Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Conversation (face to face) (10/07/10)
TITLE: Unanswered Questions
By Dana McReynolds
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When Julie received the first email, she was certain it was a cruel joke. Memories of middle school flooded her mind, the mean girls who taunted her because she was different. Julie could still hear their laughter today, asking the questions that plagued her childhood.
“Where’d you get such dark skin, Julie?”
“Did your mom leave you on a doorstep?”
“Why would she give you away? Maybe you weren’t cute enough.”
Julie shook her head. No, surely no one would contact her pretending to be her mother. She had not spoken to those girls in years. They were all adults and Julie had faith that everyone had grown up and moved on from childish teasing.
After a series of emails, Julie was convinced that it was, in fact, her birth mother. Although her mother had no contact with the adoptive family as Julie was growing up, she knew who they were and got their blessing long ago to find Julie when she was an adult. The emails were mostly factual; dates, places and events of long ago. The final email was the one that kept Julie awake at night, the chance to meet face-to-face and get personal.
Although Julie was blessed with loving parents, she had always imagined this meeting with her birth mother. The conversation varied at different stages in her life.
There was the little girl in her who just wanted to ask, “Did I do something wrong?”
The awkward adolescent who needed to know, “Was I not good enough?”
The angry teenager who wanted to scream, “I hate you!”
The soon-to-be mother who wondered, “Did you even hold me in your arms?”
Julie spent a sleepless night rehearsing the conversation. She practiced in front of the mirror. She even wrote out a page of talking points. Fearful of being overcome with emotion, Julie wanted to be prepared. This could be her only chance to have all the questions answered. She was certain she had it all planned out on her drive to the meeting.
The bell rang as she opened the door to the coffee shop. Julie stopped short when she saw one lone patron sitting at a table. That had to be her. She approached the woman and spoke a timid hello.
The older lady stood and offered her hand. As Julie looked into a set of familiar brown eyes etched with pain, she knew she wasn’t the only person who had suffered. While she had always wondered how her life could have been different, she was struck with the realization that it could have been drastically cut short. Suddenly she knew there was just one thing she needed to say, the questions could wait.
“Thank you. Thank you for giving me life.”
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