2016 Finale

finale1As I type this post – on the final morning of both 2016 and my second year of blogging –  I am also following the commentary of the Dumb Brothers in the next room as they partake in the traditional blind wine sampling. The first bottle was first declared to be an older Styrian Merlot (2010-2012), then a young Cabernet Sauvignon, then a 2014 Blaufränkisch, and then a Burgenlandian Zweigelt, etc. etc. The next thing I heard was the plastic sound of the Blue Danube Waltz and I knew Barbie was dancing. (This happens when one of the Brothers guesses right – in this case she danced for the 2014 Blaufränkisch guess.) After bottle Number 3 or 4, the guesses will get wilder, including names of small villages in Tuscany or Valencia and whether the slope of vineyard was steep, which directionfinale2 it faced (south or southeast), and what type of wooden barrels the wine was aged in. Barbie’s dancing will become more infrequent. After bottle Number 5 or 6, the brothers will break for cabbage strudel and I will hear the clink of silverware on ceramic plates for a while. Chauffeuring wives will start appearing around 3 or 4 pm and another year of the Dumb Brothers will come to an end.

 

Every year it is the same – a highlight for the frat boys and a minor irritation for their families. There is something comforting about all the familiar sounds coming from the next room. About things not changing and about getting through another year with friends and family and traditions intact. 2016 sucked truly, but when I say that, I am talking about the world outside of my own home and community. Within our family and daily lives, it has been another nice year of fun travels, work satisfaction, musical acfinale3hievements, and general good health. All three of our pets are still alive, though one dog is on her slow way out and the cat is still possessed by the devil. (He lately discovered his new favorite place – a red basket on the staircase, up high enough that he can lord over and taunt Dog Three, safely out of reach. Can anyone recommend a good exorcist?)

Blogworld definitely didn’t suck either. Like the clinking of wine glasses and silverware in the next room, the ding of notifications always gives me a nice feeling – the comfort of knowing that things continue, that they are heading somewhere at an easy pace and unspectacularly. That the good stuff sticks around. I have made a resolution or two for 2017, both for my blog and my daily routine, but they are more like modest tweaks than ambitious life goals.

Outside in the real world, there were many times this year when I felt a deep desire to DO SOMETHING! ANYTHING! I ranted and shouted into the wind. I felt outrage and frustration and helplessness. And yet things kept plodding along toward the least desirable of all conceivable results. And here we are. Whatever incomprehensible convulsions the world is going through right now, it sure seems that no one is content anymore.

finale4So, that is what I have resolved for 2017. I am going to be content. No changes simply for change’s sake. That will be my quiet statement of protest to the world. And that is what I wish for anyone out there who reads this. Contentedness for all – and for each in his own way.

“Happy New Year!”

Hibernation Update #1

 

As pre-announced in my second to last blog post, I officially entered a semi-catatonic state at approximately 9:22 am on the morning of December 27th and I pretty much remained that way until typing the title above. I did not spend that time curled in a ball in a cave or in a self-dug hole, covered by leaves and such. No, I spent it burrowed away in my library, binge-watching old Star Trek series on Netflix in a small window at the bottom right corner of my screen while simultaneously playing various Solitaire games or Snood until the spasms in my right arm made me switch the mouse to my left hand. Once in a while I shook it up a bit with a jigsaw puzzle, but that taxed the graphic capabilities of my old laptop. I also made occasional breaks to go to the bathroom or refill my coffee cup. None of the above required me to fully regain consciousness.

But!

Every so often, I WAS roused from my reverie by a somewhat lucid thought. Here are the ones I can recall from the past two days:

1)   Lyart wrote a post a while back about the German “Word of the Year” – it turned out to be the translation of post-factual. I had planned to look up what the English Word of the Year was, but somehow never got around to it. If I were allowed to pick one, it would be the “unpresidented” (or I should say “unpresident-elected”) unprecedented.  Seems like I hear that word every day now – and several times!

