I’m sitting here in my BF’s hospital room, one of the day’s trio of family members on watch. My BF had her gallbladder removed yesterday and is doing well, but, as she says about so many things, “It’s complicated.” Indeed, it is. She’s in great pain—as she was before the surgery—but now she’s got a nifty diagonal scar that intersects with the nifty vertical scar she earned last summer in this same hospital. She lifted her gown and showed me this afternoon. (She is not shy, my BF.) Her belly is beginning to look like a geometry book.
So today I had the great pleasure of getting to see both Andy, the oldest big kid, and Jena, the youngest big kid, at their mother’s bedside. I adore them both. If I could steal them away from their mom, I would, though now that they’re 36 and 34, I think it’s a little late for that.
Andy came to live with me in 1995 when his mother took in her first foster kid who became her second son. Andy was the first kid to occupy my back bedroom (which I still think of as Andy’s room, though Rebecca, R.G. and Lauren also took turns there), and I fell in love with the sweet big boy. We went through his first romance together—his mother and I distraught when his girlfriend dumped him—and while Andy lived with me and attended the sheriff’s academy, he met his future wife, Tiffany. They are now the parents of 5-year-old Evan and send me a Mother’s Day card every year, which always makes a little teary.
I met Jena when she was 12 and accompanied her mother to Wales. My BF had the opportunity to finish her bachelor’s degree in politics there and hauled her youngest child with her. (Andy stayed with his father in California.) I visited Jena and her mom shortly after they arrived in Swansea. Jena had just come home from her first day at school, very cute in her blue skirt and blue sweater with the blue and yellow tie, sashaying into the kitchen to announced, “Nigel fancies me.” I’m pretty sure I fell in love with her that day. I reminded her of this story the other day here in the hospital, and she laughed. “I remember him,” she said.
Jena sits here now, doing her trigonometry homework for her college summer school class. She is now a mom to Cine, who is 4. Jena hopes to be a physician’s assistant or a pediatrician someday. She will be a good one, whatever she decides. She has a huge heart, is a natural helper and so much her mother’s daughter that I could not do anything but adore her, too. She sits at her mother’s bedside for many hours every day.
The big kids are two of the best things my BF has ever produced. Her little kids are good people, too, though, as my BF says, their situation is complicated. So much is in life, it turns out. But Andy and Jena include me in the update phone calls about their mom’s status—as does the BF’s husband Ron, who is in Utah now with two of their younger kids. (It’s complicated.)
So I sit watching my BF sleep, one knee propped up high, her Harry Potter, round tortoise-shell glasses a little askew over her closed eyes, her hands resting just under her collarbone. She has much to recover from, but she will—surrounded by the love of her people, her big kids and family and husband, her many friends. Whether we are all at her bedside or not, we find it easy to be a mirror, to watch her sleep, to reflect back to her the love and devotion she has given each of us over so many years.