It’s kind of funny, but there are things I remember with perfect clarity from my first phone call with Leah and there are things I feel like I didn’t hold on to tightly enough. I remember listening carefully to the way she talked, intrigued by her accent and overwhelmed by emotion. This was my Birthmother, after years of wondering – here she was. There were a few thoughtful (I will not say awkward) pauses and clearly we were kind of feeling each other out. The end result was that Leah and her husband decided to rearrange their travel plans to come and visit me in Pensacola! I called my Mom and talked to her and she made arrangements for Leah and her husband to use her sister’s condo on the beach.
It’s hard for me to not feel like everything was meant to be, because everything just seemed to fall into place, and literally a week after our first phone call I was standing in the airport waiting for Leah to arrive. My Mom was with me and two of her best friends, my two aunts Ruth (who was there when my son was born) and Carol. These are the women who had been there for every major event of my life so it seemed fitting for them to be there today. We shuffled about and waited…and waited…and waited. On a funny note from the moment that we knew the flight landed the waiting seemed longer, rather than shorter.
However, coming down the gateway, there she was and all I could think is “oh my god, that’s my Mother.”
There was a very brief pause and then our group dissolved into hugs and tears. My Mom hugged my Mother and I would later hear that she told Leah, “Joy has two mothers now.” Aunt Ruth was, of course, taking pictures. Mom and I drove Leah and her husband out to the condo so they could get settled and then we went back to town so I could get some car stuff settled. (I had added a degree of difficulty to the equation by buying a new car in the middle of all this – I had been driving a company pick up truck.)
At the condo we took a few more pictures, of course. Later I would look at the pictures and laugh when I realized that Leah and I both do the same head tilt in pictures. I also got the picture that I have always wanted, even though I didn’t know it – a picture of me and my Mom and my Mother.
Over the course of Leah’s visit, we did some of the tourist things – like going to the Naval Aviation Museum and we did some of the non-tourist things, like I took them to where I work and where I live to meet Ben. We had a family dinner at my Mom and Dad’s house and Mom pulled out all sorts of old family pictures.
I don’t think what we did was as important as the connection that we made during that visit. All awkwardness was put aside and our family circle expanded to include Leah and her husband.
What’s funny is that it’s almost hard for me to remember my life before Leah was an active participant in it. We don’t talk as much as we would like (especially since I am a reluctant Skyper) but we email often. I don’t know exactly what the future holds but I know without a doubt that she’ll be there.
When I look in the mirror, at the woman that I’ve become I see the two women who have shaped me. Leah who through the courage of her conviction gave me life, gave me her genes. She gave me a love of words, a fascination with art and photography (though I think she’s a better creator of artistic endeavors than I am), and so many other gifts, some I am still uncovering. My Mom who taught me how to make life a celebration, the importance of girlfriends, and so many other things. I don’t have enough words or time to express my love and gratitude for them but suffice to say – I love them both dearly, and I am lucky to share my life and my heart with both of them.