It was Easter weekend when I met my daughter for the very first time. I remember flying in to Columbus OH airport, (not a very long flight from FL although it felt like an eternity) and getting off the plane. No one was at the gate to greet me so I headed to the baggage claim area. I think I hyperventilated all the way down there. At one point going down the stairs I thought I would faint. My breathing was labored, my pulse rapid, I had to stop and lean against the wall to try and catch my breath, all I could think was - I'm about to meet my daughter! It was only 22 years in the making and the year that we met was also her birthday weekend.
I didn't know what to think. I know what I was feeling - pure terror! I wasn't afraid of her - I was afraid of all the emotion that the reunion was going to bring up. I was afraid I would be a blubbering idiot in front of all these people - all these people being her adoptive family. What would they think of me? What would she think of me? I figured some of them would be at the airport to support her and that was fine and dandy. I'm the one who made the decision to go alone for the reunion so I had no one there holding me up. It was my own fault. For some reason I felt like I had to do this on my own. I was alone throughout the pregnancy, I was alone when I gave birth, I was alone when I signed the papers and I needed to be alone to meet her. It was between me and her. There was one thing that she and I shared - and no one else - and that's her birth. No one else can lay claim to it. Her adoptive family could sing happy birthday to her but it was me who was there. It was me feeling the labor pain. She arrived in this world through me. No matter what else happened it was me and her.
So since that reunion it's been me and her figuring things out, getting to know each other and feeling our way through the labyrinth that is reunion. We took things slowly and it was worth it. We've been remembering our connection and learning how to navigate it. She's learned I'm 'momma' and I rejoiced the day I heard her say that word. I remember crying with joy the first time she called me that. There's just no describing what it feels like to hear your daughter call you a term of endearment for the first time ever, decades after giving birth. It's a tricky thing to feel like someones mother yet at the same time be on the outside looking in. It's a weird place to be. How far do you go with the 'mom' thing. She has another mother, the one who was there when she was growing up. I wanted to be the one who was there but wasn't allowed to be. It took a long time to figure out how to fit in now that she is grown up. I think we got it figured out though. It was hesitant at first, became a friendship over time and then it grew and filled in the spaces that make up 'mom and daughter'.
Because her birthday is so close to Easter, this holiday used to bring with it a grieving. While I was having fun watching my other 2 children hunt eggs there was a sadness that sat just below the surface. I didn't dare think about it. That got completely turned around in that spring 9 years ago as I sat next to her, shoulders touching, on a bench in Ohio, watching my grandchildren play in the yard. Easter once again became a time for new life and this year I get to celebrate another new life with my granddaughter's first Easter.
Life is good with all my children and grandchildren in it. Happy Easter Liz, Aaron, Sarah, Josh, Kory, Jakob and now Maxine. xoxoxoxoxo