She wished she could stuff it back in the innocuous envelope she’d discovered it in, and hide it in the closet under the stairs. Laying her head on her hands, she contemplated her options. The house was so still; all she could hear was the steady tick of the mantle clock in the dining room. It was futile to wish the letter away. Much like a broken egg—some things just couldn’t be undone.
She picked up the letter again, lifting it off the semi-sorted piles of pictures, artwork and family letters. For the better part of a week, she had been going through boxes and coming up with a preliminary plan to organize them all. Aunt Dorothy had started the project a few months before her stroke and Lizzie had intended to help her. But when Aunt Dorothy died, Lizzie couldn’t handle the idea of going through all those memories without her. At the time, Lizzie imagined that she would have more time for such things as the children grew. Not so. Keeping up with Dot and Sawyer had been a full-time proposition, and before she knew it, here she was…a decade later looking at the same pile. Her daughter Dot was now out of college, gainfully employed, and living with a few friends in a beach house they rented a few miles away on Sullivan’s Island. Dot’s younger brother Sawyer was almost through his junior year at the Citadel. Lizzie finally had the time she’d longed for, yet all she could think about was how much she missed those chaotic, far-off days of carpools, after-school activities, and homework. Though she’d resolved at the beginning of the new year to finally tackle the boxes and organize her family history, it had taken her until mid-March just to get started.
She stared at the folded letter in her hand. Strange how impersonal the typed words looked while revealing something so personal and earth shattering. The contents of the letter challenged everything Lizzie believed she knew about her mother. It hurt Lizzie to think that Aunt Dorothy had known everything, yet had never shared any of it with her. Lizzie read the letter again—this time slowly and carefully.
February 11, 1979
Dear Mrs. Long,
I’m replying to your inquiry in regards to the female child born to Miss Caroline Bowman on July 22, 1968. I must inform you that the adoption records are sealed. I offer my condolences over your family’s loss of the birth mother. If you wish to compose a letter to the female child with family history and contact information, it will be placed in her file. If at a time in the future the child contacts the agency regarding the identity of her birth mother, we will make the letter available to her.
Ms. Roberta Jenkins
Moses Ministries Adoption Services
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