In the middle of last week, I felt a sudden and overwhelming urge to see my family. They all live 100 miles away or so and have busy lives, with jobs, kids and hectic social calendars. It had only been a month or so, but I couldn’t help myself. I didn’t send out an S.O.S., or even a guilt trip. I simply sent out an invitation via text message:
I am missing my family something fierce these days. Is anyone free to come meet me in San Clemente this weekend? Saturday or Sunday?
They had early morning soccer games and late night concert tickets, home projects and volunteering commitments, but miraculously, they all said yes. Sunday morning they were willing to drive forty miles to see me and my family. The only ones missing would be Keara, away at college, and my parents, who are currently crossing the Atlantic on a Disney cruise. Since we were going to be near some of our best friends, I texted them the invitation as well. I immediately heard back:
We are around all day. We will join you wherever you guys end up. Just let me know! Yippee!
Well, that’s awesome, I thought and I went through the rest of my week with a smile on my face, knowing that Sunday would be a good day. But as the week went on, the thought of Sunday started to lag. Our family was out late Friday and Saturday nights; I was speaking at our church on Sunday evening and nightly school, work and social events are lined up for the next six days. I didn’t need an additional hundred-mile roundtrip, beach extravaganza to be happy.
What was I thinking? I asked myself as the alarm went off on Sunday morning. (Alarms should never go off on Sunday mornings!) But we loaded up the truck with surfboards, wetsuits, fins and frisbees and headed up the coast to meet our crew.
Of course, the day was fabulous and worth every ounce of effort. The sun never really came out, but as you can see, it didn’t slow us, or our fun down.
As we piled in the car to head home, I pulled out my phone to send a birthday text message to a very special person.
Twenty-five years ago yesterday on September 18, 1991, I gave birth to Sarah Moses, my first-born daughter and twenty-five years ago today, I gave her up for adoption. She had been on my mind all week as this milestone birthday approached. I had already sent off a birthday card and made plans to meet up with her mom, Dee. Sarah is finishing up grad school in Los Angeles, so getting to see her is always a challenging proposition!
I could have called, but instead I wrote:
Happy Birthday darling girl! I can’t believe you are 25 today. I am thinking of you, love you and spent the morning with my brothers and sisters who all held you the day you were born and loved on you. My best friend Laura sends her love. She was there that day as well and she gave me a big hug for you. You are always in my heart Sarah Moses and I hope you feel my love over the miles.
I hit send and then I laughed.
What had I done? Somehow, unconsciously, without ever making the connection, I had gathered around me the very people who had been present to me on that beautiful and heartbreaking day, a quarter century ago.
On that day, I was physically and emotionally exhausted, in love with my newborn daughter and letting her go. I had told my mom in advance that I wanted my family to come meet her. Even though she wouldn’t be a part of our lives, I wanted us to celebrate her birth together. It was a school day, so my dad drove my 14 and 11-year-old siblings, Tim and Amy, a hundred miles through rush hour traffic to be there. Charlie, my older brother, was at school at USD just around the corner, and he brought his then-girlfriend, Laura, with him to lend support.
When we got home from the beach, I pulled out my photo album from the day of Sarah’s birth and found the family photo that included the baby girl who celebrated her twenty-fifth birthday yesterday.
I sent it to her with the caption: Your birth family on your birth day!
I also discovered pictures of moments I had forgotten, showing the tenderness with which she and I were both held that day.
In The Alchemist, Paolo Coelho writes: “When you want something, all the universe conspires to help you achieve it.” Though I loved the book, I never really believed the message. There are too many examples from my own life and those of others that seem to refute it, but yesterday, my experience was undeniable.
The universe conspired to bring me something I wanted, even though I didn’t know why I wanted it. I put it out there, an invitation, and twenty-five years later to the very day, I was again surrounded and held with tenderness and love, in joy and celebration of being a family.
Last night, I looked through all the photos I took at the beach yesterday, of my siblings and Laura (yes, the then-girlfriend, but still dear friend), and their spouses and children, and I saw the Universe conspiring again.
Before we packed up, I made some of the kids pause for a picture. They did and then they started to pose themselves. They were laughing and falling, clamoring for the shot before they dropped their friend or cousin or sibling on the ground. I stared in disbelief at the photos last night at what I didn’t see when I was taking them. They were holding one another, like babies in their mother’s arms, like each of their parents had held Sarah on the day she was born.
Last night as I lay in bed with Tim, I almost wept in surprised gratitude for the way it all came together, the way life unfolded and encircled upon itself, all in one day and in one fell swoop. I am so glad the Universe responded, even though I was blessedly unaware of the reason for my call.
I think that’s how the Universe conspires. It doesn’t necessarily bring us what we want to be happy, but it brings us what we need to be whole. It doesn’t respond to the dreams we broadcast out loud, but listens instead to the whispered longings of our soul. And when it shows up, whatever “it” is, we have to be open to it. We have to let go of what we think we need to be happy, so we can be present to the healing that’s possible in that moment, through the seemingly random confluence of people and places, songs and situations that filter through our days. Call it synchronicity, or quantum entanglement. Call it Love, or call it God, but no matter what, call It to you and then look for it to come.
