Archive for the ‘ Family ’ Category

MY LITTLE FIGHTER- KUTTIMA

I can never stand to see an animal die even in movies. I have cried through King Kong because they killed King Kong, and I could not comprehend how someone could put an animal down. I could never see myself make that decision and I really prayed I would never have to do it. But that day did arrive on Nov 19, 2014.

I have always been a dog lover, until 2001 when a cat walked into our apartment. She was hungry and we decided to feed her. Fast-forward to March 8, 2002 and my mom woke me up saying there were four healthy kittens in my room. The cat that walked in gave us four little kittens, a completely black cat I called Rapster, Smarto our little boy who was slow from day one, Ringo because she had rings in her body and Kuttima because she was small and Kutty in my language means small. We had to be innovative with names considering we had four of them to name.

Rapster got sick few weeks later, and was diagnosed with congenital heart problems. He would not move, and would sit in a place all day. I was studying in college then, and I would carry him all day I was home and did everything with him on my arms. He died at the hospital and the doctor suggested we bring the rest of them in to have them checked. Kuttima was really sick, Ringo had some problems and Smarto was healthy. They gave Kuttima six months to live, and she stayed with us until November 19, 2014. She was twelve years old.

She was the most gentle of the lot. Smarto and Ringo fought each other from day one, and she was their mediator. She was skinny, and her ears were always straight so I nicknamed her Stitch from Lilo and Stitch. She fought me during shower time and walked on walls to get away from the water. She had big eyes and was so delicate that when I carried her I thought I might break her. But she was a fighter and she fought to stay with us for twelve years. She had a big heart, a heart bigger that her body could take it.

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Kuttima

Last year her stomach bloated with liquid and we were told her condition was getting worse. We could put her to sleep but I refused. She was active, and did not look sick. In the past month, her stomach got bigger, and she was walking slow until Tuesday when I was carrying her. She hung on to me like a newborn kid, and it broke my heart. I knew something was not right and could not sleep all night long. I hoped and prayed she would make it. She seemed okay on Wednesday morning, but when I got back from work she would not walk and was crying. I knew if I took her to the hospital I would have to make the hardest decision of my life. Yet, I knew I had to do it.

I tried to hold my composure, but as the doctor explained the procedure I started crying. I got some time with my baby girl as I held her, and pampered her. She was ready to go and lay there still. I held her head in my hand as the doctor put the meds in her body that would stop her heart. I saw her drift away from me. I could not bear to see her lay there still.

It was the hardest day of my life. I cannot stop crying and every corner in my house reminds me of her. I have never seen one of my pets die in front of me and it has been the hardest thing I have had to deal with yet. I cannot get her face from my eyes as I said goodbye to her. I had a choice to not be there, but I knew I had to be with her holding her through her last moments.

Kuttima, my little fighter I love you and I miss you so much. My life has been enriched by your presence and we miss you so much.

AN ADOPTION JOURNEY

I sit here alone in the morning silence and wonder how much more I would have to wait to get my little girl. The silence is killing me. I want to know anything and something that would trigger my hope and keep this journey less paranoid and more exciting. On June 13th, we finally got matched to an orphanage in India and we learned that our little girl is coming from Kerala. It all seemed too perfect and movie like. We were on a trip to the Caribbean’s and right before turning off our cell phones and emails for the next nine days I checked my email on the flight one last time. “RIPA assigned” the email read and as we opened it in our first “first class” seats ever, I jumped with joy in the seat as my husband tried to make sense of the commotion. It all seemed too perfect- we got first class seats without paying for it and just as we were rejoicing the coincidence of our first “first class” ride, we know about the orphanage our daughter is at. And to top it all off, she lives in the same city my mom is originally from. It all seemed like destiny.

The orphanage match followed with the approval of the I-800A. I-800A is the clearance from the US immigration saying we were fit to be parents and to bring a child as our own to the United States. Our next hurdle was the dossier. For everyone who has never heard of a dossier like me, it is a collection of every document imaginable and pictures that are sent to the orphanage. It represents the both of us to the orphanage. After month and half of squandering through documents, and being picky about every word in the documents we were ready to send our dossier off to India.. I have never nagged anyone as much as I did in the month leading to the dossier submission. I refused to accept a delay in paperwork, and I made phone calls every few hours until they said “the docs are ready”. And then I apologized to clear my conscience. Being a non nagger, this journey has introduced a new talent I possess.

