Uppy Hugs

Dear Diary

Thursday, June 25th I had an author interview with Scott from Cable 14 City Matters. At the end of the interview he and the producer asked if I could send them a few pictures to add to the recording before it’s aired on Tuesday (to be confirmed). More specifically pictures of me and Joey, as well as our parents and kids. 

“Most definitely,” I replied exhuberantly. 

For over 30 years I’ve been lugging a Rubbermaid bin, filled with printed 35mm photo’s, from one new address to another. Rarely does it get opened. In our current home we have a roughed in bathroom under the stairs that is used for storage and that’s were this bin has been strategically placed, hidden as far in the back as possible. I pulled the chain dangling from the light to illuminate the space. I waited for movement. Centipedes live in dark spaces. I don’t like centipedes!

Foraging through my fear I relocated almost every item to outside the storage room until, there it was, light blue with a dark blue lid. It had seen the inside of many moving trucks over the years. It was perched atop four other bins of a different shade of blue. Forgetting they existed or what treasures they held, I lifted the lid off one and sadly realized it contained some of dad’s belongings that I retrieved from his apartment after he passed away. Feeling weighted, I sighed and closed the lid. Another day perhaps!

On a time crunch and leaving the finished basement in disarray, I struggled to get the heavy bin of photo’s upstairs. I stopped to catch my breath and grinned. I currently have over 10,000 photo’s living in the ‘Cloud’. I wondered how many bins would it take to store those? 

Placing the bin on the dining room table I gripped both ends of the faded dusty blue lid. I paused because I knew this wasn’t going to be easy. Memories buried deep in the musty darkness of this light blue Rubbermaid container, were now resting in these wrinkled, aging hands.The faces of so many loved ones now passed, flipped through my foggy memory like a rolodex. Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, cousins, friends, pets, and…dad and…Joey. My ex-husband, turned best friend and the father of my children died at age fifty from liver cancer in 2012. He has five beautiful grand babies who only know him from a picture and that Poppy Joe lives in heaven. I hope he knows I love them enough for both of us. 

Why, after 30+ years, have I held onto photo’s of random, out of focus, scenery. I have no idea where they were taken. Why would I keep grainy horrible photo’s of Niagara Falls when we can drive 35 minutes and witness the beauty in real time. There’s a picture of someone’s feet in white socks. Why? Other peoples kids hide out in my photo bin and I have not idea who they are. 

Spreading a few photo’s across my dining room table I placed my head in my hands and was transported back in time. Two young innocent girls frolicking in the water on a hot summer day with their dad. A family vacation at a relatives cottage. The vacation when we told Charlene and Krystal they had an older sister. It’s been forty one years since I left the hospital with empty arms and although I am reunited with my daughter, their sister, I still cry. 

I’m reading a book by Brene Brown called ‘Rising Strong’. In it she says, “Once we fall in the service of being brave, we can never go back. We can rise up from our failures, screwups, and falls, but we can never go back to where we stood before we were brave or before we fell. Courage transforms the emotional structure of our being. this change often brings a deep sense of loss. During the process of rising, we sometimes find ourselves homesick for a place that no longer exists.”

Five hours later I settled on a few photo’s, sent them to Scott for the City Matters show and returned the bin back to the dark corner of the storage room. The photo bin of memories left me feeling like a failure and a screw-up. Courageous and brave I was not.

Yesterday (Sunday June 27) I was having a tough day and popped into my daughter’s (Charlene) house for an impromptu visit. Krystal was visiting as well with her family so it was nice to have differing views of opinions. Feeling much better after a great chat I was gathering my belongings when I overheard Isla, my three year old grand daughter, say to her dad, “Daddy can I have an uppy hug?” He scooped her up in his arms and with her faced nuzzled in his neck they gave each other a long, beautiful hug. 

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if our down days all ended in uppy hugs?  

Thanks for listening old friend

 

My Dad (1939-2012)

Dear Diary

Father’s Day was yesterday. As much as I wanted to write about my dad I couldn’t grasp the words circling out of control, like a tornado, in my brain. Inner turmoil of sadness, anger, joy and guilt has been chewing away at every thread of my conscience. Not that I have anything to feel guilty about, or do I? 

