I awoke this morning with a Facebook notification telling me that a special member of my family has a birthday. I use the word ‘telling’, instead of reminding, because I didn’t realize that today was the day that my dear mother had birthed my half-brother Bob. June 7 is not etched in my mind yet as a day to remember. You see, I met him for the first time in my life a year ago.
It was a bittersweet discovery, the details of which I will reveal later. For now, let me just say that Half-Bob (a nickname which I joyously gave to him upon having him in my life) is the brother my psyche craved.
The brother I grew up with, the one I both adored and abhorred was Full-Bob. He was unavailable often as he hid his emotions from his sisters early in his life. (Unless angry or disgusted..he had no problem with expressing that). We had a extremely loving childhood, but Full-Bob was often solemn and moody. As children he teased me and hurt my feelings as only a brother can. Perhaps I was too sensitive. Perhaps I did not get his humor. Nonetheless, there was a deep love for one another.
As an adult, Full-Bob was busy working rotating schedule as a train operator or performing a gig as a professional musician. He often missed family events. He had two miserable marriages and great angst about unfulfilled dreams/desires. His time was thin and he was often stressed out.
When a cancer diagnosis fell out of the sky he let the full range of his emotions rain down on my sister and I, sharing his disbelief, anxiety, and fear.
Shortly after that horrible diagnosis and dire prognosis his incredible strength hit me with full force. I have always been proud of my brother, but never had I been prouder than while watching him battle an evil disease. He became optimistic of a positive outcome, trying new cancer treatments, researching, vocal in support groups, all while continuing to make music. He was unable to play out, so instead he set up a recording studio in his home. His sense of humor showed a quiet dignity about the process of his body being destroyed.
Meeting Half-Bob was an emotional roller coaster for me. Total sublime happiness upon finding out about him! However, supreme sadness that he and his half-brother Bob never knew each other. I know their bond would have tight, and I know they would have stood side by side on stage playing their guitars.
Half-Bob is strikingly similar to Full-Bob in so many ways. They have the same names, given by different parents. One is a pessimist. The other was a cynic. They both are very musically talented. Yet Half-Bob reaches out to both of his sisters in a way Full- Bob never could.
There were so many times growing up and as a young adult that I would’ve wanted Full-Bob to be more attentive to me and my life, my family, and more appreciative of who I was. I’ve never heard Full-Bob say he was proud of me.
Half-Bob on the other hand, is 100% more expressive with his feelings towards his new sisters. At first I thought it was insincere. …all the times he told me he loves me, how happy he is to be the “big brother”, how amazing I am. I mean, how could he love me when he just met me for the first time merely months ago? And why couldn’t Full-Bob tell those things? For some reason I really needed to hear them from my brother during my life. Why did I need validation from him?
I love Half- Bob, but it’s different. It’s mixed with disappointment that we didn’t know each other when we were younger and extreme grief at the death of our brother Bob. All the what-if‘s have been very hard for me to look past. But I’m working on accepting the fate of both of my dear brothers.
Our generous, sweet mother created a gift for me the day she gave birth to her first son. Six decades delayed, and yet, he arrived right on time.