I had just finished a home visit with a family on my caseload on a cold, late-January evening. After leaving, I noticed I had a voicemail on my phone. The number was a restricted number. I listened to the message, assuming it was my aunt, the only person I knew who had a restricted number.
The voice on the other end was not my aunt. It was my father.
I had finally gotten the nerve to mail him the letter just the week before. I had updated it to include my phone number and email address, and providing a new mailing address. He had emailed me and called me on the very day he received the letter.
We talked for about thirty minutes. He asked me about pictures he had seen online - it turns out he had been keeping tabs on me all these years, just waiting for me to contact him. He told me several times how proud he is of me. We spent the next several days emailing each other. I finally got the questions I had wanted answered for twenty years, answered. I heard his side of how things went down between he and my mother. His only remaining family is a sister and some nephews and nieces, and I am his only child. He married soon after things ended with my mother, but they divorced and he has not married since. He is very nomadic, having moved from state to state simply for the hell of it, because he gets tired of living somewhere. He emailed me a picture of himself so I would know what he looked like. Turns out we are almost carbon copies of each other. After hearing his side of events, and seeing how much we looked alike, so many of my childhood issues finally seemed to be making sense. No wonder my mom treated me the way she did when I was a child - we look so much alike, I was a constant reminder of decisions and days that she would rather have forgotten. When he asked, I was honest (well, to a point) about what my mother had told me about him. What really amazed me, is that after years of being told by her that he was practically the devil incarnate, and never having a nice thing to say about him, he has not once said anything negative about her. In fact, his advice was to never stop loving my family, and not let myself be consumed by hatred, because he's been down that road and it ruined him. He still views my mother as "the one that got away", and says that the day that she walked out on him, with me in her arms, is the hardest thing he's ever been through.
January had already been a whirlwind month. By this point in the month, I had already gone on several dates with a beautiful girl whom I was very attracted to. We initially met up at Barnes and Noble. We talked for four hours straight. Throughout the course of the month, she stated that she was very interested in me, but was wanting to take it slow because I'm her first post-divorce dating experience. I, of course, was perfectly okay with taking things slowly, as I haven't been in a relationship since 2007, and didn't want to jump into anything myself. I had also just passed my licensing exam, making me an official LMSW. And my roommate and I had just obtained approval on a house for rent, and would be moving at the first of March. I would no longer be sleeping on a couch. I would have my own space. Be able to get my own furniture. Be able to get all of my stuff back out of storage. For the first time in a long time, I felt good about my life. I was excited that so many things seemed to finally be coming together at once. I was relieved that my father was receptive to connecting with me, and that I had found a girl I thought I could potentially be happy with. But yet, so much was changing in my life, in just one month, that I was apprehensive. Waiting for the other shoe to drop. After all, it would seem that nothing positive ever lasts for long when it concerns me. The other shoe always finds a way to drop. And so, I waited. And hoped I was wrong.