It all started innocently enough one late evening in February of 2008. Progressively pregnant and increasingly more exhausted, I mindlessly surfed the Internet while I was watching TV in bed. Just like so many times before, I typed my biological father’s name into the Google search engine, curious to see if there were any new hits related to him. In the past six months, I had been lucky enough to find out, with the help of the Internet, that he was a computer programmer at an insurance firm and that his wife was a nurse at a local hospital. I had spent hours upon hours endlessly reading the multitude of posts that he made on professional computer programming sites, even though I had absolutely no idea what any of the things that he was referring to in his posts even meant. With the aid of the Internet, I even discovered that Elliot and his brother were connected with horse racing and training.
Looking back on it now, I was probably one of the lucky ones during my first 12 years of searching for biological family. My search may have not been easy, but I was blessed to not encounter any embarrassing family stories, significant criminal histories or even obituaries for members of either side of my immediate biological family when I began my search on the Internet. Little did I know that my fate would change that auspicious February evening.
Glancing down the list of 111 hits that were found for him, I couldn’t believe my eyes as they settled onto the third hit on the list. The Sioux City Journal, the local newspaper, had a recent article that pertained to him. On first glance, this was a very exciting new prospect for information. However, on second glance, sadness welled up in my throat with a lump, and hot tears stung my eyes. This was no ordinary news article that I had uncovered about my biological father, this was his obituary!
With a mixture of pride, anger, and deep sadness, I curled up under the warm, safe covers of the bed and blindly read through my tears about the life and death of the man that I had been searching for and waiting to hear from for so long.
Although the obituary provided me just a brief glimpse into the far too short fifty years of Elliot’s life, I read and re-read it over and over again, attempting to remember every piece of information by rote, tucking it away into the corners of both my memory and my heart.
I couldn’t help but be struck with sadness and disappointment that I was now learning more about Elliot in his death, than I had ever learned about him in his life. Learning that he participated in football and was a member of the National Honor Society in high school, that he had received an appointment to West Point Military Academy after high school, that he was an accomplished database administrator at a local insurance firm and an active member in the community personally and professionally as an adult; learning that he even donated his organs at the time of his death, the depth of my pride for this man that I had never met truly caught me by surprise.
Yet, mixed with this pride was a strong dose of anger; anger at him and at God that he had died before I ever had the opportunity to meet him, anger with him for living a life of fullness and happiness that did not bear any mark to the anguish that punctuated my arrival into this world.
Despite the overwhelming strength of both my pride and anger that evening, as I read of my biological father’s untimely death, the undercurrent of sadness swept through my heart and soul with a fierceness all its own. Deep down in my heart I knew, even in that brief moment of time, that it was not really anger that I felt towards my father and God, but great sadness that I had lost one of the few people that I had a biological connection to in this world. I had now lost any opportunity to one day meet him, learn about him, and even learn about myself through him.
Never again would I have to worry about accidentally running into him in the grocery store; never again would I anxiously arrive home from work to check the mail, wondering if today was the day that he had finally responded to my letter. Never, never, never…..my list of nevers could continue on and on.