Hello, Long Lost Sister! / by Leslie

I have a new sister. I met her for the first time in Canada two weeks ago. This is a difficult story to tell, because it’s not really my story, but if I keep it to my part, it’s pretty simple.

I first learned of my half sister when I was twelve. I was surprised to learn of this news but I didn’t quite know what to do about it. There wasn’t really anything to do then. I was too young. I didn't know. My Dad had a girlfriend when he was 18. She got pregnant, kept the baby and they did not get married. The baby's name was Tracy. 

My sister Jill, who I grew up with, is on the left. I am on the right and my new sister Tracy is in the middle. This photo was taken just a few hours after meeting for the first time.

When I was about twenty I asked for her address but I never wrote her a letter. I still have the sticky note that I wrote the address on though. For all these years it was my only link to her, my only clue about how to find her later, after she had surely moved.

Last year I asked about her again. It's one of those things that sits in your brain unresolved. I would think about her sometimes and wonder about her. I knew that I wanted to connect with her, but I didn't know how. When I asked this time, my Dad told me that her Mom was on Facebook. I decided to look her up, but before I could, my aunt did. My aunt knew her when she was a baby, had held her, and always wondered about her too.

On January 1st I read an email that she had sent to my aunt, that my aunt had forwarded to my Dad and that my Dad had forwarded to me. There she was. There was her email address. I finally introduced myself to my sister. Her name is Tracy. She is married with two kids, like me. She didn't know very much about my sister Jill and I until she heard from my aunt. 

It was a flood in that first month, many conversations and questions. Tentative explorations of the past, trying to be sensitive and sincere. Always asking, is everyone ok? How are you feeling about this? Is this ok? It's hard, to dig up the past and revisit things. It doesn't change anything though, we are just who we are today, and we can't dwell on the past or wish things were different. We are who we are because of everything that has happened.

In the last six months Jill, Tracy and I have been getting to know each other with long, wordy emails. We’ve shared silly Q&A’s and we’ve talked about our lives. She is funny. She is smart. The three of us are all very different, but we get along. I'm the middle child now. Tracy and I can rattle off a handful of emails in a day, since we are home with the kids, Jill can't keep up but she reads every single one.

We planned three different days together for my visit to Canada. The first one was at my parent's house and Tracy came alone. When I met her I was nervous. I waited and watched for her to arrive. I saw her drive up to the house and I met her out front with Chris and the kids. We hugged. We looked at each other for the first time. We cried a little. She came inside and met Jill and my Mom and Dad. We sat at the kitchen table and just talked. We kept it light, chatty and easy. It's a strange feeling when you are living a moment you have imagined for years and years. We had a nice day, more family came over, Tracy stayed as long as she could. We sat next to each other and we secretly stared at each other.

She came up to Calgary to see us two more times, once with her husband and kids and once with just her daughter. She met all our family in Calgary and we had such a nice time just being together. Her kids are really sweet and adorable. It’s easy to be with her. One afternoon it was just Jill, Tracy and I and we just enjoyed talking and hanging out. The boys played great with their new cousins. 

These four people are now at the end of a loose string that has been in my brain for over 20 years. It feels good to fill in the holes and find things that I thought might be lost. Families are made in all kinds of ways, we can feel affection towards our friends, and family are not always close but there is something to the DNA connection. It's an unseen, mysterious thing that can mean a lot or nothing at all. I'm glad that after all these years it finally means something to me and I look forward to getting to know these people more like family.