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Sunday, 20 December 2009

An Angel

Well, actually, he is stubborn, determined, full of character and a tiny social butterfly rather than silent, shy and submissive little angel. He lights up around crowds of people. In a hospital waiting room for example, he'll harass anyone else who happens to be waiting with sly glances and little smiles and gurgling noises until they look at him and smile back and then it's on to the next one until he's worked his way through the whole room. When he really smiles, like full-blown-scrunched us nose-chubby dimpled cheeks-wide open mouth-sort of smile, he looks more like a little...ok, not quite like a little devil, but definitely like a very mischievous, fun-loving little boy rather than a little angel to be honest. Lately he has taken to smiling with his lips sucked in which makes his cheeks flop down and his eyes like tiny slits. While this may not attract too many ladies when he's older, it certainly is charming now. ;)

And I feel like I want to stop time. I want him to grow. I want him to stop. I want to capture every moment on film. Not even photos are good enough. I want to remember his voice when he was this small and his funny little movements and the multitude of faces he makes. His laugh that just seems to come from nowhere at the oddest times. Mostly while looking at me...but I don't take that too personally. ;)

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Smelling Of Milk And Tears

The other night Per came downstairs after putting William up to bed and casually asked "Do you think you can throw his sleeping bag in the laundry tomorrow because it kind of smells." Being an excellent conversationalist and seeing definite potential in this topic, I politely inquired, "What does it smell like?" "Umm, it smelled like milk. And tears."

I sat stunned, in horrified, guilty silence. It must have been the saddest statement I ever heard! To think that my sweet little baby boy had been crying so much at night that his little sleeping bag smelt of tears! I mean, honestly, how many tears does one have to cry until something reeks of them?! How awful, no, how heartless a person must one be to allow a tiny child to pass their nights in a tear scented sleeping bag?! Monster! For days I felt guilty and because of this brought the topic up whenever I possibly could, desperately trying to attain closure...

In the car a few days later while shaking my head unable to get such Dickinson imagry out of my head, still racked with remorse: "So...did it really smell like tears? I mean, what do tears smell like anyway? (Ever hopeful that the scent of tears had in fact been something else.) Like did it smell like salt?! Is that how you knew it was the smell of tears? I mean, does salt even smell? Let's check when we get home!"

Anyway, the days have passed and my guilt has lessened although I still feel a slight twinge or two when I consider the terrible pathos of a little angel falling asleep in something smelling of tears. In the futrue, I may well be compelled to do laundry more often. We'll see.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

The Great Anticlimax of Christmas ?

For some years now, I have experienced Christmas as a let down, an anticlimactic finish to a season bursting with pent up expectation.  More and more in a complicated age, people are striving to live lives of simplicity.  However, materialism and consumerism are rampant and often contribute to a deep inner sense of dissatisfaction and unease.  Even those of us who don't want to find it hard to resist the lure and glitter of a season dedicated to shopping and excess.

In our hearts though, we understand, consumerism and materialism in all their dazzling, empty glory lead to empty hearts and searching souls.

Empty hearts and searching souls create a sense of desperation.

Sometimes we look outward rather than inward. Though not at all bad in and of themselves, a beautifully decorated house, Christmas carols playing in the background, expensive heaps of presents under a glittering tree, the Christmas rush that people enjoy getting caught up in so as to avoid thinking of anything meaningful are all just ways to avoid preparing the spirit for what Christmas actually is. Though I also do all of the above, none of those things denote a readiness for Christmas.

I think the most beautiful Christmas my husband and I have spent together was the year we were able to go away for the season.  We celebrated Christmas in a foreign city with just each other for company.  It had none of the usual trappings of the season. We didn't have gifts with us or dress up but most importantly, we weren't weighed down by tradition or stress or anybody's expectations of how we should celebrate a "proper" Christmas.   We felt light, happy and free of obligation. 

Christmas Eve rolled around quietly. We woke up in the morning in our little hotel room in a converted convent in the center of Naples and decided to go to Pompeii. I deliberated awhile over what to wear, I wanted something old being under the mistaken impression that after a couple thousand years the ash from Mount Vesuvius would still be hanging heavy in the air.  We walked out into Naples, sunny, clear and cool and found a crowded train to our destination.  We arrived and spent hours walking around the remains of villas and pagan temples.  We admired frescoes that even today retain their original colors.  Surprisingly vivid yellows, pinks, reds and purples. We snapped some pictures, felt sorry for the stray dogs, pensively regarded the great black volcano looming in the distance and sat in the solitude of this ancient place, soaked it in along with the sunshine and left again, relatively clean and definitely ash free.

