June 1.0 - Brother, It's Been Seven Years.
Updated: Apr 24
This past Monday, I saw my brother Richard for the first time in 7 years. Last time I saw him, he was more of a boy. Now, he is a man. It was a weird experience seeing an adult male, in the very likeness of our dad, in place of my little brother. It’s crazy how much the years change us in late adolescence/early adulthood. I was happy to see him but I was also sad. I was saddened by all the time that had passed, all the memories I didn’t get to make with him. I wished I could go back, to get to know my brother again.
I know that the decision to leave my family to begin a life in the United States was a good one. Doing this opened up so many opportunities for me, my family and our generations to come. But it required sacrifices, with the biggest being missing out on time with my immediate family. I missed getting to see my siblings grow into the adults they have become. I missed the chance to bond with them. Sometimes, like at this reunion to my brother, it feels like this sacrifice wasn’t worth it. I really wanted to go back to reclaim all that lost time with my brother.
I am sure Richard had similar thoughts and emotions running through him. I was a whole different person from 2013. Last time I saw him, I was a single second year medical student. I’m a woman now. I am married, I have a son, and I am in my final year of residency. So many changes.
It was emotional for Richard to meet my son, his nephew, for the first time. I was so happy we had this moment. But again, I couldn’t help but wish he met Tobe as an infant. I feel a bit ashamed admitting the negative emotions that I have allowed to surface with this reunion. Happiness is the predominant emotion here but I can’t help but feel all these other emotions.
One evening last week, we went through some of my wedding pictures. Richard was not at my wedding because he wasn’t granted a visa in time for the wedding. This trip to visit me was actually planned for my wedding but had to be postponed. The American Embassy in Nigeria claimed that his visit for my wedding was not a priority. They made him wait almost 6 months for a visa, granting him one after the wedding had passed. So yes, anger is another one of the emotions running through me with this reunion because, after years of missing out on each other’s lives, we also missed out on experiencing my wedding together because of circumstances that could have been avoided with a little compassion. The wedding would have been a great opportunity for the entire family to bond and heal from all those years apart.
I’m happy that I have a month to get to know my brother again. We have had to ease into it, but we are finding and remembering who we are as a brother and sister who spent their childhood together. I’m trying to focus on the present, to look forward to all the new memories we will create. Never again will it be 7 years apart. We now have the resources to be more in each other’s lives and I am forever grateful for this. I love you brother.