Friday afternoon I received a message from my cousin Jeff that a reunion was to occur this weekend in Arlington, VA with cousins — many of whom I hadn’t seen in 30+ years. I can’t explain how excited I was to see my family who I thought was lost to me! Would this meeting finally assuage my feeling of being adrift in the world, of being alone? I’ve long felt as if I was missing a chunk of my identity. These cousins are a connection to who I am, to my Polish heritage and why I am who I am today. I’d missed the sense of being a part of something larger, a part of a family – my family. It was something I searched for and hoped to create through my facility for creating social communities. All in an attempt to recreate something that resembled a family. Yet something was always been missing; that true sense of belonging because I was blood, because I was someone’s daughter, with shared ancestors and shared memories.
Then the fear merged with the wanting and in most cases with fear, it was my ego doing the talking. Did they even remember me? Would they like me? Would they let me back in the family after so long an absence? I didn’t worry about whether or not I would like them – they were family – of course I would like them. I worried that I might not be enough. Strange that — me worrying about what others thought of me, because for the most part, I don’t worry about such things: either you like me or you don’t. And if you don’t , then that’s your problem, not mine. Thus illustrating how important this reunion was to me – I worried that I might not be liked.
Tim agreed to come with me to meet my family. He’s been my touchstone of what is real and good in my life and I was so pleased that he wanted to be a part of what was about to happen. My cousin and his partner thought it would be fun if I were a surprise guest at the first night’s dinner. To say that I was excited and scared at the prospect of reuniting with them is putting it mildly. Excited, because the memory of them had grown to mythic proportions and I wondered if they would be as grand as I recalled. Scared because my memories of them had grown to such proportions; how could anyone live up to the expectations I had of them?
Excitement won out over the fear, and as I walked into the dining room, I saw a lot of people first look confused and then mouths opening in surprise. Then I was quickly surrounded and hugged to pieces. And yes, I got very choked up. It seems they were as glad to see me as I was them.
I discovered over the course of the weekend that my family had grown and still they had kept the memory of my mom, dad and me alive. I was still and had always been family.
Special thanks to Kevin, who helped to make my dreams come true.