Thirty years ago, I wrote an essay about how just because a child is a step-child, your attachment to each other is not less than if she was a birth child. I learned that much in my first ten years with my step-daughter. Something not having to do with blood ties bound us together from the start.
Six months after my first marriage, lying in my back yard against the vinyl siding of our tiny house, I was pondering the deplorable state of our union and sobbing, when my six year-old step-daughter found me. No words were exchanged but somehow she knew what was taking place in my mind and heart.
“You can’t leave us,” she told me. “You made a vow for better or for worse.” Who knew those six year-old ears were listening and understanding the wedding ceremony? Even though it was “for worse” the next ten years, and life was not kind to either of us, it would have been worse for her had I gone, and so I stayed. That decision was the knot at the beginning of our umbilical cord.
Twenty years after that, an odd incident stunned me. I was in L.A., visiting my friend Jerry, who set up a reading for me with a fortune teller, a friend of his. She read her Tarot cards and did her magic, all of which I can either accept or not, usually. She intoned her spiel and I sat there, dumbfounded.
Nothing she said pertained to me one whit. Instead, every single thing she saw related to the events taking place in my step-daughter’s life, down to the most minute detail. How could that be? I felt like a character in The Revenge of the Bodysnatchers. It was as if her energies had taken up residence in the spiritual home of me. In my mind, I saw a painting of a hollowed-out body—a pod—with my step-daughter ensconced inside, a symbiosis of the highest order.
When I explained what had happened to the fortune teller, she was as amazed as I. She said she had heard of these things happening before but never witnessed it in her own work. “Your step-daughter is really attached to you,” she said. “You two have a strong connection.”
What seems odd is that while my birth son has not usurped the “me” in me—yet—a child not of me had at that moment, at least, overcome me. That kind of transformation I can only explain, if I must, as Divine interference.
This year my step-daughter took charge of her own life and made changes the fortune teller said needed making and predicted would happen. My step-daughter’s life is now on a different and self-determined course. I applaud her courage in altering her path which will include service to others, which has always been her main strength. I can’t help thinking that if I saw the fortune teller again, my reading would show a totally different result, devoid of my step-daughter’s spirit.
Or maybe not. Maybe a mother fills up with the energies of her children and they are there to stay, sometimes larger, sometimes smaller, depending on their need. Experiences in my life have taught me there is a tie that binds with knots that cannot be undone, linking us to those whom we love, those who go for a time with us and then after us.