When I was a child I used to ask for stories at bedtime and instead of listening to story books my parents would make up stories. I would ask for various things as different interests came and went, teddy bear’s picnics, boats and dogs but the one subject that prevailed throughout my childhood was stories about two particular little children. I knew their names well and their ages and that they were my brother and sister but this was about all I knew, aside from a few old photos of my brother as a toddler. Years went by and these bedtime stories were the only thing connecting me to the siblings that I wasn’t able to grow up with. Through these stories I was able to imagine what we all would have done together had we had the opportunity and before bed each night we travelled to the beach, the circus and the zoo together and I was no longer an only child.
It was years until I would actually meet my siblings again and when I did I was almost surprised that they looked different to the children I imagined in my stories. I was around fifteen when I met the brother I hadn’t seen since I was a baby and by that time I had outgrown teddy bear’s picnics and trips to the zoo and at twenty so had he. He seemed nice but it was strange, I didn’t know what it was meant to feel like to have a brother but I hadn’t imagined feeling shy and awkward, after all we were family and hadn’t we talked and talked and pushed and shoved and laughed like other siblings when we went on our adventures to the zoo? I was very happy we had met but at the same time I was sad, there was so much that we had missed and it was hard to know where to start again. At fifteen talking to boys was hard enough especially with the added confusion of this one being my brother. So time passed again and while we did see each other a few more times, getting to know each other was gradual.
When I was a little bit older and wiser I tried again and found the more I got to know my warm, friendly, entertaining brother the more he did begin to feel like the brother I never knew and the less those missed years felt important. After I split up with my ex-husband and the latest fling had ended I found myself single at my brother’s 30th birthday. While my focus was on hanging out with my brother as we danced and chatted I did notice a certain tall, dark-haired, hansom friend of his who had recently returned from overseas. How this blue-eyed stranger eventually came to be Finn’s father and the love of my life is another story but that night was the beginning. So here we are a few years on and the brother I spent years wondering about is now very much part of my life.
Over the years I have happily had the opportunity to meet my sister a few times and discover our shared love of food, cooking and children. After the birth of my son, while still feeling groggy from all the medication, I was visited by my brother and sister and nephew. It was an amazing thing to have them both there with me and introduce them as my brother and sister to the doctors. Without knowing the back story, here we all were a real family together at last.
I can only tell this story from my perspective but I have also watched my dad deal with the separation and while he has had the opportunity to get to know his son in his twenties, it wasn’t until two days ago that he was able to reconnect with his daughter. I remember as a kid going for car trips as my dad attempted to drop off presents to his children and how sad he seemed. My dad now lives in America but he recently returned to Australia to meet Finn and amazingly met his daughter and her two children for the first time also. It was quite incredible to watch as he smiled and laughed and talked with his children on the weekend, as we and our children all enjoyed a meal together in the sun. It is amazing how children bring people together and I hope ours will grow up surrounded by their family in it’s entirety, developing relationships with family members from birth that their parents didn’t meet until later in their own lives. Perhaps the pain and separation experienced in our generation can now be healed as relationships are rediscovered and rebuilt.