2) The whole first season of Star Trek Voyager was pretty deliciously awful.

3) I have been proclaiming that “the end is nigh” for my old Dog Three for over two years now. She just keeps going. But, lately, she has been needing help standing up a lot and she can’t walk in a straight line anymore – she sort of sidles diagonally. We are in that awful stage all pet owners will know – when you are constantly assessing the quality of your pet’s life in relation to its pain and suffering. She still eats a lot, takes a daily short walk, greets me at the door, and tries to chase the cat. So I will keep cleaning up after her.

4) My husband wanted me to watch a Winnetou movie with him (Are you serious??!). I think it really would have meant something to him. And yet, I said no thanks. (Seriously?? Winnetou?!) Then I returned to my library and Voyager.

voyager

5) I’ve missed my blog. I’ve missed reading the thoughts of my blog friends. I hope I will soon regain the mental capacity to catch up on their thoughts and lives.

6) Just three more weeks. And then it is President Tweet.

7) I wrote a nine page Christmas letter this year and we sent it out to over one hundred family members and friends.  We’ve gotten such nice responses. And yet (!), I feel slightly obnoxious.

8) My original plan was to write an end-of-the-year/year-in-review blog post. While gathering ideas, I chanced upon my first post of the year – dated January 1st and titled “2016 Sucks Already”.

      What more is there to say?

Cringe-worthy – The Series – Christmas Edition

I wanted to write a nostalgic Christmas post, so I scoured my old childhood diaries for entries dated December 24th or 25th. Here is a typical example:

xmas-2016

So . . .  not so nostalgic. What am I going to do now? Technically there is still 1 hour and 19 minutes left of Christmas (9 hours and 19 minutes, no, make that 18 minutes, if you are on American time.) So I can still get a meaningful message out to my blogworld friends just under the wire . . .

 

I decided to write about last night’s Christmas Eve celebration. Our family unit plus mother-in-law plus our three refugee sons. My husband and I had decided that we would keep to all our usual traditions – the wreath, the visit to dear neighbors, the incense, the tree, the toasts, the music, the candles, the presents, the feast . . .

I worried in advance if it would all be weird. There would be 8 of us:

3 Christians,

1 Agnostic,

2 devout Muslims,

1 slightly less devout Muslim, and

1 Heathen.

All together, all ostensibly celebrating the birth of Christ.

 

It wasn’t weird – it was wonderful. Our boys came with presents wrapped in Santa-themed paper. Their only problem in singing along to “Silent Night” was that the German version was playing (“Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht . . . “) and they only knew the English version. During dinner, we clearly identified the pork, beef, chicken and fish dishes so that everyone could observe their own religious (and culinary) traditions. As the heathen in the crowd, I have no such traditions, but, nevertheless, I religiously avoided eating the chicken. The best part of the evening was being able to hug them all – both at the tree and then when saying goodbye. Up to then, it had all been only smiles and polite handshakes.

For the past half year I have been worried about  . . . (to steal from both Kate and Joan) – where is the world heading and why are we sitting in this handbasket?  Yesterday made me feel better about all these questions again.  Concentrate on those around you. Notice their goodness and be good to them in return.

I’m satisfied.

69th Street

Our wise, conscientious and more-educated-than-the-common-rabble electors have spoken – not with any partisan blindness or pecuniary self-interest, mind you – and I now have to finally come to terms with the impending inauguration. As much as it pains me, (sigh), it seems America has no alternative but to become white, oops! I mean “great” again. Like it was in the Happy Days or the pre-Sixties 60s. The time when I was a child and life was wonderful.

 

It really was wonderful, my childhood.

69-gangBorn originally in one of those industrial subdivisions, my parents moved me and my four siblings into a different community with a fabulous school system when I – the youngest – was just 3 years old. We inhabited an enchanted place on an elm lined street full of not technically modest houses. 69th Street. With 7 houses on each side of the block between the road on the crest of the hill and Pickle Alley at the bottom, a sufficient number of 3 to 16 year olds spilled out into the streets daily to ensure me an endless supply of group games and seminal experiences.

