Friday, August 7, 2009

It’s a Long Story…

It's a long story, but, in essence, my child, Nicholas (whom I always called “Nicky,”) is now 15 years old. I don't know where he is in this world.

I was young and naïve and put great trust in a couple of soldiers I knew (man and wife). Being fairly young, and not having had any real examples of true family in my own life, they were kind of my "surrogate parents" at the time. I told them everything. When my tenuous try at a first marriage was falling down all around me, and my husband was abusive, I cried and told them everything, every hope, every fear.

I should have noticed they were playing on my insecurities and spending more time than they should have with someone else's child. They couldn't have more kids, so they decided to lean heavily on an uncertain young mother who was still reeling from the fact that she was responsible for a little life, when she'd never in her life planned on having kids in the first place.

Unfortunately, I was depressed, afraid, and had just gotten out of the Army (came back in later, but for 3 years, because of the divorce and the harsh uncaring command climate at Fort Campbell, I just wanted out of the whole military system). For a time, I had no money, no job, and didn't feel comfortable asking my own family to help me get a lawyer and play a supportive role during this time.

I was stubborn and thought 'I can do this myself.' I don't need anyone. I tried to go it all alone, and I lost the battle.

The courts ruled in their favor. They had big lawyers bought with big money, and seemed to have the ability to pull people out of the woodwork to speak against me (I never got to know people in my unit or neighborhood to whom I could have turned, because I poured all my energy into struggling through that rotten marriage. Another story for another day...)

Hopefully there will be a lesson from these years of pain, one day. I still hold out hope that this couple will not have tarnished my image in his life so much that he will meet me and never forgive me, and never believe me. I just want the chance to reconnect with him one day and tell him who his mom is, and how we ended up apart.

Then, the rest is up to him.

I just want that chance.

In the end, I lost him, and more, and my mother would not speak to me for years. We've since then finally developed a relationship. At times it seems frail, but it’s better than nothing.

Since then, it's been my greatest sorrow that this happened, and that I've never met anyone else with whom I could start a family... I always thought I would, but it doesn’t seem that that was meant to be.

I hope I find a way to reunite with him. But those years lost can never be returned. Losing a child changes a person in ways that can never be undone.

What is wrong with this world? People who have kids abuse the privilege of parenthood, and the people who love their children, (even if they are a little confused about where to begin), end up losing them.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Remembering Nicholas

They are mostly transitory flickers of images in my mind now. But they’re the only part of him I have left, and I hang onto them as I would a life vest.

Curious, grappling at the carpet as he pulls himself along, approaching his target — Nick reaches out his small hands to grab the white rabbit I once jokingly nicknamed “Bun-Bun.” He misses, and barely clasps the furry tail of the ornery creature as it leaps away. But he laughs without reservation as it escapes.

Then, my mind makes another turn on the sometimes treacherous path of memory.

It’s his first birthday. I don’t have the money to buy him any toys. But I have an idea. I place a decorated cake in front of him where he sits in his highchair, surrounded by linoleum. I motion to him that it’s his to do with as he chooses. His boyish face lights up, and he jams his fingers probingly into the squishy middle — seconds later, face, ears, and even overalls are smeared liberally with the remnants of the obliterated yellow cake. Crumbs and heavy sugary white frosting coat him as he squeals in delight. Mission accomplished.

Flash forward to a few months later. I sit in the driver’s seat of my cheap Plymouth Neon, handing him the occasional McDonald’s french fry, which has become his favorite food. I cannot turn around to face him. But, we connect, as his tiny greasy fingers meet mine, quickly accepting the outstretched treat, and then returning in expectancy of the next.

Further forward still, I show up at the daycare on the Army post where I’m stationed at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. His soon-to-be adoptive parents who are also Soldiers don’t know I’m there. I ache for his small chest pressed against mine in a mother-and-son embrace. I can’t believe it has come to this. I am not ready to be a mom, or at least that’s what their reverse psychological statements, their facade of kindness, slowly eroding my fragile self-esteem, would have me believe.

I try to keep close to me the happiest of memories. During this visit to the daycare facility, for a treasured few moments in time, we are alone. I am still too immature to comprehend the rugged bond that links mother and child. I watch his movements, feeling empty inside, as if I am swimming up for air and cannot find the surface. I still don’t know what I’m doing giving up my rights to these people. Hell, I don’t even know what the right decision is. But I also believe I am so lost I have nothing to offer anyone anyway. Maybe what’s happening is what’s best for him, I tell myself. How can I hope to give my child what I never received for myself?

Suddenly, I break out of my reverie. Nick steps onto the wooden platform from which two short smooth slides extend, one on either side. It hits me that he’s waiting for me to notice. His eyes hone in on nothing but me, and he stands completely still. He reminds me of a tiny old soul transmitting the depths of his thoughts. He grins and swells with pride. With an excited yelp, he lets go, descending effortlessly and bounding back up the steps for more, each time sneaking a peek at me to gauge my approval.

Sadly, it is only at this moment, when all has been lost, that the truth dawns on me. This is love, pure and unconditional. This is Nicholas, my unique and wonderfully wise little one, trying to tell me how much he loves me without saying a word.

Over 10 years later, these images still haunt me. Nick is somewhere out there. I don’t know where. I can only hope he is receiving the kind of love I would have given him, had I not squandered my chance.