A Letter to My Daughter…

…on the night before her adoption…

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My favorite CooCoo,

Before you came to join our family, mommy and I wanted to be moms really badly, but Mommy was having a really hard time getting her body to grow one, and Mama wasn’t sure her body would be ready for it either. We decided that maybe being foster parents would be pretty awesome, and we would get to spend some time with some really fun (and cute!) tiny people and do our best to give them a good life and a place where they could feel safe.  We didn’t  EVER think that we would be so lucky to have God help us find each other.  Mary, since you joined our family everything has changed! Actually, we weren’t even a family until you showed up! It was just “Sammie and Callie”.

I remember everything about that day.  Mommy and I were sitting on the couch, all day, drinking hot chocolate, waiting for Ms, A. to call us and let us know that you were on your way.  When she finally called,  mommy and I started to get nervous.  We didn’t know what to expect!  We walked back and forth to your room several times to straighten the toys on the shelf, open and close the curtains, fluff the pillows and pull the comforter taut, adjusting the lampshade on your night table to make sure it lit up all the books that were our favorites growing up that we hoped you would love as much as we did.

The next 3 hours passed very quickly, but also REALLY slowly!  We watched TV, I chewed on my nails, mommy fixed her hair A LOT, and we sat thinking about what it would be like to have a daughter, even if it was just for a little while!  As we imagined our lives with a beautiful little girl in it, we were startled out of our seats when the door buzzer sounded.  I went downstairs to be greeted by a woman that told me that you were asleep in the car and that it had been a pretty exciting and scary day for you because you were taken away from your birth mom (super scary and really sad) but you got to go on your first plane ride EVER (which she says was super exciting for you).

I walked over to a small white car and noticed a little pink ball of fluff in the back seat and a white cardboard box sitting next to it.  Suddenly, the fluff moved, and that’s when I realized, that fluff was YOU!  I opened the door to these big, gorgeous green eyes, and I picked you up in my arms and carried you back to our apartment.  You had just turned 6 years old, but in my arms you felt much smaller that.  You put your head on my shoulder, and my heart knew I would always be your Mama.

It was just after midnight but we gave you a yummy snack, we watched some TV, and we showed you your new room.  You weren’t happy about any of the changes at first (we know how hard it was on you), but after a few weeks, it was like we had always been together.  Like we had always been a family.  Since then, a lot of things have changed (some good, some bad, some happy, some sad), but through all of those things, we have been a family and we have always gotten through those times with love.

In the 3 years since we’ve been a together we have seen you grow so much.  We have seen you not really know your entire alphabet and the sounds the letters make, to reading Harry Potter with me at night.  I’ve seen you go from coloring outside the lines to making fantastically colorful creations that our friends and family are so proud to display on their fridges.  You are the best big sister EVER, and whenever people take care of the 4 of you they always say, “We don’t know WHAT we would have done without Mary!  She is so helpful and really loves her brothers!”  That makes me and mommy feel really proud of you!  You have gone from a quiet, reserved, shy kindergartener, to a fierce, strong, soccer loving, friend making machine, with a smile that lights up the whole room!  CooCoo, you are the best kid that could have ever come to our family!  We are so, so lucky!!!

We know that you have a lot of feelings about finally being adopted.  You’ve told us about your excitement and your fears and concerns, and I promise you that Mommy and I will always listen to you and we will always try our best to give you honest, open, and loving answers to your questions. Sometimes, you may not like the things that we have to say, and sometimes those things will make you feel pretty sad, but it’s important to remember that we would never do anything to hurt you, and we want to always tell the truth, because remember what we always say at Casa Mendez, “This family doesn’t lie to each other because if we lie we won’t trust and if we don’t have trust, we don’t have anything.”

We love watching you grow.  We love watching you laugh.  We love watching you play.  We love watching you learn.  We love watching your relationship with your brothers. We love YOU.  You, You, YOU!

You’ll always be my best girl,
Mama

(PS – be prepared for the BARRAGE of pictures that will flood my next post!!!)

