In November 2014, right around my birthday, I received a strange email. A woman I didn’t know was asking if I was… she used my birth name. While I won’t go into all of my reasons for legally changing it decades ago, it’s upsetting to me to be called by that name. I won’t speak it and I won’t write it. So I wrote her back and said that if she told me who she was and why she was looking for him, I might be able to put her in touch.
It turns out that she was a sister I never knew I had. An older half-sister. Our father had passed away, and she was the executor of the estate. My parents had divorced when I was 2; I only met him once, when I was 5. After that he had married my newfound sister’s mother. She grew up having a very close, loving relationship with him.
He had passed away in August, right after we’d moved to Finland. She told me that he spoke of me from time to time. For her whole life, she’d known I existed. She told me that from time to time he considered reaching out to me, but never did. Even when he knew he was dying, he decided against it. No one tried to find me at the time of his death, or considered inviting me to the funeral. The sister was only contacting me because as executor of his estate there were papers she needed me to sign. Once I’d done that, she ghosted me.
Death in the Family
A few days later, a cousin from my mother’s side of the family DM’d me on Twitter. I hadn’t seen or spoken to him since high school. He needed to tell me that my mother had passed. She and I hadn’t spoken since 1996, for reasons that tie into why I changed my name. She knew my new name, that whole side of the family apparently did. When she knew she was dying she considered reaching out, but didn’t. The family considered inviting me to the funeral, but didn’t.
She had passed in June, a couple of months before we moved to Finland. I could have made the funeral, reconnected with family. The family that had stopped talking to me and discontinued inviting me to events and gatherings long before I’d stopped talking to her. I hadn’t been invited, though. No one even bothered telling me.
It had been weighing on my cousin’s conscience, apparently. He didn’t think it was right that I didn’t know. Even if no one wanted to invite me to the funeral, I should have been told. So, he found me on Twitter. We chatted for a while, over the course of a few days, until he got around to telling me. Once he’d done so, and he felt that he’d done his duty so he could go back to feeling good about himself, he ghosted me.
In Greek mythology Epimetheus was the brother of Prometheus. Where Prometheus was considered clever and industrious, Epimetheus was depicted as foolish and lazy. The name Prometheus means forethought, or foresight. Epimetheus means hindsight, or afterthought.
For my entire life, I’ve felt like an afterthought. Family and even friends tend to forget I exist unless I assert myself. People treat me like I’m some kind of idiot, or act as if I’m lazy because I walk a different path through life. Even though I graduated summa cum laude from business school so I could better manage my career as a writer, and have supported my wife and I for years now working steadily in a creative field, her family still wants to know when I’m going to get a “real job”.
Welcome to Café Epimetheus
Cafe Epimetheus is more than my home base on the internet. It’s my one-person writer’s retreat, where I assert that I am not lost and that I will not be forgotten. I am more than someone else’s afterthought. This is my place to put on some low-key jazz, drink coffee, and write. People outside can think of my what they want. In here there’s nothing but the good company of creative minds.