Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Today You Are A (Wo)Man

Oct 19, 1992 my son Tyler was born. My wife, Debbie, had just given birth to her fourth son. No girls. While she loved her boys with all her heart, she ached for a little girl. A little girl to play dolls with, dress in those cute little girl clothes, and to be able to go shopping with and have "girl talk".

Fast forward three years. Debbie is seven months pregnant. For the first time, we don't know if the baby is a boy or a girl. We are both excited.

Dec 6 1995, A baby girl, Cheyanne, was born to us. Debbie had her daughter. On that day, all was right with the world.
Not long after the birth, Debbie noticed bruising on her legs. She was later diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia. Debbie died four years later. She never got to enjoy the baby girl that she brought into the world.

Cheyanne has grown into a beautiful, intelligent, girl. She has been blessed to have a mother in her life. My wife, Yvette, has done a remarkable job of being her "mom" all the while not replacing Debbie. They have had heart to heart talks about Debbie and both shed tears over it. I do not know what they have said nor do I need to know. It's theirs.

Cheyanne has always been a "daddy's girl" maybe because of losing her mother so early or maybe because she's my only biological daughter, I don't know. All I know is that she is. That is what surprised me so much yesterday. I received a phone call at 3:15 PM on my cell. I was driving on the freeway when I answered and heard Cheyanne ask me for mom's work number. I replied "you know she can't have calls at work" There was silence on the phone, then I heard my daughter crying. This was not a "I'm not getting what I want" cry, there was something wrong. She said "But she said i could call her!" I asked "Honey, what's wrong?" "I need to talk to mom!" was my answer. I fumbled with my wallet as I said "OK, hold on a second, I need to look for it (Yvette is working a new job and I don't know the # by heart) hold on, OK?" I hurried to find the card as I drove 75 MPH. I read her the number and she told me thank you and that she loved me. I had no idea what was wrong and then, like a lightning bolt I just seemed to know. I had never heard her cry like that, and somehow I knew that my little girl, the one I had snuggle into bed all those nights, the one I had watch "Aristacats" over and over with, the tiny baby that I held in the palm of my hand 12 years ago, had changed. My baby was now a young woman. I thank God that Yvette was there for Cheyanne and comforted her and helped her to understand what these changes were all about.

That night, Cheyanne called both her grandma's and many of her girl-friends to tell them the news. She seems happy about it. (just wait, kiddo!) She asked me if Yvette had told me why Cheyanne had called her. I told her no. She then told me the big news. I smiled and told her I loved her. She went on into the house and I stayed on the driveway for a few minutes and looking up at the sky thought about Debbie. I felt bad that she wasn't here for this event in Cheyannes life. I'm sure I'll feel the same when I have to walk Cheyanne down the aisle some day. I can wait for that day to come, I'm not excited to see it. I know I'll miss Debbie that day, like I did today, but I am very thankful to have Yvette by my side helping me get through my teenage(r's) years!


Jarre said...

When she started crying and told you she needed to talk to Mom, my heart broke for you because Cheyanne wasn't your baby anymore and filled with happiness because she wanted Yvette. She's grown into a beautiful young woman Jeff. I see Debbie when I look at her. You have every reason to be proud.

Mike said...

great post Jeff. Written with great sensitivity and caring about the future and a warm look to what came before.

You are a good man.

Lori said...

I stand where Yvette does. My husband lost his first wife in a car accident when his girls were 10, 13 and 14. We didn't meet and marry until the youngest was almost 16 so it was difficult in many ways. The oldest daughter was neither hot nor cold, the youngest daughter took to me fine (thank goodness as she was still at home with us) and though we weren't super close, we did get along and have talks together. The middle daughter struggled the most. As the caregiver after her mother's death, I think she resented me. Through the years, we have worked it all out and now get along very, very well. I am grateful for that, but still think of their mother, especially at times like Tammy's wedding and the birth of her beautiful little boy.
However....I do believe that their mother is watching over them and sees and feels all of their lovely accomplishments. I know that Debbie does for Cheyanne too.
Blessings to you all.