There were the Grands – a weird brother and sister I never really connected with but they had the greatest tree swing in their yard. (Decades later they visited me in Austria and I found them both charming.)

There was Ellie – my very first friend. We were so loyal to one another that we could be cruel and distant with impunity, never threatening the core connection. (She later had a hard life of serial losses and intermittent addictions/institutionalizations. A few years ago, I even heard that might not be alive anymore. Lately, I did some internet research and found evidence that she had recently remarried. That heartened me.)

There were the Champions – the most beautiful family that ever existed, but who somehow struck me as unhappy. Even unhappier were the Aspens, who lived right next door.  The kids were standoffish and the parents universally disapproving. My one experience with Mrs. Aspen was when she decided to take us kids to the opera shortly after our dad’s death. I was 8 or 9 at the time and was not exactly enthralled with Madame Butterfly. When I dozed off, Mrs. Aspen was deeply offended and proceeded to scold me on the ride home – much more harshly than my mother ever had. I avoided her like the Plague after that.

69th Street was also home to the Savage family with an uncountable number of kids. The youngest one was my age and had older twin sisters, one of whom was a witch. But, boy (!) could she play piano! And tell wild stories!  At the same time!

Then there was the house that seemed to change occupants every two years. For a short time, Katy, the Reverend’s daughter, lived there and she became my fast and furious best friend (“Sorry Ellie!”) until she moved away (“Hello, Ellie!”)

And then there were the Olders – all of them blindingly red-headed. Scott was my age. He was weird. He needed a comb and to lose the handkerchief he blew his nose into and then stuffed back into his pocket.  He was my first official boyfriend. (And he died on his bicycle two blocks from home at the ripe old age of 15.)

Those kids were my gang. We met up regularly in different constellations and in different flashpoints. We secretly explored the yards of the childless houses on the block. We played statue-maker and kick-the-can and (when it rained) Monopoly. We made hysterical attempts at strip poker after first donning layer upon layer of extra clothes and then arguing about whether we had to take off both or just one sock after a loss.  We made excursions to the Village for ice cream. Sometimes, this or that pairing would succeed in separating themselves from the pack on the way home. They would share an awkward moment of twosome-ness in Pickle Alley, then rejoin the pack and proceed to whisperingly ignore one another. For a while, some of us turned an old car on blocks into a clubhouse. Once, when Savage Boy wanted to come in, one of us told him he had to guess the (non-existent) password first. It quickly went from funny to cruel. After that, the clubhouse lost its charm and was abandoned. And we were all nicer to SB for a while.

In winter there were magical snow days with their social perfection. Everyone was released from prison for a day. First we all pitched in to shovel out driveways, but after that, there were a billion new toys to play with and no adult supervision. And then there was hot cocoa.

As I grew older, there were days when I didn’t automatically go out and meet the neighborhood gang after school. I stayed inside and watched TV. It was the afternoon and there were reruns – mostly of popular series from the preceding decade. Brady Bunch, Beverly Hillbillies, Dick Van Dyke, Green Acres, I Dream of Jeannie, Leave It to Beaver, My Three Sons . . .

Of all the shows I watched, the one with the most diverse cast of characters was probably Gilligan’s Island.

What I didn’t understand until much later was the demographics of my childhood. Whether it was my neighbors, the TV I consumed or the snow days . . . they were all completely white. The city was about 99.9% white and, I’m guessing, 90% Republican.  The vast majority of my friends had dads who left for work in the morning and housewife mothers who didn’t. (If any of my other classmates also carried a house key to school, I didn’t hear about it.)  In economic terms, we all landed smack-dab in the center of the middle class.  We were suburban. We were monotone and . . . bland.

Enter Josephine.

