fluttering fingers and moonlight twirls…

DSC09429edited
I didn’t mean to see her so big.
Went looking for an address so i could send a letter that was for our eyes only
and, like a dream, I found her instead.
I wanted to make sure she’d heard me….to walk all the way to the edge
and lean over the side to make certain that she’d received my heart unedited.
But there she is and I cannot look away.
It’s like discovering this incredible Christmas present in the closet when I go looking for the lights.
I know it hasn’t been offered yet,  but my eyes can’t keep from dancing:)

I scroll through more images,  like I’m hearing her echo under years of rubble.
and my heart thumps wild hope as I dig.
The rest of the world goes quiet as I unwrap gifts – a local talkshow interview
and then another,  and I’m hearing at last the music of her voice.
The moving water of my children all together laughing is my favorite sound;
now hers is flowing across my ears and I throw back my head and join every glad noise
in the universe, belting out thanks for the wild beauty of this thing.

There is a timbre that siblings share,  like the voice of rippling waters.
The river just got wider and my heart stretches with the sound.

I watch her mannerisms, mesmerized,  matching every nod and tilt and gesture,
all so famliar – I know this rhythm.
I need to grab somebody’s arm and say,  “look!” – to share the wow of this discovery
but my feet are planted where they stand,
wilding over the beauty – her intelligence and humor and heart..
What she’s building in this world is just so cool and I’m grooving to her words,
powerful and clear,  even as she explains,  “I’m adopted,”
and I take in the way a shadow passes over the light in her eyes when she says it,
the way mine do when I’m feeling hard or pain
and my hand floats unthinking to the face on screen.  Am I seeing anger?
Is that grief?  Shame?  Or do I only imagine – just my fear on the screen.
Oh baby girl.
“Please talk to me,” I ache.

053

Facebook.
Do I even dare?
I’m standing in front of her profile picture
and the long road I’ve traveled seems to end right here.
I squeeze my eyes to hush the “don’t you even.”
My fingers flutter above the friend request key.
No.  Stop.  Too much.  Is it?  It’s an invitation,  right?  Or is it barging in.
Will she welcome this discovery or feel it intrusive?
I don’t know.
I don’t know so hard it hurts.

Instead,  I keep my hand over my heart
and let my eyes wander through her posts and pictures and perspectives,
savoring each one as I go,  like picking up feathers and leaves in the park.
I’d choose to hang out with this woman.
Like all of my kids,  this is someone I enjoy.
I can’t dig any deeper and not say something…..it feels stalker-ish.
And disingenuous.  I need to brave up and tell her.

I hit the message box on her profile and the daunting blank canvas pops up on my screen.
What do I even say?   
I want Amanda to know that I found her and I’m here,
– just a few pecks of the keys away – want to connect?
And if she doesn’t want,  or doesn’t want now,  I promise not to push.
If I don’t hear back,  I won’t withdraw my love.  I’m in either way.
I tug the message into words and my finger stalls on “send,”
my heart a jumble of joy and yes and please and oh shit.
I can’t do this.  Yes you can.  Go.  Just go – I mash the button quick to send.

When at last I get around to checking addresses that night,  I’m spent,
so it doesn’t bowl me over right away the several years she spent living in my city,
leaving just before we arrived.
Tomorrow I’ll go see,  I sigh as I finally nod off,  drained by the electricity of the day.
Like a kid after too much Christmas.
A few hours later,  I pop up with a start – Instagram!  I totally forgot to check….
I trot down the hall to my computer and  there she is again -too beautiful for words.
I linger for a while,  so punch drunk in love that I can hardly send my silly self back to bed.

One more quick check – facebook, did she answer back?
Not yet.  Okay.  It’s okay.  She’s on the west coast right now – time difference and all that.
I sit for a minute and hold the sheer awesomeness of even knowing this now,
my soul twirling grateful in the moonlight.
I’m guessing tomorrow,  then.  When she’s had time to digest.
And as sleep sweeps me up at last,   I’m smiling still.

big rock love
“When you get right down to it,  Lily,  that is the only purpose grand enough
for a human life.  Not just to love,  but to persist in love.”
– Sue Monk Kidd
(The Secret Life of Bees)

 I’m seven weeks into this Summer series and I love that you’re here.
Thanks for hearing and holding the pain of my story with such balmy care;
If it doesn’t shine through the ripples yet,  I’ll write it more clear around the bend,
the peace that’s holding me and the squeeze of Love’s hand.

 

 

Facing into the wind and finally a face….

