Friday, May 13, 2011


Dear Melissa,

I'm writing this to you exactly 26 years from now, on May 13, 2011.  You're still a little bit groggy, still a little bit sick from this morning.  You're in bed in your blue and white-flowered room, with the same furniture your parents bought you when you were all of three years old.

You're a news junkie (and at 42, you still are) and you're watching your city in ruins on the TV that your mother has brought upstairs for you.  You're watching the burning of an entire Philadelphia block, and I know what you're thinking. I know it seems like, right now, your life is crumbling like the tinderbox houses on the black and white TV. 

In between sleeping off the anesthesia, you've been working the phones, crying to your best girlfriends. One is on her way over, right now, and you'll cry together.  And you'll remember that you just did this, when your dad died three months earlier. You've already come undone from that. And again today, with that one sentence that the doctor said - It's not going to happen the regular way, but when you're ready to have kids someday, there's no telling what they will be able to do in the future - that's going to change your entire life even more, as if that was even possible. 

Oh, but you have no idea how this is going to change your life.  It's going to shape you, form a significant part of your identity.  For better, yes - and yes, in some ways for worse - but really, trust me - mostly for better.  You can't see this now.  You don't want to, I know.

And there will be times when this becomes your only life's focus and times when you completely forget about it - at least until an innocent comment knocks you for a loop.

That'll get easier to handle in time, too.  You'll figure out what to say, in your own words. (You're a writer, just like you wanted to be; that's what you do.) You'll meet some people along the way who will help you through this, people who you will be eternally grateful and thankful to for the way they pulled you out of this abyss.  (You'll even marry one of them, too.)  They'll see you for who you are, not as a misfit toy.   

And you'll return the favor, too.  You'll start what will be known as an online listserv, sometime around 1999 or so.  (I know. In 1985, that seems like just a faraway year in a Prince song, doesn't it?  But, it will be here before you know it and then it will disappear in the blink of an eye.)  But listen, this listserv thing - and this whole online thing itself , for that matter -   it'll be pretty darn cool. It will be the beginning of something extraordinary.  You'll start this group for women with the same condition as you - women and girls who have heard the same news from their doctors, from specialists in their fields who had to pull their dusty medical reference books off the shelf to give you a real definition, to make sure they are pronouncing this one in a million seemingly freakish thing in the proper way, with all the researchers' names in the right order. 

Back to that little online group you'll start with someone just like you.  It'll start with a couple of you, then a few dozen, and by the time you step away from it a few years later you will have found 5,000 women and girls just like you, all of whom once thought they too were the only one, that there couldn't be anyone else like them out there.  But there are, and they are in every corner of the globe.  You'll spend your nights talking to each other and exchanging research information, and when you're ready to create your own families or resolve this in your own ways, they'll be your support group.  They'll show you the way.  You'll think about them every May 13.

I guess what I'm trying to say is this: it'll get better.  You will find people who will love you for who you are.  You will have twins, a boy and girl, and even though there will be challenges with them and more loops thrown, you will have mornings like this one, that you had today, exactly 26 years since you imagined something very different. 

On this day 26 years from now, you'll sit with your kids in their school cafeteria, at a rescheduled Mother's Day breakfast called Muffins for Moms.  (Sometimes Mother's Day falls on this anniversary of yours, making it even more ironic.) You'll be late, of course (that won't change) and your daughter will be crying (she's going to take after you, in a lot of ways).   Your son will be mortified at the idea that you want to take a picture and embarrass him in front of all the other 3rd graders whose mothers are trying to do the same thing.

It won't be picture perfect. None of it will be.  Far from it. 

You'll finish your breakfast and you'll pass the assistant principal on the way out the door.  And she'll say, "I'm so glad you could join us for Muffins for Moms this morning." 

And you'll reply, "I'm glad I could, too."

And you'll realize the weight of the meaning in that simple exchange, and you'll take your children's hands to walk them to their classrooms, and you'll walk back into the sun.

And you will smile. 

Doctors have come from distant cities
Just to see me
Stand over my bed
Disbelieving what they're seeing
They say I must be one of the wonders
Of god's own creation
And as far as they can see they can offer
No explanation

Newspapers ask intimate questions
Want confessions
They reach into my head
To steal the glory of my story

They say I must be one of the wonders
Of god's own creation
And as far as they can see they can offer
No explanation

O, I believe
Fate smiled and destiny
Laughed as she came to my cradle
Know this child will be able
Laughed as my body she lifted
Know this child will be gifted
With love, with patience and with faith
She'll make her way ....

"Wonder" ~ Natalie Merchant

Postscript: There are several of you reading this who know what this post is about and what I'm referring to ... and that's because you were there with love, with patience, and with faith.  Maybe not on that exact day, but at some point afterwards on this journey.  You know who you are. Most importantly, I do too.  And today seems like a good day to say thank you for what you did, for being there, for all of it. If I never said it before, please know that I thought it, many a time, more than you probably can and will ever know.

Thank you.

Love, Melissa

copyright 2011, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

1 comment:

Melissa said...

testing comments ... anyone there? bueller? bueller????