After months of commotion over the dossier, the silence is unnerving. The excitement has turned to paranoia as I wonder many things. We wanted a child as young as possible, and our orphanage told us it was unrealistic. Yet, we stuck to it. As I sit here alone with the morning silence I wonder if maybe I should have been more accommodating. We don’t have a child yet, and we want to be part of every diaper change and droll possible. I wonder if that is too much to ask for as parents.

This journey has been nothing short of amazing. I lost my dad to death almost 19 years back, and that episode changed the course of my life. I can picture the 12 year old me sitting in front of his body wondering a million questions and battling loneliness for the first time ever. I had a mother who loved me, yet his loss made my world turn upside down. I stood there clueless and in some ways cheated and orphaned of his love. Years later as a fourteen year old visiting an orphanage, I realized how lucky I had been. I had memories with my dad for a lifetime and could hold a conversation about him for days. There were children who never knew what a parent was. I connected with them in some ways, and yet I was chosen by God to have two parents for twelve long years- a lot more than all those children in that room had in their young lives. That moment followed with years of shutting the yearning to adopt until finally I realized I was meant to do this. My dad loved children, and maybe it was his voice triggering me to adopt a child. Here I am today waiting to see her face yet feeling love beyond anything I have ever felt. I never knew I could be so consumed with love for someone I did not see or know. As I sit here wondering a million what ifs, I just pray that God hears our plea and brings us something affirmative from the orphanage. A waiting list number would be great- somehow that will ease the anxiety I am feeling in my heart. And as you read this blog, I ask for prayers to help reach our plea to God.

One step closer: A million miles away!

2008_1114_shutterstock_holding_hands_childROUND 2: I end my work day on Tuesday with an email from the adoption agency. I feel nervous, jittery, and I open the email with my heart pounding into my ear. It was simple: the documents were received and it all looked good. However we need to get ourselves fingerprinted and then we start HOMESTUDY. Homestudy, a word that has pages and pages of stories online (I read through a lot of horror stories even before I could fill out my application).  I like to be prepared for the worst, and trust me when I say life always makes sure I get a taste of the worst before I get the best. That’s how God and I roll!

I hate interviews and I have met very few people who like interviewing. Actually up until a few months back I had met none. And then I happen to meet a creature I call my friend who loves interviewing. I have been to a lot of them, some I really enjoyed and some crashed my self-esteem to the floor. I am an engineer and part of the engineering drill is to put you on a grill and see how you feel. Literally that’s what technical interviews feel like. I cannot pretend to be happy when I feel like a piece of burned chicken on a grill, and yet professional etiquette calls for a smile in time of crisis. They ask you questions you have never heard of, and yet they want to know how you will solve it. Logical questions: oh I love them. How many golf balls can you fit into a car? Yes, because I have so much time on my hands that I can actually try this out. Yet you ask some calculation to it, and bam they are happy. Might not make sense but sure it makes them happy if you can make up stuff. Engineers need story making skills too in the real world. My all-time favorite how long would it take you to walk from California to Idaho? They give us three weeks and expect us to know how long it would take us to walk to Idaho. Duh!! With the vacation policy here, I barely have walked around my street, let alone Idaho.

Homestudy is interview in the adoption world. We will have a social worker assigned to us, who will assess us as a family, and a couple.  So here, the evil side of my brain is wondering if we should delay the fingerprinting by a week or two before we turn in those documents. That way I can clean, fix my home to make it social worker ready. The angelic side of me (which is 1% of me) wants me to do it right away so we can proceed.  I tried to present both to my husband and of course my husband would not buy into the delaying part. There goes that! Between fingerprinting, and really working towards not reading anything online, I have to get my house social worker ready.

I am from India- the land of arranged marriages. I should be able to handle this blind date or arranged marriage between the social worker and us, and yet I am super nervous. I have never been on a blind date or had an arranged marriage. I don’t think I could handle it either ways. I am a control freak by nature.  I am paranoid about having someone come to my space and interview me. I don’t know what she/he looks like (like it even matters), and how they are as a person. All I can do right now is thank God for getting us one step closer to our baby, and pray that our social worker is an awesome person.  I think about my little girl somewhere in the world and I know the stress, the jitters would all be worth it someday from now.

She is today but a dream- soon to be reality!

Today is a new day, a new story, a new beginning. My husband and I are starting a new journey into the unknown. As we fill out the last few sections of our adoption papers, I am nervous, excited, scared and yet very happy.  A dream I had for years is finally taking shape, and now it is our dream after months of discussions and talks. Phew!  As I fill the remaining sections, I wonder if she is even born and yet here I am anxious to hold her in my arms. My maternal instincts have been on an overdrive since I first went to an orphanage as a fourteen year old. I met this little guy with cleft palette who clung on to me.  The emotions I felt that moment were so surreal. I wanted to take him home with me, but I was smart to know I was miles away from being a mother.

