It’s triggered by the oddest things. A birthday. A walk around the neighborhood. Playing catch in my forever home. Regardless of what triggers it, I sometimes get upset when I think about my birth parents. I don’t understand it when it comes to my dad. I have no memories of him and the ones I do have are of the impact he left on my mom when he left.
She hated him, then she missed him, then sometimes she would get so angry that my brothers and I would know to stay away because she needed time to cool down. With every emotional turn, I found myself loving her more and hating my dad more in the same breadth. It makes perfect sense why I get upset when I think about my mom. I loved her. She showed my brothers and I how to love unconditionally. She brought home to us just by breathing, and that wasn’t always easy since we moved around so much. Sleep should come easily to puppies, but we struggled a bit as a family to get comfortable in whatever cardboard box or garbage can we found shelter in on a given night.
There was one night in particular when we just couldn’t get comfortable. It was so cold that even all the snuggling in the world wasn’t keeping us warm. Mom decided to take matters into her own paws that night. She marched our shivering little family up to a window of a nearby homeless shelter and there we sat. I remember being so irritated because it was colder sitting there than it was when we were all cuddled together. We sat and waited until finally a little girl tugged at someone’s shirt to get their attention. They welcomed us into the shelter that night, even though it’s not normally allowed.
Together with the little girl we watched the first thing I’d ever seen on the moving picture window I later learned was called a television. “An American Tail” tells the story of Fievel the Mouse that is not unlike my own. Like me, Fievel had a family that seemed destined for better times before they were separated. Like me, Fievel befriended his fair share of unique characters on his journey to self-reliance. And like me, Fievel never stopped thinking about his family.
“Somewhere out there someone’s saying a prayer that we’ll find one another in that big somewhere out there,” he sings. “And even though I know how very far apart we are it helps to think we might be wishing on the same bright star. And when the night wind starts to sing a lonesome lullaby it helps to think we’re sleeping underneath the same big sky.”
I didn’t know it at the time, but it wasn’t that long after our night in the shelter that my family would get separated just like Fievel’s did. That night might have been one in a million, but that bedtime story stays with me always. And we went from shivering outside to sleeping in the company of a beautiful little girl who agreed to share her bed with my family that night. We all slept better than we had in weeks.
Regardless of what triggers my thoughts of my birth mom, I know I only get upset because I miss her so. Ever since my fateful first night without her, I have found solace in Fievel’s song and whenever I miss her I find myself thinking to myself “somewhere out there if love can see us through, then we’ll be together somewhere out there, out where dreams come true.”