What is family?

I know there are those that say family isn’t always your blood relatives, and that certainly is true. Family is what you make it or whom you make it with. All true.

But what about your FAMILY?

The ones that are your blood relatives. The ones you grew up with? That were you automatic best friends.

The definition of Family is this: any group of persons closely related by blood, as parents, children, uncles, aunts, and cousins.

Family certainly can evolve throughout the years. Those that come into the family through marriage, birth, adoption. Those that leave us through death. They will always be loved and missed. To be seen again someday. But what about the family that voluntarily leaves? The ones that choose to separate themselves from other family members? For a multitude of reasons I’m sure. Some justifiable and some not. Does it hurt any less than a death? Or does it hurt more than a death? With death there is a finality to it perhaps. But when a family member or members CHOOSE to leave “the family” doesn’t it break your heart?  Such a rapid departure from family stirs up so many feelings. My favorite: ANGER!!! My best emotion or my most prominent one. It’s my smoke screen to my other emotions that I don’t want others to see.

I look at my family like this:

Grandparents (My mom’s parents)

Then my aunts & uncles which there were/are five of:

Then the kids of each of those five, there grandkids, and their great grandkids.

We’ve had some family members come to us through marriage. We have blended families and family that we have through foster care. So we might not all be blood related, but we are related somehow. And that’s what I love about my family. Even in-laws of cousins have somehow woven into the fabric of my big family & I love it! I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Through the years though there was a crack in the foundation of it all. A crack slowly making its way through the foundation of what I’ve thought my family to be. I’m sure there is always an underlying earthquake shaking up any family. I saw it growing up, but I somehow thought that it was strong even through those rough times.

When my grandpa passed away I felt a jolt to the beating heart of our living, breathing, moving, loving family. Or when a mountain begins to crumble a piece falls off, and then slowly other parts start to crumble off. The foundation shifted. We were hit by such a huge blow when he left us. Christmas Eve wasn’t held at my grandparents anymore. From time to time we would have it, but not at the same momentum we did when he was alive.

My grandpa passed away in his home with all the family surrounding him. So many random thoughts are vivid in my memory. But the one thing that I will never forget:  He had already passed away. My entire family was there talking. Eating. Just going on about there business. We were waiting for someone to come pick up his body. I was sitting at the foot of the bed he was in, and it all seemed so wrong and strange to me. How could we all be there talking, eating, laughing when he was dead. I just sobbed. Gasping sobs. I couldn’t control it. My mom was rubbing my head and holding me. We had just lost him! He was gone, and I couldn’t bring myself to accept it. Then my little 2 1/2 year old, Platinum hair, blue-eyed little cousin, Brooke, came up and put her little hand on my leg and tried to comfort me. I’m not sure if I went off into a fit of hysterics or calmed down, but THAT is what family is. When they heart of a 2 1/2 year old knows the pain of her older cousin.  THAT IS MY FAMILY.

LORD JESUS! I’m bawling my eyes out again!

I’m almost forgetting other major events that went on after my grandpa passed. Marriages. Divorces. Babies. Babies are my favorite. We always have plenty of babies in our family. I do believe we went a Christmas or two without a new baby, but that didn’t last long. There were family “issues”. Either always there or building up.

I was hit by a drunk driver December of 2001. I was rushed to UC Davis to save my left leg. One of the most horrific times of my life, but oddly a time that I remember that my family came together. En Masse. I remember in between my drug induced fogs my mom telling me about all the family that sat in the waiting room during my emergency surgery. I felt loved. I really did. I remember my Uncle Larry telling me the story of when he found out I’d been hit. I would cry every time he told me. Or when my cousin Brian was the sheriff on scene that night when I was hit. All my family that came to visit me. My cousin who surprised me from Idaho. I sobbed when I saw her. Or my cousins wife & kids when they brought me a Christmas tree & decorated my side of the hospital room because I was there during Christmas. I still have that tree. That time was the worst time of my life, but my family was there. Supporting me. Checking on me. Praying for me.

Then it felt like the crack started to grow. Shift. Makes it’s way through family members and divide us. Then my Aunt was diagnosed with breast cancer, and then passed away after a long battle. The crack got bigger. Marriage. Babies. Divorces. Moving to different states. Then not too long after that my uncle fell off a roof and ended up in a coma for 7 years before he passed away. Those seven years seemed like a nightmare for more reasons than one. Some family members angrily walked away. While another portion was taken back into the fold, and loved on regardless of the situation at hand.  My children were born during this time. Happiest moments of my life. The light in the darkness. Other babies were born. Babies are the best. Still there remained a disconnect from other family members. Some still choose not to be apart of us. Others have decided to walk the tight rope between the two. Others simply let life get in the way of a connection. Or maybe they just don’t feel a connection.

All of this to say:  What is life without family?

Maybe because I’m the wise old age of 35 quickly going on 36, but it’s getting to me so much more now than it ever has. Maybe because I have children. I don’t know why. I just don’t understand the disconnect!! Gosh! Some of this “stuff” (the nicest way I can say it) is out of absolute hatred and…..I don’t have the words. I just want to shake some people. Smack them around & scream : “WAKE UP!!!!!! What are you trying to prove?? What are you doing??????? We are FAMILY for crap sake!!!” I don’t pretend to think that even if all was to become well with whomever that we’ll have big slumber parties at our houses, and have a commune together. I just…..I just don’t understand! It hurts! It’s mean! It’s not even just mean there is just an outright disregard for loving our family. If I could rewind, and change things oh how I wish I could!! To somehow alter the course of things so that there wouldn’t be such a great divide.

Again all this to say isn’t that the plan really. The master plan. The spiritual warfare so to speak? That Satan is here to conquer and divide. Doesn’t he start with families? In marriages? Amongst siblings? I’m so tired of it! I don’t want this crap anymore. I just want my family. All of them. Crazy or not!

“Don’t worry about the family that ignores you and acts like you don’t matter.  Love the ones that are always there for you no matter what.”

My cousin sent this to me when I was struggling with a family departure so to speak. I truly do have great family that loves me and that’s there for me. Regardless. And I try to let some things go with others, but it’s really hard. I still love all my family. Every. Single. One. Of. Them. Regardless of their feelings towards me.

I take that back maybe I do wish it would all work out & we can have a commune. And slumber parties. I kind of have this fantasy that we’re like the Braverman Family. Even with all the crap we still manage to get together in the backyard with the twinkling lights, and celebrate with family simply because we are FAMILY.










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