A few weeks ago, on a Friday night, there was a knock on our door as I was putting the kids to bed. Jeff answered it and I just got to the door in time to see him signing something and accepting a big, thick envelope.
Jeff's father was adopted as a child. Just before he passed away five years ago, he and his wife had been trying to trace his roots and find out about his biological parents. He had been able to find out a little bit, but his adoption records were sealed, his adoptive parents had both died, and so he could only go so far. Four years ago, the adoption records were unsealed. Jeff, his oldest child, asked for the adoption records of his father. Four years later, on a random Friday evening, they arrived.
Jeff pulled out the file and we both chuckled at the introductory letter warning that the recipient should have supports in place as the contents might be upsetting or cause unexpected emotions. That night and the next day, Jeff read through the 100+ page file. Saturday morning, he casually called me over to read a line on one of the pages.
I was not expecting to read what I read.
In her own handwriting, Jeff's paternal grandmother wrote about her siblings. She had two, both married, the younger was in poor health and had trouble with her spine.
Trouble with her SPINE.
I must have read that line a hundred times and then devoured the whole report, anxious for any more information on this great aunt of Jeff's who had spine trouble, but that is absolutely all that it said.
For forty-seven months I have been waiting for an answer. I have been swallowing the guilt, wondering what I could have done to make that itty-bitty neural tube not close. I know there's nothing I did intentionally, I did what I could to prevent it, this isn't 'my fault'. But it happened and without any other explanation, the guilt falls to me.
But with those four little words, I could be absolved.
Spina bifida can be genetic. There are many types of SB, one called occulta, which wouldn't have required surgery at birth or even have been known without the presence of problems. If Jeff's great aunt had some form of SB, then there is our answer. There's the WHY that we have been agonizing over for years. There is an answer for my daughters, for my relatives, for Jeff's relatives.
IF is the big fat IF though. Maybe she just had a bad back and coincidentally it was called trouble with the spine. Maybe maybe maybe, if if if.
Jeff's step-mom gave me contact information for the bit of distant relatives they had been able to get in contact with all those years back and I sent a message to a woman I think is Jeff's second-cousin. I haven't heard back. To say that I am anxiously awaiting a reply would be an understatement. In the meantime, I speculate. I imagine what it would be like to have the answer that I had long ago given up hope of ever getting. I imagine getting a blank wall and no answers, always wondering how close we are. Who knows.
Aside from that, there was one other awesome little tidbit in the adoption records. Jeff's grandmother had red hair. So, the other big mystery in our lives has now been solved: we know where Cordelia's hair came from!