Maria was raised in foster care and never felt like she had a family. But at 35, her biological mother, Caitlyn, contacted her and asked to meet. Her bio-mom told her she was sick, and Maria ran, thinking the worst of this woman. But then, she regretted it forever after discovering the truth.
Maria had been on her own for as long as she could remember. Even when she lived with her foster family, she never felt that family connection that other people talked about. At 18, she left their home and cut off all contact.
At 35, she lived in her apartment in Wichita, Kansas, and had a solid career in marketing at a prestigious firm. Her social life was not the best. Sara, her co-worker, was the only person she ever considered a friend.
Moreover, it was hard for her to form attachments with men. Her therapist, Dr. Melissa Schroeder, told her to get out more often and meet people. But at this point, Maria was finally at peace on her own. She didn’t need anything to rattle her confidence or cause drama in her life.
Dr. Schroeder believes Maria’s lack of associations was a result of her being abandoned by her mother when she was a baby. Her foster parents told her that she was left in a basket on their doorstep. However, they only took her in to get more money from the government, and they never adopted her or the other kids they fostered.
“I’m sure my foster family’s disdain for me also had something to do with this, Dr. Schroeder,” Maria remarked sarcastically.
“Then you understand what I’m saying. There’s no point in coming to therapy if you don’t want to work on getting better. Yes, you have accepted many things you can’t change, but now, it’s time to enjoy life. You’re young still,” the therapist continued.
“I’m 35 years old already, and I have only one friend, and she’s more of an acquaintance. You really think I could have a real attachment with someone?” Maria asked skeptically.
“I think so. I mean, that’s my professional opinion. But how about this…why don’t you adopt a cat?” Dr. Schroeder suggested.
Maria laughed. “I don’t want to be the crazy cat lady, Doc. Oh, look! Our time is up! See you later!” she cheered and grabbed her purse.
“You’re going to have to listen to me if you want your life to change!” the doctor called as she walked away.
Maria smiled to herself and left her therapist’s office. She liked talking to her but taking up her suggestions of homework was not something she wanted to do. I don’t want a cat. A dog would be better, but I have no time either, she mused as she walked home.
Then her phone rang. “Hello? Is this Maria Lewis?” a woman on the other end asked.
“Yes, that’s me. How can I help you?” Maria replied.
“Hi, Maria. This is going to sound weird, but my name is Caitlyn. I’m your mother,” the woman revealed.
Maria stopped dead in her tracks. “What?” she whispered.
“Yes, I know this might seem random; me calling after all these years. But can I meet you? Please, let’s meet up at the Riverside Café tomorrow at 7 p.m.” Caitlyn begged.
“Ok…” was the only thing Maria could answer. Caitlyn thanked her cheerfully and hung up. That night, Maria tossed and turned in her bed. She didn’t want to meet her biological mother, but there were so many unanswered questions.
So that’s how she found herself at a corner table of the Riverside Café a little after 7 p.m. the following day. She saw a woman who looked remarkably like the person she stares at in the mirror every day. The older woman stood up and smiled hesitantly.
“Hello,” Maria said as she approached and extended her hand.
“Maria! Oh my! Look at you! You’re so beautiful! Thank you so much for coming!” Caitlyn gushed and shook her hand. Maria frowned as she noticed how frail the woman’s hands were. But she couldn’t be older than 55.
Caitlyn tried to start with some small talk when they sat down, but Maria didn’t like that. “I’m going to stop you right there. I only came here to hear what you had to say. Let’s get right to the point,” she told her bio-mom.
“Ok, that’s fair. I guess I came here to explain my side of things… I was just 16 when I had you. I couldn’t raise you. My parents were awful. So I left you with the Marksons thinking they were the best family on the block,” Caitlyn explained.
“They weren’t. I haven’t talked to them since I turned 18 and moved out. I even changed my last name,” Maria replied.
“That’s unfortunate. I wanted the best for you. Do you have a family of your own now?” Caitlyn wondered.
“What do you want from me, Caitlyn?” Maria dodged her question. She was losing her temper.
“Ok, ok. I’m young, but I’ve been diagnosed with cancer. It’s been hard,” the older woman began.
“That’s terrible. But I can’t do anything about that,” Maria stated.
“Oh, I know. No one can, actually. Most doctors don’t even know what they’re doing, and the treatments are so expensive. It’s—”
Maria finally lost her temper. She could see where Caitlyn was going and decided to cut her off. “Ok, ma’am. I see where you’re getting at. I don’t have any money, and I can’t believe you came here to ask me for money after you abandoned me!” she yelled at the older woman.
They were in public, but Maria didn’t care, and Caitlyn tried to stop her. “No, wait. I mean—” she mumbled. But Maria didn’t want to listen.
“Don’t you EVER call me again!” she snapped at her birth mother and left the café with tears of frustration falling down her face.
Maria had to admit that she started to hope when Caitlyn called. Hope is the most dangerous feeling in the world, she thought as she dried her tears and decided to forget about her forever.
Luckily, Caitlyn listened to her and didn’t try to contact her again. But a few months after that horrible encounter, a lawyer called. He asked Maria to meet him in his office, where he read Caitlyn’s will and handed her a letter.
The older woman left her everything in her estate, including two houses and a large savings account. “Caitlyn is dead?” Maria asked the lawyer in shock. She couldn’t bring herself to call her mother, but she never wanted the woman to die.
“Yes, ma’am. I know a little of the situation from what your mother told me, but I suggest you read the letter she left,” the lawyer urged.
Maria opened the letter, where Caitlyn explained that she didn’t want money from her. “My cancer is terminal. There’s nothing anyone can do. I wanted to spend time with you before I passed. It wasn’t out of guilt since I could never make up for leaving you,” the older woman wrote.
“But I hope that this letter and my estate can atone a little for my sins. I don’t have anyone else in my life, and I hope these houses and money can help you and your family. I’m glad I got to see you, even with the misunderstanding.
“Not a day went by that I didn’t think of you and wondered where you were. But I was too cowardly to find you sooner. I wish I did. Maybe, I could’ve explained myself better. Anyway, all I want is for you to be happy and cherished. Because I did love you. I just wasn’t ready for it.”
Maria finished reading the letter, and this time, she was crying tears of sadness for Caitlyn. She couldn’t judge or hate her anymore. She was just a kid and human too. She asked the lawyer where Caitlyn was buried and visited her.
Kneeled by Caitlyn’s grave, she cried more. “I forgive you, Caitlyn. I mean…mother. I’m sorry for not listening. I’m a coward too. I didn’t want to hope for something I never had. But I promise you I will find love and be happy,” Maria vowed.
Thus, Maria went back to Dr. Schroeder and promised to follow her instructions. Subsequently, she made more friends, smiled more, and finally adopted a cat. A couple of years later, she met a wonderful man and was never alone again.
What can we learn from this story?
Listen to your therapist. If you’ve made the effort of consulting a doctor, follow through by taking the doctor’s advice to heart.
Be open to love. Maria closed herself off from everyone because her childhood was less-than-stellar. But the mistake with her mother taught her to open up more.
Share this story with your friends. It might brighten their day and inspire them.