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Mama’s Chispa-An Update

Life these past 5 days has been an absolute whirlwind! I’m not sure where the hours have gone, but here we are, 5 days after Austin Ryan’s birth and we’re FINALLY starting to get into the swing of things.  Well, as much as we can anyway.  It’s really been completely, utterly, and totally crazy!

There are so many things happening that I don’t even know where to start, but for one, my parents will be back from their 2 month trip to Colombia and I couldn’t be happier.  I have missed them so much.  The only thing I would change about my birth experience would be being able to have my mom there.  I never realized how much I miss her when she’s not here, and how much I rely on her to keep me grounded.  My sister spent most of my time in labor holding the phone up so Mami and I could FaceTime.  It was the next best thing to having her there.  Them being back means loads more help with our other 3 kids.  Callie’s mom works full time and her dad can’t really handle 3 kids on his own, especially two very mobile infants, so having my parents back will be such a helpful blessing.  My aunts have been a godsend, watching the kids until I was discharged.  But now, we’ve been trucking them back and forth to the hospital for the past 2 days taking turns staying with them in the NICU Family Room while the other visits with Austin Ryan.  What’s worse than having one sick kid? 3 sick kids! Noah has a double ear infection and is miserable, and Levi’s cough turned into pneumonia and he’s had a fever for the past couple of days.  Definitely not a good thing when you have a baby in the NICU! My hands are raw from washing and constantly stinging from the amounts of sanitizer I’ve been using.  The good thing is that they are always such happy babies, even when they are sick.

I have been, well, for the most part, a hot damn mess! I spend most of my day crying, and anxious and wanting to be at the hospital.  I wouldn’t say I’m depressed because I’m very aware of what that feels and looks like for me, but I will say that I have a lot going on and it’s quite overwhelming.  Take this week for example! 2 sick clingy kids, adjustment to new daycare routine, wife back at work, Mary with loads of half days at school and no care, Christmas, having a freaking baby 10 weeks early, baby in NICU, and life STILL goes on! Callie and I are still arguing about how to spend Christmas with BOTH families and all I wanna do is go be with my baby.  It’s just terrible, feeling so desperate to be with him, but knowing that life needs to happen.  I wish I had more words to eloquently describe this need and this urge to be with my son and how somehow I don’t care about anything else but at the same time have 3 other kids and a wife that consume my every thought.  Hopefully, these hormones will all smooth out and I can go a day sometime soon without shedding a tear…

Now my little Austin Ryan.  This kid is just, incredible! He’s doing so so well.  As of this morning his bilirubin levels went down so they have been able to take him off of the lights.  They removed both of the lines they had through his umbilical and now has an NG tube for feedings (he is tolerating the breastmilk very well and is having poops and pees consistently!) and a PICC line for the intralipids.  He’s lost the 9oz and is at an even 3lbs but the doctor says that’s good as he’s lost all of the retained water weight.  He still has the CPAP, but currently isn’t getting oxygen since he can do it all on his own! He hasn’t had any Apnea issues in over 24 hours.   His heart rate is great and he hasn’t Brady’d (when the heart rate drops) in over 24 hours.  His temperature was a little low yesterday, but today was good enough that we were able to hold him!  

 I got to hold him also but had forgotten my camera in the Family Room, which was a total bummer.  I also got to change his diaper, which was just so tiny!!!  I sang some songs to him, and he smiled at me when I sang “Beautiful Boy” which I’ve been singing to his brothers since the womb and to put them to bed, and now, this Beautiful Boy gets to hear it in person and not from the inside anymore.  It was the cutest thing.   

 The nurses keep saying how well he is doing, and that there are some babies that even at 32 weeks don’t weigh as much or are doing as well.  He’s such a little rockstar and the nurses are falling in love with his very feisty, very rambunctious personality.  We put up his Christmas stocking and have started getting a few little things to put in there for him.  

