Thursday, October 29, 2015

Maybe it was Utah

I turned 40 in April and my wife turned 40 a couple of weeks ago.  I guess it's a milestone we're supposed to feel ambivalent about.  And I guess we do.

We should probably just settle comfortably into the sweet spot of life where we don't have to clean up anybody's poop anymore (except the damn dog), and nobody has to clean up ours yet either.  It should be the salad days.

But to tell the truth, I'm not too happy to do that.  We've been trying and failing, again and again, to have another baby for the last 9 years.  Doctors have tested everything.  Everything works.  But we just can't have more kids.

Several weeks ago, after what I felt was surely sufficient arm-wrestling with the Lord, I awoke to a text from an acquaintance.  Her niece was pregnant and giving the baby up for adoption.  She gave me the contact info.  The timing was fortuitous.  It felt like an answer to prayer.  And for a few hours I had visions of welcoming a new baby to our home.  It seemed so easy.  It felt like God was on our side.

A few days later we met the girl and her parents.  I didn't ask, but I'm pretty sure we are older than her parents.  And then there's the way I look and the fact that we already have three kids.  It was a hard sell.  She chose to place with another family.

. . .

Recently we watched the movie "Raising Arizona."  It's hilarious, and I've watched it many times. What never struck me before, is that it's a movie about infertility.

There's a scene where H.I. and Edwina (played by Nicholas Cage and Holly Hunter) are at an adoption agency trying to adopt.  The agency worker is looking through H.I.'s arrest record, obviously concerned that with such a past, adoption is not going to be an option.  Edwina who goes by Ed says, "It's true that Hi has had a checkered past. . ." and H.I. follows with, "But Ed here is an officer of the law twice decorated, so we figure it kinda evens out."

And the movie is a great comedy, but for the first time I related to it as a tragedy.  After all, it was the very public airing of my own checkered past that had convinced me that I had twisted the Lord's arm enough.  It was the morning that video went public and I became the star of the first mormon film with an adult content advisory that I received the text about the adoptable baby.

I think in that context, my sudden optimism was understandable. However short lived it was before reality gently tapped me on the shoulder, it was sweet.

I believe I've done time in the belly of a fish.  I've been dressed down by a multitude of asses.  Bitterness has turned to sweetness in my mouth and I've sung the sounds for which there aren't words.  But I don't know if I'm supposed to dislocate an angels hip or build a ship and sail onward here.  And if a divine finger is supposed to touch a stone to light my way then let it be my stony heart, again and again, because it is fertile ground for stones.

. . .

I love the ending of Raising Arizona.  H.I. has a dream, far into his future.  It's a future where his children and grandchildren come for a holiday meal.  And he doesn't know if it's real but it seems so. And I can see that sometimes hope is all there is to hang onto.  But it's worth it.  Why not keep hoping?

So I gave my wife a map of Utah for her birthday.  I hung it on our bedroom wall.


Cindy Bean said...

Aw man, this made me cry. You guys are good people.

Ben said...

Love that movie - but I had forgotten about the last line. We couldn't have any more children after our last one, and so we spent two years becoming approved as foster parents and are just wrapping up 6 months with our first foster child. It's been wild, and hard, and beautiful... I wish you guys peace in your journey...