The Ties That Bind

They say every person has a reason for being present in our lives.  People come and go, as the norm is, as expected.  I’ve lost many friends.  I’ve left many behind.  I’ve met many acquaintances who will never consciously affect my life.  There are six billion souls on earth, and counting.  Sadly, the number of Facebook friends any of us have, as many as they are, don’t come close to the global figure.  Anyway, I came to a realization some years ago that I haven’t lost anybody dear to me.  At least not to death.  Surely, I’ve lost grandparents to old age, uncles to diseases, and other relatives to other things, but I can’t say I’ve ever shed a natural tear for someone truly close to heart.  The same is the case now.  I’m beginning to wonder if I’m just a closet stoic when it comes to matters of life and death, or maybe I just don’t have the proper emotional ties people usually have.  Can it be?

What weighs on me is that my family is my everything.  I can’t even begin to imagine how I would feel if anything happens to my family.  So I guess I’m not a closet stoic then.  But what defines a family anyway?  Blood lines?  The amount of time spent together?  Marriage?  It’s a little too blurred for me to define at the moment.  My children are definitely my family.  I’m not married, but my lover is on the top of that family list.  How about the immediate family, the one I grew up with?  It’s difficult to tell at times.  I didn’t grow up with my parents, and the relationship we’ve formed over the years seemed to be based more on relative companionship rather than parental, more of an automated necessity than a heedful nurturing.  Don’t quote me on this as I might be partially one-sided on this matter.  What about siblings?  I’ve got two.  Being the reckless baby that I was, I always just kind of waited.  When I was younger, it felt to me that I should’ve been taken care of, carried in a sense.  I was the baby.  I had no rush of intent to establish a dynamic bond with my siblings.  And it seemed to me that they felt the same.  That was our family then.  Children always change things, so when we had kids, it seemed natural for all of us to pull in closer.  Gone are the days of rebellion and craziness.  Ok maybe there’s a bit of craziness left.  But the point is, family just seems more familial now.  And our familiarity is earnest and astir.  We try.  Or… least some of us do.

So what weighs on me sometimes when I think about it, which is not so often, is family that seems more of acquaintances than anything.  I have that now.  I guess I care.  I’d be lying if I said it didn’t bother me.  But all of it makes me think of the true definition of family.  Who is family?  Does blood really run thicker?  My family is unknowingly large; we are literally scattered throughout the globe.  We are all tied in somehow (maybe because of blood), but our ties seem almost invisible, imaginary.  My next door neighbor seems more like family at times more than a relative who lives an hour away.  I said that.  I’d be lying if I didn’t.

I came to think of family because I had a wonderful time with them tonight, fabulous dinner and conversations and all.  My true family here is small.  Like my mom always said, we are all we’ve got.  And it seems truer now as we are starting to get bigger with babies and all; the bigger we get, the closer we are.  As for everyone else in life, we are all family in a sense that we care.  It’s just that caring sometimes is no longer enough.  Family acts.  Family does.  Family strives.  Those are the ties that truly bind.  And if you have someone who acts, does, and strives for you, you can call yourself lucky to have a family.  I know I am.

The photo above was taken many moons ago, when family were, innocently, the people who share the same last names and the same blood lines.  I miss those days of familial inculpability.


Author: Jennifer Longinos

I'm a freelance writer and a homeschooling mom of two awesome toddlers. If we aren't out on an adventure, we spend most of our days tickling each other on the bedroom floor, making things explode in the kitchen, jumping on piles of laundry before and after washing, or just doing random little things that make life absolutely worth it.

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