You see, in my book ‘Does She Think of Me, A Birth Mother’s Journey to Forgiveness’, I blame dad’s addiction to alcohol, our dysfunctional home life and lack of support as the reason’s for surrendering my child to adoption. I was brutally honest and didn’t sugar coat anything. If dad was alive would I have written this book? That’s a hard NO. Not because I feared him but because I loved him. 

Dad’s binge drinking lasted anywhere from six to twelve weeks or more. Hating him came fast and easy when he drank. Loving him required me to trust that each binge was his last. Sobrieties life span stretched eight weeks to four years which gave him plenty of time to earn our trust back. I adored sober dad!

Walking away from a full time alcoholic would have been a hell of a lot easier than surviving the nauseating emotional roller coaster ride of a binge drinker. Although he was never physically abusive the mental turmoil left internal scars one never forgets. Dad never raised his voice in argument even when mom got angry with him. He would smirk as he listened to her rant and then walk away in silence which I think pissed her off more. I truly believe he enjoyed the feistiness that is characteristic of a red heads personality. 

For some reason the words, ‘I love you’ were easier for dad to say after a long conversation with Captain Morgan (rum, always a 26oz bottle). I hated drunk dad. 

Although the smell of rum takes me back to darker times my dad’s legacy is so much bigger that 26 ounces. Alcohol could not erase all that was good in him.

Handsome, soft spoken with a shy demeanor, my dad stood as big as grizzly Adams at 6’6″ tall and was referred to as ‘the gentle giant’ by all who knew him. His eyes twinkled when he smiled and his mischievous chuckle put the finishing touches to a well played out prank. Although he only had a grade four education his talents were many like starting and running a successful landscaping business until Captain Morgan took it all away. 

Magical moments will live forever as I proudly remember what a great singer he was as well as his ability to pick up any musical instrument and play it by ear. Although traditional Newfoundland tunes danced from his accordion the guitar was his favourite instrument as he sung songs by George Jones, Johnny Cash, Smiley Bates, Tom T. Hall, Don Williams and many, many more.

Children and animals gravitated to him like a magnet. He sat my daughter (maybe two years old) down on the floor and placed an entire tub of ice cream between her legs. He’d say “Heave ‘er into ya” as he chuckled in my direction. Mikey, dad’s Cockatiel bird, was trained to sit on his left shoulder and nibble on a cracker perched between dad’s lips. The fact that Mikey loved to sit on the neck of dad’s guitar as he strummed a tune was odd but quit entertaining. We called him the animal whisperer because when he held out his hand the creatures would come and feed, fearlessly. 

When he worked he worked hard. A humble man, he shy’ed away when people spoke in awe of how one man could possess so much strength. Helping people fed into his good naturedness and was easier to do than saving himself from the addiction. 

As kids mom had us attend weekly TeenAnon meetings. It was there we learned that dad and alcohol were not one. We learned it was ok to love him. We learned his addiction did not define who he was as a person, a husband, a father, a grandfather. My dad was good, kind and respected. He loved and was loved.

From 2002 until his passing in 2012 he was sober. Those were the best memory filled ten years I had with him. Many conversations left me longing for an apology for the childhood his addiction denied us but I learned early on in life that you have to let shit go and love on the blessings you are given. 

I was at dad’s bedside when he took his last breath. Reliving the past, as healing as that might have been, never happened. What brought me the most comfort was observing his face lit up with a huge smile as his glazed eyes stared at up at the ceiling. It was as if he saw someone he hadn’t seen in a very long time. I hope it was his mom. Still grinning from ear to ear he proceeded to hum a song I couldn’t recognize, due to his breathlessness. Then he was gone! 

Dad gave the best hugs. Wrapping his massive arms around you he would give a gentle squeeze and pause. Not a quick reception hug that lacked affection but one with love, connection and meaning. Who knows maybe it was his way of saying what he couldn’t verbalize, “I’m sorry”.  

