Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Umbilical links

I was watching three minutes of that reunion show Find My Family last night.
MasterChef was on an ad break and so I flicked away from the ads, not feeling particularly keen to have my ears assaulted by Harvey and his screechy wife Joyce.
There were these two girls in their 20s on there who were reunited with their mother. One girl had been given up as soon as she was born, the other one had lived with her mother until she was 17 months old - and then similarly handed over.

Can you imagine? Hell, I cannot begin to comprehend having a living thing grow inside you and then putting it up for adoption as soon as it pops out - let alone forming an incredibly strong bond with a little person over a whole 17 months and then making the call to do the same thing. That's 17 months of smiles, lullabies in the middle of the night when sickness makes it hard to breathe or scary noises make it harder to sleep...17 months of eye contact, warmth, touching, laughs, words, sharp pangs of anxiety when your little one cries and the sharper pangs of a swelling heart when that same little one sticks out their arms for you, and only you.

Anyway, they showed these three pictures and video of each other to each other - there was probably an equally teary, in person reunion, but I don't know, as MasterChef came back on and I needed to know if Carrie's spinach mistake would mean the end of her dream. (It would.)

Yeah, there were tears (from both Carrie and all three women on Find My Family) and at one stage, when the mother first laid eyes on photos of her long-lost girls, her face broke into this painful grimace of shock and utter regret.

A large, gnarled hand betraying decades of what was probably a bloody hard life whipped up to cover the raw emotion that her heart could not stop from contorting her cheeks, mouth and eyes in all different directions as she cried.

It was a powerful moment. It took my breath away.

Because it put me for a split second in the shoes of someone who had played a genetic role in creating a person...and someone who then, for whatever reason, had disappeared.

Then it made me realise how amazingly strong those genetic bonds are, no matter what kind of nurture may have overridden the nature in your mind.

And then, it gave me a tiny glimpse into what Jay might experience as he gets older and starts wondering who this man was who contributed to his life.

Of course I can understand it. Without this man, Jay would not be on the planet. No matter how much we raise him with two mums and explain that he doesn't have a father, but that he came into this world with this man's help and in a very special way...he is likely to want to know, he is likely to be curious. Right?

Then I allowed myself to slide into an empathy I have so far been afraid to confront - afraid only because I suspected to stumble upon an emotion that might make me uncomfortable. What would I do in a similar situation? How would I feel?

Of course I would want to know every little thing I could about where I came from. That wouldn't mean I wanted to deny the existence or the love of those who had raised me - but I would most certainly be curious. I knew this, but it was fuzzy and hiding somewhere in the outskirts of my conscience, out near the industrial areas.

Last night I thought plenty about it and I accepted it.

That was a powerful moment for me. It took my breath away.

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