Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A Proper send-off

Before we left this summer, our wonderful friends back in KY threw us a little farewell get together, complete with "miss yu" cupcakes and some really wonderful gifts for Cadence. It was a perfect send off, and we were extremely grateful. I'm just sorry it's taken me so long to get around to posting about it; I'm afraid the distance and lack of time now mean that I am not doing this sweet gesture justice. It was really fun, and very touching, and just generally great.

Back: Breannah, Angie, Ben, Carol, Brittany, Kate, Me, James, Cadence
Front:Mia, Christie, Nadia, Hope, Angi, Ella, Anya, Colin

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Dear Cadence, Month 27

Dear Cadence,

This letter probably won't be as fleshed out as so many others have been. We've had some rough times over these past few weeks, trying to make sense out of a rather chaotic situation. I am, sadly, not with you today, since I was admitted to the hospital yesterday morning. Last night was the first time since you were born that we didn't spend the night in the same room. I miss my little bug so much!

Great Grandma Carol and Cadence

Baba tells me that you took it in stride, not happy, but like a good, strong, brave girl would. And you helped him through it, too. I'm sad, but SO proud of you. Hopefully I will be home very soon, but regardless, at least now I am hopefully going to be able to get better and be able to play more than I have been. I've been getting progressively sicker since we moved, and the doctors here agree: there is something in our new apartment, that is aggravating my asthma, and it's most likely mold, which I am allergic to anyway. Due to this, my airway has been weakened to the point that it can't adequately fight off infection, which is why my left lung is currently filled with pneumonia. I think this is going to mean more big changes for us in the coming weeks, Lady B...the doctor just left my room after saying that she didn't want to discharge me at all if I was just going to go back there. New adventures begin when they need to, often without warning.

But I will be ok. I'll get to hold you and tickle you and sing to you soon. I'm not sick the way grandpa was sick. Yes, this has been a somewhat terrible month, with drama around the apartment even aside from the mold, and my illness...My Grandpa Ed passed away early last week, and his passing leaves a hole that can't be filled. I'm so glad you had the opportunity to meet him, even if it was a brief visit while you were still an itty bitty. I'm so glad he had that opportunity to meet you, too. He was a remarkable man, a teacher by nature as well as trade, who left a lasting impression on just about everyone he encountered. I loved him dearly, and though I can't vouch for how deeply you understood what was happening, you seemed to care, with great depth, too.

I would often cry when I would get updates on his condition, and even if my tears were silent, you'd show up in my lap asking "are you sad, mama?" and you'd ask me why, and I would explain to you: my Grandpa is very sick. and we'd talk about what that meant, and why it made me sad, and most of the time you'd curl up against my chest and cry a little too.

Last weekend you and I flew out to Minneapolis, Baba following on a later flight, and we met Nana and Kelly at the airport and drove straight to the wake in Amery, WI, where he and Grandma Carol lived. Papa was there, and Grandma, and a whole slew of other relatives who you had never met, and I hadn't seen in a good 10 years or more. It was overwhelming and bittersweet...Nana took you up to the coffin to say goodbye, and she said you looked at him for a moment, endearingly, before getting sad and burying your face in her chest.

Cadence with Great-Grandma Carol and cousin Sophie

The next day was the funeral, and you sat right there with us in the front row, like a little angel, you were uncomfortable and sad, as were the rest of us, but you didn't cause a scene or distract anyone, and you didn't even fuss when I left to go up on stage and sing "All Is Well" with Nana and Papa. You didn't even get riled up during the 21 gun salute at the end of the service. You are a brave and wise old soul, little lady. You're a rock that helped us all get through a really, really tough time.

And it wasn't completely depressing, either, you got to meet a lot of cousins that were close to your age (or a bit older, but enamored of you anyway) and there was lots of 2 year old fun to be had. I have to say, having you and Sophie (my cousin Meghan's 2 year old) running around laughing, playing, and doing the same mischievous tricks on the stairs that Meghan and I used to did wonders for everyone's spirits.

And it was wonderful to see so many wonderful people again. The next day we got to see Grandma without the general chaos of post-funeral socializing before heading back to Minneapolis for a swim in the hotel pool and a nice dinner with Nana, Papa, and Kelly to bid them farewell. We had some time to kill before our flight on Sunday, so we got tickets to the aquarium in the Mall of America, and oh how you LOVED that! We went through the whole thing twice before we left.

And of course, we'd only been back for a day before I ended up here. I was already feeling ill before and during our travels, but once we got back home I just got slammed with this ickiness. I'm glad we'll be able to put all of this behind us soon.

But enough about events, let me talk for a moment about all of the chatting and catch-phrasing you've been doing this month!! You've picked up on a number of idiosyncratic speech patterns that add so much color to your ability to communicate. When we ask you what you want to eat or drink, you'll often add "...will be fine for me!" to the end of your response, or if we ask you what something is, you'll tell us in a phrase that concludes with "...of some sort".

