Two million, six-hundred-twenty-nine thousand, four-hundred-forty minutes.
Two million, six-hundred-twenty-nine thousand, four-hundred-forty moments so dear.
Two million, six-hundred-twenty-nine thousand, four-hundred-forty minutes touched by epilepsy.
How do you begin to measure five years?
In medications? In medical tests? In doctor’s appointments?
In lost jobs? In lost driver’s licenses? In lost dignity?
How do you measure a life touched by epilepsy?
In boredom? In loneliness? In discovering online shopping?
In struggles? In creativity? In finding new ways?
In two million, six-hundred-twenty-nine thousand, four-hundred-forty minutes, how do you measure life with this disease?
How about hope?
Measure in hope.
In 24 hours, I’m going to be a mom.
Like a real mom.
And don’t give me that bullshit line, “You already are a real mom! Don’t discount what you’ve done through foster care!” because, no, it’s not the same thing. We were living in the constant fear that she would be taken away from us, because we had no rights of any kind. We had no claim to her.
But tomorrow, that’s going to change. At 3:45 p.m., on Wednesday, March 15, 2017, I’ll be a mother. We can finally drop the “foster” from that title.
This is not at all the road I thought I’d take to motherhood. I figured it would be a bit more...traditional. And I figured it would involve my own flesh and blood.
As I’m sure most people do, I had always imagined raising miniature versions of myself: headstrong, independent creatives with wild hair and small, capable hands. And miniature versions of my husband: humble, driven, hardworking sweethearts with cleft chins and easy smiles.
Once we got the devastating news that we couldn’t have our own children, those imagined children became ghosts in my mind.
So tomorrow, I’ll become a real mom. After the court hearing, our names will replace her birth parents on her birth certificate, and she will be ours.
It will be as though she had always been ours.
But there’s a seven-year gap in our history with her that can’t be ignored. She has a past that we know very little about, one that she is sometimes reluctant to share with us. It’s hers, after all. However damaging and traumatic it was. And it was taken from her.
I understand her, in a way, because the last seven years were taken from me, too. I spent them chasing after the ghosts of the children playing hide-and-seek in my mind, and I’m not sure those ghosts will ever rest, adoption or no.
But tomorrow, we’re getting a child. A real one. One who’s been with us for the past two years. One who always draws me wearing green because she knows it’s my favorite color. One who kisses my forehead while I’m napping off a migraine. One who collects curls of birch bark for me because she knows that I love birch trees. One who bought me a ring at Shopko, got down on one knee, and asked me to be her mother forever.
One who is headstrong and creative.
One with small, capable hands.
One who’s a sweetheart with a cleft chin and an easy smile.
Tomorrow, we will complete each other. We will join together our broken pieces and through this legal mortar, those pieces will be forever cemented together. We will fill the lack in her life, and she will fill the lack in ours.
We’ll be giving her our last name, and we’ll be giving her a second middle name, one that we all chose together: Hope.
Hope, that we will give her a better life. Hope, that we will bring each other joy. Hope, that our futures are not as bleak as they had seemed, even if they cannot be as we had imagined.
Hope, that blessings await us all.