Monday, April 20, 2015

Hand-written addresses and the beauty of memories!

We sat at the cutest little table in the middle of the American Girl store making one last childhood memory before my beautiful daughter (and her adorable brothers) turned 18 the next day. We had giggled, taken pictures and dressed baby dolls in the course of our morning. It was a day etched in my memory as practically perfect!

During our lunch, the AG Cafe provided a little box of questions for us to answer about ourselves. We were having a ball -- this is the sort of thing that Claire, Cate and I adore! We had laughed so much as we simultaneously responded to "If you owned a store, what would you sell?" BOOKS, we had practically screamed in unison!

And then Little Red asked which we prefer, email or getting letters in a mailbox? Oh goodness. We had quite a discussion amongst three young (indulge me...sitting in the American Girl store, I DID indeed feel young!) ladies with vastly different introductions to email.

I love email, I exclaimed! It has been a lifeline for me to friends near and far as we have moved around the continent. I told the girls about the "dark ages" when long-distance phone calls took far more money than we had, and waiting on a letter letter seemed to take decades!

Claire loves to get a letter in the mailbox. She considers it very charming and as such spends a good amount of time sending letters herself in the hopes of blessing someone with a postage stamp!

Cate was torn. She doesn't have her own email -- and she DOES love to check the mailbox -- but the concept of having her own email and Facebook is so romantic to her right now that she was struggling to remember how much she enjoys getting a letter.

Today, I am storing these memories in my heart as I hand address the triplets' graduation invitations. Now, I was tempted to bulk print the labels until my Mother -- queen of all etiquette -- implored me to hand-write them. I may have grumbled a smidge.

But the truth is, I LOVE handwriting these addresses. I see the name and am instantly full of memories: Neighbors from three moves ago. Members of Wade and my Newlywed Sunday School class more than two decades ago. Friends from high school, college, medical school...

I addressed one of Wade's medical school friends and instantly remembered laying in a hospital bed on the Labor and Delivery Floor at the University of Chicago where the nurses were so busy they usually forgot to bring food to the bedridden woman praying NOT to deliver any time soon. Dear dear Blaine would stop by the UofC cafeteria on Wednesdays and bring me a $1 milkshake.  He and his family are so dear to us. Addressing their envelope made me smile.

I turn the page in my address book and tear up. The next three addresses are the trio's NICU nurses. Oh, how I want these ladies to celebrate this graduation with us. I almost rip the envelope I am bearing down so hard with excitement and eagerness to share a milestone I know we would never have reached without the gentle, tender care of Laura, Tricia, and Diane! I know the ladies who taught ME to celebrate every single gram gained, will be filled with joy about this news.

I write more -- giving thanks for friends and family that have prayed for these babies of mine since the day we learned there were three. Oh, I am so grateful for our prayer warriors!!

And then I choke up again. There is her name -- Susan. The boys' first Occupational Therapist. Susan gave birth to her firstborn the same day the triplets were born. When at nine months the boys began seeing her for therapy, she became a gift from God! "Why does Benjamin need to reach for those beads?" I would naively ask. She would explain how she was trying to teach him to reach across mid-line, a very necessary developmental skill and I would cry. And she would cry. And then we would wipe our tears and get back to work.

She taught me how to encourage and push the boys while STILL realizing how amazing they were. She never once treated them as if they WOULD BE amazing if ONLY they could learn the skills she was presenting. No. She treated them -- and me -- as though they were already perfect, she was just trying to help make them even better. It was enormous for a young mama who had no idea how to navigate the waters of Cerebral Palsy. (And she never once reprimanded a teeny tiny Claire who didn't need therapy but surely loved the beads the boys had to reach for so much we often found them um, hiding in her clothing when we got home!)

And so I continue to address these announcements that celebrate my trio. I am beaming with pride. I am shouting my gratitude to God. I am praying for the young adults that are achieving this HUGE milestone in their life. And I am thanking God for each and every person on our list -- for the impact they have made on my life, on Benjamin's life, on Mason's and Claire's lives. I am thankful for each prayer offered on our behalf, for each note sent, email read and Facebook friend add. I am thankful for the prayer warriors that made this graduation announcement possible.

And so I offer my hand-addressed invitation as a completely inadequate thank you note to so many. I offer it as a meager attempt at thanking you for loving us, for praying for us and for being so supportive in the last 18 years.

And to answer the question in the AG Cafe, I LOVE hand-written mail! Don't you?

Carol - The Blessings Counter