There is a 14 year age difference between Ethan and Sean and when I find myself watching them engage in some type of cooperative activity on a Friday night, as I sometimes do, I grab my camera and I marvel at the sight. The joy of this is NEVER lost on me. I always feel like I am watching something magical.
I once watched a man intensely watching Ethan, Gavin and Mikey closely at a church we used to attend. “So, they act just like brothers?” The only reason I was not too thrown off by the question was that Mikey was a rather new member of the family and I thought the question referenced Mikey’s status in foster care. “Oh yeah, they’re great, endless games and stuff – they are all really wonderful together.” Then he said, “I have a brother like that.” I knew exactly what ‘like that’ meant. It was Ethan. In just a few moments he explained that his brother, who was older than him was placed in residential care when they were young and he recounted how his playmate was removed from his home and his life. He assured me that his parents had to do that because it was ‘best for everyone’. Maybe it was. Maybe it really wasn’t.
The man told me that watching them made him curious about what it would have been like to have his brother with him growing up. Although he was asking about my family and it would seem like an intrusion to be staring at my boys and asking questions, it was really me who was witness to something very private and intense for this man. In the moment, it dawned on him that it could have been different and my boys were like actors in a play exhibiting that possibility for him. He told me that it was very good that they could be like that together. I knew that. Maybe he was telling himself. I continued to see the same man at church for years and we never had another conversation about it.
It was a tiny moment in time that would forever be a reminder to me that these two boys dragging a Nok-hockey table up the stairs for a rambunctious and competitive game is so much more than that. I will never have to wonder what my family could have looked like.
I know and it’s good.