This letter was not meant to upset you. And you certainly don’t have to see me or Evangeline if you don’t want to. (Your mother and I got back together around the time you moved away.) Just know that we love you and always will. Our address is: 11 Briar Road in Dodge City, Kansas. I don’t plan to ever move, because I want you to always be able to find me. Till that day comes…I love you.
--Dad (or Sevin…whatever you prefer.)
Wiping my eyes, I refolded the letter for the umpteenth time and placed it back inside the envelope. Reading it never got easier. The most telling part was the fact that the blue ballpoint ink over the last few sentences was smeared. It looked like it had been hit by water and made me wonder if a teardrop had fallen from his eye toward the end, landing on those words.
I’d had a lot of time to rehash everything in the letter over the past few months. He was probably right. If my parents had told me that I wasn’t really their biological child back when I was five, it would have devastated me. My sisters, Janelle, Cassie and Trinity, were my entire world. Even though we were inseparable, I’d always felt different as it was, because of my darker features. So, to have found out back then that I truly wasn’t related to them would have wrecked me. I might not have been emotionally mature enough to really understand or accept it.
That’s not to say that finding out at sixteen was all that much easier. It wasn’t entirely clear to me why sixteen was the magic number for them. My parents sat me down alone one night after my softball game and told me everything. I hadn’t even changed out of my uniform.
My sisters had later entered the room together as if on cue and joined in on the conversation after the shock wore off a bit. It had all seemed so surreal. At the same time, the inexplicable feeling of incompleteness that I’d carried around my entire life now made total sense.
There was no doubt about the fact that my childhood was blessed. After my father took the job in Oregon, things got easier for our family. We moved into a bigger house, into a great neighborhood. It was the perfect all-American upbringing. Yet, something unidentifiable always seemed to be missing. Maybe, I couldn’t identify it because it was coming from deep within my soul.
The night of my parents’ revelation, my mother walked into my bedroom holding an envelope and a small blue box. She explained that the items were from my birth father and asked if I wanted her to stay in the room while I read the letter. I preferred to process it alone, so she left.
I hadn’t expected the immediate connection I felt to him through his words. What I really never expected was to find out that we’d actually met…and that I remembered.
I remembered him.
Not clearly. But I remembered meeting a handsome stranger with black hair when I was young. I remembered him helping me on the monkey bars. I remembered feeling a connection with him but not understanding why. I didn’t remember much of what was said. I also couldn’t remember Evangeline or what she looked like at all.
Obviously, the letter didn’t provide me with all of the information since much was left unexplained. I still really knew nothing about what happened to Evangeline that was so bad or what he was referring to when he said he always questioned why he was born. I was grateful, though, for what answers the letter did give me and for what uncertainties it ruled out. Without it, I might have wrongly assumed that my birth parents gave me away because of my birth defect.
When I opened the box that night, inside was a small but sparkly marquise-shaped diamond set in between two sapphires. Using my prosthetic left hand, I’d placed it over my right ring finger. My grandmother must have had dainty fingers, because it fit perfectly.
Since finding out the truth, I’d reread the letter several times, dissecting every last sentence. My parents were clear that the choice of how to proceed was all mine. Unsure of whether I was ready to face all of the details of how I came to be, it was many weeks before I conjured up the courage to reach out to him.
The car stopped in front of the gray house. From what little I could remember about Kansas, it seemed like nothing had changed.
In the side yard, I spotted a woman with dark hair kissing a blond man as they sipped drinks. It alarmed me. Was that Evangeline? Had something happened to Sevin? I’d sent a letter back to him a few weeks ago, acknowledging receipt of his own letter. I asked him for more time to process things and promised to write him back again. Instead, I made the rash decision to fly out here during my school break. My parents were adamantly against my coming to Kansas without calling first, but I didn’t have his number and really just had to see things for myself.
“This is 11 Briar Road?”
“Yes, this is it. We’ve arrived,” the driver said. “You have my number when you’d like me to come back and take you to your aunt’s house.”
My parents had hired a car service to drive me from the airport all the way to Dodge City. I’d insisted on coming here alone. They agreed so long as I stayed with my mother’s sister in Spearville.
“Do you mind hanging out for just a few minutes…in case the people I want to see aren’t home?”
“Sure thing. You just text me, let me know what you want me to do.”
Slowly approaching the canoodling couple, I cleared my throat. My heart was pounding.
Was that my mother?
“Can I help you?” she asked.
“Does Sevin Montgomery live here?”
“What’s your name?”