A gathering of relatives, friends, or associates at regular intervals or after separation: a family reunion.
Ten. Ten. Ten…
That is the fluctuating number of people we had staying in our house from late July through most of September. The number of family members I spent a summer and a touch of fall meeting, reuniting, and bonding with.
To those of you lucky enough to have grown up with extended family and to have been a part of each others’ lives, I have envied you. Going as far back as elementary school, I remember feeling guilt, loss, and longing for the relationships with cousins, aunts, and uncles that my friends had with theirs. Now I don’t take for granted the CFU families and friends I AM lucky enough to have grown up with. They have been and will always be my family as well. Still, when those I have come to call “family” would go off to have their own reunions, I couldn’t help but wish I could do the same.
And this time, I finally did.
As the weeks went by I frequently wondered what this experience meant for my mom as this was essentially a reunion for her side of the family. I imagined having 7 siblings - all of us grown up, living in distant cities and countries, not seeing some of them for years. Years. And so I snuck glances at my mom from time to time. I’m not sure now what exactly I was looking for… she really just seemed a simple happy. Lighter. More youthful. I’m grateful for so many things about these past couple of months, one of them being a witness to some precious sibling moments between my mom and aunts. The playful teasing over what silly thing my Lola said, the “fighting” over who pays for what, and the giggling in the backseat as we drove to our next tourist stop are all memories I—and my mom and aunts and uncles and cousins—now have to treasure. I think what I love being able to say after all this is that we, together, have memories to treasure.
As much fun as it was to get to know my aunts, clearly my favorite part of this reunion was getting to know my cousin. Genuine, passionate, independent, open-minded, and bold, I can’t say enough good things about her. It was both refreshing and comforting to get to know someone who was so different yet so similar to myself. By the end of the trip, despite her being only a year older than me, she became someone I looked up to. I will surely miss her conversation, perspective, and overall good company, and am so grateful to have gotten to know her.
We are back to six now in my house. It’s quieter, calmer, and has far less dishes to wash. But after we dropped everyone off at the airport, Coop walked into the house and wandered around a bit, looking for all the people he had gotten used to greeting. How sweet! Looking forward to the next reunion :)