4 insta
There are 100 counties in North Carolina,
and I begin trolling through them all,
searching the obituaries for a place I’ve got a homesick longing to see.
I have to do something,  my hunger to know gone so long unfed
and I’m given over to the kind of desperate that makes you clutch and grasp and make a fist.

I want to find her hometown,  walk down her childhood streets,
see where she spent her long ago days
– to feel the traces she may have left behind.
And to find the grave of the mother she mourns.
I won’t barge into her space uninvited,  but I ache to quiet the rattle as my mind
circles ’round the lot looking always for a place to park.

But I don’t want to wreck this for either of us.
God help me please,  I’ll wait.
She’ll say when she’s ready.  She will.
I pull up,  unfold the clench of my jaw, release again the strings,
and another year goes by.

She is bright and accomplished and can find me if she wants,  I am positive.
But why doesn’t she?
Is it because she can’t hear the all of my heart?
Or because she can and doesn’t want me?
The un-knowing makes me feel small.  A mouse. My imagination on too much catnip.
And Edith,  please,  what do you actually say to her?  And how do you say?
Because,  for the love,  why doesn’t she write back?
I wrestle like this for years.
I can be minding my own business,  living as wholehearted as I know how,  and then
this roque breaker will clap down sudden like thunder and I’m splintered by the silence.

I sit down hard on every grabby impulse;  I want her to know she is free.
She doesn’t owe me anything – this I believe.
I can touch my own scar and remember vivid when they wheeled me down the halls
and away from her small body left still beneath the bilirubin lamps to make her better.
I bear down on a hope that I’m leaving her to something better,
but I can feel it inside where something tears sharp with each door they pushed me through
that I am the one who is leaving.
And as I go,  I know it like I will come to know this pain that never leaves,
that there is no way she’s not gonna feel this.

Does she feel it now,  I wonder,  and it unnerves the holes of me.

new

It’s been almost eight years since the tide rolled in with a bottle on a wave
and brought me first news of my girl.
One busy afternoon in September the agency rings again
and I grab on like a rope sweeping past.
She’s talked with Amanda and has some things to share;  do I have the time?
The orbit of everything grinds to a halt as I drop to the floor to listen hard.
Edith’s words come like giftwrapped punches.  My daughter’s whys.
I hear from a long ago place and can’t remember how to breathe.
The grown of me defends Amanda’s right to take whatever time she needs,
to feel whatever she feels – even if it’s abandoned.
She’s smart and feels deeply and her process is beautiful and valid
and I get behind her choices like an angry mama bear –
 thanks for calling,  really,   but please don’t call again unless there’s a letter.

I hold this fresh jumble of not-knowing for five minutes,  maybe a little longer,
and then lunge for my laptop,
prying open the lid long forbidden.
A newspaper in the eastern part of my state whispers the name of a woman,
survived by a daughter,  that offers an “Amanda” in the cluster of those related.
There it is.  Their family name.  Her hometown.

I know enough from Edith to be sure that she’ll have a web presence
and my fingers fly across the keys as I google the magic box
and a string of images appear.
It’s her.
Oh God,  it’s her.
I know them at once,  those honest,  hazel eyes.
I’m glad to be alone as I rock backwards on my feet and bolt from the room,
suddenly overcome by emotion that I still can’t name or figure.
My throat goes dry even as I type this now.
I return and look again,  scrolling through several images,  all so deeply familiar
and overwhelmingly and achingly and astonishingly her.

I’m head over heels,  peering through tears that geyser up from somewhere deep,
as if my belly recognizes what my eyes can just now see.
I can’t quite keep breathing,  but I love this face more than air
and I stand for a long, long while at the bright window of her smile.

gnight from the fields
“If I chase your echos down the hallways
long enough,
if I just get ahold of them once,
just once,
will it bring you back to me?”
– Tyler Knott Gregson

This Summer series.  My story finding it’s way into the light.
It’s been peck and crack and struggle and I appreciate your kind patience
as I wobble along.  If it reads smooth and clear,  then I’m not telling it true.
I can feel your questions like I’ve keenly felt mine.  I’ll answer them around the bend.

 

Cheesecake with cherries and I won’t go away….

119
I want a quick time-out to say plain what this story is not.
I’m not moralizing;  don’t have an agenda.
If I ever carry a sign,  it would be to champion hope
.
Women face impossible decisions and need a tender grace,
not oversimplified,  whitewashed shoulds.
I’m pro-life.  Pro-choice.  Pro-solution.  Pro-people.

