Remembering Olana MacArthur
6/11/84 - 5/27/09I still remember the day I first heard her voice. I was in our hopeful baby room putting the finishing touches on the paint when the phone rang. We rarely used our home phone, so every time it rang, I felt nervous anticipation. When Matt answered the phone, I could tell it was not the usual sales call. He said he needed to go get me and mouthed "it's about a baby" to me before I got on the other phone. And then I heard her voice for the first time. She was really nervous, but wanted to assure us that this was the choice she both needed and wanted to make for her son. I can still almost feel the shock and excitement and nervousness all wrapped together in that moment.
And I remember going to her last ultrasound before Benjamin was born. She looked beautiful that day, with her belly and that pregnant woman glow. And she was always so bubbly. I remember watching her greet the other pregnant women in the waiting room with excitement because they were there for their babies too. She never knew a stranger. I believe this is where Benjamin gets his outgoing personality.
And I vividly remember sitting at lunch on a Saturday afternoon and getting a call from her telling us that she was getting ready to head to the hospital. We showered and packed bags and left as soon as possible. I remember seeing her in the delivery room and watching her go through contractions. I remember holding her hand and feeling amazed by her strength. I remember how she kept her sense of humor, even through the delivery and I remember her when she saw Benjamin for the very first time. She kept saying over and over how beautiful he was. And indeed she was right.
I remember spending the night with her during her first night home from the hospital, and how she cared so much about him that she breastfed him as long as she could. And I remember the agony in her eyes the day she placed him in my arms and entrusted the roll of mommy to me. To this day, I don't know how she found the strength to make such a loving decision.
I could keep on with the memories and I'm so thankful for that. Open adoption is not always easy, but it's a beautiful thing. I'm thankful that I got to know her, if only a little, so that when I look at Benjamin and see his outgoing personality and his fun and crazy silliness, I know it was from her. And I'm thankful to have seen such a picture of sacrificial love and to be able to share that with Benjamin. He still remembers her and talks about the last time we saw her. We went to a park in Austin and rode the train and played on the playground. I love that he sees pictures from that day and says "you member Olana and the train mommy?" And I always will remember.