“You had to be there.”
Perhaps one of my least favorite lines. Especially when I have to utter it after a sharing a regaling tale of something interesting or funny at work. My anecdote is greeted with a blank stare, sometimes with the gentle question from Ms. Plum or others: “Is that it?”
“You had to be there,” I add, sadly.
Mr. Sillypants here, long overdue for a post and also filling in for my beloved, jetsetting Ms. Plum. Currently, Ms. Plum is in Ecuador with Songbird and Twinkletoes; Ms. Plum and Twinkletoes had the chance to join Songbird at the end of a long Summer in Ecuador for a few weeks of travel before the realities of day-to-day life set in again. Of course, everyone jumped at the chance. And, I’m thrilled they get the chance to experience such things together.
What equaled a mountaintop experience for them (literally!) translated to 10 full days of full-time daddy for me. Blueberry and I have been mano-a-mano for well over a week to date, due to the fact that Waffles also recently left for college. This has been a time of joy, happiness, fatigue, work and introspection for me – – – in short, it has been a time when the activities of my daily life have somehow sharpened my understanding about what my existence is all about.
My background. Well, it’s varied. Although I’m currently in medicine, I actually self-identify as a musician who practices medicine. (I will deny this to any of my patients who come across this blog.) Much of my life prior to medicine was spent in music, both as a performer and as a pipe organ designer. My previous work allowed me to be involved in pipe organ projects all over the United States, not to mention some major projects in Europe, South America and Asia. It was fascinating and fulfilling work for me.
I also trained as a choral and orchestra conductor and have, still clearly etched in my memory, experiences when I’ve been on the podium, waving my hands, listening to the sublime and utterly magical sonorities contained within music of the masters. There were some moments when the joy within me was so great that I would think, deep inside, “How did I ever get here?”
There are countless other experiences I carry with me, not as a testament to how I used to be, but a rememberance of how blessed I am. I don’t look for a return to that life, as much as I affirm how lucky I am to have been there.
Truthfully, it was a good life in many ways. At one point, for many years, I was at the piano or the organ console for 6 hours a day. I felt like there were few things I couldn’t play. I was involved with something I loved and it was great. But, there was this nagging hole which couldn’t be ignored, this longing which gnawed at me despite all of the other great things going on.
Before Ms. Plum and Blueberry, I had only known the joy of being a step-dad. In a previous marriage, I became step-dad to a 5 and 7 year old and we divorced when the “children” were 18 and 20. I carry many, many beloved memories from this time and I am actually in contact with them to this day.
With Ms. Plum, there are three amazing step-children, Songbird, Twinkletoes and Waffles, and, truthfully, no one could ask for a more talented and lovely collection of individuals than these three. They are simply three of the most wonderful people I’ve ever known and I’m humbled to be a part of their lives.
However, there was this nagging hole.
Before Ms. Plum, I was never “the daddy”; I never had the chance to be in that role, dealing with the sheer joy, the challenges, the drain of the day-to-day work that had to be done. Yet, I wanted it, without even knowing it.
Enter my life with beloved Ms. Plum. Through twists and turns and a number of surreal coincidences, I am blissfully hitched to this woman who also had a dream of adopting from East Africa. One significant leap of faith together, done hand-in-hand, and Blueberry comes home.
I have great memories from my life before Ms. Plum and Blueberry. I have thoughts in my heart so powerful and tender that they cannot be put into words when I consider my step-children, those from a previous marriage and the amazing triad of Songbird, Twinkletoes and Waffles. I have music, travels, triumphs, failures and relationships, experiences which continue to shape my life and who I am.
This week, however, when Blueberry and I are having the time of our lives, I realize what I had been missing. He simply is a rockstar and I feel I’m part of a living sacrament when I spend time with him.
Here’s the miracle. I have been part of a loving family, both as a child and as an adult – – – my upbringing was pretty wonderful. I have many relationships which I feel are positive, nurturing and healthy. I am generally a very upbeat person who tries to do good in the world. I have so many wonderful memories which fill my life.
But, I never understood quite what I was missing until I became a father. Somehow, once Blueberry came along, that hole started filling up. Longing which I didn’t even realize existed became evident, because it was fulfilled and its absence made me aware.
This week has been a time to focus on Blueberry, to be his support, is nurture, his structure. It is a role which I embrace and celebrate. As I miss my beloved Ms. Plum, Songbird and Twinkletoes, I realize how rich my life has become.
I used to wonder what it would be like to have a family of my very own.
I guess you had to be there.