Saturday, February 25, 2012
A Bittersweet Story
This particular secret is about two sisters who finally found each other. It all started back in 1969. My sister, who was 18 at the time, met a handsome sailor. I'm not sure how long they dated or even knew each other, but by the time my sister realized she was pregnant, "Smitty" had shipped out to sea, never to be heard from again. So, in March of 1970, my sister gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. Back in those days, being a teen mom was not nearly as glamorized as it is on TV these days, and a decision was made to put the baby up for adoption. My parents said it was my sister's decision. My sister says my parents made her give the baby up. I think the truth falls somewhere in between. In any case, it was done and never spoken of again in my family. I was 13 at the time, a bit naive and full of unanswered questions.
To make a long story short, she ended up finding me, her aunt. Although I tried to facilitate a mother and child reunion or at least communication, my sister was just not emotionally equipped to handle it. Besides, she had never told her husband or her daughter about her firstborn child. Sadly, she was never strong enough to complete that connection. It's a shame too. I have been in touch with my niece for almost ten years now, and while she was not looking for a mother (she already had a wonderful one), she would have loved just one conversation with the woman who gave birth to her. I was able to give her the medical information she needed as well as stories and pictures of where she came from, but now, sadly, that conversation would never take place. My sister passed away this past summer, never meeting her first daughter or her only grandson.
I have had the pleasure of being auntie to both these wonderful women, and for that I will always be grateful. The older sister has known about her younger sister (something she always wanted growing up) since she and I connected. She has watched her from afar via Facebook and my blog....always being careful not to reveal her secret. I so desperately wanted to tell my younger niece about her big sister. They have so much in common, including children that are less then a year apart, but while my sister was alive, it was not my secret to tell. Having conversations with both the girls was always fun and uncannily similar, especially since they were both convinced that I was the one who had given birth to them, not my sister, because we can be so very much alike and really are that close. It was always a challenge for me, though, talking to the younger one. I was always afraid I would slip.
When my sister passed away unexpectedly this summer, calling my niece in California was so very hard. When I first told her, she was upset, of course. It was later the next morning, I think, when it really hit her hard. I don't think she expected the death of someone she never knew to affect her quite so much. I think she mourned for what could now never be.
My younger niece, of course, was devastated at the loss of her mother. I'm so glad I could be there for her. Helping her through those days bonded us even closer, I think, if that's at all possible. But now I was faced with the task of revealing a very large secret to her. Obviously, it was too soon while I was in Alabama helping with my sister's arrangements, but she was coming to see me in January and I knew that would be the time to tell her.
This story does have a happy ending though. The sisters have now connected thanks to the Internet and social media. They are having a wonderful time getting to know each other, sharing pictures and stories of their lives and their families. I know one day we will all get to meet each other, and I am looking forward to that day more than I can say.
One more little side story here. Remember the post about the two whales I posted here? Well, they do have a happy ending because one went to the older sister's son and the other to the younger sister's daughter... So someday when these cousins meet, the whales will meet again as well.