This past week I said goodbye to my grandfather. I was able to be with him that morning as he took his final breaths. He shared how much he loves us and how proud of us he was. Oh the joy he must have to be with grandma once again. I can picture the look on his face and the sigh of relief to see his beautiful bride. I'm not certain what heaven is like, but I assume its like coming home, like the smell of an apple pie baking in the oven, like the warmest ray of light that you can feel from the top of your head to the bottom of your feet, like a blanket of love or the tightest hug that never lets go. I just know it's amazing and everything my grandfather deserves.
Life and death intertwined. On the day my grandfather passed away, my sister's first grandbaby was born, New life that says just when you thought you knew what love is, something little comes along to remind you just how big it really is. Kind of like finding my birth family these last couple of years. To be honest I hate giving any subtitles. They are family.....they a part of me and I a part of them. I'm a part of two families, and they a part of me and honestly speaking it can be beautiful, frightening, complex, astonishing , and confusing. It's not this or that. It's everything.
When my great grandmother passed away nineteen years ago, the family gathered to divvy up her belongings. I remember there were arguments over who deserved what, and hurt feelings over not getting what they felt they deserved. This was the side of my family that had made comments about myself not being "blood", wrote adopted under my name in the family tree, and excluded me from generational family photos. You might say I felt like the black sheep of the family. I just wanted my grandmothers love, not her things. I let them fight it out and only took what others didn't want. It's a strange feeling to feel like the outsider looking in to your own family. My grandmother had the best laugh....light, airy, and contagious. I know she loved me dearly, life is just complicated.
With my grandfather passing this week, and family going through his belongings those feeling come back. Take the leftovers....go to the back of the line. A few weeks ago one of my biological uncles added me to a family webpage. I'm of course a late joiner. The conversations going on for years and I'm just catching up. Some of these family members might not even know who the heck I am. Where do I belong? Here or there....or is it here AND there? I'm like a tree without roots and I'm desperate to feel grounded.
At my grandfathers funeral the priest talked about 90% of life, is just showing up. I spend much of my time being distraught over who doesn't show up. I think we all are guilty of this, but for us "lucky chosen" ones, it's extremely hard to not put all of our focus on who wasn't there for us. I also celebrated my 42nd birthday last week, and as I blew out the candles I've decided to make this year a year of noticing. Noticing when and where I need to show up. We make time for what is important to us. I want people in my life to feel important, cherished, and loved. I consider my writing and sharing of my story as showing up. For as long as I live there will be haters who tell me to be grateful, get over it, deal with it and get therapy. I'm so thankful for those who were vulnerable before me, and gave me permission to speak my truth. We are all so hardwired for belonging, that often the first thing we do is deny ourselves. I will notice when I need to be present for myself, and in doing so invite others to say #metoo.
"Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with the perseverance the race marked out for us"
I'm envisioning my rootless tree with little unearthed sprouts that grow towards the light. I'm thankful for those who have shown up in my life. To the friends who check in just to say I'm thinking of you. To the people who love my children like they are a part of their own family. To the girlfriends who make time to go to dinner even when they've had a busy week. To the family who raised me, loved me, and held on tight when loving me wasn't easy. To the new family who opens their arms and is equally sad about the years lost and even though the memories are painful decide to keep showing up because we have a new story to write. To the husband who is learning to sit with me on this rollercoaster meant for one. To my children who know sometimes I'm crazy, but I'm crazy in love with them. To the strangers here who join the conversation and are willing to show up for each other. I am noticing. My Namaste tagline being the badass in me, sees the badass in you.
Perhaps I'm a lotus. The lotus has it's roots in mud, at the bottom of streams and ponds. but it grows to become the most beautiful flower despite it's origins. It's petal open up one by one, courageously surviving. No one telling it to hurry up through the mud, for they anticipate the beauty in the process.
My birthday is in four days, Two years ago, I had the exact same feelings leading up to my birthday every single year. Two years ago something changed.... but only a little, and its hard to explain. You see, two years ago I found my biological mother and things that were always the same became different, and yet things that were different remained the same. Let me back track a little.
Pre reunion this date brought an overwhelming sense of loss and a downright confusion that made me feel like I was manic. I was anxious about feeling celebrated, and also preparing myself for the letdown of being forgotten. I wanted a big hoorah, and yet I wanted to hide under the covers and have the world forget about me. I wanted to feel loved and adored, but also push people away. I wanted to dance, live large, laugh until it hurts, and also cry until it aches and let the world become quiet.
I thought of my mother all of the time, but this was the one day that I thought if she's thinking of me too, surely today's the day. I held space for my mother on my birthday. A sacred space that I let no one know about. There wasn't one person I shared my birthday issues with, like most of my adoption trauma. I became my own caregiver for the wounds I was certain no one would ever understand.
Fast forward, and my birthday is in four days. This year I know my mother and my father are thinking of me. I don't even have to guess because they can call me to wish me a Happy
Birthday. It's freaking amazing, right? And yet is it because I've conditioned myself all of these years to have issues with a stupid birthday? Am I self sabotaging? Will I ever pull my child self out and stop thinking of all that could have been and all that should have been?
My birthday is in four days. I'm going to blow out the candles, laugh until my belly hurts and I'm going to crawl into bed, pull the covers up high and have a good cry. I'm going to hold space for it all.