13.12.09

It's A Wonderful Life

"You don't need a castle to be a king . . . all you need is a home . . . it's a wonderful life!"

A. & I survived our PSB homestudy. The social worker, B.Buck, no relation, arrived at 10am & stayed for the next three hours and 15 minutes. I'd been cleaning 'til about 12.30am the night before and woke up early to bake blueberry muffin tops and banana bread. PSB said we didn't have to do that, but a little anxiety got the best of me, and any home always smells good after a little baking.

B.Buck didn't want anything to eat or drink, and she didn't use the bathroom during her entire visit. I think I went to the powder room at least once every hour (& refilled my coffee mug twice, I think) while she asked us further questions about our families, reasons for adoption, and expectations as we expand our family, wanting to make sure we are realistic about how our lives will change dramatically once we have a child.

I have to admit, the first question was a doozy, "Were you close to your father?"

Is that your first question, really? Did I not write enough about him in my required 10-page autobiography? As I responded, What a first question . . . I was a little overwhelmed as I wiped the tears from my eyes.

So you're still in the grieving process, she asked. I think I'll be in the grieving process forever. Friends and family, who've had a parent die, tell me -- with time, it gets a little easier, but the heartache doesn't really go away completely. Especially not with the holidays coming up.

To prepare for our homestudy, PSB suggested that we write a couple of one-pagers: 1. what we're most curious about our future child's origin 2. letter to our future child's birth parents. And yes, we discussed those concerns with B.Buck. I don't' think A. & I were nervous at all (I was a wee-bit anxious feeling a little like we're under a microscope) about our half-day conversation as all we could do was be honest and be ourselves. We'd certainly spent so much time researching & discussing our choice to adopt, attended required seminars, completed the required readings & trainings.

They say, nothing can prepare you for parenthood. I have to disagree just a tad bit. As adoptive parents-to-be, every effort is made to prepare and scrutinize the individuals who make a conscious choice to be parents. And perhaps that's the difference between some adoptive parents & some birth parents. Having to be super-aware of your choice to bring a child into your family, having to actually do the financial planning, having to verify your childcare options . . . because as adoptive parents, we're accountable to others beyond ourselves. We're accountable to our agency who's facilitating our 'becoming parents' process, the social worker who'll be doing follow-up visits once we've brought our child home, and the child who's been matched to be ours.

At the end of our conversation, A. asked, "Did we pass?" And B.Buck said, "Oh, you wouldn't have gotten to this point if you hadn't already."

A. & I feel great about completing another milestone in our adoption journey. So we celebrated with dinner at one of our favorite nearby restaurants, Wasabi House, and a local show, It's a Wonderful Life - The Musical, at the Sayreville Main Street Theater. (Another reason why we love where we live.) Life is about the home we make for ourselves and the lives whom we touch & who touch ours.

As we move closer to being in 'waiting' mode . . . It certainly is . . . a wonderful life.

2.12.09

Bittersweet

the holidays
ring in festive memories
of raw bellyaching laughter
& heartsick love
moments of the past revisited
touch me tenderly
with wistful unpleasantry
like the smack of bittersweet chocolate

28.11.09

The Dossier

We're in the second major phase of our adoption process: The Dossier. More documents to prepare, more questions to answer, more forms to complete. Our homestudy has been scheduled for Saturday, December 12, 10am. Wow, this is really happening. Of course it is. We just paid our first substantive fee to begin the homestudy process, which will last 2-3 months. A social worker will come to our home and spend half the day with us . . . asking us questions, determining how fit our home is, how fit we are to be parents. I have to remember, the goal is the same for both the social worker and us -- to have a child placed in our home.

To prepare for the homestudy, one of the tasks we've been given is to write a letter to our future child's birth parents.

Here's an excerpt:
"You have given Birth to your child, and we lovingly welcome giving her/him Life. Your child is our child. It's as simple as that. S/he is not our 'adopted' daughter/son. S/he is ours, and we will always be graciously thankful to you for that. While we've known that we are already a family with the two of us, we have looked forward to expanding our family and sharing our Life's loves and passions with a child whom the Spirit blesses us with. And I don't take the gift of parenthood, or Life for that matter, for granted. Since my husband and I have been together, we have experienced both his unexpected open heart surgery, my father's death from stage 4 prostate cancer and in between, numerous nieces' and nephews' births into the world. It's quite an interesting paradox -- witnessing the circle of Life alongside Death or just having to think about the possibility of death in the face of a medical trial.

