Monday, September 9, 2013

Four Years, and Five Years

I neglected to celebrate my blog's birthday at the end of August. I did have cake, but I didn't blog. I never blog anymore, you guys. I'm sorry.

But one day I won't neglect to commemorate is today, the 9th of September. This is going to be as unfocused as all get out, but I have things to say. Today marks four years since I placed Roo for adoption. It also marks five years since my dad died. I remember thinking, back in 2009, that it was a good idea to place Roo on the anniversary of my dad's death, because that way I would have one day a year to feel sad and I could be happy the rest of the time.

Worst idea EVER.

I find myself experiencing a sort of mutant weather system of feelings this time of year because I'm thinking of two different life experiences and processing the emotions that each of them brought, and sometimes the hot and cold fronts collide and there are violent storms. Last Monday I felt every feeling I have ever had all at once. I ended up slumped on the floor in my closet, sobbing to the point of hyperventilation. I had to go shoe shopping to make it okay.

I'm sure I've mentioned this before but it bears repeating. When I grieve placement, it's nothing to do with the real Roo, the world's awesomest four-year-old. My grief is for my baby, my tiny newborn. I miss being a mother, and I miss being her mother in particular. The fact that I have a milestone birthday coming up and that I am still very, very single only compounds that pain. I want children. I wanted Roo. I want more just like her. Letting her go was the hardest thing I have ever done. Losing my dad was awful, but placement in the moment was a million times worse.

But it's okay now. It is absolutely okay. 

I was going back through my archive and reading what I wrote on previous September 9ths. I had this to say in 2010:

“A year later, I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. Yes, it hurt. It hurt for a while. But time has dulled the pain, and continues to do so. Roo's happiness is worth every tear. If me being sad for a while is the price of her being happy forever, I'm glad to have paid it.”

I stand by the words of Past Jill. She was pretty insightful. I miss her sometimes. I haven't had a single insight lately. Well, that's not entirely true. But my last insight was inspired by a YouTube video; it wasn't much to brag about. (Also, the video was the one about what sound a fox makes.)

I miss being a mother when I stop to think about it. But every single day, I miss having a father. My dad was a pretty awesome guy. My mother is fond of saying that he was the most fascinating person she had ever met. She's not wrong. I had a great dad. He's been gone for five years and I still can't make it okay.

Tonight I went to the planetarium at Mesa Community College and watched the coolest video of the universe, as generated by computers, set to the music of Pink Floyd. It was absolutely amazing, and I wanted to cry because my father would have loved it. When I was a kid he would take me outside after dark, set up his telescope and teach me about the stars. He pointed out planets and constellations, and the occasional airplane, along with the thought that he liked airplanes because it was nice to be going somewhere.

He has been gone for five years and I still miss him so much it hurts. I have made so much progress with adoption in four years; the pain is hardly worth mentioning because it is so fleeting and faint. It's a good place to be in. I wish I could get there with my grief for my dad.

I have always liked the idea of space travel in theory but in practice it scares me. Too many things can go wrong, and there is precious little keeping you alive. When my family was in Washington, D.C. for my sister's wedding, we went to the National Air and Space museum and saw the tin cans they used to use to send astronauts into space. I could not believe how small they were, or how thin. A million things could have gone wrong and the men inside would have died pretty horrible deaths.

"I could never go up into space," I told my dad.

"Really?" he said. "I'd go in a second. I want off this planet. We're all trapped here, you know." (Only my father would feel trapped on a planet the size of ours.)

He's not trapped here anymore.

There are a lot of things I don't understand about the afterlife, but personally I like to believe that my dad has seen planets and stars and galaxies and that they are every bit as amazing as he used to imagine.

Today was a good day, it really and truly was. I am blessed to have a lot of people in my life who love me and who say nice things to me when I need a boost. I had an entirely adequate day at work (good as it gets with the government). I had the very best time at dinner with Roo and her family - they are my favorite people ever - and I felt so purely happy! And the planetarium was amazing, and I was there with friends. It was a lovely day, better than I expected and certainly better than I deserve.

There was just this moment when I got home a little before 10:00. I hadn't been home all day, and my apartment was dark and empty. I was reminded of the day my dad died, when my mom and I went home to a dark, empty house. I went to the kitchen (tonight, not 5 years ago) because I thought eating my feelings* might help, but mostly I wanted a cookie and there were no cookies, so I cried instead.

And then I went on with my night, and here I am. I have survived another September 9th, and I only cried once. My sister-in-law said on Facebook that instead of just being sad today I should use the day to celebrate the choice I made for Roo and the awesome person that my dad was. I like her idea much better than the crying that has been my tradition. Every September 9th that passes is a reminder that I am so much stronger than the things life throws at me. I'm not broken. I'm not bitter.

I'm better.

*Eating my feelings is number 148 on my list of faults. I don't recommend listing your faults. You will not be a happier person. You will, however, have a humorous anecdote to share when making small talk. So it's up to you.


The Blessed Barrenness said...

Beautiful. Powerful. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad you had a good visit!

"I have made so much progress with adoption in four years; the pain is hardly worth mentioning because it is so fleeting and faint. It's a good place to be in."

I've been popping in and out since before we placed our son, for that reason. You give me hope. Thanks for that.

Unknown said...

Wow! Thank you for writing this. We have a lot in common- I totally get this and send you hugs. Would send cookies, but I've eaten my feelings plenty, so I have no cookies left.