Most of my childhood memories are filled to overflowing with times spent with my enormous family. I only have one brother and one sister, but I have more than a few aunts and uncles and ten times as many cousins. Believe it or not, we all interacted and enriched each others lives as if we were all in one small household. Every holiday celebrated together at my Mamaw&Papaw's house. Countless sleep-overs camping out, making blanket forts in the living room, playing sports, Christmas mornings opening presents together, Christmas mornings at 4am drawing straws to see who would be chosen to "wake a grown-up", playing "Pink Ladies & T-Birds", building secret clubhouses out of cardboard, hiking as top-secret explorers in the woods, and so many more things I don't have room to list.
My Aunts and Uncles were really secondary parents and my cousins were really just more brothers and sisters. No matter how much time has passed or how little we get to talk or visit now as adults, I still love them all just as much. They know me because they were all a part of making me who I am today.
It doesn't matter how much time goes by because our hearts stay the same. Whenever we are together, our love for one another shines bright. We share in each other's joys and pain and are always there no matter how large and scary the world might become. We don't expect more from each other than each is capable to give. We just love each other. It's always been that way in my family. Even with tempers flaring occasionally and trust me everyone in my family can list the "hot-tempered" ones, the love is still there.
I miss those days of carefree laughter with my best friends aka cousins...aka my brothers and sisters. My heart hurts more than I can bear to know there is one less of us. I've never been one to over-share and I'm not a fan of a lot of attention. I usually keep silent on the difficult things I go through. I just wanted to remind you all to love your families with all you've got for as long as you're able. It will be the most important and rewarding thing you will ever do. It has been and continues to be for me.