Later when we were hungry, we roamed the dark streets looking for a restaurant that was open. We found a small family run place. There were two other couples there, one just finishing their meal and paying. They didn't have enough money and there was a lot of arm waving, loud talking and laughing (nobody was upset or embarrassed).  The owner of the restaurant gestured to the people at the other table and sure enough they pulled out some money and covered the rest of the other couples meal, laughing and shaking their heads though it was obvious from their expressions they had no idea who these people were.  We ate delicious food, communicated in sign language with the owner which came in handy when I couldn't finish my meal.  It was a great insult not to eat every bite.  I saved myself with a loud sigh and lots of patting my stomach with an exaggerated look of sorrow on my face at not being able to finish.  This sufficed and though not entirely pleased the owner smiled and reluctantly took my plate away.  He came back with a soccer ball which he started kicking around by our table while shooting expectant glances our way. We were duly impressed at his skill.

When we left it was very late, meals in Italy can drag on for hours.  Being almost time for midnight mass, we again roamed the streets this time looking for a church. Finally we found one that was open and we went in, were embraced by the warmth and soft light of an ancient church at midnight on Christmas Eve, one of the most holy nights of the year. The Italian mass flowed all around us, we watched children's faces shining, knelt and prayed that the coming year might be better than the past one. The peace of God was tangible and I thought that this is what Christmas is.  Being here. Letting go of the grief and pain of the past year.  Letting this mass be the focal point of our Christmas celebration.

And that year, there was no anticlimax. I guess there doesn't have to be one after all. I often feel discouraged by how much importance material possessions are given, but I guess that's a personal choice. We can choose to rush around being proud at how busy we are while avoiding the most meaningful  things or we can choose to relax, be peaceful and enjoy every minute of a beautiful and joyful season.

Wishing everyone a very happy Christmas this year!

Love, C

Me @ Pompeii on Christmas Eve

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

And Then What Happened?

I'm sure that many have you have been biting your nails in suspense, anxiously wondering, so what happened?? Did William end up sleeping in the morning after the hand over in court after all...did he?! So heartless of me to have left that question unanswered for so very long as I am sure it's been first and foremost on your minds all this time. ;)

Well here we are, home for exactly three weeks today and to celebrate we took William to get an obligatory blood test at the hospital which on a 5 month old little person is not the easiest of things to accomplish and definitely not an easy thing to stand by and watch. One of the kind-hearted nurses actually cried and had to find someone else to do the test for her. I also had to have a needle or two myself this morning although no one but myself was moved to tears by that procedure. So both William and I braved the needle\ syringe this fine morning...anyone care to take a wild guess which of us is still whining about it now?;)

Here in the chilly Norwegian winter, it's hard to believe that it was only three weeks ago that we were walking as slowly as we possibly could due to the sweltering heat down Galle Road in Colombo, dodging the crowds with William in our arms and doing some very last minute shopping on our last full day in Sri Lanka. We had planned to go back to the serene beauty of the Mount Lavinia hotel afterward and indulge in a last evening of relaxation before our 12 hour flight with a four and a half month baby that would take us to London. Alas, this relaxation was not to be...

As soon as we arrived back at the hotel we discovered that we had to leave Mount Lavinia (where we'd been for about 4 and a half weeks) in a HUGE hurry...not for any criminal purposes as you may naturally suppose but because they had given our room to someone else on our last night there. So we had about an hour to pack an insane amount of the accumulated aftermath of prolonged travel messily into many bags and suitcases and then we were rushed madly to another hotel in Nagumbo for the night. Far from being the inconvenience it first seemed, it was actually a blessing in disguise. It allowed us to relax, to just take things easy. Nagumbo is an incredible and beautiful beach city and we just sat out on our little hotel terrasse overlooking this indescribably lovely beach, drinking arrack and coke and talking with Mohan well into the warm tropical night.

I feel so appreciative. I think that we were blessed and challenged in so many ways during our stay there. I feel thankful that we had this amazing, life altering opportunity...I know now that I would not have wanted things any other way.

So now we are home again and there is still so much to say. I'm by no means finished.;) But for this time at least, our adoption journey is complete. We did what we set out to do what feels like forever ago now. We watched as over time our feelings, ideas and perceptions; our relationship with each other; and our faith in God changed, grew, and expanded. We noticed and appreciate those who waited with us, not simply for us to be finished and thus to get on with our lives, :) but those whose support, love, interest, questions, and prayers make us so thankful that we are surrounded by love. By family and friends and friends who are family. We are so blessed. Thank God!

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

How Five Years Of Marriage Spoils You

It’s always the small details that startle you and bring the reality of a life-defining situation home in a way that the huge and obvious details don’t.

Per and I have discussed and talked over so many ways in which our lives will change tomorrow, after the meeting in court, when we can finally bring William back to the hotel with us, when we can safely answer “yes” instead of “no” to the people we have met here who ask us if we have children, when we have him with us all the time as opposed to two hours a day on week days.

 Even with all this imagining and discussing though, I am pretty sure that reality still hasn’t quite sunk in as evidenced over dinner tonight, when I leaned back in my chair and said “So just think, tomorrow, we have the court date...but then Friday at least we can sleep in as long as we want...that will be sooo good.”

