Loren Michaels-Harris – Find Yourself
A ward of the state, Loren Michael-Harris was a lost little boy who was constantly shuffled between 21 different mothers, from the loving to the abusive. Decades later, the miracle happened.
On July Fourth 1962, I found myself in the lost and found of mankind.
Just because something finds it’s way to the lost and found, doesn’t mean that it wants to be there. Just because something finds it’s way to the lost and found, doesn’t mean that the person who lost it doesn’t care for that lost item. And just because something finds it’s way to the lost and found, doesn’t mean that someone will ever come to claim it.
I am only one child, but in total there were 22 mothers. 22 individual women who saw something totally different from the other, each and every time they looked at me. 22 different faces that I would either squeeze with all my might to remember in times of pain, heartbreak, or misery, or to push away with all my might to forget.
Mother number one, well, she fulfilled her initial duty of escorting me into this life, of keeping me safe for three weeks, of nurturing me for just as long as she could. Mother number one entrusted me to mother number two. Mother number two, well, she fulfilled her initial duty of caring for me as if I were her own. She raised me for the next 11 years in an environment that was filled with love, security, and hope for a brighter tomorrow. She intended with all her heart, to return me one day to mother number one, when the time was right. But where love for me grew deeper by the second, well, that right time never came. I believe she would’ve made better choices, had she known that she would unexpectedly depart this world without having made any provisions for my return to mother number one. I believe she would’ve died all over again from a broken heart, had she seen me handed off to mothers 3-22, courtesy of the roulette underworld, otherwise known as the state foster system.
During my five years of bouncing throughout the foster system, I became more and more lost. By year five, I was acutely aware that the loss of my family, my home, my name, and my entire world as I had known it was nothing compared to what I could lose if I did not decide soon, and very soon, to better deal with my existence within the lost and found.
To this day I truly believe that it was in my seeking to find the good in all 22 of my mothers that enabled me to begin to loosen the harness of self-doubt, shame, and all that hurt that was associated with the abuses I had experienced in life so far.
The 21 mothers that were responsible for my care after the departure of mother number one, well, they either taught me what a mother should always represent, or they reminded me of how not all women are capable of the true honor of being called a mother.
I shall never forget the moment, after 32 years of seeking, when an old neighbor called to inform me that yes, she did in fact know the woman who could very well be my birth mother, the original, my very own Eve.
The neighbor went on to tell me that she needed to call the woman first, because she needed to ask if it was all right to give me the telephone number. “After all”, she said, “not everyone wants to be found”. Well, after 32 years, this was the moment when it dawned on me, it dawned on me that this entire quest, this adventure that had been so persistent, such a persistent part of my life, could very well have all been in vain, if mother number one did not wish to be found.
But this wouldn’t be much of a story if that were true, now would it? Mother number one had kept her memory of me alive and vibrant for all of those 32 years. Mother number one did indeed wish to be found, and she opened the door to her past, her home, her heart, and to my original family, simply because she told me we were once one person.
We shared over 20 wonderful years together before we were separated a second time in this life by her death, which for me came far too soon. In finding mother number one, I found so much of what life is truly all about. I found that family is based on love, and not merely on blood, and I found that I was never truly lost, I was merely finding my way.
When I found mother number one, I also lost some things. I lost the square root of much of the true sadness that had been in my life. I lost that relentless commentator that resided within me, the one who would broadcast one tragedy after another, if I allowed him to do so.
But most importantly, I lost the belief that my having 22 mothers was something to be ashamed of.
I did not realize it then, but trust me, trust me, I do now. Each of these women played the role they were chosen to play in my life. None of the 22 ever truly had control over whether I belonged or not. That call would always be left up to me to make. It was when I broke out of the walls of self-judgment that I discovered my greatest truth of all, that not everyone has to remain lost. Thank you.