Wednesday, February 1, 2017

It's been another year

I'm sitting on the breezy front porch where the birds are spilling out their chirps to one another with fervor. The sun is shining as if there was never a hint of darkness. I'm left to my thoughts which again are running away, left unchained, and wild like brown and white horses on the shores of Duck, NC.

I can't help but think it's been a year since I spoke to Wayne. It was another beautiful spring day, exactly like this one- blinds couldn't shun the sun, and the sounds of cars whizzing by outside, and birds with full appetite, picking away at the ground, while mocking each other. Butterflies ignoring the drum and bass as it permeates the air for a brief moment, with exuberance as it was just catapulted from one lower being to something that can escape anything, taking flight at a whim. Oh to be a butterfly. Oh to be transformed.

But I have to admit that I am transformed from that girl that I was last year, sitting on this same porch, with the same green rug tickling my toes and with the same loud chirping and cars whizzing by. I was a mess that day that Wayne called to inform me that Colette wanted nothing to do with me. I was a hot, teary, mascara smudged mess. There was not enough love in the world to change the way I was feeling on that day- not enough compliments on how awesome of a person I truly was, not enough encouragement to remind me that life was full of circumstances, and that rejection was just one of the most unfortunate. Nothing would transform my frown, my furrowed brow, my heartache in the deepest of space. So I thought.

I have been allowed yet another chance to become the person I was created to be. Without my natural mother. I'm grateful for that.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Life REALLY is what you make it.

It's hard to get back to the drawing board when you have lost all inspiration to draw. But then I wonder if it's the inspiration that one has lost, or is it drive to continue the chase. I'm referring to writing in this instance. I'm sure you have your own devices.

At some point you resign.

You realize that resistance is futile and you are wasting your time, which is meant for good. You're wasting your time on things that do nothing for you, but bring you down.

So you move on. You pick up your things and you try to move on, but somewhere packed in that baggage that weighs more than the allotted $25 per carry on, you realize that you have things in your bag that are weighing you down, and it's high time you start shedding.  You begin to unload. You make changes.  The layers peel off, and you begin to feel lighter and more excited for what is to come, and less worried about what hasn't happened.

I think I'm finally at that point, and it's freeing. I'm at the point that I don't want to go back to the nonsense of wondering and wasting time contemplating what has not happened, and begin to focus on what is happening.

As far as my life lately...things have been good. Very good. I came across a gold mine of history/artifacts, that believe it or not, has nothing to do with my birth family. Aside from that, I decided to buy a new car- call it my mid-life wonder car- I'm not having a crisis.  A Benz. You only live once, drive a nice car while you can, but only if it makes you feel good. I have to be honest, sometimes I worry about the payments, but I realize that money never comes into my hands to start with. It goes into some mysterious account in the sky, and then it transfers and does its thing. I rarely ever see it or touch it. So why get worried about it? 

I was driving an old, beat-up, 16 year-old car with over 200K miles on it, and one day I just decided, why not? Get something for you. Call me crazy. I don't care. I don't have time to worry about what others think about me.

I also am going to be permanent in my job soon. I have been in a contractor status pretty much since I started with Accenture, which has been nothing shy of great actually. I get the time off I need, without any complaining, and I don't need to push it against my PTO, and then have that to worry about....Am I using all my PTO? Am I looking bad for taking the time off? Probabaly not in either instance...But It feels good not to worry about it still.

I also came into love. Yes, Love. I can't explain it, I can't write it out, describe it, label it, spin it. It's just there. And I think I'm finally in love with someone. A real person. I would say it's been years. Maybe 39 years. I don't know if it's what I think it is, or if I'm being too generous. Regardless, I feel great about it, and I'm not going to let some stinking fear of the unknown get in the way of it. I'm not resigning to fear. If I did that, I'd lose, and I'm not willing to lose now. So I will continue in this bubble, and I will unabashedly say the words, "I love you" because I feel it. I mean it. It's real, and it's there.

In fact, today I just burst out with it. It just slipped out of my mouth, when I was saying goodbye. I wasn't planning to reveal anything so deep yet, but then I thought more about it after the fact, and realized that love is an action- not a word. And if someone makes me feel loved, and I can express it in return, then that's what it means to me. It might actually be fleeting, like the poets say. Hopefully, though, it's not in this time. I'm happy, and that's what is important. That's what we live for right?

And lastly, I wanted to share with everyone, that I have finally come to terms with my birth mother not wanting anything to do with me. I won't lie and say that it's painless. It's not, but I am finally accepting of it. If I say that enough times, it will sink in. That's what I am programming myself to think. Maybe I'm not accepting yet, but I will be ok. I know that to be true.

I know that I have the power to make things happen in this world, and I WILL make things happen. Life will be beautiful. Because I will it to be beautiful. I expect great things, and I learn from the pain. So either way you look at it, life is worth every breath.

I challenge you to do the same, and recognize that you too, have that power. It's a magnificent leap. I give the glory to God in all that happens, in all that works out, and the things that don't.
 

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Another Attempt

I wrote to her again. Another communication. This time Facebook, what else? Even she is on there.

Another ignore. What is going to take to get this elusive woman to recognize me? I can't understand what it is that keeps her from me. One day she will speak to me. And if not, God will, and that will be all I need. But in the interim, I'll just wait, and nervously check my inbox for messages. which is not what I envisioned.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

The Ordinary Ride that Turned Extraordinary

The other morning, we were in merging in traffic on the freeway in Charlotte, which as usual, is under construction, and as usual, there was someone who failed to let me in. Obviously, I made it, but not without some teeth grinding and growling. 

After all, it was 8:30 and I was on my first cup of java with cream, no sugar. Sarah was in tow. We were on the way to school, and for some reason, I was not feeling my normal chipper self. Maybe it was the traffic. Maybe it was the fact that we were late again, our gold standard. It doesn't usually bother me though. It does, however, bother most others I've learned the hard way.

I am not a morning person- meaning I do not have an easy time hopping out of bed. Once up however, I'm "annoyingly cheery," an ex once told me. This morning was not really different from most mornings, only I was deflated. And I was letting things bother me that shouldn't. Ie. traffic, running out of peanut butter- things like that. To me, those are silly things that have no business influencing one's mood. 

Here I sat, gripping the wheel as if strangling wet clothes, letting all the wrinkles dance across my forehead while furrowing my brow, and not singing along with my favorite song on the radio. It was a self-inflicted misery. And I was the only one to blame. 

What happened next changed everything. 

I looked over to my right, and what I saw brought me to tears of joy. There was a teenage girl leaning her head against the window in the car she was riding in. Removed from the conversation in the front seat, she had soft red hair, with skin like ivory. She looked me dead in the eyes, and smiled a gentle smile- at me! Not at someone else. Not in response to what may have been playing through her ear buds, but she smiled directly at me. 

That's all I needed, and it just about melted my heart. That smile felt different- like a Godsend, like an angel had just smiled at me. In that singular moment, which probably lasted about 3 seconds, I felt loved. I felt worthy, noticed, appreciated, and relieved. I wasn't alone. Life wasn't that bad. And all it took was one small act of kindness.  (And it was from a teenager of all people!!!! They do have feelings! Gasp!)

She didn't pause to think whether or not she should smile at me. She didn't look the other way, pretending that she hadn't looked dead at me. There was no ignoring. Just a plain smile. And she will never know how her smile, her random act of kindness, improved me in that fleeting moment. 

Sure, we get that feeling from babies, and small children who are being dragged around by their rushing parents. Sometimes we might get an unprompted smile from someone across the room, someone in passing on the street, but not like that. 

That was intentional. 

Living intentionally is the only way to be grounded, to become your greatest you. I believe that we influence our moods, and we choose happiness, and it starts as small as a smile. 

 Because sometimes, that's all it takes. 

Empathy makes it challenging to smile when someone you know is sad, but that's what we need sometimes. It takes a special person to be able to do that. Those people are rare, and when you find one like that, you better cherish that relationship. 

Through broken hearts and tears, I've learned that there are some people who we are better off without, and others that I didn't value enough. It's funny how something as simple as a smile can drive thoughts like these. I'm so glad I had that moment. 

If I didn't ever feel sadness, I wouldn't value joy. 

My close friend, Charity tells me all the time, "You have to embrace the darkness. Without it you'd never know the light." She's right. 

I have never experienced a smile with impact like that before, and I thought I would share it. Who did you smile at today? I'd love to hear some responses to this. Have you ever experienced a moment like that? Tell us about it. 


Monday, October 20, 2014

Biology Means Nothing

It was a Thursday, about 1pm, another sunny day, and the phone rang. I looked at the number staring at me on the screen. It said Wayne.

I answered it with a questioning, Hello?

I'm not sure why I answered like that when I knew perfectly who it was. I had his number saved, treasured, just as he had mine. I wonder if my number was saved to his phone or scribbled down on a piece of rogue paper floating atop a stack of papers on his desk.

I sensed on the first call that he was in his office with his door closed, perhaps leaning back on a leather swivel chair that his kids had once spun around and around and around in, as children would, like the chair that I now own, that was once Dad's office chair. It sits in my den, completely out of place, and rivaling Charity's chair. I call it Charity's because she loves it and nestles in it when she visits.

It's comforting to sit in, for reasons other than the obvious. It reminds me of Dad, of the way he would lean back with his fingers locked together over his chest, legs crossed, while telling one of his jokes. It reminds me of the way he would give me that same goofy grin, when I would roll my eyes, shaking my head, yet smiling. I miss his jokes now. I miss him and his advice, and dare I say, lack thereof.


I dropped the broom, and plopped down on the green couch. This couch has seen it all, and doesn't utter a word.

Hello Brooke. This is Wayne. Do you remember me? He said in a non threatening way, his voice so assuring though I sensed difficulty to follow.

