Saturday, May 12, 2012

may 13, many years ago

I originally wrote and posted this - a letter to my 16 year old self - here on May 13 of last year. You see, May 13 is a pretty significant day for me. It's Mother's Day this year, yes ... but it's also something more. So you'll understand why I share this again. It's for me but also for those others who I think about every year on this day and in gratitude for those who were there in days between then and now. 

Dear Melissa,

I'm writing this to you exactly 27 years from now, on May 13, 2012.  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 Mommy and Daddy bought you when you were all of three years old.

You're a news junkie (and at 43, 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.  A guy named Al Gore will invent this thing called the Internet (you will absolutely love it) and you'll start what will be known as an online listserv, sometime around 1999 or so.  (I know ... now 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 and more than a few days in between.

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 27 years since you imagined something very different.  It won't be picture perfect. None of it will be.  Far from it.

But it will BE.

Happy Mother's Day.

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

Love, Melissa

(P.S. 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 and I love 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 you.)

copyright 2012, 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:

Lisa Gradess Weinstein said...

Hi Melissa, I remember way back when, before the invent of blogs, you would send daily, detailed email describing your journey to mother hood. I always looked forward to those emails....and wow, look how far you've come. I love the song, Wonder, and the lyrics are so appropriate. Betty and Boo are Wonders! Happy mother's day sweety - well deserved!