If you think about it, there just aren't a lot of ways to be totally surprised once you get past a certain age. Just about everything that happens has some parallel in your formative years. Heartbreaks vary in degree, but they all tend to hurt in about the same place. Broken bones, broken friendships, found money, great/horrid jobs, discovering you're a natural at anything ... they all carry a shadow of the first time you learned that tune, yes?
Two things break that order; the first is childbirth. Like nothing you can imagine. The pain, the terror, the joy, the anticipation, the ridiculous hopefulness of it all. I'm expanded in ways I had no preparation for, and it's great. Family. What a concept.
I am part of a network of amazing people. We call each other 'family of choice'. There are mothers and brothers and loads of sisters and cousins. My goddaughter Al prepared me for Rio; she let me know I could be in a child's life and I could be okay. The shadow of my past made that scary but I was able to look back and then never look back again. But still, there were expectations. Former lessons. Experience.
I have a cousin from this chosen family. When I first met him I loved him right away but I got the sense he was always standing next to himself. I saw an amazing man, my cousin of choice, bright and shiny and simultaneously he was distrustful of his own soul. I learned he was adopted and I thought, 'Man, the people who got to raise him are so lucky.' The reality was a bit different.
Over the past handful of years he's alternately struggled and soared. He confused me but, hey, sometimes family is that way. He married one of my best friends and I've had the pleasure of watching my cuz discover his own joy. It's been amazing.
Last week he found out he has a sister and she found out she has a brother. Brand new for both of them. I don't even ask him how he feels because I know he has no words. No past reminders. Nothing to draw on for how to feel. React. Act.
We had dinner last night with my cousin and his sister. She has the same beautiful vibe as my cuz. She's easy and bright and shiny and love. The family is expanding outside of DNA strands. The strands of the fabric of this Universe are much stronger. Much more reliable. Sometimes in this strange mix, joy just pops up in the middle of nowhere. It knows how to find us. How to grow. No experience necessary.