‘Family’ gatherings can bring anxiety or joy depending on how we decide to approach them, who shows up and who we may consider family. Yesterday I drove to Connecticut, out of my state of residence, to participate in a gathering of my ‘ex’ family shall we say. It was my second ex-husband’s family, many of whom I had not seen for years.
I’ve stayed in touch with their stories because his sister is my best friend. And it’s an unusual story, because his sister and brother came to live with us many years ago as young children (as did his son). So they all were a very vital part of my young life.
But just as important, was their role in my life as an only child–and only adopted child, one that often struggled with fitting in to any sort of familial setting. Even within my own adopted family of cousins, I had always felt like an outsider, although as a child I had seen them fairly regularly.
This motley group though, is a rather rag-tag bunch with varied colored skin and personalities differing like snowflakes viewed under a microscope–each one uniquely different, but brilliantly beautiful. Years ago, when I was younger and less tuned in, I had always felt cared for by them, but yesterday that love came through like a comet blasting across the sky.
They all came yesterday to the party hosted by my ex-sister in law (and best friend), but truly my sister (and her daughter). She has now taken the role of matriarch, glue, cook, holiday hostess and bridge builder. It was my ex-step son, now a grown man, with his most wonderful girl friend; my now tall and handsome ex-brother in law; my ex-other-sister in law and her sweet husband and her now grown daughter. And, finally, The Ex himself…and his son from a marriage after the one to me.
It was all miraculous! Of course we were all older. But the memories and the laughs were amazing. The kids remembered stories that split my sides. My ex had come despite a broken collarbone from a recent bicycle accident. He and I got teased mercilessly for all the things we did then, but it was all in good fun. And I gave a few back myself.
And tender words were spoken too. Words of thanks: my ex-brother in law thanked me for all I taught him in the time he lived with me (I did?) and how I had shaped his life and how he now treats others! I cried and was so moved. I was only in my 20’s then and had no idea what I was doing. And my ex had been struggling with whether he had really loved me then or if it was only infatuation. But the next morning he assured me he was indeed in love with me then. And if you all knew him, this was a big admission. And his son said: was she always this funny? Which I thought was sweet considering this could have been such an awkward situation for a young man meeting his father’s ex-wife (his mom died from cancer some years ago).
So I drove home in nutty bumper to bumper traffic feeling totally blessed. Feeling like I’ve moved up a notch in my self-realization. We don’t always measure family by blood I suppose, or by the same color skin. Sometimes it’s simply by the depth of our hearts or the fabric of our memories. And when our hearts weave those memories into a great pattern of sweet, dear love then you know you are truly home.