This kind of thing doesn’t happen to people like me.
People who spend their days reading obscure histories of small religious sects.
And books about fantastical people in fantastical lands.
People who scour C-SPAN for “interesting” topics.
People who don’t date, and who’s parents are of the conservative bent.
Things like this don’t happen to people like me.
This is what I found myself thinking this Saint Patrick’s Day, two weeks after my 24th birthday, as I gazed at pictures of my 10 and 7 year old brothers. For the first time.
My older brother (the one I had always known I had), had just hung up the phone after a marathon (for us) session on the phone, as we pored over these pictures of these little clones, who seemed so much like we did when we were their age. It had begun that morning as he called me from his home in the Philippines , an entire day away. I received the call at (where else) the library, where I was poring over the items in the New Books section. He asked me if I’d gotten a Facebook friend request from my Dad’s girlfriend. I had, but I’ve kept my distance from her, an easy thing to do as I live on the Great Lakes and they live in California.
So I told him no. He told me to accept her friend request, go on her Facebook page and “tell me what you see”. I asked him what I was looking for but he told me I would know when I saw it. And he was right.
Because on that Facebook page were pictures of two little boys. Who looked JUST like me and my brother did when WE were little boys. As soon as I saw them, I knew they were my fathers children.
As we looked on those pictures, hunting for names and clues to there age, their hobbies, whether or not they were happy,my brother said “I’m going to see them”. And I said “why would you do that”? “Are you just going to walk up to Dad’s doorstep”? He said no, but they “are my brothers”. His Brothers………………………..
I knew three things in that moment: That my brother would do anything to get to them and see them with his own eyes, that he loved them as fiercely as if he’d known them all his life. And that I felt neither of those things. To my brother they were his brothers. To me, my fathers’ children.
It is a weird thing to know you don’t really love your own brothers. I’ve been mad at my older brother, loathed him at times. But I always loved him in that fierce, deep, visceral way that only two siblings can.
But here were two strangers, wearing my smile on their faces. Holding on to my father like I had years ago. Looking so much like they were replacing us. And in my heart I felt towards them….nothing.
And so I find myself having to learn how to love them. And for a person like me, who has grown up as a sensitive kid, who feels deeply for all of my family, the idea that I don’t love them yet is very hard to bear.
But I will love them. I will. In fact I know that I am starting to already. Like you fall in love with some significant other, almost imperceptibly, but slowly and surely.
And when I see them for the first time, I know they’ll love me too.