 
The only thing I’ll admit having a hard time with is going back and forth about what I could have possibly done differently to have kept him in a little longer. Should i have called the doctor when I thought I was having Braxton Hicks?  Maybe I shouldn’t have had that spicy beef patty.  Should I have called a cab to take the boys to the pediatrician instead of walking uphill?  Should I not have carried the boys so much?! There are so many things I ask myself constantly, even though I know that there really isn’t anything I could have done.  Even though I know that he was ready and that things are happening just as they should.  It’s a hard thing to let go of and to not feel guilty about.  A hard thing to not second guess every little decision that you’ve made up until the point where that baby is placed in your arms.  It’s so so hard. 

My milk has come in and I’ve been pumping A LOT!  The doctor is happy that he doesn’t have to supplement with formula because it’s much easier for the baby to breakdown the breastmilk. I was worried I wouldn’t get any milk because inducing lactation was uncuccesul but, I’m doing pretty well! I get about 10cc per pump, which I’m guessing isn’t terrible! It double from the 5cc’s from yesterday!  Something tells me I’ll get a lot of milk. 

  

  But that’s it for now. I’m hoping to update as often as can, but ya know, 4 kids. Wowzers! 4 kids…

When The Adoption Worker Shows Up

Yesterday, around 4pm, Callie and Mary met the new adoption worker.  She called on Monday to set something up to meet Mary for the first time.  It was pretty informal and it was just to give us a little more information about what the termination and adoption process would be like.  From what Callie told me, it was pretty uneventful, but with situations like this, we like to wait until the last minute to inform Mary because otherwise her anxiety goes through the roof, waiting and ruminating about how it will all turn out.  Usually we don’t even tell her she is having a visit with her birth mom until the morning of, nonchalant, as she is grabbing her backpack and walking out the door.  “Oh CooCoo, you might have a visit today with your mom! Have a great day!  We love you!”  She spends most of the day distracted at school, and then she only has 20 minutes to worry on the bus ride to see her mom.

After school yesterday (3:30pm), Callie let her know that the new adoption worker was on the way and that they were going to get to meet her.  Immediately, Mary shut down.  About 5 minutes later, she told Callie what was bugging her.  ” If I get adopted today, I’ll never get to see my baby sister!! Will I ever get to see my mom again?”  (When Mary had her visit last Thursday, her mom was supposed to bring her new baby sister to the visit but didn’t because it was raining…I know!  Don’t get me started!  Always breaking promises!).  She shut down because she thought she was being adopted right then and there.  Callie reassured her right away that the woman was not there to sign the adoption papers that day.  She was there to meet her and start to get to know her better, because we will be working together for a long time while all of the court and adoption things are going on.  Probably until all the way to 3rd grade! She seemed to calm down a little after that, but the whole time that the adoption worker was there, Mary wouldn’t even look at her.  She kept her nose buried in a book pretending to read.  She didn’t make eye contact, she was shying away from all of her questions, and acting like the shy girl that we haven’t seen since the first week she came to live with us 18 months ago.

When the worker left, Callie asked Mary how she was feeling, and she refused to answer.  She said she was reading her book.  When Callie asked her what she had read, Mary gave her the “oh shit! She knows I wasn’t reading!” face.  Callie didn’t push it.  She knew it was a lot for a 7 year old to take in.  A few minutes later, Mary asked, “Am I going to therapy this week?!?”  I love that she understands that therapy is where she can talk about these things and her feelings in a safe space, especially when she isn’t ready to talk to us yet.  Hopefully she’ll be able to sort some of those things out, and come home and pour her heart out, which is what she usually does.

