Happily Ever After - Journeys of an NPE

Into the Woods

(When a DNA test revealed I was an NPE – the child of a Non Paternity Event – I decided to write about the experience in order to destigmatize the situation, and to let others in the same position know that they are not alone. These are my stories.)

Oh, if Life were made of moments,

Even now and then a bad one!

But if Life were only moments

Then you’d never know you had one.

Into The Woods, Stephen Sondheim


I’ve written this narrative of my life…the ins and outs of my NPE discovery. It reads like a Lifetime movie of the week – or a country song. 


Friends have been urging me to try and have it published but I say, “Not yet. I haven’t found the happy ending.”


In Hollywood, or on the crisp white pages of a bestselling novel, there is always a twist, a happy ending, a silver lining. The protagonist overcomes her challenges and suddenly finds herself with a million dollars and the man of her dreams riding a yacht down Wall Street wearing alligator skin cowboy boots.


The movies that don’t have these idealized fictional endings, like Once, or Titanic, drive us crazy. NOOO! They should have stayed together! The human mind craves order. Resolution. I mean, even Rose, despite losing her soulmate in the icy depths of the Atlantic, finds that insipid “Heart of the Ocean” necklace and has a full satisfying life before she tosses the damn contrived thing into Jack’s watery grave. Hollywood wants its redemption.


But what if there isn’t any?


What if the end of my story is not that I become a world famous artist only because I discovered my real father was a painter? Or that I found who I was truly meant to be? What if the ending is simply sadness and loss and depression?


Who would want to read that story?


I am a frustrated optimist. I always look for the happy ending. I’m still hoping for the denouement that unravels all the knots that have been tied around my secret history.


But the realist in me knows that if I am going to have a happy ending, I’m going to have to build it myself. There will be no magic angel father descending from heaven to tell me he loves me. There will be no Mother’s lost diary found that tells me the story of my creation. No deus ex machina to abruptly resolve an unsolvable plot.


And maybe that’s okay.


Life itself is the happy ending. The trials, the ups and downs and the insane rollercoaster drops and climbs are what keep us going, what gives us the thrills of a life well, or otherwise, lived.


The happy endings are not magical plot twists or Ed McMahon coming to your door with a check from the Publisher’s Clearing House (that would be weird because he is dead).


The real happy ending is in a child’s smile. A head on your shoulder as you are watching a movie. The look in someone’s eyes as they squeeze your hand, the unbearable happy/sadness of living…


…Knowing that Guy bought Girl the piano (with his Da’s money) out of selfless love. (Once).


…Knowing that Kate Winslet bested Billy Zane and his bad hair piece and kept his most prized possession.


Neither of these endings is “happy’. Neither protagonist ends up with their loves. But they survive.


Sometimes life is like that. Sometimes simply surviving is the happy ending. Sometimes “And they lived happily ever after” can be shortened to simply,

“And they lived…”