You carried me to my birth
Reluctantly, not just at first
Hidden and denied
At least you kept me alive.
The option to abort me
Was given by a doctor
Even through it was illegal
That was one step you wouldn’t abide.
And so you were hidden
Lies to the family were told.
You’d gone up to Qld to be a nanny
But really you were just down the road.
You named me Terry.
In 1970 that was a boys’ and girls’ name.
You didn’t want to know which.
Though you birthed me, you never held me.
Though you carried me those 40 weeks, you never touched me once.
I’m grateful that my life began.
The nurses cuddled me.
They named me Simone.
Ten days later I became Sarah with a mum and dad and two brothers. A ready made family.
But….you were my mother.
Yet you signed me away and left the hospital, not looking in my eyes. Not even once.
Little did I know just how hard it was for you.
You told me the words that sealed me away forever, when your mother took you home again.
‘Well you’ve had this baby and that is the last we’ll hear of it!’ These are the words of a frightened mother of a teenager in March 1970, a grandmother that she couldn’t acknowledge being.
Oh the vicious pain that’s caused by pride and fear. Your poor 18 year old broken heart froze over that day.
When I finally found you
After 18 years of wishing and dreaming.
You were on the other side of the world.
And so I wrote
Pages and pages, pouring out my own heart, the heart of a daughter, to the mother I wished you’d been.
After years and no reply,
my heart grew heavy again.
How many times would I feel it
This repeated pain of rejection.
Bravely, I tried again.
Fearfully, I spoke to your mother on the phone.
I don’t know if she knew that it was me but I knew I had to hide myself.
How sad and strange that it was 21 years after my birth the need to hide remained. To stay being the secret.
And I rewrote the letter
I added the latest news
I’d even been married, yes, very young
But that desperate desire to be loved starts so early when rejection is the oldest story.
Two days later, you rang me.
I knew the second I heard your voice. It was you. The one I’d dreamed of, wished for, fantasised about the life we might have had.
And so we made plans for meeting.
Lunch at yours tomorrow.
I can barely breathe.
The fantasy of meeting my ‘real mother’.
I see you,
Bringing in the washing
But your shoes are open-toed. My feet can’t do that.
But then you’re tall. I am not.
I don’t see myself in you.
You tell me I have your thighs.
And yes, I do see that. Odd that you say thighs and not eyes.
We seem to find more differences than similarities. I guess that’s what you need to do.
Proudly you show me your two daughters.
Your eldest, and you catch yourself saying it. For a moment the truth that I am actually your eldest pops into your mind.
I offer grace to you.
I offer understanding.
But how does one manage to forget your first born child.
I have a feeling I know
When the pain is so bad Sometimes they use a freezing technique to stop the pain. Freezing it stops it hurting.
Freezing stops all the feelings
Freezing makes it possible to forget.
To meet the one who could melt your protective shell
So important to keep the icy breeze blowing all the time.
And so we did. Oh so politely. But my heart ached to see if any of the shoulds might be real. But it wasn’t there.
Are you my mother? Like the baby bird trying to find his mother, so was I. Where was the connection. Where was that moment where you took me in your arms and held me for the very first time? I’d wished it so long. I’d dreamed it so long and yet…. Are you my mother?
The years go by
The silence emerges.
After a card or two and long before social media exists, we lose track.
And then social media, friends of friends, six degrees….
No, only two.
Are you my mother?
You’re my Facebook friend.
And then your two daughters. For two is all you’ve had. I am an un-daughter, a non-child, a memory from the past. And in them I see my eyes. In them I see your eyes. We are so similar.
My family. My real family. My family who named me, raised me, loved me, taught me, blessed me, fought with me, cried with me, laughed and sang with me ,we are not similar in looks. I’ve never looked like them.
But I look like you two and you look like me. It’s surreal.
And so we message and we meet. You are both tall. You are both lovely. I see the similarities. But are we sisters? You are sisters. I am a strange frozen person that it’s interesting to meet.
And then the fear is passed on again. You tell me that your mother said,
“If you want to meet her that’s fine but I don’t want to have anything to do with her. ” The fear of knowing me is past from generation to generation.
I am a person. I am not your family.
I am a painful part of your mother’s past. I remain frozen there. I want to find a way to defrost this. But it’s too frozen for you to be allowed to care.
The years pass by again. We click on like and ❤️ and comment here and there.
An occasional birthday message and a wish for Happy New Year.
We are not in touch.
We do not see each other.
Except on the pages of social media.
There are so many more questions to ask. So many connections I long to make. But I am patient. To know you from a distance is better than not knowing you at all. And so I watch and I wait and like and comment.
And then, thanks to social media I find out that you’re gone.
Suddenly, you have died.
Are you my mother? I can’t ever ask you now.
I am not a member of your family. Family draws close around times of grief. Family says goodbye when death is imminent.
But how can you connect to a frozen piece of the past. Why would you?
So as my heart breaks over again for the final piece of rejection. From my birth to your death.
But I am not like you.
I face my past.
I do not freeze out the feelings
I walk into the hot, uncomfortable truth.
I embrace the frailties of life. I stand with arms wide open. I offer love. I stand in grace. I bask in the warmth of forgiveness.
Are you my birth mother? Yes
Are you my half sisters? Yes
Are we family?
Just as soon as you would like to be.
I won’t turn away.
I won’t hide
I am not the secret.
I’m a not frozen in the past. I am here. I am lovely. We have the same smile. We have the same eyes. So do my sons.
I am your sister.
I am here.