Tag Archives: love

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Life will do what it does
lull us
then toss us airborne
to plunge untethered

Her blond head on the hospital pillow
as she wanders out of our reach
her mother, bedside
calling her home

Another’s cells gone rogue
…the sort through treatment options
decisions to make that alter
marking what now becomes
a time before
a time after

The one keeping to quiet corners
having walked another
beloved to the final
beat of his limitless heart

I’m surrounded by heroes
in the grocery store
who have suffered greatly
but still buy strawberry jam
and avocados
bake pies and grill corn

They have shown grace
and disintegrated in fear and grief
alternately
bedpans have been thrown
fingers laced gently
regrettable words spilled
mopped up later
or later still
or never

We stand firm
lay prone in puddles
get back up
repeat
repeat

This is the only way
Dark and beautiful

July 2017

 

 

Astro Was Too Difficult to Say

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I searched for you
wanted to bring you home
and into our hearts
give my children something I never had
help them learn about dogged devotion,
joy, attachment
the responsibility that inevitably comes with love

I didn’t expect your moose-iness
or that you’d be part muppet, part Barry White
or that my son would want to die if you did
that he would create a whole religion based
off of your patience and unwavering fidelity
that when the world became far too overwhelming
the only chance he had to regain peace
was waiting in the fur of your neck
and the deep quiet of your dark eyes

NaPoWriMo Day 30

Love Letters

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By the glow of fish tank, he’d sit and compose
a letter each night. Sweetened prose
and lines of verse, perfectly penned
in his neat script. He’d bare his heart
to the woman in gray yoga pants and purple
sports bra who ordered a grande, coconut milk,
mocha macchiato every Saturday morning at 9:37,
the black-haired cashier wearing the small, gold
cross at CVS pharmacy who worked
the evening shift on Tuesdays and Fridays,
his harried neighbor with three boys under
five who brought him a plate of cookies
every Christmas Eve, the regular driver
of bus route 32 who smiled and sang and laughed
as she shuttled her passengers down York Road,
his primary care physician who so intently asked him
about his health and well-being during his annual
physical, the transitioning woman at the bakery
with the red lips and lined eyes who knew
his regular order by heart, grabbing a bear claw
up with tongs and slipping it into the waxed bag
as soon as the bell tinkled when he pushed
through the door, and his blonde and tan cousin
from California that kissed him on the lips
when they were both twelve.

Seven letters a week, full of passion and promises,
to seven imagined loves. Seven leather portfolios and seven
pens. The words stringing out, stringing him to them.
Ink dark and indelible as any adorning marriage licenses
or restraining orders.

NaPoWriMo Day 26

Lush

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I would kiss you, even if you had
strep throat. If a sink hole opened
beneath my feet, I’d remain
kissing you. If you kissed me back,
fully relaxed into the sweet
pressure of lip to lip, I would not
break away even if a black bear
came charging toward me. I’d kiss you
after you ate anchovies. If you inexplicably
developed a cigar smoking habit, I’d kiss
you in between every inhalation. I’d
lock lips with you at a funeral. If
you had the flu, still, I’d kiss you.
In a bathroom stall, I’d kiss and kiss
and kiss and kiss you. When your lips
became thin and framed with deep lines,
your false teeth fizzing in a glass
next to your bed, I would press
my mouth to yours and offer
you a breathless, dizzying kiss,
as tentative and luscious as our first.

NaPoWriMo Day 13

League Apart

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At 21,
I imagined her in college
or backpacking in Belize
working some 9-to-5 job that she loved or hated
so that she could earn enough money to cover her rent
and the cost of clubbing with her friends
making art and living in our basement
joining AmeriCorps and teaching children how to read
spending hours wandering in museums for inspiration
rarely leaving her room because she was so engrossed in creating new apps
or music
or poetry
or never being home because her social needs were so high that she was always out
in the world and we wished at least once a month she’d stop long enough to eat dinner with us
as a young, single, loving mother
on a boat in rough seas with Greenpeace protecting whales
married
researching grad school programs and stressing over paying back student loans
single and ambivalent about the status
obsessed with locating and meeting her birth parents
working in a tattoo parlor
preparing for medical school
skating in the Olympics
building a tiny house with her girlfriend near the edge of a lake next to the greenest forest
base jumping in every continent

All is less than optimal
it is not the future
that any parent imagines

I didn’t envision
the organ failure
or cancer
the speech therapy
and special education services
wrapping my arms around my tiny-in-frame but adult-in-age daughter
as she buried her head against my stomach
her body shaking
as we went to visit
the program she’ll enter
when she graduates from high school in June

My language is foreign to my peers
they struggle to understand and respond
mishear my hope and optimism
as acceptance or surrender
to this abrading future

Although I’ve learned to mine the joy and beauty
in the oddest of overlooked cracks
no dreams have been conceded
as I attempt to swallow with some grace
each of these real days

 

February 3, 2017
Julie Ayers

Got You

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It was not the usual way. There was not nine months to prepare, but rather three days.

