Letting Go of My Birth Mother

I have her ashes. Now what?

Rebecca Tillou July 15, 2014
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I have had my birth mother’s ashes since June of 2013. Some days, I step into my closet and walk towards the canister. I place my hands on it, and just look at the outside of it. Sometimes, I pick it up in both hands, untape the cover, and peek inside. I don’t know why I do these things. I know it puts me at peace, and makes me reminisce about the road I have traveled and how I got to meet my birth mother, just in a different way.

In my mind, I see myself standing over the babbling creek behind my house as the sun set, listening to “Let Her Go” by Passenger and releasing her into the tranquil waters. Her birthday is August 11. On her birthday lat year, I kept telling myself to release her. Let her finally be at peace.

I couldn’t do it. I was physically and emotionally unable to watch her ashes fall onto the rippled water. I sat down on her birthday and tried to discover why I couldn’t let her go. It did not take long to realize that I had waited 34 years to meet my birth mom. I now had her in my possession. . . in my closet. They are the only physical tie I have to her being. Yes, I have photos and memories of those who worked with her and befriended her through the years, but her ashes are her: Joan Chanowski. When I think about Joan these days, I think I may spread some of her ashes in the creek, but I will also get an urn to keep some with me. Maybe I will keep all of them. Just knowing I have her in safekeeping is enough for me. I never visualized my reunion with my birth mother to play out the way it did, but the journey has been one full of blessings, new friendships, and new family.

My plan is to make a decision by her birthday this year. Time will tell. The thing about plans is they can always change.

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Rebecca Tillou

Rebecca was adopted as an infant. She found her birth family in May of 2013 and continues to keep in touch with them. Sadly, her birth mother passed away in 1999. She and her husband live in New York and are the parents of two beautiful little boys, Dominic and Nicolas. They also have a German Shepherd mix named Chester. She was recently diagnosed with FASD at 34 years of age. She is currently working with nofas.org and thearg.org to get the word out that there is hope, and that you are never too old to better yourself.


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