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Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Certainly Not Blessed With "The Patience of a Saint"

So, here I am everybody! Twiddling my thumbs, humming brightly off key, waiting ever so patiently for my life to change. Ok, alright, not so very patiently if you must know the truth...

I was waiting patiently until about the beginning of June when we found out that another Norwegian family who had had their papers in Sri Lanka for almost the exact same time as us, had gotten their big call, their referral! That news was the most thrilling and happy news, well aside from actually receiving the call ourselves of course.

It made the possibility of us getting our very own referral suddenly somehow real and since then, although I have gone about my days as normally as I usually go about my days, I have had a whole rabble of butterflies, a swarm if you will, in my belly every morning, and each time my phone has buzzed for any reason at all, I reach for it with fumbling, shaking hands, usually dropping it in my eagerness or madly pressing all buttons at once so that it just gives up and puts itself out of its misery by switching itself off.

All things considered, I believe my husband and I are waiting patiently enough.

We are the next couple in "line" now to receive our tildeling or referral call, but realistically we may not be chosen next for any number of reasons. As desperately as I want to be chosen next, it's important to be aware of the reality of the situation as well.

Even if we are, for whatever reason, not the next couple to receive our call, we will still be extremely excited for whoever it is that does. Naturally slightly disappointed but happy as well because we believe there is a certain child or sibling group (if that's what we are blessed with), especially chosen for us. I don't believe it's a random thing, a roll of the dice and ok, if it's a 5, you get this child, if it's a 2, you get this one instead.

No, it's a planned thing. It is the conclusion of a long, long sequence of events, the initial decision to adopt; the interviews, the putting yourself on display for others to judge what sometimes has felt like every small, intimate detail of your lives; the endless paper collecting, doctor's visits, police checks, etc.; the waiting; the heartache and joy of it; the approval; then more waiting. The referral call is an end to this messy, fascinating business. (Until the next time we adopt at least.;)

And it's a beginning. The beginning of a new sort of life, one we have been longing for!

So ring, phone, ring...and if not for us this time, then certainly do it for someone else! :)

Friday, 24 July 2009

What Happened In Italy


(Matera, Italy)

Just a warning that this isn't the most pleasant reading you'll do all day. I'm honestly not even sure if this is appropriate to publish but then on the other hand, it's honest, it's the way it was and the way I felt two years ago.  I can't excuse how I felt at the time but I can assure you that it's been almost two years since this time and what I feel now is not even close to what I felt then.

Even though I feel at peace with where I'm at in life today, there are things it hurts me very much to remember.

The initial, slightly frenzied feeling of panic in the doctor's office on a warm August day two years ago as he said such quiet, simple, life changing words; the shaky, almost defiant disbelief in the car on the way home, stumbling blindly out of the car and into the house together and yet, so very alone in the numbness of grief; crawling into bed at 3 in the afternoon sobbing, thinking please God, this, of all things, can not be true.

How eventually this defiance, pain and incomprehensible despair and great sense of loss of everything all meshed together in my soul to create a temporary chaos in the midst of the bland routine of everyday life.

I started a new job, worked for several weeks until one morning I woke up, began to get dressed and simply couldn't.

I couldn't take anymore so I stopped.  Everything.  I began an elaborate quitting process. Not just the quitting of my job, but the quitting of everything. The shutting down of the soul.

I began to dread taking the dog for a walk in case I would see anybody and have to say hello. (Anyone who knows me knows how uncharacteristic this is.) I would wake up, find Per already gone to work and slowly get out of bed, turn off all the lights in the house, close all the blinds, lock the doors and sit inside in darkness planning to be silent and still if anybody happened to come to the door. It was desperate self preservation.

I began to dread going to mass. I remember sitting there every Sunday biting my lips, my jaw painfully tight, my eyes burning with tears the entire hour, my hands shaking in my lap with an anger too strong for me. Vast, stretching confusion at being so betrayed. And in all that empty space inside myself, I nourished an idea that I would tell myself again and again, day in and day out.  An explanation so I could make sense of what was happening, a constant mantra:  "I am worthless. I shouldn't live. God must hate me, worse than hate, he must despise me, think I'm sickening and disgusting, and if not even God loves me then there really is no hope at all for me." And these words broke my heart.