When the adoption agency called and told me there was a baby girl, born, in the PICU, and did we want to be her parents?, that was the moment I became Sierra’s mom. Not later, after we saw her for the first time at the hospital. Not even after that when we had to give the adoption agency our final decision — were we willing to adopt this tiny baby whose life had started off with so many challenges? This baby girl who got pneumonia the day she was born, who couldn’t suck on a bottle without choking, who had received no prenatal care, whose birth mother was developmentally challenged, who the very-experienced-PICU-nurse told us had something seriously wrong with her even though tests were not yet identifying any major health issues, whose birth family had a history of significant medical and developmental challenges, whose birth father and ethnicity was listed as unknown.

I became a mom the moment I heard that voice on the phone say, “It’s a girl. She was born about two weeks ago.” Everything after that didn’t matter. Everything after that was just what happened next to our family. Yes, we agonized, in a way, over the decision for the first few days before we were allowed to sign the official paperwork and take Sierra home from the hospital. We were fearful, like any new parents, about the health and well-being of our newborn. But never once did I ever feel any desire to walk away from something I could have walked away from. We were not legally obligated at these early points to parent this child, certainly not at the inquiry call, or the follow up call once our pediatrician talked to the doctors caring for Sierra, or even once we first saw her and realized much of the information we’d been told on the phone was not accurate (such as the baby weighed 7 lbs at full-term birth; she was barely 7 lbs at three weeks when we first met her. She weighed 5 lbs when born). Yet, it didn’t matter. None of it mattered. She was my daughter from the moment I heard the words, “She’s born.” I loved this nameless, faceless, genetically unrelated, and still unknown baby fiercely, before I ever saw her hazel eyes and auburn hair.

I felt it. I felt motherhood. I felt it in the stillness that folded around me in my busy, noisy office where I took the call from the adoption agency that told me she was born. I knew it by the way my breath left my body and I didn’t need to draw more oxygen into my lungs for days – not until I finally got to see my baby and lift her up in my rock-steady hands and rest her sweet head on my shoulder. These hands knew preemies well, having helped my sister care for her preemie twins when I was a teenager. I saw my daughter, held my daughter, for the first time two days after I became her mother; took her home from the hospital three days after we met.

My husband and I had just three days and two nights to transition our lives and our home from childless to child-centered. We’d drive from Baltimore to Prince George’s Hospital every day to visit Sierra for as long as staff would let us stay — and stop at Babies R Us on the way home to buy as much infant gear as we could stuff into our car each trip: a crib, changing table, glider rocker and ottoman, onesies, rattles, bottles, diapers, booties, sleepers, stroller, sheets, pacifiers, diaper genie, car seat…

When we’d arrive home with the bounty each night, we’d spend the rest of the evening assembling everything and setting up the nursery. It was just us. We had no family in the state, no church home, and few available friends as we were relatively recent transplants to the area.

As we’d build the furniture, we’d turn over every medical opinion and report we’d heard that day about the health of our daughter. We’d spin it around and around like screws into misfitting pilot holes. The information was confusing and troubling, flat out frightening at times. This baby had yet to pass through our front door or rest her body on these newly-purchased giraffe-speckled crib sheets, but she couldn’t have been more our own. We agonized over her potential future, like any new parent who had been told their newborn may be at risk for… What? Some vaguely awful uncertainty. We worried for her, but I sought to adopt, in addition to my baby girl, my Grandma Jo’s advice to ‘not borrow trouble.’ So began this parenting journey of dealing with whatever this particular moment offered, reveling it or reviling it accordingly, but keeping the focus on right here, right now. (…there is no other place I’d rather be :))

My baby girl made me her mother the minute I knew she existed. Later, when I gave birth to a son, it was clear to me that love arrived no differently. Not with adoption. Not with birth. I’d always suspected that and claimed as much, but how could I really know, until I had experienced becoming a parent both ways? How your child comes into your life is irrelevant. That they do, is all that truly matters.

As to the rest, what happens, happens. Parents dream of bringing a healthy child into their home. Dream of the best possible outcome for the baby. Want the world for their child, and hope that the world will always be kind and generous and gracious to their offspring. Some get mostly that, others don’t. We are all fragile, imperfect beings. Babies arrive DNA already spun and as dads and moms we do your best to help them achieve the most they possibly can with that glorious, preset double helix.

We love them. We love them strand for astounding strand, regardless of how or when or why they arrived in the shelter of our arms and homes and hearts.

I love my daughter, who grows older and yet doesn’t grow up the same way most other children do. Happy 21st Gotcha Day to my remarkable Sierra Jule. Thank you for confirming for me love is love is love is love. That we eventually found each other is what matters. That I get the honor of being your mother…is everything.

 

October 23, 2016
Julie Ayers

Twenty One Days

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You had a different name
penned on the card
affixed to your bassinet

I missed the first three weeks
when your life,
a fine thread, barely held

Those absent days
plagued
seemed endless as space

Impossibly small you
untethered by family love
adrift in vast wards

I didn’t hear your first cry
wrap you in my arms
and nuzzle you close

When your wet, weak lungs
made them intubate
I didn’t know there was a you

Those twenty one days

before we met
before I took my place
before I became your witness

before I acted as your voice
before I first saw and loved you
before I was your mother

Seemed an enormous failure
on my part
to find and protect you

A love feed irrationality
that’s finally begun to ebb slightly
after twenty one years

your mother

 

October 2016
Julie Ayers