Monday, July 14, 2008

On Finding Family

Göran and I approached the possibility of establishing a relationship with his biological family with a certain amount of trepidation. How can you help but wonder about the train of events that separated him from them in the first place; and about all that kept them apart all those years? And then one wonders about the protective walls a person must build around his or her heart to cope with such a primal loss. The separation of a parent from a child.

We've had our fair share of warnings from the well meaning to be careful. Oh, this is risky business to be sure. Nothing more risky than such affairs of the heart. How can you avoid getting your hopes up too high? Will mundane reality feel like a loss? Like the theft of dreams impossible to fulfill?

I got an email from a cousin the other day. She wrote, "I just hope that we are all you are expecting. I pray that your dreams of a real family will be realized." That brought tears to my eyes. Of course, they've got to be as nervous and excited and all the rest as we are. Except that for us, it's multiplied because there are so many more of them than us. And we're meeting them on their home turf. And they've had family all along; they've had each other. Göran had only questions and more questions, and the angst of feeling alone in the universe.

Not that he was truly alone. He had his mom and his step dad, sisters and half-sisters. But the questions about the part of family tree that had been rubbed out, annihilated by his mother, always loomed... It was part of why he ran away and had to reinvent himself, complete with a new name of his own creation.

Now all of a sudden there's not only a name he never knew, but a heritage, a culture, a family tree...

And the truth is -- maybe people will call me a liar -- we don't have expectations. We just don't. We can't. Expectations are too big a thing to get a grip on for us. There is a family there waiting... A father, siblings, a grandma, aunts and uncles and cousins in the "zillions" (according to grandma). We're going to Memphis to see what we will see, and take it from there.

But after I recounted to an aunt and a cousin the dream I'd had about them, the cousin turned right around and confessed she'd had a dream about us:

Now John, I had a dream that you and Goran were saying your written vows to one another and as you turned to look at the audience, all of us were coming in the door! My mom, grandma, your dad and all your siblings, and lots and lots of cousins! We all yelled out, "Hey everybody, we made it!" Wouldn't that be cool?? I wish I could make it a reality!

We are meeting each other in our dreams.

But reality will be so much bigger. We are waiting to wake up.


MoHoHawaii said...

This is a cause for celebration, not caution. It's time to roll out the old fatted calf.

It's good that your expectations are in check, but this is just the same as saying it's good that you are being realistic about the situation.

The reuniting of Göran with his lost relatives is one of the nicest things I've heard in a while.

J G-W said...

Mohohawaii - Sometimes you have to let go of expectations even for family and friends you have and know... How much more for those you haven't met yet?

You're right, this is a time for celebration. Göran and I have talked about this... We don't have expectations for what his family will be like. But we are celebrating that they are, and that they apparently want us to be a part of their lives. That's a great starting point.