if I could turn back time

Nostalgia is the name of the game today. Yeah, it caught me off guard, too.

Amara is the first baby to be born on my side of the family.  Last Tuesday, my cousin gave birth to a healthy, gorgeous, snuggly and lovable little girl. (Perhaps one could say I’m biased, but I don’t think so.) Watching my cousin, we’ll call her Red, go through the wonder of pregnancy and incredulous concept of childbirth has been amazing.  I couldn’t be more proud of Red. I’m in sheer awe and so full of joy I could burst from my desk chair right now.  Being the second-youngest of all my cousins, it’s strange to recognize we’re all adults now.  Amara’s birth sort of cinched that concept to me. We have reached the end of a generation in our family, and a new one has begun.

You’re probably wondering why I’m saying, “cousins” instead of siblings. That’s because I have none.  I’ve always wanted a younger sibling, to protect, teach, (and of course) bug the living daylights out of.  It wasn’t in the cards for me and my parents.  I’m adopted, myself. During the adoption process for a baby brother, my father was diagnosed with an inherited heart defect and diseases, negating their ability to adopt anymore children.  Now that I am an adult, married and receiving the daily interrogation from my mother, demanding why I have yet to give her a grandchild, it brings new perspective on how difficult that whole process must have been for my parents.

As a woman, I try to imagine being part of a young, happy couple ready to take on the world, (not too difficult to imagine anymore), and being told that becoming pregnant could endanger my life.  Not only was starting a family one of the dreams my parents had for themselves, but to be told that this particular dream could kill one of them? Coming to terms with that… Making the decision to spend what little money they had to adopt instead?  Wow.  In case you didn’t know, adoption is a long, arduous process with unending interviews, red tape, home visits.  And it’s a hell of a lot better than it used to be.  Basically every step’s purpose is to tell you EXACTLY what you’re doing wrong and need to fix, otherwise some stranger will deem you’re unfit as a parent.

For the mothers out there, I’m not trying to compare childbirth to adoption. Childbirth is an experience that nothing can compare to the torturous pains of contractions. The point of all this, is the idea that life is so much chance and opportunity.  Sure, you can have all the talent and skill in the world, but if you’re hit by a bus the next day, where does that get you?

I think of my parents sitting across a desk from a stranger, being told that because of a medical condition, they’re not allowed to have any more children. Again. First because of my mother’s health, the second time, my father’s.  It took my parents several years of patience and waiting before winning the jackpot with Pilot. Pilot is part of an enormous family. He has an older sister, 10 years difference, and an older brother, 12 years difference, both married with three children, each. Our parents meshed well, even finding out my father’s family and Pilot’s mother’s family come from the same small village in Germany.  (Pilot’s eyes became round as sauces as he turned to look at me during this conversation of family enlightenment, to which I quickly dissolved his fear saying, “It’s ok, honey. I’m adopted. Even if we were technically related, it’s not by blood.”)

My mother and Pilot get on well together, and l believe she’s come to accept him as her own son. The son she never had.  You’ll notice I don’t mention my father here. He passed away a little more than a few years ago from his heart defect, but he lived to age 60. I think of all those years, another little boy could have had my dad as a father. Whoever was at that agency made a huge mistake. I can recall countless fishing trips on Lake Washington (including the time we ran out of gas, but that’s another story), learning how to change my first tire (yes, girls don’t have to be helpless when it comes to the dreaded automobile), tasting delicious smoked salmon he’d just brought in. These are experiences I wish I could have shared with an “automatic” buddy. My never-was-brother.

Don’t worry, it’s not all doom and gloom.  Pilot and I have been together for 10 years now. We were lucky he and my dad had their own healthy relationship, along with mutual respect before my dad passed on. I will always be grateful for that. The older generation is moving on, I’m (hopefully slowly) merging into the older generation, and a new generation is blooming.

So, now what?  Holding baby Amara this weekend, and definitely not getting enough snuggles and forehead-kisses in, I think about her having two amazing older step siblings.  I wanted to be able to learn more about this deep connection. These Daily Writing Challenges (DWC’s) sparked the idea of a siblings-focused story.

Of course, they’ll both be romances, but the heart of each book is about these two sisters’ relationship.  Here’s a bit that I might be incorporating into the stories later on.

Daily Writing Challenge

Day 5: Your character is getting ready in the morning. Write a scene of their morning (or even mid day) routine.

Feeling the warmth of sunshine touching my cheek, another cheerful Saturday greets me as I slowly open my eyes. Taking a moment to let them adjust from the bright white that first appears, right before everything warps back into focus. The sound of my clock radio is tuned to a station that plays classics. Ah, Summer Breeze. Yeah, it definitely makes me feel fine. Pushing back the covers, setting my feet down, I feel worn, familiar yarn under my feet.  It’s a rug my sister made for me as a Christmas present. A hook-and-latch kit with Snoopy on it.  (Did I mention my sister was 10 at the time?)  I glance at the clock. Eight fifteen. I have to meet Margaret at the Suds & Duds to help open by nine.

Filtering sunlight into the room, I gently nudge the sheer Tiffany blue curtains apart and peer out. A sigh escapes my lips as I lean my chin on my fist. Same old Saturday mornings. The mailman driving off, Mrs. Stevens is tending to her rosebushes, Old Man Matthews picking up his newspaper in his bathrobe again… Ew.

Suddenly, loud rock music starts blaring from next door.  August Brandt steps out from under the shadow of the raised garage door, carrying a sloshing bucket of suds and a scrubbing mitten. I can’t help but stare as he moves over to his Jeep. Bobbing his head lightly in tune with the beat, he sets the solution down. Reaching for the hose, he’s about to start rinsing it off when he glances up in my direction. Oh, crud. He saw me staring.

I can feel the blush raising up my neck, as I straighten up quickly. A slow, knowing smile starts making its way across his face, and before a I know it, he’s sending me a big grin, oh great he’s sending me a wave now. Quickly wiggling a few fingers, I step back from the window.

Great. I’m supposed to leave and meet Margaret in… now half an hour, and he’s probably still going to be out there. 

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