My little cousin got married last month. Though truth be told, he can hardly be called “little” by any stretch of the imagination. He now looks a little like Clark Kent, can bench press an obscene amount of weight and will some day soon be a licensed Chiropractor. In my heart and mind he will forever be the three year old boy sucking on a pacifier, wearing oversize flippers and struggling to shuffle away from me at my summer swim lessons- as I chase him around the pool threatening wet hugs and kisses.
He is a man now. A married man with an amazing, beautiful, kind wife (whom I adore.)
All of this seems to have happened without me. Kind of like I died somewhere along the way and life went on regardless. It is hard not to be sad as I go through wedding photos of my smiling family together for his special day.
Almost eight years ago I made a choice, to leave every person I had ever known and move across the continent in order to support my partner in his fatherhood. You cannot parent small children from thousands of miles away and so there really was no choice to be made only a reality to be accepted and dealt with.
Growing up, I never thought of my family as a “close” one. My memories of holidays and celebrations bear that out now in sharp contrast to my current lack access to them. I am not the only one removed from the system.
My sister currently resided is Guam with her husband. Reports from back home indicate that at least one of my aunt/uncles will be spending this Christmas with their son and potential in-laws in the south of the state. This fracture will mark a continuation of the trend I started almost a decade ago with my migration. Until then, we had all been together every holiday, a thing I now know I took for granted.
Big life events and special occasions are always the time when we feel these changes most keenly. Times once reserved for family without second thought, have changed and become a time when the tables are set worlds apart. Each with its portion of the family chairs. An incomplete set, like great grandma’s china split between siblings.
This is the inescapable consequence of growing up. My dear cousins, my most beloved childhood playmates on both sides of my family- all with micro families of our own and obligations that negate the possibility of sharing these special feasts at the same table. It is a bittersweet dessert only served a few times a year. Maybe that is the silver lining, during the majority of our dinners it is easy not to be overwhelmed by these absences. Using the time instead to count the blessings of the new young faces we have all brought to our own tables. We fill the mealtime discourse with stories of those who are not with us anymore, either separated by distance or death.
The fear of finality is most salient in my thoughts of the future. The anniversary of my father’s death only a few weeks away making that anxiety more than I can bear at times. I have to keep reminding myself that this scattering of familial seeds to the four winds can be but a temporary respite from each other. A chance to forget all the times I had boogers wiped on my brand new Easter dress and a chance for my cousin to recover from the resulting noogie I gave him (as I took half of his easter eggs out of his basket.) The hope is that distance allows us all to grow a harvest we will bring back to the family table one day.
Our parents had raised all of us together in a safe cove. Protected from the rage of open water tempests that would have tossed our tinny vessels. A harbor where we all enthusiastically built our own little boats, at times competing and other times helping each other. All of us never acknowledging that our efforts could have no other purpose than to carry us far away from one another. The dream is that one day we will all point our bows home. Toward that beacon of light that lit our childhood endeavors, hulls full of treasure found on our individual journeys and heads filled with tales of our adventures far from home.
Someday, we will all be back in that cove together all sharing the feast once again. Everyone wholly different than we were before. During that meal we will meet new family members, rediscover old ones and collectedly mourn the loss of those we lost at sea with those that truly understand the depth of the void they have left. The time spent apart a distant memory just like the memories of our youth are today. I will end with that joyous thought along with a picture of happy couple (provided by https://teratorchioproductions.pixieset.com. A very talented photographer)
They are just setting out, on a craft they have been building together for years. Words cannot describe how much I wish I had been in attendance. There is not a ship large enough to carry all the luck I hope they have in their voyage together. The joining of two bright souls is such an amazing thing and just knowing it exists in the world, somewhere is a fact that makes my heart sing.
I love you both very much! All my love from Maine!