A Stranger Family

Do you remember me?

You are my niece, Bambi?

(smiles to self) I am

I’m not sure when it will stop being weird/exciting/crazy to learn of the people who knew me in my life before. My brother and I never grew up wondering about uncles, aunts, cousins, and grandparents but we always knew there had been a mother and a father. Heck, we didn’t even know our father’s last name. So imagine my surprise when my brother and I sat across a table from our birth mom for the very first time and she told us of the grandmother and aunts we lived with. The grandmother I was named for and the one who drove her to the hospital to deliver me. Imagine my shock to know that we lived with people – people who knew us, who knew me, who hugged me as a baby, perhaps changed my diaper, perhaps carried me around – and people to whom I had disappeared.

I’m not really sure how to articulate the feeling. That there were…people…thinking of me.

The uncle who first found me, I had carelessly disregarded immediately with a, “I do not know this man” but mama said, “But he knew you.”


He not only knew me he looked for me. As she looked for me. Because I had disappeared.

I’ve imagined myself as the aunt and my niece as the disappearing child and it seems so unheard of, so impossible, and so tragically sad.


“Fear less, hope more; Eat less, chew more; Whine less, breathe more; Talk less, say more; Love more, and all good things will be yours” – Swedish Proverb

Sharing my anger, confusion, fear, and sadness has been so easy. In many ways it is expected. It is all very natural, I think, that I would feel these things – and you have all been very good to me, to read them. To commiserate with me. To rage with me. To cry with me. To fear with me.

I have spent days, more like weeks, staring at a blank page titled “Add New Post” with a single cursor mark blinking at me, dumbly.

Have I truly had no words? Have all my feelings been felt?


I have been afraid to write. Afraid to share. Afraid to say:

I love her

The woman who is a stranger but shares my face and speaks my words.

The woman who did not discard me to live a carefree life.

The woman who picked herself up after her children were taken from her.

The woman I lived a lifetime hating for not wanting me.

The woman who lived the same lifetime I did in a hell of her own.

The woman who has sparkles in her eyes when she smiles at me, her daughter.

I do. I really love her.

I don’t want to make anyone else feel badly because I love her and I’m really sorry if I do but I won’t help it. I won’t be angry. I won’t be mistrustful. I won’t be suspicious.

I just…will love her…

I deserve the chance to put my fears, insecurities, and self-hatreds away forever (or as long as I can manage)…

My friend Cara just awakened me to a Buddhist parable about a tiger and a strawberry :

A man traveling across a field encountered a tiger. He fled, the tiger after him. Coming to a precipice, he caught hold of the root of a wild vine and swung himself down over the edge. The tiger sniffed at him from above. Trembling, the man looked down to where, far below, another tiger was waiting to eat him. Only the vine sustained him.

Two mice, one white and one black, little by little started to gnaw away the vine. The man saw a luscious strawberry near him. Grasping the vine with one hand, he plucked the strawberry with the other. How sweet it tasted

Painting by Jason Brown

I can neither escape the past nor the future but I can face the present head-on and appreciate the beauty it offers me. My mama and my time with her is my strawberry. Please let me have it.