Yesterday was a very special day, it was, in a manner of speaking, the culmination of a long-standing goal, of the finding of something, someone often thought of and who was not always known to exist.  I’m not sure if made more special given my condition, my cancer, or if, the disease prompted the final ‘push’ toward what transpired.  What made the day so special was finding someone long-lost, someone, at one time, thought to have died, but  who frequented my thoughts, and, as the odyssey unfolded, I learned, frequented those of my siblings.  While all mentioned plays a role, I think it is about family, about life and perhaps of providence.  it is about finding a biological sister.

There are few with whom I’ve shared several things, several very personal things.  Two of those being that I have a biological sister and whom I had never met.  I’ll not get into the specifics here, but circumstance, but both were born in a separate time of my mother’s life, under different circumstances, under much different paradigms.  It was those circumstances, those paradigms which led to the decisions made, perhaps the paths taken with respect to each of these siblings.  For my brother number two, yet located, I was fairly young, perhaps not much into my teens, when my mother told me of him.  For my sister it was a much different circumstance, a much different paradigm that brought sister number two to light.  However learned, providence offered the privelage to converse with sister number 2 for over 4 hours yesterday.

The odyssey of sister number two began in 1965, a year of turmoil for my family and one which left a number of marks, memories, experiences, both good and not so good.  I had just started the fourth grade that year and sister number 2, as I’ve referred to her, was born in the summer of 1966.  We, my known siblings and I, knew of our mother’s pregnancy, hard to miss, but for the most part we were young and, in some ways, at least myself, were recovering from the turmoil.  We were, at least, I was, kind of excited at the prospect of another sibling, especially since I was ‘the baby’ of the family, which, as many of a similar ilk know, comes with certain ‘stigmas’.  For me, it was a chance to ‘pass the torch’, to now become an ‘older’ sibling, the one who could know more, who could offer advice and who, as much as kids do, take some level of ‘command’.  When the time came, we, I, waited in anticipation for when our parents would return home with the addition to the family.  We were instead brought disappointment and told the ‘new addition’ died during child-birth.  I remember being sad, sad for a variety of reasons hard to articulate now.

Fast forward about 20 years, I was in my late twenties or early thirties, there came a revelation.  It was an interesting revelation and something which, in many ways touched me, perhaps created a hole of sorts, perhaps a curiosity.  The revelation, I learned the baby born the summer of 1966 did not die, but was, instead, put up for adoption, for reasons, at the time and even as an adult, I did not fully comprehend.  Yes, the ‘facts’ about the circumstance were laid out and clear, but in many ways, they did not add up for a number of reasons, reasons counterintuitive to me based on what I understood of my parents.  It was, in many ways, a paradox, the answer to which I could not derive.

Over the years I’ve often thought about sister number 2, wondered about who she was, what she was like and what it would have been like to have a second sister.  But conversations about her, particularly with my parents was taboo, something not discussed and  certainlynever mentioned.  Interestingly, this imposed silence around her also seemed to cast a veil upon conversations about her with my siblings.  I didn’t know if they knew and I didn’t know if they knew I knew, it was, in many ways, a catch 22.  I often thought about talking to my siblings about those adopted, but held back for a long time.  It then came, later in life, exactly when I am not sure, but after my divorce and diagnosis, that I asked my sister about the idea of looking up sister number two.  It was something of an interesting conversation because I always though she wanted a sister growing up.  Perhaps my read was wrong, but I sensed she felt more strongly about leaving ‘sleeping dogs lie’, to not open the can of worms, not to look.  I dropped the subject, but not the thought.

I believe, in past writing I’ve noted how unusual it is for me to have contracted this disease, particularly with this level of severity.  In researching things, one thing became abundantly apparent, my son was particularly susceptible to getting this, with the same severity and, to a lesser degree, so were my nephews.  It is also clear it is not a fun path to follow, certainly not convenient.  I had done, and remain committed to doing, my utmost to contribute to the science.  A science which, in comparison to other cancers is quite nascent, and which needs to develop a new paradigm, to break the existing ‘standard of care’ molds.  It made me think more often of sister number two and question whether I was, and am, remiss in not providing her with information of my disease.  I think, while I always harbored some strong desire to seek her out, my cancer was the last straw, the thing that pushed me over the edge.

Fast forward to last October.  I was talking to my brother, brother number 1, and in some way, I’m not sure how, the conversation turned to our ‘missing siblings’.  We began the conversation we never had in the past, those conversations taught to be taboo.  We shared a number of things, most importantly, I learned he knew of sister number two and that he also knew of brother number two.  We discussed a mutual desire to know them, neither able to articulate the exact why, other than to say we always ‘wondered’.

The conversation turned to the should we and if so, how do we, find our missing siblings.  We shared the relevant information we harbored, the seeds to discovery.  We decided I would begin the research, to converse with sister number one , revisit her feelings and to gain as much information as could be had.  We also agreed to proceed with our search, with or without sister number one, since our sense of mission was that strong.  My first step was to speak with sister number one and, somewhat surprisingly to me, while reticent, she was supportive.  The next step was to broach the subject with one of the people closest to the adoption, our father.

I called our father and began with our usual catching up on the news of the day, the weather and other such topics.  In short order I offered my knowledge of sister number two and how I learned of her.  I explained how we, my siblings and I, discussed the idea of trying to find our missing siblings.  We explored our memories, resurrecting the past, searching for clues which would assist us in opening the door.  Once having completed the exchange of information,my father said he may have something, for which he’d have to look, that would be helpful in finding sister number two.  We ended the call with his telling me he would get back to me when he knew something.  To my surprise, his return call came about five minutes later at which time he provided the names and address of the adoptive parents.

I began a search using that lead and within several hours I identified the person I believed to be sister number two.  I shared the discovery with my siblings and father and we crafted a strategy to approach her.  I would take the lead, using an alias email address and reach out to her under the guise of an interested party helping the family locate her.  The email, sent on November 17th 2011, remained unanswered until Friday, January 13, 2012 and it was encouraging.  I responded, answering the several questions she posed and ending by revealing that I was more than an interested party, I am, her biological brother.  I closed the email by offering her my telephone number with the expectation it would be at least a month until we heard from her, if at all.  Remarkably, it took one day and it was by a phone call which lasted over four hours.  We shared a numerous things, commonalities and just things about our lives.  I shared my cancer, my prognosis and probabilities, explaining I really didn’t know why I originally wanted to make contact, but that perhaps the disease prompted me to move forward, that it was, perhaps that which I beguile, that provided the last impetus to move forward.

We ended the conversation by acknowledging we would like to remain in contact, that we would like to continue our discoveries.  I offered the contact information for ‘our siblings’, but she instead offered hers, saying they are free to call her, that she would welcome their calls.  When explaining my gratitude for her responses, she acknowledged some reticence with responding, but concluded things happen for a reason, that this was, inexplicably, dropped in her ‘lap’ at a particularly opportune time.  She explained that whatever the power, God, a Supreme Being or simply providence, she felt my inquiries were something to which she should respond.  In the end, it leaves me with something of a feeling of finding that which was lost, a missing part.  In the end, I feel I must say, thank you to whatever power brought us together and, as odd as it may seem, thank you to my cancer.

Happy reading, happy thoughts and happy trails.

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