Author’s note: I was an orphan. This piece speaks to a feeling I have never been able to outdistance, even after later being adopted.



Born of chaos,

lacking heritage,

void of order.

Year upon year,

a freefall of frustration,

searching for foothold.

Moment man,

longing for clarity,

for a sense of belonging.


Rob Kistner © 11/9/01

14 thoughts on “Freefalling”

  1. Gautami / Ian / Arboleda –

    Over the years I have become better at keeping the disconnected feeling in the background, but it occasionally rears its head, and usually at unexpected moments.

    Here’s one of many examples that come up. I have children who are now young adults. I have heart disease and diabetes. My kids want to know if this, for me, is hereditary — given they have their future to consider and understand, and are also bringing children into the world.

    I sadly have no way of answering that. It’s at times like this that the issues of being orphaned surface. The not knowing why, or by whom, or was I not worthy, and the myriad of, seemingly foolish, but deep-cutting insecurities — they all surface quite painfully, with occasional unfocused anger associated.

    When I was adopted, I grew to feel I was very different from my parents. They were good people, but we did not share much in common. This is probably true in many child/parent relationships, but for me it served to underscore the sense of alienation I was already feeling.

    To quote from my ‘Howl’ influenced piece entitled ‘Remembering Allen’, “Racing to outdistance the abandonment, the alienation, that already knew me by my first name – altogether too damned familiar.”

    That is what much of my life has been — running from or maybe it’s to something?

    So I have had to learn, and make myself embrace the fact that “life goes on”, “and so it goes”. And I have learned to cope reasonably effectively — but I have never fully resolved the issue for myself.

    I have a 29 year-old son named Justin. He and I have a wonderful relationship. We are so much alike it unnerves my wife. We even look alike. Jus has told me any number of times how much I have meant to his life, how much he appreciates his father guiding and mentoring him.

    His words mean the world to me — they are the real stuff of life. I love looking into his eyes as his father and genuinely feeling that from him. All of my life I have wanted to look into eyes, looking back at me, seeing myself and the prior generations looking back and say — “hello father”. I will never know that.
    –and so it goes–

  2. This is really profound. I don’t know how old you were when you were orphaned, but it shows that even if a child is not consciously aware of what has happened, he knows he has suffered loss and spends much of the rest of his life looking for it. (I’m glad you were able to come round full circle and experience fatherhood with your son.) Thanks for sharing this.

  3. Thank you Karen, Colleen, and Rena! I appreciate the kind words.

    The joy of fatherhood has completed me. As Joni Mitchell wrote and sang so beautifully, “We go round and round and round in the circle game.”

    –and so it goes–

  4. Rob, there is great power and yearning in your poem; i felt your rootlessness. I think it must take great strength, therefore, for you to be such a solid root for your children.

  5. I am glad my poem touched you Unfolding Rose.

    It is probably the survival of my self-ness, that is the seed for my being so very rooted in and for my children. The love I feel for them is undeniable and unquestioning, and is essential for me to exist.

    –and so it goes–

  6. Rob: Your poem is extremely powerful in its simplicity that conveys such depth of feeling and meaning. It made me so sad, but so grateful for my parents. I wish they were still here so that I could hug them again and, as you say, look into those faces that are so much like mine and my children’s. I am sending them a spiritual hug, confident that they are receiving it from the place to which they have crossed over.

    I also thought about your birth parents while reading your words. I am somewhat confused because you reference being “orphaned,” but that word myriad connotations. If a person give their child up for adoption (is that what happened to you?), what must it be like to spend your life wondering about that child? Mine are both in their rooms where teenagers spend most of their time, as you know. 🙂 But I know that they are here, safe. I wonder what it would be like to cross over to that other dimension with those lingering questions unresolved. It must be horrible.

    So much pain. So many questions. But such beautiful writing. May you find comfort in knowing that you are touching others’ lives with your words.

  7. Hi Janie!

    Thank you for the very kind and tender words. I am glad this poem resonates for others. It is an emotional work for me – a “working through” of sorts.

    To answer your question, I have no knowledge of my natural parents. From my earliest understanding, I was in a catholic orphanage. I was later adopted, but I tried many times in my early life to learn of my natural parents, to discover my blood heritage — but cracking the catholic wall-of-secrecy in those days was impossible.

    I have no idea if I am an abandoned child, a bastard birth, or if my parents were killed? This additional uncertainty makes the circumstance even more acute for me. A great many people have told me over the years, in different ways, to “get over it” — but to a person, they were all people who experienced their parents, who knew their lineage. It remains difficult not knowing, at least for me.

    As the years passed, I became resigned to the melancholy of not knowing. Now at 60, my need to know has resurfaced with an urgency, and I am tying to uncover the facts of my heritage. Still is not easy.

    The orphanage in which I lived as a child has been closed, and where the records were transferred looms as somewhat a mystery. I have the local catholic charities helping me, but so far, nothing.

    I have great comfort in my wife and children. I now have immediate family, full of love, and I wouldn’t change my life. It is, in the end, my life — and I am grateful for the many blessings. But I still would like to know someday. It is a significant part of my reality that remains veiled from me.

    –and so it goes–

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *