I’ve just turned 30. Well, in April but I’m still coming to terms with it ~ hee hee. Since then though, I’ve been thinking a lot about my journey in life. What makes my life, my life? I don’t know if when you hit 30, there’s a mental switch that turns on in your head that starts you thinking and contemplating the meaning and importance of circumstances and relationships in your life. That’s how it’s gone for me.
As I think back on my life, besides the obvious events that had a massive impact on me (getting married, having my babies, knowing Jesus), my life is clearly split into two parts. Life with and without my brother. This month it’ll be ten years that I’ve been doing life, essentially, without him being involved in my everyday life, on a day to day basis.
My brother moved to the USA when he was 19. He got a scholarship to study there and he’s never come back, for longer than a 5 week period or so.
I think many families deal with this type of situation. I would say close on all the families I know have either a daughter or son or a sibling somewhere else in the world so my situation is not unique, I don’t think. I just think it’s sad that families are mostly scattered around the world and don’t live close anymore. I don’t think it’s anyone’s fault ~ life happens and you end up settling somewhere that’s not necessarily where your family is.
Do I think that God intends families to be separated? That’s such a hard question. I know God loves the concept of families but would He intend them to be apart, for reasons that only He knows? Maybe.
Let me try and apply this to my life ~ my brother left ten years ago. He’s a pastor in the USA ~ do I think he’s where God wants him? Do I think God’s using him where he is? Do I think that he’s prayed about his life’s journey and feels that he’s where God wants him? Yes to all of the above. So that would naturally mean that if he’s where God wants him, and I’m where I believe God wants me, then yes, God sees a purpose and plan in our separation and I should just trust in that.
Ryan and I have always been VERY close. People used to think we were twins. I have always had a relationship with my brother that I’ve always thought was really special and the bond we have is something I treasure. Being born only twelve months apart, we basically lived in each other pockets for 18 years until he left. Yes, we fought ~ BAD sometimes ~ but we always knew that when it came down to it, we had each other. The funny thing is when Ryan left for university at 19, I didn’t think too much of it. I thought “cool so he’s going to be in America and I’m here. He’ll be back for holidays. Yes, of course I’ll miss him but I rate its all ok.” And just now, as I’ve turned 30, I’ve realised how deeply not having him involved in my everyday life, has impacted me.
Most of the time, I’m really ok with that. I’ve gotten used to the Skype/FaceTime relationship, the sending huge parcels of presents at Christmas/birthday time, the missing out on important events and posting the pictures on Facebook, as a way of including each other even though we’re not there. But I will admit, there are days where I drive in my car, and a song comes on that triggers a memory of my childhood or teenage years, a memory I shared with Ryan ~ and the tears come. I’ll admit that big events in my and my kids’ lives are sad and happy at the same time ~ sad because I would have loved my brother to have been here when both my kids were born. Sad because I wish my brother was here to see Noah in the school play. Sad because I would love him to see Tyla sing a Hanson song she loves and clap for herself at the end. Sad because my kids give the best hugs and they don’t get to share them with Ryan as much as they want to. I’ll never forget that when I said goodbye to Ryan almost exactly this time last year, he took Noah into the room where he got changed for his wedding and he said “Noah, come here. Look at me!” He picked him up, looked him dead in the eye and said ”Look at me, Noah! You’re my best friend ~ never forget that. I miss you every single day and I love you, boy.” That still makes me cry because Noah still tells me randomly, every now and then “Uncle Ryan, Mommy, in America? I carried the rings at his wedding and he told me I’m his best friend.” It’s like sometimes, something triggers that memory, and he remembers to not forget Ryan is part of his life.
So Ryana, as we celebrate 10 years of you in the US and me turning 3 times that (aaahhh!) I just wanted you to know:
- I’m proud of you. I’m proud that you left everything that was familiar to you, started a new life at 19 in a foreign country and you made so much of yourself. I’m proud of the man you’ve become through your journey ~ more, I’m proud of the man God moulded you into through these 10 years. I’m proud of Lindsey and everything she is, and everything she stands for. I love her, as if she was my own sister. Most of all, I’m proud to call you my brother.
- I miss you and that will never change. I miss listening to random music and dancing around the house like crazy people. I miss us making lame videos with the Bradley cousins. I miss you playing the piano really loudly and me trying to watch TV and shouting at you to hurry up and finish! I miss having you around to come and visit, so I can rush over and play you the latest AMAZING cd that I bought ~ that you will probably think isn’t THAT cool, but you sit and listen to anyway. I miss being unbeatable at 30 Seconds when we used to play together on the same team ~ we could talk in code and we’d always know what the other one was meaning. (Just as a side note here, Ev has become my new partner and we’re pretty much unstoppable! Hee hee) As I get older and my life takes its natural course of being a wife, motherhood and having my kids grow up, I wish you were here even more.
- Thank you. Thank you for always being my number one fan. Thank you for being the first person to tell me it’s gonna be ok when I started my unexpected journey into motherhood. Thank you for always allowing me to be me. Thank you for being my first best friend. Most of all, thank you for never giving up on me.
- I love you. I love you for always being the responsible sibling. I love you for always only seeing black and white and no grey ~ which can annoy me, like you know cos I can sometimes be quite abstract, which in turns annoys you. I love you for never believing in a short cut. You’ve always done things the right way, or not done them at all.
I always thought we’d do life at least in the same city ~ your kids would be best friends with my kids, our families would do holidays to the sea together once a year etc etc. but doing life on separate continents? That’s our reality. So lastly, I just wanted to tell you that home has never been home since you left. Yes, I’ve got my family, my husband and my kids and Mom and Dad but since you left, although my definition and composition of home has changed, home as I have come to know it, will never be complete without you here.
You always hear at Christmas ~ “Jesus is the reason for the season.” That’s what I believe about you, me, and our families. Jesus has His reason for this season ~ the season of separation. Hey, this season might be our whole lives and while some days I struggle with that more than others, I just have to trust in that ~ that Jesus has His reasons and that should be enough.