February 14, 2014

When Adoption and Valentines and Forgiveness Collide

Taking my jacket and heels off was the first thing I did after walking in the door late last night. After a meeting lasting most of the day yesterday and an unexpected hospital visit on the other side of town, I couldn't get my jammies on soon enough. In short order, I began leafing through the snail mail and noticed a big red envelope on top. It contained a card addressed to me.

Nobody sends me valentines except my husband it’s this red hot monogamy thing we have going on,  and I wondered why he would be mailing a card to the house instead of just laying it on my pillow and saving us 49 cents. My frugal self and my romantic self often duke it out over things like this. 

I opened the card to find this handwritten note inside:

Dearest Mel,

Valentines Day seems a good time to tell you this...

 You’re terrific! I know, because my sweetums (a.k.a. Judy) told me so, often.

I love you,


It amazes me how many times my maternal biological step-father Tom thinks of others while dealing with  his own grief. 

This has to be such a hard day --his first Valentines Day without her. And, we will talk…for sure.

I can see how far I’ve come in my healing process, because I could receive the card without feeling pain. 

I do believe Judy loved me, and not just as a concession. She was just unhealed and reacted to me in ways that didn’t reflect that at times. For those times, I've had to pursue forgiveness.  

I believe there are three elements of forgivenesss –

  • The will to forgive
  • The process of forgiveness
  • The state of forgiveness

There was never a question that I was going to forgive what transpired between us.  I just knew I needed help and I also knew it wouldn’t happen overnight, due to the depth of the wound.

I made a decision of my will, this last time we had a breach -- but the process was extremely complicated, more than I could ever imagine it would be. 

At this point I would characterize myself as finally in the state of forgiveness. Sometimes I struggle. That doesn’t mean there is any reluctance on my part to forgive, simply that there are still days here and there where I have a pang in my heart, but at this point  I have the tools I need to move forward. 

I am able to view my natural mother with more of an overall perspective now, rather than only seeing the enormity of our traumatic moments in my mind, anytime I think of her.   

And then sometimes when I see the total picture and I realize she is, indeed, gone…I feel the grief of her loss and process that -- much like anyone would grieve the loss of a mother.

 Of course there are additional layers that I also process for the time we missed, and the other losses incurred in our relationship by virtue of being separated for twenty-seven years.

Perhaps the greatest gift to me this Valentines Day is that I was able to receive a beautiful card from Tom and believe with my heart that just perhaps, it is true.

Maybe at the end of the day and even most of the time, she really did think that I’m “terrific".

Maybe just like I am learning to see a bigger picture of her, she had one of me too that I just never realized.

Maybe she didn’t primarily see me as a complication that forced her into hiding for the better part of a year, and painful memories thereof for a lifetime.

My stepfather Tom is someone I've always implicitly trusted – a man who operates from a healthy emotional place, and hasn’t ever told me untruths for the twenty plus years of our relationship.

So, maybe she really did see me as terrific.
But just didn’t know how to tell me that.

Happy Valentines Day, to me.
To everyone.