Dear Melrose, “An Act of Love” was a piece that I never intended to publish.
It started as a prompt in my creative writing class while incarcerated when I was asked by my instructor to think of, “an act of love.” And I thought of your mom.
The reason I eventually finished this piece was that I was reading, “It’s Okay to Laugh,” by Nora McInerny, and I came across a letter she wrote to her son about his late father and the day they met. I decided I wanted you to have that too, to gain some perspective.
Thank you, Nora, for inspiring me to share this very inappropriate piece with my daughter because I would not have had the courage otherwise, and that would have been a shame.
I was at a friend’s house who was having a party. I was there with a girl who I was hanging out with, but due to my lack of good intentions, I should have never been there.
But I was, and I remember walking into a kitchen full of people. There she was, in the opposite corner talking to a crowd I had never met, and “Dacotah Bye” passed through my mind as if I just said it out loud.
Something happened to me that day, I was struck, which didn’t happen to me again until the day you were born, and I fell in love. I don’t even remember walking over to her, but the next thing I knew, I was standing awkwardly off to the side, ready to interrupt her current conversation as if I didn’t have a choice.
Then I started stalking her, just for the night. I approached her numerous times, engaging in conversations, and trying to get her to laugh and like me.
One point I even caught her leaving the upstairs bathroom and pulled her into a side bedroom and kissed her, and she kissed back but quickly stopped and told me she was seeing someone. I backed off after that, but from that night forward, I made it my quest to make her mine.
This wasn’t our first time meeting – that happened a few years prior when l was home for a weekend after my freshman year in college. We were at a party, and she was a couple of years younger, still in high school, and that is probably why I didn’t try to make a move on her then.
But for some reason, even though I don‘t remember thinking about her between the two occasions, obviously she left a mark, and it’s probably because she beat up two of my cousins.
My two cousins, along with a third girl from my hometown, apparently had a problem with Dacotah. I am guessing they didn’t like how pretty she was.
They approached her and, in their best mean girls’ impression, told her she wasn’t welcome. Not sure what the dialogue was but, Dacotah didn’t like what she heard. She hit the first one in the face with a punch that I had only previously seen a man throw, and then the other two surrounded her.
They both tried to grab her at the same time, but the bracelet she had on had some sharp edges because it gashed one of the girl’s forearms open, and it became a slasher film because there was blood everywhere.
She wasn’t done; she went at the last girl, grabbed her by the hair, whirled her around, and then cast her aside. It was the most badass thing I had ever seen, and she asked if there was anybody else (epic “Troy” moment), but there was not!
I was currently not a man who could defend himself and had never been in a fight. I was impressed and frightened. I thought to myself, later in life, if our paths ever did cross again, to remember this incident.
Something killed the vibe of the party, plus your mom had to leave, but I ended up hitching a ride back to my hometown with her and her friends. We laughed about the night.
A friendship was formed.
As you already know, those paths crossed again. Your mom and I fell in love, had you, and then we fell out of love.
Neither of us picked the best paths in life and I’m sure we both have done plenty of things that we aren’t proud of. Everyone makes mistakes and you will make them too, it’s part of life.
You have already learned at a very young age, things don’t always turn out the way you want. These experiences have already given you a resilient personality that will benefit you for the rest of your life. You have adapted to less than ideal situations multiple times and you are only nine years old, and I thank you for that.
You aren’t growing up with the perfect household, but one thing I have learned over the years, there is no such thing.
There are always going to be good and bad aspects of this dynamic but we will all work together to make sure you are our priority.
What’s important is the attitude that you carry through life and that you be thankful for what you do have.
Both your parents and step-dad are a regular part of your life, you have two Grandmas and one Grandpa that shower you with love. Aunts and Uncles on both sides of your family… cousins who consider you a sister, friends, family, and teachers… who all love and support you.
Something still connects your mom and I. It is our mutual love for you. We became friends first, and I truly believe that will always be the case.
But know a few things; first, you have a mom that can defend you if ever attacked; second, your dad is here to make you laugh whenever you are feeling down; and third, we both love you.
I hope by the time you’re reading this letter, we have made you proud!