They say you don't get to pick your family. I suppose that's literally true, but it has not been my experience.
We are lucky enough to have a big extended family... the kind of family we have picked, or more accurately... who have picked us. They are some incredible people and I am so grateful for them.
We took a little trip in the week between Christmas and New Year's to visit a few families we know through VMI soccer. We had a great time, and everyone was incredibly welcoming. These aren't people we see or talk to that often, but that didn't seem to matter at all. At every stop of the trip, we couldn't wait to get there, and then were reluctant to leave.
More than once recently, I have had a period of feeling alone and lonely. Just as I have been sliding into that feeling, my extended family has magically appeared... so randomly that it hardly seems possible. I was at a gas station two hours away and feeling dreadful, and then three of my favorite people showed up. It was odd, but the timing was incredibly fortunate. The universe reached out to prop me up.
Before ALS entered our lives, Tony and I were mainly home bodies. We didn't go out much because we were happiest in the little world we had made together. But as Maria von Trapp said, "when God closes a door, somewhere he opens a window." Our little world got a lot smaller when Tony left, but our extended family had grown so much.
My point is here somewhere...
When we got home from our trip last week, I was feeling very down. One of those unexplained mood swings that I just couldn't figure out. Two days later, I got an email from one of the families we had just visited. They wrote, "You make Coach Tony so proud of how you are raising such beautiful, loving and well adjusted young ladies!" Again, the timing was impeccable and the words meant the world.
To our extended family: thank you so much for picking us, thanks for always being so welcoming, and thanks for propping me up when I need it most.
To our flesh and blood family: I hope you know that the only way I could explain how important you are is with a large amount of alcohol, and an equally large amount of tissues.
I love you all. Thank you.