IMG_4290My first stint with motherhood began four years back. On a sunny December morning in Chennai, India, I was embarking on my first blind date of my life. I was nervous, excited, jittery- all of the above as I packed all my gifts for my date. My blind date was special- she was a little three year old I had seen pictures of since she was a few months old. I had seen her grow in those bi-annual updates I received of this child I was sponsoring from an orphanage in Chennai. Her name was Methilda, and I feel like I have grown with her. I was a new college grad, in my first job when I decided I wanted to sponsor a child.

Little MethildaSo here I was going to meet my little girl whose picture I have flaunted as my own for years. I took my husband with me so he could meet my daughter. That’s right- she was mine before I married him, ain’t no sharing in this aspect! We got to the orphanage, and were taken to a room where Methilda was with a bunch of other little kids. I was overwhelmed beyond I had ever experienced. Now, I am far from the emotional crying kind. I make people cry! I really have to be upset to cry and I have never experienced crying with joy in my lifetime. For the very first time, I was fighting back tears as I held her in my arms. I bought her a Minnie mouse from the US, and a bunch of chocolates anticipating competition. I distributed the chocolates to the children in her class, while she walked around with me. We spent a lot of time with those children, taking pictures, talking to them and just enjoying the innocence in the air.

As we walked back, I saw a little girl hold my African American husband’s hand and walk.  They had no language in common and yet this little girl was talking to him and he was listening. She insisted she walk with him. I translated some of it but the rest they were having a conversation.  That day when I got to hold Methilda will always be special. Her smile lit up my world for those two hours, and nothing mattered but her.

As my husband and I start this journey into the unknown, we know it is not going to be easy. There will be trials, heartbreak and tears- I was warned of all that by the agency. I am prepared for the battle ahead of me. Here we are round 1 of many more to come, but we will survive. I know it will be worth it when I hold her in my arms. Until then, she is a dream waiting to become our reality!

I SURVIVED THE BIG ‘D’: AN ODE TO MY ANGEL

‘My daddy’s strongest’: Every time I said those three words, I believed it. My daddy was the strongest man I had every known: my partner in crime, my best friend and when time permitted he did play the daddy role. There are two types of daughters: the ones that are daddy’s little girls and the ones that are obsessed with daddy. I was the third kind- I wanted to be just like him and I was obsessed with him.  So at 12, when I sat there staring at death steal my dad away from me, it felt like someone was snatching the core of my existence away from me. When the doctor said ‘he was no more’, I tried to comprehend what it meant. He was right there and yet he wasn’t!Image

I don’t think I have moved on. Seventeen years later, I still feel like that child trying to comprehend the moment in front of me. I have heard ‘time is the best healer, it will get better’. The hard truth is it never gets better nor does time heal anything. You learn to live with it. I learned to live with it. The strangest thing about death is suddenly I realized how lonely I was. I could be in a crowd, at a party- yet there is an inexplicable loneliness I feel at every juncture.  Again I learned to live with that monster inside of me as well. I carry him around and somehow Mr. Loneliness has become my pal, and I mask it with my shyness.

I have been the patient in surgery and I have been the person waiting for my loved one in surgery. If given a choice, I would choose to be the patient. When I was waiting for my loved one to be out of the surgery, it is almost like you are being operated on without anesthesia. Death felt exactly like that to me. My dad had the anesthesia, while I felt every tremble, and every jolt. My dad has this poem he recited to me as a child when I was sick. It gave me strength through all my battles. It went like this:

“Without Daddy there was no daughter,

Without daughter there is no daddy”

To this day, when I think of my dad I remember these lines he used to tell me. Through childhood flus, cold, sickness, hurt those lines have given me a lot of strength. It made me believe my dad was always with me.

Death changed my life forever. In pop culture, every life changing moment is giving a one-letter word- sometimes a four letter too, but we are talking PG13. Marriage is called ‘M word’, love is called the ‘L word’, cancer is the ‘C word’ etc. I pronounce death the ‘D word’. Every life altering moment gives a person a chance to fight, death doesn’t. It comes and conquers- changing life forever. It should be rightly termed the ‘F word’.

I sit at home on this fall morning thinking back to the moment that changed it all. I feel his essence and his warmth each day, I see him in my smile each day.  To say I love him is an understatement- I would never be me if he were not a part of my life. A part of me might have died with him that fall morning, but I will survive. Through all that life has to offer, I know I can live through it because my daddy lives through me.