Of course I do, Wayne. I called you first! Thank you for calling me back. How are you?

Well Brooke, I don't have good news. I really wish I did.

My heart dropped, and my breathing slowed. I knew what he was going to say, but I let him spit it out first.

When I spoke to my wife (Colette's older sister) about your call, she was very angry. She even mentioned the word harassment. She said that you had tried to contact Colette before, and that it was very upsetting to Colette, that she had been very worried about it. My wife mentioned taking legal action if you contacted her again. I'm so sorry Brooke.

Skipping through my mind were thoughts of desolation and anger. Who the hell does she think she is? What a bitch. Clearly, we are nothing alike- my aunt and I. I'm caring. She's obviously not.

My wife doesn't want to tell Colette that you reached out to me. She thinks it will bother her too much, that she is going through a lot right now. She doesn't think she could handle it. So she doesn't want to tell her that I spoke to you. I'm sorry Brooke. I know this is not what you wanted to hear. My wife was angry that the adoption agency helped you find her.

They didn't help me find her. I had search angels that did that. Did they not think that this day would ever come? 

Silence. On both ends.

Then came the water works. I let it all out.

It's harassment to want to know my birth mother? To want to know where I came from? I wrote to her, poured out my heart to her, and she never even had the common decency to respond. You mean she got my letters and just never responded? 

My mind was screaming, COWARD! Like a dog with her tail between her legs.

But you always feel sorry for that dog.  You don't know what that dog went through, Maybe she was beaten, neglected, unloved, left alone and hurt. The dog only bit in self defense for what the dog thought it needed to be defensive against. The dog had a lot of problems.

She could have at least just let me know that she wasn't interested instead of letting me think that she wasn't receiving my invitations. She was just leaving me with a sliver of hope. How could a mother be so cruel? I have a daughter, and I know what that love feels like, and I could never in a million years treat her like that. We must be VERY VERY different. 

No. No. No. She's such a nice lady Brooke.  You would like her so much. (Is he for real? I'm thinking.) They're such good Christians.

He said the term, "good Christians" a host of times, each time making me throw up in my mouth a little more.

I feel like I'm stuck in the middle, but I see both sides, he said with empathy. I wish I had better news for you Brooke.

After some more silence, interrupted by my sobs, I forced out through the enormous mass in my throat that I understood, and I can't blame him for anything. That I was sorry I even called him. I now regretted it.

I can't make her love me. I can't force myself on anyone. 

Love doesn't demand. Love is understanding, patient, kind. (I felt like a talking Bible.) I guess our timing isn't right. 

Here I was sitting alone in my house hearing what I had formerly perceived would have been one of the most painful revealings of my life, and instead I was starting to feel relieved. I felt a warmness that covered me, and I felt God whispering to me that it would be OK. That He loved me, and that was all I needed.

I was washed with the blood of Jesus.

In that exact moment of immense isolation, rejection, desperation, and sadness, I felt His warmth covering me. I felt His presence like never before. He whispered to me...

Don't worry. You are my child. I'm with you. 

I paused. I smiled, and I let Wayne do some talking.

Wayne has a comforting Southern drawl. His voice reminds me of someone I knew once, but can't pinpoint now.

He went on to gently lecture that Colette is not my family. I know that would come across callous, even cold to some. But I knew what he meant. And he was right. Colette is not my family. She didn't raise me. She just gave birth to me, and I should be grateful for that fact.

But in reality, it was God who gave birth to me. She was just the vessel He used, and I have to be grateful for her for having me, for taking the instructions to give birth, for not aborting me, for not doing what I have done.

I would have a 15 year old right now. She chose life, while I didn't. She was better than I was.

So can I be mad at her? She gave me a chance. She gave me options. She made sure that I was well taken care of, that I would be loved, and I have been.

My parents are my parents. Mom and Dad raised me. Mom and Dad took care of me. Mom and Dad loved me. It was they who gave me everything I needed to succeed in life. And I took it freely. Still do.

So essentially, biology means nothing. This is probably nothing new to many people. I have friends who have parents who still don't know what love is. I have friends' with siblings they can't trust, who they wouldn't ask for help. People all across the world have family members who abuse them, who mistreat them, who neglect them, who don't care enough, or even at all. I am blessed to have family that does care.

I've heard that rejection is God's best protection. And I'm fine with that.

Our timing wasn't right. And I'm fine with it.
She isn't ready for me. And I'm fine with it.
She might never be ready for me. I have nothing left to be, but fine with it.

My conversation with Wayne went on for about thirty minutes. He told me that his wife wasn't very understanding of his relationship with his adopted daughter. He said that his daughter had done some things to him, that in his wife's eyes,  were unforgivable. She couldn't understand why he continued to have a relationship with her, why he continued to love her. And what he said to me, was exactly what I expected any adoptive parent would say.

Brooke, I love my daughter. When I signed those papers to adopt her, I made a commitment to the agency, to God, and to my daughter to love her no matter what she does. I made that commitment to her, and I will not stop loving her because she does some things that I'm not pleased with. Just like our Father in Heaven still loves us when we screw things up, she knows that I will always love her, and I want her to think that for as long as we both live.

But my wife doesn't have the same opinion as me, he said sadly.

What he had just said to me resonated in the darkest places. I don't know if it's a special love that God gives out to people who are adopted and people who adopt, but I saw that man's heart clear as day right through the phone. I heard the love in his voice. I saw a love that people don't get to see very often, and we are lucky if we do. I felt it. And even if that was the only experience I will ever have with that family, I can say that I am proud to have known Wayne, even if for just an hour.

When we hung up, I did ask him if he could get the name of my birth father, and while the words were falling out of my mouth, with both contentment and disdain, I knew that my request would not be fulfilled by Colette. I told him that even if Colette had made the decision not to engage with me, that it should be the birth father's decision as to whether or not he would like to have a relationship with me. He said he would ask, but he felt that the answer would probably be no.

I am OK with that.

Occasionally, I have feelings of anxiousness mixed with curiosity about this situation. I have to take the thoughts that come to my mind captive. I interrogate them asking questions like: Who are you from? What good will this bring? What is your motivation?
I'm reminded of this passage from the Bible in 2 Corinthians 2:10.

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

Taking our thoughts captive, and making them obedient to Christ is the best defense we could wish for. And it's right there. We have it in our possession, living inside of us.

Wayne told me that he would never get rid of my phone number, and offered up a future conversation any time if I wanted to talk.

I hope that this brings you closure, Brooke, was his last offering to me.

Thank you Wayne. I appreciate you. You have done more than most would have done if put in your shoes, and I see the goodness in you. Maybe we'll meet one day. Maybe we won't. Goodbye.

Goodbye Brooke. Take care.

We both hung up. Only this time, I waited for him to hang up first, and politely, I believe, he was waiting on me to hang up.

That was that.

I was still crying, but I knew that it wouldn't last forever. I was going to allow myself to feel sad for that day only. And I have kept my promise to myself.

Later that afternoon, I popped in to visit my close friend who knows my heart, and she sat on the front porch with me and we cried together.

That was that. The end of another sunny day, and there will be many more where that came from.



Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The First Call with Wayne

The day I called Wayne was not much different from today. The wind chime on my front porch was dancing with its beautiful melody, a stranger to consistency.  I had been to Home Depot that morning, left empty handed, and had ice cream for lunch in lieu of what "good" people eat- a tomato sandwich or soup or salad.

And just like today, the sun was marveling though it was not particularly hot outside, it's rays beat through the curtains as if making a mockery of them. I was sitting on the green couch as I am now.

I didn't expect to hear from Wayne so soon. I didn't expect to hear from him at all.

Resume the conversation.

I told him of my birth to Colette, the shoddy records I was given, and later adoption. It went like this.

How do you know that Colette is your birth mother? Are you positive?

With the help of some "search angels" as they are fondly coined by the adoption community, and the paperwork that I was given by the Children's Home Society, the agency that handled the adoption, we worked for many hours to find her. The angels worked tirelessly and for free. And I enlisted my friends who wanted to help, and ultimately, Debi found her. The angels are the ones who do the search and all for free. The are somehow tied to adoption, and feel called to help adoptees and birth mothers find their loved ones.

If you recall, I didn't want to say the name of the person who gave us her name. Mainly because I told her I would not. But in light of her non-response to me or others who have reached out to her on my behalf, I don't see that I need to keep it a secret any more. The cat is out of the bag. Meow.

Debi was calling people who went to her elementary school, and happened to call one of her childhood friends who had known about the pregnancy. She had told her later in life on a beach trip they took together. Little did she know, I'd come looking. Little did she know she would be a recipient of a phone call from Debi asking her questions like, "Did you go to elementary school with a girl who had an older sister who was a physical therapist, who is 8 years older, and has a brother who is 9 years older, who is in sales? Her mother was a homemaker and her father worked for a large manufacturing company." We later found out the company was Dupont.

Little did she know that giving Debi her name would have caused all of this. I have to thank Nancy. She thought she was doing the right thing, God bless her. She worked for an adoption agency herself, and couldn't fathom going her whole life without knowing her offspring. So out of love for humanity, she gave us her name- first and last, maiden and married. Nancy didn't know what she was doing. She hadn't thought it all out. She probably regrets it now, judging by her avoidance of me at all costs. Years now. She refuses any contact. I'm sure it was prompted by an angry Colette. Either way, what's done is done.

Back to the conversation at hand.

I've written to Colette a few times, and emailed once or twice, but then she resigned from her  job. (I had heard from Nancy that her job was very stressful, but I didn't mention that to Wayne. Might appear too much for the first phone call.) She's never written me back, Wayne, and I'm just calling to confirm that I have the correct address as, ______________. I've been worried that maybe she didn't get my letters, or that someone had intercepted them. A mind makes up scenarios when it doesn't have definite answers. 

