I haven't talked about him much yet because frankly, I was in a bit of a state of disbelief.
What to say, even now, as I sit here, trying to scrape together the words for you about my birthfather, M, the supposed villain in my story. So I'd thought. So I'd been told. And let's be honest---so we all think---when it comes to adoption and birthmothers who give up their beautiful, helpless little babies and the fathers who abandon them. The fathers who were never there to see the struggle and the suffering and the questions with no answers and the stark realization that No, There Is No God Who Intervenes For The Good And The Broken, The Small And The Poor.
Except sometimes, the complicated parts of The Story come out that you are never told. The parts the mothers can't even tell themselves. The parts, that only thirty years can force to the surface, bursting through like a swimmer drowning under their own weight, water burning their lungs for release. These are the parts that have to do with growth and evolution. This involves a tremendous amount of painful admission and change and only some people in these stories, in life in general, are capable of doing it. Reflecting upon it; facing it when it shows up at the most inconvenient time in their life. Oh, but there was never a convenient time.
I was and always will be their greatest inconvenience.
Every day, I inconveniently remind them of how it wasn't my fault. I remind them of their failure to be "responsible young adults". I remind them, in short, how they got caught.
But I also remind them of their passionate youth, the magnificence of letting everything go, just for a moment, in someone else's arms. Someone you don't really need or want to see again, but someone you have a raw need for, just in that moment where everything simultaneously slows down and speeds up and you can't think clearly but you see everything so very clearly. The music is loud and your heart is racing with your most primal pulse and all you want is to feel something; everything.
She told me how, after he made love to her, he went into the kitchen and came back with an orange. Which he proceeded to peel and break apart, feeding to her piece by piece.
She told me this story months after we were reunited. Something came over her, a longing to admit that maybe she'd felt more. Wanted more. From him. For them. But all that Something and Everything got lost in the Everything It Became: The pregnancy. The fear. The rage. The loss.
After reconnecting with him, I only then realized that he too experienced things. Oh sure, he didn't go through 9 months of pregnancy and then have to make the difficult decision to give up a child he couldn't care for. He never met me, never saw me but for a photo a random friend waved in his face, screaming at him to acknowledge he was the father. He ran away. He was a bastard. A scared piece of shit of a young guy who didn't even deserve to be called a man, let alone a father.
But his guilt was enough to make him suffer for 30 years. I think by now, they've both paid their dues in the guilt department. And they'll never stop. That's been made abundantly clear to me, what with MW's self-sabotaging poverty-stricken lifestyle, and M's over-achieving to cover up his past. His father has long been dead but M's still trying to make him proud. All this guilt---her guilt, his guilt, my guilt---my fucking sick guilt--- is frankly a hindrance. Remember that: your guilt only serves one purpose: to get you to deal with something, to face it. After that, it serves no purpose. So fucking throw it out with all your other trash, stop putting it out with the recycling.
In a sense, I feel like the adult in this whole strange situation I've found myself in. I watch them both, desperately scrambling to connect with me and save face at the same time. Sometimes I literally have to tell them, I'm 32 years old. And a mother. What the hell are you trying to say?
There is nothing they can say at this point that surprises me. About themselves. About each other. About...back then.
All I can say right now about him is this: He cried. He gets so emotional he can't wait to read my emails. He wants to know every detail he's missed. Colors. Foods. Travel. Illness. Grades. Seasons. Music. Essays. And why I didn't send a picture like I always do with that last email.
Perhaps, over time, just like with MW, I'll see his worst traits. I'll come to resent things about him, his weakest parts screaming at me that he's a coward; a broken, dysfunctional person. Like me. Like us all.
But for now, he is beautifully and forgivably human. He is my birthfather. A man whose eyes light up as he greets my son and I on Skype, who loves my stories and photos, who freaks out when I casually tell him I have type 1 diabetes and tries to send me to one of the most expensive hospitals in the country to be "looked at". Um, that's ok. I was just telling you I had it.
He sent me about three dozen white roses for my birthday, upset they arrived a day late. The white rose stands for true love. For purity of heart. For truce. For unity; a new bond. I can only hope so. Once, we were on Skype and kept getting disconnected. When we came back online, I said to him, "Apparently, we have a bad connection." He chuckled and without missing a beat said, "Better than the last 30 years."
The white rose is often also depicted as stained with blood. A reminder that we are all pricked and blushed by our imperfections. Truly, our imperfections make us who we are.