Steve was resolute: one child. I was resolute: two.
I won. And then some.
My second child was engineered to be a girl, and yet he stubbornly resisted my kitchen chemistry machinations. He burst into our life in 1983. He was not like Pat- calm and self contained. He was stubborn, finicky and time intensive. I held the tricks to calm him, and so he refused to be comforted by his Dad. We were Siamese.
His perceptional nerve endings were raw. His clothing had to be smooth: no seams, no tags. (Damn it- it I had extrapolated from his crabbiness, I would be rich from Janet Dahl’s tagless T’s) He needed quiet to sleep. He was a job.
He had difficulty at school for a time. Then he rewired his brain and recreated his habituation for success. Clothes: laid out the night before. Homework: finished ahead of time. Methodology: ask for help if needed. Don’t be proud. Be grateful. Carry on.
By high school, he decided to sign out of the support that the school provided. He knew things could be hard. So he went to summer school to punch out World History. And Biology. He never complained that he was in a desk for 8 hours a day for two summers. He was earning a little breathing room during the school year.
His friends drifted to sports, and Mike was winnowed out of these packs. He was disappointed, but he looked for other passions. He gravitated to choir and drama, and broadened his base of friendships. He was Class President for four years. His trademark: kindness to all. A big smile. An uncanny ability to remember people’s names and interests. Loyalty.
He knew he was a homebody, and so he forced himself to go to camp, then to Mexico, then to U of I Champaign, then to study abroad. He acknowledged his discomfort. Choked the tears down. Then tackled any fear. The first time I drove away from each of those embarkations, we were both panicked and sad. He recovered first.
That’s my Mike.
In Spring of 2007 he met his soulmate, Kathryn Parolin. My Dad met her 8 months after Mike, and ordered him to marry her, he was that charmed. She matches him in kindness, surpasses him in athleticism. She is beautiful, inside and out. Together, they have created a wonderful partnership. They are both second-borns, peace seekers, linkers and lovers of family. The one odd quirk they share is a fear of needles and blood. They have tackled that together in the course of Kathryn’s pregnancy-9 months of poking, prodding and screening.
Yesterday the Dahls and the Parolins waited in a family room at Prentice Women’s Hospital. A wedding was being held 8 stories below on the Museum of Modern Art’s patio. It was a nice distraction. I gravitated to the circle of life symbolism, remembering that before Dad died, Mike confided to his Grandpa that he would be asking for Kathryn’s hand. That pleased my Dad, and the echo of his joy pleased me.
I worried about Mike fainting from the sights. Dismissed it. He had been calm all day: assertive, protective of his wife, pulling together scores of details.
I spied on the nuptials again. The bride made her way down the aisle, kissed her Dad, and as I looked away, Mike entered the room. He was throbbing.
He ran to me, and hugged me tightly and boldly and said- it’s your girl, Mom.
Mary Joliat Dahl. Born at 5:55. 6 pounds, 14 ounces. 20 inches of love. The first little girl Dahl in a generation. My Dad would be honored to have his surname included in her name…as am I.
Oh, Mary. We have loved you for months, and we will love you forever. You are so, so fortunate in the parents God provided you. All of us who held our collective breath yesterday are standing by to support your precious family.
Our circle is bigger, stronger, and a bit pinker. Kathryn and Mike, Mary- okay, Bea the dog, too- we have your back…always. (note to Bea- we are your pack)
It was a good day. In a good life. Onward.