Monday, April 20, 2009

Search and Reunion: Eight Years Ago Today

HOW TIME flies. I can't believe it's been a full eight years since I showed up on my birth mother's doorstep unannounced. I'm the king of redundancy, so here's what I posted last year on this day

::


SEVEN YEARS ago today, when I had no hair and still looked like a little boy, I saw my birthmother's face in person for the first time in my life. It's hard to believe it's been so long. Hard to believe there have been so many twists and turns. Great celebrations. More separation. Confrontation. Reconciliation.

But this was how it was, as I documented in my book, on that Sabbath evening seven years ago:

Their Eyes Were Watching God

1
It is dark. It takes them a little while to locate the right unit. Craig anticipates what’s about to happen, his anxiety stiff and peaked like whipped egg whites. What will she look like?

The time is near.

Will she recognize him?

The time is near.

How will she react?

The time is near.

They find the right unit. Uncle James, still talking on the phone with Sonja, knocks on the door. Job aims the video camera at the door.

Craig stands away from the door, away from his husband and uncle. James knocks again.

“Who is it?” a voice replies. Is it hers? Or his sister’s?

“It’s Uncle James.”

The door opens. She appears in blue-green shorts and a white T-shirt. Her face shrouded with hair.

“It’s the CIA.” James laughs his shrill and infectious laugh.

“I thought you weren’t coming until tomorrow.”

“Well, I’m here now. Mind if I bring my friends in with me?”

“Not at all. Who are your friends?”

They exchange pleasantries.

Craig shakes her hand, quickly, and steps inside, trembling.

“So who are your friends?”

“This is Job.” Job shakes her hand.

“Job’s full name is Jacobus, which means James.” Cell phone still live with Aunt Sonja, Uncle James steps inside and away from Craig.

“Who is this?”

“You know who he is.”

“No, I don’t.”

“Yes, you do.”

With the back of her right hand, she pushes her long hair out of her face. She studies Craig’s face. He has her protruding bottom lip. She studies closer. He has her exact caramel-colored skin with the reddish tint.

Closer.

He has that slightly squinted left eye that reflects her tightly squinted right eye.

And closer still.

She cocks her head subtly to the right, but not so subtly that he doesn’t notice, and furrows her brow.

“It’s been thirty-three years.”

But she doesn’t hear Job, because she already knows.

“My son?”

He nods.

Wow.” She raises her right hand. “Joseph.”

He nods again.

She steps forward to hug him. He clenches her.

“Oh, my God.”

His water breaks.

“Oh, my God.”

His earth quakes.

“Oh, my God.”

His bow breaks.

“Oh, my God.”

His heart aches.

“Oh, my God.”

He can’t let go.

“Oh, my God.”

He won’t let go.

“Oh, my God.”

She rocks him slowly side to side.

“Oh, my God.”

“It’s okay,” she whispers.

“Ohm’God.”

“It’s okay.”

“Ohm’God.”

He buries his head in her shoulder.

“Ohm’God.”

She strokes his head.

“Ohm’God.”

She rocks him slowly and strokes his head.

“Ohm’ God.”

His earth quakes

“Ohm’God.”

His water breaks.

“Ohm’God.”

And he wails three decades and three years of tears.

And time stands still.


The day after. From left: The grandmother, the husband, yours truly, the nephew, the sister, the birthmother, the auntie, the eldest uncle, the younger uncle

2 comments:

em said...

my favorite part of this story begins with "Oh, my God".....
great verse

had the same reaction as I did the first time I read it, on FTD


I also love this photo, good looking family, especially the two on the left, you look pretty relieved, having been received, yes?

Beth said...

This literally made the hair on the back of my neck stand up. I cannot even imagine experiencing that moment. I don't think I could have remained conscious. So powerful, so visceral. Thanks for sharing such a pivotal day in your life.