I have brothers, three.
I only know one of my brothers. And to say I "know" him is probably a stretch. He is the one that I had closest proximity to growing up. I don't know what his favorite food is, his sports teams, his favorite band (I think Metallica?), his favorite color, or what his best subject in school was. I couldn't tell you what his dreams and hopes were growing up as a kid, and if the life he has now is all he dreamed it would be. And that breaks my heart. Because I love him. I love all my brothers. But I don't know a single one of them.
I've tried pushing aside for many years my disappointment in not having a tight family unit my entire life. And honestly, there have been times that I felt like the unwanted sibling. The one that kind of just showed up and changed their lives. I'm only their half sister - but I don't feel like a sister at all. And God I wish I did. There are so many times in my life that I needed (WANTED) my brothers to be there for me. To be able to pick up the phone and call them. To share with them my accomplishments, my failures, to seek advice - and most importantly, be part of their lives, and the lives they've built.
In the past few years my middle brother Bob (the one that grew up in Vermont with me) and I have been working on rebuilding our relationship - and I'm so grateful for that. I've missed so much - watching his kids grow up - watching them start to build families of their own. And those times that I've been able to spend with him, I feel the love that a brother has for a sister, and likewise, the love a sister has for her brother. I've missed that. I love the times I've been able to spend with him, and his family - I cherish those times, because they've been so few. I look at old family photos of when I was young, and my brothers were almost always with me in those photos.
My oldest brother didn't move to Vermont with us in 1982. He stayed in New Jersey. He was 16, and was finishing highschool, and had a life there. My two other brothers did move to Vermont - but my youngest brother moved back to New Jersey when I was 6 or 7. My memories of Richard are limited to me usually annoying the shit out of him, or him drawing. He was (IS) an incredible artist. I wish I had a fraction of the talent he has. My middle brother and I are the only ones that remained in Vermont. And I think that killed Bob a bit inside, to not have his brothers with him, too.
I look at us all now - grown adults with very different and separate lives - and I realize as much as I don't know them - they don't know me, either. I don't know if I make them proud, am a disappointment, or if they couldn't care either way. I haven't seen Richard in probably 10 years (maybe more), and my oldest brother Bill I haven't seen since 2012.
How is that I can miss people I don't even know, the way that I do? Is it the blood that binds? Or that inherent need to a family connection... It doesn't make it hurt less. In fact, it scares me that the older we get, and the more that time separates us - the less chance there is to build a family relationship.
I know I keep going back to this - but, it's the only thing I can compare to. Jordan, who passed away in March, was the youngest of the 4 Smith boys. His passing had such a profound affect on not just his family, but his community. Their family has a bond unlike any I've ever witnessed. And it terrifies me that some day - we're all going to have to attend one of our siblings funerals (because lets face it - we're not going to live forever) and I won't know what to say. I won't have funny stories to share, I won't have memories that will tie with any one else.
And they would not have anything they could say about me. I'm Tracy. I'm their youngest sibling. I live in Pennsylvania with my husband BJ. I have cats, and rabbits, and I like to cook. Beyond that, I don't think they have much else to go on. And it hurts. God it hurts. Because I so much want them to want me as their sister. And I don't know if I'll ever have that - and honestly - I'm so terrified of the rejection - I haven't reached out because I'm too scared of not being wanted.
A few weeks ago my therapist wanted me to write a letter to each of my siblings. I've sat down to write these letters more times than I can express - and the words just won't come. I love people who are phantoms to me. I miss memories that never happened. I long for a bond that I might never have. And I mourn the relationships that never existed.
I guess that's why I'm so intent on living in the here and now. I've already missed so much - I don't want to miss more. And even if I never get to build a relationship with Bill and Richard - I'm so very grateful to build one with Bob. He has no idea how much I've needed him, and wanted him in my life. And how much I've missed having that connection to another person who shares family history with me. I haven't been a perfect sister, sister in law, aunt, or cousin - and I can't reverse time to fix things. All I can do now is make sure I'm as present as I can be, and not waste an opportunity.
I have brothers, three. And they all mean so very much to me. I wish they knew... I wish I was important, too.