Today – April 6th – Who She Was . . . and Truly Is:

Posted on April 5, 2010. Filed under: Parent of an Addict, poems | Tags: |

Today, April 6th, is my daughter’s 31st birthday.  I remember the day of her birth like it was yesterday.  I’ve had three children, with all natural childbirths, so I was able to participate in, appreciate, and savor every minute of labor and delivery.  And when Hayley appeared after a few pushes, exactly three years behind her older brother, Jake, it was a glorious moment: a little girl – – 8 pounds, 81/2 oz of perfection. One of the first things I noticed when she was placed on my abdomen, were her small, beautiful, flat ears.  Mine are large and stick out.  I never thought I could wear a ponytail as a little girl, and never did.  “Oh good”, I said.  “She can have a pony tail if she wants.” Trust me –  this observation and comment were a metaphor for all I hoped for, for my daughter.

In honor of Hayley on this day she was born, I want to let the blogging world know more about my daughter as a person – who she was and still is, deep down inside.

Hayley was a beautiful baby and child. She immediately took to the breast at birth and I nursed her for the next 15 months.  The first three months of life, however, she was very “colicky”, with a lot of GI distress.  I could only nurse her for a few minutes at a time before she’d draw her legs up and scream, obviously in pain. After three months, however, she seemed to settle down and was an “easy” baby.  She discovered her thumb and her “blankie”, so she could self-soothe.  Hayley still sleeps with that very same blankie, today.  She gained weight like crazy and when I introduced solid food at 6 months, she would eat any and everything. (no commercial baby food in my house – the babies and kids always ate what ever we were eating). She refused a pacifier and bottle, so she and I were always in close proximity.

Hayley was always a unique, determined little girl – – slightly quirky.  At ~ 2 years of age, she became attached to a spaghetti squash.  Yes, you read correctly – a large, yellow, smooth-skinned, perfectly oval squash that she carried around with her everywhere.  Eventually, she asked me to draw a face on it, which I did with a black Sharpie.  Watching her sleep in her crib with that  squash looking up at me was quite a site. I tried to figure it all out, but couldn’t, and didn’t..  Eventually, after about six months, the squash began to rot, and we had to throw it away.  I was dreading that day, but it had to be done. I can’t quite remember the details, but I did worry about the psychological effect the decaying squash and it’s ultimate demise would have on Hayley. After  a few days, she seemed fine.

My daughter is easy to shop for.  She loves the color glacier blue – it’s the color of her eyes.  It has become her personal “signature”.  Whenever I see a piece of clothing, bedding, tzochke (how do you spell that word?), earrings and jewelry, home décor item that’s in the aqua color family, I know she’ll like it, and she usually does. Today, every time I see that color, I think of Hayley.

Hayley is fairly tall (5’8”) and lean.  She moves very gracefully and with an ease that comes from a childhood filled with sports activities (soccer and tennis) and dance lessons. Her senior year in high school, she played # 1 singles in the AAAA district tennis tournament until one hour before prom, raced home, jumped in the shower, and in a half hour, was ready and glowing. She’s notorious for her smooth, peaches and cream complexion sprinkled with freckles in the summer months. Her natural beauty is quite extraordinary.

Hayley likes to wear skirts, both long and short.  And she loves wearing vibrant colors and East Indian prints.  She’s slightly “Bohemian” and funky in her style sense – definitely not the conservative or preppy profile.  She’s so fluid in her movement, eclectic and creative in her style, that heads turn when she enters a room.

My daughter plays the piano and has a beautiful, lilting, semi-trained singing voice.  In high school, she sang the National Anthem at almost every school assembly and sporting event – usually acappella.  One of her favorite songs to sing at high school talent shows was Joni Mitchell’s, The Circle Game. A couple of years ago, amidst Hayley’s chaos and decline, I wrote this poem:

LARYNGITIS
. . . We’re captive on the carousel of time . . .
Joni Mitchell, The Circle Game

On a street corner in Manhattan,
she serenaded passersby with
You Light Up My Life,
barely three but right on key.
Yesterday a child came out to wonder

At four, Somewhere Over the Rainbow
in Toledo, standing on a folding metal chair
in the church basement,
my brother’s wedding reception.
Caught a dragonfly inside a jar

Tomorrow came and she, a perfect Annie,
hair curled, front teeth gone.
Called on to perform, she would,
needing the spotlight to be seen.
Fearful when the sky was full of thunder

