img_1104-1It’s been seventeen years since I have seen most of my family. Some, only fifteen and others 20+ years. This weekend I saw almost all of them, for yet another funeral of someone we all love dearly. Although the circumstances of our visit was terribly sad, the visit with all of the family was rejuvenating. When I moved away, it was for peace and rest. I didn’t get as much of it as I had hoped, with one aggravating circumstance after another taking place after moving, but I still got more of it than I had ever had before.

In being so far away from everyone and everything, I forgot what it was like to sit around a table with people who look and act like me, all talking and laughing over each other, sharing an obscene amount of food and intense conversation where the hours passed like seconds. I mean, there was not a single quiet minute of awkward silence to be had. I didn’t want to leave them. I never really forgot how much it was that I loved them all, but I forgot how much they loved me in return. In my seclusion, I forgot what it meant to be part of a big family who loves each other and enjoys each other’s company. Isn’t that life? We get so involved in our own stuff that we forget that we are loved? We start to feel alone and the feeling of no one really caring. Some of us go our whole lives feeling that way, until we are reminded of all of the love we have inadvertently pushed away.

This side of my family is Spanish and my husband is, well… not. I’m sure his mind was going ninety to nothing watching and listening to the tens of loud conversations all going on at the same time around him and thinking about what kind of crazy he had just walked into. At one point I turned to him and said, “Welcome to an ethnic family!” We scream hello at each other, that’s just how we are — Passionate and fiery. Even in our spats with one another they come from a place of love and concern.

As I set out on my road trip back home yesterday, those five hours in the car were reflective. I found myself wanting to move again just to be near all of that love. I walked into my house and although ecstatic to be home, I was sad that those same people that I felt so good around, were not here to greet me with a big hug and a smile. If I could have somehow teleported them all here, I would have. If I could have transported myself back there, I would have done that too.

It’s so easy to lose that connection with people when time and life prevent you from seeing them or when you just don’t make a real effort to actually connect. Point is, we all need that tie to love in our lives. It’s what keeps us looking forward to the days ahead of us and in my opinion — keeps us alive and thriving. We need to feel that love and share it with those who return it in kind. We need to know and truly believe, for more than a fleeting moment, that we are not alone in this world. We need to be able to smile and laugh with someone who shares in our history.

My husband and kids got to meet this motley crew family of mine and felt just as at home as I did and that itself meant even more to me. We had to force ourselves to leave. It felt like that four days just wasn’t long enough to fully absorb all of the love they each gave so generously. Today, my heart is full.