A First 38th Birthday

Today is my birthday – my 38th to be exact. I don’t remember my first birthday, but I’m sure it was pretty cool. My adoptive parents always made birthdays special for my brother and me. We were allowed to choose a restaurant for dinner (for inquiring minds, I chose Long John’s for a long time – yeah, I know, greasy, fried fish, but I was a kid). And, my mom would make a cake of our choice. Mom and Dad even had a party for me one year, but I’m not much of a party person, so we discontinued that tradition as soon as it started. Celebrations are a big deal in my family – Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, 4th of July – so it’s no surprise that birthdays would be cause for celebration as well. I always enjoyed “my day” but I also typically felt a little sad because I wasn’t able to be with my other parents too. In fact, for a long time, I thought my natural parents might show up for my birthday at some point. I don’t remember exactly when I gave up that thought, but I think I was in middle school – the only other times that thought surfaced was when I turned 16 and 18, pretty pivotal years. Today, my birthday is unique because my natural Mom showed up. Okay, not quite in the dramatic fashion I always imagined, it was a pre-planned visit and I picked her up from the airport myself. But, still, she showed up. Because she’s sitting in the room with me as I write, I thought it would be cool to have her to speak to you as well – about what she views as my first birthday, despite the fact it’s my 38th. The rest of this blog is her voice, with my fingers typing. Meet my natural Mom, Carol.

“This is the first birthday I don’t have to wonder if Becky’s smiling when she wakes up because I saw her smile this morning. It’s the first birthday I don’t have to wonder if Becky’s had a good year because I’ve been blessed to share the past year with her – even though not always face-to-face. It’s the first birthday I don’t have to wonder if other people know how special Becky is because I’ve seen for myself all of the birthday wishes from Becky’s family and friends. It’s the first birthday I don’t have to wish Becky could know that I love her because she knows that now. It’s the first birthday I get to make Becky’s birthday cake – and it’s cooling in a heart-shaped pan (how appropriate!) as I’m talking – and I actually get to celebrate her birthday on March 20. Showing up for Becky’s birthday is something I’ve wanted to do for each one of them, but I wasn’t able to, so it’s awesome I’m able to this year. I’m hopeful that I will be blessed with the opportunity to show up for the rest of them – at least in my lifetime. You would think I would have a million more things to say, but if I allow myself to say them now, I will flood Becky’s office with tears and that might dampen the spirit of her birthday. So, the bottom line is, it’s an incredible joy and delight to finally be present with my daughter for her birthday. And hopefully, showing up this time will help make up for all the times I wasn’t able to be there before.”

It does, Mom. It does.

Love Like an Ocean

I am in Marco Island, FL for the week, and as I sit in my condo on the 8th floor, I can see the Gulf water as it approaches the beach below. Earlier today, I had the pleasure of learning to sail a Hobie Cat on that same water. To most, that water represents fun. To some, it represents power. To me, it represents love. On first blush, that may sound a little crazy, but if you continue reading you will understand.

In April 2012, I visited my natural mom (Carol) for the second time in less than four weeks. My second trip quickly followed my first for a simple reason – after 36 years apart, a weekend is not enough to satisfy the need to be together. It’s a strong bond that is created between a mom and her baby in the womb – and once that bond is experienced, it’s gut-wrenching to separate again.

During my April visit, Mom asked if I would like to go to the beach. I enjoy the water and the feel of sand under my feet, so I quickly agreed. As we watched the waves crash on the beach, Mom started to explain that her love for me is an ocean. She told me that despite our separation, she had an endless supply of love that was designated just for me from the time she found out she was pregnant with me.

I had never considered the ocean as a metaphor for love, but I must admit I immediately liked the idea. The ocean is massive. The ocean is powerful. The ocean constantly flows. The ocean is overwhelming. The ocean is mysterious. The ocean is profound. The ocean is deep. The ocean is beautiful. The ocean is my Mom’s love.

It would take an ocean of love to allow another family to adopt your child because you believed it would be best for her. Likewise, it would take an ocean of love to keep loving that child through 36 years of separation – especially when you were never allowed to see that child or hold that child and had reconciled yourself that you never would.

I took a photo of my Mom on that pivotal day. It’s one of my favorites because she’s standing on the beach with the water behind her – the same water she used to describe her love for me. Yeah, my Mom’s love is an ocean and I am blessed to actively experience it now.