Courage of the heart

I sit on the rickety auditorium chair with the camcorder on my shoulder and I can feel the tears well up in my eyes. My sixyear-old daughter is on stage, calm, selfpossessed, centered and singing out her heart. I am nervous, jittery, emotional and trying not to cry.

“Listen, can you hear the sound, hearts beating all the world around?” she sings.

The lovely face turned up to the light, little round face so dear and familiar and yet so unlike my own thin features. Her eyes look out into the audience with total trust... she knows they love her. Eyes that don’t look like mine.

“Up in the valley, out on the plains, everywhere around the world, heartbeats sound the same.”

The face of her birth mother looks out at me from the stage. The eyes of a young woman that once looked into mine with trust gaze into the audience. These features my daughter inherited from her birth mother… eyes that tilt up at the corners and rosy, plump little cheeks that I can’t stop kissing.

“Black or white, red or tan, it’s the heart of the family of man... oh, oh beating away, oh, oh beating away,” she finishes.

The audience goes wild. I do, too. Thunderous applause, and they rise as one to let Melanie know they loved it. She smiles… she already knew. Now, I am crying. I feel so blessed to be her mom... she fills me with so much joy that my heart actually hurts.

The heart of the family of man… the heart of courage that shows us the path to take when we are lost... the heart that makes strangers one with each other for common purpose… this is the heart

Melanie’s birth mother showed to me. Melanie heard her from deep inside the safest part of her. This heart of courage belonged to a sixteen-year-old girl… a girl who became a woman because of her commitment to unconditional love. She was a woman who embraced the concept that she could give her child something no one else ever could… a better life than she had. Melanie’s heart beats close to mine as I hold her and tell her how great she performed. She wiggles in my arms and looks up at me. “Why are you crying, Mommie?”

I answer her, “Because I am so happy for you and you did so good, all by yourself!” I can feel myself reach out with tendrils of love and hold her with more than just my arms. I hold her with love for not only myself, but for the beautiful and courageous woman who chose to give birth to my daughter, and then chose again to give her to me. I carry the love from both of us… the birth mother with the courage to share, and the woman whose empty arms were filled with love… for the heartbeat that we share is one.

- Patty Hansen

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