Why you should care

Because who has the right to provide someone a brother or sister while keeping them apart?

On Wednesday, July 20, I shall gather up my children. Already, I’ve gathered and placed their baby pictures in frames. I did the same with their current adult photos and posted them on Facebook. In response, my daughter, Elyscia, called, saying her brother Todrick was coming to Houston — and she shared the idea of getting all of my children together. Immediately, I sent a text to Todrick, and he called to say, “Let’s make it happen!”

This will be the first time all six of us will be in the same room together.

I believe we all possess a puzzlelike mentality, meaning that when certain pieces are missing from our lives, a hollow spirit of incompleteness sets in. I have felt this quite often throughout the course of my life, but never as strong as I feel it now. Today, I know where all of my family’s pieces are — and they’re reachable.

It was a different story back on July 27, 1979, when my first son (Anthony) was born. We, as parents, were still children ourselves. On October 8 of the following year, another son (also Anthony) arrived, but not from the same mother. He opened his eyes before my own saw their 19th summer. A few years later, on December 17, I’d become a father again. And once again, my latest son (Emmanuel) would be born to a woman who had mothered neither of my other children. The next time I became a father was April 4, 1985 — when my fourth son (Todrick) was born to a fourth woman out of wedlock. After this, I told myself I had learned the errors of my ways. But in 1987, another woman delivered my fifth child, and my first daughter.

Over the years, I’ve often thought about what it was like for them to grow up without a full family unit. I had no right to give them a brother they couldn’t hear, or to place in this world a sister they couldn’t see. I selfishly put precious miles between them and forced them to contend with the what-ifs and maybes. I know now that I was ignorant. If I knew then what I know now, I would have matured and worn protection. I was immature and didn’t think through what’s likely caused my children to grow up with a hole in each one of their hearts. As their father, I know there has to be a multitude of questions about their siblings. Just by having them go into a room together to see their similarities, I want to give them something I never had a right to take away — the choice to be family.

Even though my own childhood family was broken, I at least grew up knowing my brother and sisters. That’s why I felt compelled to help pull together this reunion. I can’t do away with the miles I wedged between them, but I can help bridge those gaps that might lead them to each other. I want to give them the opportunity to gain closure, or to open a door on a new relationship. I had no right to close that on them.

On July 20, I want my children to reach out and touch the hands of togetherness. I cry out to my God for the words needed to somehow heal the hurt and pain brought on by emptiness. I pray that my tears might somehow strengthen their intentions, leaving them unable to do anything short of accepting this gift of brotherly and sisterly love. On that day, wherever you are, do pray that this wrong is made right — that God brings them back together, if not for the rest of their lives then for that one moment in time. Let this puzzle be made whole.

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OZYTrue Story

Good stories from around the globe. Essays and immersion, into the harrowing, the sweet, the surprising -- the human.