20 years ago, Jacob Harper was a young man brimming with ambition and dreams. He had married his high school sweetheart, Sarah, and together they embarked on a journey of building a family. Over the course of four years, they welcomed 10 beautiful children into their lives, turning their small house upside down.
At first, Jacob was happy with his big family, but that quickly changed. Jacob could no longer be the father he wanted to be, so he left. 20 years went by, and Jacob wanted to make his wrongs right, only to find out that a lot can change in 20 years. He made a shocking discovery when he arrived at his ex-wife’s house, something he didn’t think could happen, which made him rethink his decision to come here.
Was leaving his wife and children the right thing to do all along? But why does Jacob want to look for his wife and kids? What shocking discovery will he find, and will he be able to move on? I know what you might be thinking, 10 children in four years, how could that even be possible? Well, Jacob was thinking the same. Their first child was a beautiful girl named Violet. Within two months after Violet’s birth, Sarah got pregnant again, but this time with triplets.
This was the beginning of the end. Four children were a challenge, but they had always talked about having a big family. However, when Sarah got pregnant again only months after the triplets, things started to take a turn. Jacob tried to tell himself one more wouldn’t be that bad, but then he got the news that they were having triplets again. Seven children under the age of five would sound like hell to most people, but Sarah was ecstatic. She truly wanted to have a big family, and although the pregnancies were so close together, making it very hard for her body, she was happy.
If only Jacob felt the same. He really tried, surely he did. He stayed with Sarah, and it actually seemed like they were going to make it as a family of nine. That was until they got the news that she was pregnant with triplets again. This was just too much for Jacob, and even though he loved Sarah very much, he just had to leave. It hurt to leave Sarah on her own with 10 children, but frankly, at that moment, he was more concerned about himself. He couldn’t wrap his head around the fact that he would be raising 10 children, and the only thing he wanted to do was to run away. So, that’s what he did.
One morning, Sarah woke up to the sound of her children crying. This was how most of their mornings started, so that was new. But when she saw Jacob wasn’t in his bed and also not with the kids, alarm bells started going off inside her head. When she saw all his clothes were gone, she knew. By the time Sarah had woken up, Jacob was already long gone. He’d taken all his most precious belongings with him in his car and just drove off. He had no idea where he was going, but he just knew he couldn’t stay here. If only he had known what would happen in 20 years after Jacob left, he didn’t hear anything from Sarah ever again.
It kind of surprised him as she didn’t even call him once, not even when she woke up in an empty bed. It had saddened him in the beginning, but it also made it clear that he wasn’t missed, or at least that’s what he got out of it. Jacob moved to a whole different state and rebuilt his life. He married again and had one child with his new partner, a son named Brad. Everything was going great. He only thought about Sarah and how she and the children were doing once or twice a month, and he could live with that.
But things were about to change. As Brad grew up, Jacob started to think about his other children more often too. He wondered how they were doing and what had become of them. And after 20 years, he realized his eldest daughter, Violet, was probably in college by now. Would she even remember him? After weeks of thinking about his old family, Jacob couldn’t take it anymore, but he didn’t want to make the same mistake again. So, he decided to tell his wife and Brad the truth. He hoped that they would understand why he had left his family first and why he wanted to find them now.
But the conversation didn’t go as he had hoped. His wife couldn’t believe that he would do something so heartless to that woman he once loved, and she even feared he would do the same again, but to her. She threw him out of the house and told him to make things right. Only then would she consider taking him back. Jacob knew his wife was right, and he had to fix the mistakes he had made. He only hoped Sarah wouldn’t smack him in the face at first glance, but he wouldn’t blame her if she did. He wondered if he should call ahead, but Sarah wasn’t keen on surprises.
As he dialed her number, he felt his heart pounding in his chest. Would she even pick up? Maybe she blocked his number all those years ago, but he had no other choice. He had to try. He didn’t even know if she lived on the same street all those years ago. Sadly, the phone rang, and no one answered. She didn’t block his number, which was a good thing, but now he had no other choice but to go to their old family home and just hope for the best.
It was a very long travel – one plane ride and an hour’s drive, to be exact. Jacob grabbed his duffel bag and bought the first plane ticket he could find. It was nerve-wracking, to say the least, but there was also no going back. Once he arrived across the country, he rented a car and began to drive. He was now closer to Sarah than he had been in a long time. It wasn’t only nerves he was feeling, though. He was a bit scared to admit it, but he felt excitement too. He hadn’t realized it before, but he had missed her and their kids a lot in the past 20 years.
He wondered what she would look like and if she would even recognize him. He was now almost at their old family home. He recognized a few bits and pieces, but a lot had changed throughout the years. He parked his car a block away from their house, even though there was no way Sarah would recognize the vehicle, and slowly walked towards the house. It was a surreal feeling, and Jacob’s heart was pounding in his chest. His hands were sweaty, and he realized he didn’t even bring a present. Should he have? He had no idea what the right thing to do was in this kind of situation.
