A Celebration of Living

A Celebration of Living

It was just after sunrise when I got the call.  “Do you want to go get a cup of coffee?”  And so set the pace of the day.  It’s not either of our birthdays.  It’s just an average Friday,  but for us, it’s a celebration of living.  The “Us” is myself and Rita.  Rita is technically related to me, but we’re so close in age that we’ve been kind of built in best friends all of our lives.  She’s only 8 months older than I am and  we’ve been mistaken for sisters, twins even at different points throughout our lives.   We’ve sang together, we’ve cried together, we’ve laughed together, we’ve fought together – but seldom if ever –  with one another.

We’ve witnessed each other’s weddings; we’ve hosted baby showers and birthday parties for one another; laughed with and at one another over “questionable” choices we’ve made over the years; watched our children grow up in to wonderful young adults themselves, and recognized the blessings all of this truly is.  We’re in the early stages of  planning an amazing 50th birthday event in a few years when that milestone happens for both of us.

Today, however, while much of the world was glued to the news outlets casting opinions and would-be solutions for the issues of the day,  we stepped away for a few hours and went to a little coffee shop overlooking an ancient river swollen from recent rains.  In sight of bald eagles and hawks hunting under rolling storm clouds, we sat for hours with huge cups of hot chocolate and appreciated the fact that we’ve survived to this day.img_8440

It was five years ago this month a series of heart attacks targeted her.  It was two and three years ago other issues attacked me.  We’ve both come to realize April, for all its new life and springtime blossoms, is a time of reflection and true celebration.  Every year around this time we find a day and get together away from the rest of the world. Some years we drop the top in a convertible and cruise the back roads. Some years we sit on old fallen trees in the back woods here with cups of strong coffee and talk for hours with the dogs watching us like we’re trespassing.   Some years we laugh until we cry in realization that we’re still here.

Both of us.

And we’ve been given the amazing gifts and experiences in our lives

There is no way to know what tomorrow holds in store for any of us in the future, and that’s ok.  Today, we don’t worry about that. Today, we celebrate and are thankful for the blessings in and of our lives; and we celebrate the fact that now and again it’s important to take time away from the demands of life and be grateful for the opportunity to be truly living!

 

 

 

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Meeting Nicholas 

Meeting Nicholas 

The saying goes “A picture is worth a thousand words” sometimes though, we hold memories that no picture could ever contain.

It had been just over a month since we met Nichole, a young pregnant girl, wanting to find a married couple to adopt her child.  My husband and I were lucky enough to be friends with her pre-natal care nurse who thought of us when this young girl, in many ways still a child herself, mentioned adoption was what she wanted for her unborn baby.

I remember noticing when we arrived to that conference how young she actually looked. The nurse had told us she was young. I had tried to prepare myself to see a young teenager, but I was not prepared for how similar this child looked to one of my own nieces at that age. Aware that my staring was probably making her very uncomfortable I confessed to her that her mother reminded me of one of my sisters, and that she herself reminded me of my favorite niece. She smiled at that statement, and started talking to us.

“My nurse told me a lot about you, I thought you would want this ” she said offering me an ultrasound print. I took it from her and stared at it. It wasn’t a blurry image full of static like other ultrasound pictures where you have to have someone point out the baby in the image for you. No, this was a clear image of a baby with a strong jawline and angled nose; distinctive features which mirrored those in the face of the young girl sitting across from me. “This is a really clear image”, I said to her. She glanced at it for a second then clarified “He’s a boy”.

The next few hours seemed to fly by. She told us about her pregnancy, how she had tried to keep it hidden from her mother; how the boy involved had denied being the father; and how some of her friends had tried to persuade her to have an abortion. We each got a crash-course in the other’s family history. Details that would normally take years to know even in a close friendship were compressed into an afternoon. Everything from hereditary traits and possible genetic health concerns of the baby to where we would most likely take him for family vacations was discussed.

The entire time, I held that ultrasound image. I looked from the picture to the girl sitting across from me and wondered what her expectations of us were and if we were measuring up anywhere close to them.

All of the adoption paperwork had been prepared that day, and completed as much as possible. All those forms were just waiting in a file, waiting for the birth of the baby, and for the final signatures allowing the petition to be filed. As we were leaving I held out the ultrasound image for her. “No”, she said, “That’s yours”. At that point, I had hope and I held it in my hands.

