17 February 2020

Time and Time Again

In a couple of weeks, it will be 21 years since my adopted father passed away. His death was sudden and unexpected. Grief was sharp and cruel. It has dulled over the years, of course, but there have been many times when I wished I could ask him questions or tell him news.

My birthmother's passing was different. She was diagnosed with a brain tumor in January2009 and slipped away slowly until the end in November of that year.

https://twitter.com/science_goddess/status/1220748036

Grief was different this time. For the first almost-30 years of my life, I didn't know her...and there was a different sort of grief in that. Then, we reunited (a mere week after my adopted father died) and for 10 years, we got to be together. Losing her a second time was not as hard. Not because it wasn't awful or that I don't miss her, but because I got to have the one thing everyone wishes for: More time. I had lost her once and then I got more time. I got to have nearly a decade...when most people would be happy with just one day more with a loved one they've lost. I understand what a tremendous gift that was.

The tweet from today references the trip I made after her first surgery. I had not been to Canada in a bit. My passport was expired. I knew that being a Canadian citizen, they would have to let me into the country...but I wasn't sure I would be allowed back into the US. (Spoiler alert: I was!) While I was staying with my stepsister and her family in Calgary, I got the passport renewal process started.

Even in February, my birthmother was starting to lose herself. A lifelong elementary teacher and principal...and one of the most honest people you'd ever meet...started telling the most wild tales. She told her doctors about the baby bats that would come sit on her fingers and how she would wrap them in little pink and blue blankets. She told the surgeon that when she had last visited me, we had gone to Grace Hospital in Seattle and had some bone marrow preserved. She was so earnest about this that the surgeon believed her. He was excited, because since we had some genetic similarity, there might be something there that would be useful in treating her. I had to burst everyone's bubble after I arrived and tell them that not only was that not true, but Grace Hospital only exists on the tv show Grey's Anatomy.

But regardless of how hard any of that was, I wouldn't change a thing if it meant that I hadn't had that second chance and gift of time with her.

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