I think of her every single day during this time of year. Without a moment’s notice, she comes to the forefront of my mind like clockwork. It’s instinctive. It’s in my subconscious.
I imagine what she must have felt throughout the nine months she carried me in her womb knowing that the day would come that she would have to say good-bye. I think about the shame she must have felt. I wonder what she was feeling as the dreaded day neared. Was she scared? Did she have doubts about the decision she was making? Did she wish she could run away and hide and keep me forever?
I picture her being advised not to hold me after I was born and the torment it must have caused her. I picture her feeling the deepest grief of her 19 years as she was wheeled out of the hospital with empty arms. I thought of her the day I left the hospital after losing Gabriel. I had walked into the hospital with a baby in my belly and I went home without any proof of his existence. She and I both experienced the loss of a baby, just in different forms. I wonder if she felt like a mother even though I was no longer with her? Because only a mother can feel such tremendous anguish and emptiness.
I have seen first-hand the pain and sadness in the face of a mother who has just voluntarily relinquished her rights. Twice. It is a something I will never forget. My children’s birthmothers mourned the losses of their babies and grieved deeply for what could have been, should have been. And both times that I have been witness to this courageous act, she never left my mind. I thought of the day she had to sign the papers. Who was with her? Did she cry as she was signing? Did she fall apart when she walked out of that room?
I think of all the things I wish I could tell her that would have helped her heal from any shame she felt. I wish I could tell her she is my hero; that she did the best thing for me she could have ever done; that I am so grateful that she made the difficult choice to place me; that I don’t hate her or resent her; on the contrary, I think she is a very special and remarkable human being for having the courage she did. I wish I could tell her what she means to me. I wish I could thank her. I wish I could hug her. I wish I could tell her I how much I love her.
She enjoyed writing, like I do. Her poetry was profound, witty, expressive, and insightful. For the past two weeks, I’ve been hearing a voice in my head, telling me I need to share some of her poems for all to know her brilliance. It also serves as a small gesture of my immense love and gratitude as my birthday approaches. As I enter this 45th year of my life this is how I wish to commemorate the courage in her which served as a foundation for the courage in me.
Some days I play the juggler
And am truly quite adept;
My responses quick and agile,
My mind and heart in step.
Some days I walk a tightrope,
My feet secure and set;
No hesitance upon the wire
With confidence my net.
Some days I tame the lions
That roar and charge and claw,
But I’m not frightened by them
For they see that I am strong.
Some days I paint upon my face
And become a lively clown;
Laughing, carefree and happy,
Up, when I should feel down.
Some days though, I drop the ball
And from the tightrope, trip and fall.
The lions’ claws I sometimes fear
And the clown’s bright make-up is traced
For life is a three-ring circus,
Or perhaps, in this case, four;
And for each act there is purpose,
Although, sometimes obscure.
So remember when you’re juggling,
Or walking that thin rope,
Or taming fearsome lions,
Or clowning for a joke,
That fumbles and fears and falls
Are a part of every life.
Rejoice then in the living,
Flawed though it may seem.
Things are as they should be.
We are all but human beings.
Tiny bird upon my finger,
Fallen from your mother’s nest
I know my face bears no resemblance
To the mother from whose egg you hatched.
I am sure right now she grieves for you
Frantically searching from the sky above
Listening for your plaintive cry.
I wish we could somehow let her know
That you are safe with me.
That I will love and care for you
Raise you as my very own
And when you are ready, set you free.
Perhaps you two will meet again
And you can nestle close together;
See in her face and form and feathers
The one thing I could not provide you –
A sense of belonging unknown before.
You see, I once had a babe like you
Whom another mother took under her wing.
I hope one day when she is grown and ready
to leave the nest
That she, like you, will find her birth-mother
And recognize in my face what you could not:
A resemblance shared and a true feeling of
If there were ever two words I could live
I would say “what if” without a doubt.
I use them quite often and most times regret it
For they conjure up images quite unpleasant
And feelings of fear, anxiety and despair
Of things in the future that have yet to
“Never” and “always” are a terrible two –
A prescription for failure accompany that
If left up to me they would both be removed
From every Funk & Wagnall’s and Webster’s
And then drop them from our vocabulary,
So our children won’t have to break free
of their spell.
And “should” is one that’s fun to play with
Whether it stands alone or you verbally
Try coupling it up with “have” or “have not”.
Voila! You’ve got guilt, ready made on the
So I am training myself to “never” ask “what if”
And I “always” forgive myself, “should” I
March 24, 1987