Some say I was lucky as a child. You must be spoiled, they'd say. Everyone was jealous that I was an only child, but all I wanted was a sibling. I had this idealized vision of a Leave it to Beaver type of hunky dory family relations, a sweet and funny sibling would be like a permanent slumber party...awesome!
It seemed like my dream was this close to coming true when my dad told me he had been married before, and had a little boy. I tried to ask him why I'd never met him, why no one spoke about him, how old he was...I was eager for every little detail to paint my dream, but my dad was like a closed book and never mentioned it again.
I would sometimes imagine what it would be like to meet this mysterious half-brother, what he might look like, and what games we might play. I could show him my tree fort and we could build bike ramps together. We'd go camping and hiking and chase after the dogs. I sometimes even had imaginary conversations with him, and imagined his responses and expressions.
When I was a teenager, I still knew not to approach my dad about the subject, so I went to my mom. Maybe she knew something I didn't, I thought. She told me we had me once before, that I was about five or six and he a few years older. She didn't have any real details; just that we'd met briefly and that he looked like my dad somewhat. I racked my brain trying to remember meeting him. I had to remember meeting him, I mean; I yearned for such a thing since I could remember so how could I forget such a thing? I told my mom she was wrong. We either hadn't met, or I was a baby because I didn't remember it. I insisted that she was lying to me.
After I got married, I found a new hobby, genealogy. Well, it wasn't a new hobby but with the advent of Internet, suddenly I didn't have to rely on my senile relatives' confusing falsified stories. I could find the truth about everyone.
I tried to find my half-brother, but how do you find someone when all you know is their first name and mother's first name? It isn't much to go on. I sent out a message to the ancestry threads with what little I knew.
Years passed. And then one day I got an email. It said something like, "Hi I don't have Internet but was using a friend’s and searched my name. Is this for real?"
I got his phone number and sat done at the table and breathed, trying not to panic. I dialed the number and hung up quite a few times. Was it really my brother? What would he be like? Would he be excited to talk to me? Did he know about me? Tons of questions ran through my mind and my hand began to shake as I dialed the number once more. A man picked up.
It was him, but we both didn't believe it, like it was a prank. We knew so little about one another; we couldn't exactly fact-check. I barely even recall the conversation, I was so nervous. We talked maybe all of three minutes. It was exciting, but didn't fit my dreams. It was like talking to some random stranger.
A few years later, I found him on Facebook but his account was blocked, but his wife's was not. I emailed her, thinking she'd think I was some stalker. A few long weeks later (I may or may not have checked my Facebook every hour) she responded, and he friended me and we talked on the phone once again. He had a lot of the same interests as my dad. We again didn't talk much though, guys often don't talk much and my dad hates the phone, so he probably does too. Again, it wasn't some heartwarming talk with "reunited" as the sound track. But then again, what do you say to someone you've never met but dreamed of for thirty years? What does he have to say, being the child dad didn't abandon?
I did find out though, that we may indeed have met, but even he didn't remember it. If we met, he was no older than six and I, no older than two. Take that, mom!
For a few weeks, I obsessed over his photo in Facebook like some tween might obsess over Bieber. What parts of his appearance did he share with my-our- dad? How did we look similar? If we met again, would we instantly "click" and hug and cry like they do on talk shows? I thought of what clothes I'd wear to our reunion, what photos I would take, how our conversation might go. Again, I was back to age five, dreaming about a brother, just this time I could use his real image and voice.
We still have yet to meet and whenever we talk (maybe once a year, very brief) I initiate contact. I feel our sappy reunion may never happen, and I will continue this life with this ghost of a sibling. However, I try and remain positive. I have a lot of joy in a reunion, and he has some pain. He has a wife with a chronic illness and just too much on his plate to accept some unknown sibling into his life.