Most people tell secrets.
I am one. (Or at least I was, for a very long time.)
My mother and father were both married. To other people. They had an affair, and--voilá-- here I am. At the time, nobody told the truth about it. My father went back to his life with a wife and three children, and my mother had me induced a month early and put her husband's name on my birth certificate. Then they divorced.
For 21 years I suspected that I wasn't who they said I was. And then my older sister (the daughter of my mom and her first husband) finally told me. I knew it!
When I learned the truth I was too scared to contact my bio father because I suspected that my arrival would not be welcome. If I showed up and said, "Ta-da! I'm the kid you sidelined all those years ago" it might make him look bad. And he might be really mad at me for blowing his cover. So I stayed hidden.
After my father died (the first picture I ever saw of him was his obituary) I made note of my siblings' names. Six months later I contacted my sister, Laurie.
Laura and Laurie.
Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum.
I expected the worst and I got the best. Laurie and I are nine years apart. When we first made contact she asked me to send her a picture of when I was younger. When she saw it she was floored, because we looked so much alike. Laurie and I have become the best of friends. She calls us the LaLa sisters. Her elderly mother (the woman our father was married to when he impregnated my mother) lives with Laurie. And there's no good reason to tell her about me because it would dredge up a very painful memory in her life. So I'm still a secret to her mom, because we want it that way. Laurie lives in North Carolina and I live in Texas. Whenever we get together she has to lie to her mother about where she's going and who she's going to see-- you know, to protect the innocent. So Laurie and I say we're having an affair.
When Laurie and I met up in Chicago last fall, we mentioned the framework of our story to one of the producers at StoryCorps. She got permission to stay late and Laurie and I interviewed each other in their studio for more than an hour. A week later they put a two minute excerpt on the radio. Here it is.
And here's a picture of the LaLa sisters in 2013.
I am the luckiest girl.