2015: A year in Reflection
As this year is coming to a close I can't help but to look back at all that has happened and believe that there is a very detailed plan for my life. I'm amazed. There is no way to express my amazement and belief of this to you other than sharing with you everything that has happened, as it happened.
January 2015, my birthday month. I got a very unexpected gift for my birthday through an event that affected the entire rest of the year for Randy and I. I was in my first accident, in which my entire car was completely totaled. Not only that, but Randy and I struggling to get by hadn't paid our insurance which ironically lapsed the exact day of the accident meaning that we were not covered in any way. Ultimately we ended up loosing our car completely, and in frustration moved forward without for-seeing anyway to fix the situation.
Our finances were already upside down at this point, but the accident furthered that. In turn, we really didn't have much of birthday celebration that month.
BUT, a sweet and very dear friend, who has become like a mother to me helped me pay for something I had wanted to do my entire life. I took a DNA test to discover my ethnicity. It was an exciting and very meaningful moment for me. When I got the results back I was very surprised to discover that throughout the years all of the many guesses made about me were pretty far from what I really was.
Discovering my ethnicity was a pivotal moment for me because it answered questions I had had my entire life. I grew up in east county San Diego, where there was a subtle separation of people due to their race. Growing up in a family where each one of my sisters were adopted as was I, we were taught to never judge people by their outer appearance. It was never a thought for me to separate myself from others for any reason. In fact, I was infatuated with the traditions and nuances of other people's cultures. So much so that I would immerse myself in the different cultures of my friends becoming very acquainted with languages and their values. Being a question mark race, and not looking white but also not looking very ethnic either I didn't quite fit in to any group that I immersed myself in even with all of my effort. Deep down this hurt because as a child you want to belong and it seemed that I didn't really belong anywhere. It wasn't until I was older that I made a game out of people asking the question "What are you? What is your ethnicity?". I would respond, what do you think? guess. This took the pressure off of me and put the focus on them. Now I could actually answer that question. It meant a lot.
This discovery was just the beginning for me as it opened the door to research more about my birth family. I had some knowledge of their history through my birth mom, but it was very limited due to her mental illness which didn't allow for much clarity in conversation. I kind of always had to put puzzle pieces together when I asked her questions about anything to do with her family or even my father. My DNA trail led me through a map of documentation online and in my possession which led me straight to a high school year book picture of a man who bore a striking resemblance to me. Not only this, but he matched the name that was written down on my paperwork for who my father was. (This very kind and thoughtful social worker recorded the names of every person she could find out about so that later in life I would have the names of my biological family.) I couldn't believe my eyes when I found the picture and naturally I had to look up this person on Facebook. I located him. There he was, same person much older and very much bearing my resemblance. I showed the photo to Randy as soon as I could and he like me said right away "Oh my gosh, that's your dad."
I found my maternal Grandmother on Facebook as well and was able to connect with her that same day via phone. We chatted on the phone for almost two hours catching up. She gave me phone numbers for my grandfather and other family members but I hadn't the courage to reach out to them yet.
Before my DNA results came in that Spring, Randy had said he wanted to have an ethnicity reveal party for me. Sort of like a baby gender reveal but instead of finding out the sex of an unborn baby we'd be revealing my DNA results. I thought it was a very sweet idea and we went ahead and had one!
It was such a great time to be around the people that love me and wanted to celebrate this part of my story with me. We had each one of them guess before the big reveal and a sweet friend of mine helped me to decorate and host. As I gave my reveal speech it was really awesome to thank each and every person in the room who had welcomed me into their culture and their own story.
Before our party, I had received a call from my Grandmother the same week that I had reconnected her. She let me know then that she and my Grandfather would be coming out to California from Arizona & Texas to San Diego because my mother was terminal and was told that she wouldn't make it more than two months. The phone call took place on a Thursday evening and by Saturday night I was sitting down to dinner with my husband, my grandmother, my grandfather and my aunt. It was the first time that I had met my grandfather, and this night made a bigger impact on me than I understood at the time.
The next day we met up for breakfast with my mom and her care worker to discuss the plan of care for her as she faced what was next. It was a very hard conversation to have but one in which I had decided that I would make myself as available needed to be in order to be there for her. I had previously experienced caring for my Mom Margaret in 2011 who was my adopted mother and had raised me, when she had stage four kidney cancer. I was apprehensive at first because the pain that I went through in grieving when Margaret passed away was like nothing I had ever gone through before. But what was so amazing to me is that as I stepped forward unsure of how I was going to be able to get through it I was filled with so much joy when caring for my birth mother that it was never a burden or too hard.
