It’s Okay To Be Queer At The Academy

 

My name is Matthew, I’m standing in the Director’s office in the Academy waiting for my release papers. I always imagined that the sky from this room would be a baby blue but what little I can gleam through the shuttered blinds is not blue but a mixture of gray and white. Nothing is as you imagine it to be.

I’m 22 and there are things that should make sense to me now but they don’t. My parents, well, my dad, insisted I go to this Academy to “toughen me up”,  I don’t even know what that means but to him it means  “becoming straight.” As if. I am who I am, who I have always been but he won’t accept that, he thinks a therapist or a school could change me. I AM me.

My militant father refuses to accept all gay people, as if we have a choice. We were born this way! Hey, it’s a lot easier to be straight with prejudiced people like him than it is being gay.

Once, when I was younger, I challenged him about his narrow-minded views. He looked at me for one second and then pummeled me so badly I was black and blue for a week.  I looked so bad my mom called the school and said I was in a car accident. She tried to stand up for me but I said it was okay, I didn’t want him to hit her too.

My mother accepts me being gay and loves me for who I am. I have confided in her and while she worries that it is a hard life (and it is) she has accepted my choice and she loves me and supports me. My father is a mean bastard, when I first told him, he threw chairs around the room and would not let me even say the words out loud, ever. I tried to tell him that I was still his son but he viciously replied “I have no son, I have a faggot. You are not part of this family anymore.” How could he do that? I haven’t seen him since.

I love men, not women, is that such a crime? I wanted to go to college and be free but my dad forbid it. He sent me to this stupid Academy “to make a man out of me.”  I guess he thought the Academy would make me straight and I would start liking girls. I had the last laugh though, all the other guys were there for the same reason.Their parents sent them there to “toughen up” too. My father had no idea that most guys in the school were gay. I guess the joke was on him.

We call each other “queer” here in the Academy, it’s used as a term of endearment, I don’t understand how a parent can just stop loving a child, I really don’t but a lot of the guys here have had the same experience. I envy the men and women whose family love and support them no matter who they choose to love.

My mom has tried to talk to my dad many times about accepting me but he won’t budge. Fuck it, I guess I’m better off without him. I don’t need his lectures, his abuse and his screaming. All i ever wanted was his love. But, I knew, I always knew that I would never get that, ever. Yet, deep down, in a child-like way, I still hope that one day he will change and he will accept and love me for who I am. Yeah, I know, keep dreaming.

Dedicated to the LGBT community who do not feel loved by their families.

No photos due to Zemanta broken.

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“The Reason”

For you, I will play “The Reason” less often but I will never stop thinking of the look in your big sad, brown eyes after the fight with your dad. You were younger than thirteen, I think. My heart breaks for you every time I hear that song, it reminds me of your hurt and deeply saddened face.

It captures a moment in time, not all moments have to be good, I know you think they should but you will learn later in life that the bad moments teach us things as well. We get past them, we appreciate when they have passed, we learn from them.

I know you don’t like confrontation, except when you delight in starting it, your dad, will run miles to escape anything even slightly confrontational. I’d rather he yelled and screamed but his family brought him up to ” sweep things under the rug.” They don’t fight, they don’t express their feelings, they hide.

I’m so glad you and your sister have parents with different styles but I’m afraid your sister is definitely like dad. She makes dad seem like a beginner; he is emotional compared to her. There are layers and layers of this beautiful young woman and even if I try to delve inside a bit, try being the operative word, she closes up like a clam shell in a matter of seconds.

You and I wear our hearts on our sleeves, but your sister hides her emotions, I think she shows you the most emotion she shows anyone and I am so glad for that. The fact that you and your younger sister are best friends is better than winning the lottery for me, I never had that relationship with my sister. I don’t know what that feels like but I’m sure it feels wonderful. You have a built-in best friend.

When I was pregnant with your sister (or brother at the time) I swore I would do anything and everything to not have the kind of drama and angst that my sister and I have. I am not going to assign specific blame here, part of it was our parents’ fault, part our own. But, in any case, it is not a healthy relationship and seeing you and your sister together makes your dad and I so happy.

