Thursday, November 25, 2010

A Thanksgiving Tale

Once upon a time there was a woman. She had a mother, a father, sisters, a husband and a little girl and a huge extended family. She loved all of these people most dearly, especially the little girl and the little boy she would have a few years later.

Because there were so many aunts, uncles, cousins and a special grandmother, everyone got together for every holiday. At Thanksgiving, there was so much chatter, the wonderful smells of a feast being prepared, the shouts of children playing and it was a picture worthy of Norman Rockwell.

The woman smiled and hugged and held conversations and helped fix the food and behaved as if everything were perfectly normal. She had a hard time understanding why she felt such a hard knot of sadness inside herself. After all, she had moved on, married, had children she could keep and raise and had the approval of her family. So why was it always lacking something? Why was there the feeling that there was something missing? They told her it would get better, that she would forget.

So she tried to do just that. She pushed it all so far down inside herself that she wasn't even really aware of anything except that the edges were off the holiday joy and the champagne of celebration tasted a bit flat. Emotionally, she was like a mouth after a visit to the dentist...partially anesthetized. She stuffed food into that empty hole but it never was filled.

It took years for what was buried to emerge and to be recognized for what it was....grief. For all the normality of the family holiday gatherings, something very abnormal had happened to the woman and it would affect her for the rest of her life. There was abundant love in her for many children and she loved both her raised children very, very much, for who they were. But she also loved two other children and they were not with her, were taken from her and she didn't know where they were or how they were or if they were even still alive. But her mother's heart bled and ached most heavily when there were family events and there were two family members missing. For the sake of the children she was raising, she acted happy and content.

When someone in a family is lost, there is grieving to be done, but the woman was not allowed to grieve openly and receive comfort. When she reunited with her two lost children, she finally gave voice to her mourning and it was heard. That was when she realized that, behind that Norman Rockwell picture of her family gathered at the table, was an 800-pound gorilla being ignored by everyone. In the living room, where the parades and football games played on, an elephant sat square in the middle, also ignored. It was as if, to the rest of her clan, her two lost babies didn't exist.

Today, turkeys will be roasted, pies will be baked and families will exchange hugs and kisses and it will be a very pretty picture, worthy of a painting. But one wonders how many women will sit at those feast-laden tables feeling that sadness and incompleteness? I pray that there will come a day when no woman will feel that way.

The End.


Unknown said...

Thank you for putting the words to the feeling I have felt for decades! I always loved the holidays, the gathering of kin and clan, the love, the food. But, since losing my son, the holidays were simply to be endured. I didn't really like Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's was not a time for reflection, but always, always, always the time to start anew, better. Only the optimistic promise of the New Year quickly soured to yet another day to be endured...

Susie said...

Yes, that is my story too. The sadness of loss underlies every family celebration. One I endured alone, until reunion. Now there are a few who understand, but it is still the elephant in the room.

I also pray for the day that no woman has to feel this way...


Anonymous said...

So much truth in your words, Robin. Enduring with a smile on our face and scar on our heart. Looking back, I think I lived as though the world was flat (it certainly felt that way). If I strayed too far from the very narrow life, thoughts, feelings I allowed myself to have, I would have fallen into an abyss.


Carlynne Hershberger, CPSA said...

Yep, that was me. And my daughter was always in the back of my mind, a faceless child at the dinner table or opening presents or blowing out candles. The idea of her was always there, that thread of connection still there and felt by me but no one else.

Anonymous said...


This is my story too the loss scarred my heart. Only after
reuniting was I able to grieve the loss. Of course no one
cares or understands unless it is another mother. They get
It and understand the grief. While everyone loves the holidays myself included I still even after reunion shed tears
from the loss. Seeing my son's face and hearing his voice
has helped knowing he survived being raised by strangers.
26 years is hell on earth after giving birth and never seeing or holding my baby I am still trying to understand why another woman deserved my baby? She was in a marriage to a man her fathers age, divorced soon after acquiring two newborns what made her the better person to raise my son
she turned out to be a single woman raisng two adopted boys until she found her boss who was her dads age. My son would have been so much better off with me and would have had a mother that was home when he came home and he would have had his mom at his sporting events. The important things to a child but that ring made the difference between her and I what a pitiful situation adoption creates a faux situation.