I miss my Daddy today... not my "father" but my daddy. See, my father is one being, but two separate people. He is the memory I have of a man who would die for his children. The man who would call me to see if I'd written anything lately, and then ask me to read it to him. The man who would cheer me on, and convince me that I could do anything. The man who made me cry (happy, sappy tears) on my wedding day, when I had kept a dry eye through the whole ceremony. The man who liked to play boardgames with his kids. That man is my daddy. The memories I have of him are so special to me, but they break my heart. I lost him.
My daddy is gone.
But he's not physically gone. He is now this other man. The man who deserted his family. The man who is filled with rage. The man who let alcohol and drugs destroy his life. The man who pesters my mother (his now ex-wife) with annoying text messages and phone calls. The man who ignores our wishes, and acts out in our presence. This man is my father, but he is not the Daddy I remember.
So, I've consciously chosen to avoid him for the most part. I see him rarely. He doesn't have my number. When I see him, I'm cordial. I talk to him; I give him rides home; I let him briefly have (supervised) visits with Meerkat. But, he's not the same... and our relationship is not the same. I've lost him... even though he's still around.
My mother and father were divorced shortly after alcoholism returned to my father's life, about three years ago. That was a very difficult time. It felt like a death to me. I had lost my daddy, and he wasn't coming back, no matter what he did. I could never restore our relationship to what it was before. Those days were over, and it killed part of me. But, just like with death, I eventually healed and had my memories, and moved on.
Then suddenly, without warning, today I started missing him. Inbetween my classes this morning, I couldn't stop thinking about my Daddy. I thought about being a little girl holding his thumbs, climbing his legs, and flipping over. I thought about hanging from his biceps in kindergarten, so proud to show off how strong my daddy was to all my friends. I remembered calling him when I got a poem published to hear his reaction. I thought about being so sick in my dorm-room in college that he had to come get me and carry me to the hospital. He drove thirty minutes, picked me up off my bunk bed, carried me to the car, and into the hospital. I thought about him driving that same trip to go to class with me after my hysterectomy to help me get around, and just incase I needed him. I recalled him loading a friend's truck every year for four years to move me from apartment to apartment. I remembered how he was at EVERY single performance of mine (and there were MANY) - theater, singing, church-plays - cheering me on, and how he was always the loudest clap and howl in the crowd. My heart feels so sad today. I hurt physically with the amount I miss him... And, while I could call him up and talk to him, it wouldn't be my Daddy on the other line... it would be this other man who pretends to be Daddy, but who just can't get it right... and that hurts most of all.
In the midst of my thoughts today, I began to associate my loss with my daughter's. And it really got me thinking about loss in adoption. Everyone involved is suffering some type of loss: the loss of a child; the loss of a first-family; the loss of a pregnancy. And yes, these losses hurt a lot when they first occur, and yes we eventually move into acceptance, but then a day like today happens, and the wound reopens a little.
My daughter was adopted as a newborn. Does this make her loss minimal? I don't think so. Sure, she did not experience a life with her first-family, so she doesn't have the memories to miss and regret losing. But, I never experienced a pregnancy, and yet I feel a tremendous amount of pain over the loss of being able to experience it. What gives me some hope is that I am able to see that despite that loss and my desire to have not encountered it, I am still thankful for it to some extent. I hope that my daughter will, despite her pain at losing an entire family, be able to rejoice in the family that she has now. And, I hope that by keeping in contact with A and her children, we will be able to minimize the pain of loss that she feels. However, I still worry today. I worry that one day my daughter's loss will become so real and painful to her that she will struggle to get past it. I worry that she will suffer, just as I worry about her suffering any heartbreak or pain.
I'm not worried that she won't love me and her daddy, because I know she will. And, I'm not worried that she will not want to be with us, because I know she will be thankful that she ended up with us as parents. I am, however, worried that she will question the "what-ifs" so much that they will consume her and break her heart. I'm worried that she won't understand why she had to experience the loss she did. I worry that she will be angry that she is feeling sad about her loss, and not realize that it's okay to grieve it. I worry that one day she will be crying in her car between classes... like I was today. And I wish I could help her avoid that pain, or be there to hold her while she cries. But, I know I will not always be around as she ages. She will become more and more independent. She will deal with things privately. I just hope that I am able to help her somehow, as she ages.
I worry too about A. I can't imagine the grief she feels, and the pain of her loss. I know she is happy with her decision, and I know she doesn't regret it. She is upbeat, and stays in contact with us. But, I worry that she is in pain too. And, I have developed a strong love for A. A love that surprised me. I worry about how she is dealing with her loss. I hope that she is at peace.
