After my parents divorced when I was around nine my mom asked my brother and I if we wanted to stay in our house at the beach or move somewhere less expensive and be able to have more stuff. Or at least, that’s how we perceived the question. In any event, we had gone through such a traumatic change in our young lives we just could not fathom giving up our home as well. So my mom bought a sofa bed, moved into our family room and rented out the master upstairs.
J & R were our first tenets and the ones who stayed the longest. I spent those teenage years of angst, confusion and rebellion with this couple and they helped shape who I am. They managed to make doing the dishes fun, helped me see my mother as a person, and taught me what it is to mourn. Their first child, born while they lived in our home, suffered from Cytomegalovirus (CMV). CMV is a virus that most of us will have in our lives and won’t ever know that we’re infected as its effects are mild to the average adult. But, if a mother gets her first exposure to this virus while pregnant, “80% to 90% will have complications within the first few years of life that may include hearing loss, vision impairment, and varying degrees of mental retardation.” Little J was born with purple dots all over his skin, the first sign of trouble. He was rushed to the hospital and there they discovered what had happened. They were devastated. They didn’t know what to do. For a lot of reasons that I can assure you are very valid, they decided to seek out an open adoption scenario. They found a woman in Northern California who ran a school for disabled children, had already adopted a couple and was thrilled with the idea of them remaining an active part in his life. I remember the day they drove away; I carried Little J out to the car in his seat, set him in and said good bye. I remember feeling like the world was crashing apart and being carried away in a little squalling infant to a home I’d never know. To this day that memory makes me cry. I can’t imagine what it did to J & R.
I do know what it did to me the first time I saw that little pink line indicating I was pregnant with Lily. I knew that R’s exposure to CMV meant I had likely already come into contact with the virus and it wouldn’t harm my child. But the thousands of other “what if’s” crashed in and all I could picture for a moment was this beautiful picture J took or R holding their son, her face trying to smile but her heart clearly shattered all around them, her eyes showing the complete and utter suffering that is a mother losing a son.
The good news is that this child, diagnosed as one who would likely never talk, walk, hear or see is now an active, bright, intelligent teen that only suffers a hearing loss. That’s it: he’s deaf. Oh, and he plays the violin beautifully. Not "beautifully for a deaf kid," beautifully. Period. He’s doing so well in large part to the resources his adoptive mother provided and for that we are all eternally grateful.
But back to my point. Community. I was blessed to be raised in community and for that I am eternally grateful. I want that for my children. I want to live on a big piece of land with many families; families that I know and love just a stones throws away. I want to wake up in the morning and share breakfast with Coffeegirl and her silly boys. I want to pick tomatoes with Daphne and her growing family. I want to hang diapers on the line with Almost Fey and learn to knit with my cousin and her boys. I want to go to the zoo with KB and her crazy boys. I want to chase Chickenflicken and her three around a lake. There are so many people that we meet in life or even online that create who we are and the community we build for our families. I want that to somehow become alive. Right here. Right now.
So… who wants to move in?