Monday, April 11, 2011

Lost and Found: Dreams of a Daughter

My birth mother was 33 when we met for the first time. It was the first meeting for both of us, as she'd forced herself not to visit me in the NICU after my premature birth. She knew that if she did, she'd never be able to let me go. For that strength and awareness and utter selflessness, I have always been grateful. Awed.


 I called her M.E. from the very start, not Mom or Mother. I wanted  to spare my beloved Mum the loss of her name and her role as she bravely stepped aside to let me - and M.E. - find ourselves:

As we gingerly eased into our new roles as mother and daughter, lost and found, we realized that new boundaries would need to be created, in order for all of us to be comfortable. Discovered that families are grown every day, in different, wondrous, crazy ways and that it was ok to overwhelmed by it all.

At 17, I was completely overwhelmed by the responsibility I felt toward her and the tender, tentative relationship we were building. It wasn't easy, even though in some moments, it was effortless. It was a delicate and difficult thing, learning to be the daughter of someone whom I had never known, but who loved me entirely, just because.

Still, we forged on, determined to love and be loved by each other and everyone who shared our worlds - separately or together. Together, we introduced me to friends and family, amused and heartened by their surprise, their tears, their love. Together, we often sat quietly, trying to fill - with and without words - the spaces we'd carved out of one another, 17 years before.

Alone, I began to dream of a coastal town which I had never visited, but felt sure existed, in real life. In the dream town, all the brightly-coloured buildings were connected - some by  airy, outdoor walkways, some by underground tunnels, lit by unseen lanterns.

The roads were sandy and all of them veered away from the centre of town toward the ocean. The laughter of children rang constantly, even when night fell and always, always music played.

In my dreams, there was also a sense of urgency to complete a task left undone. It was my job, MY task to complete and yet, frustratingly, I knew nothing. I traispsed through town looking for clues - hoping that I'd know a clue when I saw one and that somewhere along the way, I'd work out what to DO.

In my waking life, I analyzed the world I inhabited in my sleep and decided that the town represented my life and that each building represented a person in it. What I could never shake was the sense of longing that drifted through the place. It wasn't a sad longing, exactly, but it wasn't a settled, bittersweet one, either.

(Years later, when I saw B.C.'s coastal mountains for the first time and breathed in the beauty that surrounded me, I felt that longing in my waking life. It - the beauty and the longing - brought tears to my eyes and an ache to my heart and  then I swear I felt  it whisper, "Welcome home.")

One night, about six months after these dreams began, I awoke in  in a blind panic, sweating and weeping. I'd been in my dream town, wandering aimlessly about when a stranger came to fetch me - my Dad had been injured, was quite possibly dead and I needed to hurry.

Hurry! Hurry!

Fear clutched my heart and I tried to run after the messenger, but alas, in the awful way of dreams, my limbs melted into sllllooowww-moving molasses and all I could do - with agonizing slowness -was put one foot down and pray the other followed.

Eventually, I stumbled off the sun-dappled streets and  into a family restaurant, filled with happy, singing strangers. It was loud and boisterous and I found myself covering my ears as I wound my way through them all, searching for a familiar face.

Suddenly, the crowds parted and there, in the middle of the room, sat my Dad. A bandage covered half his head and he was sitting in a wheelchair, but he was smiling and alive. I THREW myself into his lap, sobbing and babbling incoherently. He laid a gentle hand on my head and said simply, "You worry so, daughter. You cannot control everything, you know."

Baffled, I gazed at him, but before I could ask what he meant, the kitchen doors swung open and there was a woman with a cake and  the entire place exploded into a rousing, slightly manic round of "Happy Birthday!"


A sudden, deafening silence, even as the candles dripped onto the three-tier cake. And then, my bio-mother emerged from the kitchen, trailed by her family - my family now, too - and they sang, in child-like, sing-songy voices:

She's my daughter, she's your daughter. Whose daughter is she?

Behind me, the question was echoed by my family and friends, their voices mimicking the same school-yard tone:

She's my daughter, she's your daughter. Whose daughter is she?

Round and round and on and on they went, getting louder, getting closer, getting louder, getting closer until I squeezed my eyes shut and I shouted, loudest of all, "I'm ME!"

And then I woke up.

And the night after that, I slept without dreams, my new identity - my task - complete:

Beloved Daughter. Doubly-Blessed.

Tell me YOUR dreams...


  1. Doubly Blessed indeed. Wow. Breathtaking.

  2. Thanks, Ironic. Am wondering now, as I log off and head to bed, what dreams may come...

  3. What a wonderfully vivid recollection of a dream and a happy story of your family. It makes me think of my brother and wonder if he yearns to find his birth mother.

  4. As a birth mom I am touched more than I could ever say. You, your mom, your birth mom, your whole family are blessed. Thanks for this.

  5. Anon Birth Mum - we are indeed, but so too, is the child you loved enough to let go. Know that. In a way, you gave someone life twice and it's a powerful gift.

    Do you know your bio-child? Will you search for him/her? I wish you everything.

  6. <3 <3 <3 You make my heart leap, Belly.