I started my very first part time job when I was fourteen. I worked there throughout most of my teens and early twenties; there was a group of us who did. In many ways I feel like we grew up together.
There was a girl that worked with us, V. V was about the same age as me and when she was around 17, I’m not sure of her age exactly, she found herself pregnant. I don’t remember many of the details but what I do remember is this; she put her baby up for adoption. I don’t remember the pregnancy being very scandalous as one might think. V was quite open from the beginning about her plans to put the baby up for adoption. It was common knowledge and referred to rather matter-of-factly; V was a teenager, was pregnant, and was putting her baby up for adoption. That was that.
When the baby was born we all heard the news. It was a boy and his name was…what was his name? For the life of me I cannot remember his name. This bothers me; I don’t really know why. I know that I will never think of it in a million years but I wish that I could.
Just as she’d planned V put the baby up for adoption. She used to carry around a picture of him with her; in fact it was two pictures if I recall correctly; one of him as a new baby and one of him at about one year old. He was really cute. I remember his red hair.
Every Mother’s Day where we worked the managers would hand out a single flower, a rose I think, to all the mothers. Every year they gave V a flower and every year I remember her crying on Mother’s Day. I don’t think that she cried openly at other times of the year, or even when you asked her about the baby but everyone always knew that on Mother’s Day V would cry and she’d be sad all day.
It has been many, many years since I have seen V. She has since married and had three children. When I connected with her recently, I was so happy to hear that she’d had kids.
I have thought of V so many times over the years. Only since having my own kids do I understand, in a small way, what that decision must have been like for her. I also realize what an unbelievable gift she gave someone. I am amazed when I think about such a young person having the courage to go through the pregnancy and courage to go through with the adoption. I think of the boy’s family; parents, grandparents, aunt, uncles, cousins; how lucky these people are. It also makes me think about people I know who have struggled with infertility, people I know who have adopted.
Why has this stayed with me? Why do I feel so emotional about V and her baby? I’m not sure. Partly I think its guilt. I wish I’d been more sympathetic. I wish I had *told* V how brave I thought she was; that I thought what she’d done was remarkable. I wish more than anything that I had given her a hug on Mother’s Day.
I have four great kids; I had four healthy pregnancies and four difficult deliveries and as a result I can’t have any more kids. We are very content with our family; we have a great, happy life. But sometimes my heart aches, just a little, for another. V eased the heart ache for one family.
I think about V every single Mother’s Day and I wonder if she still cries; thinking about it always brings a tear to my eye.
Eighteen years ago, one decision affected many lives, probably more than she will ever know.
After writing this I sent it to V to ask her permission to post it. She was honoured. Of her decision she says she wouldn’t change a thing. V named her baby B. She doesn’t cry on Mother’s Day anymore.