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May 13, 2013

Lisa Madras: I’ve still got plenty of questions, but now I have family to help answer them

NEW CASTLE — What’s something new you’ve recently learned about yourself?

Oh, happy day. I've been waiting my whole life to have a great answer to this question, and now that I finally do. I can hardly believe it myself.

It turns out that I have a whole family I never knew existed! I won't waste time boring you with all the background details, but I grew up not knowing my father's family because he passed away shortly before I was born. Time and distance separated my mom and brother and I from his family, and I grew up thinking that I was where that part of the family tree ended.

Imagine my surprise when I was contacted on Facebook by my cousin Bob. Shortly thereafter came a phone call from Uncle Carl. And guess what? There's hundreds of them. Hundreds!

OK, maybe not hundreds, but there's a lot of them — and they want to know me! Me! (Can you tell how excited I am by the ridiculous number of exclamation points I'm using? Can you?!!!!)

If you grew up not knowing one or either of your parents, then you know what it's like to not know a part of yourself. For me, it was always like trying to take a picture of myself and having one half of it be a shadow. And when you're a lover of psychology and physiology as I am, that can be maddeningly frustrating.

Cousin Bob, poor soul, is putting up with some shadow boxing now with my incessant questions: What diseases run in the family? Does anyone look like me? Can you explain my unnatural obsession with designer handbags and Ford Mustangs?

Poor guy, he didn't know what he was in for when he sent that innocent chat message.

Seriously, though, I do have a sense of wonder at the timing of this miraculously discovery. Most of you reading this blog have been along for the ride with me for a few years now, and you know how alone I was, and how I struggled with that. The loss of the family that I did have cut deeply for a long time. Thank God, I have my mother and brother back now.

But I'll never have my husband back. My children will never have their father. I'll never have a moment when one of my children does something amazing and I can look across the living room and see my same look of pride reflected in their father's eyes, because that look only exists in the ties of blood.

I spent too many years being angry and sad that my children and I lived in such an isolated world. I built my own family out of friends, and no matter what happens, they will always be my family. I'm strong and independent, and I know that I don't NEED anyone else to make me feel complete. But that didn't stop my heart from aching when I had no one to send Christmas cards to or share my children's school pictures with.

It didn't stop me from lying in bed at night with nothing more than my own bitterness for company.

Knowing that there's someone out there, no matter how distant, is like finally kicking that bitterness to the floor and wrapping yourself up in the soft warmness of knowing that you're something to somebody, even if you don't know what that something is yet.

Who knows what the future holds for me and this long lost family I didn't know I had? It could turn out to be a disaster, but I doubt it. They seem like really nice, genuine, and kind people, and they have no ulterior motive for making a connection other than simply making a connection.

As for the strange timing of it all? Well, Cousin Bob says that everything happens for a reason. And I say that God knows what your heart wants even when you can't put it into words.

And sometimes, He delivers at exactly the right time.

 

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