The weight of family

Littles, there is a part of mom that she reflects on with so much joy.
Growing up, I was surrounded by what felt like a million family members.
My cousins were my friends, and it was an amazing way to grow up.
Family, loud, laughing, drinking, playing cards family.

When you have 30 cousins, there is always someone around, or we worked hard to keep them around.
Even though I had only one sister, we were surrounded all of the time.
My mom's family, my dad's, siblings, and cousins.

As the grandparents passed away, and we all got older, the family grew and we all somehow got smaller.
We went inward.
We stopped a lot of the gatherings.
We weren't always together like we were.

And that's okay. We all live differently now. Most have multiple kids pulling them in multiple directions. There are in-laws in different places and jobs and careers.
There are college tuitions to worry about and littles getting bigger in front of all of us.

But then it always happens, we always pull through, and manage to come right back together.
And whether it's a graduation, or a gathering, or someone is sick, or someone is passing, we all come together again.
It feels instantly warm, and funny, and we catch up and remember.
We talk about our parents and the heavy hands they had.
We can laugh about it now and how different we all are with parenting.
How we dare our littles to call us strict.

We talk about this memory, this wedding, this one time we did this one dumb thing.
We message each other to check-in.
We hold each other from afar.
And this past year, I felt closer to this part of my than I had in a very long time.

Cousins and uncles and aunts and family coming together from all over the US.
I felt so surrounded even when we were very much alone.
I was in such constant contact and touch and love.
And I didn't even realize how much until I heard dad say things like, oh, we haven't connected with fill in the blankĀ in a while...and I would say, we message almost daily.
After the 3rd of 4th time, I think he finally got it, we show up.

Because family is heavy.
And sometimes the loads we carry, they are too much.
Too much to pick up, move, and carry around.
And it's during that time that no matter how far or close we are, we all pitch in to make it lighter.
We visit, we send messsages of love, we sit bed side.
We eat together, we have coffee, we share a glass of wine.
Sometimes we hug so hard that we cry a little, sometimes we cry really hard.

Because the weight of family lingers.
And love brings you to life.
It also makes you exhausted and can drain you of energy.
It makes you smile and feel happy.
It makes you feel whole, even when you feel yourself coming apart.

I say all of this to say that as we have gotten smaller, as we have all gone inward, don't ever forget who we are at our core.
Don't ever forget about your family and where you came from.
Don't ever forget how we show up for each other and have each other's backs.

This next decade will bring with it more loss, more celebrations, more chaos, more gathers of both joy and sorrow.
Don't ever forget who we are.

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