I have a lot of first cousins – on my mother’s side and my father’s side. Although I occasionally visited with the cousins on my mother’s side when I was growing up, I’m getting to know them better as an adult. This has been a really rewarding experience and I’ve enjoyed it.
On my father’s side of the family, it’s completely different. I grew up with my cousins, we went to the same schools, saw each other at frequently family get-togethers and cookouts, played together and so on. When we were kids, there was a wonderful camaraderie – we teased each other and laughed a lot and grew up. There were also losses along the way. We were all so young when my father died – it is part of our collective story and memory. So is our grandmother’s funeral, when we were young adults.
One of the things I’ve enjoyed in the past several years has been reconnecting to my cousins. I’ve missed a lot – working and going off on my own has meant that I haven’t always made it back for reunions, weddings and funerals. There were sometimes years between stretches. I’m terrible at keeping in touch, whether through visits, calls or emails.
We had a reunion in July. I flew back to spend a few hours – objectively, this was insane! But, of course, family isn’t an objective thing. It was worth it to see everyone and to feel that warm embrace. It’s always the same. My mother couldn’t go, so I made it back home by evening. The things we do ….
Those early bonds between cousins have extended into our adult lives. We still have fun together and enjoy each other’s company. We remember those we’ve lost – many more over the years. There can be years between visits and yet we can pick up where we left off. Our shared story continues. There’s something really comforting in knowing that these people, living all around the country, know me in a way that is unique and greet me with open arms when I make my way back to the fold.