How do I really feel about this whole situation?  Honestly, and I’ll be really candid here…I can’t wait for this whole shit to be over.  I can’t wait for my daughter to understand that everything that has happened so far in her life is not her fault.  She holds onto every. Single. Little. Detail of her past like you have no idea.  It’s her fault she was taken away from mom because “mom always listens to what I say and she didn’t listen when I told her not to go to Florida.  I TOLD HER!  I told her they would take me away again!  It’s my fault because she didn’t listen to me and she always listens to me!”  And then there’s the, ” I told mommy I really wanted a baby and so she had a baby for me.  Now they took the baby away, and it’s my fault!  I told her to have a baby and she always listens to me.”  This is what this parent has done to her child!  It’s frustrating and infuriating. I wish I could help her see that none of the circumstances of her life are her fault AT ALL!  In fact, they are completely, totally, and 100% her mothers fault, for making poor choices and having terrible parenting skills.  I wish that this adoption would move quickly, or that her mom would realize what is really best for her daughter, and just sign over her rights.  Callie and I are THOSE foster parents, the ones that always side with the bio-parents.  We really have no reason not to, because hey! Let’s be real here!  We’re all human, and people make mistakes, but when is enough enough!?  Callie and I were supportive and encouraging, and behind mom 100%.  We WANTED her to get her daughter back.  We’re not in the business of breaking up families, but it got to the point where we couldn’t support her choices and bad decisions any more.  We refuse to let Mary get hurt any more than she already has.  We refuse to continue to let her be a victim of poor judgement any longer.  We will fight, with everything that we’ve got, to give her a normal, stable life, with a family who loves her and does everything in their power to make good, strong, powerful choices for her and guide her life in the best direction we know of.  We love the hell out of this kid, and it kills us to see her go through the ups and downs of knowing that her mom loves her (she really does and they have a very loving relationship) but can’t seem to do the right thing often and long enough to give Mary what she needs.  I mean, imagine, you are on your way to adoption and mom misses so many of your visits, but has a new baby with a new dad that loves her, and gets to see everyday, and promises you that you’ll see the baby and then doesn’t show up? THIS friends, is what we are contending with…I really hope our love is enough…

MY LITTLE SOCCER STAR

MY LITTLE SOCCER STAR

It’s Official!

As of 6w4d, we have a heartbeat!!!  Little Biscuit has a heartbeat, people!  I don’t know why I was so concerned about him/her not having one, but I was, and it scared that crap out of me, and I held my breath for the first minute of the ultrasound.  But then we saw it! That wonderful little flicker that lets you know that something in there is moving!  That your baby is alive and well.

BISCUIT'S HEARTBEAT

BISCUIT’S HEARTBEAT

Some of you may be wondering why this post isn’t protected.  Well, because for the most part, both set of parents know.  Sort of.  We were on Callie’s parents boat Saturday night after watching the fireworks, and Callie had told her mom that I was, potentially, maybe, a little bit pregnant, because she had asked me to help her move a very heavy wooden table.  Cal’s parents weren’t really down with the whole “another baby” thing when we mentioned thinking about having more kids, and soon.  Her reaction, well, it went sort of like this.  “You know it already?!  How can they tell so fast!? Ohhhh, wellllll, ok.  Callie, help me move this table then, so we can set up the boys pack and play so they can get some sleep.”  To say I was a little wounded (and angry) is a bit of an understatement, but that’s all I’m going to say about that, because along with this pregnancy comes all the pregnancy hormones, and let me tell you!  I have never cried so much in my life.  The joke about crying during commercials and whatnot? Not a joke to pregnant women!  In the lease bit!

