Last week I mentioned that sometimes grief gives you a tap on the shoulder to remind you that it’s there and not to get too complacent that you might be over things. Well this week, I got a great almighty tap on the shoulder – but this wasn’t sad at all.
I was staying in London and on Thursday night Swee called me to let me know that Mac’s younger brother had left a message and was hoping that we would call back as he wanted to catch up and he had a few questions. Well this was something of a shock – I had been in touch with his parents over the past few months, just to catch up on his news, and to see that he was OK, but hadn’t expected any contact just yet. His mum had also sent us a photo, and it was pretty stunning to see how much he had grown up to look like Mac – he was now sixteen, the age that Mac was when he died.
It sounded like he really wanted to talk, so I picked up his number and called. At first he barely said anything – I wasn’t sure if he was crying or just shocked – probably a mix of the two. So I just carried on talking, telling how lovely it was to hear from him and how this must be really strange.
He told me that he hadn’t really thought that I would get in touch – so it had been a bit of a shock that I had responded so quickly to his reaching out. We chatted away for quite a while and agreed to talk again more the next day. I also asked him to let his parents know that we had spoken (his mum emailed me later to say thanks and to let me know he was glad to be in touch).
It’s difficult to say just how I felt. Here talking to the person genetically as close to Mac that exists. And as well as looking similar, their voices were so similar – the same tone, the same slight adolescent crack, the same patterns of speech. It could have felt strange – but it actually felt comfortable, familiar and normal.
On Friday we caught up for a good hour – he wanted to know lots about his brother. He had read the blog, and that had started to fill in the gaps, but it was mundane things that were really important. We found that there were so many things that were similar about the two of them – similar interests, both a bit clumsy, both loved riding about on their bikes. It was so nice to talk to this young man that I hadn’t seen for more than four years, and find out how he had grown, and help him know more about his big brother. If he couldn’t have a relationship with Mac anymore, at least he could have a relationship with us.
It’s a complicated relationship to describe – adoption creates relationships that have no names. Mac’s brothers are no relationship to me – I am their brother’s father – I’m not an uncle, I’m not a stepfather, I’m not a cousin. But none of that matters – what I can be is their friend and to help them understand who their brother was. And in return I get to have a relationship with them – and through them help to keep the memory of Mac alive. So, all-in-all – a great weekend!