Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Anna Stensruds that live(d)

So I did something yesterday.

I frequently find myself plugging into Google, searching, searching for something my heart knows I'll never find but my mind says "It's GOT to be there somewhere!  She has to be somewhere..."  Often I'll look to see if there's any news on my ex-husband - like if he's been convicted of anything yet, any legal trouble he might be having, that sort of snarky business - or people from my first marriage life that I don't have contact with anymore.  More frequently than is good for me, I look for Emily's birthmother.  Just to see if I can find out anything, maybe see a picture of Emily, discover just a snippet of what her life is like.  But no...those darn people who have protected their privacy so well by not creating Facebook pages or whatnot drive me bonkers.  This is how stalking is DONE these days!

But yesterday I plugged in Anna's name.  We didn't have a public memorial service for her.  We never wrote an obituary.  What was I expecting to find?  Maybe a birth/death announcement through a government or hospital based source?  Maybe someone took it upon themselves to write up something for the local paper?  Something.  Something that said "she was here".

I did indeed find some Anna Stensruds...but not mine.  There's one out there that made me blanch.  Some girl who Twitters by OhsnapitsAnna18 and writes things like "I might be a slut but I'm the slut your boyfriend wants".  Ugh.  I don't want my girl's name associated anywhere near her, capisce?
Most are Nordic women, no surprise I suppose.  But then there was this,

"Mrs. Anna Stensrud, daughter of Knute and Martha (Stamperstugen) Broughton, was born on May 12, 1873, in Westerheim Township, Lyon County, Minnesota, and passed away at the Clarkfield Care Center on January 17, 1969, at 8:30 p.m. at the age of 95 years.

She was baptized and confirmed in the St. Lucas Lutheran Church and was a lifetime member of the church and the Ladies Aid.

On November 16, 1893, she was united in marriage to Oscar J. Stensrud by the Rev. Knute Thorsteinson and to this union were born eight children.

They lived most of their married life in Westerheim Township except for a short time when they resided in Cottonwood. After the death of her husband, Mrs. Stensrud lived with her daughter, Mrs. Albert Pesek and a few years at the homes of her sons, Orvin and Marvin Stensrud. The last few years were spent at the Clarkfield Care Center.

She was preceded in death by her parents, her husband, two daughters, one sister and three brothers.

She leaves to mourn her passing, two daughters: Miss Maybelle Stensrud of Phoenix, Arizona, and Nettie (Mrs. Albert Pesek) of Taunton, Minnesota; and four sons: John of Cottonwood, Carl of Clarkfield, Orvin of Wood Lake, and Marvin of Minneota; 15 grandchildren; 43 great grandchildren; and a host of friends and relatives."

Ninety-five years old.  Married to the same man for 76 years.  Lived her whole life in Minnesota.  Forty-three great grandchildren.  Granted she married into the name but no matter.   Forty three.  Great grandchildren.   Now that's a life, my friends.

If only.

If only...

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Parallel Universes

A few weeks ago I started reading my first book for pleasure in months and months.  Struck By Genius by Jason Padgett.  Completely average guy gets beat up with resulting head injury, becomes quite possibly the greatest mathematician of our time.  Synesthete, coming up with all this stuff on quantum physics, the way the world works, how it's all organized in nature, etc etc.  Within all this, there's one page where he talks about parallel universes.  A theory I've heard/learned/read about before during my 30's, otherwise known as The Decade of Trying to Figure It Out.  This theory in which all of us are living different lives on a different plane of existence based upon choices we make or things that happen - or DON'T happen.   So theoretically, somewhere out there Brad and I celebrated 23 years together this year rather than 12, after meeting in 1992.   Somewhere else I'm still with my first husband (and probably freaking miserable).   Etcetera.

And somewhere…we're living our lives with Anna.

An obvious plot you knew was coming.

It's nice to think about in a way, her life being lived, her becoming her.  
But honestly?  If that's happening?  I'm freaking jealous.  Jealous of me.  Jealous of everyone who comes into contact with her who will know her exponentially better than I.  The sound of her voice, how she likes to wear her hair...the backpack she chose for kindergarten.  

As I write anger surges forth, the wind of my mind whipping my heart into a frenzy and breath becoming choppy as I go again on this unwelcome ride of wondering.  It takes just seconds to fall down the rabbit hole into the complete unreality of this reality.  