Most of all, I hope that when those sneaky moments rear up, like mine today, that A and Meerkat will not be afraid to experience their grief and share their feelings with someone. I hope that they will not keep their feelings deep inside. I hope that A will talk to her mom, or a friend, or a counselor. I hope that Meerkat will come to me, or her dad, or a friend. I hope that despite the difference of our losses, we will still all feel the connection to one another that binds our losses together. I hope that we will constantly be aware of each other's losses. I never want to forget about the losses Meerkat and A have experienced as a result of this process, and I hope they are both able to consider each other's losses (and mine) when they are grieving and communicating.
I began thinking about my father's loss. He's lost his wife, his children, his dignity. He's lost even more than I have, and yet I still can't see a way for our damaged relationship to be repaired. I think that remembering his loss helps me deal with mine a bit though. It puts it in perspective. It doesn't minimize my loss at all, but it does make me feel less alone, and a bit more "okay" with my grief. And it prevents my loss from turning into anger and hatred. I can avoid resenting him because I know that he is hurting too. I think this is an essential aspect to dealing with loss, regardless of the circumstances. Keep it from becoming "self-pity" or a solo grief.
Regardless of how we handle it, loss is everywhere. Loss makes us who we are. Loss develops character and destroys character. Loss is hard, whether it's adoption or otherwise.
It's official, you're half a year old. I'm completely and utterly amazed at how quickly time goes by now that I'm your Mommy. I used to be awed by the speed of the semesters, but now... WOW. I turn my head and when I turn back, you're doing something new. Weren't we just in SC with you, awed by your tiny little toes and the cute drunk face you'd make after eating?
You don't make that face anymore. It's sad to see those newborn baby tendencies disappear... but it's so exciting to see the things that replace them. You are constantly doing new things.
You still don't want to roll over, even though we've seen you do it and know you can. You just quit doing it. It's like you have no interest whatsoever in getting anywhere but where you are already. You've shown no real interest in crawling yet, though you do fling your arms around to try to reach for toys that are in front of you when you're on your tummy. I think you'll probably crawl by accident, and that is what will make you learn how.
You do sit up like a pro now! We went to Grandma and Grandpa S' house for Christmas, and you just suddenly figured it out. You have great balance. (Just look at you up there with 1996. You're not leaning against anything! And, you've gotten so big it's hard to even see the mouse). However, your sitting up has also been the cause of your first bump. You were sitting (so good) at Grandma and Grandpa's, and we were playing on the floor with your toys, when you suddenly flung yourself backward and hit your head on the floor. Thankfully, it's carpeted, and you didn't fall far. But it scared you (and ME!!!) and we both had a nice cry over it. You were fine. And I'm sure you will bump your noggin several more times in the not so distant future. I'm going to have to buy you a helmet!
You show a great interest in standing now. You want to stand all the time -- holding onto one of us of course. But, your legs are so strong, so I think it won't be long before you can stand unassisted. I won't be one bit surprised if you walk before you crawl.
This month has been filled with happiness! Mommy and Daddy had the month off from teaching, so we spent all our time with you. We played so much!!! You got lots of great toys for Christmas. Mommy and Daddy bought you a little, stuffed dog named Violet. She says your name; she sings songs about you; and she spells your name too. She's so great! And, you seem very interested in her. You even pulled her over to you and turned her on the other day when we weren't looking. You also enjoy your new jumperoo! You've learned to bounce, and you throw yourself around like a crazy person. You LOVE it. You giggle and giggle. We can't get enough of watching you learn all the cool things about your surroundings.
Speaking of toys, you got them because this month was your first Christmas!!! It was lovely. You actually had two! First, we went to Grandma and Grandpa S' house and celebrated. We all watched you and your cousin, A. open gifts. A turned one while we were there, and you both had a ball with each other. Your Grandma and Grandpa really enjoyed seeing you and spending time with you. We stayed for a whole week, and you were so good!
When we got back, we had a Christmas and Grandma K's house. You got more presents and enjoyed spending time with your cousin, D. He'll be a year old next month! Wow. Mommy can't believe how fast all of you babies are growing.
I love you dearly, Meerkat. You make my life worth living. I can't imagine a day without you in it. May these next six months, before you're 1, be just as exciting as the first six.
Just incase you're curious about what I'll be up to in 2011.
Playing it Off is a new blog I've started to chronicle my "resolution" of getting more fit. I didn't want to call it a resolution... but it's the beginning of the year, so I guess that's what it is. Don't feel obligated to follow or even read... But, I'm posting this here, so I am accountable and will be obligated to continue the weightloss journey.
We are two, happily married teachers/writers journaling our journey to build our family through the adoption process.
We are unable to conceive a child due to infertility. Though painful, it has grown us closer together, strengthened our desire to build our family through adoption, and brought us our beautiful little girl. We are journaling the excitement, fears, ins and outs of our adoption process so that others can learn from our experience.