Call Me, Lee

Dear Mr. Delaney,

God, I don’t know what to even call you. It’s so weird. This is like the weirdest letter I’ve ever written and like the only letter I’ve ever written. I mean who writes letters. I’m rambling. Josh says I ramble and talk super quick when I’m nervous and I guess I do the same when I write. To the point I’m your daughter, Lizette. Wow this is weird, so weird and hard.
I got kind of upset. Josh is writing for me now.
Hi this is Josh Romano.
I made Josh write hi. Josh is my best friend boyfriend but that’s a whole other thing. He held me together when I found out who you are and what happened to me. Josh wants me to start at the beginning. But I can’t. I don’t remember much from when I was little. I just remember moving, always moving. It was confusing. Mommy and I stayed in shelters, homeless shelters, abused women shelters. I’ve slept in more church rec rooms than I can count. Mommy kept me close and looked after me the best she could. She said we had to hide, to run, to stay away from the cops and from bad men. It’s all runny in my head when I try to focus on one thing.
I remember Mommy working in a gas station. While she worked, I played in the store. I like the donut aisle. I think we were living in our car back then. My dad used to stop by everyday for a super Biggie Coke, a pack of Pall Malls, and a slim Jim. He was so nice, the best really. He said he wanted to help us get on our feet but I think he wanted someone to love. We moved into his house, a little farm. We stopped running, Mommy and I. And it was like I had always been there. We became a family and I was his daughter. Mommy said I had his eyes. I put down roots.
We raised chickens. I joined 4-H and Future Farmers of America. My Appenzeller won best in show in the under 18 division. I don’t have a lot of friends but the ones I have are good. Mommy didn’t get as many headaches as before and everything was just normal I guess. Being kidnapped I mean I should have a life like a Lifetime movie. But we didn’t.
Then My dad got sick. I always thought of him as strong as an oak. You know always there protecting us. Well the cancer, the cancer was a different kind of strong.
My dad left me a file folder. I always helped him with handling the bills, managing the farm. Fat and wrapped with rubber bands, that folder sat on the top of the file cabinet for years. Delaney was written on it in his cursive. I never took much notice to it. Dad tended to never let anything go. He told me his final arrangement information was in the Delaney folder. I thought he was being morbid but after he passed I pulled off the rubber bands and uprooted my life.
There was newspaper clippings and pages printed from the internet. Pictures of my mother young and pretty, pictures of me as a baby, a toddler, in my nursery school photo day with pig tails. I saw my bedroom in your house with the princess bed, the pink gingham sheets, the stuffed animals that you kept for me. I saw my eyes in your face and I slapped that folder closed. I had just lost my dad, my mother was fallen to pieces, and now I’m the girl on the side of the carton of milk. OMFG.
Josh helped. He is — I won’t write more about myself, JR. He sat with me until I could read about the custody battle between you and her. Our disappearance and the search that followed. I couldn’t believe mommy lost custody of me because of her stability. My mommy is not unstable, not dangerous. Josh just asked me to take deep breaths.
I don’t know what to do. I need answers. I need to understand why my mother did what she did and who you are to look for your baby when everyone told you to give up hope. Twelve years gone and I’m not a child. I don’t know what I am. I need to understand. Mommy called me Lee. Dad called me LJ or Little Junior. I read you named me after your Grandma Liz who raised you. I saw a video of you on America’s Most Wanted talking about me calling me sweet baby Lizzie. I don’t know who that is. I can’t talk to my mother. Josh and I got on a Greyhound right after the funeral to find out from you.
Call me,
Lee

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