If Anna's somewhere else, I want to go there.   I know this begs the question "What if you had to give up the life you have?" In other words, the child you have.  Everyone with children knows you can't pick amongst them, who you'd have live or die.  I can't say that I'd choose life with Anna in it, alive and well, knowing that C might never come to be.  I've had to live the unimaginable already and don't like to delve into what life would feel like without C.   I know her too intimately, she is too much a part of me now.  Still.  

There was an NBC show not long ago called "Awake".  In it the primary character lived in a world where his wife was alive but his son was dead, but when he fell asleep he woke up into the reverse scenario.  He'd just go back and forth between the two realities.  I resonated with that show.  I mean, resonated.  That's the fantasy!  The universe won't let you have these two precious and irreplaceable people together, but gives you the opportunity to have them both separately.  

I'd take that.  

She's Three!!

Our C turned three last weekend and while those who follow me on Instagram might think I was only paying attention to the cake, I really do know what's important.   This.

Our girl.  Three!  How can three years go so fast when the 6 1/2 trying to get to her were so painfully slow?!  Time is messed UP, man.  She can go from hot to cold faster than you can say her name, she'll instruct you on what to say (exactly) over hours of pretend play, her language continues to slay me on a daily basis, and her small little arms around my neck make my whole life.   She's bright, funny, observant, willful, manipulative, stubborn, and for as much as she shines with language and grasping concepts, she struggles with gross motor and risk-taking.  This girl still won't swing, climb, pet animals, or even blow out the candles on her cake in front of a crowd.
One wonders how a personality so commanding and vibrant in a small group could possibly shrink to the level of invisibility she seems to seek when overwhelmed.   Anyway...we're working on it.

As with probably 85% of the other little girls on the planet under the age of 5, C has a bit of a passion for princesses -particularly the latest ones.  She told anyone who would listen (and plenty who didn't) that she was having a Frozen party - and Elsa would be there.   I'm having the time of my life with her birthday parties.  YES they're over the top and YES a day or two before I want to quit the whole thing because it's taken up such obscene amounts of time over the preceding few months and YES I know it's this side of ridiculous.  But you know what else?  I've wanted to be a Mom for as long as I can remember - and waited 20 years longer than my mother did for a living child to finally find their way to me.  Twenty years, people.  And in most cases a good 10 years longer than the vast majority of my peers.  All the years of wanting and wishing and hoping, the revenge for the years of pain and devastation of infertility and losing Anna, all tucked into what Aladdin's Genie would call an "iiiiiittybittylivingspace" of these few hours that are her birthday parties.

I'm not a cake decorator by any stretch, but I've had a ball and a half making hers.  Last year's theme was Sesame Street and I made this (the letter Cs and number 2s are sugar cookies we made and decorated.)

This year I made...

Anna's cake was chocolate obviously ("I wanna stuff some chocolate in my faaaace!"), and Elsa's white because, of course.   I made the fondant 3 weeks in advance with my good friend who taught me about fondant 4 years ago and kept it in the fridge.  I didn't even screw up my first go-round with rock candy!  Then it cracked the right way and I was instantly inspired to transform Elsa's cake into the Ice Castle, instead of just having the candy in a bowl as was the original intention.

We made Olafs out of marshmallows,

Stamped snowflakes on T-shirts

frolicked with play snow (corn starch + shaving cream with a dash of glitter because, Frozen!)

and had a piƱata.

Fourteen kids ranging in age from 11 months to 14 years and even the oldest seemed to have a great time.   Cate did great with everyone infringing on her personal space for gifts (Daddy's lap is pretty comforting)
 but as last year, we had to blow out her candles lest her lovely guests be forced to eat wax with their frosting.  (I just love the scene stealer from last year.  He could not help himself!)

All in all, for as whirlwind as it is having some 40 people in your house while Armageddon rains pour outside, it was a glorious party celebrating the incredible little person granting me the most precious experience of my life.  Being a mom to a living child is everything I imagined it to be and jillion things I couldn't.  It is in every way the antithesis of being a Mom to a dead child.  Which I haven't figured out how to be nearly as well.  

Happy Birthday Sweet Sweet Girl!!