This morning as I sat on the edge of my bed, pulling on my socks, I noticed the black dress that I had packed for what I thought might be a funeral had fallen off it’s hanger and lay in a rumpled pile on the floor of the closet. I thought to myself, how grim it was that I had packed that on the eve of meeting my birth father and family for the first time. A little later in the morning, as I walked with my son Henry towards the steps of his preschool he said, in a voice so small and calm, “Mama, will I live forever?” and I bent over and touched his little face and told him, “No, if everyone lived forever then life wouldnt be important. That’s why we have to love our life and take care of ourselves and others always.” And a new sad look that I hadnt ever seen from him before washed over his face, then a little choked up, he said “But I just want to live forever. Can you please hold my hand so I dont get killed?” And he squeezed my hand tightly and I squeezed back.

As I drove away from him and towards the rest of my day, I thought of that night, two weeks ago, driving from Dayton to Cincinnati at 12 am, towards him, towards them…..this whole group of people who had thought of me most of my life and who I had just only discovered a few months ago. The flight to Ohio had seemed eternal, there were all these feelings that I couldnt quite verbalize, they were so rife with expired emotions, new ones and questions that even in my mind, I couldnt form one cohesive thought about. I had no idea how I felt other than scared. As the car pushed on through that early morning towards him, towards them, all of the time and space that had been between us my entire life was flying behind me so fast like shiny ribbon falling quickly off a spool and into another rumpled pile on the floor.

There are things I am thankful right now. That I didnt have to use that dress the first time I met him. That when I met my siblings that I loved them right away as a sister would and that they loved me back. I am thankful that I was able to talk to him so many times before he ended up in the hospital, that I felt like I was starting to know him, or even that I did feel like I already knew him all along. I am thankful that I can be present and be their big sister as they go through a difficult time starting with that phone call that I had to make to tell them, that their father, that our father had just died this afternoon. Thank you, Edward Hawkins for being my first father. Thank you, Edward Hawkins for my sisters and brothers. Thank you. I love you, and I always have.

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