Sunday, April 22, 2012

Missing Mackenzie

My older daughter Mackenzie is in another state at the moment. She is spending the week visiting her biological father, my ex, who moved away when Mackenzie was a year and a half old. I'm glad that she's having this time with him, and I know that she's safe and enjoying herself. I also see the benefits for Ashley, my younger daughter. It's good for these sisters to have occasional time away from each other; absence makes the heart grow fonder, as the say. It also gives Ashley a chance to be an only child, temporarily -- to have Paul and me all to herself, if only for a short while. She seems to be enjoying it, soaking up the attention.

There isn't anything about the situation that I am unhappy with or want to change. And yet, I also miss Mackenzie. I have moments when I miss her with an almost surprising intensity. I'll be driving my car or in the midst of some menial household task, seemingly not thinking about her at all, and suddenly, there it is: a deep, primal ache, tinged with mother-bear alertness. Something is very wrong; my baby isn't with me.
I know that this ache, this deep missing, is a regular part of life for many women: those whose children are growing up apart from them because of adoption or other reasons. And it's painful to think about this, but I don't want to push that awareness away. Such women walk a path that is different from my own, but they are not unlike me. They are me; I am them.

Some mothers respond to the pain of loss by pushing it down, way down, beneath the consciousness; these are the mothers, I believe, who find it the most challenging if the child reappears in their life down the line. Then there are those mothers who find a way to hold the ache, but hold it gently. They bring it into the light, placing it on the shelf among the array of other emotions that come with living life: joy and sorrow side by side. And finally there are those whose stories I find heartbreaking but also compelling: those who dive deep into the loss, making a life's work of grappling with it, because for them, the only route to healing is through the pain itself.

These are not my stories, but there is a piece of me in each of them. Missing Mackenzie reminds me of that.


  1. So well said.

    I find myself missing my own Mackenzie, away at college (year 2, getting slightly easier), and thinking some of the same thoughts.


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