My dearest Dawn,

You and I have talked about this before, but I wanted to tell you the full story here, for everyone to see, so please forgive the long letter.

As you know, my parents were each previously married, and each of them had a daughter from their marriages before they met, married, and had me. My father’s daughter, A, is the eldest. She turned 40 this year, I believe, while my mother’s daughter, L, is in her mid-30s and I am in my mid-20s.

L and I are very good friends. Sure, we don’t talk all the time, but when we do it always feels like no time has passed. We can talk about anything. She is the sister I grew up with. I visited her in college, she nags me about job applications, we tell each other the matters of our hearts. Her being older by 11.5 years (almost to the day) just means that she’s almost like a second mother to me (although she’s bossier than our mother is). I love her dearly.

A, on the other hand, I have only met a handful of times. I was a baby when she apparently made the decision that she no longer wanted to visit our father and my mother, for reasons that I do not know. She chose to cut herself off from us, and it wasn’t until I was around 10 or 11 years old that I actually met her at an age that I was able to form memories.

I had found a picture of L with an older girl in an old photo album. When I asked my mother about it, she said that the older girl was my other sister, A. I asked all the usual questions: why didn’t I ever meet her before? where is she? what is she like? and the biggest question of all, can I see her again?

I don’t know the details, but I know that my father must have reached out to her through her mother and let A know that I wanted to meet her. She agreed because I asked her to come. No one ever told me that outright, but it was something that I understood as intrinsically true. I didn’t hold that against her at the time, but I have to admit that as an adult that knowledge leaves a bitter taste in my mouth.

She was not at all like what I expected when I met her. She was definitely going for the goth vibe: black heavy metal t-shirt, tattoos, piercings all over her face, dread locks. She was also a vegetarian, if I remember correctly. We had the same eyes and similar noses. I remember that. She gave me presents and we played games. I talked at her (you know how little kids are), and I probably annoyed her. I don’t blame younger me for what happened after that.

We met fairly regularly for the next couple years. She never came during a holiday, but since L always went to her dad’s for Christmas, that was something I understood. Still, I got to see A about five times between 4th and 6th grade. I had a picture taken of the two of us that I carried to show off to my class, because suddenly I had another sister. I don’t know where that picture is anymore.

Then, one day it ended. Mom, Dad, and I went to church. A wasn’t religious, but that was fine. We were going to have lunch together after service and play a game. But that didn’t happen. When we came home, A had left a note saying that she just couldn’t stay any longer, or something to that effect. I don’t believe I actually read the note, but I do remember going to my room and crying. I overheard my mother say something about “She can’t just come into our lives again and leave like that: she made Wilber cry!” I think that’s one of the only times that I have heard my mother be angry on my behalf–she’s usually so peaceful and calm.

That wasn’t the last time I saw A, but it did mark the end of any innocent thoughts I had about us being sisters. I saw her one more time when she attended on of my plays in middle school. She drove with a friend, saw the play, met me and my father afterwards for dinner, and left. I haven’t seen or heard from her since.

I know my father has tried to contact her at different points since then. He put together a special book of letters that his father (my grandfather) wrote to her when he was still alive and sent it to her for her 30th birthday. We don’t know if she got it.

I considered, briefly, inviting her to my high school and college graduations, respectively, but decided against it without consulting my parents both times. I wanted to fully enjoy those days, and doubted I would if she were present.

Now I’m a full fledged adult, or so the government and society keeps telling me. Now I’m thinking ahead to the future. Our father is in his 60s, and I will be his caretaker (after my mother, of course). Yet, if something were to happen to him, I would still want to notify A, because she does deserve some acknowledgement.

After speaking about all of this with my counselor, friends, and various family members, I have come to the decision that I want to find A again. Perhaps this is a more tangible version of finding lighthouses in my life, but I know that this is a missing puzzle piece that I need to solve. Maybe A won’t be a part of my life, but I at least need to find her and deal with whatever she decides once and for all.

I have already started looking for her. A should still be in the Twin Cities area, which is quite large enough to be searching through, let me tell you. I have already experienced how emotionally draining and gut-wrenching just picking up the phone to dial yet another number that she isn’t at the other end is. But the good news is that I have friends and loved ones who are surrounding me, supporting me in my decision.

I’m looking for a sister. Will I find one? That’s up to her. After all, sometimes blood is not thicker the water. The main thing is, I’ll get to hear that decision from her myself.

All my love,

Wilber

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