It was too easy to let my sadness fester into anger. I couldn’t live like that anymore. In a sense, losing Rose was the ultimate test of my love for Evangeline. Unconditional love isn’t possible without forgiveness. If we were ever going to truly move on, there was something I needed to say to her even if I wasn’t one-hundred percent sure I truly meant it yet. It had to be said.
I pulled her back into me and whispered into her ear, “I forgive you.”
She sighed into my shoulder. “How could you?”
“Because that’s how much I love you.”
“Today really made me realize everything we lost.”
“We did lose something. But she also gained a family that loves her…three sisters. She’s happy. That counts.”
She released herself from my arms. “She’s happy, but what about us?”
“We’ll get there.” Seeing the look of doubt on her face as she looked down at the ground, I placed my hand on her chin, prompting her to make eye contact. “Hey. You’re enough for me.”
That assurance became more important than I could have ever known.
In the years that followed, we’d tried everything, but Evangeline was never able to get pregnant again. It was a sad irony, considering her one pregnancy with Rose had such a profound impact on the course of our lives.
A year after Rose moved away, Evangeline and I got married in the same way that our relationship started: alone on a grassy knoll, the only witness being a cool Kansas breeze. Evangeline carried two roses, one for our daughter and one for my mother, along with blue hydrangeas, which were Elle’s favorite flowers. A reception followed in the form of a Texas-style barbecue in Addy’s backyard. The few guests included Emily and a guy named Zachary, who was courting her. Also in attendance were Luke and his new boyfriend, Alexander.
We stayed childless, living a life that I would imagine some people with kids occasionally fantasized about: eating out a lot, going on vacations, having total freedom to do whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted. It was Evangeline and me against the world. We would have given anything to share our lives with a child; it just wasn’t in the cards. That was the thorn in our side to an otherwise beautiful life. In many ways, life was like a rose—beautiful but not without the sometimes painful thorny path leading up to the gorgeous red flower. If the red flower represented the best of life, then our flower bloomed on an ordinary Monday afternoon ten years after our playground date with Rose.
Evangeline had gone out to check the mail and came inside the house with an envelope that was shaking in her hands. When I took one look at the name on the return address label, it all made sense.
If you’re reading this, your parents have obviously told you the truth.
I’m finding it hard to sum up in one letter all that I want to say to you. I guess I should start by saying hello. My name is Sevin Montgomery, and I’m your father. Jesus, I sort of feel like Darth Vader right now. (I just realized, you probably don’t know who that is!)
We’ve actually met a couple of times. I don’t know if you can remember. You were about five, going on six. The first time, you had lost a ball at your T-ball game, and I helped you find it. The second time we met, your mother, Genia, brought you to the playground right before you moved from Kansas to Oregon. Your birth mother, Evangeline, was also with me that day. Genia brought you to the park so that we could see you before you moved. You didn’t know who we really were. Do you recall the monkey bars? Think back. Try to remember. That was me.
Anyway, you’re probably wondering how your mother and I could have given you up. It’s a very long story, one I’m not sure you’re ready for. I have no way of knowing how old you are as you read this. What I can tell you is that at the time, your mother, Evangeline, felt she had no choice. She believed that your parents would give you a better life than she ever could. I promise to explain everything to you honestly someday and answer every question you have about the circumstances that led to that decision.
Unfortunately, I didn’t find out about you until several years later – shortly before we first met at the baseball field. By that time, you were already happy and settled with your adoptive family. Your parents weren’t ready to tell you the truth, and I couldn’t in good conscience rip your world apart. That was the only reason I didn’t fight them for you, Rose. Please believe that. It had nothing to do with not wanting you. I fought long and hard with my decision.
I need you to know that from the first moment I discovered your existence, I fell hopelessly in love with you. Not a day has gone by or will go by when I’m not thinking about you and wishing we could be together. I will pray every day that you come back to me when you’re old enough to decide whether that’s what you want. Please don’t be mad at Evangeline for deciding to give you up. She loves you very much, too.
I gave your mother, Genia, a ring to go along with this letter. It was my mother’s wedding ring. You were named after her—your grandmother Rose. Actually, you look exactly like her because, well, you look just like me. Every time I was supposed to give the ring to someone, something happened to prevent it. That’s probably because it was never meant for anyone but you. I hope you get to wear it and that it reminds you of how much you are loved.
I’m so proud of you, Rose. If I never accomplished another thing in this life, that would be good enough for me. Because you are my greatest accomplishment. Your existence is enough to make me glad that I was born. I spent a lot of my early life wondering about my purpose for being alive. That’s a story for another day, too. I hope we get that day, but the choice is yours, my precious girl.