“I have left several voice messages in the past, but you never call me back. Well, I guess you still are upset but I can understand that.
However, we never were too close to each other’s trust to the point to where I would guarantee for you. I still really do not know you well. We were always apart, but I always made attempts to find you. I remember visiting you in your school when you were little and would take you to a small theater for kids to watch cartoons with little money I had. I remember having to beg your teachers to let you go out with me because I was a kid myself. Then, your school moved and I lost you for awhile. A few years later I’ve learned through Sveta, my wife’s best friend, that you were in a foster home. Without hesitation, I asked Sveta to let you know about me and that I would visit you as soon as possible. Then we reconnected again, but you never really opened up to me. I did not feel that you realized that I was your brother.
I always cared for you as much as I could at the moment. Before I left for America, I made sure that you have a half of my and your mom’s apartment – even though you had no legal right to it. In fact, government already gave you your own apartment – you just happened to sell it but that was your own choice. I would have granted you the entire apartment but I was afraid that you were too young and too naïve that someone would fool you with it – particularly after you told the story about lending someone money you received from the sale of your apartment that the government gave you and then Masha, my father’s fiancée, had to fight your money for you.
I also made sure that you would have somebody to lean on. I introduced you to my father and then Masha and then Boria. My father would tell me about you and your visits all the time when I would call him from America. I always asked for you.
When we found each other, I already had a family to take care of. I had husband’s and father’s responsibilities. It was unfortunate that I could not give you more time and then I left for America.
My life was not all rosy too… When I was born your mom left me too for awhile. It was the grace of god that somehow she changed her mind and took me home about a year later for better or worse I do not know. What I do know she always drank – heavily. I grew up in a drunken home. We were very poor. I wore the same pair of pants for years. I would sew them over and over again. At times, I did not have anything to eat and would steal some pastries from the bakery next door by hiding sweets inside my shirt. I do not want to go into all of the miseries of my life, but I want you to remember that I did all I could given the circumstances I was in. I am a survivor and so are you.
Just to make sure you understand. It is you who must make decisions. If you want to go through life and be upset at everybody, it is your choice. You are grown up man now. I made my attempts to get close to you but you never opened up – I still do not even know how you grew up. I showed my care for you but you do not think it was enough. Sorry, I wish I could give you more.”
If today I was writing back, my reply to my brother would say
“Dear brother, it is always nice to hear back from you. Unfortunately my life has completely changed since the last time I saw you in Ukraine. Some things that happened to me, have drove me closer to the brighter side of the fair story, and some things seem like pulled me down to the darker side of this life story. Nothing has stayed in my life in one place; everything has constantly been moving one or the other direction laying down the fate of my future. The present time has been working hard to build out of me an “Iron Man” for the future. Indeed I wish I could tell all of my life’s changes, missed and fulfilled opportunities in life, and even dig deeper in my memories for missed childhood years, but to do so would require much more of valuable time and paper than I have available to share at this moment. However, some of my contemplations I would rather to not wait for any longer and share with you right now.
My heart is heavily beating and thoughts are flowing through the brain. There is so much to write to you about how I feel, but I’d rather to tell you, so you know indeed what I feel about this entire life that I’ve lived so far. I will do my best to convey my feelings on the paper. Please hear my feelings and sense the beating of my heart as you are reading this letter.
Nothing in my life I longed for more than just to have a family. Nothing in my life I longed for than having a sea of opportunities to see, feel, do, taste, and enjoy. Nothing was as dear to me as a feeling of love and care that I haven’t had while growing up in the orphanage and later in the foster care. Nothing could bring joy to me than to receive a little present or a card on my birthday to indicate that you are not forgotten, and that you are loved. Unfortunately, even those things were not available to me while growing up. My childhood years were completely wasted and in my adult years I am still trying to catch up with things missed in my childhood. It was tough. But most of all there was no feeling about my tough life that I could share with anybody else. I didn’t know any better, therefore didn’t know what my real feelings about all of this were. If you, my dear brother, feel like I didn’t really opened up to you, or that I, probably, didn’t completely understand that you were my brother, you may be right. But, above all of this, I still had appreciation that I found you. You even can’t imagine how much joy I experienced whenever you would come over to the orphanage, or when I would visit you, when I was in the foster care. You probably didn’t see my joy about having you, but you must understand that I had never learned or seen how to express my feelings. Nothing shaped my feelings emotions, as the time when I started my life on my own. I guess this at about age 12 I started to understand something about feelings and emotions, I started to understand how to express them, but still didn’t completely learn how to do it at that time. No one has the right to blame me for being different while growing up, because I didn’t know any different from what I had already known from the orphanage.