She would get into trouble humming in class,
not even knowing she was doing it.
Like a nervous tic, I suppose.
I always knew where she was. I could hear her coming.
And fearful at the falling of a star

In high school between tennis matches,
she opened baseball games
with the National Anthem.
Acappella. Perfect pitch.
And the seasons, they go round and round

Six-two, love-six.
From the courts,
down and across the street to the ball field,
then back again. Five minutes.
Seven-five. No sweat.
And the painted ponies go up and down

We could hear her over
the ball field loud speaker,
all the way back at court-side,
voice strong and clear and pure.
We can’t return, we can only look

She always sang it straight,
on grass or stage,
not trying to be anyone
other than, herself.
Behind from where we came

And now, it’s been a very long time
since I’ve heard her . . .
the melody locked up and kept inside.
No time or place or reason
to sing her song.
And go round and round and round
In the circle game.

As a little girl, Hayley loved hanging around her older (by 3 years)  brother, Jake, and his entourage of friends.  He considered her a pest and an intruder in to his social world – and, she was. However, she was also an accomplished social facilitator, which shy Jake eventually discovered to be of some benefit.

Hayley has always had a bold energy and freshness about her that’s charming.  She’s very outspoken and opinionated and can be loud in a group setting.  Her sense of humor is sharp, yet never mean. Those who have worked with her in an office setting, have remarked how refreshing it was to have her around, to break up their “daily routine”.  And a few remarked that they were empowered by her to ask questions and challenge the status quo.  She would innocently ask a secretary who had been in that particular office for 20 years or so, “Why are you doing ‘such and such’ that way?  Wouldn’t it be easier and more efficient to do it ‘XXXX’ way?”  Sometimes, this frankness and naïveté would get her in trouble.

Hayley champions the underdog, those on the ‘fringe’, the underserved or disenfranchised. Her group of friends has always been very diverse and slightly alternative.  I am proud of her enormous compassion in reaching out to those in need, how easily she makes friends, can relate to all types of people,  and her acute observations/perceptions of people’s dynamics, issues, joys, and sorrows.

Hayley graduated in “Politics” from a prestigious private liberal arts college. She took a lot of courses in philosophy and thrived on classroom debates. She ultimately tried to graduate in a newly created and transfused major, “Politics and Philosophy”.  It sounded like a very logical meld, but at the time, was too much of a challenge to the status quo/bureaucracy of secondary education.  Ultimately, following Hayley’s lead, this college major was eventually adopted.

I’m sorry this post is getting to be so long.  But, I received a few “testimonials” from friends of Hayley’s who had these sweet words to say about her on the eve of her birthday:

One of our family’s “oldest”, long term friends sent me this: “ . . . all of us (in the family) are aching … M***, R***, K******… we’ve all talked …. guess this is the example of what addiction does to everyone who loves you ………..I’m here for you.

This from my dear friend, Ang – Hayley’s first babysitter at 6 weeks of age:

Truly, Hayley was always sunny as a little girl, kind, affectionate. I see the pigtailed, blond, smiling girl in the back of the green car ready to go and do. Hayley was so little when I left (our small city) for college, but I remember whenever I was home and saw her it was as if I had never left. I remember when I took her picture up on scenic drive, how grown up she seemed then. It’s hard to imagine Hayley not smiling because whenever I saw her, that’s what she was doing. She’s a good person and I would love to see her, hug her and tell her so. Happy birthday Hayley, you are loved.

And from Anna, a friend from middle school and beyond:
Ahhh, Peggy – – So many things come to mind when I think of Hayley.  One word that comes to mind when I think of her is effortless….she seemd to have the wonderful ability to effortlessly be good at whatever she took on…soccer: she was awesome at, singing: I once told her that I wanted her to sing at my funeral her voice is beautiful, smarts:  she can philosophize for hours, she is gorgeous in a pair of sweats and ugg boots, she can make a delicious meal out of the most random stuff in the fridge, and makes sure that you had seconds and thirds and that your glass was never empty, she, no matter, what we were doing, found a way to make it fun, and if it didn’t hold her attention long enough, which isn’t very long, as you know, would find something else that was more fun, but none the less, she would be laughing that silly  little laugh that she makes while she closes her eyes and shrugs her shoulders up and down.  She has a way of radiating a room…She and I went to Chelan on a whim a few years back, not sure if you knew, but we went for a night out on the town.  We were there only a few days, and of course she brought a few bags of make up, a few more bags of jewelry, and clothes, and another bag stocked full of magazines and books, “just in case.”  Men were drawn to her that night as she and I were having so much fun just laughing, talking and reminiscing about stupid stuff.  I think at some point, as it was a little later in the night, she said something about the guys were only allowed to keep talking to us if they bought our drinks for the rest of the night…and, yep, they did!  We later ditched them and jumped the fence to the hot tub at the condo!  Peggy, I will be thinking about your dear Hayley as she was, and definitely as she is, deep down, which is probably one of the kindest, caring, selfless, smart, beautiful, funny, witty, has a knack for over accessorizing and bright lipstick, little ladies whom I am proud to have as my friend and will always hold in my heart.  I pray for her now, and will continue to pray for her.  God Bless you, Peggy, and know that I love that daughter of yours for who she really is and how I wish I could tell her so.

