Saturday, November 7, 2009

Dear Cadence: Month 28

Dear Cadence,

Well, this has been another crazy-butt month, huh? Thankfully it's been a much better one, all in all, and especially in terms of your own personal enjoyment. This month started of in a bit of a slump, with me still in the hospital and then getting really sick again as soon as I went home. In an effort to get me out of the dangerous environment, you and I ended up traveling for most of the month, which, while it was hard, also ended up being a lot of fun. You're an excellent travel companion, little lady.

First stop was Philly, Baba came with us for this one, and the three of us visited Meg and Chad to help celebrate Chad's birthday. You had great fun playing with Pickles and Bug, their two kooky cats, and Volpe, an overly round but sweet-as-pie Pup belonging to Meg's mom Kathy, who also happened to be visiting. One of the more memorable antics you engaged in during that visit was how you seamlessly joined all the grownups in the fun that was The Beatles: Rock took the role of lead singer, and actually did pretty well, for not knowing most of the songs. It was ridiculously cute, regardless.

After a great stay with some great friends, we headed back home to our own beloved kitties. It was wonderful to just be all together, but being in that apartment even for one night made me very sick again, and we made the hard decision that I would have to find somewhere else to stay until we could find a new home. Since we still had Nana's van, which she and Papa had so generously lent us for our big move to the city, we decided that the best thing to do was to take an impromptu trip back to KY, to visit, recover, and return the van. You and I packed a bag, gave everyone lots of hugs and kisses and left that night.

We had fun on our trip, we stopped at a hotel once we crossed the border into Ohio and got to swim in the pool before getting back in the car. We sang songs, talked a lot, had lots of meal breaks, listened to music...the trip was largely uneventful until we got to about Louisville, at which point you had another first I had hoped to avoid completely, but am grateful it went as it did...getting rear-ened on the highway. Thankfully it was not a bad accident, no one was seriously injured, and we were able to just drive away, but it was still an absolutely terrifying moment. It was one of those times on the highway where everyone suddenly slams on the brakes, and it really tests your following distance. Thankfully I was able to steer away from and stop short of the car in front of me, unfortunately the truck behind me wasn't able to do so. There was a loud bangcrunching sound and the car lurched forward, and a bazillion things were going through my head at once, but mostly it was just "we just got hit CADENCE IS IN THE CAR." I turned off the engine called for you, calm but urgent the way I usually am in sudden disastrous situations, but panicking inside, and immediately climbed into the back seat to make sure you were ok. I was so scared in those moments before you said anything, but luckily my fears were not were safe in your car seat, sitting quietly but with a deeply worried look on your face, giant bag of Doritos (did I mention we had some junk food on the road?) in one hand, a chip halfway to your mouth in the other, and you turned your bright eyes towards me and said, very clearly: "Yes I'm ok, but what was that noise?"

We got to our old home by evening, discovered that getting our luggage out of the now damaged van was going to be a bit trickier than I'd originally thought, got to eat some yummy enchiladas nana made for dinner and greet an ECSTATICALLY happy pepper, and of course Nana herself and the two country cats. We didn't actually see Kelly until the next day, since we hit the sack before she came home, but we got to see her eventually.

And oh how you enjoyed that trip. You got to watch sesame street and play at hopscotch, but most importantly, you got to see your FRIENDS!! We spent pretty much every morning playing with at least one of your friends, and everyone involved LOVED it. It was wonderful to see them all again, although seeing how it lit up your world reiterated for me how important it is that we find you some sort of social network here in the city. When you and Kate first saw each other, you both got giddily happy and did wiggly happy dragon dances and copied each other for a solid 45 minutes.

