I can’t remember how old I was at the time, probably five or six. My mom (my adoptive mother who I know and often address as just “mom”) and I went to Michaels to shop for arts and crafts. For some reason I wandered off or perhaps my mom told me where she was going but I didn’t pay attention. Either way, I lost track of where she went to. At first it was no big deal. I roamed the aisles, looking for her familiar face and blonde hair. After what seemed to be an eternity (time for a child is usually quite longer than it actually is) I started to panic. She was nowhere to be found.
My searching became strategic. I would go up one aisle and down another, following straight lines to make sure I covered the whole store, but it was to no avail. My heart was pounding. My cheeks must have been red. I remember constantly checking the parking lot to see if her car had left or not. It reassured me whenever I still saw the vehicle behind the pane of glass. I dared not to venture outside.
Then, back again, I would search the aisles. After what was possibly the fifth or sixth time checking the parking lot, I lost my sense of reasoning. Her car was still there, but I couldn’t find her. She had left me. She had left me. She had left me. I remember crying. I remember running and crying and the floor seemed so white and the place seemed so big.
Now, the details after that are blurred. Somehow, I was reunited with my mom. She was looking at baskets in the back corner of the store.
She must have said, “What’s wrong? What happened?”
I must have said through tears, “I thought you left.”
But she consoled me, and I felt better. She wasn’t gone. She didn’t leave me.
The reason this past memory surfaced is because of a scene I watched from the 2002 film, The Hours. My English professor showed clips from this movie because the class had just finished reading Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf. Anyway, in the scene, a little boy pounded on a house window, overrun with emotion as he saw his mother coming to get him. I have not seen the entire movie, so I do not know the context, but seeing the boy wanting his mother so much after she must have left him in an unfamiliar place was heart stirring. It was then that I remembered peering through the windows at Michaels, longing to be with my mom.
It is something I will never forget. It was terrifying. It makes me emotional thinking back on it. Comparing this experience to the fact that I am adopted may be a far stretch. What child, albeit a small handful, can handle not being able to find their parents? However, I was left by my birth parents, so maybe, even though I was quite young, the idea of being left AGAIN traumatized me. Perhaps this is why the event has not faded from my memory.
Thank you for reading. Comments and sharing your own experiences are always appreciated.