Luckily, your two cousins have a close relationship too. The four cousins loving and liking each other is incredible, growing up we had nobody. I take great joy that the cousins have each other and will always have each other. I’m sure my sister feels the same way.

When the grown-ups are gone, I know you, your sister and the cousins will be close, maybe your kids will spread the icing on the cinnamon rolls at Christmas.

We indulged this morning.

We indulged this morning. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

 

Certain memories get stuck in our brains for different reasons. Why I reacted so strongly to you sitting in your room, playing that song, I’m not sure but it is one moment I will never forget and I know you know that. Luckily, it was one of the rare sad moments of your life.

I remember more, you’re smiling face, you being the prankster, tricking your gullible mom ALL the time, your enthusiasm for food and your kind and sensitive nature. We know each others’ mood over the phone, the breath before we say “hello.” I’m here for you always, I’m sure you know that but once in a while it’s nice to have a reminder, for both of us, I’m sure.

 

 

 

 

 

Dear Daddy,

I’ve meant to write you for a couple of days but now I NEED to write you. You were always there for me when times were tough, especially when times were tough. You were the only person who really knew me because our personalities were so similar.

I know I’m just having a very bad day and they happen from time to time but this one is unusual. I feel like I’m getting beaten up by everybody

and I don’t know why. I don’t have you here to defend me or to want to get back at the people who are making me sad. I do know that if you could, you would although I’m not so sure you would defend mom.

No matter what she did, you defended her but her tone today, I know, you would have been the one to say “take it easy” and she would have listened. Her ordering me around like she is the commander and I’m the soldier was horrible. Something is not right. Does she think that the holiday season is only hard on her?

Losing Lola and Don and Ellen were tragic losses, believe me, I know. I went to the funerals of two of them with her. Anna went to one of them so she was always supported. There’s not much else anyone can really do. Both Emma and I call her every day, she boasts about that to her friends but sometimes  it seems I can do nothing right. At least that’s how it feels to me.

I’m not in their club of two, my sister and mom, they are so similar and our club, you and me, doesn’t exist anymore, talk about grief. Yes, I know it’s a rough time of year, with you dying on New Year’s Eve

and you and mom’s anniversary on New Year’s Day! Not such good timing, Dad. I  remember our last Christmas but the grief comes back in waves of sadness and anger. You should be here, playing Santa and ringing the stupid bell you always rang. If only you could come back for just one minute to ring that bell and to give me a hug that I so desperately need from you now.

Well, the day is almost over, I’m hiding in my bedroom, yeah I know, not the right solution but that’s okay, I just need a little time to myself. Your granddaughter is out having fun and your grandson will be home tomorrow. At the moment he is the one worrying because, like me, he is so intuitive and he heard my voice on the phone. I know I worry too much, oh stop laughing, but I try not to do that. I can’t help it if I read headlines and get scared. As most parents, I worry about my children.

You know I love you, of course you do, thank you for the signs you send me (I could use one soon, please.) Do I wish you a Merry Christmas in Heaven? It’s been so many years  you would think my grief would have mellowed but today it is raw. I don’t understand that at all.

I’m going to play some music now and settle down, I know I’ll be fine in a few minutes. You know I’ll be fine, I always remember what you and Mom said: “That beneath the mushiness, deep down, I am steel” and I know that’s true. I’ve had to be many times in my life. I love and miss you so much but I am glad you are not in pain anymore, that’s for sure. Say hi to Lore for me, quite a prank she pulled on us at her funeral. It seems like Diane and I both thought we were the sole “Augusta.” Only Lore could get away with that. Please tell her I miss her too, I really do.

All my love,

Your little mouse

PS The dog just pushed the door open, jumped up on the bed and kissed my whole face which she generally doesn’t do. She knew I was sad, I feel better already.

I Have No Idea How The Whole Thing Works

English:

English: (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Why is Happiness so fleeting when Sadness lingers around like a viral infection, effecting not just you but everyone near you? It spreads too, so easy to catch, physically and emotionally.

