Their eyes met. Immediate and unmistakable recognition. Like a long lost brother and sister, they ran with abandon toward one another. Locked in an embrace, their eyes seemed to ask without words, “Where have you been? I’ve missed you so incredibly much!” Immense joy literally permeated the air and for three days they were absolutely inseparable.
A beautiful story.
A story of life’s journeys and transformation and the immense comfort of and need for familiarity.
A story that… never happened.
At least not quite like that.
This is the story I dreamed up in my head for months. The story of Naomi being reunited with a fellow adoptee with whom she spent the majority of her early life.
Here’s a somewhat more accurate account of what happened:
After two grueling days of driving approximately one thousand miles across 5 state lines, we reached the California coast. Naomi was jolted awake from her car nap as I parked the swagger wagon in my friend Bonnie’s driveway. Now if you know anything about 3-year-olds being awoken abruptly you know that usually this does not bring out the best in them. Throw in being in a new place with unfamiliar people and I was forced to kiss my imaginary version of this story good-bye and enter into real and actual life.
So with a tired, grumpy, unkempt preschooler clinging to my body for dear life, I walked up to my mama friend and we hugged our own long tight hug worthy of long lost sisters.
You see, Bonnie and I had never actually met- at least not in person. But technology, you guys. That is somethin’ else. Some of my dearest adoptive friends are those I’ve met through Facebook groups. I would’ve scoffed at that a few years ago. I mean that is just downright ridiculous. Get off your phones and into real life, people! Yet here I am. A total convert, guilty as charged.
Back to our story at hand. Adoption has a way of bringing people together in deep and profound ways. And when you share similar stories and connections and experiences of this magnitude, well, you suddenly become family.
After hugs and greetings and unpacking the dumpster fire of crap from the car (seriously, how? How is it possible to generate so much garbage and disarray every few hours?), Bonnie and I quickly came up with a plan of attack for our time together. Being outnumbered two to one, we emphatically agreed upon our main goal: to keep everyone out of the ER. This was no small task given what we had to work with, but we were up for the challenge.
As we carted the kids to gardens and parks and lagoons and beaches (which felt like complete heaven to me considering the eternal winter from whence we came), and forcibly took around four thousand pictures of them, we mamas had at least twice that number of fragmented conversations. We watched our littles get acquainted and reacquainted. We witnessed them all be so perfectly typical about stuff like “sharing” and “being gentle” and concepts around “personal space.” And we about died trying to get a handle on ourselves as we spied Naomi and Amel being sweet and holding hands and playing together when they thought we weren’t watching.
I’ll just go ahead and file this one away for their wedding rehearsal slideshow.
And after all our sweet babes were tucked in each night, we slowly attempted to finish those fragmented conversations. Topics ranging from hair care products to preschool to food to idiosyncrasies, from multiracial families to spirituality, from back stories to sharing about places we’ve been and dreaming about places to go (Jackson Hole. Please pick Jackson Hole). Together we learned new things about each of our kids and connected parts of their stories we would not have been able to do on our own. Every moment together was important and cherished and mattered so very much.
But why does it matter? I’ve attempted to put words to this for almost a week. It’s hard to convey something I feel so deep in my bones with words that just don’t seem to do it justice. But I’ve given it my best shot, and this is what I’ve come up with.
Here’s the thing: connection matters. Brené Brown says that her biggest take-way from all her studies and research is that “connection is why we are here. We are hard-wired to connect with others, it’s what gives purpose and meaning to our lives…” (taken from intro to Daring Greatly).
Ok. So if that’s true, and I do believe it is, then these early connections to people associated with her roots, are greatly important. For two reasons.
- Staying connected to people reminds her (and me) that she is never going this road alone. She and her crew and all us parents and siblings are walking (stumbling?) this path together and there is great comfort in knowing we are not doing it alone. We are like a little ragtag tribe, banded together across the country. We get each other. We support each other. We text stuff to each other that is sometimes too hard to even say out loud and we take comfort that it is always received in confidence and without judgement. We cry with each other. We pray for each other. We cheer each other on. We celebrate accomplishments that no one else understands. And if some of us show up on another’s doorstep, as we did this week, we can be assured that we will always be welcomed in like family. Because after all, that is really what we are.
- Connecting life experiences from one to another, like a strand of pearls, creates a cohesive story. One that is not compartmentalized but rather all-encompassing, holistic. When she looks back at pictures of her childhood, of experiences like we just had, and later draws on images from her own memory, my hope is that what she sees will always be familiar. That she will see a clear path laid out, pearl by pearl, from where she has been, completely connected by a strand of familiar people and familiar experiences all along the way. So that she will have the full confidence of knowing who she really is and that it will all feel like home. And home, when wrapped in comfort and love and grace, is the very best place from which to truly spread our wings.
Goodbyes are always hard but this one in particular was tough. Why do some of my very favorites have to live somewhere besides my neighborhood?
For our families, it’s a “see you later.” Because we have more memories to make, more pearls to add to our strings.
But for now, us Pascals have a quick little trip up the coast to Santa Barbara…or so we thought…
Stay tuned for Part 3!
Two disclaimers about this post:
- I wrote it entirely on my phone. Because I left my iPad in Santa Barbara. We also lost Naomi’s favorite snow leopard beanie boo…somewhere. I’m not sure which tragedy is worse. You see the kind of junk show I’m running with this solo parenting business. Anywho, please forgive any typos, spelling errors, and the like.
- I wrote a lot of it in the blinding sun by the pool. Again, please forgive any typos, spelling errors, and the like. If I’ve made you jealous of my poolside chill-out sesh in any way, please know it was completely intentional. Hashtag sorrynotsorry.