I could really use one of those hugs right now. Not only to wish him a Happy Father’s Day but to also say, “I’m sorry”.

Thanks for listening old friend.

 

Shitty Situation

Dear Diary,

Yesterday I found myself in a very shitty situation! But before I get into that let’s talk about daycare. Doug Ford recently announced that daycare centres will be re-opening as of Friday, June 12th. 

My heart explodes with emotion when I say that five of the most beautiful little human beings, between the ages of three and seven, call me Nanny. Keeping them safe is my major priority as are their parents. Having them return to daycare scares the shit out of me. I feel they are safer in my care right now and being temporarily laid off due to COVID allows me the opportunity to do that. Although I’m a young grandmother my girls feel that baby-sitting might be a physical strain on me. Talk about making me feel old. God Bless them! 

There goes Plan A down the shitter so Plan B it is…the ‘cry for help before they loose their shit’ plan.

Yesterday came that cry for help from Krystal (daughter #3) a HR Advisor of Employee Relations at a hospital. Her three year old son Oliver has been needing some extra attention this past few days and with daddy at work mommy has been pulled in many directions. Nanny to the rescue before the shit hits the fan is a great job, or so I thought.

Charlene (daughter #2), with a five year old son Owen and three year old daughter Isla, is the Manager of Operations for Commercial Solutions at an insurance company. She too is juggling way to many balls in the air while her husband is at work. With 40 degree temperatures and no indication of when the portable pool they ordered in May would be delivered, offering to pick up the kids for a swim date with Oliver was met with a hard ‘YES’.

Upon arrival at Oliver’s house we were hit with a frosty welcome…aka…air conditioner on bust. Isla started shivering so I pulled a pink short sleeved t-shirt on over the floral teal sundress she was wearing as a bathing suit cover-up. The three cousins were so excited for their playdate that not much lunch was consumed. Owen wolfed down his hamburger, nibbled on a few fries and was in the pool as Isla yells, “Nanny, I have to go pee!” When a three year old says she has to pee you drop everything and run. 

Hurry Nanny, “I gotta pee!!” she says anxiously as I yank the t-shirt and sun dress up over her corkscrew curls. In one swift motion I yank down her bathing suit to her ankles and position her on the toilet. I may have thrown her, I can’t remember. Phew, crisis averted! 

The pee is followed by an unexpected poop and in turn, “I’m done Nanny, can you wipe my bum?” she asks. In the middle of that task, I hear Owen yelling in a panicked voice, “Nanny I have to poo, I have to poo!” I glanced behind me to find him clutching his bum with both hands and shifting his weight back and forth from one foot to the other, “Hurry Nanny, It’s slipping out, it’s slipping out!” 

“Oh God. Hold it Owen, hang on. I say in a flurry of panic. 

I’m not sure how Isla got out of the bathroom with her bathing suit down around her ankles but she was suddenly gone. Owen does the duck waddle in the direction of the toilet while still clutching his bum. He’s yelling, “it’s slipping out, it’s slipping out!” to which I reply, “I’m trying honey, hold it Owen, hold it.” Swim trunks are a bitch to get off when soaking wet and as I squeaked them down to just below his bum cheeks it was clear he was not going to make it to the toilet. The poop, of a soft oatmeal consistency, was making a fast exit and my knee jerk reaction was to catch it in my hand. Like you would, right, said no sane person ever.

“Nooooo….OMG, OMG, OMG…I can’t…get you on the toilet!!!” I try to say with legs crossed, so I wouldn’t pee myself, as I laugh hysterically which sounded more like uncontrollable crying at this point. 

Krystal comes running, thinking there was an emergency. He continues to poop in my cupped hand. Then Owen says, “Nanny, I have to pee!” “Shit,” I blurt out, no pun intended. I have shit in one hand and trying too kick the stool away from the toilet with my foot so I could steer him in the right direction. “Are you finished poopin’?” I inquired through my hysterical laughter, tears streaming down my face. “Yes, but I have to pee!” he replied in a tone that indicated a dire request. I vigorously shake the poop off my hand into the toilet. Let’s just say it was of a soft, sticky consistency and not willing to let go. At least I was able to reposition him in the direction of the cold porcelain bowl to pee. One small win for Nanny! 

