Never Will I Know

A woman born and raised in England discovers her Northern Irish roots and longs to know the father she was too late to find.

Father – “unknown,” his name is John.
He has blue eyes, just like me, I am told.
To my 5-year-old-self, the mystery of my origins began.

The earliest search started within my heart,
In my imagination,
Searching the faces of strangers,
In the street, in pictures, on television,
Anywhere that I might find the connection,
A deep sense of loss, a yearning, emptiness,
A marrow-deep need to know, and to belong.
There were no words to describe the longing,
Only an intangible feeling, etched in my soul.

His name is John…

And here I stand, not alone, for my brother holds me strong,
Your firstborn son, sharing my grief, bringing me to you,
I am too late, my journey’s end, no more searching, no more hope, just the cold, hard truth.
As frigid as the tombstone before me, you are gone, the dream is over.

Never will I know —
The warmth of your hugs,
Hold my hand in yours,
Hear the sound of your voice, your laughter,
Feel your kisses planted on my head,
The tousle of my hair beneath your fingers,
Your acceptance of me,
Your love for me.

His name is John…

Your headstone majestic, yet humble, in death, as you were in life,
The grief threatens to overwhelm me—my knees buckle beneath me,
You will never be there to catch me when I fall.
Silent tears for all that is lost overwhelm me.

I light four candles at your graveside– beacons of light, of hope,
For the grandchildren you never knew,
Who bear your ancestry, and who live because you did.
My existence denied in death, as in life.
No acknowledgement of me, the relinquished one.
Silently I scream, I am here, I am yours.
No acknowledgement of the loss I feel,
I was your firstborn, the first wain you held in your arms.

His name is John…

I still grieve for you every day.
I live a life full of love and gratitude in deference to you.
Your grandchildren will always be proud of the man you were—
They will respect all that you achieved and acknowledge their heritage,
Even though we are denied and eradicated from your life.

I often wonder…
Did you ever think of me? Did you ever question what became of me?
Did you ever grieve the loss of me?
Would you have protected me from the hurt and shame?
Would you have loved me and accepted me for all that I am?
Will you forgive me for not finding you in time?
Would I have been enough?

His name is John. He is my father. And he is gone…

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15 Responses to “Never Will I Know”

  1. […] has made a difference in your life? Or, like Secret Sons & Daughters’ recent story “Never Will I Know,” is there a Dad out there you never got to meet? Or, is yours an ode to the father you wished […]

  2. Lovely poem! It rings true for so many of us. I never got to meet my dad either, he having passed before I even found out about my adoption. I am told that he knew about me and really loved my mom…keeping her picture in his jewelry box until the day he passed. I too wonder if he ever thought of me. Thanks for sharing a piece of your heart with us all!

    • AnneMarie Gill says:

      I’m sorry you didn’t get to meet your Father, Joanne, but it sounds as though he never forgot your Mother and I like to think they kept a piece of their hearts for us.
      I will always regret that I was only a year too late but ironically his obituary led me to find them. I have been told that he was a kind and gracious man and he would never have permitted the cruel rejection of myself and his 4 grandchildren by my Mother and 5 siblings so I take some comfort from that. I hope you have learned about your Father through other family – sometimes that is all we have.

  3. Kimberly says:

    Lovely Poem! I’m sorry you weren’t able to meet him!

  4. Beautiful. Thank you for sharing, Anne-Marie. I am so sorry things turned out that way for you. I met my natural father in 1990 and he died in 2010. We were not close, but at least I got to know him a little.

    Take care and keep writing. I know how much it helps me heal.

    Karen Goldner

    • AnneMarie Gill says:

      Thank you so much Karen – I have found writing to be really cathartic and healing, particularly in dealing with the devastation I felt from the secondary rejection by my Mother and 5 siblings. I am blessed to have one incredibly brave sister, who cherishes our relationship, and through her my children and I are getting to “know” my Father.

  5. Kevin Allsop says:

    We all have a story to tell and this is just wonderful . I wrote my first song and sang it at a local club it was my younger sons 18th Birthday .I told the story about the day i went through when Richard was killed in a road accident in 1999 he was 16yrs old .
    Marie –well just a lovely poem .

    • AnneMarie Gill says:

      Hi Kevin, we do indeed each have a story to tell – thank you for sharing yours. I am so sorry for the loss of your son, Richard. How courageous that you were able to write a song about the day you lost him and how incredibly brave that you were able to perform it too. We love seeing you perform – it brings joy to many! We must both keep writing! Take care, Anne-Marie.

  6. Jane Paine says:

    That’s pretty much how it was for me and I feel your pain. How beautiful and eloquently put … Thank you 🙂

    • AnneMarie Gill says:

      Hi Jane, I’m sorry that you experienced a similar situation – so many adoptees I have spoken to have found a grave at the end of their search and I wanted to capture the emotions I experienced – how can you explain to someone, who hasn’t been in that situation, that you feel a profound sense of loss for a parent you have never met! I hope you were able to find out about him through others – that has given me some comfort.

  7. Marylee says:

    My father lives, but I’m dead to him. He actually faked my death to his family, allegedly.

    • AnneMarie Gill says:

      Hi Marylee – I am so sorry that your Father has allegedly done this to you. I can only empathise in so much that my Mother and I were reunited for 4 months and then, without warning, she and my siblings cut off all contact without explanation, without ever even giving myself or my children the chance to say goodbye. The lack of closure has been crippling – how do you grieve the loss of a family you were once part of who have just moved on as if you never existed? There are so many of us who understand the pain of the rejection and denial of our existance. Take care.

  8. Darlene says: