Family. What is family? Family is defined as “…a specific group of people that may be made up of partners, children, parents, aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents…” according to the dictionary. However, this really does not lend credence to what really ‘family’ means to me. For most, we may look at it as branches of a tree, with each branch going in different directions, sometimes not even crossing paths again. However, for me I look at family as an eternally united bond that cannot be broken because regardless where the branches extend to, we all share a universal root. That root is embedded in one key element that can never be diluted. It is the element of LOVE.
What my family means to me in my recovery from cancer
As my journey continues, I am excited to share some wonderful news. All scans show no cancer in my bones as of January 11, 2016. This is now roughly 4 months after the initial diagnosis and 7 months since the onset of symptoms. Also, following 4 very intense chemotherapy treatments, a month in the hospital, 2 ER visits and several blood transfusions. I cannot honestly say this was not a rough journey. It was, but one thing that made my journey smooth is the unconditional love and support from my family. I am primarily speaking of my immediate family: My children, brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews and extended families and significant others.
I am truly shock to see the level of support I received from all members of my family, including the families from my former husband, including my former husband. Sometimes I would sit quietly and ask myself, “what did I do to deserve this grandeur of love?” There are no answers I would come up with other than it is purely love that has intervened within us and miraculously brings us all back to our roots. One by one, my family climbed down from their different branches and came to the base to help me get back up to my branch after I had fallen.
Now if you are thinking that our relationships have been all bed and roses. Think not! There were times, and many times, when we disagreed, said things about each other we later wished we could take back or just not communicated for no specific reason. I am going to share some of these instances as examples only. I remember one of my brothers and I really having intense arguments over the phone which ended is some vulgar language and phones hanging up. We forget these eventually and we learn to apologize and end other phones calls with, “I love you.” Ego and pride has to go in order to realized that family is family and no matter what happens or who was wrong or right, in the end we learned to say we are sorry and move forward. Another instance was with a sister I did not see or speak to for a while. I guess life got in our way, nothing concrete led to the lack of communication for about 2 years. When I got sick, she was the last person I expected to see. Surprise, she was one of the first. She stayed one week in the hospital with me curled up on a chair each night. This is family. This is love.
Finally, the sister who takes care of my needs during my most crucial times. One who goes to all my doctors’ appointments. One who speaks for me when I couldn’t. One who feeds me, holds me when I could not walk, bathes me when my arm was disabled. This sister you would think we always got along perfectly. Surprise, we did not ALWAYS got along. We are closest, but there were time, we were at odds with different opinions. Remember the element that cannot be diluted? LOVE. That is the element that overlooks all odds and forces us to say sorry, forgive and rekindle relationships.
Like any family, there will be disagreements, but what is most precious with my family is that we know how to forgive and forget. We know how important it is to be honest with each other. We know the values our parents instilled in us. We know that it takes one person to say sorry to open that door of communication again. We know that we all need each other. We know how to share. Most importantly, we know that in times of need, all bets are off and we stand strong with each other. This is why I am very proud of my family in the past, today and years into the future.
Last night I went to one of my brother’s home. He is about 65 years old and he kept saying repeatedly how much he loves us and how much his family means to him. We are not shy to tell each other we love them. This has been a standard behavior since we were kids. As our siblings grew up, got married and have children of their own, these traits carried on to the next generation. Not all of us were lucky to find a spouse with the same ideals, but that did not change us. We are strong and we persevere through anything, together. I can say this without a doubt. Anyone who ever attempts to break this bonded relationship is only making the bond stronger.
The lesson I am walking away with from my family is that it is my responsibility to make amends for me if I want a relationship with my family. I cannot look, point fingers or thinks magically that relationship will always be good and no effort is needed. Effort is needed from everyone, however, I can only make the effort for me and not for others. I will continue to express love and care where I can and expect nothing in return. I will continue to trust and believe in my family above all. I plan to ensure each and every member of my family knows I love them. It is not up to me to make sure they embrace it. I am only responsible for my actions and not the action or inaction of others.
It is a new year and a great time to start over. So, if you have been or currently at odds with any family member, just pick up the phone, send a text, send an email and let them know you love them and want to start over. We can always start over and leave the past in the past. Hug often and say ‘I love you’ even more often.
Happy New Year and may 2016 brings all families closer than ever!