If I could have heard the seconds ticking on the clock, they would have sounded like a blast of dynamite going off with each passing moment. Only in my days at school had I ever been so desperately aware of the time, but this time, it was passing too fast, and it was slipping all too quickly through my fingers. I willed time to stop, and yet, it kept pressing forward with haste.
The room was lit with a grey haze as the clouds covered the sun, as if to match my mood. I was tense, I was nervous, I was anxious. I didn’t want to do this, but what choice did I have? Soon the lawyer would be here, and I would be signing the paperwork to relinquish my parental rights. Then, it would be time.
Time for me to go to the chapel in this hospital. Time for me to realize that I was never going to be the parent. Time for me to let my newborn son go.
Deep sadness washed over me and I sat, hugging my infant son, tight to my chest. He would know. I just knew he would know I was gone, and I felt sick with the notion that he would cry out for me, and I would never answer. My insides threaten to come out of my mouth for a moment as I placated the nausea I felt. I stared into his tiny face, and begged silently for him to never notice.
“Please don’t notice when I’m gone. Please,” I begged through tears.
What a strange thing for a Mother to beg her child.
Suddenly, the papers were in front of me. I handed him to my mother, who looked like she hadn’t slept the night before. There was a visceral pain in her eyes that I couldn’t put my finger on. She had been the strongest advocate of this adoption. She had been the one I couldn’t go to when I wanted to discuss parenting. Is it possible that she was having second thoughts? I shook those ideas out of my head, and returned to the room.
Signature. Consent. Another signature. More consent. Did I understand what I was doing?
I didn’t. But I said I did. Soon, I was no longer in control. I was no longer, on paper, his mother.
My heart broke into a million shards.
I grabbed my son, and scooped him into my arms, desperate to feel him close to me again. I was shocked by the intuitive way that I mothered him, the way I wanted him, the way I needed him. Around the room we danced, together, while everyone else bustled around us, and spoke in hushed voices. I spoke to him, I told him how I wanted him, how I wished I didn’t have to do this. We would be together again, I promised. Even in the light of day, that promise felt hollow. It wasn’t enough today, and it would never be enough.
I didn’t want to relinquish him. I wanted him to be mine, forever. To take him home, to love him, to watch him grow, to be the one he called Mama. I wanted all of that.
Suddenly, as if I missed everything in between, we, him and I, were in the chapel. I was clutching him to my chest. I couldn’t do this, I kept thinking. How would I tell them now? Soon, I would be obligated to give them my baby. How would I tell them that I wouldn’t go through with this when I was face to face?
He stirred in his sleep, and I refocused on him. Hushing him, and bouncing him just a little. I was being his mother, and I still had another moment to be his mother. I would keep him in my arms until I felt I could stand. Until I could stand to let him go. Would I ever be able to stand to let him go?
They looked at me, they looked at him. Their eyes were hungry for them. We all cried. I felt pressured to give him to them, but he was still mine. I would keep him in my arms until I wanted to let him go. If I ever wanted to let him go. How long could we sit here, I wondered. How long would it be until someone asked me to let go of my baby boy?
No one asked, but somehow, he was out of my arms, into the arms of his adoptive dad. I watched, detached, as if I wasn’t watching someone else hold my son, my baby boy. As soon as he was out of my arms, I wanted them gone. I didn’t want to see them with him. I didn’t want to see them parent my son. I didn’t want to see my son in the arms of strangers, ones I had picked, but didn’t want.
I wanted them to leave and they did, but they took my son with them.
I sat crushed by gravity against an ugly pink hospital chair. I was paralyzed with a debilitating sadness I had never felt before. The walls remained in place, and they crumbled all at once. I sobbed silently, and howled every second or so to release the internal ache that was building. I wanted to follow them. I wanted to chase after them and tell them to give my son back. I didn’t want to do this. I felt broken, strange, cut, wounded. My legs shook beneath me, as though my body was protesting the separation that just happened.
They had taken my son.
And then there was the clock again. This time, the movement of the second hand was much slower, each second passing detonating a bomb. It was another second passed that he was no longer mine.
How long would I watch this clock for?
The answer? Forever.