She was my mom’s household help. From my perspective an incredibly large black woman who entered my life once a week. There were a few times when I stayed home sick from school on one of Josephine’s days. She made me scrambled eggs and they were runny and sort of slimy. I gagged just a little when I swallowed them. I might have wished that mom would find a new cleaning lady – one who made better eggs. But that feeling didn’t stick. Josephine was kind and she checked up on me throughout the day.

I remember my mom and Josephine sitting together over coffee and talking as equals in their very different languages. I remember Josephine taking bags and bags full of our old clothes and toys to her car.  I learned that she distributed these things among needy kids in her own neighborhood. She and my mom had created their own private goodwill network.

Years later I suspected that it was important for my mom that we have contact with people different from ourselves. Josephine was not the only example of my mom’s attempts to widen our horizons and diversify our experience of the world. Her own childhood coincided with the Great Depression which hadn’t left her family unscathed. I think she knew how very limited our worldview on 69th Street was – or, I should say, would have been. Or I should say, could have become.

69 was a number that could make young teens giggle and blush, but it was also the number most similar to yin and yang. Without Josephine, witho69-yin-yangut all of my mother’s Josephines, my childhood days could have been all yang with no yin – just a sort of upside-down apostrophe. More contracted.  Incomplete.

 

About four weeks from now, our nation will say goodbye to yin and then just hang there, symbolically and spiritually diminished. An upside-down apostrophe, signifying nothing.  A people who identifies themselves by what they are NOT, not realizing that the exercise alone makes them only half of what they once were.

It’s All Party! Party! Party! ‘Round Here

 

It always seems as if bad luck or hard stuff comes in strings of three.

Like when I bought my last new car. The very first time I tried to drive it, the battery was dead. After jump-starting it, I drove to work and parked it in the university lot where someone gave it its first dent. On the ride home, a stone hit the windshield and cracked it.

Or two weeks ago. . .

After my one year old coffee maker died, I bought a new and more expensive one out of disgust for cheap products and/or planned obsolescence. Three pots of coffee later, an accident in the kitchen shattered the new glass pot. It cost me more to replace than the entire appliance before it.  I am now waiting for the third shoe to drop.

Or last week . . .

three-french-henswhich was much more hectic than usual thanks mostly to three Christmas parties: Sunday with the Dumb Brothers, Monday with my school teachers and administrating parents, and Tuesday with my former university colleagues. I enjoyed all three of them and wouldn’t want to have missed them. But they did suck up most of my energy reserves (not to mention all of my blogging time!) Wednesday’s five hour team meeting zapped what was left over, so by . . .

yesterday . . .

I was running on exhaustion-induced nervous energy. Despite getting nine (!) hours of sleep, I could barely drag myself out of bed in the morning. The first news on arriving at work: one of my fellow teachers was home sick with the flu. I could toss out my lesson plans – it was time to improvise as the Number Three stalked me throughout the day.

First I had to manage teaching three English groups simultaneously for the first two hours. It kept me running from room to room – the 10 year olds learning food vocabulary with puzzles and cards and matching worksheets, the 11 year olds learning to tell the time (which is a lot more complicated than one would think!) and the 12 year olds drawing the atoms of different elements and creating their own English periodic table. During the break, I found myself responsible for monitoring both floors of the schoolhouse along with the playground, because my other two colleagues had a meeting scheduled with the visiting parents. This meant constant hall roaming and stair climbing and donning and shedding of coats and shoes. Through sheer dumb luck, my visit to one room coincided perfectly with a fight breaking out between two boys and I was able to physically wedge myself between them before any punches landed. As we three all talked one another down, I vaguely registered shouting coming from upstairs and a door slamming down the hall.

Post-break, I helped the 13 and 14 year olds stage and rehearse their abridged version of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” for our pageant next week, while simultaneously keeping an eye on three boys outside the room who were supposedly doing geometry AND while answering the badly timed and intrusive questions of another three students who were learning English conditional sentences. While rehearsing with the other nine pupils, none of the pens in my case worked, so I made three mental notes about the props I should bring from home. (Where I am now – and for the life of me I can’t remember what they were.)

