It was an amazing Thursday night. The grass had been freshly cut and the aroma wafted throughout the infield. A cool breeze was blowing in from left field and as the game went into the latter innings, we were locked in an early season battle that eventually went our way. It was the perfect way to end a magnificent May evening.
When the game was over, I was sitting on the bench laughing and joking with my teammates while I collected my gear. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Stephanie drive up to the field and park her car. It wasn’t uncommon for Stephanie to come out to the ball field to watch my team play, but since we had purchased a house an hour away, Stephanie rarely made any of the weeknight games; especially 6:00pm games.
Since I was a little concerned that something bad might have happened, I started walking in her direction. When she got out of her car and shut the door, I called out to her, “What are you doing here? Is everything okay?”
“Everything is great… I thought you might want to open this sooner rather than later,” she said as she held up a priority envelope from the U.S. Postal service and an excited grin grew across her face. I quickly walked over to her car and looked at the envelope as she handed it to me. Words cannot describe all of the feelings that were coursing through my veins as I stared at the envelope. I was about to open it right there in the middle of the parking lot when Stephanie grabbed my hand and said, “Not here. I called Jill, she is waiting for us at her house.”
“Why wait?” I asked.
“What if it’s bad news?” Stephanie said, and she was right. What if it was bad news? I definitely didn’t want to open it in front of my teammates. I had no idea what kind of response was inside the envelope. Opening it in a public place was a recipe for disaster.
“Let me grab my equipment,” I said as I handed her back the envelope and I quickly raced back to the bench to grab my gear.
“Shawn, we’re going to Jill’s,” I said as I headed for my car.
“You’re not staying for a couple of cold ones? We’re heading out to the bar to celebrate!”
“Shawn, I got the letter today.”
“You got the letter?”
“I got the letter.”
“What did it say?”
“I don’t know. I am going to Jill’s to open it.”
Shawn turned to the rest of the team and shouted; “See you guys on Sunday night! Doug and I have someplace to be!”
The five-minute drive to Jill’s house took forever. What if Stephanie was right? What if it was bad news? What if she wrote to tell me to stay lost? But then again, what if it wasn’t bad news? What if it was good news? What if she wanted to meet me? Or even stranger, what if I sent the letter to the wrong person? What if I failed in my search and it was a letter from a nice person telling me that she was sorry to say that I was wrong? What if I had to start all over again? What if…?
The questions were endless and raced through my mind at a frenzied pace as I pulled into Jill’s driveway. Jill and Stephanie were in the backyard sitting at the patio table with cold drinks in hand when I arrived. The envelope sat in the middle of the table and a six-pack of cold beer sat on the table next to it. As I sat down in the chair at the table, Jill and Stephanie had excited grins as they watched my every move.
Shawn asked me if I “was ready for this?” I pondered his question while the four of us stared at the letter for ten minutes as we discussed the possibilities of what the envelope contained. We ran through all of the scenarios and true to form, I prepared myself for the worst while silently hoping to be pleasantly surprised.
After a couple of beers to calm my nerves and my excitement, I picked up the priority envelope, took a deep breath and opened it. Inside the package was another blue envelope with my name and address printed on the front cover; I took another deep breath and opened the letter.
The letter was written in cursive on blue stationary. It was dated May 9, 1999. It was a reserved introductory letter that discussed a few personal matters with me but also told me that she would be calling my house on May 13th.
I don’t know what I was feeling as I read the letter. We all read the letter multiple times that night and each time, I ran through the spectrum of emotions. Words can never describe the overwhelming feelings that rush through your entire body at a moment like that. All I knew was that after three and a half years, my search had come to a conclusion.
And, the next night, Thursday, May 13, 1999, at 9:00pm, I picked up the phone and spoke to my birth mother for the first time.