Friday, September 27, 2013

Do What You Love

Charley and MissyKat in 2010

         In 2010, I went back to school. Brad said it best. "It's your turn, Sherry. Do what you love."

        So I filled out the student loan applications, made a joke about how, no, I wouldn't have to worry about paying it back because I'd be 95 before I ever finished my Masters. I then packed my suitcase, drove to Louisville, checked in at the Brown Hotel, and wondered what I was doing there. 

      I looked around. What was I doing in company like that? These were writers, after all. People who had confidence in themselves, in their writing, and were just there to hone their craft. I had never thought of myself as a writer, more like someone who likes to write. Still, I was there to learn. To write.

        During my first session, I was so discouraged that I almost quit. It was a session on how to write a short critical essay. The faculty member stood on stage, explaining the beauty of,“A Death in the Woods," by Sherwood Anderson. She asked questions of the students. And I, who had forgotten the duck tape for my big fat mouth, blurted something out. It was wrong. So wrong. And she let me know it, as she smirked and openly used me as an example of how NOT to write a short critical essay.

        I wanted to crawl under the nearest desk and die. I wanted to quit. I wanted to throw up all over her shoes. As I sat there, my cheeks burning, my eyes came to rest on a picture of Charley. I'd taped it to the front of my binder, as a reminder of what I was doing there. I was there to learn. To do what I love. To write.

        I was there to write about how I'd been unable to have a child of my own. How I'd had an ovarian cyst the size of a cantaloupe, leaving me with half an ovary to work with, and a myriad of DNCs, anemia, and a slim chance of pregnancy. How I'd stood by and watched my friends give birth, and when I'd realized I couldn't, I'd buried myself in work.

        I was there to write about how my husband contacted an adoption agency behind my back, and how my protest of adoption was short-lived, and thank God for that. Thank God for the birth mother who breathed life into me the minute he was placed in my arms.

        I was there to write about how well-meaning friends of my mother called asking if we knew what we were doing, and how we answered, "No," and how no child comes with instruction papers, not even special needs kids, and how it didn't matter because we were adopting him anyway, but thanks for calling.

        I was there to write about that face. Those ocean-blue crescent moon-shaped eyes, those turned up lips, the innocence that looks right through you, and the surrender to everything that is good and precious.

        I was there to write about heart. That heart that unconditionally wraps itself around you like a blanket, warming you like the sun, the son, the one who loves you no matter what. No matter how much money you make, no matter how beautiful, or skinny, or perfect, or not.

        I was there to write about how life can't get any sweeter because he fills you up with the honey of laughter, his zest for life, and gratitude for every minute of every day.

        Life with Charley is a learning curve. He challenges us, confuses us, inspires us. He gives without reserve, demanding that we be better people.

        Because of him, life is better than I ever thought it could be.

        In 1990, Charley took his first breath of life.

        In 2010, I signed up to write it. To learn. To put pen to paper and bring him to life on the page.

        He celebrates his 23rd birthday this weekend. 23 years of bringing me to life.

        In 2010, Brad said, "It's your turn, Sherry. Do what you love."

        To that I say - it's been my turn.

        I've been doing what I love, for 23 years.

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