I quickly glanced up to see Krystal throwing a roll of paper towel in my direction as she’s walking away with her hand over her mouth, urging to throw up and trying to say, “I can’t”. 

Using my clean left hand, and a foot, I manage to rip off a few sheets and proceed to wipe the hot, sticky, thick feces from my right hand. Let’s get real here, it was everywhere! 

After three hand washings and passing the sniff test I look at Owen and pray that I didn’t traumatize him with my display of vile disgust. With his wet shorts around his ankles he looks at me with his big beautiful blue eyes, clearly embarrassed and asks, “Nanny, can you wipe my bum please?” 

Getting back to the daycare centres re-opening. I’m rethinking that option. 

Thanks for listening old friend

Insomnia

Dear Diary

Do you ever wonder why the things you hate the most mysteriously show up to haunt you for days in a row? You could go months and be ok but then there it is staring back at you with its bigger than smug life attitude. Keeping you awake at night!

Here’s how it all played out! I ease my tired bones onto the gloriously soft pillow top mattress that gives me this all over warm hug feeling. My head sinks into my very expensive Sleep Country pillow that, by the way, was so worth every penny. Pulling the fluffy soft duvet up to my chin and gazing into the spinning, dusty covered, ceiling fan above me something caught the corner of my eye. To the right, in that crevice where the wall meets the ceiling, a spider. A big, black, ugly spider. 

Ralph, my 6’4″ husband, my knight in shining armour who would do anything to make me happy even rescue me from spiders when he himself hates them, was fast asleep. Sleep comes easy to him. I swear before his head hits his Sleep Country pillow he’s snoring. Which irritates the crap out of me because I’m not as fortune.

Back to the spider! I knew I had to do something I mean one time when I was a child, a spider dangled from the ceiling and into dads mouth as he lay on his back snoring, mouth wide open, welcoming all creepy crawlers. That’s what I envisioned, so the spider hanging out nine feet above me, had to go. 

Not having anything nearby to swat it with I had a great idea, I’d spray it with something. At least that might warrant it motionless until I got the nerve to attack the, what now looked like a, giant beast staring down at me. Without loosing eye contact with it I backed into the master bathroom and grabbed the can of air freshener. Aiming the baby powder scented can in the direction of the enemy, I sprayed, it fell to the floor, covered in goosebumps from head to toe I gasped and let out a quite squeal! Momentarily overpowered by the unwanted fragrant shower the spider quickly stirred. I attacked, bringing the bottom of the air freshener can down hard on it. Thuds, rustles and squeals echoed the room. Ralph is still in a peaceful slumber. Feeling confident I won this war I lifted the can and he scurried. Another squeal escaped my lips as I dropped the can on its side and used my foot to roll over it like a steam roller. Victory was mine! 

Would you believe this happened three nights in a row and thank God they were all different species of spiders because I’d be inclined to think his family were out to seek revenge. Now I have insomnia! The room is dark but I see a shadow. Is it a spider? I rolled over, adjusted my pillow and bolted to a sit up position because I thought I saw something black on it from the corner of my eye. A tingle on my neck had me brushing my hand along the area like I was doing a swift Karate move. Finally sleep rescued me from my misery well for what sleep I got, that is. Right now I’m functioning on three hours and clinging to my coffee mug for a life line. But Ralph is well rested and the room sure smells great! 

Thanks for listening old friend.

 

 

George Floyd

Dear Diary

The CBCNews Morning Brief arrived in my inbox this morning as it does every morning. The headline read, “How to talk to your kids about race, and why you should start now.” Why this and why now? Because on May 25, 2020 an African American man by the name of George Floyd died while being restrained by the very people who swore to serve and protect him. Derek Chauvin, a police officer, pressed his knee to Floyd’s neck while he was handcuffed face down on the pavement for being suspected of passing a counterfeit twenty dollar bill. For over eight minutes he pleaded that he couldn’t breathe. Floyd, a father of three, gasped his last breath, face down on the hot dirty pavement. 