Well Brooke, I just don't know if she's received them or not. She's trying to downsize right now, and I'm helping her to sell her house. I don't know the exact address off hand (bullshit), but I see her about every week. She's been going through a lot personally over the past few years. She's newly single. (I appreciate that description. It's less harsh than divorced- which signifies with a lifetime of shame until one is remarried, if one is still inclined to try again.)

Is she in good health? I muttered quickly, as if to make up my own mind that it was my fault if she wasn't.

Yes. She's healthy. No issues there.

It would be helpful for me to have health information from her, so that I could take any preventative measures I could. It would be helpful for my daughter, Sarah. She is 7. She's in good health too, but just to be safe. It's good to know any family history.

Oh, you have a daughter? That's great.

(Totally escaping the question of family medical history. In my mind he was making light of the need for family medical history- even though the medical community finds it incredibly valuable- hence they ask for it at every junction it seems.)

She's a trip with blond hair. I heard that my birth father had blond hair, which reminds me. I'd like to know who he is. I think it's only fair, for whatever fairness stands for.

Well, I'm not sure if I even knew about this. I may have been told about this a long time ago, but it's been so long, that I'm not sure now. I've been married to my wife (he didn't say your aunt) for a long time. (He didn't give me an exact number however.)

Awkward silence.

Wayne, I don't know if you know what it's like to grow up not knowing a single person who looks like you, sounds like you, has the same mannerisms as you. It hasn't been easy. I struggled with identity growing up, and I would say, I still struggle. I was nothing like my parents and often felt like they didn't understand me because we weren't biologically related. I love them. Please don't get it wrong. They are my parents who raised me and loved me no matter what.

I have a wonderful family who loves me unconditionally. I had all the opportunities that Colette wanted me to have- a stable two-parent family, a college education, and love. (All of this said with tears strolling down my face and a lump in my throat, while plopped down on a lawn chair in my driveway, while plucking leaves off a nearby overgrown bush like a child would be doing if she had gotten in trouble on the playground. My prior pacing had gotten me riled up. I figured I had better sit down and calm myself.)

Well actually, Brooke, I do know what it's like. 

My daughter is adopted. 

(I thought I had heard it all until now. Bells went off in my head.)

My first wife and I couldn't have children, so we decided to adopt, and she recently found her birth mother, and I helped facilitate the introduction. She came to me and asked me if I would be OK with her searching and we did it together. I knew how important it was for her, and I wanted to help her. We went through the agency and they were reunited, but we did everything by the book, the way the agency had instructed. We recognized the birth mothers' privacy was a concern, and we didn't want to jeopardize that. (How selfless. Although I think they just couldn't find her on their own is the real truth. They needed a Debi.) She still has a relationship with her. I don't think they see each other often, but they speak on the phone frequently.

Wow. What was that like? Her birth mother wanted to meet her?

Yes. It was nice. It helped to relieve my daughter of a lot of questions she had.

(Silence. My heart pounced with excitement. Had he just told me that? What are the odds?)

My first wife and I divorced, and I wasn't sure that I even wanted to remarry, but then I thought that I didn't want to grow old alone, and I when I began dating again, I wanted to make sure that the next woman I was with would be from a really good family. It was very important to me to find someone from a good upbringing, and I met my second wife, Colette's sister.

You come from a very good family Brooke. You couldn't have asked for a better family. They are good Christian people. Your grandparents were amazing people. They are both deceased, your grandmother died a few years ago. You grandfather died in the eighties of an accidental poisoning. (I knew that. He drank radiator fluid "accidentally". You know it's the color of Mountain Dew, and I heard it was in a Mountain Dew bottle or something like that. Obviously, I'm not sure of the exact story, but that's what Nancy told me had happened.) Your mother is a very nice woman. She had a great career, financially stable, has a family. She is now retired.

Yes, I heard that she has two sons both beginning with a Br, like Brooke. 

Oh? Interesting. (probably puzzled by the fact that I knew so much personal information.)

My adoptive grandparents have a lot in common with Colette's parents. My adopted paternal grandparents loved playing bridge, and my granddaddy was an instructor. He died in the eighties of cancer. My grandmother died when I was only 6. I can't remember too much of her, although I am told  by many what a wonderful and brilliant woman she was, that she could make almost anything with her hands, was very crafty, and graduated top of her class at Salem College here in North Carolina.  I think it still is. She was also in the Granddaughters of the Revolution, (but I think it was Confederacy, and I was just too embarrassed to say that for obvious political reasons). I heard that Colette's mother was in some type of organization like that- Order of the Eastern Star or something similar.

How did you know that?

I read it in her obituary. Most information is pretty simple to find with the help of the Internet. (I was feeling like a stalker at this point. He would probably agree.) There are a lot of similarities in our families. My adoptive and biological parents both went to Chapel Hill, where they met I'm told, and we are big Heels fans. Both my aunt and uncle went there as well. My uncle is a doctor, and I understand that your wife is a PT. I know that Colette and her brother and sister all attended college there. And that she worked in the medical office as a secretary to the Medical Director which wold explain my father being a dentist. Although, it would make better sense if my birth father was in medical school. 

The story that I was told was that my birth father and Colette were college sweethearts and that he was in his second year of dental school. She didn't tell him of her pregnancy, and she went away to a Florence Crittenton Home for Unwed Mothers in Charlotte, which is where I was born, to have the baby. I live in Charlotte still, having lived elsewhere though, I just always returned home. Her sister knew about the pregnancy, and there was some talk of her adopting me, but that clearly didn't work out. She visited her while she was at the home. Her parents supposedly wanted her to keep me, but she refused. But they did visit her in the home I was told. 

Wayne, you know that this information could have all been fabricated given the nature of closed adoption. It's prone to deception, even error perhaps, but that's what I was told by the adoption agency in my typed up birth papers, that adoptees are afforded if they are lucky.

Brooke, do you have brothers and sisters?

I had a younger brother who died when he was only 20. He was adopted too as a baby. He was 3.5 years younger than me. 

What about your parents?

My father died 5 years ago of a heart attack. They both  died in the same house, both of heart attacks, both untimely. God's ways are higher. So I don't try to understand why things happen the way they do.

I'm so sorry to hear that. Your brother was so young. How old was your father?

He was only 67. And he was a health nut. He would have been the last person that I would think would have died young. I think losing my brother did something to him. He was never the same after we lost Wilson. 

That is young. How sad.

But you know, Brooke, that the people who raised you are your true family. Colette is not your family. She had no part in raising you. She just gave birth to you, and tried to give you a better life.

I'm aware of that, but it still doesn't quiet the storm inside. I don't think that God would put these questions in my heart only to leave me unfulfilled. I don't think that He would have put me on this call right now unless He had a plan. (More tears.)

I understand. Brooke, I have someone in my office waiting on me so I need to go. Would it be OK with you if I spoke to my wife about this?

Sure. 

Occasionally Colette and I have a gin and tonic and talk about life, so I'll make sure that we are not having a libation when we have this discussion. I'll need to discuss it with my wife to make sure that we decide on the appropriate time and approach. I will not lose your number, but don't expect a phone call back from me for at least three weeks.

(Managing my expectation, which I understand completely, as I do it professionally with candidates.)

We are going to have to take in consideration what is best for all the parties involved. Do you understand what I mean?

Of course. I get it. I can't force anyone to love me, but I can give someone the opportunity to love me. My birth father might not have known about me, he might know now, but either way, I want to know who he is. Even if Colette doesn't want anything to do with me, it should be the birth father's decision whether or not he wishes to have a relationship with me. Not hers. It's only fair that he get  to decide. And she is the only one with that information. And your wife. She knows who the birth father is. 

I understand where you are coming from. I'll be in touch with you as I know more. Good luck Brooke.

We both hung up. I didn't expect to hear back from him, but I was hopeful. If anyone was to get inside Colette's heart, I knew it would be Wayne. Especially after his daughter had just met her birth mother. Surely Colette had been there to hear the story of her own niece's reunion. Maybe she hadn't. I don't know. Just like I don't know anything, but what I piece together. I have only bits and pieces of the story and over time the paper has been eaten by hungry mice, torn apart, and shredded. Leaving me with gaping holes. And I become the detective. Sherlock Brooke. Oh what tangled webs we weave...

Time went by and I waited patiently.

Some days I was eager. Others I completely forgot all this was brewing worlds away- only 2 hours down I-85, maintaining hope that Wayne would come back to me with a story that I hadn't imagined. That he would tell me that he had convinced this stranger/mother to meet me. That his daughter's story was enough to sell her on the idea. That she was resigning her anonymity and was finally ready.

Exactly three weeks to the day, just like he had said, Wayne called me on another sunny day. I was home cleaning the house. I picked up the phone and this is what he said...

To be continued...





Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Living in the moment for just a moment.

Avoiding the work. That's me today. Avoiding the inevitable. That's been me all my life. It's time to break into something and someone completely different. It's time to quit worrying about the past, and stessing about the future, and just enjoy the present.  They say it's called the present because it is a gift. They couldn't be more right. If I were to sit and enjoy this moment right this second, I would take a look around me, see people's faces, hidden behind their masks of computers and shoving hot coffee down their throats at this Starbucks, and I would feel most comfortable. I would enjoy this song off The Bends, and sing along with it. I would enjoy the overwhelming smell of roasting coffee. I would see the sunshine bouncing off the streets outside, and feel the cold blast of air that is hitting my right arm right now. I would not retreat into my mind like I normally would be doing. I would be looking at my phone and reading the text that just came through from who knows who. It was Joe. He was replying to my text about his sucky LinkedIn page. Everything is ok. Life rolls on.

