It was a hot summer day before first grade began. I was 5. Saving drowning bees from the pool when she called me inside, she thought I was old enough to understand.
She was calling me from the kitchen. Where she pensively sat at the table when I entered. The way she was wringing her hands told me it was serious. She told me to sit across the table from her. Which was weird. I always sat next to her, or on her lap at that age. She made it a point to put the space between us. She made sure she could look me in the face. To make sure she could see I heard every word she said.
I sat down. Her hands stayed clenched together but dropped to the table in front of us.
“I didn’t have you.” She said. Looking across the table at me, into my eyes. Then, a pregnant pause… before continuing…
“I didn’t have you… I chose you.” She said nervously staring at me for a reaction.
I sat across from her blankly staring back.
The awkward seconds passing.
“Do you understand?” She asked.
My blank stare continued. Sensing she was searching my face for a reaction I was supposed to have… but didn’t.
She repeats, “I didn’t have you…” (Her hand tracing an imaginary pregnant belly over her thin stomach)
“I chose you….”
I instantly imagined her walking under florescent lights, down an aisle of a giant “Baby” store. Babies lined along the shelves as she pushed her cart past, observing each baby like an avocado…. Squeezing, feeling its chunky thighs and arms to see if it was too tough, too squishy, not the right texture or color.
I pictured her examining each infant, passing them by, until she landed on me.
Until she chose me.
Or… maybe not…
I quickly imagined, maybe that wasn’t what happened. Maybe there weren’t any other babies at all. Maybe the store and aisles were bare. Maybe I was the only one. The only option. A lone baby in an empty warehouse the day she went shopping.
“Josie,” Her voice sliced through my imagination.
I looked across the table at her worried face attempting to read mine. Anxiously palming her hands together, rubbing her fingers nervously.
I wasn’t sure if she expected me to cry, yell, be hurt, get angry. I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to do, it only seemed like my reaction was supposed to be something other than it was.
I looked back at her. Into her eyes and answered, “I know.”
(I can’t explain how I knew, but I knew from as far back as I could remember.)
Her face changing from nervous to stunned. Leaving me wishing I could have given her more in the moment that was obviously so important to her. Wishing I could have reacted in the way she expected. I just didn’t know what that was supposed to be.
I stood from the table, pretended to cry and ran into my room, shutting the door
behind me, laying on my bed and staring at the ceiling.
I already understood.
I’ve been reliving that moment going through this process of searching for my birth family.
I haven’t heard back from Joel since our last connection. I’ve left two messages. One he read. One he didn’t… yet. His half-brother or his half-brother’s wife have never read the facebook messages I sent either.
Every dream, every insecurity, every fear rising right up to the surface.
The family I’ve wanted to find might not want to find me.
Her word “chosen” echoes in my mind…
I’ve been chosen for this life, this story, this experience. The good, the bad, even the ugly.
For whatever reason, "chosen" to experience the life I have. Just as everyone else. Including my birth family. Their journey, their wants, their own.
But, I’m not stopping my quest to find my truth. Regardless of my comfort zone, my insecurities or my fear.
I am doing this because it is my right to know the stories of my ancestors, whose decisions are the reason I am here. I have the right to seek answers.
The mother who raised me, chose to be a parent. To open her arms to an infant, a soul, that didn’t have anyone else in the world. That role saved my life.
From a young age, I have felt the need to share my experience, to notice what I have seen, to remember the details of what I have witnessed. The details of what made me see the world the way that I have.
I have chosen to continue our story. Sensing it may not end the way I hoped or pictured, but the story is still being written. I have been chosen and choose to record it. No matter how it goes.
Is our destiny mapped out?
I don’t know… Maybe not.
But our circumstance might be. The rest of the choices up to each and every one of us.
And I choose to continue discovering. There are no dead ends here. Only information waiting to be recovered.
So, the ancestry.com kit just arrived in the mail. It may or may not have relatives who have joined, but it’s another rock, my next rock, to turn over. Another part of the story to be discovered. A story, for whatever reason, I was chosen and choose to write.
We’ll see what happens… and I’ll keep you posted.