Sunday, August 30, 2009

A Charaders Reunion

Almost fifteen years ago - I met up with a group of women who would become some of my very best friends. We all came together through a mutual friend and - despite life and career changes, growing older, moving away and the plain old passage of time - we are still very much connected a decade and a half later. We started our friendship in Philadelphia, but we now represent several different regions of the country. Regardless of distance, though, these women are - and will always be - close to my heart.

It had been almost four years since we had all been together as a group. And, since some of us are about to start new careers, move cross country or just jump back into a new season and a new routine - we decided that the time was right for a long-overdue get-together. Lucky for me, they agreed to our house as the meeting place.

We call ourselves "The Charaders" because - well, we like to play Charades. I'm not sure who first suggested this tried and true game of pantomime - but, we started playing it back then and we're happily (and hysterically) still playing it today. So much so, in fact, that we jokingly took it on as a group name back in the 1990s.

Both kids LOVED having everyone here. Luca had never had that many doting adult play mates at his disposal. He couldn't believe his luck.

Matteo had a lot of fun, too.

Our time together was spent playing,

making music,

sharing meals,

and simply hanging around.

It was such a good feeling to be together again after so much time. And, although I don't know the next time we'll be able to come together again - I do know that I want to be playing charades with these women well into the far off future.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Hellos and Goodbyes

WARNING - graphic (defrosted) placenta pics below!

We had a really great trip to Asheville. Deirdre and Jackie's new house is amazing. They are still working on the finishing touches - but, even incomplete, it takes my breath away.

We happily packed a week's worth of activity into just three and a half days because there was so much to see and do.

Luca helped Deirdre harvest veggies for our meals from the garden.

Deirdre and I hiked to Douglas Falls.

Luca and Debbie hit a few smaller waterfalls on the way down the mountain.

We got a lesson in goat milking...

...and baby chick-rearing.

We visited with our good friends Susan and Michael and super-cute Baby Daniel.

And we said hello to new friends.

We also went to say goodbye.

Just over a year ago, we found out that one of the two babies I was carrying was sick with Myelomeningocele (the most severe form of spina bifida), a Chiari Malformation (resulting in a "banana" shaped skull), hydrocephalus, an extreme case of club feet, an irregular heart beat and some other issues that I can't even recall. It was very clear that this baby had little to no chance of survival and - in the off-chance that she did make it to delivery - she would have had a painful, surgery-filled, very short life. Not to mention the fact that her twin brother (Matteo) was at risk and that a very premature labor was likely. Debbie and I made the very difficult, but obvious decision to terminate. (There's a sub-story here where - infuriatingly - no one in the state of Florida would perform the procedure because, despite the fact that extreme complications were certain and imminent ((but because no one was dying just yet)), they wanted us to wait. I was already twenty-one weeks pregnant at this point and to wait was not only dangerous, but also close to being illegal. Ahh - the Sunshine State! We had to find a fetal geneticist/surgeon ourselves A.S.A.P. We were lucky to get in touch with one of the best and flew ourselves to New York, two days after the news, to let her go.)

So, one year later - to the day - we buried their fused placentas and her ashes on Deirdre and Jackie's land.

POST SCRIPT: We only told Luca what we felt he could handle, so he was only partially informed - knowing simply that we were burying Matteo's placenta - a symbol of the Tree of Life - to give thanks for his healthy baby brother.