Looking back, I think there is so much anguish in such words.  It wasn't self pity, it was something more.  I think the echoes of everything I said in grief are still there inside me, they mark the soul, they damage it. Not irreparably though, they just make their mark like everything else and then eventually heal over but they leaves scars.

What role did Italy play in all of this?  Well we decided to go there for Christmas to get away from everything around us.  Spending Christmas roaming around the elaborate, beautiful streets, museums, churches of Rome, Naples and Matera was the most healing thing we could have done.  We visited shrines, we splashed ourselves with holy water, we went to mass, and I visited the body of my patron saint (St. Patricia).  I prayed and prayed.  And felt so little.

I walked into a Catholic book shop and saw a beautiful statue of Mary and I felt so drawn to her but then I firmly told myself no.  You don't deserve her.  She is too good for you and although something in my heart was telling me I needed her and the kind, smiling old woman in the shop offered to show me the statue, I turned and left and sat outside the door and cried and cried.

But grace is beautiful, a delicate gift. It came unexpectedly. This same day I saw the beautiful statue, I was sitting on a bright red chair in a square in Matera, me eyes closed against the cool December sunlight and the thought again how I wished I could die, wouldn't it be better?  And then suddenly, it was like I woke up, and for the first time in months, I wondered if wishing was like praying. And then hoped it wasn't because I really didn't want to die.  And realizing I didn't want to die felt like someone handing me a gift.  For the first time in so long, I felt peace.  I remember getting up and going back to the book shop but it had closed.  Somehow that was alright though, I felt it was all going to be alright.  Not in a glib way but in a real way.

So Italy gave me a gift.  Or perhaps, Mother Mary gave me a gift.  I was able to let go of everything I was carrying with me and leave it behind me.  Somehow, something changed for me there and I returned to Norway with happiness and strength in my heart.  I was lighter and looking toward the future.

And I found the statue of Mother Mary that had so moved me in another store later and bought it.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Necissary Evil

Sigh.

I will openly admit that I have never been especially known for my physical bravery in certain situations, for example, anything that takes place at the doctor's office has usually sent me into a mess of  terror. I know this. I anticipate this.  I would like to be able to claim that I left whining and jumping around the room shrieking "No, no, no! Please don't hurt me, I don't want a needle!!" back  in the days of my childhood but sadly, I can make no such claim honestly.

Yesterday after work, Per and I made our first actual, tangible preparation for our inevitable trip to Sri Lanka. Vaccinations. Per has traveled to Asia before so he needed only an update of his Tetnus shot and a new one for Typhoid fever. Where as I needed a Tetnus on one arm, a combination vaccine for Hepatitis A and B on the other and must go back again in a month for a booster shot of the latter and also one against Typhoid fever.

I suppose the feeling of dread that I woke up with yesterday wasn't wholly necessary. I passed the day almost numb with horror at the thought of the atrocities I would have to undergo later. I brought it up quite often in conversation at work so everyone would know and feel very sorry for me. I made it my facebook status. I hyperventilated in the car.

As it turned out, our nurse was a lovely, kind woman from Newfoundland, Canada who reassured me several times that "No, I wasn't a wimp...it was completely natural to be afraid of needles. In fact, many of the grown men she gives vaccines to are quite terrified as well." So, she gave me both vaccinations and voila! They were done within seconds...it certainly didn't feel pleasant but it was quick and I smiled at her. No, beamed in fact. Feeling quite pleased with myself and relieved and began to talk about how one can't put a price on health, yes, we may dread vaccines but the alternative? Would I rather die? Certainly not!

Then she began to talk and everything went blurry and I flung myself onto the floor because I could feel I was going to black out and Per's voice and the nurses voice seemed to come from a very great distance and I mumbled in a rush "Just let me lie here. I'll be fine. I'm sorry. (That would be my Canadian side coming out.) I'm such a wimp. I've done this before. I just need to lie down."

I recovered, went back to my seat once again smiling and talkative and then, it happened again.

After the second time, the nurse seemed to be contemplating something and said "You know what? I'm just going to make a note here that next time you get your vaccinations laying down, k?"

(I would just like to point out that there has been one circumstance in my life when I have not been a wimp while at the hospital. 4 years ago I had a spinal tap and honestly, I didn't flinch or faint. I was very calm. It was momentous. Granted I have never dared to look up the actual length of that particular needle but for my own continued sanity, I mustn't. I just know it was very, very, very bloody long.)