Happiness is a moment or two, the snap, pop, gasp of a sudden leap of joy which feels incredibly good, magical, in fact. Like those first moments of falling in love…  but that first gasp, that amazing, weird feeling in your stomach where you can’t possibly eat because you are a jumble of nerves and anticipation, that ends quickly to the “gasp” that perfect O of your mouth, your tongue wetting your lips that dissipates too. After a while, a long or short while, reality sets in and you still do love your partner but “in love?” not so much.

Things, that at first, take on such importance: the first phone call is electrifying and intense, you can still remember the feeling of your aching cheeks. It came with  dancing eyes and a smile so big that you could light the world with its brilliance.

Sadness.

Sadness. (Photo credit: Neil. Moralee)

It doesn’t last long but you do remember it from time to time with great fondness and sometimes regret and yes, you still love “your” person.

Passion can dip, with maturity, marriage, work, children, time…you can sleep in separate bedrooms because “he snores or she snores” or she can’t fall asleep and he needs to go to bed early because he gets tired easily and they are just older now.

You make compromises,sometimes you just have to give in. It becomes okay that he hates to go dancing, his dancing awkward and stiff but how she loves to go on picnics  and he adamantly refuses. Asking why “I just don’t” is not a reasonable explanation for an adult conversation. You settle, you don’t want to wreck the family boat over a salami and cheese sandwich. But, it’s another tear that drops in the sadness bucket.

Now, people are both stuck in the mud, the same old, grimy, brown mud. Are they completely happy? Is everything perfect? No, of course not, I don’t think anything could be. But, you get to a certain age when your spouse is truly your best friend and you love each other and at this stage of your life, friendship, love, trust is really more than you can ask for and less than many people have. It is a blessing to love someone and to be loved by someone.

Sadness, however, deep, depressing, feeling blue and out of sorts lingers and follows you like a shadow. Wherever that black cloud of unhappiness gets deeper and.stays with you no matter how hard you try “to get over it” sometimes it refuses to budge These people need help, need to reach out for support from a doctor or medical professional and friends and maybe you need medication and to talk with a professional. In time, it will go away. And yes, for a small percent of lucky people it could be very short-lived and will float away on its own, the sky will clear and you can wake up feeling happy again.

We all go through a range of happiness and sadness on a daily basis, I’m talking about the above in extreme cases. Some people, (and it is definitely is NOT me) can hide their feelings so well and appear like a blank slate. Not a good match for me.

People are who they are, accept them or don’t but you can’t change them.

 

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Fear, My Greatest Nemesis

Scared child

Scared child (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I felt the tears well up in my eyes before I typed one word. I’m not shocked, I know myself, most of the time. I was given the gift of an unexpected compliment and I broke out into a wide grin.  I wear my heart not only on my sleeve but like a red neon sign on a black night in Broadway, flashing, off and on, non-stop.

Fear is my biggest nemesis. Fear has held me back from so MANY things too many to list. But, I know It has shaped my life. I lied for fear, I changed plans, directions, walked away because of fear, stayed home because of fear. I only hid fear for my children, my gift to them.I didn’t want them to have the same life I had. I’m proud to say they are fearless. An Academy Award please. Thank you. Now, it’s time for me to work on me but it is a little more complex.

Those of us who are called “Empath Intuitives” are sensitive, very sensitive people. Sensitive to others’ emotions but also sensitive in the world we live in. It can be more of a burden than a blessing. You need to grow into it, I’ve learned. As noted earlier, a word of kindness from a stranger means so much to someone like me, it happens so rarely, but when it does you feel it all the more.

My soul sniffs out secrets that I don’t want to know but I feel them like chips of ice starting at the base of my neck and roller-skating slowly down the middle of my spine. They cannot be undone. It will be very hurtful but it will be truthful. I feel much more pain than pleasure in this sad world. Does everybody? Or does it become level at a certain age? I’d say over 50-55 your view on luck starts to change in a downward spiral or maybe the rough patches are more consistent, last so much longer and connect.