Is that all his life was worth? A fake twenty dollar bill? 

There’s a picture circulating social media that shows two children hugging. One is black and the other white with a caption that reads, “Racism is something you learn. Not something you are born with.” This reminded me of a conversation I had with a co-worker a few years back. She’s African and shared a story with me about a road trip she, along with her husband and two young children went on to the United States. A police offer pulled them over. While staring into his rearview mirror and watching the police officer approach their vehicle he instructed his wife to put her hands on the dash of the car. He grasped his steering wheel with both hands and sternly said to his family, “put your hands where they can be seen.” This highly educated man, a lawyer, the son of a minister feared the person approaching him, the person who swore to serve and protect him. My eyes filled up with tears. It was beyond my realm of comprehension.

Yesterday I watched a TEDTalk video by Marc Bamuthi Joseph titled, “You Have the Rite.”  He shares a Black father’s tender and wrenching internal reflection on the pride and terror of seeing his son enter adulthood. He shares his own story of being arrested for parking illegally, sitting in the back seat of the police car thinking, “I”m going to die here. I’m angry and humiliated only until I’m scared and sad. I smell like the last gasp before my own death.” I thought of George Floyd, I thought of my co-worker…I am left breathless!

Do we start having these conversations with our children? Will these conversations teach them that color means different? If we can’t change the mindset of adults then maybe our only hope is to educate the children. 

How many parents have books in their Childs library that show people with coloured skin?  My children are grown now but I’m ashamed to say I didn’t but then again I raised my children to see everyone as equals. With or without books we must stop labelling human beings. We are not a color, a disability, a race, or sexual orientation. We are human beings who feel, and love, and cry, and hurt. 

Thank you for listening old friend

Mentally Exhausted

Dear Diary

Thomas Carlyle said “A man without a purpose is like a ship without a rudder – waif, nothing, a no man.”

“I’ve been feeling like a ship set sail without a rudder lately. You know me, I get this way when I have a lot on my mind and can’t see the forest for the trees. To make matters worse we are in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic that has left me temporarily unemployed since early April, Easter Monday to be exact. 

Then my book published March 13, 2020, one week into the pandemic lockdown forcing me to cancel my book launch as well as any opportunities for promotional events. I have 400 paperback books sitting in my dining room, book marks, media kits, business cards, a 6.5 foot pop up banner, two Square devices (POS gadgets) and an accounting program to keep all my affairs in order for when the tax man has his hand in my pocket. So ya, a little pissed about that turn of events.

So I switch gears and as outlined in my marketing plan, turn my focus to social media. No problem right? Wrong….social media will be the death of me. My publisher advised that I connect with as many book bloggers as possible, create a separate Facebook page for the book, tap into Instagram, Goodreads and Twitter (I will never Tweet). That has me monitoring and updating 4 social media platforms and a website. Oh and don’t get me started on hashtags! 

The more friends and followers I add to these platforms has now increased the requests I receive from entrepreneurs selling their services and products such as Tupperware, handbags, jewelry, clothing, real estate, makeup, counselling, life coaching, art, books, teas….you get the picture!

Instagram is the place to be for promoting your business but did you know it’s also a popular internet dating site?  I had, aka deleted, over 300 single men following me (said as she bats her eyelashes) who flaunted pictures of themselves shirtless, in doctor scrubs or wearing a uniform. They love life, music, children as well as God and want to “get to know you.” Let’s not talk about the guy who asked me for $700 or the guy who sent me a picture of a nude ‘ladies’ ass in a position that left me wondering how she got in that configuration in the first place. Her stiletto’s were pretty though!

While I promote my book to influencers, book bloggers, celebrities, media as well as family and friends the dust and clutter around my home joyfully sits and waits for attention. I’ve become that unemployed writer who is stealing a glance at her reflection in the computer screen, pausing to admire the bedhead un-showered, pajama wearing stranger staring back at her. After three months in lockdown I gave in and attempted to cut my own hair. The mullet is back in style, right? 

