Gray Matters - No plan, no problem

By Tanya Mitchell
Source: File image

Years ago, I wrote about meeting my half-sister, Jess, completely by accident while covering a news story at Searsport District High School, where she was a senior at that time. That was more than 10 years ago.

I always knew I had half-brothers and -sisters and that I was adopted as an infant, and I never expected to have the same kind of relationship with any of them that I had with my brother, Shane, with whom I grew up. And while I know the bonds I can build with my siblings as an adult can never be the same as the one I share with Shane — we know everything about each other, the good, the bad, the funny and sometimes humiliating — I have recently learned those relationships can be just as rewarding.

This past winter, Jess informed me that our biological mother was dying of a terminal illness. Armed with this knowledge, I immediately sat down and wrote a few things I wanted this woman to know before she left this world. We had met years ago, and at that time I asked her all the questions I ever had for her, but I wanted her to know the life she chose for me was a wonderful one. I told her about growing up with my family; about my dog, Max, who was with me for 15 years; about the first time one of my news stories made the front page of this very paper; and later, about the birth of my son (also named Shane), and about my wedding. Mostly though, I wanted to thank her.

Because she was not well enough to read my writings herself, Jess read the letter to her on my behalf. I will never forget that kindness Jess afforded me through her actions that day, even as the woman she'd grown up with and has always known as her own mother was slipping away.

After our biological mother passed about a week later, Jess and I grew closer with every text message, Facebook correspondence, visit and phone call. Our children have gotten to know one another, and we've since connected with another half-sibling. Now, all of our children play together fairly regularly as us grown-ups sit and get to know one another better. Our collective hope is that our kids won't have to track one another down as adults after spending their childhood years without any knowledge of one another, and that they'll share a few memories from that time in their lives.

I think it was John Lennon who said, "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans." Given the events that have unfolded in my life so far this year, I guess I'd have to agree.

I'm not sorry things turned out as they have, and in fact, I feel I've been quite blessed. I have the fantastic family I've always known and loved, and now I have half-siblings, more nieces and nephews and hopefully, a whole lot of years left to learn more about the fascinating new people in my life. As an added bonus, the young lady I met as a high school senior more than a decade ago has now grown to become not just a sibling, but a strong and inspiring woman who is a wife, mother and one of my very best friends.

If you ask me, who needs a plan when you have all of that to look forward to?