Month:

November, 2011

14 Nov 2011, by

Reconnecting

I am sitting in the office of my cousin’s home in Florida, trying to grab a moment to update my blog. As I write, I am listening to my two sons enjoy a movie with their cousins. I pause to enjoy the sound of them laughing and feel grateful because moments like these are so rare. My boys haven’t seen these cousins in seven years – and the youngest they just met for the first time ever. How did this happen? Life got busy, apparently.

When I was a child, my cousin and her brother lived by the Indian River in Florida and my Mom would drive my brother and me down (from outside Washington D.C.) to spend time with them over the summers. We all share fond memories of full days spent playing hide and seek and swimming – in the pool or in the river – pausing only to gulp down piles of white bread and bologna sandwiches. What those lunches may have lacked in nutritional value, the time we spent using our imaginations was endlessly enriching. We made up all kinds of games and even staged our own comedy shows for our captive audience of patient parents. By the end of each August, my cousins and I felt as if we were actually sisters and brothers. The four of us created a cousins’ club and when we went our separate ways in the fall, would send each other letters with grand plans for the next time we were together. I never expected when we all grew up, we’d get so wrapped up in our adult lives that our children wouldn’t have the same kind of bond. Now I’m trying to make up for lost time.

When I left my job in Sacramento in October, it was to follow my husband on a new adventure thanks to a once-in-a-lifetime job offer. And before we moved, I decided to take a once-in-a-lifetime chance to reconnect with my family – both immediate and extended. I first jumped into my new life at home by cooking family dinners and picking up my boys from school in the afternoons. I was also finding ways to make sure they had time to say goodbye to all their friends as I packed up our family treasures. We had just three weeks of this new way of life together before our new adventure really began.

The first week in November, I took my boys out of school as my Mom, Dad and brother reunited at my home for the first time in nearly 20 years. They were there to help with all the loose ends, but also to make sure we reconnected as a family for what might be the final time together. It was both touching and at times tough, but as I explained to my sons, worth any emotional toll to create a memory we will all have forever.

That reunion was followed by yet another in Texas to see my husband’s side of the family. We’d all had a chance to get together just a few years before, so for my kids, this was an opportunity to set in stone the relationship they have with their grandparents and two cousins there. The kids discovered that huddling together watching scary movies into the wee hours of the morning creates a strong connection!

It was only when we were getting ready to come to Florida that I realized my quest had an unintended consequence. Just as my children started to feel the warm and fuzzy feelings of being closely tied to family, they had to say goodbye again – and for what could be, once again, years. With mixed emotions, then, we arrived in Florida to a warm welcome into the family fold there once again. With so much time having passed, I was expecting a little hesitation from my boys. They surprised me by jumping right in to the action. Whatever impending sadness may loom, clearly they are in it to enjoy the moment.

After a few days of fun, I mentioned to my cousin my disappointment about not being able to get them all together sooner, when they were younger. What she pointed out, though, took away the sting. She asked, “When do your memories begin about the time we spent together?”. I looked at our kids and realized – just about the ages they are all now, give or take a year. And our bond has certainly survived saying goodbye as our lives took us in separate directions. Ever since we arrived, we’ve been laughing just like we’d seen each other yesterday. Now I can stand back and watch this next generation interact knowing the family relationship we are so lucky to be able to build now will stand the test of time. And they, too, will have this wonderful feeling of connectedness I’m now enjoying to look forward to one day.

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