"One’s first step in wisdom is to question everything – and one’s last is to come to terms with everything." – George Lichtenberg
A few years after surrendering my daughter to the adoption machine, I visited with a friend back home. She had been my best friend through high school, with me the night I met my daughters father, the reason I lost my virginity to him (long story â€“ summarized by teenage peer pressure), and one of the only people who openly acknowledged my daughter during that time of my life.
I was at her home and we were flipping through our high school year book. A few years older by then, we were likely musing over what we looked like then, who went where, who had already died and so on.
It was her personal yearbook we were referring to. As I open the page that my own picture appeared on, I note a number beneath my picture. It is the number 1, handwritten and placed in parentheses. It is my friendâ€™s handwriting.
Curious, I keep flipping pages and see a few other numerical notations. Twoâ€™s, threeâ€™s, etc. Confused, I asked my friend what the numbers meant.
â€œThat is how many kids each person had by now. Can you believe how many people have popped out babies already?â€, she says with a slightly offensive tone of voice.
I felt like I had been slapped. My stomach turned over and my blood had begun to pulse rapidly through my veins. My chest hurt and my breathing became labored.
Yeah, I can believe it, I thought. I had â€œpoppedâ€ one of those babies out myself. Only I did not get to bring her home. Everyone else in my year book did.
â€œOh.â€ I weakly uttered. I felt diminished and ashamed and embarrassed and very angry.
How dare she! How dare she note my daughters existence with a measly penciled in (1) under my high school picture. What the hell was that supposed to mean? Is that what she was relegated to? A marking in some ones yearbook?
Conversely, I was horrified. What if someone else saw? What if she showed someone her yearbook? No one knew. I was President of Student Government. Graduated or not, they would love to gossip about me. My parents would kill me. No one was supposed to know. How dare she!
I was irrationally and outrageously angry. I didnâ€™t want that marking in her year book yet at the same time I did. At least she gave my daughter an existence. She acknowledged her. If even in nothing but number two pencil lead.
I am not angry about that any more. In fact, I am quite pleased. I appreciate that my friend did that. When all others turned their backs on me and my daughter, when my own father told me we would never discuss â€œthatâ€ (meaning my daughter), my friend marked up her yearbook and place my child on the map of our lives.