After the third school bus left at the end of the day, my colleague Mark and I had our traditional smoking break. I confessed my surprise at feeling so exhausted after getting so much sleep the night before. He replied that it would be unnatural to NOT be tired. “Look at that gray sky. Consider how few hours of sunshine or even daylight we have right now. Our instincts are telling us to hibernate. To tank up on sleep and conserve our energy. To take it easy. To be . . . tired.”

But our (economy-driven) society is telling us the opposite. Now is the time – more than any other in the year – to consume, to party, to go into overdrive . . .

It’s not natural.

I have three more Christmas celebrations next week: with my girlfriends, the music school and my students. Immediately thereafter it will be Christmas-For-Real. The 24th at home, the 25th with my husband’s extended family and the 26th with treasured friends. I don’t want to miss any of these so I will make it by running on nervous energy, love of family and friends, and the power of nostalgia. And by knowing that after the festival of lights, there will be two gloriously empty weeks in a row to catch up on my hibernating.

Running on Empty – (Reunions – Chapter 12)

Note: This post is part of a longer story. If you are interested in reading it from the beginning onward, use the links at the end of this post.)

Despite the whirlwind of last minute activity before my second trip to Ethiopia, it took every last iota of my energy to keep tamping down my worries. How is Lily doing? Is it really just chicken pox or is it . . . god forbid . . . the measles? Surely Monty would tell me! I had the hour count in my head of how much longer it would be before I had Lily in my arms. As I ticked them off one by one, each hour seemed to be longer than the previous. Time was slowing down. Still, by the time we got to the airport, my count had made it down to a maximum of 15 hours till I would see her, hold her – and with a little luck, maybe 14 or even 13!

My arrival in Addis Ababa for the second time was quite the opposite of the first experience – with one little exception. To begin with, I personally knew Monty who would be there to meet us at the airport in the middle of the night and I was ready when she flung herself at me and began a series of traditional three cheek kisses interspersed with strong hugs. She chattered away and began organizing us all for the drive while simultaneously being introduced to the others and laughing and then coming back to me for yet another hug. Somewhere in there I managed to work in my burning question: “Are the babies okay?”

“Yes yes yes, the babies are good!” she said and then got back to the business of distributing suitcases and passengers into the two cars.

I was surprised to find her husband, (I’ll call him “Daniel”), in attendance too. In contrast to Monty (not to mention the hapless, Mr. T) this man was quiet, reserved, distinguished. I would find out that he was a former Economics professor and an author, now self-employed and working to patiently reform the Ethiopian economy. His English was impeccable. His presence there was meant to honor us and thank us for our help to his son in Austria.

After the initial introductions, we headed to their two cars – neither of which needed any duct tape to hold it together. I ended up riding shotgun with Daniel. As we approached the one large intersection with traffic lights, I remembered how, two years earlier, Mr. T. had simply shot through it obliviously, despite the red light. It surprised me to see this man gunning toward the red light in the same way, with no hint of him even considering using the brakes. After barreling through, I asked him if it was customary there to simply ignore stoplights. He looked at me with a tiny smile. “When no other cars are around?” he responded. He seemed to be questioning me. I liked the twinkle in his eyes.

We got to the Mission we were staying at around 4:00 in the morning. After helping us with our luggage, Monty brought in bag after bag full of food, water, bananas, bread . . . Anything and everything she thought we might need in the next 7 hours before we would meet again. She ordered us to go right to sleep and then to be ready at 11:00 am the next morning, when they would pick us up again.

“And then we will go to the orphanage?” I asked.

“No, no. We will have lunch first. Sister Mariska said Visiting Hours are between 4 and 6 pm. Then we go.”

Monty made her vivacious goodbyes, ordered us to go to sleep once again, hugged and kissed me several times and then handed me a banana and told me to sleep well. And then she was gone.

