PAGE # 79
Merry Christmas

Santa had been generous.  TJ got an assortment of gifts, but only really cared about the tickets to Broadway shows.  Sara got a toy kitchen set.  Baby Lily finally got her bouncy chair.

Sara was overwhelmed, but in a good way.  The toy kitchen included three separate pieces:  a sink, a refrigerator, and a stove.  When I asked her what Santa had brought, she exclaimed, "The whole kitchen!"

There was a bunch of toy appliances, plastic foods, a wooden apple pie.  Even a chef's costume.  I watched Sara explore the kitchen's contents and imagined how Lily would play alongside her in a year or two.  They would be sisters, only two years apart.  They would play together with this kitchen set for years to come.

Baby Lily was settling into our home and daily routine, but more than that, she was taking up a spot in our future.  Even now, it sometimes feels like she has a a seat here, unoccupied, waiting.  It's like the roped off, empty chairs one finds at a theatre or concert.  Always these reserved spots are in the first few rows.  You're scrambling to find a chair, an unobstructed view, but there is no good spot left, and you envy whoever is getting that special place where no one else can sit.  But sometimes, the people never show up.  The best seats, wasted on no one, casting a great void between the rest of the audience and the performers on stage.  You have to wonder if the show will even be as good in the absence of any front row energy.  Why didn't they show up?  They had the best seats in the house!  

But that Christmas morning, things were so busy with three kids--it was easy to forget that Lily was not our baby, and that we had no right reserving a place for her in our home.  There had been no further action from Lily's biological father, but it was the holidays.  People got busy.  Public offices were closed down.  We should have stayed vigilant, but the reality of an infant in one's arms is a powerful distraction from what hasn't happened yet and only might happen in the days to come.  

I unwrapped a gift from my mother.  It was a pair of earrings.  They were Lily's birthstone.  They matched the color of the necklace I had chosen for Kendra.  Two pieces of sparkling blue, each shaped like Mickey Mouse's head.

My mom looked at me, waiting for my reaction.

"I got those because you were supposed to be in Disney World when Lily was born.  And they are Lily's birthstone of course."

Disney World!  The trip I had been planning before Lily was born, before we even knew about Kendra's pregnancy.  The trip I had cancelled when we learned of the sudden adoption opportunity that seemingly came out of nowhere.

"They're perfect," I said.  "Thank you."

My mom frowned.  "I didn't know whether I should still give them to you.  You know, now that we found out he signed the registry and all."

"No, no, it's fine.  I'm glad you did.  No matter what happens, I'll be happy to have them."

And I do still have those earrings.  I never wore them and I never will.  They wait in my closet, another artifact, another tangible item of proof that Baby Lily was once here.  I will not wear them, but I will keep them.  I will save them alongside Lily's newborn footprints, her hospital identification tag, and whatever else I have from her first few weeks of life.

It's probably a doomed gesture of optimism, keeping these things; a symptom of pathology better suited for hoarders.  I am typically inclined to purge rather than hold on to stuff (with the exception of books and photographs).

But I make excuses.  Rationalization comes easily.  The earrings, the documents--they are a part of this story.  They are just as important as the pages of this book.  

The truth is that I know better.  The truth is that I harbor a secret wish--that someday, somehow, Lily will want to meet us.  She will find us, visit us, ask to learn the details of her earliest moments.  She will want to know why we didn't keep her.  It's a question she will surely want to ask her biological mother.  But she will wonder, "How could this have happened to me twice?  How is it I came to be given away more than once?"  A hideous truth--to have been handed off not only once, but then, again?

If that day ever comes, I will be able to provide her with more than a short, simple answer.  It will all be documented in this writing.  I will be able to provide her baby footprints.  And I will definitely give her the earrings.

On the other hand, it is unlikely that Lily will ever know of her time spent here.  

But I will keep the earrings for her.

Just in case.

To Be Continued...


Ashley said...

Hopefully you're able to keep in touch with her mother so that if "Lily" ever finds her mother/other family, you'd be able to reach out and offer her the chance to know those important things.

Jennifer said...

Thank you.
I guess in this world of social networking, there may actually be a chance of that!
All the best,

Jay Iyer said...

Another beautifully written post, I am moved beyond words. I fervently hope Lily finds you and Kendra some day. What a resource and (I hope) reassurance that will be for her and for all of you who love her.

Anonymous said...

Thanks so very much for your blog. It means the world to me. I'm a 'Lily', handed more than twice. How I wish some of the people who cared for me were like you. It makes me wonder if I should look for them, but I guess I'm not brave enough to face whatever the truth is.

Jennifer said...

Dear Anon,

Thank you for your reply--it means a lot to me too--knowing that the "Lilys" out there do think of us--us once upon a time "foster" parents. I'm sorry, of course, that you suffered these traumas, and I hope whatever path you choose regarding knowing your history brings you only good things.

All the best,

Anonymous said...

I pray that some day you and lily may enjoy on Christmas with some of the best Christmas gifts.