I blame this entire event on the internet, here is the story (long version)
I am divorced because my spouse decided that they not only didn't want children, but actually didn't even like children. I have always liked children. (I think I may have even been one once, perhaps I still am one.)
In order to fill up my days (not that I have nothing to do, more to try something new), some years ago I started answering peoples questions on one of those "ask a question" sites. I'm not an expert in a lot of things, but nearly by being alive for a while, I thought I might be able to help some people. (I guess I know a little bit about a lot of things.) (purely as an aside, friends, acquaintances and even complete strangers have approached me over the years to ask my opinion on a myriad of topics. why? I have no idea, but its happened since high school and really never stopped.)
Eventually, I gravitated towards answering young peoples question. You can tell, by the writing style mostly, and the type of question asked.
Typically, I would answer about a dozen questions on days that I felt like answering. I continued and increased the number of days I would answer questions because frequently the feedback I got was positive. I have found that many people ask questions, but add underlying information that leads one to believe the question asked wasn't exactly what they meant. So I would try to answer the question I believed they meant to ask.
One of these “underlying” questions was so blatant, I just knew the question asked was not what they wanted the answer to, so I answered the question I felt was intended to be asked. Something started to bother me about the questions I answered, I reviewed and one jumped out at me. I can't at this point in time remember if I felt there was some trouble, but I just knew this person needed to talk to someone. Normally, I'm a answer the question and move on type of person. I can't say what drew me to ask them if they needed to talk and offer to listen to what ever problems they might have. Upon reflection, I don't really think I expected a response other than a “thank-you”.
The ensuing responses quickly grew into daily emails. I made it known very early on that we were not in the same age bracket and “nothing” was ever going to happen, I would be supportive and offer advice, but no more. Over the following months emails were replaced by lengthy text messaging conversations.
I seem to recall is was shortly before thanksgiving, that I got a message that she was hungry, and there was no food. Knowing that young people occasionally exaggerate, I was not overly concerned (being sure there was indeed food), but I did ask. I became convinced that there indeed was little to know food and there might not be much any time soon. I suggested that I shop and bring food. My offer was rebuffed. The next day I asked if the circumstances had changed and was assured they had not. So I resolved that I was going to do this simple good deed, I have thankfully never known hunger, and I knew it would bother me if I left this alone. I had money, a vehicle, and an address. I was told not to come, that no one would be there. I responded that I was going to deliver food whether she liked it or not, and if need be leave it at the door and if she so desired, could throw it out once I left. It was early on a weekend morning and I headed out on a 800 mile round trip.
It turned out I was greeted by her, her sister and her sisters' boyfriend. I delivered the food, took them all out to lunch. With my task accomplished, I set my sights towards home. I don't remember the exact details of my return trip, but after about two hours, we were again in contact. One thing had gnawed at me and I asked her why she wore flip-flops in the winter (it was cold out and there was snow on the ground as I recall). She told me that she liked having her feet “free”. Odd indeed, but a somewhat plausible (for a young person) explanation. Still I asked if she had warm foot-gear. She admitted she did not. I turned around and a few hours later we went shopping for boots. It was noting fancy, but functional. Again I headed for home and had an uneventful trip. When I did finally get how I called her to let her know I had arrived safely, she seemed pleased to get the call and in the knowledge I was safe.
In the course of the ensuing weeks and months, a number of trips were made. Eventually, it became a weekly trip. I don't exactly remember how or when it happened, but eventually, I started booking a hotel room to stay the weekend. Neither do I remember when it happened that I was asked when I would be arriving and could I either come early or stay late or an extra day.
I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that some of my friends cautioned me that: 1) some may view this budding relationship as inappropriate and 2) this girl may just be using me. I assured those concerned that I had no such delusional plans, and that while there was no way to 100% positive, I know when I am being taken advantage of and this may be hard to explain, but I can almost always see in to peoples soul and those with “black” hearts are always exposed by their actions. I can assure you, the reader of this, there was no malice or deceit in her heart or soul, only the genuine needs, wants and desires of a teenage girl. The things most every teen wants.
I'm not sure how I missed mentioning this earlier, but this girl is a product of and spent many years in foster care. It is irrelevant why she was in foster care (her father died when she was extremely young). She was eventually adopted, but the relationship was at best strained, which I confirmed by speaking with the adoptive parent. Other things were confirmed in those discussions.
Its difficult to remember when this happened, but at some point I found myself in love with her. Mind you, I did not fall in love with her as lovers do but rather she just became such an integral part of my life, that all I can remember is that I do love her. Its an odd love, for it neither waxes nor wains...it just is. Never having been a parent, I can only imagine and equate this as the same love a parent has for a child.
Over we have spent a lot of time together (though it never seems to be enough for me). We have had wonderful times together, and we have had words (occasionally awful disagreements, with horrible things said to one another). We have gone on vacation together. With her permission, she even has allowed my to introduce her as my daughter. In my minds eye, she is, was and always will be, I believe it with every fiber of my being.
Though I have never been a parent, much less never having had a daughter, if I had been or if I could choose, there wouldn't be a moments hesitation, I would pick her to be mine a thousand times out of a thousand, even were I given the choice of all the children ever created, of all the daughters throughout history. Sadly, though, as you have read she is not my daughter...
I should add that I eventually shuttered my business and moved to be close to her. Its a strange (at times) relationship but very rewarding and I can honestly say that I have never in my life been happier.
Tho this story is indeed true, it is also incredibly personal. As such, no permission is give to reprint this (which may or may not be against EP policies). I want to share but not exploit our relationship
I'll be darned what category to stick this in (love?, family?, other?)