(From today's "Dedication" for Baby Nolan)
Two years ago, on Mother’s Day, my sister Ellen found out she was pregnant.
The structure of my family at that time was, to put it mildly, chaotic.
My father had died about a year and a half before, but we were all still trying to deal with it. Prior to his death, my parents were embroiled in a pretty ugly divorce, and my family was fragmented. My mother was the one to leave, and the family was reeling from it. As a result, she became Public Enemy #1.
My father’s death made matters worse, because there was the estate to deal with, and the battle over it broke the family even further. My mother, for most of my life, was my best friend. I tried to support her when she left during the divorce, but things got messy, things got angry.
But when my sister found out she was to become a mother, it marked a beginning of the turnaround in bringing the family back together.
Over the last year, Ellen and my mother, who have never been close and, in fact, bitterly at odds, reunited. Today, they are closer than anyone else in my family. Moreover, my mother’s return to the family unit seems to have made us whole again.
I don’t know if any of us kids ever fully appreciated the impact of our mother on our lives. At one point, she was working full-time, and raising five kids all under the age of eight. She was out mother and out father in many ways – she was the one who held all our secrets, who protected us, who fed us and hugged us, and rubbed our backs when we had fevers.
My mother was the one who forgave our shortcomings, no questions asked. She cried for us, and for our rebellion against her, but she never questioned her love or stopped loving us, no matter how much we messed up.
And we messed up good.
Today, two years after my sister found out she was pregnant on Mother’s Day, I sat next to my mother as we watched Ellen and her family baptize (“dedicate” they call it) her son to God. I was surrounded by my family, on the day which we come together to celebrate and appreciate the women who raise us and shape us into the people we are today.
I love my mom – I don’t tell her nearly enough. I missed her during those years. A lot. She was there almost every minute of every day the entire time I was in the hospital, and she may never know how much that meant to me.
When my mom hugged me “hello” this morning, she called me “my angel.” I know she meant it. And she that to us, as well - never judging, always supporting, always guiding.
In addition to this, I thought this was interesting and wanted to mention it. The congregation leader spoke about pain and suffering today. He spoke about how we have a choice in our suffering – to be victims or be victors.
My ears perked up – see, when Cheese and I fight, and he says something that hurts my feelings and I call him on it, he tells me I am playing the victim. And I absolutely hate that - I have never seen myself as a victim, or at least I didn’t think so.
But as I sat there today, it hit me that, in the last few weeks, I have made myself a victim – I have moaned about how I hurt, or what I lost, or what I can’t do or whatever else I found on that day to bitch about.
But what I haven’t done is celebrate all the things that I have – I have health, I have family, I have a body that was able to produce the healthiest possible organ for my brother, and I have a accomplishment of an Ironman and will that allow me to comeback soon and stronger than before. I have incredible friends that have given me words, hugs, shoulders and calls of support. I have a family that is very much healthy, and now whole.
I have more than I don’t, and I am not a victim. I would say that, looking at my life, I am very much a victor.