March 27, 1999

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2264951349_46e31f3586_zIt was a beautiful spring-like day. Still cool, still snow on the ground but the sun was getting warmer. The melting snow dribbling off the shrinking piles to leave puddles on the sidewalks. Spring was whispering in the breeze, soon we’d see grass and the buds would explode the trees into their summer greenery.

My husband and I had been married six months plus a day.

On March 26, 1999, we’d gone out for dinner to celebrate surviving the first six months of marriage. I don’t use the word ‘survive’ lightly. It was a very difficult first six months of marriage with many adjustments and crushed expectations while we had not only tried to figure out how to live together but also how to raise a two-year old child together.

As difficult as the first six months had been, the real bomb had yet to drop and as we sat at dinner on the 26th we both felt its looming shadow succinctly as my husband’s parents had requested he come to Rockland by himself the next afternoon.

Over dinner we speculated, hoping for the best but in our heads and hearts we both had uneasy suspicions. His mother’s slow recovery from her surgery in January and the fact she still had not returned to work fueled our suspicions.

We boxed up most of our meal and took it home, neither of us able to eat much, our stomachs full with more fear and worry than food.

The afternoon of that beautiful spring-like day my husband left for Rockland. I curled up on the couch a ball of nerves and flu symptoms. Just wanting it to be over and my husband to return home and allay the fears and untie the knots in my stomach.

It was not to happen that way.

Instead he came home and confirmed our fears, my fears, and it was worse than we had let ourselves imagine.

Stage 4 breast cancer, incurable, inoperative, and it had metastasized into her bones. The prognosis was bleak, the outcome seemingly inevitable, it was just a matter of time.

What do you do when the bomb drops?

You cry, you scream, you rant “It’s not fair, why her? Why us?”

Then you put the two-year old in his stroller, put the leash on the dog and as a family you go for a walk in the beautiful spring-like weather.

Regardless of the pain and anger life must go on, will go on and demands that you go on even when you just don’t want it to, even when you just don’t feel like facing another day.

What we didn’t know that day was how his mother would teach us how true those words are. Life does go on. You can live it or die. She chose life.

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Post-script – Check back on April 12, 2014, for the next part of this story.

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Memories of My First Love

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6191008024_38f2fa7fd6First look! First time someone really fell for me, wanted to be with me and the magic was mutual. I was fifteen. He was sixteen. We were young, oh so young when I look back now but it was such a pure, beautiful time.

He asked me to dance.

And we danced, rocking in circles to Bryan Adams, Everything I do, I do it for You.

He wanted me to go out with him.

I said “no”, because I wasn’t allowed to. I really wanted to say yes….

He was persistent.

Oh so many details of this time are permanently etched on my heart. So many firsts, exciting, thrilling, intoxicating and yet also a little scary and overwhelming.

I’d never kissed a boy before, certainly not like I learned to kiss him.

I remember being young and not caring about when or where we kissed or who was watching. It was intoxicating to be loved by him. We broke a lot of rules to experience this love and everything was so intense the rules didn’t matter much anyways. First kisses lead to other firsts. In the naïvety of a sixteen year old’s mind I loved him without reservation, I thought I could never love another . I wrote him poetry until my fingers hurt.

I have never written poetry for any other like I wrote poetry for him. Maybe it was the intensity of being young and everything being so new. In return he made me feel special and beautiful. He saw my face as perfectly symmetrical. He loved the mole on my breasts and would kiss it gently. He showed up at my school and surprised me with roses, gave me a beautiful amethyst promise ring for our six month anniversary, and left random $20 in my pocket for me to find.

Eighteen crazy months, the best of my teenage years, no not given to him or given to me by him, but mutually shared and enjoyed. We had so much fun. Camping, playing pranks, hanging out with friends, having parties, running away – yes, even running away. Spending the night curled up at the beach, using each other to stay warm. We learned together, loved together and experienced so many firsts together that the time inevitably left its mark on my life.

In the end though it was me who threw it away, got cocky and wanted to explore. Instead of being satisfied with being intoxicated by him, I began to find intoxication in the interest of other guys. It was such an ego boost to be an object of desire.

Unfortunately I was too young to understand the difference between being the center of someone’s heart and the object of desire of many.

Too young to know what I lost until I’d been used and thrown away for sex, abused for sex, and abandoned and lost over sex… He showed me the beautiful, mutual, respectful, loving, wonderful world of love and sex, and I threw it away over curiousity. That curiousity cost me a great deal.

Some days I wonder if I will ever forgive myself  for breaking his heart….

And some days I think I just want to go back to a simpler time before the mortgage and bills had to be paid and children looked up to me to set a good example, a role I often feel unqualified to fill. A time where you could kiss for hours and escape from the world into another’s arms so easily. A time when the love was all that mattered, and the world outside it didn’t exist when you were together. Where zipping yourselves into one sleeping bag still didn’t bring you close enough. You wanted more but yet just being together was more than enough.

