A brief essay about the day the investigator found my brother.
It was March 11th, a beautiful Thursday in Tampa, when I got the call that would forever change my life. I had finished my work in Florida and was headed to Atlanta for another leg of the business trip before making my way back home. As I headed down the crowded aisle of the airplane toward my seat, my phone rang. Normally I would just let it go to voicemail, but on this day I decided to answer the unfamiliar number staring back at me. I will never forget the words that I heard next. “Tracie, this is Julie, the investigator on your case. I’ve found your brother.”
I had always known about the existence of my brother Eric, yet I didn’t know a single thing about what had become of him throughout the years. At some point during my early childhood my mother had told me that dad had been married before her and that during that marriage he had a son. There was always a great deal of mystery surrounding this half-brother of mine. No one ever spoke of him, not my dad, not my grandmother - no one. As I grew older, I was determined to find him. The information that I had was limited, most of it was simply guess work on my part. Numerous attempts kept proving unsuccessful.
One night, I was sitting on my couch flipping through the channels on the television, hoping for something decent to watch. I soon found myself settling on an episode of Oprah. This particular show was about a man who helped people find their “long, lost, loved ones”. My attention was suddenly captivated. After only the first ten minutes, I grabbed my laptop computer and hit the Google page in order to search for this locator’s website. Shortly thereafter, I was filling out an online request for information. The very next morning, a representative of his company called me to discuss my situation. She sounded confident that they could help me, even with such little information to go on. So, I took a leap of faith and promptly signed the contract, paid the money, and the investigation began.
I was absolutely beside myself with excitement after Julie’s call on that Thursday in Tampa, but I was also terrified. She offered to call Eric first to see if he wanted contact with me. All that I could think about was how I would react if he didn’t. I held my breath for a couple of seconds and then gave her my blessing to make the call. I then prepared to be stuck on the plane for over two hours with no way of knowing how it went. The anticipation was killing me. My heart was racing; it was all I could do to keep myself calm. Here I was, finally hearing the news that I had been waiting for my whole life and I had no one to share it with. It was in that moment that I did the best thing I could. I turned to the man sitting next to me and I said, “I know that I am a complete stranger, but I just received news that I have to share with someone. I have a brother that I’ve never met and I just found him.” With that, the man shifted in his seat in order to face me. He held out his hand for me to shake and proceeded to say, “My name is Richard, now we aren’t strangers. Congratulations.”
After landing in Atlanta, I rushed to my car so that I could call Julie back. I sat in the parking garage and dialed her number. She answered right away and didn’t hesitate one bit when she told me, “You have a brother and he is expecting your call.” She stated that he didn’t know anything about me, but that he found all of this intriguing and was anxious to speak with me. Julie then gave me his number and said that she also left him with mine. I thanked her repeatedly as she graciously wished me good luck.
I had to get settled in before calling Eric; I knew that I needed to be somewhere quiet without any distractions. My drive to the hotel was going to take about forty-five minutes. I turned on some Clapton on the stereo and began to let it all soak in. Then my phone beeped at me with a text message alert. When I looked down I saw the words, “Hi, sis.” My heart leaped and I knew in that instant that I could no longer wait. I was still about 30 minutes from the hotel, but I picked up my phone and called Eric for the first time.
We spent the next hour and a half on the phone, during most of which, I sat in my car in the hotel parking lot. I couldn’t bring myself to interrupt this call for even a moment and I became oblivious to the world around me. To say that Eric was in shock would be an understatement. He truly had no idea that I had even existed, but the sound of his voice told me that he was both thrilled and relieved that this was happening, as was I. So much of that phone call is a blur as I think back, yet it was the greatest conversation of my life - I had a brother.