As our future child's birth parents, know that we honor you for choosing Life for your child, and we promise to provide the best Life possible. S/he will always know how much you love her/him and wanted more for her/him. When s/he can understand, s/he will learn what options may or may not have been available to you in your life's circumstances which led you to choose adoption, just as s/he will learn what led us to choose adoption. I honor you by closing with this short prayer --

Thank you, Great Spirit,
for connecting us to a Goodness greater than we could ever know
You have gifted us with a bond to Birth Parents
You have committed to us -- a child from our Homeland
Rich with history and memories . . . & most of all,
A Homeland which holds for us our hearts' celebration --
the journey to Our Child"

19.11.09

Elephant pregnancy

A. & I had an amazing experience at our home study seminar on the property of the Peal S. Buck Foundation, an historic farmhouse in the midst of farmland not too far from Quakertown. We also had the opportunity to tour Pearl S. Buck's original home and see the desk where she created many of her literary pieces, & we saw many family photos. She was so ahead of her time in terms of living out her belief in globalism. A. & I were grateful to have our choice of PSB as our adoption agency affirmed.

We spent the entire day with three other couples, who plan to adopt from Korea and Nepal. The home study group was diverse. One couple already had two young daughters, the wife was South Asian, and they were adopting from Nepal; in the other couple the husband was Korean, his wife was White, and they were adopting from Korea. And the third couple, probably the one that A. & I will keep in touch with . . . he was Portuguese, had a pacemaker since he was 19 when he suffered from heart failure (he's fine now, a successful restaranteur), and his wife was White, a middle-school science teacher, they're planning to adopt from Nepal. And how could I forget the single mom-to-be adopting from Costa Rica? I would guess that the age range of adoptive parents in the room was anywhere from 27 through early 40s. A. & I were representative of the older folks. Our faciliators were an adoptive parent and adoption program coordinator -- thankfully, H., who happens to be coordinating all of the families applying to the Philippines.

Our adoption journey is our elephant pregnancy. The metaphor speaks for itself. An enormous undertaking . . . One of the groundrules to sharing the day with our fellow adoptive families was not sharing any information about our jobs, and discussing infertility issues was ruled out as those are such personal issues. I have to admit, there were a number of times throughout the day when I was overwhelmed either by our parent facilitator's stories of her & her husband's own adoption journey from Korea (her daughter's now 24) or wondering how A. was feeling & reacting to discusison topics such as attachment or parenting those initial months and getting to know our child when we bring her/him home. And when infertility issues did arise, it was heartbreaking to see how the other women in the group reacted. It was obvious that they'd spent a good amount of funding on unsuccessful infertility methods. While I know that I chose not to go down the route of infertility treatments, there's something about being a woman, knowing that becoming pregnant just isn't happening at the moment and having to think about my inability to give birth . . . being pregnant just may never happen . . . so heavily wrought with all kinds of emotion.

Another meaningful affirmation was, all this money we're spending is not for the cost of our child. We are not paying for our child. A child is not an economic commodity. We're paying for all of the administrative and government fees associated with facilitating a successful adoption process. Much to my surprise, we also learned that the adoption tax credit may no longer be offered, so I need to write our Congress people immediately about not doing away with that tax credit! (And if you're reading this, perhaps you might consider doing the same too?) And how ironic it is that A. & I are required to attend a parenting seminar, which should maybe be mandatory for all parents. As for dealing with awkward questions or unwelcome advice from extended family, I realized, it's okay to be private about our adoption journey as much as I want all of our extended family to be supportive too. And it's okay to be direct with them about either not wanting to answer their questions or telling them we're happy to discuss their concerns at another time . . . or even coming up with some poignantly humorous responses to gently put them in their place. Many times, I wish my Dad were still with us as I know how excited and supportive he would be.