Symptom wise, the nausea is really kicking my ass.  I sorta knew this would happen, and actually anticipated it, because my body really isn’t used to having all these hormones coursing through it.  With the PCOS, I’m pretty much a textbook case (said by EVERY GYN I’ve ever had),  where my lady hormones are really, really low and my male hormones are really high.  If it’s true what they say, that you carry like your mother, then I’m in for it!  my mother was sick for 6-7 months for each of her pregnancies.  Trust me when I tell you, that I refuse to feel like this for the next 5 months, and I am not to proud to get some meds to calm this nausea.  Yesterday, I threw up my early morning cup of water while brushing my teeth (yup, that totally happened) and then, I tried some crackers and water before I went off to work.  Promptly threw that up in the train station parking lot while getting our of my car, and nearly puked on my suede Clark Desert Treks!  I would have been really upset to have to get rid of my favorite, most expensive shoes!  There is also the excessive tiredness.  When I’m at work all day, it takes everything in me to keep my eyes open.  I pass out on the train ride in, take a short nap during lunch, sometimes I sneak off to the bathroom, go into the huge handicap stall in the back, and catch some zzz’s (about 20 minutes worth) before my alarm (which I tuck into my bra strap so I can feel the buzz) wakes me.  And then I pass out on the train going home for another 35 minutes.  When it’s bed time though, I have the hardest time falling asleep!  So most nights, I lie awake, listening to Callie’s deep breathing, Noah’s dinosaur grunts, and Levi’s feet constantly moving.  I try and count them, like you would sheep, but I end up laughing at the little symphony that the 3 of them are putting on without even knowing it.  And then of course, there are the tears…about everything!   I was putting together the ceremony that I will be officiating (my little sister’s wedding) and I couldn’t get through the first 2 minutes without wiping tears from my eyes.  I have NO IDEA how I’m supposed to pull myself together enough in the next 3 weeks to do this!  I HAVE to keep it together, but I really just don’t know how!  I’ll have to practice and practice and practice, otherwise, I’m pretty much screwed, and no one will understand the words that are coming out of my mouth, let alone be able to stand watching my snot faced, trembling lipped, shaky handed self try and keep my composure.  And that’s just the most recent episode.  So You Think You Can Dance (one of my top 3 all time favorite shows) literally has me a crumpled mess every Monday night.  It’s just terrible!

Aside from that, everything else is going pretty great!  I was getting a bit of an allergic reaction from the progesterone in oil ( in sesame oil) so they had to switch me over to oral and vaginal meds, which kinda suck, but I only have to do it for 2 more weeks, as I’ve graduated the fertility clinic, and have my first OB appointment on the 22nd.  Looking forward to that.  Not looking forward to being weighed, I will admit!  But hey, Big girls deserve babies too, and I’ve always been heavy, and weight isn’t an indication of health, so screw that! Here’s to being a big girl and getting preggers!  And just for information purposes, my last blood work came back with hCG at 22,763, and progesterone at 13.8, a little low, but the baby should be doing it’s own thing soon, so Dr. K wasn’t too concerned.  Friends, so far, so good!


July 4th weekend was pretty awesome.  We spend the weekend on the boat (has a Queen sized bedroom, and another room with 2 bunks beds, and also a living room couch that turns into a bed.  It’s our summer home away from home!) and everyone was really loving on all of our kids!  It’s nice to have the little boating community that we have.  Callie’s family has been friends with these 3 particular boaters for 30+ years, and it’s nice when all of their kids come home and we get to spend time together.  I love hearing their stories of all of the marina’s that they have spent time in, and the shenanigans that they pulled when they were younger.  it’s nice to see them having kids too, and know that our kids will all grow up together, and share some of the same experiences that Callie did.  I know she loves it too.  We watched the fireworks display as we lay on the bow of the boat.  The boys didn’t even mind (Noah actually slept right through), and Mary got to sit with Pop and look at their favorite fireworks together (the smiley face ones).

HAPPY FOURTH!

HAPPY FOURTH!

The next day, Sunday, Callie’s dad took us our for a swim.  We had a great day, but the boys slept through most of it.  Not even 10 minutes into our boat ride, they were passed out!

THESE TWO!

THESE TWO!

Mary had a blast “swimming” which actually means tying a rope to her ankle and putting a noodle between her legs while that and her life vest keep her afloat. We also threw a fishing line out and caught a sand shark and a fluke!  Good eatin’!

A good weekend had by all!

MY HAPPY BOYS

MY HAPPY BOYS

30 Day Challenge – Day #3

Day 3-Your first love

Ah, first love. I remember my first love so vividly.  From the day we met to the day that we separated.  It was young love at it’s finest.  Spring was in the air.  The days were just starting to get longer, and the nights warmer.  I had been out to my family since I was 14, but I wasn’t out publicly (except to my closest, mostly closeted friends) until I was 16.  I was ready to start dating some ladies. .

