“You must remember, family is often born of blood, but it doesn’t depend on blood. Nor is it exclusive of friendship. Family members can be your best friends, you know. And best friends, whether or not they are related to you, can be your family.” Nicholas Benedict, The Mysterious Benedict Society, pg. 257
I love my family. There are lots of family members nearby, since I grew up in the town in which we currently live. When I talk about my family to others, I’m talking about Jim and Eriana. When I talk about family to Jim, I’m talking about my side of our extended family.
But when I think about who my family is, they aren’t necessarily the people related to me, by blood, adoption, or marriage. They are the people that hold me up when I’m falling, those who make me laugh till I cry. They are those who think I’m a good person, even when they’ve seen the sides of me that aren’t that great. They are people who disagree with me on political issues but still love me and call me “Friend.” They are those who give me advice, who send me gifts just because or to help me through a crappy day. They are those with whom I exchange Christmas cards, despite only having met them in person once or twice. They are those with whom I can text about hemorrhoids even though I’ve NEVER met them in person. They are those who hug me like a sister when I finally do get to see them in 3D. They are those with whom I can Skype without having ever heard their voices. The ones who I can give presents to without feeling weird or awkward. The ones who I can talk to, and talk to, and talk to, for hours.
My little family, Jim and Eriana and our pets, are the most important things in my life. They are my heart, my soul, my reason for getting up on dark days.
But my extended family consists of more than my parents or siblings, more than my grandparents or aunts and uncles. My extended family are my beloved friends. They are the group of people from elementary, middle, or high school that I spend time with and talk to regularly, one-on-one or in small groups, and who have known me forever and still like me. They are the group of people with whom I worked in Japan who put up with work Tara and still wanted to spend time with down time Tara. They are the people who befriended us at military bases that we still talk to or want to see. They are the new friends I’ve made over the years that keep me sane when my life begins to spiral, and the friends I’ve known for awhile with whom I’ve rekindled a friendship and cherish beyond measure. They are the group girls from my church that I go out with occasionally and who offer me love, support, laughter, sarcasm, and delicious drinks. They are the gathering of awesome ladies I met online with whom I communicate daily and see once or twice a year (if that) and who keep me afloat when things aren’t going well. They are the ones who open up their homes to me or visit mine, share hotel rooms with me without knowing that I snore before we make plans. There are so many ladies I’ve met that I consider my family. And I hope I am a sort of family to them as well.
Mom, seriously? You’re so cheesy.