The day after you find out the biological father you never met died two years ago, you will find yourself at Target and realize that you no longer have to scrutinize every tall man of a certain age and wonder “Are you my biological father?” He will not be your father.
You also have to let go of the theory you held on to for so long. The theory that if you were to see him out in the world you would instinctively know it’s him. You were convinced that something buried in your DNA would react and you would look into each other’s eyes and there it would be.
You will also have to give up the notion that someday you might inherit a gozillion dollars from the man who gave you up for adoption. Also, you will no longer have to worry that you will meet a tall, handsome redheaded man and fall in love only to discover that he is the half-brother you never knew you had. You will not, however, have to admit that you don’t actually live in a soap opera.
You will have awkward conversations with your sisters and discover how much they didn’t know about him, because that’s how little your birth father was discussed. They will not know he served in Vietnam or that he was older than your mom. None of you will know how long they were together.
They will mean well and be surprised that the idea of calling your mom with the news never crossed your mind. They will understand that if she knew and never told you, it would be devastating. You will not have to mention the fact that you cannot even imagine finding the words to have that conversation with her. They too will wonder if she doesn’t already know. They lived in the same small town, two years ago — my mother and biological father. Not many people die in that town without everyone else in that town knowing.
You will find extra special meaning in the lyrics to The Avett Brother’s “Live and Die.” All it’ll take is just one moment and you can say goodbye to how we had it planned. Fear like a habit, run like a rabbit out and away. Through the screen door to the unknown, and I wanna love you and more. I wanna find you and more. Can you tell that I am alive? Let me prove it.
The song will make you cry, big tears that shimmer on the edges of your eyes until they fall down your face. You will remember that one time your mom told you how much he loved Simon & Garfunkel’s “Sound of Silence” and you will add that fact to the small handful you have and look forward to the day or the week or the month or the year when that handful will be enough and the never-to-be answered questions will cease to matter.