There is so much angst involved in adoption and I think just as much in a reunion. If affects everyone involved in a different way. I worried a lot about the wonderful woman who raised Jeff as her son. As a parent myself I couldn’t help but put myself in her position and that caused me a lot of stress. I was happy for me but sad for her. I also worried about his sister Natalie. Natalie is Jeff’s younger sister. She came along four years after her big brother. What a blessing to a family that had had problems conceiving and adopted and then four years later were blessed with a pregnancy and special baby girl. I have two brothers and I think the relationship between a brother and sister can be so full of love but also fiercely protective so I worried about how Natalie would react to not only finding out that her brother was adopted but also to finding out that he was going to meet a whole other family and two little sisters. Jeff has always spoken so highly of Natalie and though we have never met I feel that she is a part of us and I adore her. Proving herself to be such a remarkable young lady Natalie sent me a very sweet message this morning and agreed that I could share it.
Hey michelle! I just read your blog. I just wanted to tell you it is absolutely beautiful. Its also very courageous of you to share. I want to thank you for blessing me and my family with jeff. Hes the best brother I could have dreamed of. I can’t imagine what life would have been like for me without him..he has taught me the meaning of kindness,positivity,friendship and so much more which are all priceless and will forever be a part of my heart. I also cant imagine the heartache you must have felt… I know you know everything happens for a reason, jeff has been lucky enough to experience love from not just one but two families and I thank you for that. I have a huge amount of admiration and respect for you, and just felt the need to tell you. i hope this brightens your day because you deserve it. You’re a great person michelle, i look forward to meeting you in april. Xo
To continue somewhat how I left off my Dad’s death was obviously a huge blow to my family and one thing right after the other for me. A lot of that time seems like a blur to me. I can only describe the feeling as numb. The days seemed so long and I longed for bedtime but couldn’t sleep. When we were planning the funeral we really pulled together as a family. I remember silly stuff like picking out the casket and my oldest brother Mike wanted the most expensive one. He wanted to send Dad out like Elvis. The reason this struck me as funny is because Mike is the frugal one in the family. We all put different values on different things and for some reason that was very important to him. We did not buy the $17, 000 casket…sorry Dad! Funerals are an odd business. I think people should spend their money in life and not so much on death. It is pretty damn expensive to die. It seems to me that focusing on the funeral was the only thing that really kept us together. I was overwhelmed at the funeral. We had an open casket and my Dad was wearing his signature grin. It looked like he was playing a silly prank and he was going to open his eyes and say “just joking” because he looked so lifelike (at least to me) I remember putting a rose on his chest and trying to hold his hand. It was cold and hard. Not at all like holding your father’s hand should feel. I remember a lot of people were there. I saw a lot of friends there. They had all those little side rooms open and full of people. Seeing my baby’s father there near broke me. We had always remained friends and I needed him there that day. I know the songs they played were that Old Rugged Cross and Amazing Grace. My dad loved those. His family was very musical and though my Dad didn’t play any instruments he liked to sing. What else can you say about a funeral? You get to see a lot of special people at the same place that say wonderful things about your deceased loved one and then when it is over and everyone goes back to their everyday lives there is this huge void. It’s ironic the memories that are triggered during this process that you don’t normally think about. It was a sunny August day so the burial was immediately following the funeral at Pine Grove Cemetery in Stewiacke where my Dad grew up. The family stands in a line and people walk through to pay their respects and a relative of my Dad stops to talk. She mistakes my friend Cheryl for me. I know Cheryl tried to correct her but the lady wasn’t catching on. She raved about my Dad and how she hadn’t seen me (but it wasn’t me) for years and how beautiful I was (but it wasn’t me). It was a little thing but I remember feeling upset by it. I think in that moment I wanted be recognized as his daughter because I was proud to be that and I wanted to hear all the glowing things she had to say.
When the burial was over a lot of people came to our house to mingle. My brothers and I just disappeared. I just went to my room. I was done with niceties. Till this day I apologize for leaving my Mom to deal with all those people. If it was up to me I would have told them all to get out. Maybe my Mom got some solace out of their company but I just had an overwhelming need to be alone. Then when I was alone I was numb. If you recall I had started dating a guy the day before my Dad died. You would think that it wouldn’t have worked out but it did for over four years. I was talking to a friend today and she said she thought we were fantastic together and we were for quite some time. I was thinking back to some of the times we shared and those first couple of years must have been hard for him. I had migraines. I had them before dad died and they just got progressively worse. The doctor misdiagnosed me with depression and gave me these pills that made me so messed up that I had a hard time putting my socks on for school in the morning. My Grampy Miller, my Moms Dad was a godsend. My Mom didn’t drive and he drove in several times a week from Noel ( about forty minutes from our house) and he took me to all of my appointments in the city (another forty minutes away). They finally got the migraines under control and not long after I went through this spell where I just wanted to sleep constantly. I couldn’t get enough sleep. That was probably the depression kicking in but the doctor suggested I might have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and recommended that I get lots of rest. Ironic. How I ever kept a boyfriend through this I will never know but writing this I feel like I owe him a HUGE amount of thanks.
Shortly after Dad passed away my Mom called me downstairs and this lady from the church was there and wanted to have a talk with me. The first thing she said to me was something about god. Well I wasn’t happy with that. I told her that I had given up a baby and then GOD took my Dad away and I didn’t want to talk about GOD! I said to her “How can you talk to me about God. I am sixteen. I didn’t even get a chance to say goodbye. What kind of God would do that to me” There my problems with God were born. My poor Mom. 32 years old and dealing with three grieving teenagers and her own pain. Thank God she had her family. They are the most amazing people and they are all very close. In the fall my Grampy sat everyone down for a very polite and direct conversation about how he was dying of cancer. I was in disbelief , he seemed perfectly healthy to me. I didn’t really believe it was true. The events all seemed to happen really quickly. His last days in the hospital were rough. I got to see this man who symbolized strength to me, who served in two wars, who got up at the break of dawn everyday no matter what,reduced to skin on bones and he couldn’t communicate. For three days he was in and out and he rambled. Very rarely did you pick out anything coherent. I assume it was the drugs they gave him to keep him comfortable. I wanted to be there every waking moment. As much for me as him. I was going to say goodbye properly. I was sitting right beside his bed, I didn’t want to leave even to pee and the nurse cautioned us that we were not to show any emotion. Then after three days of rambling my grandfather grabbed my hand, looked me straight in the eye and said as plain as day “It won’t be long now!” I bolted from the room in tears. How could I not show emotion? My grandfather just told me he was going to die soon. My mom asked my boyfriend to take me home to get some rest and somewhere between the hospital and my house Grampy passed away. It was really hard to see someone you love suffer and deteriorate. I think in seeing that my damaged relationship with God and faith was a bit restored. I felt that god gave me that opportunity to say goodbye but also showed me that sometimes the other way is best.
The strength and love of my Mom and her family is the only thing that got us all through that time. We were already grieving and now we were trying to cope with another huge loss. Grampy was laid to rest in November, as per his wishes had a very simple, private burial. The family gathered together at Grammies’ house for Christmas that year. It was a nice thing for us all to be together and share “remember when” stories and memories of Grampy and Dad. My Dad loved Christmas. He always had us up bright and early so it was a day we really felt his void. After the present opening was done we all retreated to our own quiet room to be by ourselves. We were a family with a lot of love to share but we were facing a lot of sadness.
To be continued.
For my brothers. Live your life for today, not for someday. Love you xo