Four Days to Family – Start with the Ending (Chapter 1, Pt.1)
Prologue to this blog post: Fate has an interesting way of working out. One can travel many winding roads, wondering if they have lost their way or taken a wrong turn. We try our best to look around for signs that we are headed in the right direction. Chances are, we will need to take a rest stop of two along the way to revive our weary soul, before we begin our journey again. Then, when at last we are ready to give up and try to find a different road to our destination, we see the sign, the information we needed to know we have been on the right path the entire time — bumps, detour, obstacles, and all.
Since 1995, November has been recognized as National Adoption Month. Now, this is pertinent as I had no idea about this until I read an ad email in my inbox this morning, November 15, 2016. Is it coincidence that after over 13 years, and at least three prior attempts at writing this story, I felt compelled this month, November 2016, to start blogging and use an area of my blog to share my adoption story? Or a fluke that in these early morning hours that I could not sleep, I chose to get up and write instead, spotting the email informing me that this is National Adoption Month? You be the judge…
January 1, 1964, fell on a Wednesday that year. “I Want to Hold Your Hand” by the Beatles was the number one song in the United States that week (Ironically – my youngest son James is totally enamored by this song). The Federation of Rhodesia dissolved its ties with Nyasaland (now known as Zimbabwe). And most importantly – Ohio implemented House Bill 84, which would forever shape my identification, my life, and how I saw the world.
Chapter One – Start with the Ending
Wednesday, July 30, 2003 6:37pm
“Don’t do it, Chris.”
“What do you mean don’t call?! I have waited 35 years for this!”
Michael and I stood face to face, nose to nose in the kitchen. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I had spent my entire life fantasizing and daydreaming about this moment. Didn’t he understand that I was on the verge of finding out my life questions?! Or how much this meant to me? I paced across the tiled floor like a caged tiger, searching my mind for the next debate strategy to take with him. I would have to play my cards strategically if I was going to get him to give in.
“OK.” I took a deep breath. “I am this close,” I said, pinching my index finger and my thumb together tightly. “Help me understand why you don’t want me to call him,” I said, using the mediation voice that proved so effective when dealing with an upset teacher and an angry parent. “I know it’s him! I just KNOW it!”
Michael sighed, looking tired beyond his years. I could be so difficult when I set my mind to something. Just the other day my Mom told me I was like a bulldozer when I got an idea in my head. He took a deep breath, and planned his next statement carefully, “Honey, I don’t think you’ll get anywhere. Even if it is him, he isn’t going to admit it after all these years. He may even make it harder for you to find her. This has all moved way too fast. Be patient and plan out what you will say when you do talk to him.”
He had a good point, although I hated to admit it. I crossed the kitchen one last time and stood over the sink, gazing out the window for a moment. The deep summer woods that hovered majestically all around the yard swayed gently in the early evening breeze. I always could find a sense of peace in the woods, even if I didn’t hike in them as much in the Southern Virginia summers as I did when I lived in the mountains of Pennsylvania. I hate the ticks and chiggers and such. Mosquitoes are one thing, but the bugs that come and stick on you for a while area whole other ball game.
The lush green forest with its mossy floor and hidden creatures were always full of adventure and magic – a calm larger than life itself – helping me pull off its strength. Silently, I broke away from the peace that the forest gave me and turned around to face my husband, slowly sank to the floor and leaned back on the cabinets while cradling my chin in the palms of my hands while placing my elbows on my knees. I gazed up at him from my semi-fetal position, looking and feeling quite deflated, beaten. Patience definitely is NOT one of my virtues.
Seeing my disappointment, Michael began to cross the room to console me when the phone began to ring. There was a huge lull—- as though a canyon resonated between each toll of the phone. We looked at each other for several moments, although it felt more like years, before I spoke up, reluctantly.
“Well”, I said weakly, “what if that is him on the phone?” The receiver continued its ominous tone. In my coiled up position on the floor, and with the words spoken, I appeared to revert to some tenacious adolescent, a coy smile hiding at the corners of my pouting mouth, looking for permission or at least a reprieve.
Michael glared at me crouched in front of the sink with disbelief. “Don’t tell me you already called and left our home phone number?!”
I couldn’t speak. I nodded my head slowly in admission as I stared at him like a deer caught in headlights. The deadening silence was only broken by the continued sound emanating from the phone, impatiently demanding to be answered.
Michael took a step toward the ringing on the wall, lifted the headset, and without saying a word into the receiver handed it directly to me while I was still seated on the floor with my knees pulled up to my chest. The cord was stretched to its limit in order to reach me on the other side of the room and was quite taut, yet I remained in my squatted stance, as if it provided me some sort of shelter from what might be on the other end of the receiver, unable to move from the safety of my position. My eyes were riveted to the phone in anticipation that it was him.
As I took the phone in my hand, it felt as if it were on fire, and I had difficulty raising it to my ear. But this was it – there was no turning back now. I had to make sure I did this right.
A heavy German accent spoke from the headset. “Hello. Are you Christeen Rah … I am sorry. I could not hear your last name.” The ancient voice came clearly across the miles of both time and space.