As complete and beautiful as yesterday was, I wish Keara Moses, the daughter named in honor of, but NOT as a replacement for, her older sister, could have been there with us. I also wish my mom and dad could have been present. To see all of us together brings them such joy. Pam Kantrud, is another significant person from my life at that time. She was the mother of the family I lived with while I was pregnant, and she was there on Sarah’s birth day too, counting my breaths, rubbing my back, and cooing over the beauty of my newborn baby girl.
And Sarah? Do I wish she was there too? Of course I do, but that’s a story for another time. In all things related to her, I work to find the delicate balance between loving her as my daughter and knowing she is someone else’s pride and joy, of calling her family, but respecting that she has her own. My own family, large and small, has all been able to spend time with her and I hope there will be ever more opportunities for that.
And finally, Tim. As I’ve mentioned before, he was there that day and every day since, holding my life in a tender embrace.
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This is so sweet! I love how you embrace and show gratitude to all the love surrounding you.
Thank you Jill for always sharing your kind and supportive thoughts!
That was so beautiful, Ali. I loved how you connected all the things that came together, especially the pictures of each person holding another. You looked so young in that last pic with Tim. What a sad, yet beautiful time in your life. Thanks for your wonderful sharing.
Thanks for the support and encouragement. As Glennon Doyle Melton says, that time in my life was “brutiful” – beautiful and brutal at once, but so is life…
I loved this reflection and I’m so happy you had a great day! I can attest to this mysterious work of the Universe, too! I am blessed!
Holy moly I’m crying with tears of gratitude for the gift of this story. Your family, your story, & your gift of writing. Oh Ali, simply amazing! What love!
Ali, I’ve been in a big “unsubscribe” mode lately–with a written piece on this still to come, as the email unsubscribing is symbolic of so many other areas. There’s so much junk I have accepted flowing in and through my in-box each day. In this mode, I almost hit delete today….just wanting to focus my time on things other than reading email. But your words are always worth it when I read them, and today was no exception. I love how you are attuned to the spirit–how you speak such words of truth and honesty. You do not gloss over what is hard about life, but somehow you find a way to draw a circle of love wide enough to contain it all. This was and is beautiful, and I’m so glad I took the time to read your post…as always. I am needing something lately–I don’t even know what. But after reading what you have shared, I am trusting that the universe–the spirit–is speaking and I am listening (and vice versa), and when I’ve lived my way to what I am needing, I trust I will then name and know it. Extraordinary. Peace, Jennifer
I am sitting at my desk, hurriedly hitting the delete button on 23 unread emails and then I stop at yours.Your writing brings my morning to a complete halt. As always Ali Kirk, you blow me away. Love your blog.
You and Angie are such a dear support in my life, Mike. Thanks for reading and writing such a kind and encouraging note. I LOVE them and they inspire me to write on!
I call it Providence…love you, love your crew, love your blog, love that you are in my life!
Always a highlight of life to carve out sacred moments for a slice of Ali-love signs! Warm and uplifting and beautiful in its honesty. I love every heart achingly gorgeous word that you write. Graceful poet and inspirational soul. Love. Love. Love.
So beautiful Ali. Actually, the whole thing is beautiful right. Life? The way things happen that are out of our control, the way things align to tell us something, to show us something bigger than we could imagine or make happen on our own. I love this post and how it all weaves together. I also can’t get over how much you look like Molly Grace!!! Love you sister – Kristin
Thank you Kristin! Your own life is such a testament to the beauty of coincidences and the providence of Love to pull it all together for our healing and wholeness. We just have to be open to seeing it and brave enough to embrace it! Love you
Dad n I are seated in a rental car here in the Azores highlands caldera reading and crying after absorbing your blog. How beautiful, inspirational, and heart-rending. That time and situation was one of the most difficult of our lives. How great to see photos from Sunday and share in some way the love with each of you. Thank you darling daughter for such tender and vulnerable sharing. We love you deeply! Mom and Dad
Sweet, and sad. Complete and incomplete. Emotions too strong to feel fully at one point in time. Love that sustains and fills in valleys of sadness. Reading your words helps me be more whole, less closed off. Your words and you are a gift to each of us. Seeding love from afar to add just a little more goodness to your Sunday with all of my beloved ones. Dad
Beautiful! Thank you for reminding us that quantum entanglement, or God in action as the universe will answer that prompting of your heart. And will even help to conspire a YES when the invitation is given( or prayer sent up- or words spoken or texted) – and then – all we have to do is be open enough to receive. Your story inspires me to listen to those promptings.
Love you! T
I’m always grateful for the light that you shine so that we can see our own lives more clearly. Blessed to know you!
Thank you Darin! That is so kind and I feel likewise…
Ali,I feel so blessed to have you in my life. What a beautiful story written in your usual touching style that goes right to my heart and soul. Thank you my dear, dear friend 💞
[…] been difficult for me to write after my last post about “The Conspiracy of the Universe,” about Sarah, adoption, and family. Those ideas are so big that writing about anything else […]
Thanks for making me cry art work. I have never heard this story before. I’m speechless. Blessings to you.