Thursday, November 25, 2010

The Other Half

I like to take these little blog posts and write about things that I want to express, but don't always wish to broadcast. A blog posit isn't a Facebook status update, or a mass email to all my friends, it's a little side room of my internet identity that is seldom accessed by others. I quite like this opportunity! It's fun to share with just a handful of people! And so today, that's what I plan on doing. Sharing a little bit of me that I won't be broadcasting else where.

Here it goes.

You know those little family secrets that everyone seems to have? The ones that are rarely spoken about, the ones you didn't realize were such a big deal when you were 10? Well, we have one. It wasn't a bad secret, or a really exciting secret - but I always knew not to mention it, not to talk about it.

As I got older, I stopped one day and realized ... hey, this IS a big deal. I need to know MORE.

What was the big secret? I had a half-sister, Sonja who was adopted by another family years before I was born. This may not seem like that much to those people with full siblings, but to someone who always wanted a brother or sister, it was HUGE. Sadly, as quickly as I learned I had a sister out there, I also learned that she passed away years ago. Since we never met, it's hard to say I miss her, but every now and then I reflect on it and wonder what it would have been like to know her. I never asked any more questions, I just let it go and time passed like it always does.

This year, I realized that if there was anything I can do, it's research. After all, it's kind of my profession. I went to college and then graduate school learning how to research. Why hadn't I tried to find out more about my half-sister before now?

I looked and looked and researched and finally had the name of the newspaper who had the article on her car accident in their file. I called, but the branch had given those archives to the library - they gave me the number. I never called it. It's odd that I was right on the edge of knowing more, maybe even getting a picture, but I didn't take the next step. Somewhere inside, I thought that if I did, and it was a dead end, then the chance of knowing more would be gone. Over time, I lost the phone number and forgot the name of the library.

Every now and then, I would google my half-sister's name, just in case. One of these times, something came up. It was a web link with a photo of her grave-site, along with the matching birth and death dates that I knew, and a brief note about her being killed in a car accident on the way home from church on Easter Sunday.

I contacted the woman who had posted the link about Sonja and our information all matched up. She even knew the side of the story that I knew, the side that wasn't in the papers. It turns out she was a close family friend and still keeps in contact with them. She was going to send me a picture of Sonja.

I was in the car with Shawn driving down Capital Blvd last week when the email came through with my half-sister's picture. Before I knew it, the file had downloaded and I saw a face staring back at me from my iPhone. A face I had wondered about for a decade.

The picture was faded and old, but beyond the sepia tone, I could see just a hint of my dad and it made me smile. It was many years too late, but I finally had a sister. I am grateful to now have a beautiful face to put to a memorized name.

Though Sonja's is a sad story, it inspires me to appreciate the time I have, and to love those around me as much as I can! It's a story that I've always been interested in sharing, but there never really is quite the right time to talk about long-lost siblings, is there?

I hope everyone out there, (all half-dozen who read this) can be reminded of how special family is, and how valuable siblings can be. Please enjoy them and love them every single day and thank the good Lord you've been given the opportunity to share life together! :)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veteran's Day

As I reflected on Veteran's Day today, my mind inevitably wandered to my dad. His favorite place on earth was Camp Perry, a military base in Ohio. I googled Camp Perry, and eventually I wound up at an article published online a few years ago that linked to my dad's name - this little spotlight just made me smile. I remember the funeral at Camp Perry, accept my mom and I witnessed it separated from the crowd, up in a tower down one of the ranges, so that we could have the very best view of the skydiver carrying the American flag, swirling in the air with colorful smoke shooting from his specialized boots. One boot carried red dust which drew streaks of color in the sky, the other boot emitted a lighter, more faint gray line.   In this boot, were the ashes of my father. The colors mixed and swirled together as the skydiver careened to the group, the American flag he was carrying whipping in the wind. The 21-gun salute and bugler ended the ceremony and although it's a sad memory, it's one I am certainly grateful to have.

Today, and every other day I am grateful for our Veterans and all of their sacrifices for our Freedom. :)