“…there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” ~ Proverbs 18:24 NKJV
As the holidays approach I think more and more about my fragmented, distant family. Although there are only a handful of us left, we rarely connect with each other outside of tragedies.
I have five siblings that I seldom see. I have not seen my youngest sister in years nor have I met her last three children. The same goes for my youngest brother. My middle brother only contacts me when he is in need. I communicate the most with my middle sister which is still only marginally. My brother who is the second child reaches out more than the others. I suppose because it was only us for the first two years.
I have three aunts and a smattering of cousins. I talk to two aunts on occasion and my cousins when I run into them on a rare outing.
It is hurtful to be estranged from family. I have spent many days pondering our fragile connection. However, lately I have made peace with the way things are and instead try to focus on nurturing the relationships that I do have.
The other day my seven year old asked if we could have a “real” Thanksgiving dinner with friends and family. He referenced an end of summer party that we attended, “like the party at the big, blue house.” It took me a minute to recollect and figure out that he was talking about my friend’s party. We had a great time surrounded by both good food and people. It made me sad that I cannot offer him such a setting. We simply do not have the family for it.
Life is tough. The Bible even warns us that our days will be full of trouble and I can say that this has certainly been true in my life. But I also know that is why the Lord, in His infinite wisdom, gave us families. Our family are supposed to help smooth life’s frayed edges.
I too, know that we can’t force our blood relatives to be kindred. However, we can create our own tribe-another blessing from our Father who connects us all. I’ve done this in a sense. My motley crew of a family does not resemble the traditional model. It is composed of my two boys, a few true friends, coworkers turned comrades, some church saints, girlfriends now sisterfriends, and past and present students.
As a bonus, we get the families of my tribe mates as well. Sometimes I sit back, reflect and wish it could be different with my biological family. These people are blood of my blood, flesh of my flesh after all. This will never change. But too much time has elapsed which has allowed the distance to widen. Things are strained and tense to the point that I do not even wish to attempt to sew the rip that’s torn us a part. Obviously no one else wants to either. Being family should not be a seasonal affair when it is meant for a lifetime. Now they are almost like strangers to me. I only know them by heart.