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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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“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:)

 

To write through the window…………

046
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.

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“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….

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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