When the news came in, she was sitting with her mother at a diner somewhere in south Texas, a lonely lunch on the way to the Methodist Home in San Antonio. They'd both cried too many tears that day, and knew more would be shed that night when her mother left her and her swollen, unspoken-of belly at the Home.
Too many tears. But now this. A crackling news report, and suddenly the loss the two privately shared was subsumed by strangers around them, gasping and crying for the loss of a president. No, nothing would ever be the same, for any of us.
Exactly two months later I was born. When she gave me up, she dressed me in a lovely yellow crocheted outfit that she had picked out, and packed for this occasion of her loss, a farewell gift.
Years later, she and I met and she told me of the incredible grief she felt that day. It was a quiet ride to San Antonio. Thoughts raced through her head. She was scared and sad and having second and third thoughts. She was in college and her life was ahead of her. She couldn't raise a baby. She was humiliating the family...and so on. And then they stopped for lunch at that diner.
I can only imagine how she felt that day. How very lost she felt.
And I can only imagine how the country felt that day. Yes, how very lost.
As a child of the 60s, I saw the assassinations, the green blur of jungles and solders in Vietnam, the protests, the moon landing...I saw it all on my teevee screen. The world was changing before my eyes. I didn't even understand it all but I felt loss. And it seemed it started with that day.
Somewhere in a cedar chest, wrapped in tissue, sealed in a box, is the outfit my birth mother tenderly dressed me in. My adoptive mother kept it safe but hidden from me, for many years, dreading the unexplainable loss she would feel when she finally did give it to me. Since then, I have kept it safe and hidden, as it was on that day, stowed in the suitcase of a girl in a diner on Nov. 22, 1963.