At 11am last Wednesday I was, of course, waiting to see what George Osborne would outline in his Budget, but I was also waiting for something else. My stepbrother who I haven’t seen for 30 years. It was a bit of an emotional reunion, although in typical British fashion, neither of us actually showed any outward emotion. This is despite my mum being worried I would be unsafe to drive because I might be too overwhelmed to see the road. Daughter one had in fact agreed to chaperone me to Heathrow just to ensure I was okay. Daughter three later told me she had found it difficult to focus on her maths all week due to concerns that I would be upset.
I spent 10 years of my life with two stepbrothers. My older stepbrother died in a car accident in his mid-30s, just before daughter one was born. I hadn’t seen my younger stepbrother since I was 21.
I found him on Facebook a few years ago so it was quite something to hear he was coming to the UK. He hasn’t been here since his brother’s funeral. He arrived at Heathrow with his two teenage sons. He’s 50 now with grey hair and everything. I drove everyone back to our house. Mainly the conversation was about how small British cars are [ours is a seven seater, but still apparently small by US standards], indeed how small everything is. We stopped to get some pizzas for lunch. Everyone was extremely tired as they hadn’t slept. Daughter one was the only one who had had a good night’s sleep.
They had lunch, almost falling asleep as they were eating and looked at the photo of me and my stepbrothers when I was around four which is on my desk. Then they were keen to get off to Stansted to pick up a hire car and head to Scotland. They had lots of relatives to see and they were visiting the place where my other stepbrother’s ashes are scattered. It must have been a very emotional trip for my stepbrother.
“How did you feel?” my mum asked. I was not entirely sure. It was all so quick. “Weird” is all I could come up with. I had the feeling that I wasn’t quite enough. How do you make up for 30 years? I felt that I hadn’t actually really and truly confronted my other stepbrother’s death.
A few days later they were back from Scotland and there was more time to catch up, although they left only a little over a week after they arrived. I may have slightly overdone the questions – it’s the journalist in me, I guess. We went out for my mum’s birthday and in part the whole trip was a bit of a celebration, mainly of having survived the past. It is quite strange talking to someone you haven’t seen for 30 years who remembers even the little details about your childhood, such as the place you broke your wrist trying to jump off a moving swing [never a good idea], getting stuck in a bog in the middle of Surrey [ditto] or your first teddy bear.
It’s hard to process it all straight away as there has been so much going on in general, what with end of term plays, sports days, party days, car breakdowns, technical mishaps and the like. I’m not entirely sure I didn’t dream it. And now they have gone all the way back across the ocean again. But I have a feeling we will see them again soon.