The Search – Bednago Harper

The Search Part I

So long she’d waited, wondered, hoped and prayed. All that had finally come to pass.

A powerful mixture of determined restless anticipation surged through the young girl as she slowly closed the mailbox. She wasn’t just a kid anymore, naive and accepting. Tall, graceful, and very high spirited, at fifteen, she needed answers. Beyond all the infinite questions that had been pestering her lately, there lurked just too many that demand closure, just knowing – “Where is my father?” She’d been asking her mother lately. “Who is my father?” Her questions had been too many times left unanswered with stubborn frowns. Every once in a while, her mother would tease her with just enough information to open the door to still more unanswered questions. She was growing to be a woman in her own right. Tall, proud, intelligen, and beautiful. And smart enough to know that if she wasn’t given the answers to her many consuming questions, then she’d just have to search for the answers herself.

So she did just that.

Again, she wondered if the address that she’d carefully written and checked and double checked on the envelope was indeed correct. And again she wondered if her letter would reach the hands intended. Her brows furrowed in stubborn refusal of anything but the positive. THis had BETTER be the right address, she pouted inwardly. And he’d BETTER get my letter.

She walked home slowly, oblivious to the continuous buzz of the early evening traffic. A warm smile slowly surfaced as she began to think familiar thoughts. “Is he tall?” she wondered. “I’ll bet he is. Mom’s short, so my height has to come from his side of the family. Does he have other children? Do I have brothers, and sisters? And how many uncles do I have? Aunts? Cousins?” The questions surfaced in her head slowly at first, and then swirled as rapidly and continuously as a crashing tidal wave. In searching for her father, the young girl’s questions were becoming not only, “Who is my father?” but deeper still, “Who am I?”

Little did the young girl know that her precious letter would soon reach the end of its prayerful journey.

That young girl is my daughter. 


The Search Part II

My eyes bucked in disbelief as I looked at the name of the sender of the letter I held in my hand. For a long moment, I started at the letter, entranced. My hands trembled uncontrollably. Inside, I felt a tremendous surge of something like excitement mixed with nervous jittery anticipation. For many years, I’d mailed out letter after letter in search of my child, but they’d all gone unanswered. I’d never given up on finding her someday, but sometimes I’d given out. She’d be fifteen years old now, and I hadn’t seen her since she was two. Utterly speechless, I stared blankly at her name mostly written in the return address, and I’m deeply moved just to be handling the same envelope that has touched her hands. 

My eyes grew misty as I read the contents of the precious letter. As I read it, I sadly realize that my daughter has gone through just as much anguish and frustration looking for me as I had searching for her. Right then it seemed so unreal, so unbelievable, that my search was finally over. No longer would I have to wait and wonder in heartache and pain insearch for my daughter. My daughter had found me.

In her letter, she expressed the uncertainty she’d felt in trying to reach out to me, but she made it clear that she would like to come and see me if I would have her.

If I would have her, I thought incredulously.

I laughed seriously at that one.

If I would have her.

I made the necessary arrangements for her to come see me the following weekend. 

Though I hadn’t seen her in over thirteen years, as she stepped off the bus, I knew she was mine the first moment I laid eyes on here. I got weak at the knees, and my breathing came in spasms. Thought I was gonna break down and cry. But looking at my beautiful daughter, what hit me first and foremost was that I thought that Daddy was gonna need a shotgun.

In the beginning it was awkward, but through weekend visits I’m finally getting to know my daughter. Thankfully we’ve made it pass that preliminary stage of feeling each other out. She’s gotten to know the other side of her family tree, and her new relationships with her many cousins, aunts and uncles are blooming quite well. What touches me most is that at family gatherings she stands close by my side, letting everyone there know who she’s there with. It’s like she observes my interactions with people before she’ll open up to trust anyone around us. 

Through her weekend visits, I’ve quickly learned that her stranger subjects in school are English and Art, as were mine. Her favorite color is pink and her favorite food is pizza, with chicken wings and macaroni and cheese coming in a close second. She’s very soft spoken but can be very outspoken if and when she needs to be. She’s very careful around strangers, and when she’s talking to you she looks you directly in the eye. I see so much of myself in this child it’s scary.

During one of her weekend visits, I was sitting in the kitchen after we’d finished eating dinner. Dried chicken wings, macaroni and cheese, and buttery crescent rolls. She sat in the living room talking to one of her friends on my cell phone, and I pretended not to be listening. I’d apparently became the subject of the conversation because I clearly heard her say “My Dad” into the phone.

Right then, the world stopped spinning. I froze, surprised, petrified. A soothing warm rush surged through the inner depths of my soul. From all the times that she;d visited up until then, that was the first time that I’d heard her refer to me using that word. Any man can be a father but I felt deeply touched that she’d elevated my status in her life to “Dad.” It felt so good hearing her say that magical word that I wanted – needed – to hear her say it again.

“What did you call me?” I asked her from the kitchen.

My daughter paused from her conversation, and lifted the ohio from her ear. She smiled, looked at me with these big brown eyes and said “My Dad,” and then went back to her conversation.

I thought to myself then, this “Dad” thing has got to be the coolest.

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