Yes, I spent the majority of last week laying in a hospital bed with pancreatitis and it totally stunk! Worst pain I have ever felt and I'm really glad for good drugs, kind nurses and some amazingly smart doctors. They still aren't completely sure what caused it...could be that I accidentally ate gluten, could have been a side effect of the CMV virus, could've been a left over gall stone from my surgery last fall....but no one knows for sure. Maybe it was a combination of all of it. I don't want to dwell on that experience in this blog because frankly I have much more exciting stuff coming down the pike and well...I'm sick of being sick and I'm determined that is the last bout of sickness for me for awhile. I really appreciate all the prayers, visits, phone calls, flowers and meals from my sweet friends. I hope I can repay your kindness in some way in the future.
So on to the more exciting stuff - my brother. Tomorrow, David, Zach and I are heading down the road to the motherland. For those who don't understand that means TEXAS people :) the land where I was born and where the majority of my family still resides. The road traveled is nothing new, we go to Texas all the time, but this time it's different. I'm going to meet my half-brother Michael for the first time. He's 26 and he's always lived in Washington state so it's never been "convenient" for us to meet. Also, I held a grudge against him for way too long for something that isn't his fault at all.
You see, when I was 10 years old, my dad cheated on my mom and as a result the woman he cheated with became pregnant. My dad thought the right thing to do was leave us, marry her and raise that child. The situation caused so much pain in my life and so much bitterness that at times I really hated them all. Then God broke my spirit and I realized I had to forgive my dad and even the woman who I felt had broken up our family. They had two boys together and then they divorced and she moved the boys to Wash. I met my younger brother Jeffrey when he was 17 (he's 25 now) and I'm really glad we've met. I wish we were a bigger part of each other's lives and I'm working on that.
I'd always asked my dad about Michael when we did talk, which is not often, and he'd say he didn't know how to reach him, blah blah blah. I never pushed the issue because of a multitude of reasons. I knew he was in the Navy and that he'd been out on several cruises, most of which my dad never even knew what ship he was on. Over the past several years, I've had a strong desire to connect with him and I just didn't know how. My brother Jeff is on my myspace friends' list and one day I noticed someone on his friends' list that looked like him and the name was right so I sent a message to Michael and told him I'd like to get to know him. He said he would like that. He also told me he's about to be deployed to Iraq and this time he will be on the ground. He mentioned that he wanted to get in touch with my dad, whom he hadn't seen in 10 years. His mom now lives in Texas so he was planning to spend some time there before he ships out. I worked it out so that we could be there during that time and my sister even jumped on board and is bringing her family down from Oklahoma to meet him as well.
I'm so excited, nervous, anxious, happy and sad. I wish we were meeting under different circumstances and that he didnt' have to go put himself in harm's way shortly after. I want a chance to really know him and I don't want him to get hurt fighting for our country. I'm so proud of him at the same time for doing this. He's got a 3-year-old son that he has to be away from so much because of duty and honor to this country. I guess I'm scared too; my mother lost her brother in Vietnam and I don't want to lose a brother in Iraq the same way. I know it's different because I haven't even been a part of his life the way my mother was a part of her brother's life, but still I've prayed for him for a long time and I do love him as strange as that may sound to some.
Another interesting part of this puzzle is Michael's mother. I never saw her, not even a photograph, while I was growing up. I honestly believe God was protecting my eyes because had I seen her, I would have a picture of someone to fuel my hatred. My childhood ended when I was 10 because of what she and my dad did to us; that's how I felt. I had to watch my mother go into a deep depression and I had to take care of my younger sister A LOT. It was tough for a young child, but we got through it and we're all closer because of it. Not too long ago through the Myspace maze, I saw her but the first photos I saw included photos of her recent baptism after she was saved. Now I firmly believe God shielded my eyes as a child to prevent deeper hatred and bitterness and I firmly believe he allowed me to see her for the first time under the veil of His grace so that I could forgive her. What a mighty God; a God so sensitive to our needs in THIS moment. For He knew when I was 10 that it would be 26 more years before I'd see this woman and that it would be in a situation where I could not hate.
So this weekend will complete the mystery, the missing puzzle piece in my family. All six of my father's children will hopefully be in one place for the first time. I hope he is able to sense the awesomeness of that moment. Ages 5 to 36; 3 girls; 3 boys - same father, three different moms. It's really my hope and prayer that one day we'll all be bigger parts of each other's lives. I'll post after all this goes down :)