Dan and I recently discovered “How I met your mother” on netflix. We’ve been watching it for a month or two and we’re into the last season (season seven, I think?) available on netflix. I like it. It’s funny and as always, Alyson Hannigan is great… Last night, the episode we watched, “White Lies, Black Dads” sucked. It wasn’t poorly written. It was funny. It didn’t fall short of expectations by any means… but the subject matter was just a little too close to home for me.
Barney and James find a picture of themselves in an envelope addressed to Sam Gibbs. On the back of the picture, their mother had written “Your son,” but she hadn’t indicated whose father the picture was for, James’ or Barney’s. The two show up on Sam Gibb’s door step and a black man answers the door, quite obviously James’ father (since James is black too). After the door is opened, there’s a moment of silence and I could feel my heart breaking, watching Barney’s reaction. Of course, the writer’s rescued the comedy of the show… but those brief moments of silence are devastating.
Just sitting there, watching the show… Those few seconds lasted for ever and all of a sudden, I felt my heart breaking all over again, knowing exactly how it feels to be in that position. Not knowing where you come from. Desperately longing to know, to see, to learn… but despite your desperate pleas and sorry attempts at pretending you’re fine… You’re really not. Deep down it kills you in a way nothing else has and nothing else ever will. It’s a hole in your heart that can’t be filled except by knowing… and you live in fear, every day, that you will never know and that hole will always be empty. Every day is the same… and then it isn’t. One day you wake up, expecting a normal day, only to catch a glimpse of hope, thinking maybe you found him, maybe today is the day, maybe you’ll finally know… and you wait on that figuritive doorstep. You stand there with your heart in your throat for weeks, waiting for test results, hoping your journey is over, fearful that it isn’t and terrified of what will happen if this isn’t it. You try to keep yourself from being too hopeful, but it’s impossible. You can’t stop yourself and it only makes the pain that much worse when you discover you’re at the wrong door and all of this was for nothing.
The door opened for Barney, but it was the wrong door. Instead of slipping off to a valium-induced level of calm, Barney did what I have done time and time again: pretended it wasn’t true. This had to be his dad. It couldn’t be anyone else. He couldn’t keep looking, this just had to be it. He pretended he was done searching. He pretended he found his answer. Deep down, he knows he didn’t, just like I know I didn’t all of the times I pretended I didn’t know, or prayed that someone would take pity on me and forge the results of my DNA tests. Deep down he knew… but it hurts too much to admit.
At the end of the episode, the narrator said something hit me like a knife to the heart “Kids, your uncle Barney grew up without a dad and he always felt incomplete because of it.”
Unfortunately, I didn’t have a mother like Barney did. There is no happy ending or substitute. I’ll always be incomplete. Irreversibly and permanently.
And there’s nothing I can do about it.