'Tis the gift to be simple, 'tis the gift to be free,
'Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
'Twill be in the valley of love and delight.
So sang my dear friend Mimi, accompanied by my dear friend Premila at our wedding: November 9, 2002. Despite the heartache of the last week, I am trying to spending some time thinking about the many gifts I have.
I know that I live a very lucky and blessed life. I have a supportive and loving family, there for good times and bad and who raised me to love deeply and to approach life with an open heart and mind. I have an amazing husband and a strong marriage, built on a foundation of honesty and complete trust, and that sustains me and brings me incredible joy. I have the best friends anyone could ever want who have come out for me in a hundred ways over the last week: calling, emailing, texting, bringing by food, sending flowers and plants, giving me shoulders to cry on and ears to listen and crying with us, for our sorrow is their sorrow… I have the gift of good health and the insurance to keep it so. I have a great job with amazing and compassionate people and the flexibility to take the time to get through this grief. Yes, despite the hell of the last week, I know that in the grand scheme of the world, I am a very lucky person and I have far more than many, many people.
I also feel so fortunate to have received many gifts from Stephen in the two weeks I had with him. Quite frankly, I don’t know that what I gave him can measure up to all that he gave us. And these gifts will impact my life and the life of our forever child. Among them:
1) He brought us joy. In the two short weeks we had with Stephen, he made us incredibly happy. It was just pure joy to hold him and to feed him, to change him and to burp him, to see him smile (yes, I know that was gas, but I’ll take it as a real smile) and to hear him coo. To see how much a tiny person changes in just two weeks was nothing short of a miracle.
2) He proved that love is stronger than genetics. When we decided to pursue adoption to create our family, we had to look at some very hard issues. What it would mean to raise a child that we did not bear? Would it take a long time for us to grow to love our child? Would a child, particularly one not of our race, feel like “ours?” And we learned with Stephen that we could love fiercely from the earliest of days and that a child from adoption could feel as deeply ours as if I birthed him myself. That it was for us, quite frankly, impossible to resist loving a baby.
3) He showed me that I am ready. The night that we found out that Ying had chosen us as adoptive parents, I had a complete meltdown, terrified that we weren’t ready to be parents. After all, we had a pretty great life already -- enjoying good dinners, flexible schedules, carefree lives, fun with friends (and wine), disposable income and plenty of sleep. Was I really ready for all that to end? Was this really what I wanted all along?! Thank you, Stephen, for showing us that the answer is yes, yes, yes. We were (and are) ready to jump, head first, into parenthood.
4) He gave me a fierce determination to be a parent. He showed me that Bill is going to be an incredible father – loving and engaged and joyful. He showed me that I am going to be a great mother and that I can learn to put aside my micro-managing of all situations so that Bill can have his own relationship with our child. He showed us that Bill and I are great as a team – we each fed, burped, changed and held him and passed him back and forth seamlessly in our time with him. He showed me that being a parent is as incredible as I could ever hope it to be and he left me knowing that it is what I am meant to do.
Thank you, Stephen, for all that you gave us in our short time together. You have given us the strength to continue our journey and whether it be one month, one year or five years, we WILL be parents.
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