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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Ruined through redemption

"Our death is not an end if we can live on in our children and the younger generation.  For they are us, our bodies are only wilted leaves on the tree of life."  ~Albert Einstein

My maternal Grandmother had a massive, more than likely fatal stroke over the weekend. I sobbed when I found out. I did not know her, yet I grieve. 

I grieve for my Mother, and the secret she kept from her Mother. Her secret, me, was never known by her Mother. Her secrets, my children, my Mother's grandchildren, my Grandmother's great-grandchildren, were never known. 

I grieve for my Mother, because she is weak. I grieve for myself, because I was weak. I was too afraid to lose my Mother if I told her secret. I grieve because I lost my mother twice, yet I kept her secret from her Mother, and got nothing in return. Nothing except a slap in the face, much more cruel than the slap on my bare naked baby ass when I gasped for my first breath of air.

I grieve because of what I lost- them. I grieve because of what both of them lost- me. I grieve because I will never have the chance to know either of them.

I grieve because I can't send flowers when she dies now, can I? "With love, your secret Granddaughter." I grieve because I cannot send my Mother a card. And I certainly cannot go to my Grandmother's funeral. Honestly, I couldn't handle that funeral. I mean, how does one behave at the funeral of a family member they never met? "Oh...she looks so peaceful. Hey, look, everybody, Grandma has my nose, and orange lipstick looks bad on her, too!" And then of course, there would be all of those poster boards with pictures of all her kept Grandchildren. That would be swell, huh?

I grieve because no one seems to be sure if they should talk to me about it. Me- this stranger-baby-all-grown up. I grieve because I don't know how I am supposed to feel. Grief is nothing new to me. But every time it hits me, it is as fresh as the smell of funeral flower arrangements with the sweet undertone of formaldehyde.

If you're a regular reader of my blog, you know I'm not religious. But I like to think that wherever she goes when she passes, my Grandma Johanna will know the secret. I imagine my Grandpa running up to her and saying, "Ooooh, girl- you are not even going to believe this!", and then my Grandmother replying, "Well, that daughter of yours, she was always a sneaky one!" But that's just my imagination, because in reality, I have no idea what they would say...you know, because of that whole adoption thing.

I do know she is as Irish Catholic as they make 'em. I also know that even if my Mother had gone to her when she found out she was pregnant with me, the outcome would have been the same. My Mother and I were both ruined through redemption, really. Pray, sacrifice, and give those nuns your baby. And never tell your secret.

I drank a glass of Guinness and made a toast to my secret Grandmother Friday night.

"Boy, when you're dead, they really fix you up.  I hope to hell when I do die somebody has sense enough to just dump me in the river or something.  Anything except sticking me in a goddam cemetery.  People coming and putting a bunch of flowers on your stomach on Sunday, and all that crap.  Who wants flowers when you're dead?  Nobody." 
~J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye, 1945


  1. As long as there are secrets and lies in adoption the grief will continue, as we know all too well. I'm so sorry for your loss Linda, not just this one but for all of them you've endured along the way in life-adopted. Thanks for bearing your soul and sharing this with us. Love you, Karen

  2. Linda, I think it is brave to talk about what you talk about. It was very touching, I'm sorry for your loss. But then again I suppose you might always feel some kind of hurt...

  3. Excellent post Linda. I have learned so much more about the truth and pain of adoption from you since I stepped into this world almost a year ago. I thank you for your story, your voice, your truth, your conviction. I am grieving with you my friend. XOXO

  4. Oh Linda, I am so very sorry.

    As a mom who wants nothing more than to fully embrace my son into my life, I will never, ever, understand your first family...

    I don't really consider myself "religious", but I am spiritual. I DO believe that when a person dies, their soul lives on in truth and love. This probably sounds really corny, but I do think that your grandma will know about you, will see all the love that you have in your heart, and will finally be able to embrace and send out the love that she has for you.

    You are a wonderful, loving person who only deserves the same in return. Thank you for sharing your heart with us.

  5. Linda, I know this is not an easy time for you but I appreciate you letting us walk with you on your journey via this blog and your own blog. I know you grandmother is aware of you now (and probably pretty pissed at your mother for not letting her know about you).

    Sending hugs your way -


  6. Linda, I'm sorry you have to deal with this. Also, I have a feeling I will be dealing with the same thing at some point in the next few years. Adoption, the gift that keeps giving.

  7. No words to say ... Your blog makes me speechless.

  8. As one lost daughter to another, I understand your grief, Linda. It's a lonely grief for the person you never met, yet one known so well in the realm of connectivity. Our imagination gives us participation in the lives of family denied us through adoption - never enough, as nothing can match the physical presence of those who complete us.

  9. Thank you, everyone. I knew this would be coming at some point, my Grandmother would be 99 this September. Her sister, who is 98, has shared a room with her at the assisted living facility. Poor Dan....the women in my family live a looooong time, lol. No change in her condition....at least none that I have heard.

  10. "... I like to think that wherever she goes when she passes, my Grandma Johanna will know the secret."
    She will, and she will know it with new, clear eyes and understand what went wrong... and my guess is that not too long afterwards your Mother will make contact.
    Love flows freely in the after-life ;-)


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