As soon as my mother hefted death in one hand and thunked its roundness with her knuckle, everything fell into place. "It was all so simple." She shrugs, the mother I know returned to join us on the sofa. "The situation was not about suicide or shame or having no options. Money was the only thing holding me back from what I truly wanted from college, from keeping the baby." Money and her father, wielding it like a weapon against her. "Money, nothing more."
And so she set herself free. "Let him disown me, I thought," she says, flipping her palms face up. The ground as she got up off the floor of her father's house was solid beneath her feet. She would do what she knew was right. Without her father, without a husband, without anyone's approval. "I decided to have the baby, and if it turned out that I might actually be able to keep it, I would figure out how to support us later."
Her voice drops, tender as a spring seedling. And it hits me, the message in my name, despite the fact that she, being distinctly anti-Christian, claims not to know why she chose the name, other than the fact that Nigerian names are supposed to mean something. Regardless of what she can or cannot remember, the evidence is there. It is the photograph she couldn't afford upon my arrival, the look on her face, the decision she made Faith.
There was, as to be expected, much more to the tale of my origins that my mother would reveal when I was older and less shaken. The story of whom she called and what happened in the Home. Still later would be the stories I had to uncover for myself. The rest of my name and what happened to my father. Who knows how much I would have been able to comprehend, had she been able to recall it, that spring day in 1979? I was sixteen, my primary concern getting to Mexico.
As if sensing this, my mother takes her arms from around me and offers to write a letter explaining that she is a single mother with custody and have it notarized. I can give it, on the condition of secrecy, to the tour leader.
I frown. This sounds degrading. Why lie? Why give power to some unknown tour leader of undetermined discretion?