I thought about you, as the morning light burst through my windows and warmth crawled over my face and shoulders. I rolled over, opened my eyes, and envisioned what your mornings might look like. Do you wake up cheerful and ready for the day? Are you more like me and linger as long as possible under the sheets, begging for five more minutes of rest? I think about me playing the role of your mother, not your birth mother; I’d jump on your bed jokingly singing loudly in an attempt to wake you up. I can almost hear your laughter as you would push me off your bed, annoyed and full of teenage emotion. I laugh out loud thinking about it.
I thought about you, as I piled all three of the kids into the car to go to the city pool. Each one with a beach towel in their hands, sunscreen smeared across their faces, and their new summer swimming suits on. I throw the cooler in the back of our seven-passenger vehicle and think about where you would lobby to sit. The boys debate over who gets to sit in the back, and I wonder if you would call Shotgun to sit up front by me. The kids scurry off to connect with their friends and my youngest son begs for my attention as he jumps, flips, and dives into the pool. I can almost see you there, guiding him, teaching him, as an older sister would do. I smile at the thought of your helping hand.
I thought about you, during Sunday dinner, at my parents’ house. Though the violet recliner, velvety in texture, is no longer in the living room, I still see it there. It’s been over ten years since that recliner sat kiddie corner to the only window that faces out to my parents’ half-acre lot. But I see it every time I visit my parents’ house. You and I sat in that recliner as my entire extended family gathered around us. You were calm, peaceful, and slept in my arms as I prepared to say goodbye to you. You were three days old. At that moment, I realized I was not the only one saying goodbye, but my parents, my siblings, and my nieces and nephews were all there, forced into experiencing my decision. I felt a heavy burden. When we gather in that living room now, I see how much everyone has grown, physically and also emotionally. I think about how much you have grown. We have added five more cousins and two cousins-in-law since that time. None of us look or even sound the same as we did seventeen years ago; neither do you. My emotions are too heavy to carry if I hypothetically sit in that recliner for too long.
I thought about you, as we booked our flights for our annual family vacation; I thought about a family of six instead of five. We love putting our toes in sandy beaches, riding roller coasters, and spending time in the happiest place on earth. I wonder if you would enjoy the same things. What Disney ride would be your favorite? Would it be the same as ours? Would you follow the boys to a nearby baseball game or beg me to take you to the local outlets for shopping? The fresh air and the new surroundings bring out the best in all of us, and I think about your personality and how it would meld with ours. I think about my protective nature as your mother, how we would walk side by side. I would keep a close eye on you, as I do all of my children. My heart is full picturing you wearing those Minnie Mouse ears identical to mine as we walked hand in hand.
I have thought about you every day for over seventeen years now. My memories bring me tears of grief, tears of joy and tears of pride. The amount of time that passes does not lessen or increase these emotions. The frequency with which I allow myself to wallow in grief has shortened. I know now to let the emotions ride over me like a crashing wave, with the knowledge that fresh air is always above me once the wave dies down. Thoughts of you remind me to love deeper, voice my compassion, and never take a day for granted. I am beyond blessed to have children at home, who rely on me, look up to me, and need me. My unconditional love for them is the same unconditional love I have for you.
I thought about you today, as I do every day.
Growing up in Utah County, unwed pregnancy by age 19, Gina always found herself outside of the Utah cultural box. Shortly after placing her baby girl for adoption in the fall of 2000, she started her own non-profit organization, Birth Mother Baskets. Her goal was to provide hope, support, and courage for birthmothers, post placement.
After fourteen years of running Birth Mother Baskets and being an adoption advocate, Gina stepped away to pursue a corporate job as a Creative Arts Manager.
A severe concussion in 2016 led Gina back to rediscover her true passion for writing. She left the comforts of the corporate paycheck and is now writing a memoir.
Gina still lives in that cultural bubble of Utah County with her husband and three children. She enjoys changing people’s perception of birth mothers and their place in adoption.
You can find her writings at ginacrotts.com or follow her on Instagram at @ginacrottswriter.