Originally posted in 2009. Just to recap, this is a series of posts that focus on some of the positive moments as my journey as a birth mother...
My Junior Bridesmaid
Bruce and I had been together for 7 years with 3 of those years living together in beautiful California. One September, he suggested that we take a romantic weekend trip to Catalina Island off the coast of Long Beach. I had NEVER been to an island and I thought...How romantic of him! Didn't surprise me, he was always so loving. So we took off from the mainland and arrived in the town of Avalon. The night came and Bruce had bought me a beautiful dress for dinner that night. It was relaxing, quiet, and one of the biggest nights of my life, but I did not know it yet. After eating, we took a stroll on the beach. Discussing the fact that we were on a island, I was rambling on and on about the beauty of the water. Bruce stopped in front of me and said..."If I was on the water, I wouldn't be able to do this..." He then dropped to one knee and began a speech and I soon realized that he was proposing to me. Oh my! I do not remember a word he said because I was so shocked, so surprised, so swept off my feet that I could not hear him...my heart was pounding too hard. I said yes and as soon as we got home from the trip, we called close family and friends to tell them the great news.
I was a graphic designer so I made a postcard to send out announcing the engagement and to let people know we were planning on a Fall wedding the following year. I sent them out the week before Thanksgiving, and as always, I sent a postcard to my daughter's parents. We were in contact through correspondence so it was nothing out of the ordinary for me to send the announcement. Later that week, I got a call from my mother. She was having trouble talking, I could tell she was crying, and she just could not convey what she wanted to say through her tears. I got worried, I thought my dog had died, or worse, a family member. The longer she tried to tell me what was making her verklempt, the more I started freaking out. I was imagining the worst possible scenario. Finally, she took a deep breath and said..."Sophia just called me..." that was my daughter's mom," and she needs to talk to you."
My heart dropped. I thought the worst. I was crying right along with my mother because I was sure that she was hurt, sick, or worse. "What? Why? What's wrong?" I asked franticly. My heart was pounding with every image that crossed my mind showing me a scenario of what could be so horribly wrong.
"Honey...", she sighed,"...oh, Bella got the postcard and she asked if she could be in the wedding." My heart literally did not beat for a moment, I was stunned with that statement. I could not breath, the tears started streaming down my face in a fast and constant flow of relief and happiness. Now my heart was beating almost out of my chest and Bruce could see that I was visibly upset so he too, became worried. "Bella saw the postcard and asked Sophia if she thought you would let her be in your wedding. In other words, she would like you to ask her to be there. Can you believe that?" I was crying so hard, you know that kind of cry where you are not making any noise, your chest is heavy trying to keep composure as not to start wailing.
"I am stunned. She really wants to be there?" I asked.
"Yes baby, she does. Remember all those years ago we talked about how great it would be to have her there at your wedding, and what a dream we thought it was? Well, that dream is coming true. You better call them." She gave me the number and I told her that I would call her back after I spoke to Bella. I had to wait a few minutes. I hadn't seen or physically talked to her for many years. This would be the first real conversation with my baby, my beautiful little girl. I was exploding with emotions, mostly disbelief that it was actually happening. I felt sick, I felt elated, I felt nervous, I felt joy...it was all so surreal. I just could not believe it!
I composed myself, sat down and dialed the number. It rang twice and was picked up by a familiar, sweet voice.
"Sophia, it is Kelsey."
"Hello Kelsey. Congratulations on your engagement, we were all so excited to get the postcard. Bella has it on her dresser in her room. What a romantic place that looked like."
"Oh yes, Bruce is amazing! It was kept secret, I had no clue that he was going to ask but what a wonderful feeling when he did. It was a great weekend. How are you doing?"
We exchanged greetings for a while and then she said, "So, your mom called you and told you what is going on?"
"She did. How do you feel about this? Is this something that you want to do?" I asked.
"Well, of course we have her best interests at heart, but she really wants to be there. I have never seen her so nervous and excited to ask a question before. We talked about it and we think it would be a good thing, especially if this is what she wants. How do you feel about it?" Like she needed to ask!
"I am thrilled that she would ask this, and as long as you and the family are alright with this, I welcome you there and I would absolutely love for Bella to be there that day." More discussion about schedules and locations, then she said..."Well, she's right here chomping at the bit to get on the phone so I will talk to you soon to go over things. Thank you for calling and here is Bella..."
My heart was jumping out of my chest. I felt a lump in my throat. I held my breath.
"Hello?" Her voice was like music in my ears.
"Hello Bella, how are you today?"
"I am good, how about you?" I wanted to just shout out 'I AM SO HAPPY THAT YOU WANT TO BE IN MY WEDDING, I LOVE YOU!'
"Great, it is a beautiful day here in California. How are you getting along in softball?" It was my favorite sport in school and she played as well.
"Great. I have been really seeing the ball and hitting it a lot. You used to play ball, right?"
"You bet I did, I was a great hitter because of my stout and beefy stature. I also loved the outfield, my favorite was left field."
"Cool." We chatted a while and then I said..."So, I heard that you would like to be in our wedding. Is that true?"
"Yes. I would like to be there but only if you want me there."
Giant tear rolling down my face, I try not to let my voice crack as I respond. "Are you kidding me? I would be so honored if you would be there. I would also like very much if you were my junior bridesmaid, so you can walk up the isle just before I do. How does that sound?"
"Absolutely! Have you ever been in a wedding before?"
"No..." I could hear the excitement in her voice. I could see her bright smile through the phone.
"Well, let's make it happen. I would like for you to be my Junior Bridesmaid. Will you?" I asked.
"Yes I will!!! Thank you! I am so happy and excited."
"Oh my darling, you have made my day! Thank you for wanting to be there with me, it means a lot to me."
"Well, it means a lot to me, too." Oh, this child has my heart all in a bundle. What fantastic parents she has to be so supportive of what she wants. How brave of them to allow her to attend this fantastic day in my life. We were both smiling that day, really smiling. I got off the phone and collapsed into Bruce's arms. He consoled me and sat with me for an hour.
I was crying in relief. I was crying because years of not knowing what she really thought about me was all washed away in that one phone call. I was crying because that whimsical dream that I had all those years ago was coming true, and by her choosing. She came to me. She wanted to be there with me. Oh, I cried and cried and cried. It was so wonderful to hear those words, however light they were, to just hear her say that she wanted to be there...I was ecstatic, and dare I say it, happy. It was one of the best phone conversations of my life.
On October 16, 1999 Bruce Stewart took my hand in marriage. My daughter walked up the isle just before I did, and she was next to me the entire ceremony.