The weeks that followed were bittersweet but so wonderful. My birth mother and I had been establishing a relationship over seven years prior, but her illness always prevented us from really getting to know each other. During the weeks that I took care of her and spent time with her there wasn't any distance or any holding back. I genuinely got to know my mom. As I got to know her I was astonished at how alike we were. She sang often, had a huge heart, was fiercely independent and made me like laugh like no other. I treasure the moments that we would listen to her favorite music together while waiting for various doctors visits or just to pass the time in the emergency room. We had deep conversations where she would share with me the ups and downs of her life because of her illness, she would often stop talking look at me and tell me how proud of me she was just because I was normal and healthy. We talked about God, life, relationships, my dad and man oh man did she beam when I told her Randy and I were going to try and get pregnant. She was so proud of that news that she told every single person that came in the room. We even had a very cute conversation once in which she told me that she really wanted me to have a little girl, and I jokingly said well Mom you could probably send one down for me. She replied in all seriousness with huge kid like eyes "I CAN DO THAT?" When I realized how serious she was I corrected myself and said "I don't know mom, I don't really think so, I think you'll be too preoccupied in heaven."
When she was hospitalized permanently because she couldn't take care of herself at home anymore, my grandparents, aunt and I frequented the hospital room. We of course ate together, and this allowed for me to really get to know them more. The time we had together was so rich and so beautiful. I felt and still feel so supported and connected to them. What a rich gift my mom gave me. She made such a great decision at the beginning of my life to make sure that I was given to my adopted family providing me with a family then and here she was at the end of her life doing this with my birth family.
Her last days were celebratory and beautiful and I had never felt so loved by her. She often snuggled my face close to hers and would tell me over and over again that she loved me. She and I prayed together, and I heard her pray to God we had talked about often. The day she passed away dozens of people who had known her and loved her came in to play music for her, talk to her and bring her flowers. My grandma and I played all of her favorite music as we danced together, so bittersweet. When she finally passed, her fierce independence won out and she waited for all of us to leave before leaving this world.
The next day my grandparents, Randy and I went to get ourselves a chili dog in her honor, since that's the only thing she wanted to eat but couldn't before my grandpa left to go back home. This day is now recognized as Chili dog day in our family. My grandmother and Aunt met up with us a couple more times before heading home as well, and we recalled all that had happened.
I went home filled with joy and a new feeling of wholeness because more family had been reconciled into my life. What a gift and it didn't stop there.
A few weeks later Randy and I went forward with our plans to try and get pregnant. It was the day before the fourth of July and to my surprise we were successful in our first shot at it. I WAS PREGNANT. I took two tests to make sure, and then before Randy got home I made a sign and set up a cute little box to share the news with him. I of course set up the video camera and waited in our room in order to surprise him. However, I cannot share the video with anyone because after a long hot work day my husband came into our room in only his chonies (underpants). We were so excited to tell all of our family and close friends the news but wanted to tell each of them in person.
When my first trimester was in full affect I was crazy sick. I threw up like clock work everyday and totally didn't expect to feel that yucky. During this time I lost a really awesome job that I was totally banking on to provide the funds that we needed to save in order to have this baby. It was kind of like a kick in the gut, but there really wasn't anything that I could do and as we accepted this new situation we were so amazed to see everything fall into place better than we could've imagined. I was given free health insurance which was much needed and Randy's job gave him a raise which brought in a consistent income that would provide for all of our needs.
That summer was also filled with so many celebrations for two of my best friends who were getting married a month a part. I got to be a bridesmaid in both of their weddings and through my pregnancy sickness I braved all of the events and celebrations that they had in preparation for their big days. I definitely cried at both weddings and then this preggo boogied on the dance floor till I had no more left to give!
Throughout this pregnancy I have had a lot of time to really think about many things. One thing I have certainly seen is how detailed and planned out God's plans for Randy's and my life are. All of the events of this year played out perfectly in order to prepare us for what's next. As I'm getting to know this little miracle girl growing in my belly I'm amazed at all that has happened to get me here. I'm going to be a mama, and I feel so thankful to God that he answered so many desires of my heart and the timing of this happening playing out so perfectly. I am surrounded by family literally actually my mom Margaret's baby sister just moved in across the street from me today and Randy's family all live within a one mile radius of our house. I have been given MORE family whom I treasure so much! I have a husband who has seen change happen in my body over the last six years and delights in all of it. I look at myself in the mirror for the first time in my life and think that I am GORGEOUS (What?! I know right!). We don't have a car payment that we can't afford on a car we wouldn't have been able to keep. We have everything we need and my heart rejoices because I know without any doubt that God is absolutely for me.
My greatest hope for my family while ringing in the new year 2016 is that our eyes are open to see all that God has done and is doing in our lives! He really really loves us guys! (oh and I can't wait to meet a sweet little lady too).