Worth the Risk?

I’ve typed and erased the first sentence of this post about fifteen times. This is a post I don’t want to write, but that means I should. So, here goes.

I don’t handle death well. Not because I don’t have faith. Not because I don’t believe in eternity. Not because I don’t believe there will be a resurrection from the dead. But because death is hard. Death is a separation. And I don’t handle separation well – an issue that I understand plagues many adopted kids.

When I was making the decision about whether to reunite with my natural families, one of the major considerations in my “cons” list was the fact that I would open myself up to more separation. To be honest, I wasn’t sure I wanted to expose myself to that possibility. I wasn’t sure I would consider it worth the risk in the long run.

Today, the long run got much shorter because I attended the funeral of my Grandma Audrey in Pensacola, FL. For those who’ve kept up with my reunion story, you likely remember that she’s my natural mom’s mom. The sweet little lady that I got as a “bonus grandparent” when I found my mom.

Tonight, in the home of my mom’s friend, as I feel an emptiness in the pit of my stomach, I find myself asking if it’s worth it. I realize it’s a bit late to give that question a ton of thought. I guess I should have made that determination before I committed to this journey. On some level, I think I did. But it was not on the level that I’m working from right now. No, that level was purely a hypothetical, intellectual level. This is real.

When I met Grandma Audrey for the first time, she gave me two gifts – a heart on a chain that I wear everyday and a poem she had written for me shortly after I was adopted. And in our first conversation, she shared with me how she had prayed that I would find my mom and her family before she died and that just when she had given up hope, I came back. She also told me how she had marked my birthday on her calendar every year with an asterisk – a symbol that she chose to remind herself of my birth without risking that my brothers (who did not know about me at the time) would ask questions that my mom wasn’t prepared to answer.

I walked away from that visit with one clear thought – it wasn’t just my mom who loved me all those years (a fact that was well established in our first conversation), it was my Grandma Audrey too. And despite my attempts to maintain a safe distance, I just couldn’t do it. Because how can you not love someone who loves you (sight unseen) through 36 years of space and time?

So, is it worth it? Is the anxiety of loss and pain of separation worth it? As much as I hate those feelings, I have to say “absolutely.” Because memories are worth it. Because family is worth it. Because love is worth it. Because Grandma Audrey was definitely worth it.

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