The mail had arrived again. I crossed the street to our mailbox, and looked through the mail before returning to the driveway.
The envelope was a simple, white rectangle. Though it could have been passed over easily as unimportant, I would not have missed it. I had watched eagerly, impatiently for its arrival. The anticipation of this letter went back much farther than the ten days since I'd mailed my certified letters of introduction, my watch spanned nearly two decades.
I handled it carefully and examined the small print addressing it to me. My eyes hungrily read the name and address of the sender. As often happens in times of intense emotion, I held my breath, afraid that even the gentle stir of my exhaled breath could cause it to evaporate.
One breath, two breaths. I felt my heart thudding. No. I was too excited, too afraid of its contents to open it alone.
I picked up the portable phone in the kitchen and took it and the precious, long-awaited envelope outside to the porch. It was a mid-May afternoon. The spring sun shone brightly. Across from the porch a large lavender-colored lilac was in full bloom, fragrantly scenting the air. My favorite flower, lilac, evokes many memories of springs hopes, love, joy.
Mild weather. Winter had ended. Perhaps the long frozen part of my heart will thaw when i read this letter. I tremble in anticipation as I sit down on an old wooden pew and arranging a pillow behind my back, I tuck my feet up under me. My hand shakes as I dial Joel's work number.
I only wait a moment after the phone is answered until I hear Joel's voice on the line. My throat is tight with emotion. I am barely able to speak the words aloud.
"Oh, Deb, that's great! What did she say?"
"I don't know, I haven't opened it yet__Can you listen for a moment while I read it?" Already silent tears roll down my cheeks. Warm tears on my cool cheeks. I am aware of the thawing, melting of frozen tear ducts.
My daughter has written to me. A miracle and nothing less.
"OK, I am opening it- Oh, Joel! There's a photo. oh, oh- she's so pretty! What a happy smile! It's a photo of Ann-"
Ann, I know her name-
"She has long blond hair, blue eyes. She's wearing overalls, and a long-sleeved black t-shirt" I pause..." Joel, she has her arm around a horse- they are in a field..."
I can't read the card for a couple more moments. I am sobbing. Deep, heart-wrenching sobs- joy, sorrow, ecstasy,and pain. My chest hurts as I am wracked from pounding head to trembling toe with pent up emotion.
My first photo of my daughter in nearly 18 years.
"Deb, are you ok?" Joel's voice is concerned.
"Yes, yes. I can't believe it." I reply, "Ok, let me look at the card. There's a horse and rider on it. A really nice print of a pastel painting."
"Ready?" I whisper. "Ok, here goes-" one more slow breath and I begin to read .
Happy Mother's Day! (Or if this arrives after Sunday, Happy Belated Mother's Day!) Thank you so much for your letter!
Although I've always known I was adopted,I was still pretty surprised when I got your card in the mail. I have toyed with the idea of tracking down my birth-parents but had never actually gotten serious about it. Enclosed is a picture of myself and my horse Bandito. I usually wear my hair in a ponytail, but that was my senior picture so I had to look nice. Bandito is a big, clumsy grey thoroughbred whom I love to death but unfortunately I have to sell him soon because I'm going away to Art school next year and won't have time to ride him anymore. I'm really sad about having to give him up but I'll make sure he goes to a good home. ...
Love, Ann : )
"I'm so happy for you, Deb"
"Thanks, Joel, this is incredible.."
We hang up.
Time stops as I sit on the bench and soak in the image of my daughter in the photo.
I was just her age when I gave her away to adoption. When I left her in the hospital, I left part of my heart, left the opportunity to share in the joy that was parenting her.. another couple received that joy. When I left the hospital that April day, a late snow storm had coated the streets with inches of snow and ice. It felt like my heart was coated in ice also. My prayer, my hope was that we would meet again. Somehow I knew that I would see her again in 18 years, in fact i whispered that to her as she slept in my arms that last evening in the hospital. It was a promise locked away in a secret place in my heart that holds my dearest hopes.
The hope is fulfilled~
Gradually, I am aware of where I am- outside on this spring day. I smell the flowers, hear a cardinal chirping and locate his cheery red form in the shrubs nearby. I feel a light breeze like a gentle caress on my cheek. I realize that my tears have dried and I am smiling in contentment.
Ann has written to me. Thank you, God.