Napping is for suckers and people without children.

The problem with napping  to evade your worldly duties, is that you wake up in the same spot you were in before you naively thought you were escaping. You wake up with messy hair and bad breath, and missed calls, that now because you have chosen the path of least resistance, you are playing catch up and even further behind now than you were before you made the decision to be lazy. And when I say decision, I mean it. We either live with intention or we don't. Simply put: we have the authority over our own lives enough to make them what we want them to be which leaves no room for excuses. I would know, I have millions of them.

Escaping Ruin Daily

Another Tuesday is here, and I'm suffering through a migraine that has pushed me to new limits. I've been led to the laptop again by another force that needs to be reckoned with, and it's not of my own doing this time. It's been months since I've spit out anything worthwhile, decades since I've met my birth mother, and all the while I am still here, living, breathing, escaping ruin daily. I've never been good at lying- just about as naked as they come.

I've been hiding from the world, sick. Completely covered in 100% cotton sheets not a poly/cotton blend. Drowned in down, and it's ok. 

Monday, October 6, 2014

Unraveling my Yellow Tape: Adoptive parents are clear indicators of human gra...

Unraveling my Yellow Tape: Adoptive parents are clear indicators of human gra...: I'm compelled to disclose some more of this story since I have kinda just left things hanging for the past year or so and let me tell y...

Adoptive parents are clear indicators of human grace

I'm compelled to disclose some more of this story since I have kinda just left things hanging for the past year or so and let me tell you why. I went to my high school reunion last night- 20th to be exact, and I saw an old, and I mean old friend, Shannon. HAHA on old. We are clearly the same rotten age, and holding on tightly to our thirties as if dangling from a cliff overlooking the ocean on a James Bond flick from 1978. Actually, if I remember correctly, she is one year older than me, so she is clearly hanging on much tighter than me.

Anyway, she told me she read my entire blog, and I was shocked. I have no idea who reads this, unless you tell me, like she did. Moreover, I don't write this for the readership, although it's always nice to be complimented. It makes it seem more worthwhile, escaping the obvious reality that writing allows me to process all of this unfolding of truth (and lies).

I feel honored that anyone reads this, and my hopes are to write a book entailing the quest. I want somehow to incorporate the Godly perspective in all of this. Not sure how that will happen, but faithful that God will lead the way, if I just begin the typing.

A lot of the time, I don't really know where it all comes from when I write. I don't speak eloquently. I'm not over the top intelligent, probably just average Jill based on my life choices. That's to be held for the second book. How NOT to Live Your Life by Buga Fairley. So I'll maintain that God uses me for this. I'm sure that someone is getting something out of it.

Back to the quest. I am not even sure where I left off, so I'll just tell you what's happened recently. Approximately six weeks ago I felt brave one day. But let me preface this with it started with me lying on the green couch wailing out to God that I didn't understand why this woman wouldn't talk to me. I laid there alone, sun beaming in directly at me through the naked window, cradling the phone and scolding it's power at the same time.

I had effectively, on a whim, decided that I would call my birth uncle (by marriage), who is a complete stranger to me.

The uncle has a name. It's Wayne. He is married to my birth mother's older sister, who is 8 years older. He was easily located because he owns a business and let's face it, Google makes everything easier. What did we ever do without it? Bing doesn't hold a candle, but that's beside the point.

It apparently was his cell phone, because the voice mail didn't mention the company name. I left a message.

Hello Wayne. My name is Brooke Fairley and I'm calling on a personal note. Please call me back when you have some time. I almost hung up without giving him my number. Choke it up to nervous jitters.

I hung up and decided that he would probably not call me back.

I laid on the green couch and cried. What had I just done? All the rules of adoptee to birth mother engagement say that this is the absolute wrong approach. They tell us that this sort of thing only pisses people off. Because of the shame brought onto the mothers and the high degree of privacy they maintain to achieve throughout the years, this abrupt calling of near relatives before ever speaking to the birth mother is a big no-no. The crippling fear of being found out has these mothers in knots. They go on for their whole lives, some of them, thinking that one day they will be found. Paralyzed by the very thought.

 I did it anyway.

You see, these women, went to undeniable lengths to hide their pregnancies. They couldn't face the harsh public eye. If subjected to it, they would be shunned and could lose everything.

That was the mentality.

The devil is a liar. He is out to steal, kill, and destroy. He stole the baby from the mothers. He killed any chance at happiness after having a baby for these mothers. And that asshole destroyed any chance of a relationship. I believe that the cruelty of the times was a direct result of his terrible doings. He instilled the fear, produced the anxiety, and discouraged mothers from keeping their babies by fueling the fires in the public eye.

God's answer was adoption. He gave the parents who could not have children the opportunity to be parents. Who knows if maybe God had previously decided to not allow those parents to have children. And through his loving grace gave them a second chance, answered their prayers, gave them children to love. It's my opinion that parents who adopt are the most loving of all. They take in a child that didn't come from their own womb, and love that child as if she were their own blood. They make an agreement with God (and with an agency likely) to take care of the child for the rest of their lives. That means unconditional love.

The Bible tells us that we are all adopted by God. Ephesians 1:5 says, God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.

I believe that adoption is the ultimate gift and lesson at the same time. Parents make a commitment to God and adoptees know what it feels like to be loved by people who weren't forced by law to love them. To be taken care of by these selfless people is the greatest gift. It is the ultimate gift of grace and it's human grace, which is something we don't see enough of.

So I waited on the couch, crying out to God in another moment of misunderstanding. I was letting the better part of me sink, and the questioning part of me rise and demand answers. So in my temporary insanity, I thought it would be OK to make that call that I knew in my heart was the wrong thing to do. And I had to live with myself.

You see, love doesn't make demands. And I was demanding that this woman confront me from all angles. I had now sunken to new lows by attempting to allow someone who may or may not have known about my birth, in on our little secret.

That was dangerous. But what did I have to lose? I guess, my integrity. The devil doesn't want us to have it. And I let him win that battle. Regretably so.

As the light was beaming on my face and I was holding the phone still against my chest, it rang. It was Wayne. The call went like this.

Hello, this is Wayne. I am returning your call. 
Yes. Hello Wayne. Thank you for calling me back. Um... (long pause). This is a little awkward for me, and it probably will be for you. Are you available to talk for a little bit?
Yes. Sure. (sounding curious though puzzled)
Your sister in law, Colette, is my birth mother. In 1976 she had a baby, and gave her up for adoption. That's me. I'm the baby.

to be continued....






Monday, May 5, 2014

Be, not do. It's harder than it sounds.

Have you ever thought to yourself that it would be easier to NOT CARE? I find myself in this predicament more often than not. And more often than not, it ends ugly, with me hurting, and others caring less.

I told this to my friend a little bit ago, and she recommended her usual. "Work on your steps Brooke. Life doesn't get any easier."

Well fuckin A. That is not what I want to hear. Nope. Never is. Never has been.

I would like to be told that I am awesome, and I suffer because my heart is too big (clearly could be bigger or I wouldn't be banging away now). She is right. I need to continue my step work.

Over a year later, and I'm on still on step three- dangling by one pinkie toe, arms whaling as if I'm doing the invisible back stroke, eyes bulging, mouth draping open, gasping for breath as if I'm underwater, and I couldn't be further from anything cool if my life depended on it.

I'm choking on air, a self-inflicted misery. Either way, I'm screwed. I can't solve the world's problems, and you'd be correct if you called that I couldn't solve my own problems.

I spin around in my mind again and again. I'm the flying house in the tornado. I'm the bed that spins. There's no witch to crush

There is nothing I can do about the way other people think. I have no business worrying about what they think, and I have all the time in the world to improve who I am. When you look at it like that, you release the mind boggling turmoil, and that's all I can ask for right now.



Friday, October 18, 2013

Paperwork Schmaperwerk

It has been months I've made any brazen attempts at knowing this strange woman who quite possibly begrudgingly carried me in her warm womb, then in a matter of six short, but painful hours, squeezed me through her birth canal and then left my life forever. The paperwork I have on my birth which is completely compiled in one tight paragraph, did not detail the nuances of childbirth and pregnancy the way most loving mothers would recall having their first born child- splashed with descriptive actions like 'felt your little kicks" and, "rubbing my belly," and the word glisten was perfectly absent. There is a simple, almost polite, completely sterile, three sentence paragraph with not a single comma. Bland and nondescript- as if baby birthing in 1976 was equal to a one-liner joke told by a Rodney Dangerfield impersonator in a seedy off off Broadway flat in NY's finest shitty neighborhood. I don't get it. Not one iota of detail surrounding the birth of a human being except a scientific description of my twisted right foot, and a suggested path to correction. Wow. That is one great book to read- about as informative and interesting as reading a printer manual in Mandarin.

I guess this disgusting lack of description is particularly deflating to someone like me for selfish reasons. I like to describe things. Nothing makes me more happy than to accurately and intricately outline a story. I like to know the juice, drink the juice, be the juice. The nitty gritty intrigues my mind, and I get off on being understood and explaining things to the point of undeniability. And when it is finished, you'll know because you will want more- like now. Like exactly now.

Truth be told, all of this driving desire to reunite with these perfect strangers is a combo of selfish determination and self-unawareness- self being the key descriptor. It's just not right to want to invade someones privacy for senseless reasons that only pertain to myself. Devilishly transparent, even putrid you might be thinking. Either way, I will get to the bottom of this if I have to think this thing into the ground and later excavate it. I hate to say this will be the death of me because I am hoping and praying that breath will be spoken into this relationship, but I have somewhat prepared for a slam in the face heart-wrenching NO, which is really what I've already been dealing with I suppose. The fact that these long lost people of mine, well formerly mine, in utero only, have not responded to my oddball requests and multiple letters to my birth mother, each more forceful than its predecessor, the fact that they have not responded in any form or fashion reminds me of Dumb and Dumber when Lloyd was told that there was one in a million chances that he would have a chance with the girl, and he jumped up, clicking his heels, and said, "You mean there is a chance!" Actually, in the movie I don't recall any leprechaun heel clicking moves in that scene, but there could have been. My memory isn't as good as yours probably.

