During the day and on select evenings, I am with friends or family. Most of my days are spent either on my best friend's couch, soaking in all of her that I can, or at my parents' house spending time with my siblings and my folks. My family has experienced a lot of shifts lately, some for the worse and some for the better, if not best. Recently, we have experienced losses and we have experienced enormous gains.
I am fortunate enough to have two real best friends. I have the one that I chose and chose me after a long period of vetting. And I have the one that God gave me. My sister and I are very close. I can tell her everything. She knows more than you guys do. And that says a lot. We can spend endless amounts of time together and not pass judgment on each other. We have both experienced life and made mistakes and we are different and alike at the same time. We can share stories and failures and just give a shrug, because it's the way things go. We understand each other to the point of knowing that we don't have to understand everything about each other. We just accept it and move on to the next joke. My sister taught me how to be funny and open and how to let life slide off my back instead of hauling it around forever.
My sister, my brother and I are the youngest three children. My sister has her children, and my brother works a lot, so when I am in town, I try to help my parents out as much as I can. So, I spend a fair share of time working with my dad. I do yard work for my parents. I do the tough maneuvering required to fix the family vehicles. (My dad can always find something wrong with a car. There is always work to be done.) I help install washers and dryers. Essentially, when I am in town, I am the family handywoman. These tasks serve as a way for me to pick my fathers brain. Two summers ago, I started chronicling my mother and father's stories. My parents married when my father was 30, already had 3 kids and an ex wife and my mother was freshly 20. Hearing their individual takes on a life "together" for the past 40 years has taught me more about my views on relationships than anything else ever could.
Seeing the ways my siblings handle their relationships has also taught me a lot. I am the youngest and all of my siblings are married with children. So, I have gotten to call on their wisdom and witness their difficulties. Even though they have all been married and had kids, they have all taken different paths in life. My older brothers got married and had kids really young. They were actually already married and fathers by the time I was born. One divorced and the other lost his wife to kidney failure when I was 22. My oldest sister died last year, leaving behind an ex husband, a husband and 3 daughters.
My parents had the three youngest of us together. My brother married young and my sister got married when she was 32 and has two new babies. I don't know what did it, but they both have pretty solid relationships. My sister has a good situation worked out. It's exactly what she wants. It's great for her. And she is good at it. My brother and his wife have had their ups and downs, as they have been married for around 12 years. My brother's wife is a bit older and already had a daughter and now they have a son together.
I took a bit of a different path. In May, I will be the first person in my family to graduate from college. They all have families. They have children and partners. They've spanned happiness to anguish, with dips and raises along the way. They have life and love, and I have them. I have also experienced many emotions. I have, in the past year, experienced the loss of a sister and witnessed the birth of the baby of another sister. In life, I have experienced the loneliness of not having a partner. I have experienced the sadness of losing partners. I have seen my sisters and brothers hold their children and kiss their spouses. I watched my brother-in-law grieve the death of my sister and saw how love can lift you up and tear you apart. But, through it all, I have never been alone.
Life is rich and it is beautiful. Sometimes, I get wrapped up in thinking of how things should be, wondering if I am getting it right, and I forget to see how things are. Things are wonderful. I just wanted to remind myself, so I thought I would share with you guys, too. Thanks for listening.