I attended a cousin's wedding a couple of weeks ago. It was out of state, requiring airplane flights, hotel stay, rental car, the whole bit. My husband and children were not able to make the trip, so at first, I wasn't going to go. But as the wedding date and RSVP date drew nearer, I felt more and more compelled to make the effort to attend - not out of familial obligation, mind you, but out of a true and deep desire to reconnect with my family. You see, I had not seen my one cousin in 15 years and I had not seen my other cousin in over 25 years. Twenty-five years! That's a lifetime!
I hemmed and hawed and, in the end, my sister (who lives in yet another state) and I left our husbands and children at home and we rendezvoused in Florida for the wedding. It was beyond wonderful to see our first cousins, to meet (for the first time) their grown children, and to be in the company of others who share my last name. How could we have let so much time pass by without getting together? How did so many years go by so quickly? Then I wondered why this event, at this point in time, was different. Why was the family pull so strong?
My Godmother once had a plaque in her kitchen that read "Family is Forever". I loved the sentiment when I read it, and I think that's part of the magic that compelled me to put my regular routines on hold to attend this wedding.
Family members are the first people we meet when we are born into this world. Our family is the group of people who knew us before we knew ourselves. They watched us grow. They grew with us and continue life's journey with us now. We learn together. We learn from each other. We celebrate birthdays, we dance at each other's weddings, we grieve and cry together at funerals, we laugh, we talk, we share.
These threads of connection never fade. They never die. Blood ties remain no matter what. No matter where we go, what we become, where we live - the ties are always there our whole life.
More than that, family is where we belong. In a way, it's a part of who we are and who we become. Blood ties make us more similar than different. Family is the whole of which we are an inextricable part. It's where we fit in no matter how "outsider-ish" we may feel. It's where we started and it's the exclusive club to which we will always belong, no matter what. Family makes one out of many.
Family holds our memories. All at once, family reaches back and carries forward. The elders hold the history, the family lore, and, hopefully, wisdom, which they pass down to the younger generations. The younger ones bear the children who are the family's future. Everyone, each family member, has a role to play, a piece of the puzzle. We share the same roots, the same grandparents, the same religion and culture, traditions, language. We even share the same facial features, eye color, hair color, physical features. We look alike. We sound alike. We move alike. We are one.
So I went to the wedding because way too many years went by without seeing my face reflected in their smiles, without hearing voices that held a quality similar to mine, without hugging those who sprang from the same roots that I did.
And what did I learn? Family truly is forever. Even though a lifetime had passed, I was welcomed with more than open arms. I was missed as I had missed them. I am as important to my cousins as they are to me. My presence filled a hole that they may not have realized was in their family quilt, just as their embraces replaced the faded patches in mine. Even when we don't see each other often, family pulls for us, wishes the best for us, wants us to realize our dreams, hopes with us, dreams with us, and sees the best in us.
Today I am back in my regular life, going through my normal routines, but I am ever so much richer and uplifted for having reconnected and experienced, once again, the love and kindness of my cousins. I am fervently hoping that I see them before another 25 years go by, but I know, no matter what, I have their love and they have mine. And what could be better than that?