Keep a hankie ready for this one. And mark my words: this is going to be a pretty fabulous movie someday.
Decades ago, a young kid we’ll call Justin (he’s the Redditor I mentioned) lost his older brother — let’s say his name was Mark. They had a strong bond, but Mark just vanished once day, and Justin couldn’t understand why. Their parents went to the police and the story of the older boy’s disappearance was on the local news, but the investigation was soon abandoned for reasons that Justin didn’t quite grasp.
Many years later, when Justin was playing the last days with Mark through his mind, he developed a hunch. Mark, he suddenly remembered, had been hanging out with a man much their senior. Justin had even seen them kissing and hugging one day, but, being a kid, he hadn’t thought much of it. Maybe, he thought, Mark’s fate, whatever it was, had something to do with that mystery man. He tried to put it out of his mind.
My freshman year of college, I was part of a sports team that got national recognition. I remember my team’s picture was on ESPN and with our university’s name. A few days later, I got mail at my dorm. It was a gift basket. I thought it was from my parents, so I didn’t read the card. I threw it away immediately and ate what was in it, but it was nothing but candy. Nerds, jolly ranchers, Tootsie Rolls and Hershey’s Kisses. I called my dad and thanked him for the gift basket and he said he didn’t send one, neither did mom.
Then I got to thinking: all of those candies were what I used to eat as a kid. Literally all I ate for the earliest years of my life were those candies. I tried to find the card, but I couldn’t. …
Months later, during Christmas, I got an unmarked Christmas card. The only thing written on it was a 🙂 smiley. Since then, I’ve heard nothing. No one I know sent that card. … I wonder, every day, if he’s out there.
Justin wrote that Reddit post three months ago. Eight weeks later, he posted an update. He said he’d confronted his parents, sensing that they knew more than they’d told him. His dad ignored him, but
My mom told me my brother is alive and okay (“as far as she knows”). They found my brother years ago — a very, very long time ago — and found out he was living with another man. He’s gay, and it disgusted my parents. He tried reaching out to them. They told him they didn’t want anything to do with him and that I didn’t remember him and wouldn’t want to see him…..
I went ballistic. My parents weren’t fazed by it. They sincerely hate my brother for who he is — for being gay. They kept him a secret from me all my fucking life. My brother missed the birth of his nephew [Justin’s son], he missed my wedding, graduations, EVERYTHING. just because of my parents. they lied to me. … im fucking crying right now. how could you do that? fuck you, God. fuck you christians and jesus.
On Sunday, Justin checked back in and gave us the rousing finale. He’d gotten his brother’s phone number, he said, and finally worked up the courage to call him.
He asked me who I was and what I wanted. I said, “It’s me.” There was a really long pause. I thought the call had dropped. Then …. he asked me my name. I told him and he said that I was lying. I told him I got his number from the missing children’s network and detectives. I heard him gasp. He asked me what color shoelaces he wore to a picnic when we were kids, and I remember my mom getting mad at his orange laces with blue shoes. It was the last time we were together as a family.
I could tell he was crying. The first thing he asked me was: “Where are you?” and I told him I lived a few hours away from home. Without hesitating, he told me, “I’m coming.”
And he did.
When [Mark] was walking through the gate, I knew who he was right away. He is middle-aged; salt and pepper hair, muscular. He looks just like our dad, only better. I know if I told him that, that would make him mad.
I literally pushed an old lady out of the way and I just hugged him. He’s about two inches taller than me. He was able to pick me up. He was crying, I was crying. I was having a breakdown. We went to a bar at the airport. He wouldn’t let me out of his sight. He kept holding onto my arm. …
He’s married. His husband is a doctor — a pediatric oncologist. They live in the Pacific Northwest. They have two children — girls, 12 and 8. He works as a legal consultant and has his own firm. He has an amazing life. He told me that he thought I hated him and wanted nothing to do with him. We sat at the bar for hours. Literal hours. I think we sat for about six hours before I begged him to come home and meet my wife.
Justin’s family has gotten smaller and bigger at the same time. He’s no longer on speaking terms with his parents.
I do not plan on forgiving my parents, but my brother still loves them. He went by their house and knocked on the door. My father shut the door in his face. My mother gave him a hug and told him to take care of himself. Then she shut him out.
I’m here, so happy, so fulfilled knowing that my family has grown and doubled in size so suddenly. My heart is happy. I am so happy right now, Reddit. I am so happy.
I’m happy too.
And sad at the same time, for the Christian obstinacy and bitterness that caused so much heartbreak for both the haters and the hatee, and for the young kid who got caught in the middle.
P.S. Everyone on Reddit is essentially anonymous. That means that without identifying details, the story is impossible to check out. My BS detector didn’t go off — I think this is the real deal. But I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that there’s always a chance that the whole story is pure fiction.
On that note, yesterday, Justin posted that he’s asked Mark if pictures of the two of them would be OK to share online. Photos could corroborate the story. If the brothers release them, or provide other authenticating information, I’ll be sure to let you know.
(Image via Shutterstock)