From the Archives of Top Ten 2013 . . .
Chicago Christmas Reunion
It probably started with a facebook post, followed by an instant message. I don't remember exactly. Just that I hadn't seen my brother in years, and the things that had driven us apart receded far into the background of the things - and the people - I wanted him to know. My daughters, his nieces, whom he had once adored, had grown up. One had a little daughter that looked just like her. The other would receive a surprise marriage proposal at Christmastime in his city, Chicago. We were all going there, and would he like to meet us for dinner? He did, and any awkwardness that I don't remember must have been lost in the banter and the glow of lights from the windows overlooking Michigan Avenue that illuminated our table and the adoring of the little girl in the Christmas red peacoat that starkly contrasted the blue in her eyes. We ordered dinner from separate sides of the table amidst the various conversations of 10 plus people, and my brother and I were the only two that ordered alcoholic drinks. He asked for Hendricks Gin, straight up, slightly dirty, with 3 - exactly 3 - bleu cheese stuffed olives. I wanted a Long Beach on the rocks, top shelf, and NO orange juice, only cranberry juice. We were intent on our task and oblivious to the amusement of everyone who had paused in conversation long enough to witness our OCD tendencies (my husband filled me in later). When dinner came, the waitress put identical dinner plates in front of us, down to the garlic mashed potatoes and asparagus that accompanied our New York Strips. That was hard to miss. I don't know what all this said about us - it's a pretty safe bet that there followed a slightly tipsy conversation of psychoanalysis that bordered on collective Narcissism and bored everybody else - but it was certainly a testament to the DNA I had been missing. Later, a photo marked the occasion - one that still takes my breath away. My brother, my girls, and my granddaughter pose close together, happy and looking like they belong, in the holiday bedecked lobby of the hotel where we are staying. I'm not in the photo, but there I am, somewhere in the matching cheekbones of my brother and my youngest daughter. These are all my babies, my brother eight years younger than me. It's not quite 2013, but it's a moment of hope come home that will carry me into the New Year. Complete.
Update -- Our family has grown since then . . . We are so blessed . . .