While we were there, something pretty miraculous happened, actually: I got a forwarded e-mail from Baba, and it took me some time to really figure out what it meant. He had brought up our precarious housing situation in class one day to ask a question, and his professor had evidently taken an interest in our case. Completely unbeknownst to us, she had written to the dean about it, and got the housing folks involved, and the net result was that we have been granted the use of a very lovely apartment in the NYU Law housing, rent free, for the rest of the semester. I cried when I read the messages all the way through...a safe place to come home to, a refuge to be in while we work to find a new took so much pressure off and was such a gift. [And as a side note, the original message the the professor wrote to the dean referred to your Baba as "one of [her] best lawyering students." That was some serious buttercream icing on the cake right there. Cadence, you can definitely be proud of your Baba.]

The only catch to this little miracle was that students are not permitted to have pets in the our kitty ladies couldn't come with us. Of course, to us they are just as much a part of the family as anyone else, so we weren't about to stick them in a shelter or leave them out to dry. We spent a decent amount of time trying to find a friend who could give them a loving home, or to find someone close enough by that we could still come and feed them and deal with litter, so we wouldn't be intruding on anyone's life too much...alas, we were unable to find any local option that everyone felt comfortable with. So, you and I embarked on another journey: Operation Cross Country Cats.

We let our airline tickets go, hopped into Nana's little red car, (since the van wasn't fixed yet) and drove back to NYC, this time stopping at a hotel in Clarion, PA - a town I've managed to stay in during these road trips surprisingly often - before arriving home in the midst of a deluge. At which point the umbrella took a chunk out of my thumb as I was opening it, which must have been the straw that broke the camel's back after everything we'd been through recently, since it left me in a decidedly foul mood for our return to this false home. After having been away from it for nearly two weeks...well, let's just say that neither you nor I were particularly excited to be back. We were both very happy to see Baba - who you had been asking for on a daily basis, occasionally just getting too sad to play, declaring "I'm sad 'cause my Baba's not here" - and the kitties, who gave us tons of love and nudges. And you were happy to see your toys, but the house itself...we were both less than pleased. And, of course, I started to get sick again within a matter of hours.

So it was a relief when we finally got you and the cats all packed into the car, bid Baba a sad farewell yet again, and hit the road once more. This time, with the cats in the car, I was bound and determined to make the entire drive in a single trip, no overnight stops. In an effort to keep you happy with being stuck in the car for 14 hours, I let you choose the soundtrack...which worked surprisingly well at keeping you happy, I'm glad to say, but it was 12 hours - 12 HOURS - of listening to Philadelphia Chickens, over, and over, and over. I'm just so glad you are into that instead of, oh, say, kidz bop. I don't think I could have handled that one with so much cool.

We ate in the car, stopping only for bathroom breaks and gas, and successfully made the exhausting trip in a day. And as trying as it was once or twice, any trouble we may have gone through was immediately redeemed upon reaching our destination. This was the first time we've made the cats go on a car ride where they ended up in a familiar home. Usually, when arriving in a strange place, they would hide and take days to adjust, to even think of forgiving us for tearing their lives up, or to venture into the open and then into other rooms. But with this: they were so grateful. Happy, even...they were back in the good home! Their porch was still there! The nice people were still there! All their territory and space...They raced around happily, revisiting every room and purring, eating as soon as I fed them, giving us all nudges...I knew right then that this had been the right decision. They would have been miserable in a temporary home, with people they didn't know and space they'd never been in...this, in contrast, was a homecoming, and they'd have to deal with our absence, but not without the comforts of home and family.

We stayed for a few days to help them settle in, got to see more friends and spend more time with Nana, Kelly & the country critters. Then we finally headed back to the city, by plane, which seemed an uberfast luxury after our many roadtripping adventures. And got to come home to our new apartment. our safe haven. I can't even describe how immediately this place screams "home!" at you, even before we had all the necessities here it felt more like home than our old place ever had. You even got to go trick-or-treating here! You got to play with other kids!

The next day, we went back to the old, evil apartment to rid ourselves of it for good. Carissa came, despite a broken foot, to play with you so we could pack, then leonard and lisa arrived and sped up the process, and finally erik and minerva came and somehow, amazingly, despite leonard and I wheezing with every breath and minerva admitting to being bothered by the mold by the end of the day, we got every last thing we owned out of that apartment and into either a storage unit or the new place by the end of the day. The next morning you and I went back one final time, did a sweep for any left behind thing (other than some food in the freezer, which I took, there wasn't anything) and left the keys on the kitchen counter, never to return. It was a great feeling, knowing we'd never have to set foot in there again.

