What is Family?

“Family isn’t always blood.  It’s the people in your life who want you in theirs; the ones who accept you for who you are.  The ones who would do anything to see you smile and who love you no matter what.”  Unknown

Dearest daughter,

A good friend once shared this quote with me. I didn’t truly understand the heart behind this message until this stage in my life.  I have family members who live physically 3,000 miles away and I rarely get to see them.  They aren’t able to see what is going on in my day to day life; they haven’t been here for special events; they don’t stop by just to say hi; they aren’t holding my hand during difficult times or when I am sick.  Christmas went by this year without a single phone call or text.  My birthday is coming and frankly I don’t think anyone will notice.  It hurts that we are not as close as when we were young but I guess that is life sometimes.

When I think of one of the best family relationships I had on this earth, I think of my mom or “Mama” as you called her.  We were the best of friends.   She had an incredible way of bringing people together and connecting us. “Mama” and I would talk to each other every single day until she got really sick.  She couldn’t wait to speak with me and I couldn’t wait to speak with her.  She understood me but I think that is because she wanted to understand me.  She took care of me when I needed her the most and helped me with what little she had so that I could continue to live here and take care of you.  She had that incredible knack of knowing how I was feeling by the sound of my voice.  She taught me about life and she taught me about people.  In fact, I am still learning from her as I look at situations and try to muddle through them.  I think to myself, “What would she say that I do in this situation?”

“Mama” is gone physically, but she will forever be in my heart.  I truly believe that today she would tell me to continue loving those I choose to love and if they return that love, great.  If not, keep on living.  Life is short.  Sometimes things just don’t work out as we would want them to but we need to keep on living. 

When I look around me at the people in my life who want me in their lives, accept me for who I am, would do anything to see me smile and love me no matter what…a blood family member isn’t necessarily the first to come to mind. That is ok with me.  My “family” is huge and they are present in my life.  I love my family and I am grateful to God for giving me these wonderful people in my life who love me on a daily basis. 

My lesson to you is don’t get all caught up in the definition what a family member is and how a family member should act.  If you are not living near those who are your blood relatives or if your relationship with them is strained…look around you.  You might be surprised with what you see.  Family could be the neighbor next door; the man behind the counter at the pharmacy; the woman who holds your hand when you need it the most; a complete stranger who notices you crying and asks if there is anything she can do to help.  Family is what you make of it and it is those who choose to be in your life.  Love and nurture the relationships you have and be grateful to God for bringing those special people to you.  Ask God to provide people in your life who will rejoice in your triumphs and hold you when you need to be held.  I am so fortunate that God has given me an incredible family of friends, neighbors, students, coworkers, doctors and loved ones who surround me on a daily basis.  I couldn’t have asked for more.  

Much love,


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