Sunday, June 03, 2012

Answers...

When I woke up yesterday morning, I didn't expect my life to change.  I saw myself going to work and maybe getting an ice cream cone afterwards.  (I got toasted marshmallow on a waffle cone.)  And maybe a movie for date night.  I didn't expect my life to change...

The credits were rolling and Florence and The Machine's "Breath of Life" filled the theater.  William checked his messages and my brother-in-law, Greg, left a message that my brother had gotten in touch with my family.  I sat there shocked, unable to form words.

My brother, Dwayne, has been missing for 22 years.  He left when I was still a child and until yesterday, we had not heard a single word from him.  We didn't know if he was married or had kids.  We didn't even know if he was alive or dead.  Sometimes my mom would call in the middle of the night, crying and asking if I had seen my brother.  Sometimes she was so convinced she had seen him at the grocery store or that the news clipping about a mysterious fallen solider was him.

I pictured this moment a thousand times over the two decades.  I used to think that we'd get a secret message or a mysterious envelope would appear with clues to his whereabouts.  Sometimes when my sisters and I would be sitting around a table, we would imagine scenarios of his return.

What I couldn't imagine was exactly how I would feel.  The initial feeling was disbelief.  Was it him?  Was it really him?  Or was it someone else who was just pretending to be him?  Then there was anger.  Why hadn't he contacted us?  Why did he abandon us?  Were we that bad?  Then there was acceptance.  Then there was happiness.  Then there was fear.  Would he leave again?  Would he like the people who we've become?  Would we get along?  Would he want to stay in contact?  What happened to make him reconnect after all this time?

For an answer to a mystery – probably one of the biggest mysteries of my life – there were many, many, many questions.

When I used to talk about my brother, I would do so offhandedly or with a little ironic laugh.  Kind of like it was no big deal.  Kind of like everyone had a sibling who was missing.  Someone once said that it seemed like I had moved past it, like I didn't care.  But this isn't something that you move past or not care about.  It's something that becomes a part of the structure of who you are.  At the core, there's an absence and a loss.  You build around it, creating walls, layering it in scar tissue.  You always wonder. You smile to cover the hurt.  You laugh to muffle a cry.  You don't "get over it"... you just "get by".

I talked with my parents.  I talked with my sister.  But I didn't talk to him.  I was still in shock.

And then the phone rang today and it was him.  We exchanged greetings after twenty years of not a single word.  His voice was like my own, but different.  I could hear in it my father.  I could hear in it my grandfather.  I felt nervous and anxious... but curiosity kept me on the line.  As unsettled as I felt, I also felt strangely at ease.  Kind of like going back to a familiar place.  We talked for a few hours.  We talked until the phone pressed against my ear hurt.  I asked questions I had asked myself a thousand times, but never got any answers to.  This time there was a person with answers; this time there was a person who knew all the answers to the questions I wanted to hear, my brother.

45 comments:

AJ said...

I am so happy for you, that you finally have answers.

Cynthia Thornton said...

Whoa. That was intense reading that, Andrew. I had almost the same reaction. I'm still processing. I think burying myself in work will help me feel less like this is a dream.

somethingunique said...

Wow Andrew every word you wrote was everything I think anyone would feel in this situation... I think especially the anger and the questions...why now??? But now is here and I'm sure your getting answers ... Your family must be feeling a sence of peace... Now not having to rest your head on your pillow at night and wondering......xox

Andrew Thornton said...

Part of me half expected to wake up today and have it all just be another dream.

Becky aka Beady Eyed Monster said...

Reading this brought tears to my eyes, Andrew. I am so very happy for you and Cynthia and the rest of your family. I know what his absence has meant because I've heard how you both talk about him. Here's to many answers and many more conversations, I hope.

Lorelei Eurto said...

It's amazing news. I hope you'll get to see him soon! is he close by? Please keep us all updated. Thank you for sharing....

Patti Van said...

Thank you for sharing this - I cannot imagine how this would make me feel...I hope you feel peace.

flyingbeader said...

What an amazing story. I still feel goose pimples on my arm after reading it.

dot

My Life Under the Bus said...

I know exactly how you feel. I woke up one morning when I was about 35 to a random email from a father who I had not spoken to nor seen since I was 4-5. It is and will be an emotional roller coaster. I hope for you answers and peace and whatever relationship you are looking for XOXO

Cynthia of Cynful Creations said...

I too am stunned at this news, having read your posts previously about his disappearance and felt the pain and loss in your words. What a blessing to know he is alive and well. It must be overwhelming after all these years of wondering, to finally be able to get some answers. I hope this will be the beginning of a great healing for you and your family.

Cristi Baxter Clothier said...

I come from a place of great understanding for your situation. I too have a sibling who disappeared, leaving her 3 small chidren behind. She's been gone over 18 years now with no word or contact.

I could not be more happy for you and your family. I wish you all the happiest of reunions!

Lori Bowring Michaud said...

Wow, Andrew and Cynthia, just wow. I hope your questions have been answered, I hope this gives you peace, and most of all I hope your brother's call fills at least part of the hole in your hearts that was created when your brother left.

Peace.

Deryn Mentock said...

Andrew, what a blessing to have some answers and to have your brother back. For better or worse, no matter the circumstances, our family holds a very dear and tender spot in our hearts.

Lisa Peters Russ said...

its very rare that people get the answers to questions like the ones you have.. I mean.. really rare. I hope the new journey you take regarding your brother and your new family dynamic makes you happy and fills your heart with peace..

Pine Ridge Treasures said...

Andrew and Cynthia - what a blessing to finally have some answers. I wish you well as you embark on this new journey of discovery.

Jean Hutter said...

Andrew I am so happy for you and I hope everything works out for you and your brother. It is great that you now have answers to your questions and some peace in you family.

Kathleen Lange Klik said...

So happy to hear you have been reunited with your brother, that is wonderful! I hope it brings you the answers you had searched for, the peace of mind you needed and the happiness you deserve. Keep us updated.

Stepha said...

That is wonderful news! The photo is do sweet. I have lost siblings, but not like what your family have been through. Hope it all works out for the best, I bet your mom is happy. Please keep us updated.

Kathy Van Kleeck said...

So happy for you and your family. I love that he's called each of you and committed to the long conversations that followed. A huge leap of faith on everyone's part. Leave the judgement and projection out of the mix and healing will follow.
love and light and all good things...

Cindy Collier said...

I am so happy for you and your family! Blessings!

Jennifer Palmer said...

Andrew, best wishes for you and your family at this time. What a surreal thing to have happen...don't forget all the support you have, if you need it ;)

TesoriTrovati said...

I can tell that this moment is both bitter and sweet for you and your family. I hope that you can find the ways to bridge the gap that time and distance has torn between your family and your brother. I rejoice for you that he has come back into your life and I hope and pray that this will be the start of a new chapter of your lives with him. I am so happy for you. Enjoy the day. Erin

SueBeads said...

WOW, Andrew! I'm so glad that he's ok and that he got in touch with you. It will be hard, but maybe now you can get the answers you want and have a relationship again!

Mary Hicks said...

I'm so happy for you! I recently reconnected with my bro, too. We had been estranged since 1996, and it has been absolutely the most wonderful thing! I hope you find the joy I'm finding. It's good to have a brother again.

Erin S said...

Wow Andrew--that is such an amazingly personal and unexpected story. Thank you for sharing--I hope your family can heal and become whole again after so many years of not knowing.

Spirited Earth said...

thanks for sharing this Andrew,it must be a huge relief to finally have answers..wishing you and your family the best.

Courtney said...

I hope it continues.

Marsha of Marsha Neal Studio said...

This is SO incredible ~ I've gotten all teary eyed reading your post and thinking about how you all must feel ~ how you can breathe again... Oh - Yay for you all!!! Exhale...

CraftyHope said...

Andrew, I'm so happy for you and your family. I hope some of the hurt in your heart can be healed and you find the answers you've been seeking. What a blessing!

Anne said...

Enjoy it as the miracle it is.I am very happy for you.

Gaea said...

What an amazing story! I am so, so happy for your family! Absolute joy for you!

My Art and My Soul said...

Oh, Andrew, your post left me speechless and anxious. I am praying for your family and I think all of your friends have developed a bond with you and are all sending much strength and love to you at this time. WOW, what a ride. I am so happy for your family.

Janet said...

Oh Andrew! Im so over~joyed for you and youre family! What wonderful news and great times to come! Many huggs across the miles! oxx

Amanda said...

Wow! Just Wow! That is an amazing story, thank you for sharing! I'm intrigued and looking forward to hearing more! Wishing and hoping for an outcome filled with nothing but happiness for you and your family.

Amanda said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Melissa Meman said...

What an amazing story, Andrew! Best wishes to you and your family! Hope springs eternal!

Joan Tucker said...

Lana and I add our best wishes for happy reunions and a clearing and cleansing of years of unknowing and grief. Hugs to you all. Jt and LW

Alice said...

Andrew I would imagine the emotions are tearing through you right now like a factory conveyor belt gone haywire.

I'm glad your brother resurfaced, and I hope your family can start a new chapter which includes your brother.

Regina said...

Wow!, I can only imagine the roller coaster ride of emotions you and family are going through. Thinking of you all.

Jean said...

I remember your dream of him.
He is so essential to who you are, and I am so happy for you and your family.
jean

Cynthia@Ornamental Style said...

Ditto what everyone else says. Such an amazing story. Not saying anything more because it makes me cry.

Shaiha said...

Wow! This is incredible and no matter what happens in the future hopefully seeing/talking to your brother again will allow your heart to heal.

Please keep us updated.

Shaiha said...

Wow! This is incredible and no matter what happens in the future hopefully seeing/talking to your brother again will allow your heart to heal.

Please keep us updated.

Green Studio said...

Wow, I am so happy for you!

missficklemedia.com said...

I cried at this post. I cried for a like situation with my own brother, I cried for your family, for your mother, for you. I'm sorry for the pain and uncertainty you have experienced because of this. I want so badly for there to be healing and peace between you and will be believing with all my might that it happens.
Thank you for writing this, Andrew;
"But this isn't something that you move past or not care about. It's something that becomes a part of the structure of who you are. At the core, there's an absence and a loss. You build around it, creating walls, layering it in scar tissue. You always wonder. You smile to cover the hurt. You laugh to muffle a cry. You don't "get over it"... you just "get by"."
You have put into words something I was struggling with. Thank you.
Be Blessed,
Shannon