That was not the first time we had begun the process, met with a birth mother who was absolutely certain they could not keep their child and would like to have it adopted, only to receive a call the day the baby was born letting us know the mother has changed her mind and decided to keep her child. That very real and very heartbreaking scenario weighed heavily on my mind following this interview. The harsh reality is the only way I get a baby is if someone decides to give me one, and as wonderful as the thought of being a mother is, the thought of denying someone else that experience is hard to deal with. Maybe this time would be different, better.

We had very little contact with Nichole throughout the remainder of February and the first part of March. Looking at the little ultrasound picture she gave me, I decided I wouldn’t be strong enough to keep any hope of parenthood if this adoption failed and I had to return or give away more baby things like before. I did not buy a bassinet, sheets, diapers, or baby clothes this time. I tried my best to carry on as normal over the next few weeks, waiting for any news about the baby.

The call came around 4:30 a.m. on March 23, 1999. It was Nichole’s mother with a short, quick message:”We’re on the way to the hospital, meet us there”. It was time. We both dressed and were out the door in record time, almost holding our breath as we drove though the still black cold morning in silence. When we reached the maternity ward we were quickly escorted to Nichole’s recovery room. The baby had been born just a few minutes before we arrived. We stood by the bed talking with Nichole and her mother; it had been a quick and easy delivery for her and the baby was healthy.

The nurse finished cleaning him, wrapped him in a small white blanket, capped his little head with a blue toboggan and brought him to the bedside. Even all snuggled up he was immediately recognizable. He looked remarkably like the ultrasound image, and like the girl recovering in the bed. The nurse then asked Nichole if she wanted to hold her son. She looked at him for a moment. I braced myself. She was looking at this beautiful, perfect baby, and I wouldn’t blame her if she changed her mind. Very quietly she told the nurse, “No, that’s her baby”.

The nurse laid him in my arms and asked what his name would be. I knew Nichole was looking at me but I couldn’t look away from his tiny face. “Nicholas” I said, “His name is Nicholas”.

 

Hawks, Honey Bees, and Pear Blossoms in February.

Hawks, Honey Bees, and Pear Blossoms in February.

The area hawks were especially chatty today.  If  hawks don’t want you to hear them, you’ll never hear them.  But today they wanted to be heard and were calling loudly for quite a while.  I finally grabbed my camera and ventured out to see if I could spot them.  Some days they play hide and seek, chattering from well within the trees so as to not be seen.  Today, however, they seemed quite social, playing on the unseasonably warm breeze most of the day, soaring high above the tallest branches and conversing amongst themselves in the most joyful manners.  They’re such powerful birds.  I absolutely love seeing hawks play in the wind.

I followed the hawks as best I could for a while listening to their chatter and trying to snap pictures in between sips of coffee.  The hawks weren’t the only creatures out making noise this beautiful day, though.  As I walked I was greeted by another sound,  the very distinctive, unmistakable buzz of bees.   Now, I’m not afraid of bees, and I’m not allergic to bees, but to hear what sounds like a swarm as bees work over a tree is quite impressive….. in a “maybe I shouldn’t get too close” kind of way.

I believe there is beauty and peace within every day.  Some days it’s hard to find, but some days….. Some days we get a personal invitation to glimpse some of the most amazingly beautiful yet absolutely ordinary moments anyone could hope to witness.

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Hawk flying through the February sky.

 

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New blossoms alongside the old bark and moss

 

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Honey Bees have found the pear blossoms
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I love watching hawks play on the wind.

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According to the calendar, there are still a few weeks left before spring.  I think, perhaps, the birds and bees disagree, at least in this little corner of the world.    Enjoy your week out there, and if you get a chance remember to look up.

“I know every bird of the mountains, And everything that moves in the field is Mine.” Psalm 50:11

 

 

~ Snow Day ~

~ Snow Day ~

It is a beautiful scene here as the snowflakes falling from the deep gray sky dance along the freezing winds, floating and spinning through winter branches before landing softly on an already blanketed landscape.  If winter prayers could be drawn or photographed, I believe they would be images of days like today.

 

Perhaps where you live snow is a usual winter occurrence, but that is not the case here.  Here snow is rare and celebrated.  We stop.  We advise people to stay home while secretly we want to go out and see the white-draped sites around the county.  We go out to play, hike, take pictures and comment on the freezing winds before retreating to the warmth of hot chocolate, coffee, and popcorn inside.  And if we get enough snow….there will be that wonderful creation Snow Cream!

It’s truly lovely, it will stay so for a couple of days as the temperatures remain below freezing.   And I will spend as much time as possible being grateful for the glimpses of quiet stillness and peace ~that different kind of silent beauty that comes only in the winter.

~ I wish you all peace and the perfect snow day  ~