Every now and then, I experience something that causes a fundamental shift in my perspective. This weekend—the weekend when my big brother married a truly beautiful woman—has been one of those times.
My family is geographically separated. Our immediate family is spread out between four U.S. states and three time zones, and if you could my aunts, uncles, and cousins, we’re spread out over six states. We’re not together often, so when we are, the memories we make are that much more special.
I try to keep gratitude in my heart every day, but like anyone else, I know there are days when I’m a little too entitled, taking my life and my loved ones for granted. If I tried to tell you otherwise, it would be inauthentic.
I am, however, blessed by the experiences—good and bad—that have shaped me. I’m lucky to have some of the most generous parents I know, and to have aunts and uncles who share stories of the grandpa who died when I was just old enough to have a few memories of him.
I’m lucky that I grew up with a big brother who shot me with a BB gun and hid my stuffed animals and practiced his wrestling moves on me. I’m also lucky that he looked out for me and helped me—and that I knew, without a doubt, that he would always, always be there for me.
And my daughter! She is a gift. She’s a healthy baby who brings joy to the people around her. She’s the beginning of a new generation, and as is goes with new beginnings, she represents hope. Another new beginning—my brother’s wedding—happened this weekend, and with it also came hope and joy.
Change is an inevitable part of new beginnings. Family grows older and health issues become more serious concerns. Mothers who nursed their baby girls forty years ago find themselves as the caregivers for those same daughters as disease wrecks them as adults. Age takes its toll on the mind, the heart, the lungs…and the future suddenly looks short compared to the years already behind us. That realization makes the moments I have together with my family seem that much more fleeting.
I am blessed. I am lucky. I am happy. This weekend—this celebration, this hard work (mostly by my brother and his new wife), this time together with family—has been a reminder that none of us is entitled to anything we have. I’m not entitled to people who love me or to a family who tells stories of my grandpa, or to the good health to sit through a wedding and a reception without feeling weak and tired. I’m not entitled to healthy baby girl or a husband who respects and loves me. I don’t “deserve” any of this—I’m not entitled to anything at all.
Instead, I am lucky: lucky to have my family, lucky to have so many shared memories with them, lucky to experience moments like those we captured this weekend, and lucky to have the new hope for the future brought by babies and marriages and time together with the people I love. I’m thankful to my parents, my brother, and my husband for bringing us together to celebrate—and look to the future—together as a family.
This post is dedicated to my mom and dad, who went out of their way to help our family be together this weekend. Thank you. I love you.