There isn’t a whisp of politics about any of this;
I’m just telling my story with tender care to offer some hope and healing.
Yup.  That’s all.  Back to the story;)

Now they’ve gone silent.
I email the address they’ve given,  eager to know how she is.
I don’t hear back.  For days I reach and get no reply.
A week passes and something rumbles hard inside – an ancient, angry ache.
I make a bold phone call and finally get a person who will take the time.
Her name is Edith and  her voice is soft as I tell her,  gentle but firm,  that I won’t go away.
She hears me and my voice grows taller.  They have their politics and I will respect
but I want them to know that I’m here.  For her.  In whatever way she welcomes.
She  is no longer a child and I won’t go away.  Not unless Allison says.

DSC00928

I have written her the first letter and Edith suggests that she wants to write back.
My heart can barely hold still when a week before Christmas they call to say that her letter to me has been mailed.
It arrives on December 23 – I’ve popped out for awhile and my husband phones to say that it’s on the kitchen table.
I get lost on the short trip home,  driving the wrong way up a one way street and stand up a lunch date
who will later forgive me and offer the name of a good counselor:)

She is beautiful.  More deeply,  genuinely beautiful than I can describe.
Her words paint  pictures that I’ve longed to see…..her childhood,  her passions,  her heart.
I wallow in the moment and linger between the lines,  finding grace in nooks and crannies.
Edith tells me that Allison has said of my letter,  “She writes like I think,” and  I’m bowled over by hers.
She is so my girl:)
My heart swells with love and thanks and I’m eager to reply.
Christmas comes and goes like a dream and I send off a second letter,
this one typed up quick and scuttled off like a text.
I’ve loved these first shy lines to each other and I scurry to show that I’m in.
I’m in,  Dear Allison.  So very.

ripplecherishedited

I await her response and Valentine’s candy appears on the store shelves.
I scoop up some chocolate  for her as I do for each of my lovies….will send some sweets her way
and it wows my heart  that I get to do this now!  It’s crazy joy:)
I don’t tell many just yet; these are tender beginnings and I sense the need to walk in whisper.
And I feel keen their shadow,  like a monitor standing over my shoulder
and I hope to wriggle free and reach out to my daughter on my own terms.
But I’m full up with gratitude and delicious hope and another month passes.
Her birthday is approaching;  I’m actually going to get to send
a birthday package for her 30th.  For the first time ever – my heart is turning sommersaults.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
I’ve celebrated each of her birthdays.  Always with roses.  Rose – it’s the secret name I gave her.
And with cheesecake topped with shiny red cherry pie filling from a can.
It’s what I craved when I carried her and I imagine somehow that she loves it,  too.
I realize I’m new to her but she has been with me for all her days,
present in my heart at each family pray,  forever on my mind.
At night,  when my husband and I say our love over each of our kids,  she has been included in mine.
In a way I cannot understand,  we feel her.

When my daughter Hannah was 4,  she’d come to me and asked, “where is my sister?”
She’d sensed her, in the sweet intuitive way of a finely tuned child.
I’d gone pale and completely botched the moment; it was piss-poor parenting
and fresh fuel for the shame that often struck me dumb or babbling.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
I try to side-step this same shame that hunts me now as I wrap my heart around her coming birthday
and wonder what I could ever give that would be enough for the first gift she’ll ever receive from me.
I’m haunted by all that I’ve missed  and feeling it sorely.
I’ve been 30 years warned to stay away. Leave her to those she deserves.
I feel like I’m high atop a building and walking a line;  one slip and I may lose her again.

126
“I overheard the man whisper, ‘I am a lover not a fighter,’
and to myself I thought,  I am in fact both.
For is it love at all
if it’s not worth fighting for?”
– Tyler Knott Gregson

I’m posting this Summer series bite by bite
and I realize I ricochet all over and around with this story
but it feels real this way
and I want to tell it true.
I appreciate your kindness and your company along.
Just so much:)

 

The story of “they”……

2015-06-10 19.24.32

My childhood ended the night my water broke on a cold hospital floor.
Mortified, I quickly apologized to the nurse who walked in
and questioned,   eyes still on her chart,
“You’re still giving this baby up?”
It was brisk business.

“Yes,”  the word comes from the far back of my throat and I’m embarassed by the sound.
She raises a syringe to my arm and rubs vigorous with wet cotton
that smells like my pediatritian’s office.
“This will help dry up your milk.”
Dry up.  I know these words.  They mean don’t feel so hard.  Don’t say too much.
Stay small.  And sweet.  And agreeable.  A shot to help me be agreeable.
Let’s all just get through this as pleasantly as possible,  they seem to say.
But this doesn’t feel like Becky and Patty anymore.

