The first time I met Bethany was just a few weeks after I moved back from Kansas the last time. We were at a diner in the city, at a social thing, and we hit it off really well, and it was almost instantly. We talked for hours and hours that first day, carried it over to website chats after and eventually texting back and forth nearly constantly. After a few weeks, we were virtually inseparable, this is all when the dear lady had to drive the sixty miles one way to come and see me.
Now there are a lot of stories I could share with you, but two instantly come to mind and since they are intrinsically connected in the grand scheme of things, I will tell you both because I can do that thing and if you don’t want to read it you can go away and that is okay too.
My middle duck, My Connorface, has severe mental and physical disabilities. He doesn’t speak, walk, or even really crawl, and that is today, I am talking about almost ten years ago and he has made strides since then to improve on all of those areas. He wears diapers and constantly engages in involuntary self-injurious behaviors.
Now, knowing none of this at first, Bethany walked into where we were living at the time and picked him up and held him and loved him like he was her own and that hit my Naomi and I like a shotgun shell tot he chest. No one holds my Connorface see, not his grandparents, not his uncles, no one. Bethany just came in and held him and treated him exactly like Naomi and I did, like a sweet and wonderful little boy who has a laugh that will make your heart melt. He loved her to pieces too and would laugh and smile as soon as he saw her in the room.
If that doesn’t make you smile one of those half-tearful parental smiles, well, you have no heart and there isn’t much I can do for you.
The second story is truly one of my favorite things to tell people when I tell them about my mother and father-in-law.
Naomi was about three months pregnant with the Babeh Duck when we moved back to New York. In fact, it was a huge reason we moved back. I wanted my kid to be born at Strong, so I moved my entire life back to a place where I left running years before.
The day that Naomi went in to have the little dude, a date we got to pick because we were awesome, we got there and went through the agony of the entire process. Sweaty palms, anesthesia, screaming baby, Neonatal Intensive Care, all of it. That story is told elsewhere, this one is about the first time the little newborn got to be held by someone who wasn’t one of his parents.
My mother-in-law came down for the whole thing, my father-in-law couldn’t be bothered, and had been with us from minute one and was actually a colossal help.
However, it was Bethany that got to hold my youngest son first. Not her, not my family, Bethany. Now as much as I would love to say it was just to rub it in my mother-in-law’s face, which let’s be honest it kind of was in a way, Bethany had been there for all of the ups and the downs and the tears and the everything. Doctor Appointments, emergency trips to prenatal cardiologists, all of it and more. it was Bethany that had been there. Bethany that had done. Bethany that had been a rock that Naomi and I both clung to like sailors in a storm when it got to be the worst of the worst.
When I called Bethy the morning Naomi died, she didn’t even think about it and was there in what seemed like moments. Another rock I clung to on that day. For weeks afterward in fact, even to this very morning where I am writing about the woman and leaving out chunks and wholes because certain stories are mine and hers alone.
My Bethany, the kitten that is playful and loving, laughing loudly and proudly, loving Def Leppard and the Muppet Show, making a sauce that rivals Italian grandmothers, a consummate friend, and human being.
All my love Bethy, always.