Today I did something that I never dreamed I ever would. I had lunch with my sister. What?! That’s nothing you say? But it is to me. You see I grew up in an orphanage and was adopted as an older child. The last time I saw this sister I was 18 years old. It wasn’t a particularly pleasant last meeting and I had no intention or inkling that I’d ever see her again.
I grew up, married and had children. I divorced and moved forward. I got my degree. I raised my family. I have a successful career. The pain of my early childhood has been mostly healed and put aside. But something changed over the holidays and I felt that, now in my mid-life, I was ready to let the two sides of my life connect. I reached out to this sister on Facebook and told her I was ready. So we planned lunch. For a week I’ve been feeling a bit nervous. Would I even know what to say?
Fast forward to today. Lunch turned into a 4 1/2 hour visit. For the most part I was speechless but there were things that needed to be said and to be heard. There were a few tears but not many. There was a little awkwardness but not much. I could see the resemblance that comes from “nature” however I have to say I did not see the resemblance that comes from “nurture.” Our lives had such a drastically different trajectory and I was left feeling and knowing that I have been blessed. Richly, deeply, and undeservedly blessed.
My parents (no, not the two people that birthed me, but the ones that raised me) have given me the greatest gift of unselfish love that one human being could give to another. They saved my life. They gave me stability, discipline, guidance, opportunity, and love. They took a small girl who felt unwanted and gave her a home. I tease my Mom to this day that she was the “meanest” Mom in the world and I thank her for it. She gave me boundaries and consequences. She gave me chores and rewards. She gave me rules and punishments. She gave me a chance and a life. She gave me an education and allowed me to make mistakes and be forgiven. Well, she wasn’t alone – she did it along with my Dad. He is the strong, silent type who worked hard and showed me what a true work ethic looks like. He role modeled patience and self-discipline. He made me feel safe. He carried me when I pretended to be sleeping. He taught me to catch a ball. Ok, I fibbed a little – he TRIED to teach me to catch a ball but I always closed my eyes and ducked. He taught me to drive and to not drink things that fizz along side beer. You know – the practical things that Daddies do.
These two naive and courageous newlyweds opened their home to a ragamuffin child with a lifetime of hard knocks, built-in fears, baggage, and bad habits and they loved me into being a woman of integrity, intelligence, and family values.
So today I regained a start to a relationship that was long ago abandoned. I now know details I never had before. Some I regret had ever happened to anyone let alone children who were my siblings. And I now have a picture of me as a baby – something I’ve never had younger than 2nd grade.
And I remember with great emotion, many hugs, and a boatload of tears, how much my parents love me. I see with deeper clarity the things that they did to rescue me emotionally and physically. There are not enough words in the English language to tell them how much I appreciate what they have done for me.
And I also am acutely aware that my God is a lavish giver! He gave me the strength and stubbornness to be resilient and to be a survivor. He gave me healing and mending. He gave me a family.
I am indeed richly, deeply, and undeservedly blessed! I am grateful!