This lockdown has set me adrift without a rudder. I worry about employment, finances and what the future will look like. I miss normal, I miss feeling safe, I miss the things that make me feel pretty; a hair cut, hair colour and a mani/pedi. I miss sitting at a restaurant patio on a summer evening enjoying a glass of wine with my husband as the warm breeze dances with the mouth watering aroma’s swirling around us. But most of all I really miss making memories with my family.

Yes, I know I have a lot to be thankful for, I know there are people in worse situations than me but once in awhile the fall out from this pandemic, the isolation, gets the better of me. It’s mentally exhausting! 

Thanks for listening old friend.

Oh and one more thing…I did shower today! 

Author Interview – Dubai

Dear Diary

Today I received a heartwarming review from Ayushi a book blogger who reads and reviews books on her website BookishAyushi (where my interview is posted) as well as on her Facebook,  Instagram and Goodreads accounts. 

Yes, it’s exciting to receive a great review on my book but I had no idea that it would connect me with people from all across the globe. Ayushi is from Dubai and although she lives in a beautiful part of the world she does dream of planting her roots in Canada one day. I told her to never give up. Anything is possible with a dream and patience. 

But having a conversation with her did peak my curiosity to learn more about Dubai. Here’s proof I’m not a well travelled person and why I failed geography. I thought Dubai was in India. My husband is probably shaking his head right now asking, “Why would you think Dubai is in India?” Clearly he paid more attention to geography in school than I did. 

I’ve learned that although Dubai is the second largest of the seven United Arab Emirates it has the largest population with over 3.33 million inhabitants (as of Sept. 2019). The city is roughly 35 sq km in size and is poised to expand to twice the size with the addition of man made islands; the Waterfront, the three Palms, the World, the Universe, Dubailand, as well as many other construction projects underway in the desert. Umm Suqeim Beach has a hotel that looks like a sail. How cool is that? There is a place called the Dubai Miracle Garden where a plane looks like it had just landed in a field of flowers…stunning! 

Well, I could write for days on the culture, restaurants, beaches, nightlife and shopping in Dubai but for now I’ll pour another coffee and continue my online research of this beautiful country.

Thanks for listening old friend. 

 

I’ve Got This

Dear Diary

I think I’m up shit creek without a paddle! Not that it’s been my first time up shit creek but holy crap what have I gotten myself into? 

Eight days has passed since my marketing consultant finalized and emailed me the link to my author website. It’s beautiful but what am I supposed to do with this now? The attached how-to-guides, links to Youtube and Elementor video’s was a little overwhelming. Elementor is a program used to update the website? I think I got that right!

Technology doesn’t scare me but holy crap I do know that if I hit the wrong button the website, which is live, could end up looking like a dogs breakfast. How do I know this? Because on day one, true to form, I went exploring somewhere I shouldn’t have without reviewing any material and sure enough the home page didn’t quite look like it did when it arrived all shiny and new in my inbox.

Someone once told me if you just say ‘fuck’ everything will be ok. Let’s be real here I dropped more than one ‘f’ bomb in that moment. I could have sent out an ‘SOS’ alert to my marketing consultant but with zero budget left, support going forward would have a dollar value associated with it. Besides, she’s three hours behind in British Columbia (Canada) and I’m in Ontario (Canada). Not to mention I was sitting in front of the TV watching the season finale of the Voice when I messed up my website. Timing was of the essence here! I know what you’re going to say. You can’t teach yourself a new tool while praying the sexy Pastor with eight kids would win the singing competition. My prayers were answered, Todd Tilghman won!

Any technology I’ve worked on in the past had a version history so fingers crossed this does as well. Sure enough I found an earlier version, went back in time and no one was the wiser. It does help that no one knew I had a website or that one existed until today. 

You see that picture in the left hand corner that reads, YOU’VE GOT THIS? Of all the training material I had in my possession do you think I could find out how to insert one there? Two days of carrying my laptop and print-outs from my home office, to my bed, to the living room couch and back to bed until I passed out from mental exhaustion. Mental exhaustion…there’s a topic of discussion for another day! 

