To have a sibling is something that cannot be explained or understood, only experienced.
I am one girl of three brothers, and I have learned over the course of my lifetime how precious the relationship with a sibling is, and how easily it can be taken for granted. My oldest brother lives in Colorado- I see him only a couple times a year. My youngest brother lives with my parents, and isn't much interested in my company. My second oldest brother, I bid farewell to 12 years ago- My family lost him to suicide at only 14 years old.
You never know when time runs out.
This past winter, my family was paid a visit by a face I haven't seen in a very long time- My aunt Lucy. Aunt Lucy is a big personality oozing out of a tiny frame. Her Californian-accent fills the ears of everyone in the room- if they're part of the conversation or not. She always smells sweet, and her skin has always been as soft as silk. She is my dad's only sister, and we maybe see her every other year around Christmas time- sometimes not even that often.
It was quite an experience, seeing Aunt Lucy this time around. I was still living at home and in high school when she had visited the Mitten last- and this time I got to bring her into my own home, and show her my independent life. I also had some time to get to know a cousin I wasn't aquatinted with in our more mature ages. Eric and I were close as kids, but life had taken us to far different places than just Super Mario Sunshine on the Game Cube in my bedroom.
While the time I spent with them was truly wonderful, there was a more important interaction going on that had nothing to do with me spending time with relatives from out of town.
Watching my father and Lucy together was fascinating. It was a connection I had never picked up on prior to this visit. My mother comes from a very close, loud family of six. I was used to that- they all live in the area and I see them at least weekly. What I had failed to think of was the family my father had grown up in, and the little sister that was apart of that time in his life- much like the way I was a little sister to my two older brothers.
These two shared times in their lives together that no one else can explain or recreate. They knew their parents, and each other in ways that I could never imagine. They were kids in the yard, they were teenagers dating, they were young adults going out to parties. They grew up in a Hungarian speaking home, and were saturated in a lifestyle and culture that didn't match up with the one that was outside of their front door.
Suddenly, it became very important for me to document this moment for them.
Sometimes it just feels like another day, or another visit, which doesn't call to be captured as a big event... but sometimes times escapes you. You take a portrait at 20, maybe 30, and think "Oh we won't have to take photos again for a long time... Oh we will next time we see each other..." and then suddenly, decades have passed, and you can't remember what the changes in-between looked like.
So on a very bitter cold December day, I dragged my aunt Lucy and father out into a small field behind the A&W, and snapped a couple quick portraits before running back to the warm car.
Those quick shots on that chilly day are now some of my favorite work I have ever done.
I don't know if it's the similarities- the dark hair, the crooked smile, the brown eyes- or rather the stories of kinship that their eyes tell us... but there is a beautiful haunting that comes along with them. It's not only a gift from me to them, but a gift to me my brothers, and cousin Eric as well. That moment is a part of the family tree that almost wasn't. It could've been too cold, I could've decided I didn't want to take photos that day.
Sometimes we need to realize that there is no "waiting until next time", and seize the opportunity before it has escapes you.
Aunt Lucy is back in the California sunshine now. My father is waiting for Michigan to finally thaw. But in this moment, they are together forever.