved ones as we make our way back to the privacy of the bedroom.

It’s darker in here, the shades pulled tight, but a lone sunbeam sneaks through, leaving a small pool of light on the patchwork quilt. I close the door behind me–but not so tight that a certain orange cat can’t push his way in. He settles at the foot of the bed, eyes on us, as I settle back against the pillows and lift my shirt. This is still brand new for us, little one, and Mama’s still learning.

You nuzzle and search, then latch on, and the pulling sensation still startles me. You close your eyes, shuttering the bright green from me, your long eyelashes brushing your rounded cheeks. The hand I’d been holding curls up in a fist, and you lay it against my skin, your body relaxing as you feed. I run my hand over your back in lazy circles, and we both drift for a moment. The muffled sounds of laughter come from the other room, and I am washed over with a love so deep, I could drown.

The brash sound of my alarm clock steals me away from you. My arms still ache from the weight of you as I turn it off and climb from my bed. You aren’t here, yet. But you will be. I believe that to the very center of my soul. My cheeks are dry today, little one, though I yearn for you so.

I only wish I’d dreamt your name.

 

pooh

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.

You’ll Think This Post Is About Kittens (But It’s Not)

I spent the morning playing with our kitten, Fitz.

Fitz BnW small

He is darling, and hilarious, and the most loving little kitten we’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing…but that’s not what this post is about.

As I waggled his chicken toy at him, and giggled like a maniac as he pounced, a conversation I had with a friend recently popped into my brain. I’m not sure what caused it–the conversation had nothing to do with kittens–and yet, I heard her voice in my head, clear as a bell.

“You deserve to have whatever you want. Don’t let anyone else influence you
to the point that you give up on your dream.”

I watched Fitz wiggling his bum, preparing for another pounce, and let those words reverberate around in my brain. You know, that friend of mine makes a really valid point. We live in a society where it’s as easy as a few key strikes to shout your opinion from the social media rooftops. There are some topics of conversation that bring out the opinions quicker than a horse at a hay party—like politics, religion, sporting teams, and parenting.

Who knew adoption was on that list?

We’ve heard a plethora of comments from strangers, acquaintances, and friends alike when they learn of our choice to adopt. Most of them are normal questions filled with curiosity about the process–all valid and easily answered. Others are honest questions that people don’t realize can have a touch of ‘judgey’ to them — “Oh, well, didn’t you look into In-Vitro?” (Yes.) And “Oh, I’ve heard that’s expensive. On your salary?” (Yes.)  And “You should adopt from Africa/Germany/Haiti. They have a lot of kids that need homes.” (So does America.)

But the judgement doesn’t stop there. Nay. I have MANY mommy friends who have already started preparing me for the stern faces I will get when I ultimately choose formula over breastfeeding (sort of a necessity since, you know, adopting), public school over home school (I have to work, sadly), and Huggies over cloth diapers (because poo is gross.)

I’ve been so desperate to pledge the Sorority of Mothers that this side of the sisterhood wasn’t something I was prepared for. I always thought of it as a large group of strong, independent, thoughtful women who supported each other in this quest of raising kids to be prosperous, helpful, kind adults.

As it turns out, apparently moms are more interested in policing your child’s grooming habits, party etiquette, and food choices than being all “Kumbaya” about parenting.

judgey mom

Since I’m already getting hit with that judgement, and I’m still only pledging said sorority, it makes me wonder just how much worse it can get. And since I’m a newbie, I tend to want to take everything a Mom shares with me about her journey straight to heart.

Ultimately, here are the bullet points I want people to know:
We chose private domestic adoption. It wasn’t something we decided to do on a whim; we researched and discussed and soul-searched, and it was the best fit for our family.
We chose to pursue adopting an infant. Yes, I know they cry a lot, and I won’t sleep at all, and I’ll pray for the days when they’re old enough to tell me they want juice rather than just raising their voices to the sky in the hopes that I will understand that WAAAAAAAAAAAAAIL means JUUUUUUUUUUUUUUICE. But I want a baby. I want to experience it ALL. And why shouldn’t I get what I want just because my body won’t make a baby on its own?
We did NOT choose to be infertile. So no amount of offering to pray for us, or asking us about our sex life, or questioning our choice of adoption over fertility treatments isn’t going to change the fact that we probably can’t get pregnant. At least without a doctor’s help. And even with that help, we have less than a 30% chance of conceiving.