For today, I’m in a good place! It may have taken me eight days to figure out how to create this, add a picture and then post it but I’m feeling pretty accomplished… I’VE GOT THIS! 

Next step is learning how to market on social media and master #hashtags. Wish me luck!

Thanks for listening old friend. 

Prologue

September 24, 1979 



“You’re making a very selfless and brave decision,” said the soft-spoken, dark-haired social worker as she slowly slid the documents onto the cold overbed table positioned across my lap. 

Glancing down at the document, Joey’s and my mother’s names were staring back at me. If giving our baby a name was the only privilege we were granted then she should be named after the strongest women we know, her grandmothers, Juanita Clotilda Williams. At the bottom of the page was an “X” next to the signature line. A wave of hopelessness slammed through my body with the impact of a freight train. I never felt more alone than I did in that moment, knowing my signature was the final act to relinquishing my baby girl. 

Relinquish, there’s a word. Why don’t they just say it for what it is? You’re giving away your baby, you cruel, heartless bitch. As if she was a hand-me-down, something I had outgrown. Bravery had absolutely nothing to do with it! 

Sitting on the side of the firm hospital bed, my feet resting on the cold floor, painful aftereffects of childbirth overtook me. The cold, sterile hospital room started spinning out of control. Everything around me was being forcefully sucked into the dark vortex of despair. My unseen child was ripped from my body and forced into the swirling unknown along with the fragments of whatever was left of my broken soul. The adoption papers, my baby, my heart all sucked into the dark, spinning abyss. 

The noise of the crackling plastic-covered mattress broke the deafening quiet as I slowly lowered my broken body back into bed. Curled up in a fetal position, I wrapped my arms around the spare pillow, now suctioned to my chest, and sobbed until I could barely breathe. An unexpected commotion startled me into shameful silence. The punishment for my heartless action would soon become painfully clear. 

An aged, light blue, drooping drape with missing hooks was all that separated our two very different worlds. She was exhausted from childbirth, but adrenaline prevented her from sleeping. Lying on my side facing her bed, the sounds of her baby suckling at her breast emanated through the woven fibers of the washed-out drape. The sounds triggered my body to feed an infant I would never hold. My breast felt wet and cold. I hugged the sterile pillow tighter to my chest as the tears slowly rolled down my cheeks. In that moment of cruel existence, I wanted to die. 

I was begrudgingly envious of that mom, the fragrant pink flowers, the tiny doll-sized gifts, and the swarm of visitors that joyfully danced past the foot of my tear-stained bed. There was nowhere to hide but under the rough, stiff flannel blanket that offered little comfort. Burying my head under my pillow to block out their joy, I prayed they were oblivious to my agony. 

For four days we shared a room but never spoke. I hid behind the faded blue curtain. Our silence a confession of my guilt. 

As the sun was going down, the torturous sounds of the day fell silent, resting up for another performance at dawn. Darkness made way for gut-wrenching demons of sleepless shame and guilt. 

A calm fell over the nurses’ station with the exception of one haunting infant cry echoing through the halls of the maternity ward. With every annoying tick-tock of the clock on the wall, I dreaded for morning to come, not only for the unwanted sounds of new moms with their babies that caused me so much pain but for my discharge. My God, how would I find the strength to leave her behind? 

My thoughts were suddenly redirected to that haunting cry vibrating along the walls of the sleepy maternity ward. It was hypnotizing. The longer I listened the more I realized the unhappy cry was coming from the nursery. The powerful hypnotic force controlled me as I painfully inched my way to a sitting position at the side of the bed. Am I losing my mind? Is that crying infant calling me? 

I stood at the door of my room and peeked out into the dimly-lit hallway. I hesitated. The nasty nurse from the operating room saying, “You will not be permitted to see your baby at birth,” replayed over and over in my mind. Should I go? Oh my God, if I’m caught near the nursery what will happen to me? Pushing through the fear, I carefully set one foot in front of the other to minimize the sound of my hard-soled slippers on the polished floor. All other moms and babies were fast asleep except two. Me and that crying infant! 