This adoption journey is ours, & this time is precious . . . A. & I are allowed to be alone & enjoy our moments along the way.

I know that the day was worthwhile for A. & me individually as parents, but also as a couple. It was of tremendous support to be in a room with others who are on a similar journey and to discuss our concerns with the PSB staff who've only been names on email & voices on the phone for the past three months. After the seminar, A. & I decided to celebrate our homestudy milesone (finally begining the homestudy process!) with dinner at a Spanish restaurant as we processed our entire day. We cleared the air on . . . A. thought that I much prefer adoption over pregnancy which isn't the case at all as I don't prefer one over the other. I reassured him, I'd welcome pregnancy if we were blessed in that way whenever it happens . . . Now that we've begun the adoption process, I wouldn't want to halt something that we'd already begun. Once I've set my mind to something happening, it needs to happen! More importantly, if we were to become pregnant during the adoption process, I wouldn't want us to not carry through with the adoption at all just because we were having a biological child. A. & I agreed, we would lovingly continue with the adoption if that were to happen.

Here's to our elephant pregnancy & great expectations.

2.54pm -- Just received confirmation via email that our completed application will be reviewed by the Adoption Coordinator, and a copy of our file will be made for the social worker, so that we can start the home study process. That makes two milestones in one week. I radiate with gratitude.

15.11.09

On waiting

Some expectant mothers knit or quilt, and others savor the motions of 'nesting.' Me? I've recently taken up jewelry-making, which is teaching me much patience. More experimental than developing a craft because then that would mean I actually have skill! Apologies for the rawness of the jewels & the photos. Here are a few items I've worked on:

"Earth" -- brown & glass green bead earrings

"Ocean" -- aqua blue shell bead earrings

"Plum" -- purple glass beaded ring

"I love fall" - gold heart & green leaf bead bracelet

"Olive" -- emerald green glass bead necklace


12.11.09

On choosing PSB

So much goes into choosing an adoption agency. Now that we're close to entering another phase of our adoption process, I am more and more content with why we chose the Pearl S. Buck Foundation. [Click on the link, & see Apl.'s of the band, Black Eyed Peas, adoption journey.] Next week, A. & I are scheduled to attend the required home study seminar at PSB. We've completed our application and will start our home study process, so that we can begin to enter our dossier phase. Completing one process and entering the next are milestones within themselves. Once our completed dossier has been sent to the Philippines' adoption board, ICAB, then we wait.

For the past few weeks, A. & I have been on edge about the new eligibility requirements which ICAB just put out for those wanting to adopt from the Philippines. They are not accepting anyone diagnosed with chronic disease such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis etc. They will not accept anyone who has had any major organ transplant or anyone who has had a stroke or heart attack. While they did not specifically refer to heart disease or open heart surgery of any kind, we understandably experienced some anxiety, esepcially when this had been our concern prior to choosing an agency. When we finally submitted our initial application, PSB had reassured us then that any new requirements would not apply to us since ICAB had not finalized any details then. Thankfully, the most recent update is that the new eligibility requirements will not apply to anyone who submitted their application to PSB before November 1, 2009. Does not apply to us as we submited our initial application in mid-September. Whew! What a relief. Even so, we'd included a letter from A.'s cardiologist stating that his heart bypass was preventive and was not a response to any cardiac episode, further noting that the surgery has no impact on his ability to parent.

This adoption journey is some ride!

7.11.09

Meditation

I meditated this afternoon as I focused on the Native American statue I have in my sacred space -- a mother and her six children. E. lent me the statue some time ago as a prayer for motherhood. Meditating, I realized -- the number of babies in the sculpture corresponds to the number of godchildren I have . . . 6.

Thankful I am of the Spirit's tenderness towards my deepest wishes . . . and the wonderful blessings I have in friends and family who have entrusted their children to me.

Amazing grace.

