It occurred to me recently that I’m never going to get a knock on the door from a child I never knew I had. I think I’ve been holding out for this in some way. Of course it’s ridiculous to imagine that I would. I am a woman and I couldn’t have a child and not know about it, but something in me feels like I’m double-checking as I write these words. But don’t worry, I haven’t lost the plot completely. I know that my chances of a child of my own are truly gone, in every way.
It could happen to a man at any age, young or old – the knock on the door. It could cause problems if he already has a family, true, but what about a man who hasn’t found his person, has never had children and had given up hope? He could one day find that, just like that, he has a person that belongs to him – his own flesh and blood. A person who scratches their chin like him, has the same embarrassed smirk, has their compassion or their wit.
No longer will he wonder what will happen to all his photos after he’s dead.
I could get upset and claim ‘inequality!’ But who would I be complaining to? Besides, gender inequality doesn’t generally keep me awake at night, though I know it probably should. Blame education if you will, but issues of sexism – along with all the other ‘isms’ – were hidden in the background growing up, in a kind of collective blind spot. We were too busy reading Jackie, finding out how to get boys to fancy us… and learn the words to Club Tropicana.
So back to long-lost children.
When I was younger, I used to fantasise about a long lost half brother or sister. I never concerned myself with how this came to pass, I was only fixated on the outcome.
To me, the idea of discovering a person who looks a bit like us but a bit like someone else was intoxicating. Perhaps they’d be blonde – no-one in our family is blonde! How thrilling. Or they might play Hockey in a league. Again, we have no-one that excels at sport, let alone Hockey. Like us, they may be sarcastic, love comedy shows and carbs, eat at the same times as the elderly, bathe instead of shower. Perhaps this new person would provide all the things I felt I’d somehow missed out on. I always felt keenly the empty void left in the wake of our broken family, so it’s perhaps not a surprise that I fantasised this way. I guess it’s the same with children of my own.
I do have one saving grace. As you know dear Lucy, I learned a few years ago that I’m a NEO blood donor. This means my blood can be given to new born babies who need transfusions. It’s not the type, this is a special thing. I have special blood. It gets delivered straight to hospitals on a special bike and everything, at least that’s what the nurse at the donor centre told me. So now I can rest a bit easier knowing that I might have saved a few, or even hundreds of babies coming into the world and needing some help, my help.
And who knows, if one day they release the details of NEO blood donors I may get one or more knocks on the door from thriving young adults telling me I contributed to their survival. We’ll bond immediately of course and plan emotional reunions, though I’ll probably refrain from handing over the photos. I will be over the moon that at last I have some kind of descendant and will content myself that whilst they may not be my flesh, they were at least, my blood.