What does it mean to be a member of a family?
Perhaps we normally think of our position in a family as a rather static thing. Maybe for some people the label of mother, cousin, aunt, nephew, sister, is once applied and forever set. Probably more often, who we are within a family changes.
I was adopted by parents who longed and dreamed of a large family. Who waited years for a child. I was the fulfillment of their prayers.
Five years later, I became a brother. The name Greg means watchful and I watched over my younger sister as she grew.
A decade later, my parents had their own biological child, and I watched over both my pregnant mom and my newborn brother.
Growing up, our family was small. We could have had a family reunion in a full size van.
Then Jennifer and I married and my place in a family expanded. With the placing of the ring, I was uncle and brother and son-in-law.
On Thanksgiving, I saw a dynamic of family that few get to experience. At the finish line of the Louisville, Colorado Turkey Trot, I stood with my brother, Thom. A brother I did not know of a few years ago, but whose sound, movement, and being reflect so much of my own.
I would not say we are reflections or identical twins. While we share the image of the man born 100 years ago, different paths brought us to this finish line.
As Thom enthusiastically cheered on runners, children, and dogs, he reminded me of my better self. In my early 20s I would tell jokes over the commissary PA system. When Jennifer and I first met she said I was the happiest, most positive person she ever met. Today, that carefree person I once was seems like a memory.
Thom and I have both gone through stuff in life, but he more fully embodies the joy I once lived. He cheers, smiles, jokes, laughs, sincerely. Somehow, a less fearful version of me. Or maybe, a person who has been through even more than I have, but who didn’t allow the stuff of life to sit as a weight on his wings. Thom flies higher, wings spread broader, soaring above the landscape of assumed human limitations. He inspires me to shake the dust off my own feathers and to fly more freely, once again.