Monday, March 3, 2014

Every Girl Wants a Sister (Part 1)

I always wanted a sister. Two years after my little brother was born my parents went to the hospital to have their third child. They hadn't found out what the gender of the baby was and I was jonesing for a baby sister. I prayed so hard that they would bring home a girl for me to play dolls with, dress up with, and have tea parties with.

My parents took me to our neighbor's house when my mom went into labor with the promise that when I woke up there would be a new baby born. When I woke up I was ecstatic! I remember it like it was yesterday. I ran out of the room and my friend's mom greeted me with, "Your mom had the baby!" Exuberantly I asked, "What was it!?" She said, "A boy!" With that my shoulders slumped and I turned to go play with my friends with a bleak, "Oh." Of course I love my brother beyond words now and wouldn't trade him for the world, but at that moment I most certainly would have traded him for a sister.

I don't remember exactly when my mom told me I had a sister. I do know that once I was aware I had a sister out there, I wasn't going to forget. I pocketed it away for a long time. But let's back up for a moment...

When my mom found out she was pregnant with me she could have made one of two decisions about the life that was growing inside of her. It had been made clear to my mom that she would have to do this alone. She made the brave choice to have me. She confronted the inevitability of being an unmarried single mother, and rose up to the occasion. A couple years after I was born she married a wonderful man, but that is another story.

I always remember knowing that the man who was raising me wasn't my biological father. I would from time to time ask my mom questions about my bio father and she would oblige me with short and concise answers. At some point she told me that she felt like I should know more.  As I came to find out I had another brother and.... a sister. My biological father had gotten married not too long after my mom had me. He and his wife had a daughter; my sister. She was very close to me in age - 17 months younger in fact. A couple years after my sister was born along came a little brother. 

Throughout my teenage years I thought about my half sister and brother often. I imagined my sister's personality and what she might look like all the time. I imagined she was probably tall, like me... (I'm 5'11"). I envisioned her with blonde hair. I assumed that she was outgoing. I'm not sure why I thought that, but it just seemed to make sense. I imagined that she was really fun, boisterous, and had a loud laugh.

When I turned 18 I was busy with a boyfriend, friends, a job, and school and I didn't have a lot of extra time to think about anything else. Going off to find another side of my family wasn't at the forefront of my mind.

The next couple years were spent busily. My boyfriend became my husband, we bought a small home, we acquired jobs that took up a large amount of time, we both went back to school, and we became pregnant with our first child. It wasn't until our son was 2 that I thought much about my sister again.

In the midst of a conversation, a friend who knew a little bit about my history (and who had sisters of her own) asked me if I ever wondered about this other side of my family that I'd never met. I admitted that on occasion I would wonder who these people were and what kinds of lives they were leading. "I'm happy, though." I told her. "I don't really need another dad when I already have one that I love so much. I already have all the family that I need. I don't really feel inclined to seek that out." She nodded in agreement, but then said something that I hadn't thought of before. "Well you don't have another sister. Maybe your sister doesn't know about you." That statement hung in the air and I just couldn't shake it.

It planted a seed. Using the world wide web I started to see if I could find out some information about this other side of my family. I searched and found a little bit, but it wasn't enough to satiate my curiosity, at least not anymore. That little seed had taken root and I suddenly felt like I needed the answers to all my questions.

There was an aunt (my biological father's sister) that had made it clear to my mom's side of the family that if I was ever to want to meet her she would love to meet up with me and make a connection. I called my grandma (who had the contact information) and said that yes I wanted to meet this aunt.

My aunt and I emailed a couple times whereupon I found out that my sister was married, living in the same town as my grandma, and had children (plural)! My brother had been born with cerebral palsy and had miraculously outlived doctor's predictions, but he was bed ridden and wasn't able to leave the house often. 

In October of 2008 I drove to the other side of the state to meet up with an aunt I had never met before. She came and picked me up from my grandma's house and we went to lunch where we talked for a couple of hours. I finally had a connection. By the end of the conversation I told my aunt that I wanted to contact my sister. My aunt agreed to help bridge that gap.

Part 2.


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