Sunday, October 25, 2009

A letter to the man I never knew

Well, it's official.

My biological father wants to be in my life.
For the first time in more than 20 years.

Let's back up.

My family story is as complicated as any other story I've heard and I won't get into all the family tree branches and the different sides, but it definitely started when my biological father and my mom got divorced/separated after too many drunken fights that turned physical. Although I was only two years old when they split up, I remember those nights. All too well. Crawling out of my crib and seeing the red and blue lights flashing on the walls in the hallway and hearing the screaming at one another.

I have nice memories, too, though. Like my father pushing my yellow and blue swing in the backyard in the fall, leaves all around us.

And then he was gone.

And I really didn't suffer for it. My mom met a man who became my dad. My hero. My everything. He and his family took me in and loved me with every ounce of their HUGE hearts. I'm so lucky.

Even after my mom passed away, I still had my dad, my guy.

At the beginning of my college years, my half sister Shelby reached out to me. She's my biological father's daughter from another relationship. She's a few years older than me and had just had her first child when she reached out that first time. Despite looking similar and getting along really easily, I still wasn't mature enough... definitely not ready for that emotional upheaval to a world that involved a dark period in my life. So I stopped reaching out to her.

But she tried again last year and I was so ready. And I was an aunt again, this time to a little nephew! She was at my bridal shower in New Jersey and was on the invite list to my wedding when I found out that her brother (and my half brother) Shamus was living with her. Well, I couldn't NOT send an invite to him, right?

In the end, both Shamus and Shelby and their spouses were with me to celebrate my marriage last month. It was fabulous. We chatted as though we had known each other forever and that we didn't each carry this very similar emotional suitcase with us everywhere we went.

Well, Shamus had a "gift" for me.
A check and hand-written letter from our father.

Scott and I talked about this letter a lot. And I had imagined it every year of my life from that first day of my father leaving.

I was cautious, but I'm also understanding that maybe that letter wasn't really easy for him to write. Maybe he wrote 20 versions of it over the years, or just that week.

So I wrote a very short note back - more a thank-you for the check (of course I cashed it!) with my address, to sort of put the ball in his court and see if he was really serious.

I mailed it out on Monday.
His response arrived Saturday.

It was a longer letter this time, filled with some open, honest details of his relationship with my mom and its dissipation and his life since then.

That door is open.
And I want to walk through. (In fact, I already wrote a note back. It's sitting on my desk, ready to mail out on Monday.) Scott thinks I'm doing the right thing.

It's just...
It's just I know how hurt my dad would be, and most of my family on all sides would be, if they knew I was communicating with this man who we only know negative details about.
And I don't want to be hurt myself. Putting myself out there, only to be disappointed by him, could bring back a flood of recessed thoughts.

But I'm at that door. The door that I nudged open a crack and he put a brick against to keep open.

He might very well kick that brick out again any day now. But if I don't try to keep it open on my end, I'll never know.

And I think I'd rather have a door slamming in my face than to have a locked door with not even a peephole.

I'm knocking, father. Do you hear me?
Open up.

1 comment:

  1. It sounds like you've had a great family most of your life. I hope things go well getting to know your biological father. Just remember you have lots of love and support around you!