2.11.09

Dia de los Muertos


que llorar su muerte
celebramos su vida
te extranamos muchisimo, Papa
pensamos en ti todos los dias

we mourn your death
we celebrate your life
we miss you dearly, Dad
we think of you every day

28.10.09

An introduction

a toddler's image floats
in my mind's eye
next to my father's face
perchance they meet
in the Elysian Blue
before we receive
our introduction

24.10.09

Heartprints

Once someone touches your heart, the fingerprints will last forever. ~ Anonymous

A. & I started our Saturday early. Went to the gym before our 9.30am appointment to get our digital fingerprints done for our adoption paperwork. Make sure we have no history of child abuse or any other criminal background. Mailed out another round of forms, including having to provide all of the addresses for where each of us has ever lived and for what timeframe. Then ran up to JC for a few hours to do a few apartment rental repairs. We decided to treat ourselves to a little merienda at a local Greek place in downtown JC after what seemed like an already full day.

A. doesn't express much about our adoption journey. Sometimes I don't know if he's holding back or just doesn't want to jinx anything until we actually come home with the child. Probably a little of both. Over our Greek melitzana & mousaka, I was delightfully surprised when A. mentioned he'd already been thinking about how the child's room would be arranged. To whom will we donate the existing furniture? What color should we paint the room? We both agree the room should have an Jersey shore/ocean theme, and we look forward to doing something creative with a fishing pole!

Every time we accomplish another step, I always feel like we've passed one more landmark in our journey. I told A., We're pretty special to be on this adoption journey. A. said, I'm lucky to be on any journey.

A heartprint moment.

Tomorrow, we plan to take the required photos of ourselves in front of our home & in our home. More landmarks on the way to more heartprints.

16.10.09

158 pages to you

preparing to be
adoptive parents
we read about
separation & loss
attachment & trauma

preparing to be
adoptive parents
we learn about
difficulties & delays
illnesses & diseases

our required reading
is one of many milestones
leading to you
as we write this chapter in our lives
this Life Book
is en route to you

8.10.09

Portrait of a cultural worker

I've been combing through my LinkedIn and fb contacts for any corporate leads who might be interested in running holiday toy drives for ESS' Winter Wonders project. I was able to connect with a couple. In doing so, I confronted my LinkedIn profile headline, "Educator/Cultural Worker," and I momentously began to revisit my purpose in life. As the adoption becomes more real with every form signed, completed and notarized, my mind runs wild trying to figure out how I'm going to be a working mama . . . whether that's working FT or PT. Not working at all is not an option as we are well aware of the risks associated with personal healthcare/prevention and dependence on a sole income. While work may be just work, it has also been a huge part of who I am and aspire to be.

Deep in my soul, I know that I'm an Educator/Cultural Worker, who is committed to showing compassion for others as well as ennobling the values of social justice. I stumbled upon one organization's mission -- ". . . to help create a culture that honors diversity and celebrates community; that inspires and nurtures justice, equality and freedom; that respects our fragile Earth and all its beings; that encourages and supports all forms of creative expression." Such is cultural work. And yes, that's my purpose. Full-time. I hope I can impart the significance of cultural work to the little one who waits to become part of our family.

6.10.09

Conscious choice

In my practice, I meditate. Is this choice going to make me happy? Is this choice going to make others happy? How does this choice allow me to grow and be a better person? I've been forced to think about whether or not it's worthwhile to surround myself with negative energy, and I'm of the mindset it's NOT. While there's respect for others, it doesn't make any sense to waste time being forced to feel uncomfortable or defensive. Unfortunately given cultural expectations, some people feel a tremendous sense of obligation and the need to keep up appearances . . . and I just can't do that. It's indeed a shift in consciousness and challenge to not be sucked in by others' expectations or perceptions. As we begin to share more with others about our adoption journey, I find myself sometimes feeling a bit defensive having to justify why we choose adoption especially when others assume there's something 'wrong' or question our choice to be a forever family. What I am most aware of is that, A. & I are happy to be forever parents to a child who has already been born into the world and needs people to love him/her . . . because every child needs a loving home. It's not important to us to have biological children in a world where there have been so many orphaned. And yes, it is a conscious choice. A happy & heartful one at that.

2.10.09

Jumping through hoops

Though there are hoops to jump through, A. reminds me that we choose to want to be parents. We choose to want to adopt a child. So it's not so much a struggle, but I know, an honor. Sure that some little one is waiting for her/his forever family as s/he looks forward to tomorrow . . . Of course, it's worthwhile. And I'm most certainly reminded when I find myself spending three hours on a Saturday morning combing through 'adoption journey' videos on YouTube as I pat my eyes dry with wads of tissue. I've had no doubt that I've wanted to adopt ever since my Auntie J. adopted my cousin, E., when I was eight years old. And in eighth grade when we were asked to list our future accomplishments, adopting a child was on the top of my list. And no doubt adoption has always been in my heart . . . when in college, I decided to do my feature writing project on my good friend, B., who is an adoptee from Vietnam. For all the paperwork and fees that are involved as we go through the process, jumping through hoops is just a small part. As A. has told me many times, Respect the process.

25.9.09

Mound 2 - paperwork

A. & I are currently working through our second mound of adoption paperwork. Upon first opening up the 1.5" thick 8.5" x 11" manila (ironically) envelope, I was immediately overwhelmed. I'd been anticipating it in the mail since we'd been notified that PSB received our initial face sheet application and fee. Not that I didn't know what to expect. So many forms, multi-paged forms! Signing off on the fact that we don't believe in corporal punishment at all. Fingerprints, certified copies, notaries . . . oh my!

Including a 6-10 page autobiography (that's A. & I each) on our childhoods and parents, education, careers, why we want to become parents, what our philosophies are on parenting and discipline . . . Personal and neighbor references . . . Employer and church ones too. Our primary childcare plan, our alternative childcare plans. And did I mention the 8" x 10" and 5" x 7" photos of us as adoptive parents, the rooms in our home, views of our home from the outside and all around the front and back? Plus photos of our extended family members. All to present our dossier in the best light possible, so that we can be matched with our forever child.

I find myself on occasion confronting the bittersweet (mostly sweet) excitement of our adoption journey and the fact that biological parents don't need a license to parent and certainly don't have to jump through such hoops. They should need a license, and they should have to jump through hoops.

14.9.09

Adoption Diary

Dear Pearl S. Buck,
We have officially begun the process which will enable a little one to join our already complete family. Having her/him will be a blessing because her/his life will touch ours in a most unique way that no other child can. Your giving spirit and belief that all children are entitled to the love & security of a family live strong in us. You were a pioneer, and we proudly follow in your path. Thanks so much, Pearl.
With much appreciation,
S. & A.

11.9.09

Everything reminds me of you

This photo was taken at K. & T.'s wedding rehearsal dinner -- maybe nine years ago? Lately I find myself looking at my reflection and realizing while I'm probably a good combination of my Mom & Dad, I take a long stare and am amazed at how much I look like my Dad. A fan of sending photos via phone messages, every time I send one over to my niece & nephew, E. & M., in GA, I take a moment . . . Wow, I really do look like Dad sometimes. Ay ee ya yay . . . everything reminds me of you, Dad.

Peace of today's falling rain to all those who experienced 9/11 and know individuals who gave up their precious lives in acts of the kindest humanity and most generous freedom. I recall very clearly what that day was like for me. Despite the hole in the WTC, I boarded the PATH train at the Grove Street station and was met with hysterical NYU students in Washington Square Park. That sinking heart feeling stayed with me as did the gaseous smell of chemicals and dead pigeons throughout the city. I ended up stranded in upper Manhattan, Inwood, with friends that evening and wasn't able to make contact with my folks until late 11pm. I will remember how I absolutely just had to read every obituary that came across the NY Times for months and months and months. I will remember how I, along with some friends, walked down to Exchange Place to volunteer with the Red Cross . . . and heard that there was no need for body bags because people had been basically cremated in the explosion across the Hudson River. I will remember to honor all those friends and family members who experience grief today on 9/11 and can move on courageously and comforted by heartful memories.

