Born on a Wednesday in 1993, a very early morning Wednesday; 5:08 AM to be exact, you arrived into the world weighing eight pounds, thirteen ounces and you had the grand height of twenty one inches. Before that day in December, I had seen and done many things but nothing as beautifully staggering as seeing you for the first time.
I was thirty three years old when you were born. During my adult life, through studies, dating, working, developing friendships, marrying your dad and hundreds of different adventures, joys, heartaches and struggles, I had you in my head and heart. I imagined you in the backdrop and often thought about what it would be like and if it could actually ever be realized; to create a human being and call her my own.
You would bump around a lot during my pregnancy. When you did, I kind of imagined you were sleeping and then you would sort of turn a little to get comfortable. Those days of you and I sharing the same food, going everywhere together and growing bigger simultaneously was the sweet reminder that, indeed, you were really happening.
After around five hours of labor (thank you for that, by the way), my delivery arrived. You were swaddled and placed into my arms. Then, my natural world expanded into a length and depth of new love for which all of my prior anticipation had not prepared me. Thinking in your head and holding in your arms are poles apart, entirely.
As a matter of fact, I made a rather grand life decision after your birth. I was working as the Promotions Manager at a daily newspaper, The Oakland Press, for about a decade when you were born. My plan was to return to my profession after my eight week maternity leave. We lived in Waterford and had found an excellent day care center en route to work.
The day drew near for our transition from connectedness to being apart and my heart was being ripped out. I did not expect that development. It was the 90’s and being a career mom was cool. Two weeks back and I gave my two week notice. I never looked back. If you were going to cry in need, I wanted it to be me that was your comfort.
And speaking of that, most of the expert wisdom around the time of your birth was to allow babies to cry themselves to sleep. I confess I didn’t comply. I just couldn’t stand the idea of you crying when I knew fully that holding you for a little while longer would remedy your angst. In retrospect, the advice was likely good but tough love was never my greatest skill in parenting.
On the flip side of giving you insight into what I couldn’t do well, I do want you to know that I did excel in providing you with early learning. I read to you from the time you were just an infant. You always looked up at me and smiled as if you just loved to hear me talk to you. Of course, you didn’t understand my readings but you were hearing language and we were linking in love through the daily, joy filled routine.
When you were a toddler, it was clear that a love for the oratory had developed in you. Often, you would set up your plush animals and “read” stories to them. You remembered so much of the plot lines that it actually seemed as if you were reading, at times. You had a remarkable gift for recall.
The financial adjustments we needed to make with the loss of my income could have indeed enhanced our early years together. Our favorite spots to hang out were cheap or free adventures; the nearby nature center, the library and our own backyard. We had so many fun and loving days and you and I made friends together.
Your heart, from the earliest days, you never concealed. You practically collapsed in grief when, one day, our neighborhood friends left our house after many hours of play and chatting. Once they had already departed, you realized that they hadn’t hugged you before they left and you cried. It was just devastating to you.
The sweetest and kindest things came out of your mouth. You hugged and smiled and just simply loved people. When Adrianna was born you poured all of that into her, too. You’d stand on a little stool by her crib and talk and sing to her. When she was three years old and hid under a coat rack at Kmart and we couldn’t find her for a half hour, out came an incessant protective side to you. The event caused you to hold her hand for two years afterward, without fail, wherever we would go. If you got busy with your friends for five minutes at the zoo or at the park down the street, you’d soon realize you’d let your guard down and shout, “Where’s Adrianna?”
Throughout your younger school years, you maintained all A’s. You were adored by your teachers and had great friends. In kindergarten you had a very emotional and unexpected collapse on the last day of school. You couldn’t bear the thought of having to leave your teacher and you broke down. Mrs. Gustafson held you, talked you through it and offered you a photograph of her to keep forever and you finally agreed to leave for the summer. Once, your Fourth Grade Teacher, Mrs. Moran reprimanded you for following a group of kids in some sort of jeering at a performance at an assembly. She talked to the whole cluster of you at the same time but it did you in. You couldn’t stand the idea of your teacher being mad at you and you cried and apologized at least 100 times to her. Then again, on the last day of fourth grade, at the farewell ceremony from school, you sat on the same teacher’s lap that corrected you, on stage, and repeated to her that you loved her and that you would miss her.
You loved people deeply then. You love people deeply now. I love that about you. Love really is what gives us some semblance of eternity. That’s why we were instructed to do so by the Lord. Relational importance was recognized by you, even when all you knew of God was what you had picked out and retained from Veggie Tales. Your sister thought God was a cucumber but there could have been some deeper messages you both derived from your favorite videos.
There was a period when love had seemed to have left your heart. They were the dark days of late high school and young adulthood. That thorny time was accompanied with the separation of dad and me and for all of the sorrow I added to your fierce struggle, I remain repentant.
It is my firm conviction that your bottom reached was the catalyst, in its unfolding, of your salvation and, in time, my salvation and Adrianna’s salvation. As I said in my testimony, on my hands and knees I prayed to Jesus at the railroad tracks the day I found out I was pregnant with you, that my child would be safe. It was when I realized that, fast forwarding to your conversion, the child for which I prayed was now praying for me, and that the purpose of our discontent dinged a bell in my head and then in my heart.
Saving souls was never, I assure you, any part of the idea behind anything you ever thought about when you were growing up. On the contrary, you would debate Christian friends with fervor in high school and I was very proud of you for standing firm. But you know, God had different, long term plans.
I have you in my heart daily and when you weep, I weep. When you have joy, I have joy. My love for you is a perennial love. No matter the season and whether there be sunshine, rain, storms or drought, you are loved. I have not any higher calling in love, other than God, than you, beloved Samantha and our family. Lastly, I have just decided, there remain hundreds more love and historical details so please consider this part one.