I just hope William gets the memo. ;)

Sunday, 1 November 2009

The Quiet Things That No One Ever Knows

Can you imagine me in court?!

For example, once while driving on country lanes at night with a friend back home, not wearing my seatbelt, I noticed with alarm the flashing lights of a cop car coming up behind us signaling that we pull over. Assuming incorrectly that everything in the world is about me I began to frantically fumble with my belt, unable in my agitation to do it up in the few seconds it took the officer to stride over to our car. In those seconds my life pretty much passed before my eyes, I began to envision all sorts of scenarios, a night in jail...well actually, why stop there...even a life in jail! I started to mumble incoherently to my friend that I would just tell the officer everything, admit to not wearing a seatbelt and take the punishment (which in Canada would amount to a fine, if even that, not jail time just so we’re clear.;). Luckily my friend being more clear headed than I, advised me to shut up and not say a word about the seatbelt which the officer wouldn’t have been able to see on a dark road anyway. I took her advice, beamed charmingly up at the officer and was very much relieved to hear that it wasn’t about my seatbelt at all! In fact, he just wanted to warn us that some criminal had just escaped custody and so to be careful while driving in this area in the dark. *Shakes head* And to think I was worried! ;)

Anyway, yes, me in court. With my quick thinking and collected nature, it’s what I was born to do. We have our court date on Thursday November 5th and though it may not exactly be what I was born to do, I actually do believe it will go smoothly and well. So long as I can remember that we are not actually being accused of anything and thus to try not to break down and confess to any transgressions or crimes. We just have to answer a question or two and hold out our arms and accept the gift of a small boy being given into our care by his mother.

In that moment we become parents. It’s a triumphant day for us. We don’t have to witness the tearing grief of a mother who has just given up her baby, who may, as the nuns told us, many of these brave women do, go back to the convent and weep until they are sick with the sorrow of it all.

November 5th 2009.

Try to imagine us all in court.

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Sketches Of A Big City

Sketch 1:

There are cows and bulls on the streets of Colombo. They lie contentedly at the sides of the frighteningly busy roads. They graze at the side of the river that runs through the city. (They probably chew their cud as well but I don’t really like to look so closely.) Why I find this interesting, I don’t know but my eyes widened in fascinated surprise when we were told that in this bustling city of around 2 million people, some people own cows, milk them in the morning and then let them out to wander the noisy streets until the cows see fit to return to them in the evening.

Today I saw a feisty wee street dog and a plump, pampered-looking black cow engaging in furious verbal combat. The dog was howling its heart out and the cow flung its head in the air and bellowed loudly, their enraged sounds mingling with the honking of horns and screeching of tires all around us. Since we were driving by, I didn’t have a chance to see who won this particular turf war, but my bets are placed on the mangy dog...I wouldn’t have messed with him at least.;)

Sketch 2:

Sri Lanka is largely a Buddhist nation. All over the city are shrines and temples. Seeing Buddhist monks walking the streets in their orange robes is as common as seeing nuns and priests in Rome. Yet there are also elaborately decorated Hindu temples shooting up to the sky and Catholic convents dotting the city. One street will have a shrine to Buddha with a statue of the Hindu god Vishnu close by and on the next street is a statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus or the Virgin Mary. Religion is everywhere and religion is practiced and religion is respected.

Sketch 3:

Now I know that I am not the tiniest thing around, but buying clothing here has been a lesson in humility. Let’s just say I haven’t bought very much because well...I just can’t bring myself to go to the counter with a dress or top or underwear in, Heaven help us all, triple extra large.:)

Sketch 4:

Last Saturday, October 24th, was my 29th birthday.  We celebrated it, with Mohan and his beautiful, gracious family. It was such a genuine pleasure to meet them and their hospitality was amazing! It was certainly one of the most special birthdays I’ve had in a long time.

Though there is not very much that is serious in this entry, it occurred to me then how very much this past year has held. How very different a place we are in now than we were last year at this time. Right about this time last year we were approved to adopt and we chose this beautiful country to adopt from. We assumed that it would be still another year from now until we would be called with the joyful news that a perfect baby had been chosen for us. I was kind of down. I didn’t feel there was much to celebrate at all. What a difference a year can make.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

What I Like...

(Outside the Dambulla Cave Temples in Sri Lanka)

As a child I had a taste for the exotic. I had a pretty sizable doll collection including costumed dolls from almost all corners of the world and the vibrancy of their clothing filled my bedroom. I remember once my dad found me a brightly colored orange and yellow decoration that hung from the ceiling with small bits of mirror adorning several marching elephants on it. And when all the girls in my class bought black glossy purses, mine was made of some ragged velvety material with yet again, a huge bejeweled elephant on it made up of thousands of glittery bits of material and sequins. I think I kind of had a thing for bejeweled elephants... I also liked gypsy earrings that dangled to my shoulders and swishing skirts. Incense and candles and burning sweet grass.

