Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Happy Birthday, My Brother

Craig, the lost soldier…

You are the dead horse, which I’ve continued to beat to death over the years. I would like to say that I’ve run out of whips, but I haven’t. I find myself searching for bits and pieces about you and your family from time to time. Your boys are grown up; my nephews, but not my nephews; at least one of them is married. I saw the oldest when he was an infant and teething, but that was decades ago.

Do you remember that courtroom hearing long ago, which changed both of our lives? You were old enough to know what I was unable to comprehend, that I was not your “real” sister, that your dad, Arnold “Arnie”, had just adopted me at the tender age of 4, that your dad was not my “real” dad.

You and I were in the backseat of the car, when our argument started. You barked rebelliously. “He’s not your dad! I’m not your brother!”

“You are, too, my brother! He is, too, my dad!”

Again, you barked, “You’re not my sister! You’re not his daughter!”

“Liar! Mother, tell him to stop! Make him stop!”

Mom gave you a look that made your blood run cold, “Craig…”

You were in big trouble. She used your full name. I don’t remember what she said that made you stop dead in your tracks, but I remember the look in her eyes. The look said, “Don’t you dare cross me, or there’ll be hell to pay.”

Only vaguely do I remember that you were sworn to silence, that you were told never to bring up the topic of my paternal descent again. And, you didn’t. From that day forward, the subject of my adoption was locked safely away; referring to Arnie as my dad remained uncontested; and, you always referred to me as your sister. Not until my twenties would you put the word, step, in front of sister, a day that I remember well along with the shock and hurt.

You are now a Master Sergeant in the National Reserve. Your days of military school, of playing Combat on the lawn with your friends, of volunteering in the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) have become a reality. It’s no surprise to me. I’m glad that you followed your heart, what belonged to you and no one else, what no one else could touch, what was sacred to you.

You might think that I've forgotten by now, that I've managed to let go of you and of my memories of you, but I haven't. My heart won't let me forget. Step-sister or not, there's a bond that I am unwilling to break, a love that I refuse to extinguish.

I love you, Craig, and I wish you on this birthday what I have always wished you, only the best and all the blessings that life has to offer you and your loved ones.

Happy birthday, my brother...

3 comments:

A World in a PAN said...

This is a very moving story.

Live and Learn the Hard Way said...

Sometimes losing people you love in ways other than death is harder in a way. I have a (step)son from my first marriage abruptly stopped talking to our family about two yes after his father and divorced (even though we have a friendly relationship still.) and I often find myself aching over the fact that he has a whole life now that I may never know about. Hang in there.

Candace said...

A World in a PAN: I'm amazed to find you here! :)

I thank you for the compliment, and... you have your remarkable daughter to thank for inspiring me to take up my pen and write again.

Live and Learn: There are only certain times of the year that thoughts of my brother surface in such a manner that I mourn his absence.

Yes, the absence of closure --- never knowing, always wondering --- can take its toll; I do my best not to dwell on his absence.

It must be even more difficult when it is a child who is absent from your life, and obviously a child who you love.

"Blood is thicker than water" is a fallacy. The bonds that we form are made from love, not genes.