Saturday, August 14, 2010
It is the middle of summer and the stars are falling; a meteor shower just in time for Aly's birthday. It was 25 years ago those stars brought me this girl, this mystery this first child of mine.
She was born at 5:26 in the morning, I had been in labor all night, turning inside out with the pain and the fear that I did not know what do with. The experience was bigger than me, bigger than anything I had known. Then right before the sun came up she was here and everything was different, I was no longer a child, I was a mother.
Aly was a surprise, one I was not ready for but never an accident or a mistake. It is my belief she arrived just when she was suppose to. I was terrified and young but always sure.
For nine months my body stretched and changed. I vomited everyday for 41 weeks, and was always mesmerized by the baby mermaid living inside of me swimming and swimming all night, singing a song that only I could hear. I dreamed she would be born with long hair, I dreamed that she fell out of the sky and landed in a bath full of bubbles, I dreamed she could speak and had teeth.
When she finally arrived she was warm and wet, bigger than I imagined and she was real, a head of curly auburn hair, lips like a favorite kiss, and a boo-boo face when she cried that she still has.
I was overwhelmed but in love. Someone switched on the next part of my life and the gears and levers began to turn. I knew what to do instinctively: how to nurse her, bath her, dress her, hold her. I never hesitated, I went without sleep just so I could watch her breath, and every morning felt like Christmas morning, she was a gift waiting for me to discover.
Now she is a woman with long legs, big brown eyes, and a laugh that is contagious. She can be moody and mean and every day I wish we were closer. She is a person separate of me, having experiences that don't include me. She doesn't tell me her secrets, we have never been that mother and daughter but I can still comfort her when she is sick, I can be the person she calls when everything falls apart and I am happy to be that mama.
I am proud of her. I don't tell her that because I have always felt like I needed to push her to do just a little bit better. I know her better than anyone, I know what she is made out of, what she is capable of and I know why she won't move forward when she should. As much as she wants to be her own person, as much as she tried to grow up early, she is our baby and she needs to be here surrounded by people she can trust, wrapped in a love she can not destroy no matter how hard she tries.
She was the woman that was with me when Stevie died, we bathed her and kept her safe while she made her transition, the three of us, three women bonded by love, blood, and sorrow. It was always the three of us, me and my girls...
Long ago we would cuddle up in a big bed while the snow fell outside and crept into the old wooden windows to freeze our eyelashes. We kept each other warm and shared dreams. She and her sister taught me about fairies, magic, and how real love survives anything that stupidity, anger and fear can throw your way. We rescued ugly Christmas trees, ate oatmeal for dinner and bought thick socks with colorful stripes.
Without these two girls I would not be the person I am today, without Aly I would not have survived the loss of Stevie. She is private about her grief, once in a while she leaks a little, get's mad and goes back to being private. I understand it, I wish I could fix it but this belongs to her.
She doesn't believe she was there for her sister but she was, she was always Stevie's friend and protector. No one knew Stevie better than Aly, and no one loved Aly more than Stevie.
Today she is 25, She woke up with a hang-over from a night out with friends eating sushi and slamming saki-bombs, a very different 25 than mine. She does all the things I never did, she isn't afraid of anything, she knows how to live big, laugh at everything that is funny (and sometimes not) and experience everything.
It will be a quiet day with a celebration dinner tonight, I miss birthday cakes and barbies wrapped in shiny paper. What we have now is different but I love watching her smile, I love listening to her tell a story about someone at work getting "Jelly-Boxed", and I love knowing she is my daughter.
Happy birthday Aly, thank you for being my family, my daughter and for living a life on your terms.
You are You.