Since before I can remember, I asked for a big brother for Christmas. But not just for Christmas, literally any chance I ever got.
I begged my parents to no avail, and eventually ended up kind of giving up on the whole idea. (Especially when I realized the technicalities of asking for a sibling that was older than me when he didn’t even exist yet.)
A few years ago, I learned that my mom gave a baby boy up for adoption when she was 19. I had a big brother all along. It took me a little while to process everything, but, eventually, we started the search to find my big brother. My mom was diligent in calling multiple agencies, and eventually got in touch with the agency she used for my brother when he was born. Since it was a closed adoption, the only thing they could do was put a letter in his file to give him in case he ever called the agency looking for more information about my mom.
We both felt pretty helpless and discouraged, but she didn’t give up.
In January, she took the ancestry.com test and didn’t have any matches. In February, my brother took the test for his birthday, and received a 100% match for a biological parent, my mom.
I’ll never forget driving to work on Friday, April 6th, when my mom called me. “Are you sitting down?” She asked. “Well…yeah” (I just left out the fact that I was driving on the freeway.
There was a long pause. “We found your brother.”
Those 4 words completely changed my life.
I have to be honest, guys. When we found my brother I wasn’t in a good place in my life. My heart was broken, the path I was traveling was bumpy, and I couldn’t really see a whole lot up around the corner. These are things I don’t talk about very often. None of us do. My instagram looked happy, my smile was filtered, and nobody would think twice if they ran into me at the grocery store. But if you saw me with all of that stripped away, you would see broken and scared. Lost and hopeless. I felt frustrated when I thought about how much I had to live for, and, yet, so many days living felt so. damn. hard.
But when we found my brother, I swear to you that I actually felt the walls of my heart stretching and growing and reaching forward to try to touch the day I’d get to meet him. It’s like the universe could feel me shrinking and slipping and found a way to give me a reason to keep growing and moving and crawling forward. When I learned his name, it sounded so familiar, like I’d known it all along. Bryan.
Sometimes life feels so heavy, so scary. And it’s not even like I don’t want to have to feel it. But I’ve always envied my best friends when I watch them lean on their brothers and sisters when the wind gets too strong to bear alone. I wanted that, and right when my legs were about to give out, my mom called to tell me that we found someone out there in this mixed up world with a smile who matched mine a shoulder I could lean against when the going gets tough.
“Pick me” I whispered. “Please pick me.”
The day we got to meet my brother, I was so scared but so excited. I worried about so many things that never came true.
My mom and I sat huddled in chairs around the corner of the hotel, and we heard tiny voices coming from a distance. I saw my brother and his beautiful family and it took everything in me to hold it all together. For a second, I couldn’t breathe, but after that, it felt like the deepest exhale my lungs have ever known. They’re here. They’re mine.
I bent down and hugged my niece and nephew and then I got to hug my brother for the very first time.
I can’t put it into words, so I’m not even going to try.
We have spent the past 3 days with my brother and his family. My heart is so full that it feels like it could honestly burst. I have new branches of love growing from the roots of my heart that I didn’t even know existed. I cry just thinking about how thankful I am.
My memories feel so sacred that I don’t think I could even try to put them into words, but I felt compelled to at least try to relay a small part of my experience here to anyone who might need the reminder.
Life is hard. It is so hard, you guys. And even though there are times I look like I have it all together, I don’t. Not even a little bit.
When I look at my life, it doesn’t look anything like I thought it would. And I have spent so much time beating myself up for that. I have questioned myself and my decisions, I’ve wondered what’s wrong with me and what I could possibly change. I have all but given up. And I am not proud to admit that, but I think it ‘s important.
Because not enough people do.
I almost gave up.
But then the universe gave me a gift that filled all of the cracks in my heart that have been aching for so long.
The universe reminded me that she doesn’t always give us what we want, but she always gives us what we need. And it looked NOTHING like I thought it would.
It looked like hugging my big brother for the first time. It looked like face masks and sleepovers and dance competitions with my niece. It looked like chasing my nephew through the mall while he was riding an electric moose. It looked like heart-to-hearts with my sister in law, stuck in traffic on Eagle Road while she fed me carrots because I was hangry and dangerous. It sounded like hearing my niece and nephew call my mom “grandma” for the very first time. It felt like meeting someone and instantly knowing I could lean on them, no matter how strong the winds in our future get. I can’t describe that feeling. I wished for it for so many years, and it was hand delivered to me in a package that looked so incredibly different than I could have ever imagined.
It was even better, somehow.
It looked like seeing all of my hurt and fears and happiness and hope reflecting in my brother’s eyes. It looked like learning we both like spicy food and strong coffee.
In holding each other extra tight when we had to say goodbye.
I had all but given up, guys.
My life is so wonderful, but it’s far from perfect. I have so much to be thankful for, but I am not even close to having it all together.
And I try my best to talk about that sometimes, but I write it in a way that sounds pretty and poetic and eloquent and purposeful. But, sometimes, life feels far from purposeful. Sometimes, it feels frustrating and unfair and confusing and excruciating.
And that’s why I wanted to write this, tonight. Because no matter where you are or what you’re doing or how full or empty your heart may be, there’s more. There’s so much more out there. And even on the days it feels like you’ve hit 100 dead ends, I promise there’s a road waiting for you in the future that looks even more beautiful than you could have ever imagined it to be. And I can almost guarantee you that it won’t look anything like you expected it to.
But it will feel better than anything you could have ever imagined.
It’s not goodbye, it’s see you soon.
I can’t think about you without tears overflowing from my eyes. I am so thankful for you. I am so thankful for every single broken and scary road we both walked before our paths crossed, because it made me even more grateful to find you and know you and call you my brother.
I can promise you that you will never ever have to walk another road alone again. I drove home from mom’s house tonight and I felt so overcome with pride just to say I know you. You were so cool and calm and collected throughout your whole stay here, I almost forgot about how much you were experiencing and processing the entire time. I am so lucky to know you, but to call you my big brother gives me a feeling that I couldn’t put into words even if I tried. I prayed for you every single day for 29 years and you have already exceeded every expectation I could have ever imagined.
It’s like I knew you before I even met you. The more time I spend with you, the more you feel like home. It’s weird to think I could miss someone before actually meeting them, but that’s how I felt about you. We are one in the same, and I can’t wait for all of the adventures, workouts, snacks, heart-to-hearts and memories this life still has in store for us. You are my bonus sister.
You are the answer to a prayer I didn’t realize my heart had been praying all along.
You are a force. You are so brave and strong and kind. Your beauty runs from the veins of your heart to your eyes and your smile. You have the most special kind of beauty, the kind that is even bigger on the inside. I hope you never lose your curiosity, your tenacity, your sass, or your perspective. You are going to change the world, little girl, and I can’t wait to cheer you on from the front row every single step of the way. Don’t forget about me when you’re famous, I still have your cotton candy froyo waiting for you in my freezer. Okay, half of it… I got hungry. I love you so so big.
You are a light in every single life lucky enough to see you shine. I will never forget standing in the hallway waiting to meet your daddy for the first time, and hearing your little voice around the corner, like an exhale telling me that everything was going to be okay. I was so scared and you came right up to me and gave me a hug, and that’s when I knew I could believe you. You are tiny, but you are so mighty. You are bold and brave and fearless and full of so much love. Your laugh could make even the grumpiest old man smile. It is so honest and pure and full of everything good in this whole entire world. I feel so lucky to be someone you choose to hug. For that, I will never, ever be the same.
It’s not goodbye, it’s see you soon. I love you so, so, so much.