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Denise's Story, Con't.....

The Reunion.............


Terry and I arrived in Sandusky, MI during the early part of the evening. We reserved a room and after dinner and some more talking we tried to settle down for the night. My thoughts continued to race and sleep just flat-out eluded me. After some time, I finally drifted off. Morning arrived. I carefully dressed in the specially selected clothes that I'd brought to reflect the importance of the day. I wanted to look my best............I wanted to make an impression.................I applied my makeup [including mascara]. I really should have known better........I shouldn't have put the mascara on.......... I wasn't thinking clearly at all.

We ate a light breakfast then drove to the parking lot to await Ruth and Dave's arrival. We sat in our van for what seemed like an eternity.......then all of a sudden, they were pulling up along Terry's passenger side. is that them? I slowly got out of the van and softly closed the car door. As she came from around the back of the van, Ruth immediately opened up her arms to me and held me with the fiercest of hugs. Starting to sob, Ruth said, "Oh, I promised myself I wasn't going to cry and here I am just bawling". Up to that point, I had not shed a tear..........I don't know how I was holding myself together. I knew how emotional this meeting was going to be for me, but I think Dave and Ruth's warm, compassionate reception to me on the phone the day before, instilled in me, a certain amount of calm. I stood there with my arms wrapped around her and then Dave came around from the other side. I opened up my arms to him and Dave gave me the biggest pressure hug I'd ever felt and kept repeating a phrase, over and over again, through his tears. "Oh Denise, thank you, thank you, thank you so much......oh, thank you." I saw Terry introduce himself to Ruth and was just about ready to turn to Dave when...........out of the corner of my eye I saw a slight movement to my left.........cautiously peeking out from behind the back of the van was a young lady........."oh my God, it's julie"! I rushed over, wrapped my arms around her and the quiet calm I'd been feeling completely dissolved. A cry escaped from somewhere deep inside me. "oh julie!............you came.............i'm so glad you came, it just means so much to me.........." Julie interrupted me, "Denise, it's OK now...............everything's OK, we got your email and I've been talking to Mom and Dad. I just wanted to be sure that this was something that Kevin wanted................I know you're leaving the decision up to him". I was overwhelmed at Julie's compassion and understanding.......... such a special young lady with age-old wisdom for one so young....................having Julie there for this reunion gave the day additional significance.............. that was the first of many times that day, where I would dry my eyes and wipe away the mascara that was slipping down my cheeks.

While I was talking and still hugging Julie, Ruth suddenly held up three pictures for me to see. She said, "These are recent pictures of Kevin............and this one, especially, looks the way he does right now". I quickly glanced at the picture Ruth pointed out and strange sounds escaped from somewhere deep inside me. Sounds I hadn't heard in a long, long time. The same sounds I remembered hearing when I left my son behind at the hospital. I stared at this image of my adult son. As I continued to cry, I thought, "this is what he looks like as an adult?...........finally, i don't have to wonder any more, i don't have to rely on my imagination to conjure up a make-believe image .......... I grasped the pictures and quickly walked over and stood behind the van for some privacy. I didn't want to share this moment with anyone... I needed time to digest the face before me and ingrain its image in my soul... As I was standing there, Ruth came over and put her arm around my shoulder to let me know that, not only was she there to support me, but to also let me know that she understood my heartache.......... the loss I felt for all the years I wasn't allowed to know my son ............I kept staring at the picture and through my sobs I managed to say, "he's beautiful..............oh, ruth, he's so beautiful........i'm actually looking at a picture of my son! I just can't believe this is all real and happening to me"........and, again, I wiped away the tears that had joined the mascara to form a rivulet down my cheek.........

I was still looking at the pictures, when without warning, and at only 20 minutes after 10AM, Ruth announced, "Well, I'm ready to get on with this. I don't want to wait another minute. Denise, don't you want to meet Kevin now"? yes, but i'm scared! "Don't you feel like we'd be wasting the next two hours by just staying here and visiting"? yes, but what if he rejects me? "Don't you want to have that extra time to spend with him"? yes, but what if he doesn't give me the extra time? I stalled for a moment and a feeling of panic absolutely paralyzed me. I, finally, ever so slowly, replied, "well............yes, but i thought you said kevin was expecting you at noon"? oh God.........yes, i want to see him, of course i want to see him......... but, if you leave now, then i'll find out that much sooner if kevin's going to reject me.................or accept me.

We discussed the possibility of Kevin becoming annoyed if they were to go immediately and see him. Someone asked, "Should Kevin be called first, kind of as a warning......just to let him know that you're arriving earlier than expected?" Ruth said, "Well, yes I suppose". She walked about 10 feet towards the restaurant to use the phone and then backtracked. "No, we'll just go out there and surprise him........I just don't want to waste another minute". Dave and Ruth and Julie sped off in their car and left Terry and I at the Big Boy Restaurant to await their return. It was the longest hour and a half of my life. what is taking them so long? After about the twentieth time of glancing out the window, I suddenly spotted their car pulling into the parking lot. Ruth and Dave emerged from the car but I noticed that Julie hadn't returned with them. Immediately I thought, what's wrong, why didn't Julie come back with them? My eyes followed them as they entered the restaurant and when I caught Ruth's eye, with a questioning expression on my face, she flashed me an OK sign with her fingers. With my shoulders shaking, I buried my head in my hands, completely fell apart and the tears began all over again.........i now knew that our reunion was going to happen.........kevin wanted to meet me.........i was going to see my son again............after twenty-four years...............and the mascara continued its journey in a downward path

Terry and I followed the Schmidt's car to Kevin's home. It was a long, 8 mile stretch of flat road that occasionally sported another passing car. We finally turned right into a grass filled driveway, with a blue colored home to my left. "........terry, this isn't fair, kevin gets to see me first as i'm pulling into the driveway."

I opened the door and stepped down from the van and seconds later, Kevin appeared from the rear entrance of his home...........oh my God, there he is. He continued his approach to me and his arms opened up for an embrace. This display of immediate acceptance by Kevin opened up a flood gate of tears inside me and all I could do was cry...............and hold him. As we continued hugging, the first thing Kevin said to me was, "It is my GREAT pleasure to finally meet you". After a few moments, I said to Kevin, "i can't let go just yet, i've waited too long for this" Kevin softly replied in my ear, "That's OK.........." then he gave me a kiss on my cheek.

The tears I shed that day represented an outward sign of the emotions I was feeling. The mascara I put on in the morning, was, a feeble attempt, on my part, to make myself................... prettier?............ maybe to enhance the green color of my eyes or lengthen my already long lashes?................perhaps it was to continue the same ritual that I had so long ago established?............perhaps it was to give the day some semblance of normality, knowing the day was going to be anything 'but' normal. I don't think I accomplished any of these. What I created was a scenario that brought about continuous laughter...........laughter that broke up the strong emotions of the day. Laughter that brought us even closer together because of the silliness of the situation. Here I was, trying to make this wonderful impression on my new found son and all I could so was cry and wipe away the never-ending stream of mascara...............we laugh about it to this day............

Continue to page 10............

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This page was updated 9 March 1997
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