He could hear the laughter of children playing with every step he took. He stood in front of the door for a minute or so before he finally had enough courage to ring the bell. The chaotic sound from the other side grew louder, and he could hear children running to the door. “This is it,” he thought. “I will finally see my kids again.” The doorknob slowly turned, but as the door opened, Jacob was shocked. These children were way too young to be his.”Can I help you?” a woman’s voice said from across the hall. She walked towards the door, and Jacob could now clearly see what was going on. That wasn’t Sarah. It was clear Jacob was confused as the woman asked the question again, but before the door closed shut, he turned around again. “Actually, do you happen to know what happened to the previous owners?” The woman frowned; she wasn’t sure how to answer that question. “Huh, no, I’m sorry. I know there lived a big family in this house, judging by all the height markings on the door frame, 10 children, to be exact. But I have no idea where they are now.” Jacob sighed and thanked the woman for her time.
“Oh wait,” the woman suddenly said as she went inside again. Jacob wondered what it could be that she had forgotten to tell him, and he curiously waited. He heard her walking up the stairs and coming down again after about five minutes. “Sorry for the wait. I had to go to the attic for this.” She handed Jacob a rolled-up piece of paper. “One of the people who lived here had left this after moving away. I don’t know why I keep it, maybe for one of my children one day, but you might get more use out of it now.” Jacob took the piece of paper and slowly unrolled it. “Thank you so much,” he said as he looked at the poster from Yale. This was probably from his daughter, Violet. He excitedly walked towards his car and typed in Yale’s location. There was no time to spare; he had to track her down and talk to her. Maybe she would tell him more about Sarah.
But Jacob wasn’t stupid; he knew very well there was a big chance Violet wouldn’t want to talk to him. He hadn’t been the best father that she would have wanted, well, actually, he hadn’t even been a father to her at all. She was only four or five when he left, he couldn’t even remember. It would be a miracle if she didn’t send him away. But Jacob didn’t want to give up on his children for a second time. He wanted to show them he really tried to find them, and if that meant being shot down by his eldest daughter, then so be it. Without thinking any more of it, he started his car and began his journey to Yale.
After the whole car ride, Jacob imagined how the meetup would be. She would probably be suspicious at first and most likely wouldn’t even recognize him. He could imagine Sarah never showed a picture of him to his children because she probably had a grudge for being left to raise 10 children by herself. When he arrived at Yale, Jacob was overcome by the number of people. How would he ever find his daughter here? Heck, he didn’t even know who her friends were. “Are you coming to George’s party tonight?” a girl excitedly asked another girl just a few feet away from Jacob. He stopped his eyes and looked at the girls, trying his best to find similarities between him and Sarah. And then he saw it; one of the girls had the same mole above her eyebrow as Violet had. That had to be Violet, Jacob thought.
He watched as Violet happily chatted with the other girl and left towards the residence hall. Jacob didn’t know what to do. If he were to call her by her name, she would never approach him. So, he decided to follow her. She couldn’t ignore him if he knocked on the door, could she? Violet used a special pass to open the front door, and Jacob silently rushed in a few seconds behind her, just in time before the door closed again. She took the elevator, so Jacob ran up the stairs, checking every hall to see if she got out of the elevator or not.
Completely out of breath, he reached the fifth floor and watched Violet turn around a corner at the end of the hall. He rushed after her but couldn’t run anymore, or he would pass out. He had to pause for a second, even if that meant losing her out of sight. How difficult could it be to find a daughter on this floor? After catching his breath, he slowly walked to the same direction his daughter had walked and immediately realized it would be much harder to find her than he thought.
He stood in a hallway with at least 20 doors, unsure which one was Violet’s. He had no other choice but to knock on every single one of them. Jacob began knocking on the first door, but no one opened it. Then he moved on to the second, the third, and the fourth, but no one answered the door. He sighed and moved on to the fifth door, and luckily, he heard movement behind it. Not long after, a young man opened the door.
Jacob asked him if he knew a girl named Violet, and the man hesitantly answered, “Yeah, there’s this girl, Violet, who lives at the end of the hallway.” Jacob thanked him and began walking. He felt nervous but was also excited. It was only a matter of minutes before he could finally talk to his daughter. He knocked on the door and waited anxiously until it opened. “Can I help you?” a young woman asked. Jacob was starstruck. All he could say was, “Violet?” The woman frowned, “Do I know you?” she confusedly asked. That seemed to snap Jacob right back to reality. Well, Jacob began, “I’m not sure how to say this, but I’m your father.” He watched as Violet’s facial expression changed. She had been kind and welcoming at first, but now she was confused and maybe even slightly angry. Then her facial expression changed again, and now she was definitely angry.
