Death Or Letter – Touching Story
November 20th, 1944 I gave my newborn daughter up for adoption. At the time it seemed the only choice possible. I was 22 years old and not yet a year removed from a war that had left me mangled physically and more scarred mentally than I cared to let on. I had no job, no prospects and no money. Not to mention the mother of this little girl and I barely knew one another but knew enough to know that we weren’t at all curious to know much more.
Over the years I can’t say that I thought about my daughter everyday. That’s what I’m pretty sure you’re supposed to say in a situation such as mine. It sounds good, but in my case it wouldn’t be the truth. For long stretches of time I would forget about her completely, and in the rare case that I did reflect, it was never with remorse, more so relief.
That innocuous envelope was never something I wanted or expected. Not that I shouldn’t have. I suppose it’s not so unusual that an adopted daughter, once grown, may come asking questions one day of her biological parents. And so I opened it, and I scanned the prose of my progeny. I saw myself in a few of those words. Or so I thought. She spoke of her life, and her childhood, and painted simple snapshots of pieces of herself she saw fit to share with a stranger with an unspoken connection that few knew of. I read about school functions, and relationships, and dreams and aspirations and I cried. I didn’t expect it, but it wasn’t at all surprising. My tears smeared the years she wrote about and when I was finished with both the reading and the crying I balled the letter and the envelope up and drove them to a nearby lake and gave her away for a second time.
As the years passed I thought of her more than I had prior to the letter and at times I wished she would write once more and maybe this time I’d summon the courage to write back. But what was I to say? My life was nothing to speak of really and I couldn’t imagine her looking over my lack of accomplishments and feeling anything but disdain. I wanted her to be proud of me for some reason. I was embarrassed to reveal myself to this child/teenager/woman I had never and would never know. I never got the chance again, though I suppose I could have sought her out as she did me. But I made excuses. Maiden names being harder to trace and such. And eventually the thoughts became increasingly rare until I forgot to remember her at all. I forgot Beth ever existed so thoroughly that as I enter my 91st year I can’t be certain she ever really did, or if she was merely a manifestation of my once nimble imagination. Reality is slippery like that at this age. I can’t know if this guilt is real but it stings all the same and so these days I sit and wait for death to release me. Death or a letter. Whichever comes first.
This touching story is shared by one of our reader Jayne Matthews‘s son(Timothy Matthews).