Oh to be young and naïve and in love again for the first time…. Yes, if there was any time in my life I could go back and live again it would be those crazy, wonderful eighteen months spent loving him and being loved by him.

No regrets!

These memories swept over me at the Arcade Fire concert, as three seats over from where my husband and I were sitting was a person who looked a lot like my first love. His profile in the darkness of the stadium was eerily similar. It triggered the memory download. I realized that despite all the years that have passed and things that have changed, a small part of my heart and soul will forever belong to the first man I gave them to. The first man who taught me how to love, unconditionally, passionately and without reservation.

But first love is locked in time, a memory polished to perfection by the waves of time.

What is right now is what’s real and what my fifteen year marriage has taught me about love is that the right to a piece of someone’s heart and soul is something you have to get up every morning prepared to work for. A living relationship is dynamic, changing, evolving and flowing with time. Far more easily polluted by negativity, negativity that is often strong enough to pull a part the stitches that hold all the pieces together if each person in the relationship doesn’t take responsibility for filling up the coffer with good, strong, binding memories of connection that can be drawn upon when times are difficult.

I do think these memories of first love can also help strengthen what I have now. It’s a reminder to kiss like it’s the first time, to find ways of making a comfortably worn relationship a little more exciting and to occasionally zip ourselves into one sleeping bag and remember what it was like to not be able to get close enough to each other.

And maybe to even write a little poetry…

February 27, 2004

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Minutes old - my baby girl!

Minutes old – my baby girl!

I awoke at around 6:30 am, my lower back was aching. I knew it was time.

I nudged my husband awake and told him I was going to try to take a shower before we headed to the hospital and that he should start getting our son up and ready for school, just in case we had to leave before the van arrived to take him to school.

I stood in the shower letting the warm water run over me. The pain began to steadily intensify. I leaned against the shower wall as a contraction rippled through me. I breathed through it then called to my husband. It was time to go. He called my mom to tell her we were on our way over to drop off our son so she could take him to school.

A few minutes later we were getting in the car. I waddled slowly, breathing through the rhythm of the clenching and relaxing muscles, my body instinctively doing what it was built to do.

At my mom’s, she came out to see me, advised me “I didn’t look so good!” with a smile of excitement! I nodded as I was slowly moving into another place mentally, focused on the signals, the changes, the increasing intensity inside of me.

We drove to the hospital. I don’t really remember much of the drive or if anything much was said between my husband and I as he navigated early morning rush hour traffic.

We arrived at the hospital about 7:30 am, maybe a little after, time at that point seemed irrelevant. We parked and walked up to admission on the eighth floor. They did their usual paperwork and assessments. The nurse left for a minute and I stood as another contraction worked through my lower back, the intensity building, stronger than any I’d had up to that point.

I sent my husband to get the nurse.

When she returned she had me lie down so she could measure my cervix – 7 cm. It would be soon.

We were taken to a birthing room shortly after and I met my nurse. She was wonderful. She rubbed my back as I rocked through wave after wave of intensifying contractions, reminding me to breathe through the contractions and encouraging me with each contraction that I could and I was doing what I needed to do.

No drugs. After my first delivery with my son, I was mentally prepared for this delivery to be another natural birth. I was prepared for the pain. And most importantly, I was ready to meet my baby.

But as I worked through the last bit of transition, I did request some nitrous oxide gas.

I breathed the gas in, the world and the pain a little fuzzier, set a part, like my brain and my body were disconnected.

My doctor arrived. He broke my water.

With a magnificent gush of water, soaking everything, it was the start of the final moments. Time was taken to remove my wet clothes and sheets. I remember a moment of feeling very naked, but then just not caring, as the final contractions moved through my abdomen, and I naturally started bearing down, gently pushing, following the instincts of my body.

I was ready to push.

No more gas. With my husband on one side and my nurse on the other, holding my legs up to help me push, I began to focus all my energy into my bottom. With each subsequent contraction I pushed into the searing pain as my body opened to give my child a passage into the world.

I was not quiet, the pain was intense. I cried out several times as the pain overwhelmed me. I pulled a muscle in my right hip at one point that would take months to heal.

Then I heard my doctor say that the baby would be coming out on the next push. The heart beat was dropping badly. He was going to use the vacuum to help me. And so with one final intense push and a little help, I delivered my second child.

With a whoosh and an instant sense of relief, the baby was laid on my stomach. Gasping  I received the child with a hug and I heard someone, I believe it was my husband say “It’s a girl!”

As I lay there panting, my arms wrapped around her, I exclaimed with total joy and instant love “I got my girl!”

She was the best birthday present I have ever or will ever receive, all 8 lbs 13.5 oz of her, laid squirming and healthy on my stomach at 8:36 am on February 27, 2004, my 27th birthday.

Happy 10th Birthday Baby Girl!

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