Marty did tell the truth. He did call his sister. Oh, to have been a fly on the wall to hear him begin that conversation! Was he abrupt and to the point? Or was he soft and shy? As he’d told us, when his little sister became pregnant, he’d been underway with the Navy and had remained so until sometime after she’d given birth. Her pregnancy was never discussed. Perhaps if ignored, that whole episode would just go away. How sad for her; how very, very sad. But for him, at this moment, how awkward…and yet to be the bearer of what he hoped would be glad tidings.
Waiting in limbo, I did a lot of self-talking about how I would react if she didn’t call. Telling myself she would surely not call that night, if ever; I padded my heart for the worst as my soul groped for hope. And though I’d planned to not be, I was a wimp. This was forty-five minutes of emotional hell.
Then beyond my most private dreams, the phone shrieked. I was washing neglected dishes, hands as busy as possible, when it rang. My stomach lurched. Adrenaline poured. I could not move. I stood there, plate in hand, faucet running, head turned to phone, eyes exchanging wide-eyed stares with my husband. His look told me it was my game now, and I sprang into action: water off, plate down, hands dried, phone receiver picked up…all while reminding myself, “Do NOT be disappointed,” if it wasn’t her.
But it was. Even now, as I write and remember, my stomach lurches.
I answered, “Hello?”
“Hello, is this Cindy?”
I assume that’s what she said, because I couldn’t hear her. The ever-so-soft voice at the other end was at once timid, tearful, expectant, and terrified. All this I understood without comprehending a single word. Already, I wanted to hold her, to comfort her. Already, we were linked.
She cleared her throat, “Is this Cindy?” Without knowing anything about her, I began to deduce anything I could. Her dialect told me she was even more of a Southern belle than I was. I liked that. I liked it a lot.
I held my breath and answered, “Yes, this is Cindy…Is this…?”
Awkward first words through tears assured us both that we were talking to the one person in the world we’d wanted to talk to for over forty years. But I wanted her to know immediately that I didn’t intend to place any requirements upon her and wasn’t calling to seek an inheritance, cuss her out, or cast blame…nothing like that. I had read so much about birth parents being afraid of that sort of thing, and I truly wanted her to feel at ease from the start.
“I know this has to be a shock to you…I’m so glad you called…If you hadn’t, I wouldn’t have bothered you anymore…I want you to know I don’t blame you. I think God wants you to know that, and that you made the right choice. I wanted to thank you for not aborting me and let you know I’ve had a good life. I have a wonderful husband and… You have three wonderful grandchildren. I’m not asking to meet you if that’s not what you want. But I think I might like that one day…and, well, that’s what I wanted you to know.” And truly, it was.
There in a heap at her feet sat my words. Had I said far too much, far too fast?
Heavy, heavy silence, and then that sweet, soft, Southern voice whispered, “I have been so afraid. You hear the stories; you know…the ones where an adoptive parent hurts the child. I would see those kinds of stories and be so afraid.”
Silence again, and I knew she was crying. I felt her heaviness like a tent enfolding me…She was telling the truth and I hurt for her suffering.
“Oh, tell me everything about yourself! I want to know everything about you…Everything!” Still soft, but joy overriding, I pictured her drying her eyes. And now she wanted more.
Dizzy with revelation at the once-in-a-lifetime profoundness of this moment, my back sank against the wall and I found myself hunched over the phone, finger in one ear as I strained to maintain balance.
She wanted to know me.
She wanted to know me.
She wanted to know me.
And I so wanted to answer her question! But my brain stopped working, or maybe just couldn’t find a starting point. Determined to say something regardless of my brain’s malfunction, I blurted, “Well…I have two Golden Retrievers…”
Hearing myself, I marveled inwardly at how the voice coming from my mouth sounded just as shy, quiet and downright Southern as hers…and the irrelevance of my answer didn’t matter. Not one bit.
Current posts tell the chronological story of Cindy’s search. (Names, places changed for family privacy.) Get up to date by clicking here, then read the posts in order, beginning at the bottom of the page. It is the author’s hope that readers find encouragement, inspiration and knowledge for their own journey.
PHOTO CREDIT: Flickr