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The Shadow Outside My Window

Updated: Jun 18, 2021

Before my parents met, my dad was married to a woman we’ll call Mary. They had two sons. One tragically died from SIDS.

Mary cheated on my father with his best friend and chose to end the marriage when my dad found out. She married the best friend and took the remaining son who I’ll call Rick.

That’s the short version, of course. No family story is ever that straightforward.

For a time, my dad and Mary shared custody of Rick. When my dad met and married my mom and started having a family of their own, and it seemed Rick wasn’t benefiting from the arrangement, my dad painfully relinquished custody, allowing his ex-best friend and Rick’s stepdad, to adopt him.

I grew up hearing stories about Rick. Seeing pictures.

I never got to meet him.

There were pictures of my brother being held by Rick when he was a baby.

Rick never saw me.

I have a memory of talking to Rick on the phone. He told me he wanted to meet me. He thought we might look alike.

I have no idea if this happened or if it was my child-self’s fantasy.

I had dreams of meeting Rick. We would go to the airport to pick him up. I would go to the bathroom, and when I came out, Rick would be sitting on a bench nearby. Without ever having met, we knew instantly who each other was.

He always delighted in me. Was thrilled to meet me.

We looked alike. Shared a similar sense of humor.

Across my childhood years, I had a recurring dream. I would be asleep and hear a knock on my window. I would see the outline of someone standing outside and know it was Rick. He had come to meet me. To surprise me.

It was always dark outside in the dream, which left me wondering if it was a dream or could maybe really happen.

But, every time, I couldn’t get to him.

In reality, my bedroom window had storm screens on it. I lived in Oklahoma where we had lots of tornadoes. The screens were screwed into the wood frame to keep them from being sucked off in a storm.

I couldn’t let Rick in.

To this day, I have never met Rick. I no longer have the sleeping dream of meeting him, but the nature of that dream remains. I desire the connection, but it seems shrouded in shadow. He’s just out of reach. I might catch a glimpse, see a silhouette. But there is no actual contact made.

I would love to meet Rick. There is still a tiny bit of hope it could happen. And, a bit of sadness that perhaps he doesn’t want to meet me.

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