Friday, March 15

Human Woman Kind

I'm coming out of a head-cold-haze and I don't know if it's the Spring Break free-time or just the fact that my kids are getting smarter and funnier by the second, But today they are making me laugh harder than I have in a while. It must be that the sun has finally made its appearance and the winter blues are melting away. So I can think of nothing better to do than think about something that makes me really depressed.... Just kidding.

Under normal circumstances, it would be true. But today I literally have been laughing for the last half an hour and it makes me think of my sister Madelyn. Because above all else, the time we spent together was spent laughing. Usually at the things her kids would do or at the stupid things we did. I like to think that one day we'll be laughing at the ways that we hurt each other in the last few years. because, like to believe it or not, I'm sure there have been things that I've done to hurt her. Has it hurt her, the fact that I can't bear to see her, for fear that I would argue with her about her life and the distance she has chosen? I don't know. But I want to respect it, and so I stay away.

One of my favorite memories of Madelyn is from November 14, 2005. Ariel and I didn't have any kids yet and we had just spent a month and a half in Argentina with his family. We moved out of our apartment in Logan, UT before going to Argentina and were staying with Madelyn and Mike until we could find a job and an apartment in Salt Lake City. Madelyn was 9 months pregnant and had 4 kids, 2 of which were with us that day as we went shopping and running errands. Two of the kids must have been at school, because I'm fairly sure that either one of them could have done what needed to be done better than I did.

I'm sure I can't remember all of the details of the events. What I do remember was that a little boy needed to go to the bathroom or possibly already had an accident. I remember that the same little boy was suppose to go to a birthday party. We came back from errands and shopping with a narrow gap of time before the birthday party, to find that the house was locked and Madelyn didn't have the keys. There was only one way in. A tiny window to the basement bathroom. With two small boys and one very very pregnant woman, there was really only one option. The window was positioned at the top of a 7 foot wall, leaving 5 1/2 feet to drop, hopefully not crashing into the toilet. So when it came down to it, that's the only thing I could do. I dropped. At the bottom I felt my ankle buckle under me and the most excruciating pain I had yet felt in my life. In fact, it might have been the most excruciating pain ever. I just laid on the floor moaning and crying, yes crying. I just lay there waiting for the pain to subside. Eventually I realized that everyone was outside waiting for me and had no idea what had happened.  So, crying the whole way because of the pain, I crawled out of the bathroom and eventually made it upstairs to the back door to let everyone in. Now you're probably wondering where the funny part is. Or what makes this a good memory. Well, the rest of the day Madelyn, 9 months pregnant, tended to her 4 children, husband, one whiny sister and HER husband. I sat on the couch downstairs with my feet up and an ice pack that needed to be changed constantly. I've never felt more pathetic, before or since. But it doesn't end there.

That night I think I slept on the couch and very early in the morning my brother in law Mike came down and woke me up to tell me that Madelyn was in labor and they were going to the hospital. A minute later Madelyn came down and asked me if I wanted to go with them to the hospital to see the baby be born. Um. Yeah!

So there we were, a woman in labor, her husband pushing her in a wheel chair, and the sister hobbling down the hall with a sprained ankle and crutches. Like I said, I don't remember EVERYTHING. He might have pushed me in the wheelchair while Madelyn walked. I don't specifically remember having crutches. Point is, it was a very pathetically empowering day. I've now had two babies and I have yet to experience what it feels like to desire someone to accompany me during labor. I don't enjoy the attention I feel from observing eyes as I deal with uncomfortable circumstances. And I've never trusted easily. So I still don't know how or why Madelyn would want me there during her labor. But I know that I trusted her and she trusted me, and a lot. It opened up the way for many hundreds of conversations about labor and babies and how to this and why to that. At the moment Ariel and I had been 'trying' to get pregnant for a year and a half and it was a hard trial. Maybe Madelyn thought it would be my only chance of seeing what the female body is actually capable of. I know the thought occurred to me and it made the experience of watching, trying to support Madelyn the best I knew how (I knew nothing), that much more meaningful.

I realize that this entire tale seems somewhat egotistical. I tell it the way that I remember it. At the time I was childless and young. Though I was aware that birthing a baby is a bit harder than a sprained ankle, I had never experienced more pain than I had the day before. And then here I was, with this champion of a woman, watching her in the very epitome of human endurance. Years later I would go to that same hospital, even with the same nurse, to have my first baby girl. That experience sealed for me my relationship with my sister. It instilled in me a new kind of trust. One of my sister and of myself, but also of being plain and simply a woman.

There is one person I think of when I need advice of the womanly sort. Whether it be for my children, my body, or my marriage, I instinctively feel the need to talk to Madelyn first. A simple reality that puts this among my very favorite memories and will leave me forever grateful for the simple moments that taught me how to be a human, how to be a woman, and how to trust other human and woman-kind.