Goodbye 2019, Hello Baby Cheyenne
MORGANTOWN, WV—As 2019 exits stage right, let’s talk babies—and Facebook. First thing this morning, that social network reminded me of my actions for every December 31 for the last several years. Of special import was one memory from Dec. 31, 2013. That was the day I read my sister’s eulogy in front of friends and family.
So it only seems apropos that I begin this blog talking about her, because on the sixth anniversary of Lisa’s death, December 27, her daughter became a mother. That’s the day my niece Destinee announced to the world that she had given birth to a baby girl, who was one month premature. Had Lisa lived, she would now be a grandmother.
That Destinee did so on Facebook, a social media site that has become home to many major life announcements, no longer surprised me. (Compared to five, or even three years ago, when it would have.)
I’m still old school: I use the telephone. (That’s a mobile or smartphone, for the youngsters who might be reading.) If it’s really important, such as a death in the family, and if at all possible, I will even break the news in person. But young people today are not old school. They use a medium that they’ve grown up with, just like we did, when we pick up the phone.
After reading the news, I did just that. I called Destinee. Then I went to meet my great-niece—and fell in love. It’s human nature to love babies, but this baby is the one Lisa would have swooned over. Made it her life’s mission to spoil rotten. So when I held this tiny newborn creature for the first time, I did so as a surrogate grandmother. For the sister who should now be 54.
I marveled at Cheyenne Michelle’s perfect features—her tiny fingers, her bright eyes, her black, silky hair. And I thought back to a long-ago day in the spring of 1985, when I accompanied Lisa to a medical appointment. There, she was diagnosed with more endometriosis, for which surgery was required—while I was very pregnant with my fourth child.
After examining Lisa, her female doctor, who came from a foreign land where such things were normal, looked at me and said the words I have never forgotten: “You should give this baby to your sister. You already have three.” I had no words then, nor do I now. And while she couldn’t give birth herself, Lisa did become an adored, mischievous aunt.
We have a problem in our family, and it’s one I never dreamed would exist. It’s certainly not one that my father would have condoned. Nor do I. People cut off other family members from seeing their children. Or adults make an intentional choice not to be involved in those children’s lives.
I’ve never denied anyone the familial right to see his or her child or grandchild—because I believe doing so is morally repugnant. (Even in extreme situations where abuse is present and children must be protected, workarounds such as supervised visitation are often possible.)
Destinee and her sister Emilee were adopted from Korea, but we accepted them as blood, as kin, the minute we met them. So Baby Cheyenne is as much a part of our family as every baby who was born with our DNA is.
So, as the last decade turns to dust in the wind and 2020 whisks in new life and possibilities, please be resolved to let go of old grudges. Let your guard down and open your heart, and experience the wonderful thrill that can only come from loving.
And if you have not yet met this little being, your niece or granddaughter or cousin, who is currently in the NICU, please do. She will tug at your heartstrings the moment you see her. In so doing, she will remind you of the Lisa who once was, when all she yearned for was to hold a baby of her own in her arms.
If you’d like to donate toward “Daleen v. Goliath” I could really use your help. Your donation will keep the lights on, and help me buy paper and ink, so I can submit my appeal (which will consist of thousands of pages of documents) to the the Supreme Court for a case that has become very personal. Please check out my latest update at the above link, which I videotaped in front of the Monongalia County Justice Center last week.
For an in-depth look at the damaging effects of the silence that surrounds abuse, please watch my live TEDx talk, given April 13, 2013, at Connecticut College.
Thank you for choosing to read what I write. With the many and varied choices out there, I’m honored that you dropped by to visit me.
Have a great day and remember, it’s whatever you want to make it!