This has been a bittersweet post for me.  Remembering my daughter as she was – as she may still be.  Happy Birthday dear, sweet, little girl of mine. 

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14 Responses to “Today – April 6th – Who She Was . . . and Truly Is:”

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This was so touching. I could feel your love leaping off the pages. My daughter is 20 and has been struggling with addiction since age 16. I keep a picture of her in my kitchen above the stove of when she was 6 in her soccer uniform, so carefree then. I look at it every day. I miss the peaceful gaze in her eyes. Your daughter is beautiful.

The pictures of my daughter as a little girl absolutely break my heart. Such innocence. And I wonder, when did it all start? Can’t help it – I keep looking for “the signs” of something so desperately wrong. Thanks for your comment. I’ll think of you and your daughter tonight.

What a wonderful thing to do for yourself and your daughter. Hopefully she will see this someday. You have truly written this with a mother’s love.

Yes, a beautiful heartfelt tribute. So bittersweet, but filled with love. I’ve been thinking of you all day and pray you are okay this evening.
-Gal

Oh my gosh, I don’t know how any of us parents could not read this and shed some tears. You are blessed that you can see through to who your daughter is in a proud, beautiful tribute. You know your daughter, you’re a beautiful mom. What an adorable little girl! Let’s keep praying!!!
A friend here is a nursing supervisor at a local hospital, someone called her that her daughter was admitted there. She found her – abscesses (her daughter is a heroin addict). You mentioning her father in the last post reminded me of this. God can bring the darkness into the light. Each baby step, who knows what will get us (and them) there.
Love always.
God bless.

Wonderful post Peggy. And your poem a piece of art. I hope this day was good for both of you, and I hope that Hayley got to see this post.

So beautiful….thank you for writing this post. I forget to remember the son I was so proud of. I need to do that, it honors us both.

Crying here too, at the wonder of your daughter, your love for her, and at the sadness of what drugs can do. I hope you save this tribute to show her someday. You have been the number one person on my mind since I work up this morning.

Hayley, the daughter you love and raised, the friend to those that posted is still here…she’s just lost for now.

The most amazing thing I’ve seen with my niece, who is clean after a 10-year addiction with “all the trimmings” is now the young woman I always knew she would be.

Your post was a beautiful reminder about your daughter and your love for her. It brought tears to my eyes. Keep hoping and keep praying.

Thanks for this, Lisa. It gives me hope.

I agree with Sherry, you made me cry for so many different reasons. You are a very special mom indeed. I lost my mom a couple of years ago and oh how I miss her. I could just feel the love and desire in your heart leaping off the post. I will be thinking of you and Hayley today and sending both of you my prayers for a better tomorrow.

Peggy,
What a wonderful tribute to your daughter. We have so much in common. Our girls’ birth weight is identical. Mine will be 30 in November. She has an older brother by 18 months who was always her “hero”. The first time they had to spend a day at a YMCA camp, I asked the counselor how my kids did on the first day at camp(they were 5 and 6 years old) and he said everything was fine, until he tried to seperate them for different activities in the afternoon and my son said that he could not leave his sister, because he was watching out for her. Those memories will stick with me forever. Let’s never give up hope that our girls will be cured of their disease. Happy Birthday, Hayley!

Helga,
Yes – let’s never give up hope for our girls. That’s what we will give each other – the encouragement and support to not lose help. Thank you, Peggy

Well, you managed to make me cry! I felt your immense love and suffering…almost too much to bear. At first I was crying for you, then I was crying because I missed having a mother like you…someone to take an active interest in my life and to buy me pretty things.

That was a beautiful post from a wonderful mother for her amazing daughter!

Now, I’m back to crying for you!


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