The Thing About Families

“Lo, children [are] an heritage of the LORD: [and] the fruit of the womb [is His] reward.” (Psalms 127:3-5)

It’s amazing how different every family is.  Just think about yours.  Is it quirky?  A little bit of crazy?  A little bit frustrating?  Is there bad?  Is there good?  Is there love?

I have four “original” siblings.  I will explain later what that means.  I am the baby.  I am the one who watched everyone else grow up.  My family tells me stories about all the things we did but for the most part, I don’t remember them.  The thing is that I don’t have a very good memory and I haven’t decided yet whether this is good or bad.  I can remember feelings though … and I remember good ones and bad ones.

I remember feeling scared, nervous, excited, fearful, happy, joyous, sad, and so many other emotions. There are songs that strike a memory for me.  There are smells that make me feel nostalgic for moments that happened a long time ago.  There are stories told and retold that have formed memories in my mind.  There are things I do remember though.

I remember late one Christmas eve sneaking upstairs to see my mom and my sister wrapping presents. Mom told me I could stay as long as I kept my eyes closed and didn’t peak.  I remember long road trips.  I remember learning that a school friend had been hit by a car.  I remember the animals.  I remember my grandpa skipping rope beside me.  I remember nightmares.  I remember laughter.  I remember the divorce.

There are so many things that are packed into my memory that I’m sure if I tried I could remember more but basically my life is categorized into the before and after.  The life before my parents went in different directions and the life after.  I think that’s when I stopped remembering.  Even at that age, I knew that some memories hurt more then they were worth.

I am now 26. The years have passed and the hurt, for me, has healed.  I no longer carry the questions of why.  It no longer eats at me.  It is now all but forgotten because out of the ashes beauty will rise. God has a way of turning everything into good. Remember the “original” kids?  Well now I have four “steps” in addition to my four original siblings. Two I have spent a decade growing up with, one I met last year at my mom’s wedding and one I still have yet to meet.  That’s a big family by most people’s standards.

The thing about family though is that they are supposed to have your back.  You grow up with them and as adults they should be your friends.  They share the memories and most times they share the pain that sometimes goes with them.  Some families are logistically close and I wish that was true of mine. We are spread all over the map now … at least the Canadian map.  Our lives are moving forward and we are doing it separately.

They each hold a unique place in my heart but since I am not mushy, I am not going to get into how much I love my family.  I do love them though, a lot, and I miss each and every one of them.  When I actually stop to think about it, like I’m doing right now, my heart feels heavy because I know they have lives that do not involve me.  I know their children are getting older … as we are getting older.

Looking at my own boys, I think of what they will be like when they grow up.  I think of people who didn’t grow up with siblings and my heart hurts for them.  They missed out.  I watch my boys fight, play, eat together and I think of how many times I did that with my siblings.  These boys will become men some day.  They will get married and have babies and they will create their own families.  I hope they stay close though.  I hope that there is never a week that goes by where they haven’t communicated in some form.  I hope they make the effort no matter how busy life gets.  I hope they choose to make family a priority over the “stuff”  that life throws at them.

But the thing about family is they are all different.  Mine’s got a whole mixture of “different” that at times, makes it difficult to make sense of it.  But you know what?  I think God had some pretty mighty plans when He drew my family tree.  When He planned my life, He purposely included my family to be just that … MY family.  And even at 26, when I’m 800 km from the nearest family member and a minimum 10 hour flight from my farthest … I know they’ve got my back, cause that’s what family does and there’s no better family then mine.

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing. (Ecclesiastes 3:1-22)

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