I had a boyfriend at the time named Aidan who was a year older than me and had his own car.  Aidan’s uncle was my uncles best friend. We had know each other since we were little when he had just moved to the states from Ecuador, and had spent a good deal of time together growing up.  Aidan and I had been dating for a few months, since the previous summer, when we rekindled our friendship over intimate conversation around a campfire on that years family camping trip, and to me he was the coolest guy I had ever met.  We took walks around the campgrounds at 2am, and shared smooches in the lifeguard chair at the edge of a moonlit lake.  We found an abandoned shack in the woods where we told each other some of our deepest secrets, and hugged so hard when it was time to leave that it felt like it would literally kill me if I never saw him again. Good thing he was moving to my hometown, even though he would be going to a different high school.   He came to take me out to lunch everyday for the next few months.  He really was the sweetest guy, always surprising me with flowers and gifts, and taking me to movies and teen clubs and never letting me put my hand in my pocket to pay for anything.  He was a gentleman, and I was head over heels for him.  Until, Leila…Leila changed everything

Leila..I thought I had known love before her, but I had no idea.  I didn’t now what it was like to want to lay your life on the line for someone.  I didn’t know what it meant to be so completely engulfed by love that at times it felt you would suffocate if you didn’t see them right away.  She changed the way I look at love now.  She set the standard for what I wanted in someone and in a relationship.  She was the bomb!

We met on a warm spring Saturday just like any other.  It was 1999.  My next door neighbor and best friend Manny had moved to the town next door, in a tiny district that had about 300 students and faculty combined.  He met Leila and her “best friend” Kristen and two months later after getting to know them better, he decided that we should meet because they were bisexual but didn’t have any other LGBT friends.  Since I was going to an LGBTQ youth group my mom had found for me, he thought it would be cool if we all met and I could introduce them to the program.  So I agreed!  He picked me up at 3pm on a Saturday, and then we went over to pick them up.  First Kristen stepped out of the house, and I thought, “WOW!  Look at her!  Almost 6 feet tall, hourglass figure, long beautiful shiny black hair, and a face to die for.  She’s hot!!!”  and then Leila walked out, and it was like something you see in the movies.  Time slowed down.  Birds were suspended in air mid flight.  My heart started to race and my mouth suddenly became very dry.  She had on fitted jeans, a tight black shirt, and her hair in an African head wrap that made her beautiful bone structure all the more prominent.  Her green eyes were piercing, and her caramel mocha skin was taunting me, because I knew that I would never be able to touch her.  She already seemed out of my league and way out of my reach.  After all, even though they would never admit it, I knew that her heart belonged to Kristen, and Kristen’s heart was hers.  But in those 43 seconds that it took for them to walk from the house to the door of Manny’s Jeep, I was already in love…

I was jolted back to reality when my pager went off and Aidan’s code, 888, showed up.  He’d have to wait!  I was admiring the most gorgeous woman I had every seen.  They get in the car, there were quick introductions and a trip to the mall.  We have lunch together, buy a few things, hit up a photo booth and try and squeeze the 4 of us in (I still have those photos actually), and then head over to a local park.  We stopped at CVS for candy and soda.  At the park, we share stories about school, love, and life.  We get along well.  We share lots of laughs.  She keeps looking at me when she thinks Kristen and I aren’t looking.  She seems to caress my back when she pushes me on the tire swing.  She looks me in the eyes when she talks to me and it’s intimidating and unnerving.  I look at her perfectly sculpted lips and I want to kiss her.  I refrain, mainly because I don’t want to get punched in the face, but also because I just met her and that would be beyond awkward. The day escapes us and night creeps in.  We see a shooting star.  We’re hungry and we go to McDonald’s.  Kristen goes to the restroom.  Leila asks for my number and offers to buy me ice cream.  I freeze, but not from said ice cream.  I give her my home number and pager number.  She gives me both of hers and tells me I better call her tonight. What time?  After 9.  I can’t wait to go home.

