Months. Years. Decades. Forever, it would seem, to my twenty-five year old self.
I had it all planned out, you see. It would be a beautiful day (obviously I planned for the weather), and we would have some sort of cheesy picnic or other reunion of sorts and we'd laugh and cry and recognize all the things that were similar in ourselves - my siblings, my mother and I. From the time I knew she was out there. from the moment I heard her voice I knew we would meet and it would be wonderful. And in many ways it was, except for one...
We met because her father is dying.
I woke to a text from my biological mother informing me that her father was in hospital, and the family had been called. She, her husband, brother and kids were driving from Ontario to Nova Scotia, in a race against time to be with her dad. I felt sick.
I didn't sleep much last night. My mind raced: how was I going to do this? Was I ready? Are you ever ready? I prepared myself for what I knew would be hard. I got dressed, did my hair and got in the car.
The drive was stressful - three hours in length. I drove in silence for a long time. Then with music blaring. F slept. I called Red. My mom called. I listened to my GPS and navigated an old highway I'd never driven before. I saw the sign to the hospital, I took a deep breath and I pulled in. Here it was.
I saw a group standing together outdoors, and I knew. I knew it was my family - even without seeing a face. Then I saw her. My mother. She turned and watched as my car pulled in. They all turned. I composed myself, and got out of the car. As she walked towards me we both began to cry. 25 years. A quarter century. Emotions and memories and so many things passed in the next seconds that the earth stood still as we hugged and cried, while family I didn't know looked on. We just cried.
Hugs. Introductions. Names. New faces. It was a lot to take in, and yet nothing at all, as I took it in stride and F did too. Strangers, and yet family. Strangers and yet familiar. Mine. Ours.
Just over two hours I spent with them, during their saddest time, as someone they loved and I would love to know is slipping away from them. It was bittersweet. I felt my heart break as Grandad looked at me and said "All the years we've missed..."
All the years.
25 years of memories and chances we've missed, so I did what I could to make up for them in that short time. As I said my good-bye, my heart shattered. I'll never get to know him. F will never get to know him. But I got to see him, and that's more than I might have had. I got to hold him and kiss him goodbye. Someone I don't even know, but care about in a way I can't explain. I can't explain any of it.
|Darlene (birth Mom), Granddad Bill, Myself and F - Together, 25 years later.|
I took the chance today, and I couldn't be more glad that I did. They slip away, you know. Chances. People. Loved ones. Memories. In a heartbeat, they're gone. Don't let them. Today, I saw where I came from. Who I am. Where I began and I finally found the closure I've wanted all my life.
I couldn't have done it without the love and support of my amazing parents, Debbie and David or without Red. Thank you. Without my friends, I might have lost the courage. Thank you.