I was so disappointed. 4 o’clock pm! Twelve more hours! How would I make it that long?!  I was so close to Lily now (or at least I thought) and still had to wait! Life was cruel.

I ate a banana. As ordered. And I went to bed. But I didn’t really sleep.

I waited till it was light and I heard noises of the others – the other adopting couple and my sister-in-law who had come with me. (My husband had stayed at home with our elder daughter.) We whiled away the time as best we could, battling impatience. We wandered around the garden and took strange pictures. Time had slowed almost to a halt. Monty and Daniel’s arrival felt like redemption.running1

running2

 

Our lunch was wonderful but I could hardly wait for it to be over. It was followed by an almost painfully long traditional coffee ceremony (which begins with roasting the beans). We asked intermittently about the babies, but Monty kept her answers short and quickly changed the subject. Once the coffee had been drunk and cups returned, I assumed we would be off to the orphanage – a bit early, but not by much. Monty had other plans and we proceeded to drive up the mountain Entoto by one of the back roads. We would take in the view of Addis and maybe look at the churches.

running3 running4

Never before and never since have I been so ungrateful for such kindness – but I was wilting inside. It wasn’t even nervous energy keeping me going anymore, it was just the fumes. It was already 4 pm when we entered the second church. My brain was calculating the shortest period of time we could spend pretending to look at it without being rude. That’s when the curator came over and offered us a private guided tour. I thanked him and tried to beg off by explaining how we were on our way to the orphanage, but Monty stopped me. She whispered “This is great honor!” So we traipsed from artefact to artefact as the curator droned on unintelligibly about which king or priest did which historical thing in which year, after which he stopped and waited for me to translate it all for the German speakers while I was dying inside.

It was . . . excruciating.

The other adopting couple – let’s call them Ellen and Ronny – looked at me with something like pain in their eyes. This was their first time in Ethiopia and their first adoption. My nervousness and anxiety were nothing compared to theirs. They both looked like they were about to throw up. So, instead of translating the wonders of the next artefact, I said in German, “I should be telling you what he just said – which I didn’t really understand – but I’ll use this chance to ask you two how you are holding up.” I then added a bit louder: “King Fasilides in the 17th century.” Ronny then asked me in German how much longer this was going to go on and weren’t we going to miss the visiting hours? I told them I would try to get us out of there and then pointed out the pattern on the artefact as if I were explaining it.

As we walked to the next display case, I whispered to Monty that Ellen wasn’t feeling well and needed some air. Monty and the curator then had an intense discussion during which he seemed a bit affronted and she talked a mile a minute. At one point he looked over at us and seemed to soften a bit. We all thanked him profusely and he almost smiled. (I think Monty’s donation to the church helped a bit too.) We were free! We were finally on our way to Lily!

running5

running6To be honest, I have almost no true memories of the next hour. I only have the ones my mind later constructed around the pictures we took. The red couch. The bundle. Lily in my arms, confused, straining away from this stranger and looking around for Monty or Sister Mariska. Those two women were in intense conversation, interrupted occasionally by one of them telling me “On the mend! On the mend!” In the pictures, a black splotch is visible on the corner of Lily’s mouth, but I don’t remember seeing it in those first moments. I do remember realizing suddenly that I had forgotten the Baby Bjorn back at the mission. I kicked myself mentally. I had had Lily for all of ten minutes and had already made my first mistake. I took off my sweater and tied it around my waist to fashion a make-shift baby carrier. It would have to do.

(Years later, Monty told me a story. She said that Daniel had watched me doing this with some fascination and then said, “Now THAT is a mother!”)

