Are you my family?

Family. At times the word can seem foreign to me. For a long time, I would look at other families and be envious of the things I didn’t have, whether it was siblings or the ability to spend time together and not want to scream. I learned from a young age that family seemed to be everything. Family was this mythological construct where people always got along and they always wanted to spend time with each other. Growing up I would watch shows like Family Matters, and Full House all the while wondering if that is how a family is supposed to be. Then I saw an extended family of mine and they were always taking vacations together, talking together and genuinely enjoyed spending time together. This was not always the case for me and it still isn’t. I didn’t really know that families could spend so much time together without sacrificing some part of their mental health.

As I grew older and not having a civil or even functional relationship with my “step sister”, I found my family elsewhere. My family and “sisters” were friends, people whom I could be myself with, that loved me unconditionally. After joining my sorority, I found my sisters, women that to this day I know I can call day or night and they will be there. Those three other women are truly my sisters, I word that I don’t use lightly.

Recently I started reconnecting with my mom’s family, some of whom I haven’t seen since I was a little girl. People that I barely remember, if I remember them at all. For the last two years, my kids and I have walked in the local ALS Walk for my dad. This year, seemingly out of nowhere, family from Florida that I just got in contact with this year, decided to make the 8-hour drive or fly up for the walk. This would have been enough, the fact that these two people who I don’t remember meeting are coming up to support ME and an organization that helped my dad during his fight. My “uncle” (actually my mom’s cousin) offered that a group he belongs too, Bourbon Society of Central Florida could sponsor my team and hold a charity raffle. I was floored. Believe me when I say that nothing shocked me more.

In support and appreciation for their support, I had team shirts made with their logo on the back. Last night they had their raffle and the total they raised for the ALS Society. It brought me to tears. They are such an amazing group of people, truly. My uncle is amazing, someone who I barely remember and haven’t seen in over 20 years made this all possible. THAT is family, that is something that I never thought would happen. I am truly overwhelmed and so thankful. In less than two weeks I get to give him the biggest hug ever and thank him.

Love your family. I love mine and I am so thankful for them.

Always,

J

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