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Hundreds of Butterflies. Chapter VI
And so my parents took me home and they began continuing with life as normal, literally acting as if nothing had ever happened. I was laid up in bed for the first few days, as I was still sore from the birth, but after a while I was just laid up in bed because I just couldn't face the thought of getting up and facing the world. Even the thought of getting showered and dressed was more than I could cope with!
My mother was somewhat sympathetic, she would bring homemade soup and cookies up to my room, fluff my pillows and send me to sleep by stroking the bridge of my nose, just like she used to when I was a little girl. But she never once mentioned Alice, or anything about the birth, she just acted as though I had the flu or something.
My father on the other hand was less compassionate, he would storm into my room at around eight thirty every morning, throw open my curtains filling my room with bright harsh light which hurt my eyes, and he'd bark at me to get up and stop wasting the day. "Come allong Rebekah, feeling sorry for yourself wont get you anywhere, now stop being so lazy!" He'd bellow at me when I groaned and rolled over, and when I continued to ignore him he would yell: "Fine! If your just going to lie there day after day getting bedsores then don't expect any sympathy from me!"
And as he walked away I would mutter back "I never do!" Then roll back over and fall asleep.
Almost a week after giving birth to Alice, I woke to the sound of my parents bickering downstairs, they were talking to each other in hushed tones but I could tell they were having an argument. I got out of bed and tiptoed out onto the hall to listen.
"No!" I heard my father hiss "throw it away! All of us need to get back to normal and forget all about this mess! If we give that to Rebekah she'll agonise over it forever!"
"Maybe not!" I overheard my mother answer "Maybe it'll make her feel better, give her some peace to know her baby is alright!"
"I just want her to forget about the baby and move on with her life!"
"Oh come on John! She had a child, she will never be able to forget that! And we have no right to keep this from her!"
"We are her parents Esther! We have every right! And she is not going to see this letter!"
Jumping up, I ran along the hallway to the top of the stairs. "What letter?"
My parents looked at me, shocked to see me out of bed, "this letter" my mother answered, pushing past my father to the top of the stairs and handing it to me. My father looked angry, but my mother smiled reassuringly at me, stroked my hair and walked back downstairs, pushing passed him into the lounge. I looked down at the peach envelope in my hand and slowly walked back to my bedroom. Leaving my father standing alone in the hall.
Once I was safely back in my room, I locked the door behind me and sat down on the bed, staring at the envelope in my hand. It was quite small, peachy coloured with a white border of flowers around the edge. Inside the border, in neat blue handwritten letters was my name and address. I turned it over, and on the bottom of the other side was the return address, Maggie and Joseph Maxwell's address.
Taking a deep breath I carefully peeled open the flap of the envelope, fantasising as I did so that the letter would be to say that Maggie was pregnant and did I want Alice back?
Inside the envelope were two pages of paper, matching the envelope, folded in half across the middle. As I unfolded them, a photograph fell out onto the floor. It was of Alice, lay asleep in a wicker moses basket. She wore a bright pink jumper embroidered with daisies, and light blue denim jeans with matching pink pockets embroidered with more daisies. She looked so beautiful, my heart ached for her, all I wanted was to have her back in my arms. I began to cry silently, not wanting to get the only picture of my daughter I had wet, I placed it down on the bed next to me. Picking up the letter I started to read, but it was difficult to see through the tears in my eyes, and they kept falling onto the pages and smudging the words, so I gave up, and placed the letter safely in my dresser draw.
Curling back up under my covers, I held the picture of Alice tight to my chest, and sobbed uncontrolably for the rest of the day.
A few hours later I awoke, it was already dusk. I couldn't remember falling asleep, but I figured I must have cried myself into exhaustion. I lay there for a few moments, then slowly inched myself out of bed. I took the letter from the draw where I had hidden it, sat at my dresser, and tried to read it for the second time.
How are you feeling my dear? Well I hope, I just wanted to let you know that the baby is doing wonderfully. We called her Bethany, after Joseph's grandmother.
Reading that part was like a knife in my heart, my midwife obviously hadn't told them that I had named her Alice. I continued to read, they told me that they had put their house on the market as they wanted to move to somewhere larger, and closer to their extended family. They also wrote how after talking it through with each other, they had decided to raise the baby knowing that she was adopted, and they asked me to write her a letter, telling her about myself and explaining why I had given her up. So that they could give it to her one day if she ever had any questions about me.
I smiled, it made me happy to know that my daughter was going to grow up knowing about me, maybe I would even meet her again one day, if she ever came looking for me.
So I wrote her a letter, it took me ages, and I went back to amend it several times over the next couple of days. It was so difficult to think about what I wanted to say, but eventually I managed to get something down on paper:
My name is Rebekah Collins, I'm sixteen years old, I'm writing this letter on Saturday 26th of July 2008. One week ago yesterday I gave you up for adoption to your parents, Maggie and Joseph Maxwell. I know it was for the best, I got pregnant to a boy who was just using me, and I know I wouldn't be able to take care of you by myself. So I gave you to your adoptive parents, because I know they'll be able to give you a better life than I ever could.
Deciding to give you up was the most difficult decision I have ever had to make, but I believe I am doing the right thing.
The moment I saw you after you were born, I fell in love with you. The kind of love that only a mother can feel. It tore me apart to watch your parents take you away, but I'm sure it was for the best. I am sure you will have a wonderful life, with many more opportunities and experiences than I would ever be able to give you. And I know that the Maxwell's will be the best possible parents! I hope you are happy, and that you understand and forgive me.
I love you very much, and I always will.
I read the letter over and over. I cried, I worried that I had said too much, or too little. I imagined what it would be like, eighteen years into the future, to open the door to a young woman holding that letter in her hand, with so many questions. What if she were angry at me? Would she grow up thinking I didn't want her? Thinking about that made me cry again, I lay in bed and curled up under the covers, staring at the picture of my daughter, I sobbed and sobbed. Until, exhausted, I fell asleep.