I’d moved in across the street from their families
the Summer before second grade and we’d quickly become friends.
Becky showed me the picture of her home-going
one hot afternoon while we played inside with paperdolls.
There were two smiling parents standing on a white covered porch,   a baby safeheld in their arms.
“So you’re adopted,”  my mind wrapped around the idea as I took in the happy of her room.
“Yes,  and Patty next door,  too.”   Patty,  whose Mom’s quick smile filled the kitchen while she fried bologna slices and offered more tea.
I loved their home.  And the way my name sounded when her Dad said it warm,
like I was more than a guest at their house.
It hasn’t been so terribly long ago since he drove us to matinees and little league.

I can see their houses from the window when I hear the results of my pregnancy test.

DSC00986

The weeks that follow are a hard tumble on some heavy rocks and I agonize.
This is an impossible decision.  I don’t see a  win-win……there just isn’t one for me.
I call them – the place where Becky and Patty’s parents smiled.  I picture again their birthday parties
and scavenger hunts, shiny roller skates and the tree house that their Dad’s together built.
They of the porch sound kind on the phone and will become a strong voice in my ear
as my belly grows.
They are the matronly ones that knock on my door for the nine months before she is gone
and each week the last several of my pregnancy.  The ones sent to support my choice for adoption
with words like “unfit” and “unwed” – the ones who assure that everyone isn’t meant to be a mother.

They have come to harvest my baby.  At least that’s what I feel,  but I don’t say the words.
My own voice goes clinched like a fist holding on because I’ve made up my mind
and I hate them for trying to take what I’ve already decided to give.
A new family is going to be born and I won’t be a part.
I am the outsider;  they coach me on my role.
It’s my job to disappear.  They will not offer me a shot for this.

It’s a difficult delivery and I spend hours in recovery before I’m wheeled back into the room where they will come with the papers.
I cannot stop crying and send them away.  I read the impatient fear in their eyes and feel the push,
the press, the please don’t screw this up.
I can feel how anxious they are to not disappoint parents. Her parents.
But I can’t sign right now.  Come back tomorrow.  It’s not going to happen like this.
I won’t be stripped of her.  I call Brother B.

DSC01079

This grandfatherly man is my pastor.  I haven’t known him long but right now he is my lifeline and I need him to come.
He does and pulls on gloves and gown and,  with him,  they roll her little bed out into the hall and let me take her.
B is patient as I push her cart,  carrying her with my eyes,  to the sterile room where I offer her my finger and she holds on tight.
He begins to pray out loud and I dig down deep to say my heart to the One who I believe is listening with love.
“I’m not giving her away.  I’m not,  dammit.  And they’re not taking her.  I give her to you.  Take care of her,  please.”
And so it is done.

I don’t meet their eyes when I finally sign.   I don’t answer later when they call to see how I am.
How do they think I am?  I’m bereft and between.  I’m counting days,  suspended;  I have 28 of them to change my mind
and I will myself through each one.
I want her waiting to be over…..for her parents to have and hold her wholeheartedly.
For her to belong.  I busy myself against the pain.
I have become in every way un-fit.  I don’t fit anywhere,  an outsider.
I avoid old friends.  I’m a face person and I read too much on theirs.
And I see babies everywhere.
~  ~  ~  ~  ~
Now,  29 years later,  they are calling again and they want information fast.
My head  swims and I buckle just a little with each wave,  but I’ll ride them in time and with joy.
I’ve been on the out and life has tossed me a line,  offering to pass her a note inside.
They’ve let me send an e-mail.  Medical advice.  But she needs more from me.  I know it.
She needs to know my whys.

“I want to write her a letter.”

I’ve held my love up quiet for three decades,
waiting for a door and it has opened.
I will be censored, every line scanned for approval,  but I’m free at last to write
and I begin to push my pen and shave off tender portions of me
to offer Dear Allison.

field melt

(So much back story,  I know.  But I can’t tell it any other way.  I’ll wrap ’round and ’round
the staircase until it’s told,  this Summer series.  Hold my hand if you get dizzy;  we’ll steady each other:)
Thanks for being along.)

“But what if the great secret insider-trading truth is that you don’t ever get over the greatest losses in your life?
Is that good news,  or bad news,  or both?  The pain does grow less acute, but the insidious palace lie that we will get over
crushing losses means that our emotional GPS never finds true north,  as it is based on maps that never mention
the most important places we have been to.  Pretending that things are neatly boxed up and put away
robs us of great riches.”
– Anne Lamott