So when my very wise friend made her very valid point the other day, while she was talking about our decision to adopt an infant, it could really be applied to all facets of parenthood. Hell–it SHOULD be applied to all facets of LIFE.

If you DREAM of getting rid of all your worldly possessions in trade for an RV so you can travel the country like gypsies—don’t let your paranoid and clingy best friend change your mind.

If you DREAM of quitting your day job so you can open a tiny pizzeria—don’t let something as trivial as ‘expectations’ change your mind.

If you DREAM of being a mother to a squalling, incontinent, impossible-to-please tiny human being—don’t let anyone else’s opinion about children change your mind!

After all, the other piece of advice this wise friend gave me? “You deserve to be just as miserable and exhausted as every other new mom in the world.” And she’s right. I totally do.

My Recent Life As A Blogger

I had a friend tell me last night that he misses my blog.

“You need to get back to it,” he said. “I only follow one other blog. I miss Abby Gabs.”

I was humbled, flattered, and left feeling guilty for letting my readers down. “Truthfully?” I replied to my friend and reader, “I miss it, too.”

I don’t have many excuses for you when it comes to not writing here on this space I carved out for myself. I look back at posts past and wonder how I managed to pull out so many different blog ideas back then–humorous or thoughtful, commentary or comedy, I managed to find things to write about on a nearly daily basis for three years. Then, all of a sudden, it was like someone turned off the creative water faucet. Just like that, the words dried up in my mind. Occasionally, something funny or wonderful or goofy would happen, and I’d think to myself, “I should blog about that.” But I never did. And now those moments are lost forever, a myriad of memories locked away.

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When I lament the loss of my blog to my mommy friends, they all say the same thing. “You have Baby Brain.” It’s true. I eat, sleep, drink, obsess, and think about the adoption every single waking minute of every day. But while my life has been consumed with All Things Adoption this year, it hasn’t changed so drastically that I couldn’t sit down and write a blog every now and then. The honest truth of the matter is that most of those unwritten posts would have likely been about adoption: about the fundraising, and the constant worry, and the waiting, and the sorrow, and the excitement, and the anticipation—all the things that make this process what it is. There was a part of me that wanted to chronicle this journey here on AbbyGabs, but it became so intensely personal, and I worried I’d never be able to capture the emotions we’ve gone through in the form of the written word.

And so I just avoided the blog. I’d open my browser every morning and click anywhere but on Word Press. I’d spend hours on Pinterest, or play games on Facebook, or research  a new and different facet of adoption or parenthood, all in the attempt to avoid the fact that I wasn’t blogging. Not only wasn’t I blogging, I also wasn’t writing. At all. My enthusiasm for writing and getting published went up in a puff of smoke as soon as our home study was completed.

We have had a full year–one filled with friendship and support and laughter and tears and hope and failure. We have built friendships with people who have become more like family. We have planned and saved and dreamed about the baby we so desperately wish for. We lost a beloved pet, and gained a new one.

Pip and Fitz

There’s a small tug of regret for not documenting it here, as I had done so diligently for so long. But there’s also a small nugget of gladness knowing that I was just…living.

My hope is to find my way back to this space, and to the groove of blogging again. I know it’s still in me, somewhere. The creative spark reignited during Nano last month, and I’m hoping to tend to it, baby it, and turn it into a flame. And perhaps in the new year, I’ll be able to rebuild that roaring fire that took me flying through the first three years of Abby Gabs history. Until that happens, I’m going to keep living. I’m going to snuggle our new kitten, Fitz. I’m going to laugh with my friends. I’m going to keep dancing and striving for better health. I’m going to spend time with my family. I’m going to keep loving as big as the sky. And I’m going to write. Because, ultimately, writing is a part of who I am, and when I’m not doing it, I feel like a piece of me is missing.

Here’s to a renewed creative spirit.

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

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

ThatGabbyAbby Goes To PubSmart–A Video Blog


If you can’t see the video, copy and paste the following address into your browser: http://youtu.be/bGY9hlEcgUI

Links of Importance Mentioned in the Video:

PubSmart Writers’ Convention (Or, search the hashtag #PubSmartCon on Twitter)
Hugh Howey’s Website
Laura Pavlides’ website