A year and a half ago I told you all that I have a half-brother and that I had not seen or spoken to him since our dad died, now 18 years ago. I started looking for him on-line but was coming up empty. I felt a lot of mixed feelings and sometimes I was spurred on to search and other times felt like giving up. I mean 18 years is a long time to not know a person. Was it worth it?
About a month ago I met up with One N Jen at Zumba class. Her mother-in-law* was visiting and joined us. We all got to talking and it came up that she lives in an area of California I am familiar with because my MIA former best friend lived there for a while and it’s near where my half-brother lived when I knew him. I mentioned that my brother used to teach math in the same area as she still teaches. She asked me his name and when I told her she said it sounded familiar.
Small world, right?
She offered to do a little research and reach out to him on my behalf. I gave her my contact information, excited and nervous. Not too long after that, she sent me an article with a photo of man who was in fact involved in the school district and who had the same name as my brother but he did not look like the man I remembered. I stared at the face and thought, even if 18 years changed a person, they wouldn’t change him into someone unrecognizable. It wasn’t him.
A little later she sleuthed another man by that name who used to teach and became a principal for many years. She sent an article from 2009 that talked about his retirement.There was a photo in the article and, without a doubt, it was my brother. I could see the resemblance though he was gray-haired and thinner. The article said he’d been battling lymphoma for nine and a half years and while he was retiring, he still had more chemo treatments to do before setting out on travel adventures with his wife (the same wife he had when I was little). I worried that I had waited too long.
She called the school and got his phone number and they also forwarded an email to him on her behalf. He was still alive! She left a message telling him that I was looking for him. A week or two went by and nothing happened. She messaged me wondering if I’d heard and I felt defeated, telling her that no, there had been no message from him. Maybe he wasn’t interested in knowing me? Maybe he wanted to leave all things related to our Dad in the past? I had no idea.
And then I checked my Facebook messages on Saturday. I hardly ever check my Facebook messages you should know but for some reason felt compelled to that day. There was a message from him there saying hello, that a teacher in his school district had messaged him saying she had run into me, inquiring what I’d been up to these past almost-two decades.
I wrote him back, of course, but now I’m thinking I said too much or the wrong thing. I filled him in about the family and myself- the Cliff’s Notes version. I asked about his 3 kids and his wife and his health and his retirement. I also said I’d like to talk to him about our Dad since I feel like maybe we had different experiences with him. I’m not sure if I should have said that yet but that is so like me. I always come on too strong and too honestly. But it’s out there. We’re Facebook friends of all things. And there’s been an email exchange.
So now I wait and see what comes next.
*I cannot thank Jen’s mother-in-law enough for going above and beyond to help me find my brother. Thank you Laurel!