This Is Us

Bridges between me and those I’ve lost

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When I got through the cold they made me swim in a river, and I forgot his name. I forgot all the names. — Sarah Ruhl, ‘Eurydice’

I cared for both my boyfriend and my mother in my house. My boyfriend died in his hospice bed in my living room…


How I Never Made it in Hollywood

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“You would be the dead girl,” the director said. I could do dead. A low-budget independent film was a step up from the student films I’d been doing. At least there would be pay.

The director had graduated from USC film school and…


A teenage pregnancy led to an adoption I regretted years later

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There were many things I was unprepared for when I relinquished my son for adoption. A naive 17-year-old, I believed the secret I carried would grow lighter, not heavier. I believed the pain of separation would fade. I believed the poster I saw in the adoption agency’s office, proclaiming, “Today…


The law of significant enclosure says that we feel comfortably enclosed when the vertical edge of a space is at least one-third the length of the horizontal space we’re inhabiting.” — — every garden design website and blog on the internet.

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It’s late and our hotel is under construction. We’ve…


Here. This was the bad turn. This was where the engine cracked open.

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On a July afternoon with the scent of rosemary drifting into the dining room, my husband told me our marriage was over and that he was planning to marry someone else. “And we’d like the house,” he said, “so we can raise our new family here.”

I wish I could…


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I was a girl without a choice

In the spring of 1970, a couple of months before my baby was due, I sat at my desk in my bedroom late into the night and wrote two suicide notes, one to my boyfriend and one to my parents. I folded the letters into tight, flat squares small enough…


Are you that guy?

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I didn’t tell my son’s father I was pregnant until my mother made me.

I was 16 in 1970 when I got pregnant in the backseat of my boyfriend’s Ford without going all the way. Facing up to the unlikely consequences of that October night felt impossible. My boyfriend and…


“Hope is that thing with feathers that perches in the soul” — - — Emily Dickinson

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Perched on the back of a dining room chair, the parrot’s tail feathers trailed almost to the floor.

Addie had just awakened from her afternoon nap, but she wondered if, perhaps, she might only be dreaming that she was awake. She wanted to know more about this borderland between sleep…


How you can reach out to a woman who lost a child to adoption

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1. I know you’re a mother, so I’m thinking of you.

2. Is there a way I can bring some comfort to you today?

3. Wanna talk?

4. Would you like to go for a walk…


For some Covid-19 victims it’s already too late

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In 1970 when I surrendered my newborn son, he was part of a bumper crop of 175,000 babies, handed over to strangers with adoption agencies acting as the middlemen.

Adoption is often a murky operation. In closed record adoptions murkiness intensifies into total blackout when the original birth certificate is…

Denise Clemen

Birth/first mother, recovering wife, retired caregiver, traveler. Advocate of #adopteerights and #reproductiverights and other good things.

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