I have turned into Lloyd. Great. Despite the very real truth that I love Dumb and Dumber with all my heart and even have a VHS copy of it in case the DVD accidentally cracks, I do not insist on insulting my intelligence like that, but I prefer to see the humor in most things uncomfortable.

Lucky for me (and Lloyd) there is hope- that small sliver of detail that people often forget about when the going gets rough. I plan to rely on that and faith for the rest of my life, and until either of those run out, I know in my heart that I will be fine. Period.

I will continue the elusive chase I imagine, until I feel satisfied with one answer, or until I am completely pushed off the face of the earth- whichever comes first.

I like to keep the stalking fresh and switch it up every now and then. Occasionally, banging through the keyboard by means of a random message sent on Facebook, not surprising at all if you think about it, considering 100,000,000,000 (too many zeros) people are finely in-tune with it's feed and consider posting to it a daily ritual, myself included.  I have not picked up the phone to call my birth aunt though lately; Melody is her name- to announce to her family on what sounded like a 1987 Radio Shack answering machine that I have been looking for them for quite some time, and that I believe that we are related. No return call. Twice I called, twice left messages, the second more direct than the first and probably more insistent on a return call, which was not honored nor probably appreciated, based on the response I got- which was zip, zilch, and zero all combined into a whopping bag of nothing.

I have also written the birth mother one snail mail letter, and two separate emails. None returned, so that is a clear indicator that Mr.M Daemon did not get a hold of them. I also have bombarded her friend, and my former friend who has assimilated to the non-responsiveness that the rest of the family is taking up. She unknowingly released the privied information to the search angel, Debi, who ultimately found my birth mother for me, in a very closed, and very sealed adoption dating back to the seventies. I just aged myself, but for the sake of the storyline, which is really my life story unfolding as you see it here, I will take it like a champ. The friend who outed my birth mother, probably got a tongue lashing and a cold shoulder after that, which might assign some truth into the character of my birth mother and her unassuming family. Well I honestly don't believe she told any one in her family other than her sister, and parents who visited her while she was in the maternity home which was and still is located in Charlotte.

One day soon, I might have a visit to the Florence Crittenton Home for unwed mothers. I might just have a visit this weekend. I'll take my camera and upload some pics of the joint since no one thought it was appropriate back then when I was born. I guess instead of creating memories, the birth mothers wanted to shove the memory of birthing a baby and giving it away to complete strangers to raise is something that was not especially camera worthy, and not exactly fond, and probably something that kept resurfacing at odd times throughout the years creating much pain and undue suffering.

But I guess back then, the idea was to keep the privacy of the adoptive parents at the forefront, and the rights of the birth parents practically abolished like the detailed descriptions were of the births and what led up to the births. That would include any real life situations that could have been addressed without having to give up a child.  Maybe that is the truth. Maybe if those thoughts were revisited for too long, ideas would form that would lead to different outcomes and different lives, affecting the world in a much easier, digestible light. Maybe, just maybe I would not be sitting here right now, typing this.

I am very thankful for my family. Do not get it twisted. I am truly blessed, but with that blessing came a very real interest, inherited if you will, and born deep into my soul in finding my people. I think anyone who takes that for granted has no idea what it is like to be the one who doesn't.

If it happens that we meet, that we exchange some open communication, some rhetoric is dialed up, maybe even some real life interaction, I don't know what I should expect because I have already formed in my mind what it will look like when it happens. That is a probably one of the only private things about this story of mine that I have remained sealed about. That too, will be revealed, as more is revealed, an unveiling of a mystery. That mystery holds the key to me. And by God, I am determined to get to the bottom of it- even if the outcome is devastatingly unfavorable. I can assume closure, and this chapter will be no longer an anomaly in this life.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

I'm BAAACK. And even more obsessed.

It's that time of year again- the time that I begin to obsess about my birth mother and my blood relatives period. It's that time that I begin to let my imagination run wild and take over the rationale that engulfs my mind on occasion.  So, I decided that I would call Debi and ask her if she would be interested in helping me find my birth father, and she was right on it, like Madonna to a pre-pubescent boy. There are a few pictures that she sent to me of  a particular unknowing dentist that could be blood father. We look eerily alike, with even the same gap between our front teeth. I'm not getting any hopes up. He supposedly knew nothing of me from the start, why would he care to know me now. Even my own blood mother didn't want anything to do with me then and still doesn't today which is painful to say the least. I will post the pictures tomorrow if I gain enough nerve. I am going to bed. All this thinking is making my head hurt. 

Monday, June 3, 2013

What now? It's been over a year.

To call or not to call. That is the question.

Have you ever been lost in the woods? I have. It was scary and surreal-one minute admiring the beauty of nature spilling all throughout my colorful lush surroundings, climbing up massive and steep hills to delicate declines that were quite tolerable. The next minute, my eyes darting every which way and seeing no one, not recognizing anything, no trees with funny elbows or a trail that winded just so leading me to my friends or anyone for that matter. At first I did not worry. I felt a sense of love come over me, a oneness with the nature that was engulfing my every move, watching and protecting my steps, my heart in sync with it all. The sun was beaming through the empty spots of brown and orange and yellow, lashing out as if it was speaking to me. "Move. Now." So I moved.

I began to hike down and up and down and stopped at a cross in the trail, so I could capture the beauty of some moss that had taken residence on a tree vein as if it was a diamond on a wedding band. My mind began to race, thinking of what my daughter would be thinking. She was only 4, and separated from her only mother. Would she be crying? Would she understand the magnitude of the situation, that her mother was missing? Where were my friends? Had they just left me or had I wandered off? What were they thinking? Did they even miss me? How long  was it before they noticed I was not with them?

As I began to delicately yell for help, my throat became dry. I was suddenly parched. I needed water. I became hungry, and my legs grew sore. Was this something that I was really feeling? Or were these symptoms of a self-inflicted misery? I knew I would emerge from this mountain chaos. There were no mountain lions that I saw, and none that I even dreamed up. I was not worried about mingling with the wild animals, but something else was getting into my mind. Something was manifesting. It was man-made fear and loathing. I was not only lost on a map, but I was further gone from reality than I had ever been, further than any drug induced haze or drunken stupor had ever left me. I was mentally paralyzed and it was somehow freeing in its own right.

I was in control of my thoughts. I knew it. I was in total control of my psychological state, but I chose to be miserable. I made the decision to cry, to worry, to sink into myself, and ultimately run. I ran far and fast. I couldn't get away and get there fast enough. It was a strange and beautiful time. There is no way for me to explain that hour that I spent wandering aimlessly through the forest, but to equate it with this...

I have been evading the escape. I know what needs to be done one minute, but the paralysis invades me the next. Managing multiple mindsets is hard. One minute I think Colette needs some space, and the next I think she needs a space invader. We are at a stand still, never left that spot in history, and by the looks now, we will be there until I make a move.

I'm not sure how all of this ties in or makes sense to anyone else, but Karen will help me sort through all of this pain of rejection, again. I will be made whole, by God's hand, by my own mind. Living a sober life is good. It's eye opening. I'm constantly faced with new ways of making the circle whole, and it's pretty amazing to see how things play out, how I work things out from a clear minded perspective. I'm excited for the next chapter in my life. I'm glad to have a new day, and not worry about it until it gets here. Life is good. God is good. Being adopted is becoming more manageable in its unmanagability.

 

Monday, April 15, 2013

My Sobriety and Her Secrets Revealed

My birthday came and went like most birthdays normally do. Part of me was secretly wishing to find a letter in my mailbox from Colette. The other parts of me were toying with many other ideas, one in particular- that I would mail her another card for my birthday, and as I think about it more and more, I still feel like I should, yet I'm positively hesitant.

As I have told my story to the people in my life who care enough to ask or read this blog, I have always been left with new outlooks after our conversations. It's true you never know what another person is going through until you have walked a mile in one's shoes. The truth is, we will never be anyone else, never walk in another's shoes, unless we leave ours on the roof of the car and drive off forgetting they were there, and never fully grasp what another is thinking or feeling. In my stuckness, in my Brookeness, I will never truly know what Colette is going through when she thinks of me, and how I would play a role in her life if we were to meet today.

I equate what she might be feeling with my ceasing to drink alcohol. I have never been fully aware of what it's like to be sober on my own accord for my entire adult life, except during pregnancy. I have gone a month here and a month there, maybe a few months at a time, but I never intended to be sober forever like I plan to now. My whole way of life will be altered, changed forever, for the good I am certain. My friends will probably drop like flies, my outlook will modify, my activities for sure will change, not being consummed with where the next drink will take place or when. Everything will change, again I am certain for the better. I will not be the same Brooke anymore. I will evolve, just as Colette has evolved from that scared 21 year old college student who accidentally got pregnant by her boyfriend. She is not the same person anymore, no longer a kid full with dreams and excitement mixed with nervousness. She has gone through a lot since I was born- had more children, been married and divorced, lost both parents, made a career and name for herself. She has evolved.

I too shall evolve.

I was planning to parallel the changes that could take place in both of our lives based on uncertainties that could arise from a first meeting that hasn't taken place yet, and maybe never will, but realized as I thought through it more today on the green couch, while sipping my overly stout coffee, that there are more locked boxes that need to be pryed open. Way more.

