Today is Star Wars Day. The grand celebration for good geeks everywhere.
May the Fourth be with you!
(And all the liturgical Star Wars fans say: “And also with you!”)
Greg and I found a light saber on our bed last night. It was the perfect May the Fourth Eve present. Greg considered arming himself with it for work this morning. He’s a software engineer; arming themselves with light sabers on May the Fourth is what they do. It’s what they live for.
Actually, that’s not true at all.
As far as I can tell, software engineers live for the rush of triumphing over complicated algorithms. And for Wired magazine. And for programming Android phones. And for telling the rest of us that we can use Android phones. And for being puzzled when we really can’t use Android phones.
And now I will tell you a story about complicated algorithms and May the Fourth.
Here we go.
May the Fourth
Once upon a time, exactly nine years ago, my software engineer and I were in a hotel room in Guatemala City awaiting the arrival of our 2nd and 3rd kids… 3-year-old Ian and 1-year-old Aden.
May 4, 2003 was the culmination of a lot of HARD, INTENTIONAL adoption work. Months of meetings. Mountains of paperwork. Piles of money. YEARS of proving to governments, lawyers, agencies and social workers that we were able and ready to be Super Parents. That we were capable of taking on two toddlers. That we were fit. That we were sane. That we were eager. That we were called. That we wanted this… oh, so desperately wanted to grow our family this way, with these kids, at this time in our young lives.
On May 4, 2003, our dreams of becoming parents for the second time were realized.
You can image how we felt that day. Deliriously happy. Ecstatic. Fulfilled.
Only we didn’t feel that way at all. Except perhaps for the delirious part. Because no matter how well you plan, things don’t always go just the way you expect. And no matter how ready I am one minute – how well I know my mind, how thoroughly I search my heart – I am a raging mess the next.
On May 4, 2003, I was still actively mourning the loss of one of my friends who died seven months and thirteen days earlier, accidentally and without my permission. I missed her terribly because she was the one who taught me how to smoke, which looks ridiculous when I see it in black and white on the typewritten page. But our two-cigarettes-a-month habit was A Great Rebellion, and it was somehow freeing to sit with her late at night on my front porch, smoking Camel Lights and talking about Jesus. The nicotine always made me sick. Jesus and Glo always made me happy. It was, somehow, very human and very divine, and I missed her when she was gone, as though she mistakenly took my soul to Heaven and not just her own, and selfishly left me to go it alone, an empty body walking the Earth without her joy.
On May 4, 2003, my marriage was deep in the crapper. Deep deep. Deepity deep. Greg and I were missing each other completely and utterly and on nearly every level. We were, both of us, destroyed. Partly by each other, partly by ourselves. But destroyed nonetheless.
On May 4, 2003, I was clinically depressed, trying my 2nd depression medication, and it wasn’t working. I was in counseling, but not on that day, because my counselor said that traveling with me to Guatemala was sort of out of the question what with her boundaries and all. And so I sat in the hotel bathroom and didn’t cry because the darkness in my soul was too deep for tears. I stared at my medication and I wondered if there was any other way out.
On May 4, 2003, I didn’t change out of my pajamas or comb my hair or put on make-up, and still the social worker called from the hotel lobby to tell us that our children had arrived.
On May 4, 2003, I was the opposite of ready for two toddlers. I was less prepared to become a mother than at any other time in my life.
On May 4, 2003, I became a mother to the two children who needed the most from me when I had the least to give.
On May 5, 2003, I put one foot in front of the other, and I made it through the day.
On May 6, 2003, I put one foot in front of the other, and I made it through the day.
On May 7, 2003, I put one foot in front of the other, and I made it through the day.
And I did the same thing on May 8.
And I did the same thing on May 9.
And I did the same thing on May 10.
I didn’t live, exactly. But I survived. And my kids survived. And my husband survived. And my marriage survived. I call it the Miracle of Survival.
And things improved. With better medication and years of counseling and an involved husband and time – oh, sweet time – things improved.
Today, here we are. On May the Fourth again. On a good, good May the Fourth with all of its blessings and mixed feelings and baggage and hope.
May the Fourth is a day I feel deep and abiding guilt. Guilt for being less for Ian and Aden than they deserved in a moment when I wish I could have focused only on easing their tremendous bewilderment and unsettling transition to us. I wonder, sometimes, if I’ll ever be able to fully forgive myself for being less than the mama they needed.
May the Fourth is a day I feel sad. Sad for me that I was so very broken. Sad for Greg that I couldn’t be whole for him or for us. Sad for Abby that she had a mommy who was so very lost.
And May the Fourth is a day I feel triumphant. And celebratory. And grateful. And strong. For my family. But even more importantly, with my family. And with lots and lots of help.
Now, perhaps, you’ll understand why I say with such feeling,
May the Fourth be with you!
Because May the Fourth is the day of complex algorithms. The day of sorrow and joy. The day of insufficiency and enough. The day of failure and victory.
May the Fourth is the day that reminds me that the dark side is real. And that there’s a stronger, bigger, better, brighter Force to conquer it.
And so, I say to you…
May the Fourth bring you healing.
May the Fourth bring you rest.
May the Fourth bring you peace.
May the Fourth bring you hope.
With one foot in front of the other,
May the Fourth be with you.
42 responses to “May the Fourth Be With You”
[…] truth is, a few months ago, things were hard at our house. They’ve been hard before — we don’t live an uncomplicated life, after all, what with the five children and […]
This is beautiful and honest – which is what I always love about your writing. Tear running down my face and laughing out loud all at the same time – this line “she mistakenly took my soul to heaven” will stay with me for a long time.
[…] I wrote an essay for this adoption anthology, edited by my friend, Melanie Springer Mock. It’s about grit and grace and the ways my theology — my understanding of God and Love — changed through the desolation and consolation of our second adoption. […]
[…] Maybe they’d be better off without me. […]
And also with you. You’ve come a long way baby! (Which is, of course, Virginia Slims, not Camel Lights, but whatever.) Thank you for sharing, this and every little thing you share 🙂
[…] Marital and young kid aftershocks still hit us from time to time, and our emotional footing was occasionally unsteady as we warily watched our home and each other for fissures or cracks. […]
And also with you. Wow! I had no idea of all the crap you have slogged through. I know we all have crap but that’s a really big pile of crap. I am so grateful to you for opening up and letting us all in. It just reinforces for me that we all need each other and that grace is the biggest gift we can give to each other! So, my the grace be with you too.
[…] afterwards we had 3 children, and we finished some adjustments. Night terrors and connection issues and bloody noses and puke […]