Over time, I slowly gave my doll collection away because I developed a loathing for collecting anything at all as I grew. I still don’t like purses in the traditional sense and only use one when I can’t find a huge bright bag to sling over my shoulders instead. I like big earrings and wild bracelets and I most certainly still like bejeweled elephants and love with unreasonable passion, terracotta plant holders but that has little to do with anything I’m afraid! ;)

These days I like Sri lanka. I like the warmth that seems to ease and relax the general pace of life that we are accustomed to in the western world. I like the color of the saris I see on the streets. I like the heaviness of the flower scented air at the convent when we walk around the gardens with William. I like the coconuts in the palm tress and the stray dogs that sleep at the sides of the busy city streets and the spicy food and fresh fruit. I like a lot of things. I’m kind of charmed you the graciousness of the people we are meeting here and their beautiful, frequent smiles.

It’s been a busy week...we’ve been at the orphanage every morning and it’s an hour there and an hour back to the hotel through the bustling Colombo traffic that consists of everything from expensive cars to three wheel type tuk tuks to mopeds and bikes that weave in and out between the larger methods of transport. The occasional cow rests at the side of the road and people are everywhere, crossing large motorways at random. The drive alone is fascinating! On Tuesday we had a short meeting with the probation officer handling our case but as we have seen is usual here, it was short, sweet and felt more like a social call than business. We were supposed to meet William’s mother on Wednesday but so far we haven’t had the pleasure of doing so for whatever reason. Wednesday and Thursday afternoon, we went and explored the busy, busy Per’s insistence of course. ;) While we found tons of amazing bargains at both the House of Fashion and Odel’s Department Store, sadly I found nothing decorated with bejeweled elephants. Ah well, there’s time yet...

Tomorrow we will wake up early and go to the orphanage at 8 instead of 10 and then set out with Mohan and drive to Dambulla and onto Kandy stopping for an elephant ride and exploration of both spice and botanical gardens on the way, then we will explore Kandy and visit an elephant orphanage on the way home on Sunday. So you know what, forget all this “bejeweled” nonsense...I’ll settle instead for the real thing!!!:)

Have a wonderful weekend all!

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Suspended Time

I will admit that I wondered at first. Long before we decided for certain to adopt. Long before you were even born...and an eternity before I met you. I wondered if I would love you. Wondered if I could. Maybe this seems a horrible thing to admit to. I don’t think so though because it wasn’t actually you or me or whether you were worthy of love or if I were capable of giving it that I was wondering about, but more about the nature of love itself. How does one love if not to simply decide to do so? I was preparing myself with these thoughts, arming myself with the knowledge that love is more than we assume it is. Thinking it through in order to be able to promise you that my love for you will not fluctuate daily as feelings, without fail, do, but that it will be a constant presence in your life. In order to be able to promise you that you will never need to wonder.

I also wondered what it would be like to visit you every day for two hours at the orphanage. I wondered what we would possibly do. It’s only been three days. We’ve only seen you for six hours in total. I needn’t have wondered. The time we have with you is too short already. It feels like suspended time...quiet, peaceful, full. I could never have known that for these two hours, everything else would become less important, that seeing you yawn would be something to exclaim excitedly over...and that like this morning, when we made you laugh for the first time, actually laugh, that it would be the most beautiful sound I could ever imagine.

I didn’t expect to already love you. I had told myself to be patient, that it would come in time. But here we are and here you are, with your huge, alert, glossy brown eyes and though you may not really know us yet or understand exactly who we will be to you, we understand very well after just six hours that you are the most precious gift God could ever have blessed us with. We are head over heels already.

Monday, 12 October 2009

If Anyone Should Ask, You Can Tell 'Em I Been Lickin' Coconut Skins...

(Mount Lavinia Hotel and the Indian Ocean.)

The waves on Mount Lavinia Beach are amazingly powerful.

So full of force in fact that I have decided with some help from the aforementioned waves that it is completely hopeless to try to appear graceful or appealing and that I should certainly abandon all hope of appearing even remotely sexy or goddess-like whilst standing on the picturesque golden sand with foaming white surf rushing around my feet while gazing into the horizon with a far-away look in my eyes.

Getting knocked onto your back while still only a few inches into the water is not terribly picturesque, nor is scrambling frantically on one’s hands and knees up out of the white foam while yet another traitorous waves decides to rush at you from the side and send you flying in the other direction and yet another tries to pull you out to sea so what was to be an impressive show of quiet grace and beauty ends up a manic struggle for survival, gulping down mouthfuls of salty water and clawing at the sand, white limbs flailing helplessly.

Actually, in spite of my presence, the beach is an incredibly tranquil place. The sound of the ocean is hypnotic and beautiful.

