I was 19 when my mom decided to tell me that I share the same dead biological father with an older brother and sister. My brother lived close enough that my mom began to worry I might meet him at a bar and go home with him. I swear to god that’s the reasoning she gave me! She arranged for us to meet shortly after. His name is Shawn and we got along alright but he was way more into this newfound sibling thing than I was. He moves around a lot so I don’t really have much contact with him, but I remember that he was really into clubbing, Corvettes and creeping. Too bad “The Jersey Shore” wasn’t on MTV back then. And our sister Sonja lives in Oregon. Neither of us have met her, and while I’ve talked to her on the phone a few times and receive (extremely egotistical) letters from her every Christmas, I’ve never felt any sense of a familial bond there. Totally not a fan, to be honest. We couldn’t be more different if I amputated my right leg and replaced it with the decapitated head of a cow.
Apparently, there is a rumor that the three of us have another half-sibling as well. Our father was clearly a gigolo.
Around that same time, my mom dropped another bomb on me: I have another half-sister, but this one was the product of my mom. Now, when I was younger, my mom loved to fuck with me. She was always making up farces to see if I’d fall for it. I can’t count how many times I’d go to school and spread outright lies told by my mom, fully believing them. Like when she told me Mr. Wizard cancelled an assembly he was doing at my elementary school because he died. I told all my classmates that Mr. Wizard WAS DEAD and it wasn’t true. So there were times when she would mention a baby she had been forced to give up for adoption, a few years before I was born, and I would laugh. “Yeah right,” I’d say sarcastically. “Let me try and get that put on tomorrow’s morning announcements.”
Sometime before I moved out of my mom’s house, I was rummaging through her dresser looking for old ringer tees to steal (my favorite is a blue Jackie Sorenson aerobic marathon shirt that I still have), but instead found an old, fat manila envelope stuffed full of old correspondance with friends who had moved away, notes, and several letters from an attorney addressing the case of Baby Stonick.
So when my mom told me that, all those years later, I knew it was true. But there was more: my mom had found her. Her name was Amy, she lived in Wheeling, WV and my mom and brothers were going to meet her.
I remember reacting completely immaturely about it, throwing a tantrum, unwilling to accept this. I had grown up thinking I was my mom’s only daughter. And our relationship had always been kind of fucked up, strained, and I just knew that she was going to give Amy her best side. So I was jealous and hurt and refused to have anything to do with it. Eventually, my mom just stopped mentioning it. I guess I didn’t mind so much about the other half-brother and sister because the dad we shared was dead. I don’t know, and I probably didn’t know then, either. It was just too much. In the span of a summer, my family had doubled. I couldn’t really handle it. And eleven years later, I feel like an asshole.
This past December, I received a friend request on Facebook from Amy, and she said she’d like to meet. Eleven years later and yes, it was still shocking, but I didn’t have that jealous pang anymore. It was replaced with absolute curiosity and a desire to see what it’s like to have a sister. We began sending messages, getting to know the pertinents of each other, and finally last Wednesday, I found myself driving to a Panera in Washington, PA, oscillating back and forth between: “What if she hates me?” “What if she resents me?” “What if this is actually just my mom fucking with me?”
I was fully prepared for it to be awkward, but instead I found myself hugging her right off the bat. I’m not a huggy type of person. There are people I’ve been friends with for 15 years and have never hugged. But I share genes with this girl and at that moment, right there on the sidewalk in front of Panera, it seemed like the right thing to do. And I hoped she didn’t think I was a freak. Plus, she was wearing a yellow vest which simultaneously soothed and invited.
Over coffee and a grilled cheese from the kids menu, we talked about our childhoods, our relationships with our parents, the various issues we both share (it’s uncanny), and the choices we’ve made over the years. She remarked that I look like our younger brother Ryan and I pointed out that she and I have the chin. It was surreal. And it made me regret the way I acted all those years ago, but I wonder if I had met her right away, if I’d have acted like a complete bitch and sabotaged what could have been a cool relationship. And I hoped she didn’t take offense to that, because I really am a different person now, and more open to change.
She had to leave after an hour to take her son (my nephew!) to get school supplies and I actually found myself feeling a little disappointed. I didn’t want to leave! I had so many more questions, like what kind of music she likes and if she went to the prom and what are her thoughts on uncooked tortellini, but she said she’d like for all of us (her family and Henry and Chooch) to get together sometime soon. I hope I have enough time to teach Chooch that Amy’s five year old daughter is his COUSIN which means he can’t stalk her like he does all the random girls he sees at Target.
I do believe that everything happens for a reason, and I hope that it’s not too late to build a relationship with her, because we have a lot in common. I mean, it’s sick how much we have in common. Plus, she said she likes my art, so I was all, “Welcome to the family!”
Probably I should draw a family tree so that this makes more sense:
It’s crazy because for 19 years of my life, I believed I was the oldest child. Not only am I NOT, but I’m also the YOUNGEST child on a completely different side of the tree.