I feel someone’s pain before they know it themselves, I can’t read their minds but I can sense what is on them, what they are feeling. I’ve had this quality since I was a child. In many ways, when I was young it only served to hurt me. My family always told me that everything was my fault because “I was too sensitive.” It took many years to figure out that I wasn’t too sensitive but they were not sensitive enough. We just didn’t see things from the same lens.

I believe the answer to fear is to do what you are fearful of. What other way is there? Stare it in the face, you are the boss, not fear. I’m totally guessing here. You control it, don’t let it control you and whatever you do, don’t stop. Face fear and do it and do it until you are not fearful. Is that the only way to go? I’m assuming. Feel free to live other suggestions.

Fear, change, sensitivity, joy, kindness: we are who we are.

Be kind to one another. Take a minute to try to understand not judge.

Celebrate that.

 

 

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We Give Thanks For Many Different Things

Cake made of chocolate mousse.

Cake made of chocolate mousse. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am the meanest person on earth, or at least the most honest and outspoken but I give thanks that Thanksgiving is over. Yep, I said it. You can judge me all you want but holidays can be stressful. Family dynamics,  emotional baggage, demons from the past, they all get rattled and those emotions escape. They slip from your unconscious like slithering snakes darting out without your permission. Filters don’t work, the id, ego and superego are all in repair.

Families members regress, the dysfunctional aspects of relationships become unglued, it seems like anything negative that you can rein in for most of the year just gets ignited during holiday celebrations. Forgive me, don’t judge me. I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling this way.

I used to be the person who loved holidays the most, it WAS my favorite time of year. I sang along with every song on the radio, happily. I loved to shop for hours getting just the perfect present for each member of my extended family. Now, I beg my kids to tell me what they want, preferably with a link online. I don’t feel like celebrating, when did I become Scrooge?

I’d rather appreciate my family as I do, every minute of every day instead of on one particular day.  All the work you have done to prep and prepare and cook and bake is finally here; by the time you sit down to eat, you are exhausted and then the meal is over in literally five minutes. Tops.

You take a breather and move to a different room, everyone moaning about how full their tummies are and the tension moves with you like invisible cloaks. The young “adult” children text, the older generation talks about  people who have died or are very sick  and all I want to do is change into my soft flannel polka dot pajama pants and tee-shirt and climb under my blankets and go to sleep.

However, the chocolate cake with the layers of lighter chocolate mousse winks at me and soon we go back to eat dessert. A lot of dessert. That incredibly delicious chocolate cake with edible sugar ornaments, my vegetarian daughter grins as she eats a sugar “turkey.” There is also apple cake, strawberry-rhubarb pie, chocolate rugelach, banana bread, apple pie and assorted cookies. I’m ashamed to say that the fabulous chocolate cake, with an ice-cold glass of milk cheers me up. I can see the women of Weight Watchers “past” shaking their heads at me, tsk- tsking all the way to the scales. Sorry leaders, I haven’t gained any weight, in fact I lost more weight.

My daughter drives her grandmother home, with a care package that will last her at least a week to finish, complete with forbidden dessert since she is a not-so-so-strict-diabetic, it’s a treat for her, one bite or two at a time. The fact that my sister and her family aren’t here was felt by all, it just seemed empty without them. I missed my sister and the “cousins” being together. My husband’s parents are coming tomorrow, does that make any sense to you? Fill me in if you can figure it out, I can’t.

I see myself going away for a few days this year or next. This time I will go someplace different to be alone, to have some space, to smile at the sun and do some thinking.  It’s my turn now. I’m tired,  physically and emotionally. I need to get a good night’s rest and maybe when I wake up tomorrow morning I will feel just more hopeful. I give thanks for my family, my friends, for the food on the table. I give thanks that the holiday is over and for my pretty polka dotted pajamas. I am grateful for the sleep that is sure to come quickly. Good night.

The Art Of Keeping Pancakes Warm

Pancakes

Pancakes (Photo credit: Creativity+ Timothy K Hamilton)

Emotions often overlap, sometimes they are hard to distinguish, or they are hard to separate, sometimes they coexist, they hold each others hand, their fingers intertwined. Sometimes there’s a base and if not resolved things pile on top of it like a stack of freshly made pancakes, each one giving off heat. The first pancake starts the flow of the heat which rises into the air. Soon, we add another pancake and then another to make a stack; each pancake produces heat adding heat to the bottom, the first  pancake, not taking heat away from it.

