(CNN) It was a dark secret. The kind that destroys lives, devastates families and decimates faith.
Nobody shared it with Valerie Spruill while her husband was alive. For years after his death, she heard bits of the story. It was something about an absentee father, something about her husband.
None of it made sense, she said. That's not until her uncle finally told her what no one else had: She had unknowingly married the father she never knew.
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"It is devastating. It can destroy you," Spruill told CNN late Thursday by telephone. "It almost did."