I didn't mean for this letter to be so newsy, but a lot has gone on this month, it's kind of hard to even fathom the month as a whole. I bother to write this all out because I think it shows, once again, how tolerant, mature, understanding, brave, sweet, comforting, and really all around amazing you are. I am dumbfounded - and yet, simultaneously almost nonplussed, because, let's be honest, this is YOU were talking about - at how well you have handled all the turmoil that has been thrown at you this month. You have laughed with me, cried with me, comforted the cats through their journey, rekindled great relationships with friends, lit up people's lives, allowed for all the work we had to do, tolerated so much...most two year olds would not be so forgiving, lady b, and I need you to know, even if it is many years before you read this, that it is not going unnoticed. I am so, ridiculously, indescribably, happily proud of and grateful to you for everything you have done this month to contribute to making our lives better, safer, happier. You have done wonders, little one. I love you.

A couple things before I sign off: First, I want to share this conversation, which we had during our first drive down to KY this month. We'd stopped at a restaurant for lunch, and before we headed back out to the car, we stopped in the bathroom. They had one of those folding diaper changing tables on the wall, and it caught your attention. Here's a transcript of what followed:

"What's that?"
"A diaper changing table"
"When I was younger, you changed my diapers, at nana's"
"Yes, yes I did!"
"And if I was younger again, you'd have to change my diapers again."

I could sit here and analyze all of the amazing cognitive abilities this simple conversation demonstrates, but truth be told you're sitting in my lap right now, and I'd rather rush through to finish this and get back to hugging you and playing games.

One last, very important, thing before I do finally sign off though, something huge, probably bigger than our move to NYC and all the drama since then...

A few days after we arrived in the city back in August, we got some very exciting news, which has admittedly been raising the stakes of everything we've gone through these past few months: You're going to be a big sister.

You are so excited about the new baby, and Baba and I couldn't be more proud of you. You are going to be such a good big sister, Cadie B, and truthfully, you already are. Brittany showed me a shirt while we were in KY, one which said "I love being a big sister" on it, and you overheard and immediately took to it, and managed to convince me to buy you the shirt even though aesthetically, I am not a huge fan of its frilly bubble letters. And you are so proud of it.

You talk to the baby in my belly, saying "hi baby, I'm your sister and we're gonna have so much fun when you come out!" And if we ask you where the baby is, you'll come over, pull up my shirt and poke my now protruding belly button and say "right here!! hi baby! poke!"

Just the other day, you brought up the coming of our new baby all on your own, and while Baba and I listened with smiles plastered to our faces, you happily ranted for several minutes about what you and the baby are going to do when he or she arrives. It was a surprisingly realistic dream, or plan, or whatever it talked about how when the baby was little you'd just hold her, and as she (you always use the pronoun 'she' when talking about the baby, though you seem to be aware that we don't know yet whether the baby is a boy or a girl) grew, you would lift her up high, and you'd read her books and teach her how to draw, and share your toys with her, and you'd tickle her and talk to her, and keep her safe, and sing songs, and when she got bigger you'd push her on the swings and show her pooh and run around together...

We are all very excited, including you, but we also know that this is going to be a big change. We're doing our best to prepare ourselves, and you seem to understand, as much as a two year old with no current siblings can. And as I keep telling you (and you thankfully DO seem to be grasping, bringing it up and repeating it often) even when the baby comes, I will still be your mama, and Baba will still be your Baba, and we will both still love you just as much as we do now, and nothing can ever change that.

Congratulations on making it through some seriously rough times, Lady B, and congratulations on the new adventures we're about to embark on, with a brand new companion. We are so blessed and happy to have you with us on this journey that is life. You're just so awesome and wonderful...I can't imagine life without you, not even remotely.

Love always,