Life has its ups and downs. Surely we all notice the large blessings, and sometimes we pay attention to the smaller ones. This is the story of a large blessing, but it is such a profound one that I can’t stop marveling at it.
Years ago, I met a person that I knew would be in my life forever. She worked with me at CDM and we became fast friends. She would throw paper airplanes at me over our shared cubicle wall. We had so much in common. A newlywed, she was so excited and enthusiastic to help me with my wedding planning. We talked about how much fun it would be to have children at the same time, although that seemed like a difficult thing to time. 🙂 I’ve often thought that the purpose of my employment at CDM was to meet some special souls that I needed in my life. Lisa is definitely one of these. I also include Kelly, Emily, and Mike on this set. Life wouldn’t be the same without them. I believe that everything happens for a reason, and that you are always moving in the direction that is meant for you — there are no missteps. Anything that seems like a segue is just a part of your special and unique journey and will serve a purpose. [If this is something you struggle with (don’t we all?) I recommend that you read The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho.] I’ve often thought that the struggles I had while working there were justified by the purpose, and that higher purpose was to meet people that I was meant to know.
Time passed, and while Josh and I weren’t thinking about having children, Lisa was. She was such a natural. I don’t even know how to explain…I had often wondered if I should be a mother; could I do it? Would I be good at it? But I never for a moment doubted that Lisa would be perfect. She was so committed to her nephew, Zach, and so in love with the idea of having children, I could just tell that she would be amazing. She is the sort of person who should be a mother. When she told me that she and her husband were trying to adopt, I was thrilled. I hadn’t been able to accept that they would be unable to have children on their own. I knew there was a plan for her. I had told her once that I knew her child was out there, waiting to be brought into this world, and that this child was meant for Lisa. Her daughter would be born of another woman’s body, but she was made for Lisa.
A part of me felt that I should wait for Lisa to meet her child before I could consider having one of my own. As her friend, how could I blatantly enjoy something she would be deprived of? I felt as though I wouldn’t enjoy the experience as much if I knew that she was missing it. It didn’t seem fair, didn’t seem right. She would encourage me to try to have a baby before it was too late…before I found out, like she had, that it wasn’t going to happen naturally, because everything that follows takes time, and time is so precious. Josh and I had started to talk about children, but I wanted my Lisa to have her own first. I felt she deserved it.
Then she got a call.
She and her husband had been chosen by a birth mother. The baby would be born in June 2011. It felt perfect. I could now move forward with an unfettered heart, and she would be so overjoyed, because she always wanted us to have children at the same time. Then she received another call, this one from her mother, informing her that she had serious and terminal cancer. Lisa and her mother were so close, and Lisa was so distraught, she decided that she couldn’t bring a baby into that situation in her heart. She canceled the adoption that was offered, and put all other plans on hold while she cared for and supported her mother through grueling cancer treatments.
When I told her that I was expecting, I felt, in part, as though my heart would break. Of course, because she’s wonderful, she was ecstatic for me. She cried and seemed genuinely overjoyed, but I couldn’t help but feel that her heart must be breaking inside. How long had she wanted this? And now I would have everything she didn’t; a child, a mother who was well. I tried to be as sensitive as I could — but there are no rules for this situation, no guidelines. It was probably more difficult for her than she will ever admit.
During the summer, Lisa’s mother made a miraculous recovery. Originally told that her cancer would be fatal, she had taken so well to the treatments that her cancer was now gone. She was in remission, and her health prospects looked great. Lisa put her adoption plans back on. In October, I got a phone call I would never forget. Lisa was going to meet her baby…in two months! A birth mother had selected her profile, and was due very soon. She had little time to prepare, but it didn’t matter; she was finally going to meet her daughter. After all of the agonizing, we were having babies at the exact same time!
Lisa’s daughter came early, my Jacob came a bit late, but all in all they are only about 5 weeks apart. It is such a blessing to be experiencing the same things at the same time with our babies. We get them together and we just coo and giggle over the two of them. It’s the most wonderful feeling to talk to Lisa about the good, the bad, and the smelly of baby-raising, and to connect on the new roles we have both taken on and our baby loves. She, like me, is a full-time mom, and loving every precious minute. We talk about how grateful we are to be home with our babies, and how much our lives have changed for the better. One day she sent me a very helpful email with photographs of what baby poop should look like at different stages, and while we were discussing this I said, “do you realize that you just sent me an email with pictures of poo and I thanked you for it?” she said, “oh, friend, how our lives have changed!”
Just days before her baby was born, Lisa received the news that her mother’s cancer had returned suddenly, and it was really bad. She was given 6 months to live. Lisa couldn’t believe her luck. How was it that, after all this time and heartache, she was finally getting her child only to have her mother taken away? Why would she be deprived of her mother at such an important time? Wouldn’t it be heartbreaking that her mother and daughter would be deprived of the experience of really getting to know one another? Her mother did not live for 6 months. She passed away after about two. Thankfully, Lisa was able to spend every week of those last months at her parents’ house with her baby, and they spent a lot of quality time together. Even at that, it doesn’t seem fair. In our many conversations about this, I can only repeat one thing over and over: I think it’s such a blessing the way that things turned out. If it was her mother’s time, but that would result in Lisa’s canceling her adoption plans forever, she wouldn’t have her daughter. Like I had always felt, that baby was meant for Lisa. She was Lisa’s child from the moment she was conceived. In my mind, I feel that the entire last year had a guiding hand on it. Lisa’s mother healed for just enough time for Lisa to find her daughter. She was able to meet her granddaughter and spend time with her, and then she went on. I’ll never understand why that was her time, but perhaps it’s not for us to know. I just can’t believe how perfectly it all worked out. Lisa got her baby, and we had our children together (but Lisa first, which is the way it should be), and her mother was able to enjoy that sweet baby for last weeks of her life.
My purpose in writing this is for you to read and reflect on the blessings in your life. It’s so easy to focus on the negative aspects, and yet we are surrounded by beauty everyday. Every time I think about Lisa and her baby girl, I get tears in my eyes. Yes, life can be that wonderful.
I am thrilled to say that it became legal today: Lisa and her husband went to court and legally adopted their beautiful baby girl, finishing this nearly year-long process.