I don’t celebrate my birthday, or at least I don’t celebrate it the day I was born. Very few people in my life even know when my actual birthday is. But still when my real birthday comes around I am acutely aware of it and this year all I kept thinking was that the woman who gave birth to me is dead now. I hadn’t seen her for years, more than half my life, when she died and I didn’t grieve. I felt nothing about her death. It bought up all sorts of other adoptee and bio family related issues but her? I was cold, no grief no tears. I thought this was because I was done grieving her, because I’d let go of her. But things have shifted and changed in the couple of years since she died there is no loyalty or connection left for my adoptive parents and I have a lot more room and honesty emotionally. And I’ve started to notice a drifting, seeping grief for her, for her unlived, unsupported, unloved life, for the fact she still had serious untreated mental health issues when she died that no one ever diagnosed or supported her with, that it was partly those mental health issues that made her neglect herself so badly that death came so early for her. That she was always poor and always uneducated and no one cared about that.

I’m kind of broken so I dont always understand the world emotionally but I do understand it politically and my grief turns political. In the end the system killed her. poor uneducated women with mental heath issues get their children taken away and then get abandoned.

Whenever I read this poem I think of her

Death of an Irishwoman
by Michael Hartnett

Ignorant, in the sense
she ate monotonous food
and thought the world was flat,
and pagan, in the sense
she knew the things that moved
all night were neither dogs or cats
but hobgoblin and darkfaced men
she nevertheless had fierce pride.
But sentenced in the end
to eat thin diminishing porridge
in a stone-cold kitchen
she clenched her brittle hands
around a world
she could not understand.
I loved her from the day she died.

She was a summer dance at the crossroads.
She was a cardgame where a nose was broken.
She was a song that nobody sings.
She was a house ransacked by soldiers.
She was a language seldom spoken.
She was a child’s purse, full of useless things.