I don’t really know how to write this letter, but I’m going to try. I’m going to try and express in words what I have kept deep inside ever since we first reunited when I was a teen.
Do you remember that day? You were standing in a lilac dress in the middle of a crowd of people at Heathrow airport. I was so young and nervous. Not assured at all of how our reunion would go.
I was terrified inside, really. Scared speechless of being rejected, again. I promised myself that I would protect my heart. That all I wanted was information about my history—our history. I felt that you held the key to all of it: the key to my story and my identity.
Deep down, I also felt that you held the key to my ability to love. If you loved me, then maybe, I might be able to love myself. Something about you letting me go, as a child, left me disengaged of feeling deeply and loving openly. It all seemed too risky.
I had come to England in hopes of being relieved of this heaviness—to be lightened and enlightened by the truths I hoped to discover. On long walks together in the countryside, jaunts to the local market, and quiet train rides into town; I asked questions of which you held very few answers.
I was trying to fill in the wide and gaping holes of my life, and you were trying to go back in time; to relive what it might have been like to care for me: to brush my hair, to draw my baths, and to watch me as I fell off to sleep. Our intentions were different then….
Somehow, we both held unreasonable expectations inside of that first reunion. Neither one of us could be who we really were; two broken hearts—a mother and daughter—in need of each other’s vulnerability. The armor was on. I could feel just how exposed I was, just how defenseless my spirit was in your presence. Looking back, you must have felt the same way.
I’m so sorry for that.
I wanted to be claimed by you during that first reunion. I wanted the world to know that I was your daughter, but you hid the truth of me to others. When asked, you would say that I was your “relative” from the States. You never openly embraced me as your daughter during that visit, and my shame grew. I left England feeling even more disengaged from myself than when I arrived.
Yet, time and action set the course for healing. Over the years, I learned how to forgive and, in the forgiving, I learned how to love. Really love! My eyes were opened to a love that comes with no expectations. I chose to love you, Mum. No strings attached. Whether that love was ever returned, or expressed openly, or claimed publicly—I chose to love.
Mum, I have loved you all the days of my life. As a child, I would trace the stars with my index finger, at night, and sing you lullabies. As a girl growing into a woman, I would wonder if the curve of my waist matched yours. As a mother, I would close my eyes and imagine what it would be like to joyfully share the milestones of my children’s development with you. Over the miles and self-imposed boundaries that separated us, you have always been here with me.
This mother and daughter relationship has not been an easy one. Relinquishment was hard on this girl. It was hard on you, too, I know. We were together, but apart. Within but without…
Now, you’ve slipped the boundaries of this earth and the England you loved. You’ve stepped through the gates of Heaven. Mum, can you hear me? As I write these words, I speak them out loud, too, through my tears. There are moments of grief when I feel like a little girl again. That little girl, before reunion, who wondered where you were in this great, big universe. This afternoon, here in London, as I sit reflecting on us, there is a voice inside of me that whispers: Your mum is closer than she’s ever been, more free than she ever was.
This is my letter of freedom to you, Mum.
On my own, I’m not capable of handling the many emotions swirling through me. Memories both bitter and sweet. God is capable, though. He’s capable of moving me through this tender, uncertain, and difficult time.
I realize that we never spoke of God, you and I. There were so many things we never spoke of.
Mum, did you know that when I feel lost, God is capable of reminding me whose child I really am? When I felt rejected by you, He reminded me of my worth. He reminds me, even now, that I am His child. You’re God’s child, too, mum, and He’s called you home.
We are forever bound in spirit. Nothing can sever this bond. Nothing ever could, not even the gates of foster care and adoption.
I hold dearly the conversation we had this past October, on the phone. I called you on what would be your last birthday. You told me that you’d been thinking of me daily. You stressed how strong we both are. You shared your love for me and I cried. I thanked you for your kind words—your motherly words—and we hung up the phone. I wrote down our conversation on a notepad and I refer to it every, single day.
For some reason, I knew that this conversation might be our last. I didn’t want to forget any of it. Not one word. Not one sigh. Not one tear. Not one laugh. Not one pause. Not one moment.
Now, dear Mum, you have slipped away from this country you cherish, leaving this earthly life for life eternal. Bless you, Mum. I write these words that I did not have the chance to speak before you passed. We were not physically together upon your death Mum, but I was in England—the country where I took my first breath—as you breathed in your last.
I was here because you have mattered to me.
And, I will miss you.
I will always remember you.
I will never forget what you have so often said to me, over the years: “Not to worry, Love. You’re strong. Carry on.”
I never asked for this kind of strength, Mum. I never asked for the strength that is seeded within a child’s soul when a mother walks away. I didn’t ask to be strong like this. Still, I’m grateful for it.
I am strong.
I’m carrying on, Mum. I will carry on.
With gratitude, with strength, with vulnerability, with courage, with compassion, with determination, with clarity of purpose, with faith, with identity, and with love—I won’t stop.
I thank you for everything; for the hard landings and for the softer ones. I thank you because each experience has made me the woman I am today. I have bridged the gaps that once felt like they would swallow me whole. I have become whole. I have become me. The girl and now the woman who has journeyed the fullest circle of adoption.
I have met my own power, Mum. It was in me all along. It just took time to find it.
I thank you, Irene Margaret Crowe. As I say your name out loud to the same universe I once sung those lullabies to.
Irene Margaret Crowe. My birth mum.
There are no more secrets. No more shadows. Only light.
I am yours. And, you are mine.
Forever your daughter, too.
Julié Dawn (aka, Michelle)
Adoptee Empowerment Coaching
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