10.9.09

Celosia Argentea










fuzzy fall flowers
friend me
as i saunter for lunchfare


Perchances
Interesting what happens in the moment. I was downtown at a pre-proposal RFP meeting for work and happened upon an old colleague, who shared that he was going to be a father and that he & his wife are due in February. Naturally, I congratulated him and wished them well. In my well-wishing, I shared that we had just begun our expectant (adoption) process. But then I found myself unnerved the rest of the afternoon. Why did I want to share, should I be sharing too? Was our news just as worthy? Upon following up with an email exchange later, he congratulated me. And I insisted, no congratulations quite yet as it would be a long wait and process (14-24 months) -- maybe I'm Jewish that way. Jews don't believe in baby showers & such fanfare. Nothing is worth celebrating until the little one has actually arrived. Anything can happen before then. In any expectant anticipation, especially that of wanting so much to experience parenthood, worries and excitement overwhelm me simultaneously.

And then there's the friendly Pilipino maintenance man in my (work) building, who frequently holds the elevator for me. Every day, Christopher (from Bulacan in the Philippines) & I exchange sincere pleasantries, he asks me about my work, and I find myself wanting to make more-than-nice, make an effort to get to know him, because he is Kuya - kababayan. And I'm reminded of the magic of perchance.

Just like when we finally meet our little one.

9.9.09

The Birthing Process

a few years full of sighs
a couple of expectant calls and info sessions
questions
responses
fee schedules
breathe into
a leap of faith
an important piece of mail
(breathe out)
our process has begun

4.9.09

Staycation


he leaves behind
noise & disruption
in a distant country of urban chaos
. . . and he travels . . .
landing peacefully
at home
in the bay
water bubbles
around him
& the fish
are there too

30.8.09

One year ago









Not too sure what's so happy about celebrating a one-year death anniversary. I suppose it's the actual honoring a loved one's memory & celebrating his life. Mom preferred a quiet acknowledgment this year as opposed to the traditional Filipino let's-invite-everyone-over kind of gathering. So we went to Mass at Our Lady of Mercy (Jersey City) and then had dinner at a new restaurant downtown by the Newport Marina. Michael Anthony's hasn't even officially opened quite yet. The grand opening is in a few weeks, sometime next month. We toasted to Dad's memory and shared a few stories. Just Auntie, Uncle, Mom, A. & me. And cousin K., T., M. & E. had their own memorial celebration in GA -- complete with sushi fiesta, Dad's old Perry Como CDs, mini-golf & karaoke!

Next year, I think I'd like to organize an intimate tennis or golf fundraising event in Dad's honor and donate the proceeds to the Prostate Cancer Foundation. I'd thought about doing that this year, but it was too soon for me. More likely a tennis event? . . . since I'm finally learning how to play the game and can appreciate the technique behind the strokes . . . what with my tennis lessons & all. Dad would be so proud.

Sadly, Mom will be leaving for Seattle in the morning to attend a cousin's funeral. She committed suicide . . . hung herself and has left behind four children. She'd just been released from a week-long stay in the hospital for severe depression. Heartful thoughts & prayers go out to the Aichele Family, especially A.'s kids.

Strange how & when life throws some unthinkable situations out at you. After a full year, as I move from grieving my Dad's death to celebrating his memory, I'm forced to think about my cousin's children who will now begin their mourning journey and have to figure out how to make sense of their mother's death . . . which seems so incomprehensible. What's hopefully comforting is that Dad will be there to greet my cousin, A., with open arms & hopefully she will finally be . . . at peace.

As for me, it feels good . . . a year later . . . to be at peace. No doubt Dad's okay with that.

27.8.09

Charlotte's Web

She sits in the Center
of Life's web
in a matrix of Connectedness
She waits and prays
for Balance
in her Self
in the Presence of day-to-day
Charlotte speaks to me
at the bus stop.

26.8.09

Amazing grace

Dad's one-year death anniversary is approaching. It's been quite a year of transition. Most recently, A. & I have been doing the things Dad enjoyed doing -- tennis, golf, hanging by the water and spending time with good friends. And every so often, a glass of wine too. Just as Dad did. That's all we can do - to honor his memory.

As A. & I commuted down the NJ Turnpike this morning, we passed the grand opening of The Barclays Golf Course at Liberty State Park. How Dad looked forward to a professional golf course in his backyard though he probably wouldn't have afforded the $1million membership fee. Golf's greats such as Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson are expected to participate in the exhibition. As we exited, the sun's rays reached out to all of the cars congested right before Exit 14A as we were on our way downtown (JC).

