The discussion turned to what we should do. Did I want to meet him? Yes. I did. So a few weeks later, I was sitting in a house two hours away from mine. That's it. We lived south of a large city, they lived north of it.
Growing up, people always told me that I looked like my mom and that my second sister looked like our dad. Little did we know that we both looked just like our dads. Lucky for my mom he wasn't a red-head. At a little over six foot tall, I finally found out where my height came from. His nose rest firmly on my face, wedged between his oversized cheeks – mine bearing a sprinkling of freckles.
It was an awkward meeting. I don't remember much about it. He was married, and I had two even younger sisters, bringing my total up to four now. While I was fifteen, they were five and four, much younger than I.
I went back for a visit at Christmas. I don't remember what we told my sisters at the time. I remember my gift. It was a gold ring with a heart-shaped peridot with tiny diamond accents. I remember it was the first piece of jewelry I ever owned that had any real diamonds. I slept in a small spare bed, and my little sisters wanted to sleep with "Sister Kelli." So the three of us piled in this tiny bed. I remember one of them screaming because I slipped my hand under the pillow and grabbed her foot. I stayed the night and was supposed to stay until Christmas Eve. But, it was confusing for me. I had not been away from my mom, not like that. With this new family. It was too much for me. He drove me back the next day.
And that was it. I tried to keep in touch. My birthday is August 8th, and I remembered that one of my sisters birthdays was October 8th. So I sent a card. But I sent it to the wrong sister. Oops. I was 16 at the time. What can you do. I hardly knew them. They had their own happy family, and I just wasn't really part of it. He had never made any effort to make me a part of his life and I didn't know if I wanted to be part of their life either. And that was the last time I saw them.
Almost four years ago, I was working in the mall (while going to college) and I was walking into the back when a woman yelled my name, "Kelli?" I had worked at that store for three years, and I had worked at the one next door for two years before that. If you live in my town, chances are, I have sold you some clothes. I figured it was a customer that I didn't remember.
"Yes?" I try to put on a face as if I recognize the woman (which I totally did not).
"Kelli. It's me, [father's name]'s wife."
I wish I could have seen my own face. How did she know it was me? How did she recognize me, it had been almost ten years since she had last seen me.
"Your sisters are in the fitting rooms." She says.
So, I went over and re-met them. As young adults. And then I knew how it was she recognized me.
They look just. like. me.
Scary like me.
Same little noses. Same full cheeks.
We took a photo, the three of us standing there. I still have it. And they took one too. I'm sure that they showed it to my father. We exchanged addresses, but I never knew what to do with it. And I never got anything. I think about them often. Mostly because I feel guilty for not reaching out and trying to have a relationship with them.
Social media makes things easier to find people. And I did. I found my sisters once again, on Facebook. But that's another painful story.