I got an IM from my friend Kat yesterday. That, in and of itself isn’t particularly noteworthy – I get IM’s from such good, clean chaps and lasses as “bigdick764″ and “babiecherie73″ who are kind enough to direct me to their websites where I can “see more pictures.”
Kat, however, isn’t a spammer. Or, at least I don’t think she is. I mean, I went to Seattle or one of those other states that aren’t Chicago to visit her and her daughter and she didn’t LOOK like a spammer. But I guess she could’ve Sharpied my back while with a website name or something – I didn’t look.
Yesterday, her IM said something to the effect of, “OMG I MISSES OF YOU.” Which sounds like improper English, but compared to the shit I normally IM, it’s practically the Queen’s English. I responded in turn, I too, missed of her.
“Can you believe it?” She screeched through my computer.
“What?” I asked, clearly distracted by dancing kitty videos and the proper spelling of “Sharpie.”
“I’m thirty and I’m working as a photographer!” She announced.
“Can you believe it? We MADE it!” She continued.
I sat there, stunned.
I hadn’t thought about how far we’d come – I was too busy keeping up with the day-to-day life and dramaz of Your Aunt Becky.
I met Kat when our babies – who look shockingly like sisters – were very small. Out of the blue, she IM’d me to tell me that she’d caught a grammatical error on my recentest blog post. While I’m normally annoyed by that – I mean, you’ve only caught ONE error? – Kat was fairly charming.
We became fast friends during a time in my life that I’d never quite felt so alone; so worthless, so miserable. I’d created this life for myself – 3 kids, 2 dogs, a house, a husband, and I’d never been more alone. I’d always known I would “do something” after I popped out the kids, but the unexpected crush of PTSD following Mimi’s birth made seeing the world as it was almost impossible.
Birthing a sick baby is one of the most isolating experiences I’ve been through – and Kat understood it. Her Avi is mere days apart from my Mimi, and while Avi was not born ill, Kat understood why it was hard for me to even walk outside some days. Days like that, she prayed for me. I’ve never understood people who were offended by that sort of thing – when someone prays for me, I find it an unexpected kindness.
She and I were both miserably trying to eke out a life for ourselves – she as a photog and me as a writer. I was consumed with writing a book – it was the only way I could see lending some legitimacy to my life; something I desperately craved – while she worked tirelessly overnights and on weekends to beef up her portfolio.
The months blew by us, both working desperately to “make it” and prove our worth to the outside world. Life happened around us. The publishing market crashed. Kat got laid off from her day job. We both scuttled around to reform our plans.
While my daughter grew and thrived, kicking her diagnosis in the ass, as she met and surpassed her every milestone, Kat’s husband, the father of her child, who was 27 years old, had a stroke while they slept. As doctors searched high and low to try and understand what had happened and why, Kat spent her days and nights alongside her husband, guiding him through rehab and therapy. She slept at the hospital on one of those uncomfortable chairs with their daughter, Amelia’s clone, Avi.
The diagnosis was a long time coming – Alpha-One Antitrypsin Deficiency - and when it did, it wasn’t good. It’s a rare genetic condition that has no cure – only management of the symptoms.
As she reeled with this news, her husband had an incurable genetic condition, the bad news kept coming – her daughter, my Mimi’s clone, she had Alpha-One Antitrypsin Deficiency as well.
It was my turn to pray. And I haven’t stopped. Kat saw me through some of the worst times of my life, and now, I’ve done the same for her.
And somehow, through all the bullshit, all of the drama, all of the other shit, Kat and I have emerged on the other side. We’re not the same people we once were, but who is?
Kat’s a full-time photog now. And I’m, well, I’m a writer. It seemed only appropriate that I learned yesterday that the book I contributed an essay to is now available on pre-order. It’s not my book, but it’s a book. And my words are in it. More importantly than any vain book ideas, I founded an (almost) non-profit organization for other people to tell their stories. I’ve used my nursing degree to create resources to help people learn about the things they’ve been through.
We’ve both come so far.
I can barely wait to see where we’ll go next.
Last night, I dragged The Daver and The Guy on my Couch outside to play with the two smaller kids – the big one, Ben, was off doing his chores. While Daver hid out in the tree-house with Amelia, Alex and The Guy on my Couch began to play a rousing game Alex called “Goomba,” which was, to the best of my knowledge, Dodge Ball with a Mario theme.
