*godsister, pooh bear, godbrother and me – my grad school graduation celebration – june 2017
something i remember vividly from third grade was talking about our families in groups of four to try and map out our family trees. we were told how to map it out. everything was making sense at first. i knew who my mom and dad were. i knew who their parents and step parents were. it was all smooth. then, our teacher told us where to place our siblings. now, the first definition of sibling is one of two or more individuals having one common parent. while pooh bear (my little brother, marcus) and i share two parents, i was not sure where to put my godsister (crystal) or godbrother (kent). there did not seem to be space for them. i found this to be problematic because in my head and heart, they were just as significant. i asked my teacher how i could make space for them and she said that was not an option. i remember my feelings being so hurt because it felt like she was not acknowledging or including some of the most important people in my life. we were told to finish the rest of the project at home. this was a blessing in disguise.
something my dad always encouraged growing up was being sure i truly understood every word i used and every word that was said to me. if he was lecturing me, there was a merriam webster dictionary on the table and i would write down words if i was not sure of their meaning, look them up, write down the definition(s) and then use them in a sentence. when i got home from school that day, i went home and opened that same dictionary and looked up the word sibling. while the first definition is exactly what i wrote in the previous paragraph, the second definition was one of two or more things related by a common tie or characteristic.
that was all i needed to read to know my argument was valid. i packed my dictionary and brought it to school the next day. i showed my teacher and told her i had to include them on my family tree. their mom is my godmother and my mom is their godmother – my mom even cut my godsister’s umbilical cord. if that isn’t a connection or common tie, i don’t know what is. she said between the research i had done and the passion she could sense, there was no way we would not make space for them. while pooh bear and i might be blood, blood would not make me love my godbrother and godsister any more than i already do. they are the people who kept me company until pooh bear came along.
it was amazing to feel safe because my godbrother served as our protector. whether it was being sure we were taken care of at summer day camp, cheering us on at our basketball games (where our godmother coached), picking us up from school daily when we were in 4th and 5th grade and never being too cool to help us with our homework or include us in hangouts with his friends – he has been there every step of the way. one of my favorite things about being back in la full-time is being able to spend quality time with both my godbrother and godsister. i no longer have fomo when it comes to missing his amazing performances or even something as little as a family dinner.
*godsister, me and godbrother circa 1996 (pooh bear was still too mean to pose with more than one person for photos at this point)
*me and my godbrother at my birthday dinner this year at true food kitchen – i call him benjamin button because he literally looks younger now than he did five years ago – he is turning 37 in a couple of weeks
having a godsister has been like having a built in best friend since birth. we had coordinated outfits and pajama sets, countless sleepovers, attended the same schools, participated in sports together, went to the same camps, were there for every accomplishment and heartbreak, she moved me into college and has been both my confidant and cheerleader every step of the way. i know i can tell her anything without fear of judgment. that is the epitome of unconditional love. i cannot wait to stand beside her as she gets married to the love of her life next month.
*my godsister and i – 4th of july 2018
i was the only child in my household for five years. i vividly remember asking for a little brother. my mom explained that god could bless us with a healthy baby boy or baby girl – all that really mattered was the baby being healthy. i did not quite understand what she meant because i only planned on praying for a brother so that is what i was expecting. for those of you that know adult me to be adamant about getting what i want, know that i have been like this since birth, apparently. when i found out my parents were expecting, i saved my excitement until they told me what they were having. and that is when pooh bear came along. he has brightened up my life every single day since april 13th, 1995.
*me and pooh bear october 1995
while pooh bear and i are siblings, i believe we make a choice to be best friends. as we get older, the age gap seems to get smaller and smaller. i am no longer picking him up from two a day practices, babysitting him and his friends or taking him and his friends to their first strip club. i now get to have him be my designated driver, have meaningful conversations about life, love & loss and most importantly, watch him thrive.
*me and pooh bear – thanksgiving 2018
as time has passed, i have added a few more people to that pack.
first up was patrick, pooh bear’s very best friend from grammar school. they were absolutely inseparable and even with patrick moving to oregon when they were starting 8th grade, their bond has remained strong. they are those type of friends where no matter how much time has passed, they pick up right where they left off. even though they met in first grade, i actually have known patrick since he was three years old. watching him grow up has been one of the highlights of my life.
tj is one of my godbrother and godsister’s little cousins. since we all spent so much time at one another’s homes, it was always an added bonus when tj was around because he and pooh bear were only a year apart. tj was an only child so i would try and make a point to include him on sibling outings because as much as i enjoy my time spent alone, i also know that so many of my best memories were with my siblings. i wanted to be sure he had that same experience. similar to my relationship with pooh bear and patrick, it feels amazing to be in a space where we are not just siblings, but also the best of friends. we are constantly reminding one another of our worth and pushing each other to be extraordinary. that is incomparable.
*me and tj – june 2017
last, but certainly not least, there is sam. this addition is the one that was the most unexpected but that has changed all of our lives, especially my godsister. in the very first photo on this post, you see the original four – my godsister, pooh bear, my godbrother and me. little did we know that the very next day when she was flying home after my graduation, she would meet sam at lax when she landed. it was a whirlwind romance after that with an engagement that christmas, and next month, a wedding. what has been so wonderful is how seamlessly both sam and his mother and grandmother have just blended into our family. my godsister glows more when with him and she is still able to be her most authentic self while in this relationship. they are truly goals and i am so happy to call him family, especially once they seal the deal next month.
*mother’s day 2018 – counterclockwise starting from the bottom left – me, my godsister, my godbrother, sam and pooh bear
siblings don’t have to just be people who share a parent or two – i truly believe that siblings similar to friends can be family that you choose.
happy national sibling day from me and mine to you and yours!