Sister Mariska had a lot of work to do, so she kicked us out after a fairly short time. Before I knew it, we were back at the mission and I had a sick baby to take care of. Thinking back on it now, I don’t know what I would have done without Monty and my sister-in-law (– I’ll call her “Sue”). Both of them were experts in childcare. (Despite having a surgeon, two dentists and a gynecologist in the family, it was Sue that we all called when we needed medical advice – and especially when it was for a sick baby.) In those first hours, Monty and Sue prepared the antibiotics for Lily and discussed how and when they should be administered. They helped me bathe Lily in specially prepared water to treat her scabies. It was Sue who sat next to me as I gave Lily her first formula. Sue kept me from panicking when I realized that Lily was too weak to suck it out of the bottle – even after we painstakingly enlarged the nipple hole with a pin. It was Sue’s idea to try spoon-feeding. We began pouring the formula drop by drop onto Lily’s lips and saw that she was taking it in. We kept this up for hours and through much of the next day until Lily was strong enough to use the bottle.

At some point, this longest day of my life had to end. Lily was sleeping (if somewhat fitfully) when I placed her in the crib and then lay down. I listened to her wheezy, rattly breathing and worried. Then the sound stopped and I worried more, so I got up to check her breathing. After the third time, I realized this wasn’t going to work. I had read in a baby book somewhere that it is dangerous to have an infant in your bed, but I saw no other option. I rolled up extra blankets and laid them to the left and right of me. Then I got Lily and laid her on my chest and covered her up. Her breathing quieted, but I could still feel her lungs expanding and contracting. I drifted off and woke hours later in the exact same position.

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Between the Baby Bjorn and this sleeping arrangement, Lily spent about 100 of the next 120 hours at my chest. Heart to heart. We were soon both on the mend.

 

We spent another five days in Ethiopia during which Monty spoilt us rotten with attention. We were chauffeured around to sights and restaurants and visits to families of other children adopted by Austrian friends. We brought presents to people and went shopping for souvenirs. We watched Lily get stronger and stronger. We learned her noises and her ways. Once she seemed out of the woods, I finally maneuvered Monty into a corner. We were in the car on our way somewhere when I told her in no uncertain terms that I wanted to know the truth. “Lily had the measles, not the chicken pox, didn’t she?” I asked. There was a long silence.

“Yes,” Monty finally admitted.

“How bad was it?”

“You do not need to know this.”

We drove on in more silence for a while. And then I said, “Okay. But I want a promise from you. Someday in the future you will tell me the truth.”

She thought about it for a while and then made the promise.

 

In the absence of facts, theories and stories and, eventually, legends emerged about Lily and her medical history. Sue has come to believe and say that if we had arrived just one day later, Lily would not have made it. I know that she is telling her own truth and that with her expertise, I should believe her, and yet I don’t. Because I can’t. The what if’s are simply too awful to contemplate. And then there is the memory of Sister Mariska’s confidence. Lily was already “On the mend!” when I first held her . . .

And then there was Monty’s version of the truth, which I heard a half year later when she visited us in Austria. She told me that two nights before our arrival, she had visited Lily in the orphanage. Her condition was dire and Monty didn’t think she would survive the night. She recognized that it was in God’s hands now, and that if Lily was still alive the next morning, then everything would be alright. And that was what happened.

I know Monty was telling her own truth. And I should believe her. But I can’t.

Adopted children do not like hearing that their experiences were “meant to be” and I understand fully why that it is so. How could it ever be “meant to be” that a person loses his/her mother or father in infancy? Beginning one’s life in loss can only be bad luck and never destiny.

And yet.

I cannot and will never stop feeling that Lily and Mitzi and Hubby and I belong together for no other reason than there is no alternative. We four are NOT simply the product of a string of decisions and coincidences and timing and luck . . .

We are meant to be. It is my own truth. And I believe it.

 

——————————————————

The back story:
Reunions – The Prologue
Part 1 – The Decision
Part 2 – Nine Months
Part 3 – The 4 o’clock 10 o’clock Man
Part 4- Seeing is Believing
Part 5 – Whirlwind Departure
Part 6 – Out of the Question
Part 7 – Body Language
Part 8 – International Kidnapping
Part 9 – The Well-being of the Child
Part 10 – Poons and Moons
 Part 11 – Oh No, Not Lily