I have four brothers. Only my father’s sons knew each other. I only know the other two of them, and one of those is gone now.
This brother I lost twice. On this January 19, the adoptive brother I grew up with died, and it was only two weeks before that when I managed to call him to try to bridge the estrangement that had been the story of our adult lives. I give thanks that before the end came, we had a little time together, even though it was via cross-country phone calls. Hail the goer.
Through the magic of DNA testing, in May of 2018 I met another brother, my mother’s son, and we have built a strong and loving connection. Through him I have been given the gift of knowing our mother. “Our mother.” It’s taken a while to get used to those words.
In November of 2019 I met my sister (my father’s daughter) and I began to learn more about her two brothers, my other brothers. One of them had been my Facebook friend since May of 2018, and although we are on different lifestyle planes, we have managed an amicable connection. The eldest in that family is the brother I will never know, although he is the one to whom I feel the closest connection. His brilliance and his war experience made it necessary for him to shield himself from all external communication. I grieve him, though he is still living.
My adoptive brother was by nature the polar opposite of me. Five years younger, he was an extroverted charming force of nature, completely uninterested in the world of intellect to which I had been assigned by nature and nurture. We lived in the same household, but not in the same world. I’d already had a five-year track record of extravagent praise for my own intellectual gifts, and his unique wonderful attributes were jarringly different. The fact that he could be exuberant and immediate with anyone he met didn’t compete with tests and report cards, and the fact that I sorely lacked his gifts didn’t register. We never really became siblings.
My adoptive brother and I shared the same nurture, in clinical terms, but that isn’t accurate. He was always measured against me, and that damaged both of us. My mother’s son and I never met until 2018, and while we grew up in different families what we share is amazing: music, technical invention, and obsession, among others. And I know my father’s side now, with the dark current of depression that I inherited.
Blame and forgiveness, nature and nurture, all are valid concerns. All I know how to do, at this point, is to embrace it all.