I grew up thinking our family was normal. We loved each other even if we fought every day. We had family mealtimes daily. We went to church 2-3 times per week. We carried on with life, slowly building a bond with each other that grew stronger over time.
The brothers and sisters that I fought with have become some of my best friends. My parents became smart as soon as I turned 22, and we share pleasant times now.
Only as a teenager did I start seeing that bond our family has, which I thought was normal for all families, isn't so common.
I shared an apartment with two of my sisters, at different times, as a young adult. Those times knit us even closer together. I cried like a baby when one sister had to move to Purdue. I missed her company immensely, calling her often to share life with her.
We all can quote the same movie lines; we burst into the same songs from musicals. (I'm seeing my kids, in my mind's eye, saying "Moooooooom!" with 8 different vowel sounds punctuating the word, accented by an eye roll.)
As we all grieve the loss of our brother, our bonds grow stronger still. I hate leaving the company of my family.
Quality time is one of my primary love languages. This week with my family has been a source of courage, refreshment, and enjoyment for me.
I'm pleased, too, to see the tender hearts my children have toward my parents in their grief.
It's too bad we don't see each other more often. Funerals and weddings are a given. Plus, we do have a family reunion in the summer, and another gathering at Thanksgiving. Otherwise, unless there is a planned event or some of us just get together informally, we keep in constant touch on the phone. It's so much better than nothing.
When I'm stressed out, in foul spirits, or overwhelmed, just hearing the voice of one of my sisters or my mom will iron out the rocky emotions. Grandma has the same effect with me as well.
I hope any readers who don't have a close-knit family can form relationships with other friends and experience this same bond that guides, supports, and enables me to weather life's storms; and all this with the help of God, who is the ultimate friend who will never leave us or forsake us.