Thirty years ago a young woman found herself in a somewhat precarious situation. She was recently divorced from her husband of four years, she had two toddlers to take care of, and after months of treatment in a drug and alcohol rehab center she felt like she was going to be able to take control of her own life. She was working as hard as she could to be the kind of care giver, provider, and mom she always dreamed she could be. She’d recently met a man who by all appearances had stolen her heart, and although he was married with a family of his own she hoped their love affair would turn into something more….
Unfortunately, as quickly as their steamy relationship had begun it evaporated into thin air. She was heartbroken, alone, overwhelmed, emotionally fragile, and just plain tired. The heartache and empty nights his sudden departing left drove her back to her old standby, Cutty. And before long she was too overwhelmed by the entire situation to function, let alone take care of two rambunctious toddlers.
She made a call to her children’s father and asked him to take the kids…this time for good. Upon their departure the dark days and black nights began to run together and life became meaningless once again. And then it happened. She realized that she wasn’t alone….there was a new, tiny life growing inside of her. The seed of forbidden love had not only been planted but it had taken root and was now growing and blossoming inside her womb. Another life…a second chance.
Days passed slowly and the demons inside her mind warred for her attention. Drugs and alcohol seemed to beckon her like a lover calls out into the dark streets – begging to be held and caressed once again – willing her former lover to not forget the passion they’d once shared so frequently. And eventually, it was too much for her and she gave in to their cries, spiraling once again downward into the dark abyss she’d just barely escaped from less than a year before.
As the months ebbed slowly by and her belly began to grow; the tiny life inside of her fighting to be set free from its psychedelic tomb; she made a choice. It was the best and most difficult one of her life. She knew that no matter how much she wanted to be good she never could be. Divine reasoning had slipped inside her head and she understood the kind of life her unborn child would have if she remained in her life after the birth…if her baby even made it to birth. So she picked up the phone and dialed a number…a number she’d looked up weeks before. After a few rings a matronly voice came over the line; their initial conversation was brief but the wheels had been set in motion.
The seasons slipped by one by one, like clockwork, and October 1st dawned crisp and cool. She climbed into her old jalopy and headed toward the small town hospital, fear and anxiety boring down on her mind – invading her thoughts – overshadowing her joy. The c-section went as planned and once back in her room she held her tiny daughter as silent tears slipped over her cheeks and dropped onto the graying hospital gown. As she stared at the seemingly perfect bundle in her arms she traced every line of her face, counted her fingers and toes, gently fingered the strawberry blond shock of cotton on her head. She was beautiful. She knew it wouldn’t be long before the Sisters showed up to whisk her child away from her, so in these first and last few quiet moments she allowed her daughter’s tiny features to emblazon themselves into her memory – knowing they would be the only thing that kept her company in the long nights to come.
Years seemed to slip away as easily as water passes through your fingers. The valleys and peaks in her life were always extreme, but she marched through them as best as she could, and before anyone knew it she was gone too. In a moment of clarity some years before her passing she’d dared to share her secret with her three children. The weight of it had been a millstone about her neck for years and as the monstrosity was lifted from her chest she breathed a sigh of relief as tears glistened in her eyes. Her conscious was finally clear and her closet had been dusted.
Her confession came nearly fifteen years ago and it has taken me at least six years to track down that once tiny baby she held in her arms so many years ago. Her adoptive parents were a true God send who had prayed for a baby for many years. They loved and cared for her beyond anyone’s wildest dreams. Today she’s a grown woman with a beautiful family of her own. And even though it has been thirteen years since I’ve seen our mother I saw her smiling back at me the day I met my sister. Now my conscious is clear.