The first morning that we walked down the stone stairs to the beach, there was not a soul in sight, just sand and palm tress and fallen coconuts bobbing in the tide. The second day, after Per and I had both enjoyed the warm water for awhile, he came over to me, a contemplative look on his face and said seriously that he was glad the waves were so strong here, really glad, because it meant that they knocked me over and so in effect, he didn’t need to worry about having to dunk me in the water himself.

As any good wife would, I nodded sagely, glad that during this rather busy time in our lives, that one responsibility at least had so mercifully been lifted from his shoulders.

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Butterflies And Wings And Other Perfect Things

It was with a wonderful feeling of accomplishment that we arrived in Sri Lanka early Friday morning. Perhaps it was having completed the long journey with relative ease...then again, perhaps it was the joy and plain old sheer fun of taking the bus between terminals 3 and 4 in Heathrow a few more times than was strictly necessary due to helpfully imparted yet faulty information...we’ll never know. ;)

Maybe it was simply stepping out into the luscious heat and warmth that made a very welcome change from the dark, drizzly fall morning we had left behind us at home. Whatever the reason, it felt good to have arrived. It felt good to begin...

First things came first and serious sleep deprivation aside, we were taken directly to the Good Shepard Orphanage, and it is no exaggeration to say that entering the grounds were like entering a vast, quiet, peaceful oasis of calm right in the midst of the unfamiliar chaos of Colombo. After very little time and no fuss or questions, one of the sisters handed us William for the first time. Per held him first and I stood behind him and we both looked down in quiet contemplation and awe at this tiny boy who would be ours, whose picture I had found my eyes straying to every spare moment I had had.

There he was, in the flesh and as we gazed at him with a sort of beatific happiness, he clenched his tiny fists, opened his small mouth and began to wail. And cry. And scream. His small face screwed up with what appeared to be absolute indignation, and if he had been capable I’m positive he would have demanded to know exactly who we are and just how we dared handling him in such a familiar way?! We were left alone with him for the next couple of hours and after a while, he exhausted himself and fell asleep unceremoniously on Per’s lap. Upon waking, his character much improved by sleep and a bottle, he studied us intensely with dark brown eyes and finally deemed us worthy of receiving a few toothless smiles.

So this moment that we had waited for and imagined for months had arrived. When it all comes down to it, I suppose that there is no “proper” way to feel, no proper reactions or emotions. For example, as we drove from the airport to the orphanage, there was no nervousness or fear or wild excitement even. Though it was a joy to finally meet our baby, it was a calm, peaceful happiness, not a giddy hysterical one.

The entire morning had a feeling of unreality about it, almost like moving in a daze...experiencing it from a distance. But please, make no mistake, it was beautiful, memorable and precious, and apparently, on Friday morning at least, the pleasure was all ours. ;)

Saturday, 3 October 2009

It's Berge. Colleen Berge.

Sometimes I wonder if I was cut out for a fast paced life of international intrigue, you know, a sort of dead sophisticated female James Bond type character. Or if I could have made it big in elite criminal circles. The Sicilian Mafia for example. I think everyone wonders these things on occasion. I remain unsure of popular opinion on this matter though, as I dare not create a poll in case it turns out that the majority of people who know me think I am rather more likely cut out to be a raving lunatic of a cat lady, living in a huge rambling house with forty cats and piles of newspapers. Or even just a raving lunatic. No cats necissary. If this is the case, I'd rather be blissfully unaware and reassure myself that I would have excelled at criminal enterprises.

What. On Earth. Is She Talking About. (You may be wondering at this point. If you aren't wondering this, please, for your own sake, start.)

Paint fumes. It's just the paint fumes talking. That and once I get started on writing nonsense, I find it quite difficult to stop which is why in school I was quite brilliant at long, long essays. No matter that I never actually researched anything, it was just a matter of hours before I had spun out several pages of made up information on any given topic.

Now we shall commence with today's business:
It's been a week and one day since our lives were turned upsidedown and inside out with happiness. Nothing is the same. We are not the same. Everyday the thought of travelling to far away Sri Lanka, stepping out of the airport into the sultry tropical heat, being driven through the busy streets of Colombo to the Good Shepard Orphanage, walking through its doors feeling a mixture of elation and fear, meeting William...holding William...everyday, this becomes more real to me. We are the recipiants of so much joy. It has been amazing to see and experience the happiness that others are taking in this as well. That for me, has been the most humbling and wonderful experience. How good people are and I am so thankful to have a chance to witness this, to be reminded of this. Joy is meant to be shared.

The past week has been full of preperations, big and small. We shared our news, we booked our tickets, we dutifully explored Ikea and several other shops, painted the babys room (refer to aforementioned "paint fumes" and hold them responsible for all my nonsense please;), we recieved a lot of cute, tiny second hand baby clothes from generous people, we have laughed a lot and dreamed a lot about the future...

