Tag: Miracle



I feel like I’m holding miracles–this thin sheet of paper with smudgy blue stamps that says I’m a legal resident, this printed green postcard that says I have health coverage. I can’t help feeling like somebody else’s name should be written across the top or that some saw-toothed disclaimer is waiting to jump out and bite me. My ability to relax is wobbly from months of disuse.

But, as reluctant as I am to believe, everything is OK now. I can breathe deeply without fear of triggering uninsured contractions. I can stop plugging each moment of my daughter’s upcoming birth into a mental cash register. I can read Baby, Come Out! to Natalie with the kind of giddy excitement our littlest girl should be greeted with.

::Relaxation (which sounds exactly like the marshmallowy steam swirling up from a mug of hot chocolate)::


Unstuck From the Molasses Swamp

I woke up this morning already wading two feet through the floor. Between yesterday’s toddler overdose, the callerless phone calls at 1 a.m., and the overnight transference of all my remaining brain cells to the baby, I started today with the mental acuteness of molasses. (IQ in 2002: 130. IQ this morning: Ooooze.) If I had been capable of conscious thought, it would have sounded something like this: The dishes are piled around the sink, the floors are sticky, the refrigerator is empty, my daughter is needy, my husband is gone, and if I get out of bed today, I will surely die.

Right on cue, the phone rang. I choked on the momentary bout of panic I experience every time I realize I will have to communicate solely in Italian but answered it anyway. And the cheery voice of Help replied.

Now, I am the kind of gal you often see lying semiconscious on the floor with a fractured hip, flames bursting out of the stove, and a tornado tearing off the roof in the next room who will not ask for help because she doesn’t want to inconvenience anyone. Plus, she is sure she can fix it all herself, even though she is neither a surgeon, nor a fireman, nor Zeus. Nor, apparently, capable of dragging her 8-month-pregnant self through a day of banal household duties alone.

So I didn’t exactly call for help, but I allowed myself to be the damsel in distress that I unquestionably was today. Graziella flew in first, like Superman, rescuing me from the drafty ledge of grocery shopping and taking poor, cabin-feverish Natalie to the playground for an hour. Then Mari showed up for a chatty lunch so that my aura could shift from beached whale to “Sex in the City.” She and Graziella put their superpowers to work doing the dishes and sweeping the floor, while I lounged back wanting to cry from relief. Heike sent me a heartwarming package stuffed with enough chocolate to make me swoon and a soccer ball to be Natalie’s bosom companion for the next few hours. Vanet and Maria bounced by to mop the floors, clean the bathroom, and bestow on us a stuffed duck and a dazzling array of cookies. Then another Maria called to apologize for not coming by and promise an outing with Natalie tomorrow.

Though I’m still ending the day fatigued and straining to breathe through the crushing weight of my abdomen, I feel full rather than drained. I feel the familiar pang of guilt too, as if gratefulness were a vice, as if I’ve wrongfully indebted myself to others. But it’s not debt; it’s a gift. And as I watch Natalie play delightedly with her new soccer ball and duck, I realize it’s not so bad to be on the receiving end of people’s generous hearts.

I want to say something more eloquent and profound, to give proper homage to the beautiful souls who have lifted my day out of swampy futility, but I’m already typing like this,

Sleepy Bethany

and do keep in mind that my brain resembles this,


so I’ll do us all a favor and stop


Love’s Interest

I encountered my first personal miracle on a crystalline December afternoon nearly five years ago. It snuck like whispered lightning into the suitcase-sized booth at Coney Island Hot Dogs where I was sitting with my boyfriend of one month, our knees kissing quietly under the table. We had reached the silent place in conversations where eyes start filling in the unsaid words, and I was thinking despite my best intentions…

Dating was not new territory for me, even though only one of my previous boyfriends could stomach the meager commitment of being called such, and then I was the one saying, “Oh, let’s not use labels.” In fact, the dating mantra was simple: Girlfriends are to be touched and not heard. I eventually clued into the fact that the guys in my life so far had been… well, something impolite to say (hint: starts with “jack” and ends with “asses”), and decided to become a nun.

Then I met Dan. Technically, we met the first day of Stupid English when he started whispering to me without realizing I was the tutor… and I oh-so-graciously shushed him. But I blocked don’t remember that particular incident. I do remember him coming over to see my roommate, me telling him she wasn’t in, and us suddenly realizing we had been talking for three hours. And then realizing we still had more to say.

I suppose that a relationship between two people who are preemptively opposed to the idea can only start as a series of small accidents, like falling deep into a conversation without realizing how. Like ending up on a movie date after all your other friends back out. Like listening to your own thoughts grown from a different soul. Oh, we convinced ourselves that we weren’t attracted, that our conversations were like Scotch tape that could be pulled off in an instant. Even after the awkwardness of knowing set in, we played it off as the stress of school.

After our third date (thought I was kidding about the denial factor?) and two solid hours of whispering, Dan finally admitted–as much to himself as to me–that he was falling for me. You would think after three dates, I would have come to the same conclusion, but my ego was clinging tenaciously to the idea that I. did. not. like. him. Even though it was already 3 a.m., I stayed up with my journal, trying to untangle a barrage of sticky emotions from the crevices in my brain. However, all I could come up with were two words: “It’s him.” I wrote them on a sticky-note and then threw the sticky-note away.

A week later, after I decided from a purely-intellectual standpoint to “officialize” our relationship, I very intellectually started freaking out. Nothing in my entire life has ever scared me as profoundly as holding Dan’s hand for the first time. I still don’t know why. After all, I adored our times together–how he challenged me, how he encouraged me, how he made me laugh. He emanated the kind of unassuming strength that I could lay the fragile bits of my heart open on. Plus, he had the cutest butt I’d ever ogled seen.

I guess I fell squarely within the cliché of women scared senseless by the prospect of true love. I wanted to keep emotion out of the picture. I wanted the safety of distance. I wanted desperately to break up before our hearts had a chance to intertwine. I knew I was hinging each day on irrationality, and I’m sure that Dan knew it too, but his endless patience provided just enough of a tether to keep my irrational, confused, terrified heart from tearing away.

So, despite my efforts to remain unattached, I wound up in a tiny Maryland town for Christmas break, meeting The Parents, putting up Christmas decorations, and walking through the snow with my fingers contentedly tangled in Dan’s. And, of course, sitting in a tiny restaurant booth trying to process the short history of our relationship. I looked up from my thoughts, straight into Dan’s smiling eyes…

…and in that instant, I fell in love.

Old Couply Pictures

One month later, I was dizzy from the sparkling significance of a new diamond ring. Six months after that, I was falling asleep curled in my new husband’s arms. And 4-1/2 years after that, I’m missing him ridiculously after only a few days apart. Of course we don’t always feel romantic–sometimes, we don’t even feel much like friends–and it’s easy to let familiarity dull our appreciation for each other. But love has a knack for expanding the treasures of memory, like money temporarily forgotten in a bank, and every time I revisit them, I realize I am richer than I ever thought.

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