Sunday, September 16, 2007

Birthday Letters to Myself -- Part 3

The Thirty-Something Years

Dear 31 year old self: Yes, I know your days and {sleepless} nights are filled with diaper changes and breast pumps and soiled baby clothes and strained peas and formula. You have bags under your eyes, your hair is in desperate need of a cut and color, and some days you never even make it out of your pajamas, let alone into the shower. But secretly? You will look at these two kids, and the mountain of laundry, and all the baby paraphernalia that has overtaken your living room, and think you are the luckiest girl on the planet. Guess what --- you’re right.

Dear 32 year old self: Congrats, you’re about to get pregnant again! For the first time ever, in your eight years of trying, on purpose! You have a beautiful one year old daughter, a handsome (if, albeit, a little chubby) baby boy, a great husband, and you’ve made some dear friends in Ohio. This will be one of the happiest years of your life. But do not, I repeat, do NOT spend an entire week painting and sponging and bordering your kids' bedrooms in your base house. Because as soon as you find out you are pregnant, you will be moved to a bigger house (yeah!) and have to un-do all that hard work decorating you just did, back to “basic housing white walls”. (boo!) Well, ok, technically, *Blaine* will have to un-do it because hey, you’re pregnant, and you can’t be around all those paint fumes, right? But he won’t be happy about it.

Dear 33 year old self: Holy cow, if possible, your life just got even better with the arrival of your third child. Your family is truly complete. You are blessed. Take a deep breath and look around you because really, it doesn’t get much better than this. But for God’s sake, woman, STEP AWAY FROM THE TATTOO PARLORS!!!!

Dear 35 yr old self: Good for you for listening to your instincts about being a surrogate. Look at that beautiful family over there you helped to create and feel happy about that. But, there is a dark wind blowing. Batten down the hatches and get ready.

Dear 36 yr old self: Your husband will be diagnosed with cancer this year. Pretty much, it will suck. For all of you, but mainly for him. But, those wonderful twins you will deliver will remind all of you that there is much more joy in life than hardship. Much, much, more. Try to remember that, because although you don’t see it coming, and will be completely blind-sided, things are about to get worse.

Dear 37 yr old self: You know what’s funny? For some bizarre reason, “37” has always been your favorite number. I have no idea why, it just has. And so you’ve always sort of thought, in the back of your head, that this would be a banner year for you. Instead, your 4-yr old daughter is about to be diagnosed with cancer. This will be the single, hardest thing you’ve ever gone through. Thank goodness for the Internet and online support groups and a little thing called Caringbridge, because the hours and hours you spend on the computer will make things easier, but it will still be the hardest year you’ve ever endured. This year, when you awake each morning, and the first, stomach-clenching thought that goes through your head is “Is my daughter going to die?”, allow yourself two minutes to give in to the fear. Let the anxiety wash over you, feel nauseous, terrified, pray, bargain, plead, cry if you need ---- but then suck it up. She needs you. She needs you to be strong for her, because she is only four years old and doesn’t understand what is happening. And, you better be up to the challenge or I will personally kick your sorry ass all the way to the curb.

Dear 38 yr old self: You made it. It’s not over yet, but you made it through the first horrible, dreadful year. I can see you starting to relax, and life is getting back to a new sort of normal. That’s good; keep it up. Also, you need to somehow acknowledge the unbelievable, amazing, wonderful, incredible shows (plural!) of support you have received from friends, family, and even complete strangers. Their prayers and meals and cards and kind thoughts and packages and good wishes and comments have certainly lifted you up more times than you can count and made this journey easier to bear. Remember to always, always appreciate that. The kindness and caring from strangers make it worth every hour you sit on that computer updating her Caringbridge site. Plus, hey, it’s good therapy. Maybe someday you’ll get your shit together and write a book about it.

Dear 39 yr old self: Your nightly prayers are longer than usual because you have so much thankfulness to give. After twenty-six long, hard months, your daughter will finish her chemotherapy treatment later this year. Although the worry won’t go away completely, you will be so proud of her and all she has accomplished. You are going to give birth to a sweet (although unusually big-headed) baby boy and will get to help make another wonderful couple parents for the first time. You are blessed, blessed, blessed. But don’t get too comfortable, because your husband’s cancer is about to come back and you need to load up for bear again. Also, during your visit home this summer, try to spend as much time as you can with your dad. I know it will be difficult because he will be on a respirator in the hospital, but it will be your last opportunity to tell him you love him, and when those are the last words you ever say to him, and him to you, it will be a gift you treasure always. And losing your Dad will remind you how family is the most important thing in the world and wow, you’re sure spending a lot of **your** precious family time on the computer.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Beautifully written, thought provoking, and inspiring. Don't stop....ever!

Dixie in CA

Anonymous said...

You made me cry, the 39 year old self! Wonderfully written. Thank you Kristie for reminding everyone what is most important! Family!
Claire in TX

The Running Girl said...

I'm loving reading your letters to yourself. Wow.
Briana

Melissa in CA said...

I was near tears; but am at work, so thankfully they didn't leave the ducts. You are so inspiring, Kristie! Thank you so much for sharing! We'll be waiting for that book ~ no matter when, no matter where, we'll be there...waiting! You know you have to do it ~ you're an amazing writer and so many people could learn a lot from you. Keep up the good work!

LIL MAMA said...

WOW, THAT'S COOL, I DONT HAVE THE PATIENCE TO WRITE THAT MUCH, BUT IT SOUNDS COOL, LOL
LILY

Marcia said...

This one was tough to read, and I'm sure it was a lot tougher to write. I need to do this.

D (AKA Dianna in Louisiana) said...

Beautiful Kristie---- Absolutely Beautiful