The past few weeks has really had me thinking a lot about the concept of family. Those who know me, know my childhood was less than stellar. But it had its good times. It had great times. I have had people enter my life, not just in my childhood but rather throughout my life, who have truly made an impact. And these are the people whom I can never truly leave or let go of.
When I was a young girl, I spent my summers in Wisconsin on my step-mom's grandma's farm. Those were days where I felt so at peace, even with all the abuse and crap in my life. And there was one friend I met in those days who I grew very attached to. She and I did everything together. She taught me how to make friendship bracelets. We showered in the milk house together. We wandered the pastures for hours on end. We talked, shared, laughed. Tonight... I realized that even though we aren't close anymore... even though we are friends on facebook and that's about it... if this beautiful soul ever called in the middle of the night needing a friend, I wouldn't hesitate. And if it was so bad that she needed someone there for her in person, I'd be on the next flight out. She is my sister.
A few weeks ago, I was sending out graduation announcements for my daughter and it hit me that I needed to invite my dad. I was hesitant because of the distance and pain that has been between us... so my invite was more a second-hand approach. I told my sister that she could invite him if she wanted. It was my way of protecting myself. But the truth of the matter was... I wanted my daddy there. And he showed up. And regardless of the pain and time between us, I went into his arms as if I were a 6 year old kid once again.
These are only two examples... but I could easily list off a few others. My entire "trailer" family.... the wonderful people who took me in when I was homeless. My real sisters and brother. The brother/best friend/soul mate I just met a few short years ago. The pastor friend who brought me back into the church. My father-in-law who, unfortunately, left us a couple years ago... and his wife... who opened their hearts and home to me. The family who allowed me to be a godmother to their childen. And I'm sure I'm missing a few....
These people who made an impact on my life are still in my heart. They're still in my prayers. They still help me as I try to navigate through this crappy thing called life. And I would lay down my own life for any one of them.
That's what family is about. It isn't about blood, it's about heart. We were going to put that on Caity's graduation picture board - "family isn't blood, it's heart." But Caity opted for a different quote... "Ohana means family. Family means nobody gets left behind, or forgotten."
That's always been her quote... and I realized that it spoke so much more than just who family is. It's how we treat family. My family is a crazy mix of blood and heart.... always heart.... so the simple quote I was going to use just wasn't enough. Caity's "Lilo & Stitch" quote on the other hand... that says so much more. "Family means nobody gets left behind or forgotten."
You're not forgotten. I may suck at keeping in contact.... but if you're "family".... I do truly love you. And I will definitely be there when you need a best friend...