We celebrated our fifth anniversary yesterday and it occured to me how very far God has taken us in five years. I would never have guessed as we stood at the alter, all smiles and hope and innocence, where the next five years of life would lead us. I suppose that nobody ever does though and that is both the pleasure and the challenge of marriage. Highs and lows, easy times and hard...but that's not wisdom, that's simply common knowledge. But to reach five years and love each other even more deeply is a beautiful thing. And to reach five years and be able to rejoice with each other and family and friends because after so long our prayers have been answered is a precious thing indeed!

Friday, 25 September 2009

Just When We Thought It Never Would...

...the phone rang and we learned that...

On June 22, 2009 in a far away land called Sri Lanka, a baby boy was born who would change our lives completely. And you see, we had no inkling that this momentous birth had taken place, not the slightest idea! Though I no longer remember it now, we must have woken up and went about our day as usual, unaware that the moment you took your first breath was miraculous. Well, we know it now and the thought of meeting you fills our hearts with awe.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

If You Manage To Make It To The End Of This, Adoption Is Mentioned Here Somewhere. I Promise. :)

It's so easy to get carried away by emotion. Perhaps you'll have gathered by now that though I strive desperately to be cool, calm and collected, I am often no such thing.  At times, I am somewhat of a drama queen.

For example and totally on topic, when I worked briefly as an au pair for a German family in Schwandorf and was lucky enough to have my own small set of rooms in their massive manor house. The main problem I had with this otherwise ideal situation was spiders. Yes. Spiders. The bane of my existence. I hate to even type the words but there are such things as spiders. You can close you eyes. You can pretend all you like that they don't exist but they do.

Anyway, southern Germany was rife with the hideous creatures. Rife. One night as I lay on my bed writing in my journal (in all likelihood about spiders, I don't remember now), I actually heard a horrifying scuttling sound that alerted me to the fact that there was a spider in my room actually big enough to make a sound when it moved. Being late at night, there was no one I could call for help. This was one giant I would have to face alone. Screwing my courage to the sticking place, (Disclaimer: The part of this sentence referring to courage is a bold-faced lie.), I stood on my bed and screamed. Then picked up the nearest thick book and threw it with all my might, widely missing the spider. It began to move. I began to cry. Being a good Catholic, I also began to pray desperate "Hail Mary's". I threw some shoes. They crashed nowhere near my nemesis. I began to call on God to save me. You'll have to trust me when I say this was not done in a blasphemous way. In a final act of desperation I picked up a lamp, taller than I am, that stood by the side of my bed. Still standing on the bed, I held it aloft like a harpoon and knew this was my moment. In slow motion this huge metal lamp glided through the air and landed, miraculously on the spider. In the aftermath of the monstrous crash, I collapsed in a heap on the bed...sobbing in relief . It was over. Just like that. After an hour of shouting, sobbing, praying, and throwing large objects that didn't belong to me. It was only later that I began to contemplate what the family sleeping above me must have thought of this fiasco. They may well have questioned the sanity of this newly hired au pair girl from the prairies of Canada who they were paying to watch their two year old. After I regained my strength I hopped off my bed, looked in the mirror and began practicing casual shrugs that would hopefully ward off any queries as to what I had been doing in the wee hours of the night.

So really, what I'm trying to say is that with a history like this, who can blame me for being a bit emotional as I wait for our referral call?  Who can blame me for feeling like I am slowly going insane? Or for feeling like I can barely get through each day I am so burdened by all these feelings and dreams of the future? Who can blame me for all the frustration, anxiety, fear, joy, and desperate hope I feel while I am waiting to hold my baby in my arms and walk out the door of an old life into a brand new one?

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Icarus Falling

I had a dream about you last night. In the dream you died. You weren't here anymore and it broke my heart.  I would never tell you this. It was nothing to joke about. It was devastating, disconcerting, bewildering.

A world without you? Colorless. Empty. Impossible.

And it occurs to me that there are times we hurt. So much. There are time that our smiles are desperate imitations of the real thing. There are times we ache for somebody to hold out their hands to us. To look at us. Really look at us and see who we are, the life that pulses beneath our flesh. It occurs to me that we can die without this.

Small deaths. And we all bear the weight of this.

The death of truth. The death of hope. The death of communication. The death of prayer. The death of unity. The death of trust. The death of friendship and love. The death of that life and spirit that pulses beneath our flesh and makes us who we are.

I hope that you know I can see you. I hope that I can be there. These times when you're hurting. I see you. I hear you. I know who you are. I won't let you go and I won't let you fall. I won't let these small deaths be permanent.

Please be so gentle. With yourself.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

The Ability To Empathize With Zombies

Look, I don't mean to be a bore...but perhaps you'll excuse me this...hmm...once? :)

Lately this constant waiting is mind-numbing and as dulling to the senses as a full day spent watching reality television. It leaves this thin gritty veil of tension over every area of life at the moment, work and play are colored with it. A slight, prevailing tension. I am so tired. Physically weary. Emotionally and mentally exhausted. I am not really with you. I am a million miles away...