At each step through my childhood years, I always had good people around me. Even when I grew up, they still were there. This world has good people with good deeds and I have met them. For some reason, those good people were always caring for me and loving me, although they sometimes barely knew me. Some of them became my relatives, not because they had any blood relations to me, but because they could somehow connect with me, they could understand, they could accept and then give me for my well being. Those people are still there and I will always remember them for what they have done for many other kids like me. Unfortunately, you didn’t connect with me. And, I understand why. However, all that time that I spent with you; I thought and even felt that we are really close to each other. But I was wrong again.
You may say, as well as many others that I was little and naive. Even today, being 31, I still can say the same thing about myself. I am little and naïve. But today I understand how to deal with my childlike manners. I understand how to be an adult. I know how to say “no” when appropriate. Understand my life has taught me most of it, and how to be careful in this life. I’ve learned as well. There is nothing to worry about me today. I am grown up and make my own decisions. Sometimes I become a kid, because those are my missed years that I am still trying to catch up.
I am thankful that you were always trying to show your care about me. I am also thankful that your life turned out to be much better at much earlier time than mine did. I am happy for your family and for you. I am glad that you understand your responsibilities as a husband and a father. You’re a great man not like many others that grew up in the same conditions as you did and ended up on the streets with no family or life at all. Honestly, I didn’t understand at that time your responsibilities to your family, and therefore I did expect more from you. But I am glad that because you couldn’t help me there was always someone behind my back to help me. I still don’t understand why you would say that you wouldn’t help me with the apartment, or that you were trying to look for me in the orphanage, but my school had moved. My school hadn’t moved, and I have never had my own apartment. I’ve always had to share my property or other belongings; I have never had anything belonging strictly to me. Even the apartment where our mom lives belongs to you and me. Ruslan, if you didn’t want to share it because of your own intentions for it, please tell me so into my eye. Redirecting all of this on your family, and telling about your responsibilities doesn’t really help us in reuniting together as the family we can go through our lives and blame someone else for what had happened to us in the past, or we can own those “demons” and deal with them, moving forward and doing good. We need to do good deed, because there was always someone behind your back and behind my back and did good deed to you and me at our own time of need.
Nothing can do more damage to you than the knowledge that you are still capable of doing good but you don’t feel like because of something that you couldn’t relate to in the past. Time flies quickly, life goes on. There will be time when of all those things that you could possibly do for others you will cry bitterly regretting that you haven’t done more at every available opportunity. Those opportunities are given to us once, twice or rarely more times, but the chances to miss those opportunities and not fulfill them are with us all the time. Why should we try our chances, when we are given opportunities? I had opportunities, and when I saw them, whether by myself or with other’s help, I utilized them and later it brought fruit. What would have happened to you, if you had those opportunities to help me while I was in Ukraine and you were in the states? I needed you then the most. I knew you were sending money to others, but why not me? I wore the same pairs of socks, pants, shirts, t-shirts for months just as you did, and you knew about it, but why didn’t you help me? What happened to you? My pants and pairs of old socks had to be patched and re-patched. I had to spend more time with friends and other good people because I knew that they would offer something to eat. I ate and was very thankful. But, where were you? Why, although you heard about me from your father, you would never want to find out about my life personally? I sent letter after letter to you, but haven’t received any replies. Then only I quit writing to you because each time I had to go and buy a stamp and an envelope to America, I had to save up money. It was too expensive for me to keep sending letters to you. Anyways, I knew that nothing would come from you. You are telling me to be not upset, but what did you do when you had opportunities to make my life a little brighter? What did you do to help me to go through my college years so I don’t starve in the evening after my school? What did you do to actually find out how and what feel? How did you help me to open me up? You know Ruslan, every step through my life, there was always someone else to help me, but where were you?
Today is too late for me to be upset at you. You are my brother. I don’t know how you would accept me today as I am, but I hope that you won’t have to ask for forgiveness again. There is nothing much we can do with the past, but certainly we can live today for the future. We can change ourselves today, so in the future we won’t regret about the past.
So, this letter to my brother brings closer to understanding what to expect from life and what is true love that I was seeking while growing up. As many other times I have tried to explain to people around me, this time I will write about it.