My birth mother died this morning.

She had been in failing health for a while.

I don’t know what I am feeling. 

I am sad. And I’m sure I will feel more sad at some point.

I’m also grateful, not to replace or ignore the sadness, but as a companion to it.  Before Washington State opened their birth records in 2014, I had no way of knowing her name. Since I got my birth certificate, I have met so many wonderful new family members, I met my birth mother, and I was kept in the loop as she was dying. Gratitude is a big part of the solace I feel now.

It is a gift to get to mourn her death in real time, when for many adopted children, the details of the birth family remain hidden, secret knowledge they can’t access.

I knew she didn’t want a relationship with me (and please don’t tell me that she did–I’m not looking for false solace right now), and yet she agreed to meet me, she answered my questions, she let me take a selfie with her.

Feb 2017, when I met her

Despite my somewhat cynical nature, I am, at heart, an optimist. And while she was yet alive, I was able to keep an ember of hope burning that we might develop a different relationship. While she was yet alive, there was at least potential for a relationship, no matter how small that potential was. Now that she has died, part of my sadness is about the inexorable loss of that potential relationship, with gratitude that there was any connection at all.

guess we know who I look like

While there are still questions I would have liked answers to (foremost among them–what was her relationship to my DNA birth father), I’m thankful for all the questions she did answer.

I’m sad she never got to meet my sons, her only grandchildren. They are three remarkable men. I’m grateful I was able to tell her about them, and give her photos of them.

There is so much unfinished with her, and I suppose that is true in any relationship, to some degree. At the same time, i feel a completeness. I was able to meet her, thank her for giving me life and giving me up, tell her what I wanted to tell her, ask her what I wanted to ask.

For me, in some sense, her actual death has caught up to the experience of death I have lived with my whole life. I’ve been grieving having lost her from the minute I was born. Her real death echoes back all the way through my life. I just didn’t know what it was until now.

I’m okay. I had some really good mac and cheese, which has medicinal value when one grieves. I’ve texted with some friends and family. I have more mac and cheese for later. Elliott wants to watch a bad movie tonight.

In his book Consolations, David Whyte writes this about solace. I read it yesterday for my morning video meditation, and it came back to me today when I heard Sophie died.

“To look for solace is to learn to ask fiercer and more exquisitely pointed questions, questions that reshape our identities and our bodies and our relation to others. Standing in loss but not overwhelmed by it, we become useful and generous and compassionate and even more amusing companions for others. But solace also asks us very direct and forceful questions. Firstly, how will you bear the inevitable loss that will accompany you? And how will you endure it through the years? And above all, how will you shape a life equal to and as beautiful and as astonishing as a world that can birth you, bring you into the light and then just as you were beginning to understand it, take you away?”

I don’t think there will be a service for her. She didn’t want one and COVID-19 makes it impossible at the moment. Instead, join me in lighting a candle, and giving thanks for the gift of the life of Sophia Marie McDowell Lukaszeski, aged 92, who has passed to life eternal. She was capable, strong, and successful in her career. I am grateful she loved to dance, because that is likely how she met my birth father. Even though being pregnant with me in 1968 surely made her life complicated, I am grateful for her strength that got her through that pregnancy alone. I trust that now she knows she was never alone. I pray for the redemption that heals brokenness, even after death.

Whyte also says this about solace:

“Solace is what we must look for when the mind cannot bear the pain, the loss or the suffering that eventually touches every life and every endeavor; when longing does not come to fruition in a form we can recognize, when people we know and love disappear, when hope must take a different form than the one we have shaped for it.”

My longing for Sophie did not come to fruition in a form I can easily recognize, but that’s okay. Thank you for being con-solace, or consolation for me throughout this journey. Your presence in my life is gift. Thank you.




23 thoughts on “Solace

  1. Marci, I love you. I understand and so wish I could provide some comfort. Don’t think I am wise enough or knowledgeable enough. I am so very glad you met her and you have a photo. What I know for sure is that Mac and Cheese comforts and your relationship with her will be realized in GLORY. I believe that. What I know is your PAST has made your PRESENT so very relate-able and healing to so many. I love how real you are and that you just tell the truth of a thing. I could send you some frozen Mac and Cheese a la Barb from Texas that would make you swoon. I SO WOULD.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Dear Marcia, even when death is expected it brings hot tears and many “only ifs….” My heart goes out to you as you take the death of your birth mother Sophie into your heart with thanks for giving you life. May Sophie rest in peace, and may you also find peace in your solace.
    ~~ Jackie Benjamin

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I am so sorry Marci. Sorry for the loss of what was still potential yesterday. Sorry for all the things unsaid. Sorry that your birth mother built a protective fortress and then became imprisoned in it. I’m sorry for the pain you are feeling and the grief that now takes it’s final form. But in all this sorrow, I am so incredibly thankful that your birth mother gave birth to you because you are an incredible gift to this world and all of us you touch. Her feelings of shame, were not shame of you but fear of what your presence revealed about her. I’m sorry she packed all that down so tight that she lost out on seeing that having you unleashed an awesome power on this world. She is up in Heaven now and her facade of denial that wouldn’t crumble here on earth has now melted by the gentle force of your love and the perspective God is now revealing to her. I love and admire you so much and my heart is hurting with yours. Thank you for your bravery and authenticity but feel the tremendous love that surrounds you and is flooding into your heart right now.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Marci, the telling of your journey as both adoptee and birth mother have given me so much insight. Your words have been estremely helpful to a member of my church who is being refused a meeting and relationship with her birth mother. I’m so grateful for your openness.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Marci, I am so sad that she has passes without developing a true relationship with you. As I am sure you know, that says tons more about her than about you! Peace to you…we love you!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thank you for sharing these very personal thoughts and feelings, Marci. My prayer is that you have exactly what you need to deal with all of this exactly when you need it. You are loved and I am proud to call you friend.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I am so very sorry for your loss Marci. Know you are in our thoughts and prayers. And thank-you for sharing this so raw and real moment. You are a gift.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Marci,
    I am just reading your blog about Sophie for the first time. As you know, she was my cousin and I have many happy memories of her until I was about 17 and she mysteriously move away.
    When I first learned of your existence, I was thrilled to have a new cousin! Bill sent me to Facebook and one look at your picture confirmed that you were one of “us.”
    I had no problem accepting you. My pain came when I realized how lonely and broken Sophie must have been to keep a secret so many years. I wish I could comfort her. I wish she understood how much we all missed her. She was a part of us.
    The Bible tells us that we are his adopted children. We are called by his name. He knew all of this and used it to glorify his name. You are who you are because of who he is. I thank God for you.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, cousin. The welcome I’ve received from the rest of the family has been such a gift. I treasure these new relationships.
      I’m sad that Sophie was never really open to a relationship with me, but am also grateful for what little I was able to have. I’m so thankful I got my birth certificate while she was still alive.


  9. How wonderful that she did share with you, while disappointing that she left you with some important questions unanswered. I can totally put myself in your place. Obviously, the birthfather issue was a touchy subject for her, possibly something she could not put into words. Her generation was not accustomed to talking about things. In fact, there’s an old saying, “Some things are better left unsaid.” That does not seem to be true when an adopted person seeks answers. Your mother lived to a ripe old age. That bodes well for you! Thank you for taking us on your adoption journey.


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