Wednesday, 19 August 2009


I was going to write an entry on solace but then didn't have the heart for it so instead found a small poem I wrote when I was 20 that describes to an extent how I feel today as well. I feel generally fine, but I feel in need of peace. Obviously this is a persistent desire throughout life, well, my life at least. For a moment, you grasp it, you experience peace, solace, grace and then, because we live in a spiritually empty and superficial world, it's gone again. The world won't change. I however, hopefully will. Peace is a beautiful thing. I believe that it is found through honest reflection, meditation, prayer, and quiet...and ironically, peace needs to be fought for.  Peace must be actively sought. And our world is so sometimes feels quite disheartening.

In quiet...
Where do you look.
How do you find.

It has come in the evening.
In the drama that ebbs away.

Peace, you say
Is precious.
Peace, you say
You've found.

While I, in realizing I haven't found it,
Feel calmer.
And I
Begin to love and need the feel of the world around me.

(August 2001)

Quote of the day:

"We have no right to ask, when sorrow comes, 'Why did this happen to me?' unless we ask the same question for every joy that comes our way." Philip S Bernstein

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Consulting Crystal Balls

I suppose the title of this entry is misleading as I don't actually consult crystal balls in order to see the future.

I am however: making plans, big, huge, fantastic and wildly spectacular plans that will most likely not come into being as they are simply to pass the time and focus my energies on other matters than the one thing I desperately want to happen.

I am: reading and formulating columns and columns of baby names...mixing, matching, seriously wondering if some mothers suffer from severe mental lapses and actually do wish to name their babies names chosen from categories like "Cute Gothic" and "Romantic Vampire Baby Names".

I am: considering changing my own name to something along the lines of Co'Lle'En just to be edgy and cool.

I am: being just a touch sarcastic and blabbering on and on because what I really am is: jittery, (butterflies, the whole works), with apprehension and excitement and nerves, (the good kind of course), wondering what this next week will bring!

So good luck, bon chance, and lykke til to us brave souls awaiting our joyful news!

Saturday, 15 August 2009

18 Months

The way we measure life. The way we pass our days. The constant references to time that color our speech and make up the pattern of our conversation. We can not cope without it. We can not live in the present...we wait endlessly for days that come and then are over in a flash; we live through days that no one else even suspects the value of but ourselves...if even ourselves.

The following is a verse from P. B Shelley's poem "Mutability", it has always been one of my favorite verses. Those words are so beautiful and the very reason for their beauty lies in the acknowledgment of how finite our lives are, how brief our time is, whether we live to be 95, it probably never seems long enough to have done and loved and experienced all we wanted to.

"The flower that smiles today
Tomorrow dies;
All that we wish to stay
Tempts and then flies.
What is this world's delight?
Lightning that mocks the night,
Brief even as bright."

Though I have almost never worn a watch in my life aside from when I lived in Germany (where the importance of time takes on a whole other dimension ;) and occasionally when I work, I also measure moments and months...

...The next time I go home to Canada, I will have been away from home for three years and seven Christmases. I have known my husband for 10 years now and been married to him for 5 in October. It has been 10 years since I was a carefree 18 year old spending my months backpacking in what was then, far, far away Scandinavia and I live here, funny how life works out.:) It has been 18 months since Per and I began the adoption process.

Those are the bare bones. Minutes, months and years. They tell you nothing really. But they are my measures. They shape me. Each of those periods of time is filled almost to the bursting point with various emotions and experiences...happiness, excitement, discovery, growth, trials, pain, struggle, love, understanding, questioning, confusion, darkness, light and during these times I have been everything: brave, foolish, funny, wise, cutting, unkind, fearful, loving, compassionate, ignorant, miserable, thoughtful and thoughtless...

But we all have our measures, our own months and years. And we all know nothing about one another.

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 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 any lights in the house that were on, close all the blinds, make sure the doors were locked 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 tight, 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 believed 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 ended up being 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 experienced everything though the heavy, sometimes physical, weight of depression.  It was beautiful but it had nothing to do with me.

One afternoon, I walked into a Catholic book shop and saw a beautiful statue of Mary.  I felt strongly drawn to her.  I stood looking at the statue for several minutes but then I turned away.  Physically, emotionally, spiritually.  I firmly told myself no.  You don't deserve her.  You don't deserve anything that pure or good.

Although something in my heart was trying to make itself heard over these thoughts, telling me I needed this now, needed to let go of the pain I'd barely managed to carry for the past two years.  That now was the time, if I could just let it go, I could start to heal properly.  And there was the kind, smiling old woman in the shop who spoke no English watching me curiously and walking over to me and wordlessly offering to show me the statue, but all I wanted was to hurt myself and to keep hurting so I shook my head and left and sat outside the door and cried and cried.