There are so many things to be accounted for.

She doesn't know what our lives will be like if entangled with one another just as I don't know what living sober will be like. It's likely I will become withdrawn over the course, pouring into my writing, into Sarah, and certainly be engulfed in self-discovery when I have for so long tried to mask myself of who I was- a drunk- powerless and often misunderstood. I will emerge a butterfly through my change, with sparkling colors and a wing span that screams immense. My upward mobility will not be squandered in thoughtless acts, in a drunken disguise. I will finally be myself again, what God wishes for my life, what I have wished for, for so long.

It will be a choice and not a consequence.

Colette will be able to put her shame behind her, her fear of the unknown, her disguise. She would be able to  say to someone that she couldn't talk to before, "Yes, I had a baby. Yes, I did it in secret, and now I am not afraid to tell the world that I did those things because  I am not that child anymore. I can be myself. I can let go of my anxiety, my overwhelmed feelings, my hurtful past that was squashed over and over for all the wrong reasons." She can let go of it all just by meeting me. She can see that she did the right thing by giving me up. There is nothing more appropriate than a meeting with me to release her of those feelings forever. So I think. One meeting could be the closure that she needed- one time seeing my face and wrapping her arms around me, and feeling my heart when she speaks to me, when we speak to eachother, and knowing my soul is good.  That would be all it would take.

That sounds like a fairy tale probably because I believe in fairy tales. Of the many things I struggle with, helping to set her free is one of them, and if not meeting me ever, never looking into my eyes is what will ultimately heal her, I guess that will be that. It will make me sad to know that she will never invite me to see her, but at least I will know that I conquered a major setback in my own life while trying to help someone else with theirs. I will be sober, and I will notice the little things, become acquainted with beauty and understand that relationships aren't driven by disguises. I will be able to account for everything in my life, and without shame.

Shame is another senseless depressor that ties us together in this tangled web. I will be released from mine, and she will also. Simultaneously, we could  lose it forever- the shame, the paralyzing guilt. We can bounce good energy off one another, share in our successes, leave the quiet desperation behind forever.

If I were to dive deeper into this whole thing called life, I would also notice that my unemployment has pushed me into things that I needed to settle. I needed this break of the schedule. I needed to work some things out, and push myself in ways that people don't normally gravitate towards, but instead are usually pushed into. I can't complain about my life. It's pretty amazing right now. I have a lot to be thankful for, and I have a mother who loves me unconditionally, who takes great pride in loving me that way, and to her death always will. She is amazing, and more and more I realize that she is the only mother that I will ever need. Thank God for my real mom- Lynne. I am truly blessed, always have been.

All in all, I will be fine, and so will Colette if we meet or not.

Lord, keep me thankful, keep me sober, and please Lord just keep me.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Most recent invitation to Colette that I definitely won't send


I wrote this the other night. I am not sending this but writing this was therapeutic for me. I have so much going on upstairs these last few weeks about Colette, my birth mother. So I asked God for a sign to tell me if I would ever be meeting her in person. I was driving to pick up my friend in the rain, and all alone, so I was praying, and probably not paying enough attention to the road, and I just asked God to give me a sign if I would meet her. Well, instantly my phone made a ding from a text. So I cried thinking that I was either too popular or that God responded quickly that time. Later that same night, with friend in tow, I noticed on the back of a city bus the words NOT was highlighted on the back...not in service was the intended message I assume, but all it read was NOT. So there again, I was left torn, but as the laughter ensued during said car trip, I pushed the darkest questions further to the back of my mind. It's not that deep, so I don't have to worry about ever losing anything up there. Hahahaha. This is pretty brazen, and I would never call out the pain that she probably went through like that. I;m sure it would hurt her, and that is never my intention, ever, for anyone for that matter. I like creating smiles, not frowns. 

Dear Colette,
I hope you are doing well, and that this letter finds you, and at just the right moment in time for you to read this. I have prayed for that, so I know it will happen. I say that with a slightly smug grin on my face, but in truth, I have relatively strong faith- depending on your idea of strong.  At this point in time I’m wondering if it’s even worth trying anymore since you have made it a point not to respond to me, and considering most people have led me to believe that I am absolutely bat shit crazy for continuing to borderline harass you with passionate pleas that very well might end in utter disappointment, scarring me further, and leaving me feeling even more rejected and dismissed than I already feel now as I am sitting here in my bed writing to you at 12am on a Tuesday night. I should be sleeping since my daughter (your granddaughter) is out a friend’s house overnight. I should have also probably taken some ibuprofen for this doozey of a headache which I’ve convinced myself is from watching 3 bratty 6 year olds all day and carting a friend around since he got a DUI (innocent until proven guilty)- just until he gets his day drunk license. 

He was one of my closest friends in college. Still is. If he wasn’t gay, I’d probably marry him because we argue like a married couple, and he enjoys telling me how to drive (just like a man.) I think I would probably have to be the husband, and I don’t like changing faucets and lifting heavy objects. I hope you’re not a gay hater by the way.  Don’t go getting all judgey on me please.  I have a feeling you wouldn’t be...

But then again, everything I know about you is something that I have most likely formed in my mind- mostly fiction, surely with a happy ending that just begins with you meeting me.

Admittedly and rightfully so, I have thought too much about what it would be like to meet you. What it would be like to look into your eyes and see a reflection of myself, to hear your voice, to hug you. These words sound so pathetic and sappy, which are both uncharacteristic to me, and quite unappealing if you ask me, although I could cry at a Hallmark commercial. The thought of verbally divulging my deepest feelings to someone who I am unsure of sounds a little too horrifically brave and unrequited to me.  Nevertheless, I am going out on a limb here and taking the risk. I have always been a risk taker. It has not always ended miraculously, but I am doing pretty well regardless, all my limbs intact, no visible scars, no repressed anger, pretty normal for whatever normal might be.

I would love to show you more of who I am, who I have become in your absence. I’m sure you wondered what I would turn out like. I wonder if you thought about me often.  I wonder if you thought of me on my birthday every long year that we were not together, if you wondered what I was doing. How I was faring in life? I often wondered what you were doing on my birthday. If you felt sorrow or regret? If you wished that you had done things differently? If you wish you had never met my birth father so  you wouldn’t have to relive this again. If you wish Nancy hadn’t ever said anything to you because you were safely out of the woods and into a life that was non-inclusive of who you once were? I have often wondered if you would be scared to admit to people, to strangers, to your family, that you had a baby in secret 37 years ago and never held her, and never saw her again. You were a child then. You are not that person anymore. You’ve evolved, blossomed, grown, and outgrown, and probably outgrown the thought of ever meeting me which makes me sad.

I would like you to know, that I am not mad at you. I have no ill will towards you. You did what you had to do with what you had. The circumstances that you were in were nothing that I would ever understand, having not been you or been in your shoes, or in your mind. You must have been tormented during those months that probably trickled into years.  I cannot imagine. Knowing how much I love my daughter and adore being with her every moment of her life, I cannot imagine what it must have felt like for you. Were you detached? Did you have a theory that if you pretended like it never happened then you would be fine- go on and live your life as if it never happened?  Would therapy and eventual love mend you? Did you ever truly heal? Did you throw yourself into your studies, become a workaholic? Did you quit dating?

These are all questions that I have a feeling you would like to answer for me. But I wonder if it is pride that keeps you from it. I wonder if it’s heartache and guilt that keep you from finding healing in meeting me. I wonder if you feel ashamed. I’ve been told that those are feelings that many birth mothers experience and reuniting with a birth child can be terrifying for birth mothers. I have heard that birth mothers never actually healed because they went into hiding, keeping their pregnancies a secret from the world. They were ashamed of being pregnant. Their parents were ashamed of their daughters being sexually active when they were Southern Baptists, active in the church and with other family members active in the local community. Even though you came from a small town, you might have been judged by a large crowd. That would probably be pretty painful.

It could be the other way around. It could have been that you were completely selfless in the whole thing. You could have been thinking so much about the birth father that you forgot about yourself. Or maybe, you didn’t even know the birth father. I am taking these guesses because I have never been told the exact story. I have been denied the right to know where I came from because of some antiquated laws that left many children rightless and voiceless, as if their existence was a means for a family who couldn’t bear children to have their own children, to start a family. It was almost as if, the unborn nameless babies, the baby Veras of the world were just that- babies with one name. Without a last name, who are you? You are just you. Plain and simple. You are not attached to anyone. You are not born into money, into poverty, into incest, out of lust, from rape, from sin, from love.  You are just an individual. And maybe that is what I am. Maybe that is what you are, and that’s all we need to be.

I doubt it. Not today. Not 37 years ago. God made me for a reason. And you played a special part in my life. And I’m giving you the opportunity to come back into my life just to see what it would be like. Aren’t you curious?

I think it’s time for you to realize that I am not here to hurt you. You knew this day would come. You prayed about it. You wished it would, and your prayers have been answered. God’s watch doesn’t work like ours. He decides when the time is right, and we don’t have much to say about it. But I guess, you have the opportunity to not respond to me again, to decide that the timing is not right for you. I hate that again we are in this position. You are the decision maker, and I am left with it. My opinion jar is left empty and lifeless.

But the truth remains.

I am alive, living, breathing, beautiful, intelligent, grateful, generous, helpful, encouraging, strong, called, and redeemed. Don’t you want to see for yourself? My word can’t be good enough for you. It shouldn’t be, and you shouldn’t let your pride fill you up and steal this chance of a lifetime.

Please meet me.  Don’t wait. Life is precious and before you know it, I will be gone again, and you will be left regretting not having me for the second time.

