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Ode to Distant Family


The family. We were a strange little band of characters trudging through life sharing diseases and toothpaste, coveting one another’s desserts, hiding shampoo, borrowing money, locking each other out of our rooms, inflicting pain and kissing to heal it in the same instant, loving, laughing, defending, and trying to figure out the common thread that bound us all together.  ~Erma Bombeck

Some of my fondest memories are associated with my immediate family and my extended family. I come from a close knit family where cousins seemed like brothers and sister, aunts and uncles were as revered and respected as our parents. My life would not have been the rich pageant it was if not for this wonderful family into which I was born. Most of my extended family lives within an hour of my home making it relatively easy to see them when the mood hit us.

There are another set of cousins, one family from each of my mother’s and my father’s sides that have, for most of our lives, lived in other states, distant states. I didn’t see these cousins much in my younger days perhaps once every five to ten years thus we did not grow up as close as we would have had they been local to the Chicago area. And this saddens me.

To you, my distant cousins, I wish we had grown up closer, closer physically and closer emotionally. I wish we had had the chance to see each other frequently, to laugh with each other, to cry with each other. I wish I had been there at your graduation, at your wedding, at the birth of your children. I wish I had been there to give you a shoulder to cry on when you divorced. I wish we had grown up together to share this crazy ride we call life. Because of Facebook, we have cyber connected in our adult years, we have had the opportunity to peer into each other’s lives and, for that, I am thankful.

To you, my distant cousins, I wish we had grown up closer, closer physically and closer emotionally. I wish we had had the chance to see each other frequently, to laugh with each other, to cry with each other. I wish I had been there at your graduation, at your wedding, at the birth of your children. I wish I had been there to give you a shoulder to cry on when you divorced. I wish we had grown up together to share this crazy ride we call life. Because of Facebook, we have cyber connected in our adult years, we have had the opportunity to peer into each other’s lives and, for that, I am thankful.

Still, I wonder, I often wonder how much richer my life would be had we grown up together, how much additional color would our lives have been painted with if the brush of life had been able to dab into the palette that is the unique personalities of you, my distant cousins, how much additional joy would my heart have experienced if you were in close proximity during my formative years, during my adult years. These are questions that can never be answered because time has marched on. I don’t know how my life would be different had we grown up closer together but I do know having you in my life would have made me a wealthier man, wealthier not in money but in cherished memories, wealthier in the love that makes families strong.

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