“The choice to confront the horrors of the past rests with the survivor” – Judith Herman
In a few weeks, my sons have their school spring vacation. They have a week off. My ex husband and I rotate spring vacations. Last year he had them and took them to Orlando. The year before I had them and took them to Washington, DC (where they met “Maw-gee”).
This year they asked me to take them to Chicago.
Yup. Chicago. The Windy City. The city where their sister they have never met was born.
I am thrilled about taking them to my city. I am stoked that I can be a tourist with them and visit the Bean, The Shedd Aquarium, Field Museum, Hancock and more.
And yet, something inside me feels a teeny bit anxious. My oldest son asked me about his sisters birth the other day. He loves to hear his own birth story and when discussing the upcoming trip to Chicago he asked about his sisters birth story.
This gave me pause.Â I had visions of him asking to see the maternity home or asking questions that I simply wont have the intestinal fortitude to answer. I want them to view my beloved city as a fabulous exciting place not as a place where their mother experienced the most traumatic event of her life.
I have always thought of Chicago as my city, Â my daughters city,Â as in OUR place. It is the only place we were permitted to be mother and child. While I could focus on the negative, that is, it was in that city I lost her, I prefer to focus on the positive. It is the only city I had her.Â In some parallel Chicago universe we are mother and child. In that universe she is with me, wants to know me, cares about me. We are not separated. It is a good feeling, even if not exactly rooted in reality.
Yet there are also negative feelings. Every time I visit the Windy City I am filled with emotions and flashback of my time in Gehring Hall, my working at St. Josephs Hospital, the three days of cradling my first born in my arms and the final dark ending of handing her over to strangers. I can still, to this day, see my 18 yo self with my bad 80s hair, staring out a window, cradling my beautiful girl in my left arm as my tears fell onto her small face.Â I feel the torment and confusion as I weighed surrendering her against the threats of lawsuits waged against my parents and I.Â I can still hear my internal self-talk saying over and over again that she was better off without me.
I cannot visit Chicago without being a bit, even a wee bit, of an emotional wreck.
How will it be with my sons in tow?
Can I keep my oldest sons chatter about the sister he does not know (yet does know of) to a minimum so I can focus on our vacation and not be triggered into dark places? Can I keep the three of us so busy that I wont have time to think about the beautiful child that was lost to a baby broker?
Is taking my two sons to the city of their sisters birth a bad idea?
Funny in a way. I always thought, felt, okay, dreamed, that I would someday visit Chicago with my daughter. I felt, okay, again, dreamed, that taking her back with me would iron out some of the painful heart wrinkles we both share. Going back, together, where we were once together, yet also separated, seemed somehow symoblic to me. Undoing something niether one of us ever wanted done.Â Taking back some power.
It never occurred to me that I would take my sons first or at all.
Will it be healing or hurtful to go back to that city with only two of my three children?
Will I feel the absence of my first more or less when my second and third are by my side, yet she is not.
Adoption throws a wet blanket on just about everything in my life.