I elected to give her some space to process the incredibly overwhelming revelation. A million thoughts were probably running through her head. From fear of the unknown to worry about her relationship with me. I left her alone and assumed she would come to me when she was ready to talk about it. I had been the only parent she had ever known. I ached when she ached. Her fear and pain was my own.
Part of me worried the pendulum would swing the other way and she might doubt the bizarre story. What if she reported me to the authorities for being ‘imbalanced’ and ‘unstable’? It was perhaps just one step from telling someone that you found them under a cabbage leaf. I wouldn’t even believe it myself if I hadn’t experienced the events firsthand. I was about to confront her when she finally came to me.
“Dad, I want you to take me to the spot. I want to see exactly where you found me.”
I was relieved. Hazel obviously believed what I told her and still referred to me as ‘Dad’. That was definitely progress. All in all, she seemed to be taking the crazy news remarkably well. It’s not every day you learn you were mysteriously orphaned in the dead of winter; or that you probably aren’t even human. I suppose I was analyzing her reaction to the facts a little too obviously.
“Deep down, I think I’ve always known I was different, Dad.”; “She admitted. “I realized I was much more in tune with nature and the elements than my peers and classmates. It’s a strange feeling to know that what is on the inside of you, is different than what others see, on the outside. In many ways, I’ve been pretending to be human my whole life. For whatever reason that it was necessary, you took me in and saved my life. For that, I’ll always be grateful. You will always be my Dad and I love you but it’s time that you take me ‘home’. I must begin the next phase of my life.”
We hugged and I led her to the remote spot where I found her, 14 years earlier. An overwhelming sense of loss and bewilderment filled my heart. Hazel and I stood at the nexus between one world and another. I wasn’t sure if I would ever see her again. At the edge of the clearing, we were greeted by a majestic doe. I realized that I was the only one who was surprised by the unexpected brush with wildlife. Hazel seemed to take our new forest companion in stride.
“Hazel’s mother was killed by a hunter. Because of this tragedy, she was abandoned to the harsh winter elements as a newborn fawn.”;The doe explained. “We are a race of sentient forest dwellers that can communicate with others; if they are receptive. It was she who sensed your kind heart and called out to you that fateful night, long ago. As you approached her, she transformed into a human infant. It was a natural survival mechanism to adopt the form that would most likely inspire you to save her. Now that she has reached maturity, she must return back to her own kind.”
I turned to face Hazel but she had already changed into her true self. We shared a final moment and then she rubbed against me lovingly before scampering off into the forest. I couldn’t help but admire the young lady my daughter had become.