One Lone Picture, One Lone Child

As often as I could, I’d sneak in to my mother’s room to study the framed black and white photo of her wedding day.  I was 8 or 9 years old and I’d never met the man, my father, standing by her side with his shy smile and dapper Navy dress whites.  I googled it just now and the hot tears instantaneously wet my face.  Isn’t that strange, since, as fate would have it, that man is unrelated to me.

We are told stories of who we are, who’s we are. There isn’t much more impactful than immediate family and ancestry to a child’s growing identity.

-I’m German

-I’m an only child

-My parents split up right after I was born and I’ve never met my Father

-My Oma, right off the boat, helped raise me. We shared a bedroom for 9 years, like sisters

-I am book smart, earning almost all A’s straight through college

-I”m the first in my family to attend, then graduate

-First half of life people really liked me, I resonate with the stuff of the world

-Second half of life I need to deconstruct everything I thought I knew and suddenly those same people and I have little in common

Except so much of this is not the truth after all. I actually have 3 half-brothers and was fathered by a Philadelphia fireman not a Navy man. I’m not German either

The man in the picture was Mom’s loving husband but not my father.  For 50 years I’d never called a man Dad, or daddy. I’m not sure when I realized that this was impacting my ability to see God as Father.

Reading Inheritance last month by Dani Shapiro has millions talking about their own paternity stories. Did you hear the one about the man who’d donated sperm every week during med school and now has at least 50 children discovering eachother as half-siblings on ancestry.com?

I have a wound that resonates with other’s who’ve been put in foster care, adopted out, or raised by a single parent. Lately I’ve noticed my body responds instantly to children in those circumstances. Maybe they’ve never said the word daddy. Maybe that is the word which carved the wound, which allows the light to get in. 

I pray every day for a sister. And I sent my vial of warm spittle to 23andMe last year.

When I was little, something in me— or maybe someOne— yearned for a sister so much so, that whenever I watched the Parent Trap, I’d tell myself “That’s going to happen for me. I’m going to meet my long lost sister one day”.

I still believe that the story Mom told about how my Father got another local woman pregnant that year will result in us finding each other…and soon. I like to write those words down, even reading them aloud, then put them out into the world, believing that will manifest her into my reality. A woman, my age, to connect with on a deep level. In second half of life; before it’s too late.

The house behind us went up for sale a few months ago and I began imagining that the people who bought it would be about our age and the wife would become my new best friend. Last week the couple moved in and I went over with brownies. The man was so nice, showing me the renovations. His partner had not moved in yet. My dream momentarily dashed.

I’ve met my birth father- three and a half years ago. I bravely drove 3 hours and knocked on his front door. But that’s a story for another day.

He and I talk on the phone a couple of times a year. Last week I called him, my bio-dad, to wish him a happy 79th birthday. He asked me about my book then said, “Maybe it will make the NY Times bestseller list.”  

Maybe my sister will read it and realize we belong to each other. Each time I type that word, ‘each other’, I don’t put a space and autocorrect lights it up as wrong. I don’t care any more, we belong to eachother…side by side before it’s too late. Second half of life thinking will change our view of who we are, who’s we are.

From my bio-dad’s mouth to God’s ears.

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Holy Water Tears

stretched wide across the chest

I send a deep breath beyond what’s pulled taut

into my low belly

where the ache lives (haunts)

much later, in stillness

the pictures flash across my mind

you and me

twinning

sisters, they’d say

whenever love’s torn in 2

the breach is gonna sear

So

I hand Her what feels burnt to a crisp

commanding SHE bring me closer to HER inferno

yes closer…I will not run

Just Dont allow my tears to put out

Love’s fire

Keep me blazing

with you

Burn down my resistance

to more LIGHT

Just a couch, just a carpet

I don’t want to sit up straight to type and think from my elongated spine, aligning my head, heart and guts. I don’t want to shift from this slouch, merging with my new dark gray sectional in my recently renovated family room, where the only family left here most of the year is my husband of 25 years. But I need to tell you about this bubbling up of truth around my being a Christ-follower. I see HIS signature mercy, grace, presence, heart-welling up everywhere and that makes me a Sufi. I don’t like labels. I do like the word eschew..but how is that pronounced anyway? I wont’ pause the quick-fingered tapping at these keys to find out though.

And yet, I know I eschew labels…restrictions on my Self or my self. I am integrating so many parts of my Self/self lately that I am in a state of allowing. Allowing this couch to swallow me up into her puffy enveloping softness. All the selves, right here, right now…melting together. This is exactly what my self needs today. I am listening as she sighs, ‘yes’ to the no effort.

So here we are…can you see us, this 5 foot 5 inch breathing thing? You can’t really differentiate the parts because they’re smooshing down and together. Getting lost in and among themselves. All except those fingers, tap tap tapping away. Inhale….Exhale.

Earlier I was a few feet away from this spot on the new area rug, all swirly with oceanic colors and flowing designs. I needed her to hold me. The ocean. The womb. The color blue.
I was falling apart and I knew she’d let me.

She wouldn’t ask me to pull myself together. She wouldn’t command me to stop my incessant crying. She’d absorb the tears into herself…making more of her, less of me. More of her…less of me. Like a mantra now. I am one with you- carpet as ocean. Ocean as womb.

I am no longer Anita the one who can’t stop the flow of pain, the flow of tears, the flow of remembering. I am in the ocean of pain, the sea of tears, the womb of comfort.