Usually its easy for me to figure out what I’m feeling, I generally pride myself on knowing how or what I feel, not that I think it’s a fabulous trait to have because many times it is overwhelming. Recently, In the past few weeks I seem to have lost that trait, I have absolutely no idea how I feel, I don’t feel anything strongly, hate, compassion, appreciation; I don’t feel anything at all. If I feel anything its emptiness in a very cool, detached way, like reading a book of a different culture that I have no interest in whatsoever. I feel like a different person, cool, calm, detached.

This is not me.

If I stayed like this my life would be a million times easier but somewhere, deep in the bottom of my soul, I know, that there is a catalyst waiting to happen, a word or a memory, that will make all my emotions come flooding back. For now, I’m probably resisting it and I can’t lie, it feels like a vacation. A dull, boring vacation in a zombie time zone but for a roller coaster woman like me, I’ll take it. I will jump in with gratitude In one split second because now, I don’t want to analyze it, think about it and most of all, deal with it. If this is a break from dealing with heavy things, I’m in, thank you very much.

We have all gone through love, hate, grief but now I feel numb. I choose numb now because numbness gets me through the days. I am not sobbing on the bed, my cheeks and eyes are not swollen and red, I’m taking a breather.  I know, soon enough, that dam will break and I will probably learn new information that I need to be ready for because once again, if I choose to hear the new information, my life will change forever.

For as long as it lasts, numb will be satisfactory. I know it’s not a steady job, just temporary, a respite from unhappiness and doubt but if happiness and knowledge elude me than I would be honored to take up residency. There’s also: Sad, Mad, Love, Grief, Hate, Happy, Sensitive, Unaware, Raw, Grieving, Disbelief, Guilt, Sorrow, Pain, Game, Delusional, etc….No person is just one thing. We are all complicated beings, we all make mistakes. We are faulty human beings so pick whichever traits you want or have, learn from mistakes and then move on. Do the best you can in the present. Don’t look to the past, don’t worry about the future, your destiny is here with you now, staring you in the face, the sweet smell of pancakes wafting in the air, warm amber-colored maple syrup poured from a white pitcher to enjoy on your pancakes while you contemplate. Treat yourselves well.

It’s Really Not About The Chicken Soup….

Chicken soup is a common classic comfort food ...

Chicken soup is a common classic comfort food that might be found across cultures. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Just because my mom is not the type to drive over with a pot of home-made chicken soup when I am sick does not mean she is a bad mother. She certainly is a different, independent type of mother, but make no mistake, she is a mother who loves me and my sister very much. We grew up in the fifties and probably watched too many Leave it to Beaver and Father Knows Best episodes to think that baking cookies and meatloaf was the only thing a mother should do. She hated cooking and I inherited that except for my famous banana bread recipe, amazing guacamole and funny enough, my chicken soup and my pea soup. Once, when I was 4 or 5, she tried to make a pineapple upside down cake but it came out right side up. I remember her frustration and our laughter. It is one of my favorite young memories.

My mom had no role models to learn from, no one. How COULD she know? Both her parents died when she was very young, her mother died when she was 5 and her father when she was 14. She had only  a wicked stepmother and a horrendous stepbrother. She thought she was loved by her step-mother but she wasn’t. She just clung on to the hope, I could see through that wicked old woman at the age of eight. My mom needed to cling on to the only source of love she had known.

