Letters and Late Nights

After I put Zachary to bed that night, I allowed myself to wallow in my thoughts about our earlier conversation.  It had now been over five years since I’d last seen Joe, but it felt like yesterday when he’d walked away from me and never looked back.

I’d been telling myself that I could make a good life for Zachary without his biological father.  That I could fill his life with loving relatives and friends and that he would thrive and be happy.  And that had been true, certainly.  He was a bright child who I could take anywhere and be proud of his behavior.  He was polite, he was kind to other children and I knew I’d done the very best I could for him.

But in these five years, I still couldn’t get over the fact that Joe had never, not once, come to meet his son.  I couldn’t believe that he could look in the mirror every day and not remember that there was a child out there with his DNA.  He didn’t even know how much Zachary resembled him; which he did.  I was blond and pale and blue eyed; Zach had olive skin, dark hair and eyes.   Like an adopted child, Zach would grow up knowing that he didn’t resemble me and my family; he would know every time he looked in the mirror that there was a part of him that was missing.  Would he internalize his feelings and blame himself?  Would he feel like he was not good enough, as I had during my teen years when my father’s absences grew long and pronounced?

The more I thought about it, the more upset I felt at the injustice of it all.  It certainly wasn’t Zach’s fault that his father and I were caught on the wrong side of the statistics of contraception.  It was not his fault that I had raging hormones and Joe had a healthy lot of family issues going on at the time.    I counted all of the times when I should have called Joe while I still had the chance, all the times I’d seen him on campus and didn’t stop him to talk.  It was an avalanche of regret, and I felt like it was time I changed the course.

I knew Joe’s grandparents still lived in the same house they’d lived in five years ago; their name was still in the phone book.  They were the only connection left to him; I didn’t even know if they knew that Zach existed.   But in that moment of anger and fear, I felt like I wasn’t about to waste another chance.  Before it was too late to reach them too, I decided to write them a letter and tell them about Zachary and beg them for help in reaching his father.

By the time I was done with the letter that started, “I don’t know if you remember me…” and ended with, “I again am sorry to contact you this way but I just didn’t know what else to do…”, it was eleven thirty at night.  I folded the letter and addressed the envelope, but left it unsealed.  I decided that I should sleep on it and reread the letter in the morning.   If everything still made sense then, and this seemed like the right move to make, then I would mail out the letter Monday morning.

I dropped the letter in the box at the front of our development on the way to work two days later.

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