I sat nearby, weeding my rose garden, cursing myself for spraying anti-fungal shit on it too soon in the season, listening to them play.
After a half an hour, my eldest, Ben, burst out of the back door of the house like he was being chased by a particularly vicious washcloth.
“Oh. Em. Gee.” he sputtered, punctuation clearly evident in his speech, “THERE you are.”
I laughed at his vehemence, “Where’d you think we were?”
“I. DON’T. KNOW.” He staccato-ed out.
“Did you think we’d been abducted by alien ghosts or something?” I asked playfully.
“Mom,” he looked at me, hand on his hip, dead serious. “I’m SO over ghosts.”
He went over and got on the swing-set as Daver took Amelia up to bed. (Big) Ben and Alex continued to play their bizarre game, giving each other 1-Up’s whenever they’d get hit with the ball. Dave soon joined me on the patio, my roses long weeded.
“I can’t believe you’re going to spoil my kids,” Ben semi-hollered from the swings.
Without missing a beat, I replied, “It’s called payback, my son.”
(He’s referring to a conversation I had with him threeish years ago wherein I told him how excited I was to spoil his kids when he got older. I listed out, in no particular order, all of the various ways I’d planned on spoiling his kids rotten. He finds it hilarious.)
(I’ve learned, for those of you playing along at home, that certain kids on the autistic spectrum will vividly remember conversations and events that occurred many years ago and bring them up in conversations as though they happened yesterday. I only wish he were so dedicated to remembering to wash his hands after cleaning up the cat boxes)
He hollered happily, “Oh MOM! You can’t give my kids candy all the time!”
“We won’t,” Daver teased. “We’ll do pizza too. Lots of pizza.”
“Oh DAD,” Ben giggled before he yelled, “YOU CAN’T DO THAT.”
“Uncle Ben will buy them tons of video games, too,” The Guy on my Couch chimed in. “Especially the kinds you don’t want them to play.”
“BIG BEN,” my son hollered, laughing so hard he nearly toppled off the swing, “NO! YOU CAN’T DO THAT.”
“Before you drop your kids off, I’ll buy them each a five pound bag of sugar and dump a can of Mountain Dew in it,” I contained. “I’ll give ‘em that to drink before you pick them up!”
“What if my wife doesn’t like that?” Ben giggled, still swinging.
“I will be the one choosing your wife for you, Ben,” I said, as sternly as I could. Dave and Big Ben burst out laughing, “THAT’S gonna go over well,” Daver said.
“Sorry I can’t date you,” Big Ben chimed in, “My Mom says your name is stupid – and I can’t date girls with stupid names.”
The laughter woke up the birds trying to sleep in the big pine tree in my backyard.
“Okay,” my son said, still laughing, “What if my wife doesn’t want kids?”
“That’s okay,” I reassured him. “You can BUY kids off eBay. Or the gypsies.”
He laughed and laughed and laughed.
“When I grow up, I’m going to work at Band Back Together dot Com with you guys. And then I’ll tell the REAL story,” my son countered.
“We got editors for that sorta thing, Boy,” The Guy On My Couch (Big Ben) bantered.
Back and forth we lobbed it until it grew dark and the wind began howling, indicating that it was, at long last, bedtime for kids.
“Alex,” my son said conspiratorially to his brother as they walked into the house together, “be careful. Mom might make you buy kids.”
“I want a Yoshi – not babies,” Alex replied.
Touche, my (second) son.
In an odd twist, I am taking the day off. You’d think, “Aunt Becky, didn’t you just have two days off?” And the answer would be, “Bwahahahahahahahaha! I got three crotch parasites who, unlike OUR parents before us who’s answer to ‘I’m booooored,” was to boot us outside and lock the door, I can’t stand the way they stare at me through the windows until I let them back in. So I played with them instead.”
That meant that I was introduced to those stupid Crayola colored bubbles which are like kid crack and yet, such a bad, bad idea. Just trust me on this one. Colored bubbles = no bueno.
Today, I’m going to go and venture out into the real world, where people don’t speak in hashtags and LOL Speak. Which, also = no bueno.
So I leave you with this, a copy of my newest edition of MS word: