She was being ridiculous. Yet her fingers typed madly at the keyboard, researching, copying information, filling out forms.
This was not part of the plan. But her body drove her to the office. Her voice spoke, her mind retained. All while she clamored in the background, still unsure of this leap while already in the air.
How could it be done right? In time? She inquired of the redecorated room, the approving agent, the sun each morning. Each answered there was plenty of time, and all looked more than well.
Am I enough for this? Someone thought so. A young someone, who lived far away, and needed someone who was more enough than could be. A someone who gave approval, a date, a hope.
Too much, too fast. Her heart disagreed, and beat hard against her chest in a joyful dance when the final papers filled her Inbox.
She couldn’t do it. The ink of her last signature vowed she would.
No. “Yes!” she answered to the urgent phone call late one evening.
And then there was silence. Just her and the body that knew better in a silent room. Soft pastel couches lined one wall under a mural of undisturbed sky. Had she been able to move, she would have sat on one so as not to faint.
If there had been a moment to run, it passed when the door across from her opened.
“Mrs. Lindbogen?” The smaller, stouter woman inquired.
“That’s me,” she whispered, more to the bundle than the woman.
“The birth mother is very ready, she’s already signed her forms. But there are still 48 hours before it’s finalized and the petition can begin. You understand?”
“Yes, of course. I read everything.”
The stout woman smiled, “Excellent, I love a reader. The more information the better, I always say!”
The bundle passed to Liza. She tucked it into the cradle of her left arm, as she had practiced with her cat, her neighbor’s corgi, and a bag of brown sugar (her mother said it was far more accurate than flour) for the past several weeks. At this point, she could have cradled a wet eel with no trouble at all.
With her right hand, she pushed the heather gray blanket back to reveal an angry red nose under cherub bright eyes.
“What is her name?”
The stout woman looked disappointed for the first time. “She doesn’t have one yet. The birth mother didn’t want to. So that’s up to you.”
“I see. I just thought she had one already.”
The woman approached Liza, placed one comforting hand on her back, and another under the baby’s shoulder. It reminded Liza of when her childhood preacher had welcomed new members into the church: one hand on the communal fountain, one on the newly integrated.
“No, no she doesn’t. And a name is an important thing. Did you have any picked out, just in case?”
“One. I just thought…”
“Well it may fit. Sometimes it helps to say it out loud, hear how it sounds.”
So Liza waited until the small babe with the angry red nose and large curious eyes looked at her again. They held each other. Blue eyes to brown, and a whole universe in between.
“Pepper,” she whispered, with a hum of certainty, “Her name will be Pepper.”
“Well that’s adorable, I love it!” The woman squeezed Liza’s shoulder before letting go, collecting a folder from the table Liza hadn’t noticed before. “And what inspired such a name, if I may ask?”
Liza stared down into those deep blues. Without her asking, her body shifted the babe to her right shoulder, began to sway slightly. The first few hours of life are so exhausting, and she felt the smallest of snores confirm so against her neck.
“My late husband’s grandmother. He was the oldest of eight, so she raised him while he helped his parents raise the others.”
The woman nodded, and an understanding of lingering grief and hopeful faith passed between them.
“These forms can wait,” she said, “I’ll give you two a moment alone.”
There would be many moments alone for the two of them, Liza knew. But this would be the first. A cry cut into the quiet, and she answered with a calming coo.
More than enough. More than enough.
STEADY (verb): Make or become steady. (adjective): 1. Firmly fixed, supported, or balanced; not shaking or moving. 2. Regular, even, and continuous in development, frequency, or intensity. (exclamation): Used as a warning to someone to keep calm or take care. (noun): A person’s regular boyfriend or girlfriend.
First- to anyone who is reading this and has been through the adoption process: you’re awesome. Please excuse any part I have tangled, as I tried to weave official steps from different states/countries together so it could fit anywhere.
Alright second, the word.
When I was more reader than writer, I could not understand those who spoke so personally and selfishly about how what was going on to the people around them was affecting the writer. But I get it now. It is a bit selfish. But it’s also reaching out- it’s steading one’s self on a steep place where others have stood, and asking to be part of something bigger, to be one of the voices echoing back.
My Nanna is very tired. I got to see her smile this weekend, but she is very tired. So she and my family have been a part of every thought I’ve had these past several days. This also leads to thoughts on my Grandma, on the other side of our tree branch. You see, as much as it goes mostly unspoken to the men in our family, both sides have always been pretty matriarchal. The men may have run the household- but the women have ruled the world (or turned the neck, if you’re more into My Big Fat Greek Wedding quotes). I attribute so much of who I am to these women, and am honored to do so.
So why on earth did this lead me to write about Liza adopting a baby after Pete died? Well, because a little something like age or death has never stopped anyone in my family. Nanna still requires Chardonnay over Pinot Grigio even though she doesn’t know whether it’s five o’clock somewhere or not. Poppa’s still holding staff meetings in a sunroom at the nursing home. And I swear when I get up to heaven I’ll find out that Grandma has founded a travel-guardian-angel committee and Grandpa’s in charge of tuning harps. They simply can’t be stopped.
And it is my dream and goal to be the same. To be unstoppable, to allow life to continue to come at me in full force even when I would prefer it not. And it will. As Carl Sandburg said, “a baby is God’s opinion that life should go on.” So while Liza adopts her baby, let us adopt a new life, a new ideal and goal for our futures. Let us honor what was and what is with what’s to come.
And now my word is longer than my story, something I try not to do. But like Liza, someone else who knows better is leading my fingers today.
Live fully, my friends. Goodnight.