Cold Spring Harbor, 2016
d. j. dawson (b. 1963)
digital photograph, unaltered

The last, and only time, she wrote was January of this year. It was as though she accidentally included me on an email with photo attachments, that’s how odd and out of left field. But, it was family-related and it was sweet, baby birthday photos of an extended family member. It was nice, if not odd, to be included. I replied, and thought there would be more.


Yet, I waited, thinking on this daily.

Will she write today? Does she think about me? Is she interested in my life or was that a mistake? Does she want to talk with me? Is she finally interested? No…she probably emailed me by mistake, I’m not the only “J” email or “J” person she knows.

In the end, I realized I’d been included in that email by mistake.

Another misstep in reunion. I ached along quietly accepting that, though they know about me, they do not acknowledge or include. Plus, I needed time, despite believing I was prepared for reunion, and backed away for four years. Until I didn’t.

Earlier in July, I wrote her. Making a family tree on Ancestry, I realized I had no idea who her parents are. Vaguely, when she first visited, I thought I recalled her mother as a J name but wasn’t sure. At that time, my best friend was a J and I found it rather karmic my grandmother had been the same J. Regardless, I wrote. I wrote again three days later as she didn’t reply the first time. Over the span of several days, we wrote sparingly. She said it was nice to be in touch, that I was welcome there as little or as much as I am comfortable. Then I wrote a longer note and waited. No reply. I followed up with a semi-apology for writing too much. It is 11 days past that last email to her and she has gone.

She is on social media and puttering about her life but she has not replied. 11 days is just enough time for me to need to back away, again. It feels like rejection. Some of her other children live near her and I cannot imagine she doesn’t interact or speak with them but every two weeks.

I tried to come back, to open the door and see what was waiting. This feels like ‘you are welcome here but we don’t actually want you’…all over again.

There are ghosts and I meet them as they appear, usually unbeckoned. Usually, when the smallest, most ancient part of my being is afraid.

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