...the prettiest girl in the whole wide world.
Charlie used to sing that to her when she was little.
Blake informed me the other day that a) when I had cursive type as my blog text that it was too hard to understand and b) I had written posts about Ellie, Bina and Bobby and only wrote a semi-embarrassing, funny tale of her from when she was little.
Blake is my mini-me. She looks quite a bit like I did at her age (albeit a much prettier version) and she has my sick sense of humor. When something happens on TV or someone says something, we can just look at each other and KNOW what the other one is thinking without saying a word. She has my competitive desire to win as well as the more random things such as my love of reading and then re-reading a particularly good book. She is responsible and very smart. Just an over all great girl. And she was a God-send to me after the Toots was born.
Blake had pretty much just turned nine when Tessie was born. She was super excited and had none of the concerns that Ellie had weathered through. After all, Blake had already had to deal with a baby sister stealing all the attention. Plus, she was old enough now to really want to help and start her training as a "real" babysitter.
When we brought Tessie home I had stopped into Sheepscot River Pottery Shop and bought both her and Ellie charm bracelets that had charms on them that read, "believe in yourself" and "dream big" and things of that nature. I wanted something special that was just for them from me and the hubby that had nothing to do with the new baby.
And to refresh your memory, at the time I had cancer but had not been diagnosed yet however I felt so sick almost all of the time, and to have Blake be right on task with whatever Tessie needed was just an unbelievable help. I think back on that time now and it is such a blur. I really have very disjointed memories of when Tessie was an infant. But I do remember Blake helping me take care of Tessie.
Blake helped me all the time. Day or night. Literally. If she heard Tessie make noise in the baby monitor, even in the middle of the night, Blake would run down to Tessie's room to check on her and make sure she was okay. She would heat up her bottles, carry her to the changing table for me, and basically be a second mother to the Toodle Bug.
Sort of bitter and sweet at the same time, I know.
I used to worry that maybe Blake would end up resenting the time she spent as the "little mother" to Tessie. That she would think that I let her take on too much. Then, when Blake was twelve she wrote these two poems during poetry week at school and I realized that the experience had only made Blake a better person. One who appreciates people and things in a way that maybe she never would have before. That maybe none of us would have without our little Toodle Bug to help us learn through our challenges...
Tess by Blake (age 12)
The baby I cradled in my arms,
jingling with the sound of my new charms
that my parents got me after a week away.
What was wrong with my sister? They couldn't say.
Was the girl going to be alright?
With a bandage on her head, what a sight.
A little later I asked what had happened.
At age nine how was I supposed to understand?
It was a traumatized birth, so much had gone wrong.
My mom and dad had to be so strong.
But I had to be strong too.
My mom was sick. Her back was a mess;
so it was up to me to help take care of Tess.
Got her up and carried her around,
went and checked on her at every odd sound.
We still struggle through hard days.
Going through it together, it's our family ways.
Appointments, therapy, and operations each week.
Sounds bad, but hey, it's our lucky streak.
She's finally getting what she needs:
tubes in her ears and stomach where she feeds.
She's got Cerebral Palsy which causes
seizures, low muscle tone, and mental retardation.
Lot's of bills with all the new medication.
But Like I said we get through it all.
Help each other up when we fall.
She's getting better, everyone can see.
She's doing her best and being the best she can be.
Sure, she can't walk, she can't talk, she can't eat.
But she smiles and giggles and kicks her small feet.
Just seeing her once will make you smile,
and give you the courage to go the extra mile.
My Life by Blake (age 12)
I hear the busy bustle of my mother cooking,
voices of my dad and Ellie outside.
I listen to the faint echos of Tess coming through the baby monitor,
and the hum of the peaceful music playing downstairs.
I feel the click click click of the letters on my keyboard.
This is my home,
I love it.