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March 13, 2012

“Is this who I think it is?”

This is Jessica.

“Hi, Jessica.”

His voice is deep, he talks fast. He says something funny in the first thirty seconds of our conversation. We must be related, if only because of the quick wit.

“My son told me you called earlier.”

Yeah, I found your number.

Then I’m crying again. His wife calls out something in the background, a rapid-fire reassurance of love.

“Your mother said you did not want to see me.”

I didn’t say that. She didn’t tell the truth.

“I’m glad you contacted me.”

I wonder if he is glad.

I… I can’t believe you have four kids, Mark.

His wife calls out again, and I realize I am on speakerphone. “He has five children, Jessica. Five!”  I am one of five.

We talk a few minutes more. We hang up.

………………………………………………………………………

He calls me two days later.

His voice is the same, but entirely different. “Well, Kid. We’ve been checking you out. My wife’s been reading your blog.”

There is silence.

“I’m not normally emotional. But I think there’s some stuff we should discuss, to get it out in the open.”

Okay.

“I had no idea, Jessica. I had no idea that your mother was that sick. That your childhood was like that. If I’d known, I’d have fought for you, I’d have fought tooth and nail.”

I wait.

He continues.

“She told me your were adopted, Jessica. I believed her. And I believed it was better for you if I was out of the picture…”

Then the words come.

“…but I was wrong. I’m sorry.”

I feel the apology drift out of the phone and cover me. It settles over me like a blanket.

………………………………………………………………………

In that moment I don’t know what I feel. Do I forgive him? I don’t know. I grew up without him. It cannot be undone. My bones were shaped by my fatherlessness. My experiences were shaped by my lack.

Always by my lack.

………………………………………………………………………

The day before I married Hugh, my mother’s current husband was late – very late – to our wedding rehearsal. I stood surrounded by Hugh’s large and laughing Indiana family. Surrounded and alone.

Gary, our friend, pulled me aside during the rehearsal dinner. We’d already practiced the ceremony. I’d laughingly walked myself down the aisle, holding my rehearsal bouquet and smiling confidently.

Beautiful then. Funny.

Alone.

“Jess, if John doesn’t show up tomorrow for the wedding, it would be an honor for me to walk you down the aisle.”

I touched his shoulder. Gary understood. He saw past my cute red dress and perfect make-up to the girl filled with shame.

Thank you, Gary.

I wanted to say more. I could not.

John came later that night, some excuse muttered. He accompanied me down the aisle, but as we walked together I was still alone.

………………………………………………………………………

Now what?

Mark left a message on my voicemail.

“Hello, Jessica. This is your…father.”

I played it for Hugh. What do you think? Does he sound like me? Doesn’t he sound, like, really strong and smart?

I played the message for Hugh three times.

Then I stopped. What am I doing? I’m thirty-five.

Now what?

I’ve already kissed Eduardo in the park after curfew, started my period for the first time after riding Space Mountain at Disneyland, done missionary work in Ecuadorian prisons, graduated from college while four months pregnant with Jon-David, taught high school students because I love to be in the classroom, and…now what?

What is left? To talk with him about my wedding rehearsal when he wasn’t there and I was embarrassed?

………………………………………………………………………

My need for him surprises me. My need –  to know his other children, to kiss his cheek and see if he smells like me, to listen to his laugh – rises up.

Like his apology, my need covers me.

In this moment, I glimpse what it might mean to know him.

I wonder if I will shatter – or be made whole at last.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. stephanie Renner permalink
    March 13, 2012 9:47 pm

    I can’t stop crying….

  2. March 13, 2012 9:56 pm

    Jess,

    I am so overwhelmed with emotion for you right now. I am hoping beyond hope that you can find healing through all of this. This could be good, Jess. Really Really good.

    We serve a God of second chances, and third, and fourth . . .

    I don’t know why it took so long for Mark to come into your life. But I do know that God’s timing is perfect, and that He will guide you every step of this new journey, as He has been guiding you through all of those fatherless moments. You survived them, Jess, because you had Jesus.

    I will be praying for you, and for Mark, for restoration.

    I love you.

    Isaiah 58:12
    Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins
    and will raise up the age-old foundations;
    you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,
    Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.

  3. March 14, 2012 5:42 am

    Speechless, or nearly so. Still praying for your peace, your confidence in the steps before you (in whatever direction), restoration, and wholeness. ♥

  4. Solveig Engh permalink
    March 14, 2012 11:07 am

    For what it’s worth, I think you should move forward. Most of all for yourself, but also for all affected–your husband, your children. And for your father, your siblings, even his wife. God is always in the process of creating what our enemy has stolen. Much has been stolen and now it’s time to enter a new creative process. I know creating is almost always messy. And I know you’ll wonder and wonder why it all happened. But the pain will never be healed and questions will never be resolved–or turned into gold–unless you face it. And I believe you know that or you wouldn’t have called him. Blessings. Really. You might not feel blessed, but you are. You even have a rich future.

  5. March 15, 2012 1:55 pm

    (((hugs))). You know I love you. I’m praying.

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