“I don’t need your apology. I don’t even want to see you. How dare you just show up at my door and expect me to listen to you? Where were you when I graduated high school? Where were you when I had to learn how to ride my bike?” Violet said angrily. “Violet, please, all I want to do is to apologize for my mistakes.” Violet sighed, and she could see the sadness on her father’s face. She despised him for all he had done, but she knew some of her siblings really missed a father figure in their life, and who is she to keep her father away from them? “Fine,” she said. “I’ll give you mom’s address, but if you’re going to leave again, don’t even bother going.” Violet went inside and wrote an address down on a piece of paper. She handed it angrily to Jacob and closed the door again.
Jacob looked at the paper and thought about what Violet had said, “Don’t even bother if you’re going to leave again.” Jacob knew he couldn’t stay with Sarah and his other children. He had a wife and another child at home. All he wanted to do was to see how they were doing and give them a helping hand if needed. He decided to go anyway. He wouldn’t want to just disappear from their lives again. He wanted to be involved, even though it would be from a distance. He wanted to be at high school graduations, ballet recitals, and everything in between. He wanted them to be proud to have him as a father.
Is this where they are living? Jacob drove to the address and was shocked when he arrived there. He couldn’t believe this was the correct address
. This was nothing as he imagined. Determinedly, he walked towards the door. He wanted to knock, but his hand hovered in front of the door for a bit. Was he really doing this? What was he going to say? Suddenly he wasn’t sure about his decision anymore. He turned around and walked back to his car when he suddenly heard a voice behind him, “Jacob?” a woman’s voice asked. Jacob stopped in his tracks; he would recognize that voice anywhere. It was Sarah. “Jacob?” she asked again. Jacob could hear her voice break. He slowly turned around and saw Sarah standing in the doorway, a tear rolling down her cheek.
“Sarah,” Jacob quietly said. He stood there frozen, and Sarah walked towards him. He had no idea what to expect, but he just let everything happen. She slapped him in the face and hugged him tightly. After she let go shortly after and looked at him in the eyes, “How did you find me here?” Jacob began apologizing. She fell to face with emotion flushing over him as he looked into Sarah’s eyes. After all those years, he began to cry and couldn’t stop. He fell at his knees, and he let his emotions flow out, all the sorrow he had suppressed for years was finally coming out.
After letting everything go, he pulled himself together again. Sarah said, “You look good,” as she wiped a tear from his cheek. “Let’s go inside. I’ll pour you a cup of tea.” Jacob followed her inside. He still couldn’t believe his life had turned into this. Haley, Connor, and Michael will be at home within an hour. Do you still want three teaspoons of sugar in your tea?” Jacob silently nodded. Then he just had to ask her, “Sarah, why? How? What happened?” Sarah chuckled, “Oh, this. This is what people call hard work pays off.”
Jacob blushed. Was she making fun of him? Sarah continued, “After you left, I had no other choice but to work twice as hard as I already did. I hated you at first. I couldn’t imagine why you would just leave me suddenly. But ultimately, it made me into the person I am today. I was able to turn my life around by writing two best-selling memoirs about what you put me through. We never had to worry about money, and frankly, I never missed having you around.”
Jacob smiled through the pain. Sarah had a better life now than she would have ever had with him. He could almost say it was a good thing that he left, but he knew it wasn’t. “And the children, did they miss having me around?” Sarah sadly looked at Jacob, “Yes, the children suffered the most. Violet, not so much, she was a very strong and confident woman. But the three youngest ones really missed having a father around.” Jacob looked down. It was hard hearing his children had suffered because of him. That was never his intention.
Jacob had to admit that being back brought many mixed emotions with it. He felt horrible for leaving, but he was glad to be able to see his children again. He also felt torn; seeing Sarah again brought back a lot of feelings he hadn’t felt in a long time. He still felt a lot of love for her, but he also loved his wife back home. He didn’t want to leave his children again, but he also didn’t want to leave Brad. Jacob decided to stay with Sarah for a while to get to know his children. He kept in close contact with his wife and called her every day with new stories about them.
After a while, his wife suggested something he never even dared to dream about. She suggested that they moved closer to Sarah so Jacob would be able to be a caring father to all 11 of his children. Jacob was amazed by how loving and understanding his wife was, and happily agreed. Was it a year or so, Jacob lived together with his wife and Brad only a half-hour’s drive away from Sarah. Brad was a little younger than Jacob’s three youngest triplets, but everyone got on great. He even warmed up to Violet after a while. He was able to go to her college graduation and made up for missed time.
Jacob knew he could never turn back the clock, so he vowed to spend as much time with his children as he could, never missing a birthday again. And for Sarah, she stayed happily single. She loved the life she had built for herself in Jacob’s absence and realized she was better off without him. Yet, she was happy he had returned for the sake of their children. She could really see how a father figure in their lives changed them for the better.