My poor heart was really working overtime that day—I probably took days off my life! It was pounding right out of my chest as we left Graeter's (the ice cream shop) and drove toward Frank's house.
We pulled up, and immediately noticed that the pick-up truck was gone. (God has always had a way of protecting me from myself. J) But we pressed on. We parked on the road across the street, and I used the back of one of Jon's business card to write a short note in case no one was home.
Jon wanted to go with me, but I asked him to wait in the truck. I needed to do this myself. So with shaking hands—well, OK, my whole body was shaking—I climbed out of the truck and made my way to his front door, silently praying that he wasn't really home.
He wasn't. But his wife was.
I had no idea if she knew who I was or why I was there, and if not, I wasn't sure I should be the one to explain it. So I just gave her the business card, asked her to give it to Frank, and left.
I didn't know what to expect at that point. I had already made one attempt at contact that had gone unanswered. I had left him my e-mail address on the business card, so I went home and waited. I didn't have to wait long.
A couple of days after our trip, I got an e-mail from Frank. If I had worried that we had somehow found the wrong guy, that was no longer an issue. I still have the e-mail somewhere, but I can sum it up pretty well for you without looking… It said, "Don't ever contact me again. If I change my mind, I'll find you." He said that he had never told his wife about me, and that I had caused some problems for him. He hadn't spoken to Jan since the day I was born, and didn't even know that I knew about her, let alone him—he hadn't ever expected to hear from me, and was quite happy to keep it that way.
I don't take rejection well. Here was a man I had never met, a man who knew I had been conceived but had no interest in caring for me even then, a man with whom I had no emotional connection of any kind, yet with one simple e-mail had completely shattered me. The nicest thing in the whole e-mail said, "Please respect my feelings about this and do not contact me again." Oh, and here's the best part… he started off the e-mail with, "Dear Kathy." He didn't even get my name right.
I was crushed.
Around this same time, my parents were planning a graduation party for me. Yes, I had finished school in December, but Heidelberg is a small college and only has graduation once per year, so my actual graduation wasn't until May of 2001. It wasn't anything big, just a little cookout for family at my mom and dad's. But it just so happened that Jan had e-mailed and said that she wanted to come visit, and one of the weekends she suggested was the same weekend as the party. I told her that would work out perfectly, so she could be there.
Let's just stop here and recap for a minute the amount of absolute insanity that was on my plate right at that moment. I had, of course, the normal life stresses that everyone has… I had just finished my senior year of college, moved home, gotten married, moved in with my new husband, and started a new job (which I already completely disliked). I didn't have any friends close by, and I was trying to find where I fit in my church, which had just been "Jon's church" up until we got married. Those things were stressful, but manageable. But then throw this into the mix: within the past year, my birth mom (who I was still in many ways getting to know) had confirmed to me she was gay, she had a girlfriend who I did not care for at all, I had sought out my biological father, found a dear woman to whom I had no real connection but was really starting to love, and then most recently, had been rejected by the man who I wasn't sure I was ready to meet anyway. It had been a big year.
And so we come back to the graduation party. I enjoy spending time with Jan, but as I mentioned, I did not like her partner at all, and I sometimes found it awkward to "hang out" with them. The party seemed like the perfect opportunity for Jan to be part of something that was important to me, and it would also give us something to do, so I didn't feel like I needed to find ways to entertain them during their visit.
Cue the next drama.
Jan responded with a big e-mail about how she was no longer comfortable to be around my parents. This may seem to make sense at first glance, given the fact that she is my biological parent and they are my "real" parents and I'm sure it all seems very awkward; but keep in mind that this came after 20 years of a relationship between them. Jan had not just been part of my life all that time, but part of theirs, too—and they had been part of hers. They didn't always agree with the choices she made, but they cared about her and had really developed a friendship in the midst of it all. And now she just didn't want to see them anymore. To this day I don't know why, really. I know that my parents feel the same way about homosexuality that I do, and I know that Jan is well aware of their feelings, too, so I am sure that this contributes to it… but in her e-mail, she assured me that it had nothing to do with her being gay. She said she would explain it at a future visit, but she never offered and, to be honest, I never asked. I have enough to worry about in my own life, I didn't want to get in the middle of something that wasn't mine to fret over.
Anyway, Jan ended her e-mail with something along the lines of… "Please respect my feelings about this." Sound familiar? It was the same thing that Frank had said in his e-mail.
I'd had enough.