You've also adopted a number of games that are clearly derived from the day-to-day of our new lives here. Among the more heartbreaking ones is the game where you walk into a room, usually carrying a backpack or some other useful object, declaring: "sorry I'm late, but I'm home, I brought food, but I have to work now." Which is clearly your reaction to Baba's new role as an ever-busy law student.

Which actually brings me to the subject of classes! You went with Baba to class yesterday, since I was here and out of commission in terms of childcare. My goodness you are such an awesome kid! Evidently you behaved wonderfully, and made quite the favorable impression on many people-students, professors, you name it. I guess I'm not surprised...but I'm still ridiculously proud of my girl. Those are hard classes to sit through as an adult and a paying student. You're two, and should have been getting to play outside or something. But you totally rose to the occasion and enjoyed getting to spend the time with Baba, albeit silently. You rock.

You did have some familiarity with classes, though, since we've been trying (somewhat in vain) to find you some classes of your own. Mostly just to give you something specific and fun to do each week, a consistent opportunity to meet new kids and exercise your brain. We've done several sample classes in the past few weeks, trying to get a feel for what would do the trick of being fun and entertaining, but still useful and worthwhile, with the right group of kids.

We've tried mandarin language classes and dance classes and I've scowered the web for anything I think you might be interested in...sadly, nothing's really jumped out as being exactly right just yet. A lot of things had their semesters start already, or the age group is too skewed away from where you happen to fall, or their just too derned expensive to be worth the partial semester we'd be able to take advantage of. I feel really bad that we haven't yet found something, but we will continue the search, little lady, I will not give up on you, sickness or no.

And to be fair, you really seemed to enjoy the dance class we attended last week, and the teacher was very impressed with you and was excited at the possibility of having you in class. I'm on the fence about that one though, as it seemed very ballet oriented, and I admit I have a bit of a bias against ballet. I don't mean any offense to those who dedicate their lives to it, but it is definitely an art that consumes you, and I've seen what it does to the bodies of its most devoted participants, and it's not pretty.

Beyond the anorexic stereotype, it strains the body and such so much that most ballerinas end up with major health issues before middle age. I want you to have the option of continuing to take whatever classes we put you in if you love it, and the idea of 'continuing' from this 2 year old class being increasingly formal ballet classes...If you must go that route, I'd rather you decide to go into that on your own, when your older, and can make an informed decision. I'd rather not have that blood on my hands.

Which, actually, brings me to another of your new linguistic acquisitions of late: "I don't want to deal with that problem!" Often, if you encounter something not to your liking, you'll cover your face with your hands as you make that declaration, and then get sad and crumble into a sad heap on the floor, sometimes crying silently to yourself as you do so. So. Cute. and Heartbreaking.

Related, actually, is another declaration that you use to express your distaste for a given situation: "I don't want that deal!" This one I'm sure has come about because of our increasing use of striking deals to find a balance between what you want and what you need, but it's still rather remarkable how nimbly you traverse such sophisticated waters, making deals and denouncing unfavorable ones. You have occasionally tried to use this one (and the problem line, actually) when there is no actual deal (or problem) on the table, but I think you mostly dropped that habit once you realized that it didn't quite work.

And here's another totally grown up catchphrase you've glumly adopted lately: "It doesn't matter. Nevermind." Almost universally, after saying that with a sort of mumbled, under-the-breath quality, you'll sulk off you your bed and lay down for a while, not budging.

Seriously, as Baba said to me recently: "she's basically already turned into a teenager. A Kelly-style teenager." You do bear a striking behavioral resemblance to your aunt Kelly sometimes. And other than the fact that she is a legitimate 16-year-old teenager and you are only 2, you little's actually not a bad thing at all. If you have to pick someone to imitate, you could do much worse than your moody but big-hearted Aunt.

Nana, Cadence, and Kelly

I'll conclude this letter with one last habit you've developed this month, one which certainly captures my heart. You'll be in the middle of playing, running around, yelling and being loud or reading or whatever, and then you'll suddenly slow down, get very quiet, cup your hands and smile sweetly at your palms. Then you'll come over to me or Baba and gingerly show us your prize. "Look Mama, I caught a ladybug!" you'll say, quietly and in an uncannily maternal manner. Then you'll let it crawl around on my arm or fly around a bit before letting it go, and resuming your loud playful business. "Catching ladybugs" has definitely become the favorite game of the hour, and its one that leaves me with a distinctly "sweet little girl" image dancing through my brain, and I can hardly believe that you're my little lady, so grown up but so tiny, and so amazing in every way.

I love you Cadence

Love Always,