October 22 is a day that forever changed our lives. Notice I didn’t give the year? That is because the two events on two different October 22’s took life and then gave life. This is the story of those two days.
Our daughter, Courtney, her mother and stepfather moved to Oklahoma in 1995. Thus far in my life, this was the single biggest heart break I had experienced. Even divorce didn’t top this. We had one week notice that our world was being turned upside down. All the details aren’t important now. Suffice it to say that divorce is always painful, especially for children. Unable to have children of my own I poured all my maternal efforts on Courtney, and, well, I messed up a lot. She spent weekends and summers with us, playing with neighborhood kids and having a fairly normal life. I was always sad, and usually cried when she left, but I always knew it would be a few days before we would see her again. But when we got the call from her mother that they were leaving, I felt as if a knife had pierced my heart. I sobbed inconsolably. I couldn’t imagine life without Courtney in it. Her father was heartbroken and furious. I was just plain heartbroken. No, she wasn’t my biological child, but she was my daughter. There were no legal recourses, so we said our goodbyes and went on with life. Isn’t that what we do in the face of such pain?
Courtney did well in her new home, made friends, did well in school and spent a whole summer with us. We learned to be a couple – kind of early empty nesters. Then fall break of 1997 happened. I can’t remember now if we knew they were coming to Houston for a visit or not. It doesn’t matter. We got a phone call very late in the night telling us that Courtney’s mom was in the hospital and my husband needed to go get Courtney and bring her here.
Several agonizing days later, in the wee early hours of October 22, 1997, her mother passed away. Suddenly, just like that, we had a sixteen year old girl with whom we had to pick up the pieces and forge a life together.
God has such a wonderful way of giving and loving. He gives us free will to make decisions and then is there for us when the outcomes of our free will are less than what we expected. I will never forget the day, a little more than five years after her mother’s passing, that Courtney and I sat on the edge of the bed and cried together. She was single, pregnant, and scared. This was the moment our relationship forever changed. On the second most transformative moment in her life, I was the ‘mom’ she turned to. We didn’t know what the future held, but we had broken down a barrier and life was to never be the same again.
The Next Nine Months
I walked this pregnancy path with her, going to doctor appointments, ultrasounds, prepping the room, buying baby things for the house, grandma journals (still not finished), and just did general nesting in preparation for the arrival. I truly felt that God was blessing me with a grandchild and allowing me the privilege of going to through it with Courtney since I never got to do it for myself. I spent much time in prayer and God kept pointing me to scripture that spoke of the purpose of each life He creates. I was convinced then and am still convinced today that this child was meant for great things.
October 22, 2003
The moment had come – it was time. We all loaded up in the car and headed for the hospital. I stayed the night with her. I can’t speak to her emotions that day. She has never felt comfortable talking about her feelings, but I have to imagine she wished it was her mother there with her. I get that. But she had me and she allowed me to be the one to support and comfort her. Her doctor didn’t know the back story, but he let me cut the cord after Cheyanne literally burst forth into the world. This was THE most important moment of my life. This was as close as I was ever going to get to child birth.
On the anniversary of Courtney loosing her mother, she gave birth to her first daughter and allowed me to be a part of this sacred event. Our lives have never been the same.
There is so much more to tell, but that is for another day. Cheyanne is now, and has always been, a bright light in our lives. I truly, passionately love all three of my granddaughters. I will share their stories another time, but for now as Cheyanne turns fourteen in a few days, it is time to celebrate her. There is a bond between us that transcends grandmother-granddaughter. It is hard to put something so precious into words – in fact it is impossible. I look at her and I see a living breathing gift from God. Because I talk all the time and Courtney is very quiet, I think Chey heard my voice in the womb more than she heard her mother’s. She would light up when she heard my voice and come flying across the room, arm crawling, when I came home from work. Courtney’s dad and I decided I would work and allow her to stay home for the first few months of Chey’s life. We wanted her to have time to bond and learn about being a mom. After nine months our roles reversed. She was ready to go back to work and I was ready to come home.
For the next nine months I stayed home with Chey and did the mom things I never got to do before. It was a magical time that I will treasure in my heart always.
For reasons none of us will ever understand, Courtney’s mother was chosen to bring her into the world and raise her for sixteen years and then it was my job to come alongside her for as long as was needed. I always felt God telling me that He would keep her under our roof and guidance until such time as she was emotionally and spiritually ready to be on her own. Many transitions and changes happened over the next few years, and now she has a wonderful man who has stepped into the role of father for these three beautiful girls and their mom.
We celebrate not only Cheyanne’s birthday, but also the faithfulness of God to see us through the dark and the light. We are never alone.
We are Mimi and Dydy – named by Cheyanne – and this girl is amazing (if we do say so ourselves!).