a young woman of 18 with goals and plans and a man who at one point declared his desire to marry her, had a child she would eventually give up to what she believed to be a better life. that child was me.
i found my way to another woman who wanted a child but couldn’t have one and her husband who gave me his name, thrilling his eager mother who wanted a grandchild.
that adopted family didn’t last and after a few tumultuous years, i found myself back in the home of his strong-willed and loving mother, then 43, who had petitioned the son and her husband, then age 47, to let them raise me.
so there i stayed to be raised as their son.
there were 5 grandchildren close in age i would grow up adjacent to and wonderful aunts and uncles and cousins we would celebrate holidays and birthdays and graduations with.
as a pre-teen i would enter in and then out of relationship with the woman who gave me life. my adopted mother would watch it all closeby and reluctantly but gracefully give her blessing.
years later, i would start my own family and try to make a good home for my sons–largely because of the unfailing encouragement of my mother–despite some heartache along the way.
i later extended my family by marrying a woman with two sons of her own who became as my own blood, and my sons, as hers.
i regained my relationship with my birth mother and in the process was united with an awesome baby brother who shared my blood. that reunion also yielded me the most delightful aunts a person could hope for.
an all too few years later, he and i lost our mother and a new heartache set in. though it never disappeared, it eventually dulled by being discovered by more siblings—a brother and three sisters—and an opportunity to make peace with the biological father we shared. to have, after a lifetime, relationship with siblings who were like me and accepted me so generously was, and remains, a thrill.
i would find myself in and out of a couple relationships.
the sons would go on to graduate (only 1 to go).
yet always nearby…always in my corner…always praying for and encouraging me…was my biggest champion, fan, friend, mother.and now she is gone.
i know she would not have me sad. she would remind me to count it all joy—all the heartache and the struggle and the trials. she would encourage me to rejoice always for there is much good in my life.
so in the spirit of “counting my blessings” as I can still hear her sing, i recall what i do have:
- i have these sons—oh the complete and utter joy they bring me with their laughter, their sincere hugs, the way they love, the strength that runs through their veins, their compassion.
- i have these siblings—relationships i’ve always desired—and they are amazing, every one. and the one who is my adopted sibling, now an orphan himself, remains gentle and kind even as he was when i was growing up, despite his difficulties and demons.
- i have honorable nieces and nephews whose loyalty and devotion to our family remind me that family transcends blood. and their vibrant children’s beauty and happy laughter echo up our family tree and honor those who have gone before us.
- i have lovely aunts—who continually remind me of their love for and pride in me—and cousins—who reassert my membership in the family—abound.
- and oh the friends! i have been comforted by knowing just how many precious and dear friends i am blessed with—from those that started in kindergarten to those i’ve only recently been graced relationship; to co-workers, friends of my mother, fellow wine lovers, dear church friends–old and new, tweeps, and sister-friends and brother-friends, all of whom hold me in their hearts.
- and i’ve had an amazing man by my side who gently and patiently supported me and my family through every moment of these past few weeks along with my own family’s matriarch whose example of love and devotion will stand for the ages as a testament to the type of woman my mother was.
so on Christmas morning, as i prepare to put my traditional breakfast casserole in the oven, it hits me that my mother won’t be coming over to join us. i am confronted with the heartbreaking reality that i am now left behind as a motherless child.
but the reality is, that my path in life has left me neither bereft nor alone.
not at all.
so we will eat–and enjoy–the breakfast casserole. and we will remember my mother fondly.