“Mom, we need to talk.”
My mom’s eyebrow lifted as she motioned me through her front door. “Of course, Sweetheart. Come in, I just brewed some coffee.”
Settled on the old green sofa with the decaf in one of Mom’s china mugs felt like our mother-daughter afternoons we’d had when I was a child. But everything had changed. Everything.
“Go ahead Sweetheart, I’m listening.”
Swallowing a sip of the steaming liquid, I began. “I know Dad’s only been gone a few weeks, but this can’t wait.” Another burning gulp went down my throat before I continued. “A few days after the funeral a man showed up on my doorstep.”
“Ohhh, I see.” Mom’s amused expression did not help.
“No, Mom, it’s nothing like that. This guy was claiming to be my brother. Dad’s son.”
Mom’s eyes grew as round as her mouth. “Karen, that’s impossible.”
“That’s what I told him. But this Ryan was very insistent, and said he had proof. I thought he was just looking to claim a false inheritance. I demanded to see his proof.” I hid the shudder traveling up my spine. “Ryan asserted that Dad had filed for a divorce when he learned Ryan’s mom was pregnant. To prove him wrong, I went to the courthouse and looked up divorce records. I discovered Dad had never filed for a divorce. But you had.”
Unable to bear any silence, I rushed on. “Mom, I always thought you and Dad had the perfect marriage, that you were happy. I-I just can’t believe this is true and that I have a brother like this.” I set my empty mug on the coffee table and dropped my face into my hands.
“Your father didn’t have a son, Karen.”
“Oh?” I fumbled for my purse and extracted a photo. “How do you explain this?”
I dropped the photo on the empty space between us. It portrayed a young woman holding a newborn baby and beside her, with a beaming smile, stood my dad.
“Oh sweetheart, this isn’t your father’s baby. Two years after we married, medical testing confirmed your father could not have children.”
Her words sank in part way. “Ohhh…so there really is no way Ryan could be my brother?” The rest of the truth sank in. I leaned against the arm of the couch, staring into my mother’s eyes. “Ohhh…then I’m not…“
“When we discovered we couldn’t have children, it put an unbelievable strain on our marriage and I foolishly filed for divorce. Then the strangest thing happened. A young woman came to our door, thinking she knew your father. Her boyfriend had stolen your father’s wallet and used his identity. That’s how she found us. The man had abandoned her when she became pregnant. She was so broken and alone, she wanted to have an abortion.
“In spite of our own troubles, we took her in and cared for her. Through that, your father and I were blessed in reconciling our marriage. God worked a miracle for all of us.”
A tear slid down my mother’s cheek. “Your father and I grieved when we learned Melinda had passed away from cancer last year. We didn’t know what had become of her son.” Mom tapped the picture still lying between us. “That’s Melinda, right after her son Ryan was born. I took this picture. It was to be a reminder to Melinda that God will turn our ashes into beauty when we allow Him.”
I moved my lips until my words became audible. “And me?”
Mom closed her eyes. “We knew we would need to tell you someday. We meant to when you were young, but never found the opportunity and we didn’t want to say anything that might dim your happy childhood.
“When we were finally approved to adopt, our greatest miracle took place.” Mom set the photo aside as she closed the gap between us. “God gave you to us for a special reason. We love you so much.”
My mother’s arms held me as the tears flowed. “I love you too, Mama.”
After several moments, Mom said, “It’s time we had a talk with Ryan. We need to make sure he understands how precious he is.”
Cell phone pressed to my ear, I cleared my throat and said, “Hey Ryan? Could you come over to my mom’s house? We have some things we want to share with you.”
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