I will be at _________________ in Jacksonville, NC on Friday, April 12 at 6pm. I would really like you to meet me there. If you can’t meet me, please send Nancy.  I will have Sarah with me. I will be devastated most likely and then just send you hate mail. Probably ruin your life. That was a poor attempt at a joke that you are probably wondering about right now.  I have a very dry sense of humor that only few appreciate and many try to unsuccessfully pull off. Bitterness and anger help. Another joke.
Brooke

My idea is to send her a note (not this one) that tells her I will be somewhere and she can come to meet me there. Yes, I will have to drive about 250 miles away for this to happen, and if she doesn't show, I will be a train wreck. I guess that's the price you pay for forcing yourself on someone. What do yall think? Is that a good idea? Is that totally nuts? Leave a comment.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Kim's story

Boy, do I have a story for you! You are in luck today.

You are about to receive the best gift imaginable in just a few moments, but first, I would first like you to say this prayer before you read this story. Christian or otherwise. Just do it for little old me. Wait, I'm not old. I'm only 20 something...OK, fine 30 something.

Lord, I open my heart to you. I want to receive this message I am about to read, and let my stubbornness escape me in these moments. Let my lack of faith be squashed. Open my mind and crush my ego, my unwillingness, my disabilities. When my problems are small, and you are BIG. I will come to you in my times of need. Lord, you are my Savior.

Thanks if you did it. Screw you if you didn't. JK.

Grab a box of tissues. For real. Grab it. Now. Run.

To follow is the brave story of a wonderful woman I am blessed to know and have in my life. She is a lover of all things good, a fighter for what she believes in, and a fighter also....for own life.


My Story…..by Kim Hill

December 28, 2011 was both the most terrifying and in the end, the most incredible day of my life.

 I don’t really even know where to begin to tell the story because it is really more of a circle of events involving my dogs, my children, my church family, myself and GOD. So I guess I’ll just start with the terrifying part. Somewhere around 530 pm as I was getting ready to go to my eGroup meeting, my 2 rescue dogs, Judah and Meshach started to fight over a toy that I had given them. (Meshach was a 67 pound boxer that I had just taken in 1 week prior. Judah is a smaller boxer mix that has been living with me since September) The fight escalated to a level that frightened me, and I was afraid that Judah was going to get seriously hurt so I opened the glass patio door and attempted to break up the fight.

It was my intention to pull Meshach off of Judah and hopefully send him out the door, but they were so caught up in their fighting that when I pulled on Meshach’s harness, it snapped off in my hand and he turned on me like a wild animal, biting and growling and tearing at my arms. He lunged at me, grabbed my right arm and pulled so hard that we both fell out through the open door, down the step and out onto the patio. I was screaming for help and trying to keep him away from my face but he just kept coming at me over and over.

I remember crying out for help and looking out into the darkness thinking/praying “God this can’t be happening to me...Please help me...Nobody can hear me ...don’t let me die out here” and the next thing I remember I was standing inside the door slamming it shut and hearing it latch at the exact moment that Meshach lunged at the outside of the door. As I turned to run away from the door, I heard him slam up against the door over and over and I knew that if he got it open, I would not likely live through it, so I grabbed my phones, locked myself in the bathroom, put my feet up against the door to brace myself in case he did get in and called 911 from both my land line and my cell phone. (not a good idea by the way but I was freaking out!)

When they answered from my land line, I hung up my cell phone. The 911 operator was trying to calm me down but I was in such a panic that I could not get a hold of myself. I heard my cell phone ring and saw that it was my daughter, Jaimie, so I picked it up, crying and yelling for her to come help me, (meanwhile the 911 operator on my land line was ASSERTIVELY telling me to pay attention to him) and then my daughter and I were interrupted by another 911 operator saying that they had received a call from my cell and needed to know what was going on. It was a very chaotic few minutes of back and forth between the 2 911 operators, who were both doing what they needed to do in spite of the fact that they had a completely terrified crazy person on the other end of the line. (Jaimie would later tell me that she had an overwhelming feeling that she needed to call me when she did. I am certain God was behind that.)

A few minutes later I heard my door bell ring and I assumed that it was the Medics, but it was Nate, my neighbor who lives behind me through the woods about ¼ mile away. It turns out that he had been outside in his yard and DID hear me screaming. He said that he wasn’t sure exactly where it was coming from but he knew that it was a desperate cry for help, and he had a feeling that it could be me because he knew I had taken in a new rescue dog. He took one look at my wounds, took the phone out of my hands, told 911 who he was and what was happening and followed their instructions on how to take care of me until the rescue team arrived to take over. The Mint Hill Rescue team arrived minutes later and carried me out to the ambulance on a stretcher. I could not believe what I saw when I was being loaded onto the ambulance, there were police cars, animal control vans, fire trucks and ambulance all lined up along the road as well as everyone of my neighbors. One of the firemen told me that the police were surrounding my house with shot guns and I remember crying out to one of my neighbors to be sure they knew it was NOT Judah who attacked me and to please not let anything happen to him.

We were on our way to CMC ER.

When the ambulance pulled up at the emergency room entrance, my daughter, Jaimie, was already waiting there and I remember thinking how blessed I am to have her in my life. Once they pulled me out of the ambulance, she never left my side for the next 10 days. She walked alongside the stretcher into the trauma room, called all of my friends and family to let them know what was happening, and literally became the mom for the next 10 days. She even videotaped the whole procedure in the emergency room, while at the same time holding my hand or rubbing my back during some of the more painful moments.  I have yet to see that footage, but several other people have and based on the looks on their faces when they watch it, I am pretty sure I never want to.

Very shortly after I arrived at the hospital, people from my small group and other family members started showing up. Initially my nurse said that only 2 people were allowed in my room, but at one point there were 10 people in my room, not including the doctors and nurses, all claiming to be my “Family” and the nurse just shook her head and gave up trying to get them to leave.

My friends from Elevation have become my extended family over the past 2 years and the love that we all have for each other is amazing. I honestly do not know how people get through some of the things that life throws our way without friends like I have found at our church. One of those friends, Jon Spencer is actually a flight paramedic for CMC. He had just dropped off 2 patients when his wife Kim sent him a text telling him what happened, so he turned around, came back inside the building to find me and also stayed by my side assisting the Doctors in my treatment. At one point, when he felt like too much time had passed without any treatment being started, he turned to me and said “you are my sister in Christ.. I’m going to find someone to get in here to work on you….if anyone asks you, it’s not a lie.. You ARE my sister” and it may be just my imagination, but it seems like everything moved pretty quickly after that.

For the next 10 days, the love and support from my family and friends, most of them ELEVATORS, was beyond words. There was not one minute of the day that I was not either on the phone with or physically surrounded by people who love me. Everyone took turns coming over with food, or to play a round of dominoes, or just to talk about what happened and to pray with and for me. My daughter was so profoundly affected by the support and love that she has decided to take her next step and get involved in a small group.
I remember telling every one over and over again that I was so grateful to be alive and that I believed the whole incident was a blessing.

Like Pastor Steven, I listen almost daily to sermons via podcast from all of the pastors that he has brought into our church, and somewhere in those messages, I remember hearing that everything can contain a blessing if we are willing to believe. And that sometimes the blessing can’t be seen or felt….sometimes the blessing is found in what DIDN’T happen….perhaps even to someone else. I have 4 small grandchildren who are my heart.. I cannot imagine what COULD have been if Meshach had turned on one of them, or on some other child. I believe that what happened was a blessing. I am alive, and ultimately, as God has shown me, I am alive because of the Grace of God. Which is really the best part of this story!

Every time I would talk to someone new about what happened, they always had the same question. “How did you get away?” and I would just shake my head and say “God”. My dad asked “who was there with you,” and I said “Jesus” and while somewhere in my heart I really did believe that, it still made me crazy to not be able to remember how I got back inside the house, and I have spent hours replaying it over and over in my mind trying to get those few seconds back.

I can vividly remember every detail of what happened before and after, but that part is completely erased from my mind. Some people have suggested that I got a burst of adrenaline from being in a flight or fright situation, but I am here to tell you that did NOT happen.

I was there, and I thought I was going to die.

There is no way I could have gotten him off of me, picked myself up off the ground, moved into the house 6 feet away, AND shut the door in the condition that I was in. I knew there had to be Divine Intervention, but in my humanness, I wanted to SEE it so that I could believe it.

God had other plans.

About 4 days after the accident, at about 4am, I was up talking to God, asking/begging Him again to show me how it happened, when He answered me with the words from my favorite poem FOOTPRINTS. I am not sure if I had my eyes open or closed, but somehow I “saw” the last sentence of the poem:

The times when you only see one set of footprints is when I carried you.

I sat straight up in my bed and said out loud “ IT WAS YOU?!," and as I always do whenever I feel like God has spoken to me, I grabbed my Bible and quickly asked Him to point me to something as evidence that it was Him and not my crazy mind playing tricks on me. I opened to and landed on these words in Matthew 4: “He will order his angels to protect you, And they will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone."

 Freak me out! I quickly sent a text to Linda, one of my e-Group leaders, telling her that I thought God was trying to tell me that He saved me and I needed to talk. It was only about 430 in the morning, but she’s awesome, so she called me and I cried and she listened and then she said “of course He saved you, He loves you. Why don’t you think that’s possible?” But it just seemed too unreal for me.

I could not wrap my mind around it, even though if it were someone else, I would be telling them the exact same thing Linda said to me. So God kept on shining His light on the subject. For days I would be bombarded with what my friend Betsy calls “sacred echoes”. She said that when God wants to tell you something He will put it in your face over and over and over in whatever form He needs to until He gets your attention. And HE DID. It seemed like everywhere I turned I was hearing something that said GOD SAVED ME.

