I Have Waited a Lifetime

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I Have Waited a Lifetime

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Posted: 4/4/2009
Note: Names, Identifying informaiton and details may have been altered to protect personal identities.

"My whole life I have lived with the image of my dad through an old photograph.

"I'm forty now and an adult, but throughout the years I have imagined so many scenarios about who he is, and what kind of man he has become. Deep inside I know nothing of him. I am afraid of dying someday without having the opportunity to meet him and talk to him. I will never know why he left but I want to hear his side of the story. I want to ask him if he ever thought about me. Did he ever miss me? Did he ever look for me? What happened 40 years ago? I have to know."

Those are April's words, sent to SQA by email in February. All through her childhood she dreamed of daddy-daughter dates and yearned for the normalcy of a two-parent household. Now as an adult she watches the way her husband interacts with his daughters and wonders why she never had that opportunity.

All her life she has been confronted with questions she could not answer. Before she could join the military she was required to list her fathers name and background. It felt foreign to write the name of a man she had never met. When she experienced unexpected health problems, her doctor asked for a family medical history that she could not provide.

"It makes me angry. It makes me sad. I want to know his story. I want to know what happened. I want to know him. I don't want anything from him--I'm an adult, I went to college, I have my own life. I just want answers."

April graduated from college with a Bachelor's Degree in Business. She worked in Wall Street in New York City and gained several years of experience in the corporate world. April was pursuing a double Masters Degree in International Business Management and Information Systems when tragedy struck September 11, 2001. Her experiences that day motivated her to join the military. She met her husband and became a military spouse, and soon received a medical discharge. She currently works for higher education encouraging and educating military soldiers and military family members to pursue higher education.

April's case was solved quickly, and she wasn't prepared for the phone call she received from her researcher, Julie Jones, one morning. Julie said, "April, I have good news and bad news, are you sitting down? The bad news is your father passed away in 2001. The good news is you have three brothers. One of them knows about you and he can't wait to talk to you. Write down this phone number."

An avalanche of emotions hit all at once--gut-wrenching sadness to know that she would never get to meet her father, anxiety at the idea of idea of talking to her brother for the first time, and joy to know that her dad talked about her and that he loved her.

As she reflects on the experience, she says, "It was like a dream. We exchanged pictures. He told me about dad and how he died. It was November 17, 2001 and he had a heart attack and died in his sleep. I wish I could have known him, but it's like a weight has been lifted from my shoulders just to know what happened."

April treasures the text messages she received from Jeremy the night they spoke for the first time. He wrote "Hey little sister now that it sunk in, I am ur little brother and I love u from this day forth and nothing will keep us apart! I promise! Were family! Luv ya." He also wrote, "We will have a whole life to live together! U have no idea how happy u have made me! Thank you for finding me I'm forever grateful!"

Aprils reunion hasn't been picture-perfect, however. Although Jeremy promised to contact her the next day after talking to his brothers, April never heard back from him. "I think he got cold feet after talking to members of the family. It was devastating not to hear back from him."

April has been waiting for weeks now. She has sent emails, but does not want to pressure him. She received a quick email back from Jeremy a few weeks ago. He explained that he is going through some personal issues and said, "this is really personal and I can't share this it you. I know you're my sister, but I just met you. I promise I will call when I'm ready."

April is still waiting, and she's not giving up. Her immediate problem is that she and her husband will be moving to Europe for the military within the next few months, and April's dream is to meet her brothers in person before she goes. "I want to respect their wishes, but I just need to meet them. I don't know if we'll be gone for 3 years or 6 years, and I feel like time is running out."

No matter what happens, April is happy she searched. "My experience was positive from the first email I sent. Julie has been amazing and everyone I have talked to has been professional and caring. My reunion might not have turned out how I hoped it would. But I'm not giving up--my story isn't over yet."

(Written by Mica Burton on April's behalf.)
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