That night, we drop them off at home, and Manny takes me to my house.  On the car ride home, he tells me thinks something will happen between us.  I tell him he’s crazy.  We have sex (number 8 remember!) and I got upstairs, showered and waited for 9pm.  I don’t wanna seem too eager so I call at 9:05.
“I said 9!”
“Hi to you too!  I’m sorry!  I had to shower”
“MMM hmmm!”
“what!?! ::giggle giggle::”
“You’re so cute!”
“No you are”…and it went on like this for 5 hours.  I didn’t realize she was hiding in the bathroom while Kristen slept in her bed.

We didn’t see each other again until a few months later, once school was out for summer, but we spoke every day, for hours.  I made her mix tapes, because if that wasn’t a sign that you loved someone, I don’t know what was!  I wrote her letters.  I took some pre-selfie selfies for her.  I wrote on the back of them, with lots of hearts and cursive.  I couldn’t wait to give them to her. I was still with Aidan, and a night at the teen club when I had invited Leila and Kristen, turned into a hot freaking mess.  Lots of things were said, people were angry and crying, and I ended up walking home because Aidan just left me there.  It had ended, but something between Leila and I had officially begun.  We spent every day together that summer.  We would go to the lake, the amusement park, spend hours at the mall, but mostly my favorite part was hanging out in her basement, listening to music and the sounds of the oscillating fan, laying on the futon mattress on the floor, immersed in the orangey-pink glow that was radiating from the sun shining in through the drawn curtains.  We would roll around for hours.  When school started, my senioritis kicked in big time!  I would take the bus to school, and use a friends cell phone (the old school nextels!) to call a cab and escape to Leila’s house just to cuddle and watch TV, before even setting foot on the property.  We got after school jobs together.  She went to my soccer games so often that the coach asked her if she wanted to be our team manager and was allowed to ride the bus with us even though she didn’t even go to my school.  That summer, when I turned 18 and graduated high school on the same day, I went home, packed a bag, went to Leila’s and never came back.  That is the second most memorable summer of my life (second to the one that I spent wooing Callie).  Lot’s of it is a blur, but I remember driving around in a friends drop top and singing Jason Mraz and the Moulin Rouge soundtrack at the top of our lungs while we held hands driving towards the setting sun.

We broke up a year and a half later, on a dreary October day.  We worked for a national service organization.  We were broken up into teams of 10. Those teams of 10 were broken up into pairs of two.  And we were not on the same team, so now we were broken, because her partner now became her partner, and even though I didn’t want to believe it, I saw Karma, and Karma’s name was Tammy.  And Tammy from Michigan stole her heart, and I was left sobbing uncontrollably in the bathroom, because I knew.  I knew we were over.  I could tell from a couple of days after starting work, when she didn’t rest her head on my shoulder anymore on the ride home, but instead leaned into the window.  I knew, when at 2am, I would roll over in bed and the chasm that was forming between us was ice cold, because she wasn’t there, so I would creep into the hallway, sit on the floor curled up into a ball, and press my ear to the door and listen to her tell someone else how much she loved them.  I was aware that when she told me she had to stay the night at Tammy’s because there was a huge service project her team was leading and she wouldn’t get there on time if she came all the way home, that she was lying.  When she stayed there that night, I packed my things and left.  We had words a few times after that because we worked together, but really, we haven’t spoken since.

Leila was my first love and my first heartbreak.  There are things that I am so blessed she taught me about love, but also things that I wish I never would have learned. She was the first woman to ever break my heart and take a piece of it with her.  Loving her and losing her put me on the path to find my real love, my best girl and my soul mate.  It led me to the city, that led me to my friends, who led me to my ex-wife (another day, another post), who broke my heart so badly that it literally almost killed me, that sent me back home to live with my parents, and led to the revival of old hometown friendships after a 10+ year hiatus, that led me right into the arms of the woman I love.  Life’s funny like that..and for that I am forever grateful to my first love…