“CBS Saturday Morning” co-host Michelle Miller is the author of the new memoir “Belonging: A Daughter’s Search for Identity Through Love and Loss,” to be published March 14 by HarperCollins.
At age 24, I was surprised when my father urged me, “Go find your mother.” Because as far as I knew, she had given birth to me, given me to my father, and gone from my life forever.
Next to my father, he hugged me lovingly. My mother’s side, as far as I know, to this day, doesn’t even know I exist.
I grew up with longing, and struggled to find a sense of belonging.
Two decades later, I would finally meet the mother who abandoned me. I would learn that her proud working-class Latino family strongly opposed her even dating a black man. To them, he can give him any possible life? Never mind that he was chief of surgery at a prominent Los Angeles area hospital.
As a result, I, to this day, have my mother’s secret hidden in plain sight – a fact that haunts me. I’ve spent my whole life searching for that sense of belonging. I now know it was with me all along, and I embrace it.
Knowing that wherever I am, like Los Angeles, is my birthplace; or New Orleans, where I met the love of my life, Marc Morial, and started a beautiful family; Or here at CBS News, wherever I am, I am.
From Hurricane Katrina to George Floyd’s murder stories covered here, I’ve taken my space to share the perspective of many of you who are often left out of the story. I could speak your truth because you were visible to me.
Perhaps seeing that semi-orphan child was central to your need to tell a story.
Identity is shaped as much by those who are absent from our lives as by those who are next to us.
I have learned to reward those who stay, to give them my heart and never let them go. The life I deeply appreciate is not the one I might have wanted.
And to my mom, if you’re watching right now, know this: As this conflicted nation of ours grapples with history some may refuse to acknowledge, even if you never claim me as your own, I will always be your daughter.
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Story produced by Young Kim. Editor: Mike Levine.