Wednesday, December 13, 2006

...another one opens

I have a brother, his name is Mike. 15 days ago, I would have told you I didn't know where my brother was - whether he was happy or sad, dunk or sober, alive or dead. 11 days ago I would have told you that I had not seen him in nearly 13 years. Today I can tell you that my brother is happy, sober and alive. The way I found out is truly unbelievable. In fact it is so unbelievable that my life is beginning to feel like a Lifetime made-for-tv-movie about a family that was reunited with their long lost son/brother after nearly 13 years. The day after my dog Buddy died saddness was starting to sink in. I would see something dark lying on the living room floor (my gym bag) and do a double take after realizing that it couldn't be Buddy. Or something would fall off of my son Ben's lunch plate, and there was this empty silence where the sound of a dog sniffing under the table for "floor d'oeuvres" should be. I called my best friends in the whole wide world, Elaine and Amy, in New York city. They are dog owners, dog lovers and the two people I knew would understand my grief. We talked for quite a while cried together and said goodbye. My sister, Molly, called later that day - around 1:00 pm - from our folks' house and left a message on my machine. Mom and Dad had gone down to California and Arizona over the Thanksgiving holiday to visit with family, and were arriving back that afternoon. I didn't know why Molly was at their place, but I figured it had something to do with returning keys. My husband got home around 2:00 that afternoon, and not long after that I called my folks to see if they'd arrived home yet. They had pulled into the driveway right after Molly had called me - then Mom said "Molly has some pretty amazing news, but I don't think I can tell it..." Molly has two kids so I figured it was something to do with my neice or nephew. What I was not expecting to hear was this: "We found Mike." On Thanksgiving day KOMO 4 News in Seattle aired a "feel good" story on the six o'clock news about a homeless man hepling out at a food bank. It was a pay it forward story; here's the guy who basically has nothing and yet he's giving back by helping those who helped him. Had I watched the news on Komo 4, I would have seen my brother for the first time since Easter of 1994 - on the TV news for cripes sake! Molly and I and our families spent Thanksgiving at our other sister, Kim's house. As I mentioned before, my parents were in California. None of us were watching KOMO 4. None of us saw the news broadcast. Luckily, and somewhat ironically, a friend of Molly's who had been Mike's landlord for "a few of the most depressing months of my life..." (a quote from Mike) was watching the six o'clock news on Thanksgiving and saw the broadcast. When Molly got to work on Friday, there was an email from this friend stating "I saw your brother on the news last night - he looks good..." Can you imagine? Just try to imagine that you have not seen a loved one for over 12 years. Maybe you feared the worst. Perhaps you'd worried that they were dead, that they drank their kidneys into failure, that they now only existed in some morgue as John Doe... These are the thoughts that I spent the last 12 years trying not to think. Now imagine that you've not only found out that this loved one is alive, but that they have exorcised their demons, and have learned enough about hunger, and generosity and gratitude that they now want to help out others. My brother is still homeless. He lives in a shack in the woods that he built 7 years ago. But because of his generosity, someone found work for him. He is saving his paychecks to buy a camper or RV to live in. And he has spent the last two weekends with my folks at their house, which, by the way, he helped build - 13 years ago. You can help stop the hunger


BenBirdy1 said...

Oh Flying Mum. What an incredible story. You must be completely overwhelmed.

And I am so sorry about Buddy.

Thinking of you, wishing you peace.

xo Catherine

theflyingmum said...

Thanks for your kind words. Overwhelmed, yeah. I think I'm still sort of in shock. Like I said - it really seems like some tv movie. There's a lot we still need to work on as a family. I'm just so proud of my brother for coming back in such a public way. THAT took a tremendous amount of courage. That, and being reunited with his son and daughter. One thing I must say to his ex-wife's credit - she never once bad-mouthed my brother to their kids, she is a kind and gentle person and we love her too. It has helped me to be able to write about the whole thing. I'm not really an open book sort of person, but I'm working on tearing some of the walls down. As I told my brother, we should feel no shame for what has passed or who we are. Now is a time for forgiveness and healing. Thanks again.

NotSoSage said...

That's amazing. There have been a number of people in our family who have been lost to us and returned, but never for as long, or having returned in such an incredible way. You must be so proud of him and it sounds like a fitting time for a happy family reunion!

theflyingmum said...

The season is definitely appropriate for reuniting with family and loved ones, and yes! I am so proud of my brother. Thanks so much for your words of support.

NotSoSage said...

Dear Flying Mum,

Thanks for dropping by. I'd love to give you advice, but I'm not really sure I have much to give beyond what it appears you are already doing. Forgiveness, in my family's circumstances, has always been the most important and sometimes hardest thing to achieve and it sounds like you're all there already. I think it's amazing that your ex-sister-in-law has been so positive with your brother's kids...that's what you'd hope for, but something that very few people achieve.

I'm sure you're having a busy time right now, what with the holidays and the reunion, but if you feel comfortable, I would love to see an update on how things are going.

Thinking of you,

mamalang said...

First of all, I'm so sorry about Buddy. Losing a loved one is difficult, even if that loved one walks on four legs and doesn't speak Human.

Second of all, thanks for the comment. Made my day :)

And lastly, how wonderful about your brother. I'll be hoping that it all works out to be a happy holiday for you all!