The nurses’ station was unattended. I stared at the blue sign hung on the cream-coloured, chipped walls and cautiously followed the arrow pointing in the direction of the nursery. The baby’s cries became louder the closer I got. My heart banged in my ears. I was beyond the point of no return; I just had to see that baby! Destiny controlled the reins and I was convinced that this was meant to be. God help the person who tried to stop me. 

Pausing at the entrance of the nursery I observed a nurse holding the tiniest bottle of formula I had ever seen and gently rocking a wailing infant tightly swaddled in a stiff white flannel blanket with stripes on the end. The dim light fixture on the wall shone down on her tiny body. As I entered the room, I made eye contact with the nurse for a brief second, and immediately turned my attention to the baby in her arms. “Is this baby Williams?” were the only words that squeaked past what felt like a softball in my throat. “Yes,” she said softly with a warm smile, unaware of who I was and unprepared for what was about to unfold. 

Crying inconsolably just moments before, the baby girl fell quiet at the sound of my voice as if knowing her momma was there. She was unaware that her silence would give me the strength to do what I needed to. Wiping the tears from my eyes, I took a mental picture of the moment that was denied me when she left the safety of my womb and took her first breath. I looked at my baby for the first—and what could potentially be the last—time. A flood of emotions washed over me. Fear, shame and guilt rolled down my cheeks and onto her chest as I cupped her face in my shaking hand. She was so tiny, so soft and for a brief moment, still mine. Leaning into her, my lips touching her soft, warm, fuzzy forehead, I inhaled the newness of her. Wishing this moment was secretly ours, I whispered, “Please remember that I will always love you. Please forgive me.” 

I was too afraid to make eye contact with the nurse that was holding her but there was an air of paralysis in the room. Naïve and consumed with fear that she would call security, I conjured up every ounce of strength I had, turned and slowly left the nursery. She didn’t call security. She let me have my moment. A mental picture, captured in a few precious moments, would sustain me for the next eighteen years until I could legally start searching for her. As I walked away, it was my broken cries that vibrated down the corridor,

Author Q&A

What inspired you to write about your story?

It started out as a gift for my daughter on the 20th anniversary of our reunion. For the first two months before our physical reunion, we exchanged emails. Those emails were stored on floppy discs and still are. I started compiling them into a book, just one book. It snowballed from there.

 

Why did you decide to publish?

I wanted my gift idea (book) to be perfect, so I hired an editor, Marnie Woodrow, to help me. She suggested I write some context around the emails. When she edited the first chapter she immediately said, “You can’t teach anyone to write like you do. You have to publish this”. Still, I wasn’t convinced. The deciding factor was when she said that not only could my story help birth parents and adoptees but individuals who have survived the toxic love of an alcoholic.

 

What do you hope readers will get from reading your book?

There are two perspectives. First if any of my readers are in a similar situation, I hope you are inspired to be brave and loud until someone listens, until someone helps you make the right decision that you can live with. Second, for those who can’t wrap their head around why a mother would surrender her child to adoption I hope my story will give you insight into my internal trauma of life after surrender. For twenty years I mourned in the darkness of shame, alone in my silence. It’s not a safe place to be. If you know a birth mother please be kind and if she allows you in, please let her talk, let her cry, let her mourn the loss of her child.

 

This is a deeply personal story for you, what did you learn about yourself through the writing process?

What did I learn about myself through the writing process? That is such a great question. I asked my three daughters to read my book to get their blessings to publish. Even though the sub-title of my book is A Birth Mother’s Journey to Forgiveness my youngest daughter’s feedback was extremely profound. She said, “Mom, the only person you didn’t forgive is yourself.” I reflected on that and concluded that although writing my story was cathartic, forgiving myself will never be an option. I’m afraid if I forgive, I will forget and I don’t ever want to take this life for granted or for anything more than what it is in this moment…perfect!

 

Tell me a piece of wisdom you would like to impart with your readers.

Climbing the mountain of life is never easy. There will always be someone at the top of that mountain throwing guilt, shame and judgement down on you to bring you to your knees. When they do, find the lesson because take it from me there always is one, and move on. Don’t beat yourself up, become the better person.