But sometimes 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 felt nothing at all, how I wished I could die.  The thought that for two years had been my on and off companion.   And then suddenly, it was like I woke up, and for the first time in months, I wondered if wishing was like praying.  I hoped it wasn't because I knew that I didn't really 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


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 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 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.)

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Like Water Off A Duck's Back...

I generally try to live my life in such a way that I am not overly occupied with what others may think about me and the decisions that I make. "Try" being the key word of course.

Usually it's enough for me that I know who I am. I know what I am doing (most of the time, that is.;) and I know what I believe.

I guess what I feel today, as I write this, is a need to clarify, to express how my husband and I feel about our adoption. This need may stem from several comments that I have gotten in the past, (which I have since removed because I don't want to dwell on things like that.:), concerning adoption and how some people seem to view adopted children.

I just want to clarify that my husband and I are joyfully awaiting our child...though he or she will be a child of the heart and not the body.

This is not a second rate child we will be taking into our hearts, lives, and home and this is not a last resort decision. We are not ashamed to be doing this, we are honored and privileged to be trusted with this precious small life and thrilled at all the possibility that we never expected to be offered. We are blessed. This is what we are choosing to do. And honestly? We're pretty excited about it all.

To continue on that positive note, there have also been so many people who have shown love and support and interest in this and in us. My mom who has given me small gifts for small children already with a smile and hopeful words, my sister in law, who put her love and time into creating an adoption scrapbook for my husband and I and many, many more people who have shown their excitement and joy for us and prayed for us and have shared in our happiness so far! Thank you, it all means more than we are able to express.

Saturday, 28 February 2009

The Other Woman

I think a lot about this other woman.

She is often there, in my mind, like a too recent memory of something painful and sharp. Like a void within myself that I can't yet fill or abandon, my thoughts and prayers often turn to her. My heart and soul ache for her in a dull, quiet way. My mind understands there will be pain involved, grief even, depending on her circumstances of which I know nothing.

I try to picture her but find it difficult. Arms around herself, hands resting on her belly. Is she just a child herself? A widow? A wife who simply can't support yet another child? What will she feel when she learns she's pregnant? Will she be filled with joy and hope, praying for the possibility that maybe there's a chance however small, she may not have to part with her precious baby? Will she be terrified, dreading what is to come? Is the child she will carry the product of love or anger or neither? When will she begin to think about me? A nameless woman in another country, another world. She will change my life. I will change hers. Will she hate me?

Her pain matters to me. I want to promise her so much. Mostly, that I will not forget her...and I won't allow her child to forget her. That I love her and cry for her. She will always be a part of me, living in her child that I also love already. That this is so complex. I may leave Sri Lanka with her tiny bundle of hope in my arms. But I pray I can leave a little bit of hope behind me too.

Monday, 9 February 2009

Celebrity Appeal

To those of you who know me, you will undoubtedly find it surprising that the title of this entry is not an allusion to myself. I most definitely have an appeal of some sort but maybe not a celebrity one.

I was reminded last night how very sadly I have neglected my super informative blog in the last few months. There are several reasons for this, most vague and fuzzy, but the one I believe it most to be is that sometimes in one's life, the momentous takes place and then you find really that words are not enough, words diminish what is precious about the emotions one feels. It is almost a selfish thing, wanting to hold your own knowledge close to your heart because to you it is precious, it makes you too vulnerable and somewhere deep inside you fear desperately that others won't find it as wonderful as you do.

October 24th was my 28th birthday, a day that this year at least, didn't seem worth celebrating.

Per and I went away to Mandal for my birthday weekend and when we returned Sunday evening, there was an official letter in the mail saying we had been approved to adopt! I saw that we had been approved on October 23rd, and this was special to me as it was my grandma Leona's birthday, who I loved immensely and who passed away just months before I came to Norway to live.

Along with the approval we also received the news that we would not be able to adopt from our chosen country, Ethiopia, at present because there were so many families waiting. Articles published in adoption magazines suggested that this increase of interest in Ethiopia was brought on by the celebrities who have adopted from there. For a very brief time, I grumbled about people who want to adopt just because Angelina Jolie does and then it struck me...a blinding revelation of sorts...who cares? Who cares why people want to adopt, to take a child who needs a family into their home to love and care for, who cares? So long as they do!

So we were given a choice between Sri Lanka and the Philippines, and where as before we had months to decide and get used to the idea of Ethiopia, now we had at best a couple days to choose from these countries about which we knew very little! So one October evening sitting in our favorite Indian restaurant in Stavanger, we decided. And we chose Sri Lanka!! (After all, Sri Lanka is very close to India and sitting there eating delicious Indian food inspired the hope in us that Sri Lankan food was just as delicious...;)

For interests sake the length of time between beginning the adoption process and the actual approval was 9 months. It took another 2 months to collect all the subsequent papers needed after the approval and 1 month until the papers reached their destination.