I don’t know your name or your face or the color of your hair. I don’t know what you smell like or what your laugh sounds like or even how what color you like to paint your nails–if you like to paint them, that is. I can’t pick you out in a crowd, though I would like to think that I could. I don’t know where you were born or where you live now and I certainly don’t know if I am public or private knowledge. I can’t call you “mom”, “mommy” or “mother.” I will call you “Hope” because that is what you gave me before I even knew what this life was about. You gave me hope. So, that’s what you are.
There are many times, in my mind, that I have composed the perfect letter to you. One that uses each word concisely and efficiently so that there can be no doubt as to my feelings. Poor luck for me, though, I can’t pinpoint the words to use that would even come close to explaining how I feel or why I feel it. It’s almost like trying to recall memories that aren’t there…shadows of what I THINK I know but don’t have any real evidence of. What I imagine about you is all of the reality I have. It may not be truth but it is my reality.
Almost 40 years ago, when you were 19 years old, you gave me up for adoption. Since I was a very young girl I have known that I became a part of my family by nontraditional means and I came to understand, through my wonderful Mother and Father, that you were someone special who must have loved me very much to give me up.
Rest assured, I have lived a charmed and blessed life. I have parents whom I love and siblings that are dear to me. My life has been full of opportunities and experiences and treasures. I do not regret nor do I feel that I should have been raised by you. I carry no anger. What I do carry is gratitude. Gratitude to you for being brave when it would have been easier to take some other route. All my days I will sing the song of gratitude to you for not aborting me. I will give thanks to your wisdom at such a young age and for your maturity to follow through with something that must have been so painful. With the birth of each of my children, my thoughts have been led to you and I ache for what you must have gone through when you gave me away. Each child of mine has given more meaning to what you did for me at such a tender age.
What I wish for–each time I think of you–what I truly in my heart of hearts wish for, is to create the kind of life that shows you how very much I could do with the life you gave to me. When you look at it, I want so badly for you to see, to feel, the kind of effort that I made towards living the life that you must have wanted for me. Didn’t you want it for me? Isn’t that why you gave me more than you had to offer? From an early age I have felt the weight of expectation. Something not imposed on me by others but an expectation imposed on me by myself. I felt that because or your selflessness it was my job to take the life you have given me and use it the best way I know how.
I have no history before my birth. I don’t know where I came from or who loved me before I was born. Did you love me? I’m sure you did. I don’t know the story of how I came to be, whether it was a great love story or a great mistake. (I’m guessing it’s the latter of the two.) Again, my imagination is all of the reality I know and so I have created my own story of your story. Of OUR story. Do you have any pictures of yourself pregnant with me? Probably not. Did you hold me after I was born? Did you talk to me? Could you look at me and see any resemblances? I have all of these questions and a million more…all of the trivial little things that others take for granted, I cannot. Do you remember me on my birthday? I remember you. Every year, I remember you and close my eyes and pretend that I can say “thank you” in person. I think of you on Mother’s Day and on Christmas. Truth be told, I think of you almost every day and wonder who and where you are. My soul is like a shoe-box full of these thoughts and so many more that would come spilling out, only outnumbered by my tears, if I could let them. I hold them in, for now. There they tumble around inside and collect more meaning as they age and wait. One day I will be able to take that dusty old shoe-box down off of the shelf, open it up and share it with you–if you want me to.
I can put my life together in dot-to-dot fashion; going from point “A” to point “B” and then onward from there. But what is it that I am ultimately drawing? What form will it take? When I meet you will my life be something recognizable and worthwhile? Will you understand what it was I was trying to create all these many years or will it be a crude outline of something that may or may not resemble something honorable?
So, how do I find you? Have you left me any clues to follow? Do you want to see me? Hold me? Talk to me? Maybe not and that’s okay. It would be well worth it just to have you acknowledge that you are real and not a figment of my imagination. Maybe you won’t like me or want to be reminded of such a painful time in your life. I can understand. However, who I am tells me, deep inside, that you would not deny me the chance to find out more about myself and you. Somehow we are one in the same. I can feel that.
Even now, this letter isn’t enough. I would like so much for you to understand what it is I am trying to say that ordinary words seem to cheapen. I have faith that you do because not only is this a letter of questions but it is also a letter of hope. For Hope.