The windows are open to a warm October afternoon
as the phone rings and I’m startled by the sound of the roar in my head
as my eyes land on the caller ID and see my hand lift the receiver.
Children’s Home Society of N.C.
I answer in slow motion,
feeling the turn of the earth as a season changes.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
She’d just turned 18 the last time I’d spoken with the adoption agency that had placed my child
and I was the one calling.
At last she was “of age” and I could finally offer what I’d held heart-tight
for her until then,
could say my love and I’m sorry and how are you and I’m here.
No, I’d been told. The records are sealed. Permanently.
The heavy weight of the words I’d signed in my childhood landed hard,
a door politely slammed on my heart.
But I may, they’d offered,
in the pleasant way of a helpful customer service rep,
send a note to be sealed in her file.
I wrote my heart out that day,
raw already from wrestling to prepare my other kids for this,
hoping I’d told them well, that they might comprehend the impossible,
not be singed by the shame that had branded me –
wanting them to feel secure and understand my heart,
to feel her wanted-ness and their own.
I was afraid of hurting someone. Of hurting everyone.
And aching for connection so that she could finally hold the whole of her story, beloved.
That she feel the light that I kept burning for her…..for the all of her,
her life and parents and story and song. For her own unique way.
I’d trembled over what may need to be faced,
but strong love overrode the fear
and reached out anyway,
smacking hard into a door,
closed and sealed.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
But the windows are open this day in October;
we are all eleven years older
and I answer and turn sharp onto the road that I travel today.
“I’m calling because of the note you left in her file.”
It had been a persuasive invitation to come get me if ever they please could see a reason.
They had seen one.
“We’ve waived a court order because of your note; she is sick and needs her medical history.”
It was urgent; would I please comply.
Yes, yes, my maternity lunges forward, and suddenly I am fully a mother,
rushing toward her crying child.
Listening intently to the description the woman from the agency gives of her symptoms,
I recognized them as familiar struggles to my mother, my sister and I.
“Tell her,” I plunge in, and my words flow quick and steady like a ticker tape,
my voice barely supporting the pounding of my heart.
“Will you let me write her,” I ask.
The next day the voice calls back, warmer this time, to take the information I’ve gathered.
“We’re going to let you send us an e-mail.
We’ll cut and paste and remove all identifying information
and pass it along to Allison.”
Allison. I’m hearing her name and it’s music and mountains
and everything I’ve missed.
I hold it like a gift that I’ve been given.
And so I’m swept once more to the wide nursery window where I’d last stood 29 years ago
watching someone else hold and rock and feed my baby girl
while I pressed my face against the cold hard of the glass,
tracing her tiny features with my eyes until I could know
and store them away.
This is how it came to be that, eight Octobers ago, I again pressed my heart up firm against the glass
and began to write through the window….
I’m taking this Summer to share a story long in the living
because it’s shame and hope and grace and love and we all dance with these,
and it’s only in the lonesome that the shame gets it’s teeth.
I’ve written a smidge of back story….you can find it here.
I’ll fill in the spaces as the courage comes.
Be back with a fresh one next week. Thanks for sharing the road
and for your patience as I wobble through:)
“Shame hates it when we reach out and tell our story.
It hates having words wrapped around it – it can’t stand being shared.
Shame loves secrecy. When we bury our story, the shame metastisizes.”
– Brene Brown