this is a letter to my goddess daughter, piper, daughter to my very best friend nicole. today nicole is 39. piper is only 3. she will get this letter much later than now. you know, when she can read. and is old enough that she won't giggle at the pee parts.
and yes, this letter contains the words 'pee' and 'pubic bone' and also includes the actual act of someone (me) peeing. and if that doesn't make you want to read it then i don't know what will! but, you have been warned.
You will have lot of birthdays come and go in your life, and some birthdays are going to be milestones, like your 16th birthday, the day you turn 21 and I take you for your first drink, your 40th birthday, 65, etc. Then you'll have the birthdays that are real blowouts, the ones that come on a Friday and they last all weekend, the ones with a new love, a fabulous trip, or an extravagant party with all your family and friends.
Today your mother turns 39, on a Thursday, and as far as birthdays go it may seem like a subtle kind of passing. Just another birthday in a life full of birthdays. No big deal. After all, NEXT year she is 40 and isn't that the birthday to save the big celebration for? BUT all birthdays are celebrations whether they are the real blowouts or just a Thursday when you turn 39. Every birthday is a birthday to be cherished, every birthday offers the opportunity for something fabulous to happen, even if it isn't billed as that kinda birthday.
Piper, this story is a Thursday turning 39 kinda story. There is no flash, no fireworks, ponies, or big bands, just a thing that happened. A thing that should be known by you because it illustrates how awesome your mother is and how lucky we all are to have her in our lives, how very lucky I am. Just another day in a life of days, but one that is so very important and needs to be told and to be known.
Now, at the time the story takes place I was about to and then did give birth to the Duke of Fun. And while we all know what she ultimately decided, at that time, your mother was not sure at all about having children. She and your father had met and been together for years at that point, but it seemed children were a distant idea if one at all. Your Grandmother had different ideas, though, and had hoped that because your mother was going to be part of my birth it might start a few balls rolling in that direction. Especially since your mother and father had recently, very seriously, been talking about getting married.
Well, in hindsight, perhaps this was not the birth to do the convincing.
As it turns out, the birth did not go smoothly at all, and after a very intense 36 hours, a baby, and a lot of bleeding later I was headed to the hospital. Your mother found herself sitting in my home after the ambulance left, waiting to follow me to the hospital, wondering if she’d ever see me alive again. I cannot imagine how she must have felt.
Piper, your mother was amazing. She came to the hospital, slept on the floor, and didn’t leave my side for 72 hours. She changed the newly born Duke of Fun and carried him and rocked him to sleep because I couldn’t sit up to do it myself. She interpreted my needs and fielded questions from the medical staff because I wasn’t able to do it myself. Then when I discovered I couldn’t move or feel my legs due to pubic separation from the birth, she got up every few hours all night long and put them back up on the bed because they would slip off and I couldn't do it myself.
Oh, I had the Duke's papa around to help and my family, but they were taking care of all the other business of me nearly having had died from the birth. It took a village to get me up and running, and your mother was by my side every step of the way.
She did all the errands needing doing to get me back home. She shopped and cooked and cleaned and was just *there.* There when I was sent home with a newborn, a catheter, and a walker. (it would be two weeks before I could walk without it) There when it was time to care for the Duke. There when it was time to deal with my catheter and when it was time for me to eat and to sleep and to try and get comfortable.
We were both 25. How incredible that we were so young.
What I remember most, however, happened nearly a week after arriving home. I had just nursed the Duke back to sleep and thought I finally felt well enough not only to sit up, a recent accomplishment, but also to make my inaugural trip to the actual bathroom. The midwife had paid a visit about an hour earlier and had removed my catheter so I felt ready.
It took me some time, but I managed to sit up and steadied myself on the edge of the bed, careful not to wake my baby or topple forward. This was a 30 minute endeavor at the least. I managed to hoist myself up on my walker, and knowing there wasn’t anyone home but your mother and me, I didn’t even attempt at putting on pajama bottoms. Like I could have if I wanted to.
I got to my bedroom door and so far so good. I could hear your mother in the kitchen and it sounded like she was mopping or sweeping. I left my room, and with the aid of the walker was nearly out of the living room when I realized, to my horror, I wasn’t going to make it to the bathroom in time.
Right there in the living room I peed all over the wood floor. And not just a little pee. The kind of pee that comes after having been impeded by a catheter for nearly a week. The kind of pee that comes from finding an outlet in a finally upright body. The kind of pee that would feel fabulously liberating at last if it didn’t happen to be happening in the living room all over the floor.
I started to call your mother’s name and I swear the first syllable hadn’t left my mouth before she was there, crouched before me, with a big towel.
Without a word she wiped my legs down to my feet, moved and wiped my feet, and then the floor.
“Do you still need to go?”
“Come on, I’ll get you settled back down.”
Then she helped me back to bed and settled me down next to the Duke.
And she turned to me smiling, as if it really was no big deal, and said “No problem. Are you hungry?”
Piper, may you know this kind of friendship in your life. May you have someone who is so graceful and kind and giving. When the shit hits the fan, or the pee hits the floor, may you have someone who will be there, without a word, and with a big dry towel. Someone who will dry you off and settle you back down. Someone who loves you that much.
May you have a friend like the friend I have in your mother. Because those are the very best kind of friends to have.