Have you ever looked at strangers and thought they look like someone you know? This happens to me all the time. I’m constantly saying, “You look familiar!” or “I feel like I know you.” So when I had this happen nine days before my sixteenth birthday in a courtroom full of strangers, I thought nothing of it.
I was just a girl, and in a sea of strangers I saw a set of familiar eyes.
The silence in the courtroom screamed the truth. Everything I had once known to be true would soon be a lie. Almost sixteen years of information was about to go down the drain. I was sure that things were going to change, that my life would never be the same. That feeling must have been the case for many that day because the room was packed with people waiting to go on with their civil proceedings to be taken care of. People had been lied to, they couldn’t trust a loved one, and it was all up to a judge to decide who was in the wrong.
I was there with my mother waiting for our child support case to be heard, just as some of the other individuals. A man with a shaven head and slender build stepped silently through the room. His grey-blue shirt made his green eyes pop. They seemed familiar to me, and I could see the days without sleep under them. I almost felt bad for him as he slid into the bench. He looked only ahead, as if he were afraid to see the judgment in the room. My people-watching was soon interrupted by the booming voice of the judge.
“Linda Connolly versus James Tolley!” he hollered from his bench.
I sat quietly as my mother and her attorney walked slowly to the podium. It was then that I noticed the tired man slowly stand up, as if it took a great deal of energy. He walked to the podium opposite of my mother, and it hit me.
This was my father.
I had always thought a change between us would be immediate. We would talk about how sorry he was, and he would be part of my future because he had done so poorly in the past. Everything in my crazy little life would suddenly make sense because I had finally met my father.
But it didn’t.
I was still Grace Connolly, he still wanted nothing to do with me, and that was fine. I realized at the end of the hearing, as we walked toward the exit together, why those eyes were familiar to me. They were the same green eyes I see every morning in the mirror.
It’s kind of funny how something so small can have such a large impact on your life. When I look back now it may have been easier to look at the empty eyes of a stranger rather than know the person behind them. As the thought of my life crossed my mind I realized: I was fine without him.
So even though my family life isn’t exactly normal, I’ve turned out alright in my opinion. With the love and support of my not-so-average family, consisting of my single mother raising my two older siblings and myself, I have been able to overcome every obstacle in my way and accomplish more I ever thought I could. On those days when you glance into a crowd of strangers, just remember: it’s not impossible to see some familiar faces.