She is exceedingly charming, people fall in love continuously. Strangers flock to her, people adore her for her intelligence and wit. When she was younger she traveled the world as an interpreter (French, German, Hebrew, English) with important people and saw many incredible sights in different countries.  She once took me to what was known as the former Yugoslavia on a tour. We walked around and heard noises from a big open garden, we heard the words “kicki-ricki” over and over again. I wanted to run and hide, my mother? She followed the noises determined to find out what “kicki ricki” was. I was sure it was heroin or crack cocaine, something illegal. I never was a hero but my mother was and she linked arms with me and said “we are going to find out what this is.” I begged her to drop it but I knew I had no chance. We entered the garden and started hearing the noise again, “kicki ricki.”  My mother marched up to the man and directly asked him what kivki ricki was: he smiled, held out his hand and showed us the bag of peanuts he was selling. Of course we bought a pack, my mother triumphant and incredibly pleased with herself. If I could sum up my mom in one example that would be it.

She may have not been the stereotypical mother who made chocolate chip cookies while I was at school but she taught me so many more important things: to be independent, to keep a little money for myself aside from my husband, to be strong. Mother-Daughter relationships have never been easy, entire books have been written about them, songs have been sung, movies filmed, feelings hurt but the bond is undeniably strong, one of the closest bonds you will probably ever know. I’m sorry my mother never knew that bond, that bond of safety and love with her own mother. I have that bond with my children, I would do anything for them, at any time. They are my life.

I love you mama with all my heart, even though you don’t bring chicken soup.  I know you love us deeply and would do anything to help us or make us happy. Your love, mama bear, is protective and I know you love both of us with every fiber of your being and with all your heart. I love you the same and more. This song is for you, it’s our song, it always has been.

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Pineapple Upside Down Cake (Photo credit: jeffrey.kohn)

Kellie Elmore: Free Write Friday 6-29-13

who am i?

who am i? (Photo credit: Beni Ishaque Luthor)

(things can’t let you down, unless you let them)

“It’s easier said than done, I know that. You know that, right, Son? All this psychobabble about “life’s has its ups and downs, just go with the flow?” Sure, I know that in my head, but when something creepy, or scary or even startling happens, man, that goes straight, directly to my heart and it’s a sure fire hit. There are no stops, no waiting, or hesitating, it’s a missile like an emotional heart attack. It always has a trigger, like now, people are screaming behind me are making me tense, uptight, upset. You have to understand I’m not like you and your generation, it’s hard for me to “just get over it.” I get so depressed and I just want to put my head in my hands and my body starts shaking. My stomach clenches and it’s trying to ruin my day and I feel myself getting hooked on sadness like a slippery snake, going in and out of my brain to my insides. I  try to stop it but I can’t.

I’m lost, that’s how I can describe it, I’m lost. I’m really nobody now. Sure, I’m someone’s husband, brother, father, but who am I? I’m really not sure anymore.  I used to know but now everything is cloudy. What I thought I knew for sure is shaky, what I thought I knew about you is different.I was YOU, a long time ago. Listen to me. It’s easy to push things into those dark recesses of your mind, I’ve been doing that for a long, long time. There’s safety in comfort, I know that. But, how much comfort is worth it? When does comfort become settling or even just plain old vanilla laziness? I’m the wrong one to ask. I stay safe, too safe, and I stay still. I’m not happy, not ever. Probably never have been happy.

Some people like my old friend Jon are adaptable, whatever happens he adjusts. He doesn’t worry, he doesn’t panic, he goes with whatever comes his way with his cool, jolly attitude and his big goofy smile and things always seem to fall into place. I wish I had been like him. I have NEVER been like him and probably never will be. There’s only so much you can do to change yourself, sometimes you born and labeled damaged goods. I can thank my own parents for that.

At least I tried I to face my fears and do things anyway which in itself is a big step. It’s okay to be fearful, everyone is probably afraid of something but making the attempt to overcome it, that’s like a pile of birthday presents you give to yourself, all wrapped up in silver and gold. It’s a birthday cake with your favorite filling, I choose vanilla cake, with chocolate frosting and chocolate cake with vanilla frosting, I’m not messing around here. I’ll even throw in some oatmeal raisin cookies and chocolate mint ice cream.

Life is a crap shoot. I admit, I am sometimes scared of the future, especially now that I am older. I was young once, just like you. I was young with hopeful thoughts and ideas and daydreams but I have lived a long time and Life has changed me. I hope it doesn’t change you too. Keep being positive and loving, honest and trusting. Even if you get hurt, it is worth the journey to experience that love, that excitement again. Take chances, as many as possible and don’t hesitate to try new things. If it doesn’t work out, move right on to something else. Don’t be like me, please, I beg of you, don’t be like me.

I’ll keep trying, in my own little corner of my world, but I don’t expect too much and that’s okay. There’s nothing wrong with a little bit of reality thrown in to the mix anyway. I am who I am, some good, some bad, just like we all are. No, I’m not giving up anytime soon, I’m still teaching you, my boy, my darling boy.”

Deep sadness - old man [3]

Deep sadness – old man [3] (Photo credit: Zuhair Ahmad)

Carry on Tuesday: A little while, a little while……

Baby Girl

Baby Girl (Photo credit: Sparlingo)

Carly was only nineteen years old, but she felt older than that, just having had a baby. She had given birth yesterday and she hadn’t wanted to see the baby much less name it. She didn’t know what to do, people were talking at her from all sides; the nurses, social workers, people from an adoption agency, her mother, until she had to cover her ears it was so loud. Finally, she started crying because it was all too much pressure so the nurse made everyone leave. Carly crumpled and forced herself to relax.

The father of the child, her ex-fling Rick, a musician didn’t even know that she had been pregnant, much less had a baby. She didn’t even know where he was, probably hitch-hiking in the mid-west with his band.  She had slept with him a couple of times but she was just one girl in a series of his ardent admirers. She had been SO stupid.

“Just give it up” her friends had said to her like forfeiting a game, or tossing an unwanted ham sandwich. Sure, this kid hadn’t been planned but just to give it away, like an unwanted present? It wasn’t the baby’s fault that she had come into the world. The adoption agency assured her that the baby would be placed with a “lovely family” she could even choose the family if she wanted to. Did she want to keep in touch with the family and have an “open adoption?”  Or, she could have a “closed” or private adoption and then she could give up her rights to the baby and start over again.

She did like the idea of starting over or as her friends put it “with a fresh start.” She could move to a big city and no one would ever have to know about this if she didn’t want to tell them. She could be whoever she wanted to be, she didn’t think she loved this child, she hadn’t even SEEN her. She decided that she was comfortable with this decision. She flipped off the light switch and then promptly fell asleep.

Carly woke up, startled, at 3am; she put her bathrobe on and decided to go for a walk down the hall, slowly, gingerly, she was still in pain. She didn’t know where she was going but subconsciously she knew where she would be end up. It was late, most people were sleeping, she stepped quietly up to the nursery window and a new nurse had just started her shift. She smiled brightly: “Hi, do you want me to get your baby?” Carly froze but instead of saying “No” she said “Yes” they checked her bracelet, and in a minute, this precious little pink bundle that she recognized immediately in her arms.

“Oh, she’s so pretty, she’s so pretty” Carly cried, as she held the baby up to her and rocked her gently. The nurse said “we sure can see someone who looks just like her pretty Mama.” At that, Carly looked in the nurse’s eyes, smiled and straightened up, “Thank you,” she whispered as tears streamed down her face. Carly asked if the baby could go back to the room with her so the nurse signed some papers and they moved the cradle on wheels into her room. The same nurse helped her get settled, showed her how to breastfeed, sat with them and talked for over an hour. It was a slow night and Carly had been the only person in the maternity unit.

Later that morning, when people started to fill her room, Carly, feeling ten years older, took control. In a clear strong voice Carly announced, “I’ve decided to keep my baby, it’s a girl and her name is Isabella. A clamor started in the room, all negative,  telling her she was a fool. Carly stared at them all and in a clear, bright tone, like the ringing of a bell said:  I love her and I will take care of her. It may take me a little while, a little while to get used to things but NOBODY will separate us. My mom has agreed to help us until we can find our own way. Thanks, Mom!! I can’t pretend my baby never happened and have a “fresh start,” that is great for some women but not for me; I would be looking for her for my whole life.  We are family now, the three of us. Three generations of strong women. Now, I think it’s time for the three of us to go home!

Dedicated to Nurse Bella who has agreed to be Isabella’s Godmother