My heart is just aching...aching so much. I am crying out for the hurt and pain. Everywhere. Oh Lord, come quickly Lord. We are so broken.
When I was younger, maybe around seven, someone at school asked me what my earliest memory was. What the furthest point in my mind was...what was the very first thing I remember experiencing. I pushed hard and I thought long and a particular memory came to mind. It had played in my mind countless times for reasons unbeknownst to myself. I could remember being little and driving with my mom. I was three, almost four. I remember peering out the window and pulling up to the curb of a single story home. We walked up to the door and knocked. We went inside. I remember looking around and thinking the decor was odd...very masculine. Pictures of hunters and dogs and lots of brown furniture. Then I remember my dad coming to me, crouching down and handing me an old hot wheels van. It was orange with a black hood and a circle window on the back end. I remember the wheels were a little wobbly but it drove well and I loved toy cars.
That is my earliest memory. My first memory. The oldest story in my autobiography.
When I told the other child at school they thought it was a strange first memory. Drab and dull. Why was THAT my first memory? I had no answer. It was a boring story, but I remembered it so vividly. Which side the couch was on when I walked in. How many hallways there were. We only stayed but five minutes in that house and I don't remember every visiting that house again. So I came home from school and told my mom "I have this memory....we went to a house..." And I asked her why? Why do I remember that? What were we doing and whose house were we at? She said we were visiting one of my dad's friends.
I have replayed that memory thousands of times. Always enchanted by it and always stretching to remember a tiny bit more...but always the same exact story plays out. I still have the van. Tucked in my keepsake tote.
When I was in high school, when I was sixteen, my parents took me to lunch one day. Just me. I think they took me out of school early. We ate at Oscar's on the Pond. After we ate they suggested we walk around the pond. We never made it to the pond. We walked on the grass and my mom told me she wanted to tell me something. She asked me to sit down.
"You're pregnant, aren't you?!" I guessed.
They laughed and answered that they were not. Then they proceeded to tell me that my dad was not really my dad. My mom had made a mistake years ago and my biological father had chosen not to be a part of our lives. My mom met my dad when I was three and they were married a year later. He adopted me when I was five.
At first I laughed. I laughed a lot. I'm sure my parents were concerned...how on earth could I be laughing?! Then I started to ask questions. My parents answered some and were uncomfortable discussing others. My father's name is Bill. They didn't tell me his last name. There was no need they said.
Then when I realized my questions were making my dad feel hurt, I started to think about that van. My first memory...that was the first time I met the man that would become my daddy. Not dull or drab...life changing. Altering. The first time that little girl that was me ever received a gift from a dad, her dad.
I am so thankful that God gave me the dad that He did. He isn't perfect, but he was a wonderful dad and he stepped up and chose to be my dad when he really didn't have to. He wanted to.
But the strange feeling inside....the feeling that half of me is still a mystery, that part never goes away. The questions still sneak up, asking why didn't he want me? Why didn't he return when he said he would? Does he think about me? Do I have any other brothers or sisters? Do I look like him? Do my kids look like him? Would we get along? The nagging feeling of rejection is still there...haunting almost. And then there is guilt...because no matter what, I still had a wonderful dad and never have I wished he were someone else. This nagging feeling has nothing to do with him. There is nothing he could have done differently or that he did not do. It is just an odd thing to not know about a whole part of you. To grow up thinking you are an odd looking half Italian and realize that you are really half Australian. To always wonder. Has he changed? Is he a dad? Did he have any medical issues? Does he have asthma? Does he love to read and is he good at spelling?
It is so silly...but it's real nonetheless. And my heart hurts when I hear stories similar to and exponentially more hurtful than mine. Stories of children who don't know their fathers or mothers, whose parents have abandoned them or lived lives too selfish to afford to keep their children. Stories of children who grew up thinking one thing only to learn another. Stories of children alone in the system. I cannot relate to most of these children, but I can relate a tiny bit to the feeling of emptiness and rejection. Just a tiny bit. Because I didn't actively live out being rejected, I don't remember watching my father walk out the door and waiting for him to never return. I don't remember my mother's tears. I only know the feeling that I had when my parents told me the truth at sixteen. And the rippling feelings since then. And those still hurt. i cannot imagine the pain that other children feel. But I can also relate a tiny bit to the joy and gratitude a child can feel when chosen by someone who does not have to choose you. A feeling of redemption. Ahhh...so sweet, isn't it?