|My garden today|
Sunday meant searching for a hidden basket of goodies somewhere in the house, my father making sure it was never easy to find; followed by Mass in our new Easter outfits with a pink carnation pinned to my shoulder, followed by a breakfast of those blessed foods, and then, finally big extended family dinner with my aunts and uncles and cousins with ham and Polish sausage and borscht and the hard-boiled eggs topped with beets and horseradish ending with my mother's delicious prune layer cake with buttercream frosting. And, of course, lots of chocolate.
Then suddenly, in my early twenties, I was the mother without the daughter to pass on these traditions. I gave
birth to my daughter on a Tuesday, April 5, 1966; I left the hospital on Holy Saturday, April 9; Easter Sunday I was alone in my apartment, and though the day was glorious and sunny in Rochester, New York, the current tradition of "laying in" after birth told me it was too soon for me to go out and walk about. Where would I have gone, anyway? So I stayed indoors, alone, and looked at the clear azure sky with a few high cumulus clouds through the kitchen window of my small apartment. When my mother called to wish me a Happy Easter, I said all was fine.
Lorraine and Jane, summer 1982. Though you
can't see my foot, we had on matching sandals,
purchased unknowingly a thousand miles apart.
Where was my daughter? How was she? Was she even alive? What had I done? Would I ever find her? Where was she?
Finding her at 15 was a great balm for my turmoil and sorrow, but that did not mean I could get back the years. She would never grow up with the memories of our Holy Saturdays kneading bread, watching it rise, tasting it with butter shortly after it came out of the oven. We would not share the sweet smell of cinnamon that filled the house by afternoon, or have that memory implanted in our beings. She would not share Easter with her first family. In a very real sense, we lost our children when we gave them up. We can only go forward and make the best of what we can. That means we do not pile our children up with guilt by talking endlessly about our pain to them, that means accepting their lives and their traditions with their new families, and handing with grace the time we can have with them. We must not forget we are the mothers who, for whatever reason, lost the time we might have otherwise had with our children, and the nurturing role we would have played. When we are reunited, we need to remember that we are still the mothers, and our first role is to nurture.
|Forsythia was in full bloom when |
she was born.
Goodness, I didn't mean for this Easter Sunday post to take such a left turn today. But there it is.
Readers know I reunited with my daughter when she was 15, and she died a decade ago. If I could rate the sorrow, I would say I miss her on Easter more than any other day of the year. For most of the years I've been married to Tony--since 1981--we've had a large group of friends over for Easter lunch. If I couldn't spend it with my daughter--and I can't remember that we were ever able to share the day, she was always with her other family in Wisconsin--I filled it with friends. That gave me reason to bake my mother's prune cake with butter cream frosting cake, to make the same pastries I did with my mother, to host a "family" gathering of friends. Sometimes the event grew to 40-plus; in the last decade I pared it down to about a dozen for a sitdown meal.
Today I'm in the middle of packing to move, the house is in chaos, we're afraid we are behind schedule, and so there are no guests. I did not get to Mass and lunch may be tuna salad or something takeout, if Espresso downtown is open. Maybe we'll take an hour and get to the beach. I need to wrap this up and get back to packing; I can hear Tony putting together boxes downstairs. He's a bibliophile and we will have about 200 cartons of books to transport; we are planning a yard sale for next Sunday and seem to be behind schedule. Everything is in motion.
Oh honey, if you can hear me now, I am so sorry you were adopted. You might be here today if you had not been. --lorraine
Hole In My Heart: memoir and report from the fault lines of adoption
HOLE IN MY HEART is the compelling story of a mother separated from her child by adoption in the Sixties and the state-imposed secrecy that keeps them apart. Defying convention, Lorraine Dusky reunites with her daughter in the early Eighties when such reunions were rare, and in the process becomes a staunch advocate for reform of America's antiquated adoption system. The author gives an inside look on the emotional turmoil following reunion for both mother and daughter. Dusky, with her award-winning journalism background, deftly weaves in crucial psychological research that places her personal heartbreak in a larger context, and illuminates the hard truths that are at the center of every adoption—loss, guilt, abandonment and an incomplete sense of identity. Her daughter, the adoptee with two families, also speaks of the complications and uncertainties that infuse her life. A birth mother's story you will not forget.