About two weeks ago now I swallowed my anxiety and fear and drove downstate to my youngest cousin’s wedding.  Setting aside my personal issues of road trips by myself when I’ve no idea where anything is, my biggest fear was this…. I hadn’t seen anyone in about 25 years.  We had kept in touch via e-mail, Facebook, phone calls and a few Skype sessions.  I have been invited to almost all of my cousins weddings but had been unable to go.  When Grandma died last summer I had planned to go down but the day before got stung by a wasp and had an allergic reaction.  I promised come hell or high water I would be down for this wedding.

   But what would I meet down there?  I felt guilty for missing so much.  As my excuses seemed so flimsy (couldn’t I have found someone to drive me if I was unable?) I worried that they would think so too.  Did they resent me not coming down more?  Did they think I had made up bullshit excuses because I didn’t want to see them?

   A few of us had started talking about getting tattoos together when we met for the wedding.  Something to represent our family and what we mean to one another.  After a few days we decided on what you see in the photo.  The only difference between them is placement and the color in the hearts.  I got mine (at the suggestion of my awesome husband) just above my heart, because that’s where I keep my family.

   I am happy to say the day was way more than I had hoped.  I was welcomed with open arms (I dubbed myself the long lost cousin).  It was amazing!  It was like I had never left.  Even family I hadn’t seen since they were toddlers welcomed me back with open arms.  Literally.  I can’t tell you how many hugs I got.  Even from family I was only related to by marriage who remembered me!

   I got to spend time with family I loved dearly.  Family I honestly didn’t know if I’d be able to see.  It was awesome to see how really no one had changed.  They just got better!  Spending time with them not only brought memories back in a flood but the love I’d unknowingly stashed over all these years.

   So don’t ever think you don’t belong.  Family is there for you no matter what.  It doesn’t matter if you are blood related or not.  Family is family.  Love is love.  That love never dies.  No matter how many years might pass.