The sight of the sun's rays through the clouds was simply glorious. And in that moment, I was reminded of the peace of the Spirit's Amazing Grace which has supported me in my grief journey. Everything seems to ring true -- what others say about losing a loved one, especially a parent. You just never really get over it. Sure, it gets better, but there are also moments when it was just yesterday that we waited patiently and lovingly for Dad to pass and no longer be in pain. And with my arms outstretched above my head, I gaze up and hold my own heart.

As Life glides along our hearts' memories, I know Dad would be excited that we have moved forward in our adoption process. In fact, he'd said -
What are you waiting for? I'll help you finance the adoption process. And gratefully . . . he (& Mom) is. Thanks, Dad, for always being so supportive.

17.8.09

Butterfly hugs

A. gave me tennis couples' tennis lessons for my birthday last year. It's been the gift that keeps on giving. Ironically enough, I didn't enjoy tennis leessons much when as a 10-year-old, Dad tried desperately to get me interested in the sport (and turn me into a boy, or so I thought) by making me wake up weekends at 6am to hit an hour on the wall, then head to the Lincoln Park courts for another hour or so. Growing up, I wasn't much of an athlete as I was more attracted to writing, books & musicals.

Much to my surprise, I've been enjoying tennis and can now understand the mechanics behind the strokes and actually appreciate the game. Yesterday morning as A., P. & I played on the Sayreville courts, an hour into our rally, an unusually large butterfly started chasing me and wouldn't fly away! Immediately I thought, It's Dad, it's Dad!

Even more unusual was the fact that we haven't seen any butterflies at all this summer what with the heat & humidity. Guess it was Dad's way of saying how glad he is that I've finally taken up the sport!

11.8.09

Happy birthday to me!

A most blessed birthday
09 August 2009

thank you for my husband's care,
A. who overwhelme me with loving surprises
and gifts that keep on giving.
thank you for my mother's generous nature,
Mom whose maternal ways have become friendly,
She, who has always been my ally.
thank you for my cousin's compassion,
K. who is my sister and emotions' secret keeper.

[i missed you this birthday, Dad. thanks so much to you & Mom
for providing me with a wonderful Life.
Here are some photos from the weekend.]

5.8.09

August's Rush

I find myself overwhelmed this August. Not so much that it's my birthday month, but moreso because it's the month of my Dad's one year death annviversary. Mom wants an intimate family acknowledgement, whereas I would love to see some of my Dad's buddies. But I defer to my Mom because it is she who was Dad's primary caregiver his last two years. It is Mom who lives in the home where she & Dad made their life together. It is Mom who still lives among Dad's presence -- his clothes, his computer, his papers -- which we still have yet to do anything. (I patiently wait for Mom to let me know that she's ready to donate Dad's things, & I dread the day that we'll have to go through it all.) I realize, Mom & I each have our individual grieving experiences with Dad's passing just as we each had our own relationship with him.

I ruined A.'s birthday surprise for me. Given that we'd spent last August in the hospital with Dad, A. planned to fly my cousin, K., in from GA to surprise me. Only I found out a couple of weeks early because I decided to check A.'s blackberry -- something I'd never been accustomed to doing! As my 14-year-old niece thankfully pointed out, at least I was surprised in that moment. While I am certain Dad would want me to enjoy my birthday month, I cannot help but feel deep sadness that he's not around for my birthday, & he never will be. I really miss my Dad. As much as I would like, not even the news of a newborn baby in the family makes the sting of Dad's death a little less painful. Of course, I know he is always in my heart's memory. But his physically not being with us really does bite more days than others. And it's those hard days, I try to laugh at Dad's most character moments. Like when we were about to trek out one time, and he said he would drive. I sat in the front passenger's side, and Mom sat in the back. But what did he do? He got in the other back seat, and then no one was in the driver's seat!


What I need to do is . . . not focus on the rush of tears, but the rush of sunbeams that graciously embrace me in Dad's loving presence.