Dear Ms. Feverfew –
Every year, my department conducts a review of the progress of its graduate students. As part of this, I have to submit an updated curriculum vitae to my committee. Review time is upon us and so this morning I have been working on updating my curriculum vitae.
Invariably, whenever I do this, I always wish there was a place to share “the rest of my life.” A curriculum vitae only captures my academic and professional accomplishments. There is so much more to me than the courses I have taken, my GPA, the conferences at which I have presented, and papers I have published. Those things are only one of many leitmotifs in my life. Unfortunately, there really isn’t a section for “Accomplishments in Home and Family Life” or “Spiritual and Emotional Growth” or “Gardening, Knitting, Crafts, Hobbies, and Other Interests” on a curriculum vitae.
Much like my curriculum vitae, this blog is just one more leitmotif – it isn’t the complete magna opera of my life. This morning, I realized that someone reading this blog who doesn’t know me in real life might get a very striated view of who I am as a person, a woman, a mother, a wife, and a friend. To those readers, this blog must seem like the main melody line from a Samba de Uma Nota Só – the same note being played over and over and over again.
But this grief – this adoption grief – is a bass note, the F2 in my symphony of life. It is a deep counterpoint to the lyrical melodies that permeate the rest of my daily living. While at times discordant, this grieving for you – for us – provides a richness in depth and color to my life. Without it, I would have remained blinded to the heartache of millions of women and children caught up in adoptions throughout the world. With it, I am made more human, more humane.
For me, writing these letters is like practicing scales and arpeggios – necessarily redundant but essential to bring this grief into harmony with the rest of my life. It allows me to master the basics, to learn how to slip from major to minor keys and back again without getting lost in the complicated rhythms of life.
But like I said – this is not all there is to who I am. While profoundly affecting me in ways I still have yet to recognize, your relinquishment is not the only thing that defines my humanity, my personhood. I have a rich and fulfilling life, full of personal & professional accomplishments, laughter, and love.
But all of that does not erase you. I miss you. And sometimes it makes me sad. These letters allow me to bring some order and understanding to the otherwise atonal experience of losing a child to adoption.
Much love and belief –
(Edited to ad English translation of “One Note Samba“)
“This is just a little samba/Built upon a single note
Other notes are bound to follow/But the root is still that note
Now this new one is the consequence/Of the one we’ve just been through
As I’m bound to be the unavoidable consequence of you
There’s so many people who can talk and talk and talk just say nothing/Or nearly nothing
I have used up all the scale I know, and at the end I’ve come to nothing/Or nearly nothing
So I came back to my first note/As I must come back to you
I will pour into that one note/All the love I feel for you
Anyone who wants the whole show/Re mi fa sol la si do
He will find himself with no show/Better play the note you know”