One morning, Mark, my other e-Group leader, sent me a video about the Trinity and it was so amazing that I had to call him to talk about it. I told him about all the things that had been happening and he said “the fact that you can’t remember those few seconds is all the proof I need that it was God.. you know we are not allowed to see God’s face. He wants you to believe by Faith. Why wouldn’t He save you?” and still, I found it hard to accept that it had happened to ME..

So, God kept on with the sacred echoes in various ways over and over again until Saturday morning, January 7th again. As I was laying in my bed talking to God when I felt like He told me to go back to the Matthew 4 reading and look at the scripture reference in my study Bible... so I did... and it led me to Psalm 91 and finally,

I got it...

If you will make the Lord your refuge, IF you make the Most High your shelter,
No evil will conquer you, No plague will enter your home
For He will order His angels to protect you wherever you go
They will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.
You will trample upon lions and cobras, you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet!
The Lord says “I will rescue those who love me.
I will protect those who trust in my name,
When they call on me I will answer,
I will be with them in trouble.
I will rescue and honor them.
I will reward them with long life and give them my salvation.

I do love Him. I do Trust Him. I did call on Him (loudly and frantically!)
He did Rescue me. He did protect me. He did answer. He was with me!

I am not going to comment on this story in this post because I want you to reflect on it. I will tomorrow. Please leave a comment with your thoughts.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

2550 Valencia Terrace, Boy you've changed a lot over the years

I have to admit, I have been completely smitten with the idea of driving to Jacksonville, NC and finding this woman who gave birth to me. It wouldn't be hard to locate her with my handy dandy little GPS Psycho Tracker app that I downloaded. I'm joking about the app, but I am fully confident that I could find her purdy easily. But the question is, do I really want to be that girl who just shows up unannounced?

Sure. I just did that exact same thing yesterday when I showed up at 2550 Valencia Terrace. The new occupants/owners just so happened to be unloading their minivan with their beautiful 1 and 3 year olds, who undoubtedly adorn initial engraved jumpers for Easter to the country club.

The house that we just crept up on like I was reenacting a drive-by shooting, the one where I shamelessly waved my pointer finger in the air, while hanging my neck slightly under the passenger side window so I could see what I was pointing at was the house that I grew up in. The two little girls, cousins in fact,  giggling uncontrollably in the backseat probably gave it away that we were not there to shoot up the place, but nevertheless, when I saw the man lugging the carseat up the side steps,  and he locked eyes with me over a hundred feet away, I immediately let the cat out of the bag. "I grew up in this house," I shouted out of the rolled-down window to the stranger who was looking at me with such puzzlement. Why is this strange lady pointing at my house, and stopped in front of my driveway, I'm sure he was wondering.

Part of me hoped that he would invite us in.

I had done it before with Wanda, a previous owner of my home that I live in today. She showed up on my front porch one Saturday, introduced herself,  and had a story that her brother had accidentally sent her a Christmas card to her old address (mine), and it had cash in it. Who sends cash money these days? It's odd if you think about all the ways that you can transfer money today, but there is just something exciting about opening a card and finding a crisp bill laid nicely across the inseam of a card. She was telling the truth because I had just received the card in mention the day before. It was sitting on my kitchen counter ready to be returned to sender. Lucky for her, I was there, and lucky for me I was saved the trip to the post office. I don't trust the mailbox. My mom scared me into that idea quite early on. It still stuck.

When Wanda came in, waltzing through the downstairs in shock and amazement, as if she was immediately flooded with fond memories, I was happy I could play a small part in her stroll down memory lane.  She obviously had wonderful times there, and was feeling very nostalgic, and might have even shed a few tears, in which case, I most assuredly shared a few in return. If you cry, you better believe I'm gonna cry with you. After the nickel tour of our modest house and a cup of coffee later, she informed me while siting next to me on the couch, that she had lost her first husband, and father of her children there. He died in the house of a heart attack in his thirties- a freak accident. I knew what that was like. Never having lost a husband myself, I still know what it's like to lose someone special at a young age to a heart attack, and in your own house. It wasn't easy. It's still isn't.

My wish came true, because Parker, I believe that was his name, waved for us to come in after he put the baby carrier down as he unlocked the side door- the side door that we always went in, the side door where your best friends enter and exit, and rarely knocked if you were coming to the Fairley household, the side door that I had mastered opening with only a slight creaking at 2am when I was coming or going.

 I pulled in the driveway, which even felt slightly unfamiliar after the 15 years it's been since I pulled in on a regular basis. It felt so long- the driveway. I felt so small, my enormous Buick barreling through. It was odd- like I was entering uncharted territory. This wasn't mine anymore. I had to pull in slowly now, avoiding the grass.

We got out, Sarah, MacKenzie and I. MacKenzie is Sarah's best pal ever, and cousin who is a year older, and with insightful curiosity, like Sarah, she seemed genuinely interested in seeing the place where I grew up.  Kids care so much more than adults about matters of the heart I'm learning. They blindly invest, whereas we want to know what we are always getting out of any relationship before we shake hands on much of anything.

The young good looking couple both introduced themselves, probably shocked that someone would even have the audacity to intrude on their home just to see what it would look like these days. Although, we all knew when we were introducing ourselves that they were giving me something that no one else could provide, and I was sharing some history with them- with total strangers. They could ask me questions about the house, which they did, and I could give them stories about missing awnings, and one raging party that took place there that will go down in the history books of high school parties. People still to this day bring that up. As shameful as it was, it was fun. Something reminiscent of the movie Weird Science. Abbey, the wife, had even heard about it. She is cousins with a childhood friend of mine, and neighbor, whose family still lives in the neighborhood to this day. Small world or small town? I'm not sure. Either way, it was nice to be welcomed into their home. They didn't have to invite us in. Most people wouldn't probably. But they didn't hesitate, and it was nearing bedtime for the kids- the first day of daylight savings. Spring was in the air.

It didn't feel like 1998 anymore. Nope still 2013.

As we walked up those side brick steps that I had walked up and down thousands of times in my childhood, I didn't feel anything. I didn't take in any sadness or joy. There was no, OMG, I haven't been here in forever feeling. And the feelings continued, or should I say didn't continue as Abbey showed me around the house, which looked absolutely NOTHING like the house I grew up in. It was really nice. It was shiny and new, completely gutted. It was born again. It was beautiful.

Not my 2550 Valencia. Not the house that I celebrated my 16th birthday in, surprised my parents for their anniversaries in with cheesecake and candles and ugly sweaters I bought for mom with the money I earned from working at Kenny Roger's Roasters on the corner or Gloria Jeans Coffee Shop in SouthPark mall. I couldn't see the desk in the kitchen that held the rotary phone with the extremely long cord that Wilson chewed on incessantly while he was on it. I couldn't see the Christmas tree in the living room- that God-awful tree that had more gaps in it than Jodi Arias's alibi. There was no ugly flowered couch that could sleep a small army, no small round blue and red plastic table that we drew our love notes to Mom on, no front door that swung open at the slightest breeze allowing Hershey to tear out of whenever he felt like it. I didn't see any of those memories in that new house. They might have as well changed the damn address number, because that house, though beautiful in its entirety, though marvelous and granite laden with gorgeous Brazilian hardwoods dancing across your feet, that house was not my house- anymore.

I didn't get that lump in my throat that I fully expected to have. There was no, OHHHH and look at that- that's where that happened. There was just, Wow, this doesn't even look like the same house. The only thing that remained original to my 2550 Valencia Terrace was the ugly chandelier with the crystal droplets that I never liked to begin with. Isn't that funny? The new owner said she loved it, and wasn't going to change it, but she had doctored it up with her own flair. She had put mini lamp shades on the bulbs- something my mom had never done on any of her chandeliers. Incidentally, both of mine wear them.

We walked out to the back porch. The bushes my dad had planted were all gone. All of them. The trees in the front that he planted were all gone too. He had planted probably 25 pine trees in the front yard. At the time, I hated them because that meant I had to mow around 25 trees. After we were gone, I loved those trees. They represented something that a tree most always represents-the test of time. They represented my Dad, his existence, our existence together, our rich history, and hard work. He might not be remembered for being a hard worker, but the one thing in this world that my dad loved doing was planting things. He enjoyed planting to propagating to actually digging up wild plants in the woods, which I found odd, until I caught myself doing it.  I'm not sure if planting seeds or trees, whatever it was that he put into the ground, was what he enjoyed most, or if it was seeing the change and growth in something you put forth effort into- watching things evolve.

After my brother died a very sudden death of a heart attack at 20, my Dad mentioned a few times that what he felt he missed most about Wilson was the opportunity to see him evolve into the man that he was becoming. This is what he liked about planting. Seeds don't always have to be physical. So I don't know why I got so hung up on the fact that 2550 Valencia Terrace was not what I remembered it to be. The seeds that were planted are left to grow in my mind. The memories that I have are left to be written about in stories like this one, and there is no amount of Spackle or Sherwin Williams Oceanic Blue paint that can smear them. I am left with treasure chests full of them, as I am of my family who I spent my life getting to know, and still getting to know, even in death.

I didn't intend on this story having this ending, but I guess things don't always end the way we intend for them to. All together, I felt I had closure when I pulled out of the driveway. That was something that I needed evidently. We all need closure no matter how hard we try to just move on. It's part of living and I guess it's part of dying.

I'm glad I stopped by and was received with such grace. As I was driving home this afternoon, and I was telling a close friend this same story, I realized in that moment that it's not about reliving my childhood anymore. It's time to live Sarah's. That was my time, and now it's hers. I have all the power to make hers just as memorable as mine, and that's my plan.

I took a number of lessons from this experience, with one that particularly struck a chord. People might not always receive you the way you think they will, and it's easy to change your mind. I'm not sure how much impact all of this will have on my quest, but there are no circumstances in life that ignore perspective.
 
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Vital records

Vital records