I have wondered all week what I could write about for my site that had to do with being Irish, being a cribmate, or about survival. This is not a diary, but a place for reflection, and it took me a few days to find it, but I found the moment. On FB there is a remembrance being held for Greg Bayer, a fellow cribmate, though from a different mother baby home we were connected. I learned that though we may have come from different places, raised as infants by different Sisters, that we are, and always will be of the same heart. We know each other’s pain, though most of us have moved on with our lives. When we looked into each other’s eyes we recognized what we had seen in ourselves.
You never move on from being in a mother-baby institution. It stays with you, like a disease you have recovered from, but the scars remained. We all had our scars inside and out. Some of them showed on the outside, diseases that we have not quite recovered from, while scars no one could see, but we fought with everything we had to overcome them–the scars of depression, isolation, abandonment, the scars that we carried over to our children, not on purpose, but by accident.
I talked with Greg a number of times and we knew each other for about 4 years. We were both interviewed for a LA Times article on being “banished babies, along with Mari Steed. We talked about how much we had in common and how every day we fought the darkness that often took over us. We talked about the holes in our heart from never being able to spend time with our birth-mothers, though we both met them as adults and were satisfied with our relationships as best one can be satisfied after losing so many years. For me 58 years.
We talked about the sadness that overtook so much of our lives and the struggles we had to get past them. I felt connected to Greg in a way I had not fel connected to anyone before. For the first time I had the chance to talk to someone about something we both knew about, being in an orphanage, being abandoned, moved to a family who had no idea who we were. Moved into a family that didn’t know how to talk to us, and how no idea what we had been through.
Being able to talk to someone who understood as well was life-saving. I knew after sharing with him that I had not made anythng up, that my past had been real, and that those moments that broke me were real and had changed me forever.
I don’t look back on my life and blame my past for any mistakes I made, and Greg never did either, but I realzied that from those events I was the woman I am today, good or bad, whole or broken. Greg took his life and did the best he could to be successful, to raise his children to be good, kind, and honest. He acknowledged his mistakes and lessons learned, but also how he had come to be who he was.
I won’t make it to Greg’s service, but he will be in my heart forever, as will Mari Steed, Susan Drew, David Kinsella, Paul Redmond, Mary Lawlor, Kathy Finn, Tony Kelly, and all the other cribmates who shared my life, who keep my memories.