Sunday, August 19, 2012

“Not at all: They’re Family.”

We were feeling good! In fact, we were somewhat giddy. We had just returned from picking up our daughter from her week-long visit with Granny & Pawpaw in Northeast Texas. And at the same time, we were expecting the homecoming of a very dear friend that had been working in New York for the past three months. Alex asked if it wasn’t kinda silly to be so excited to have them back home. I said, “Not at all. They’re family.”

That phrase stuck in my head and got me to thinking.
I know – dangerous, right?

Well, the funny thing is that when I look back on our life together, I would have never pictured Alex and me to be where we are now. Oh, we’ve had our shares of ups and downs. There have been times, scary times, when it felt like the only thing holding us together was a worn out piece of string. Yet here we are, together still, nineteen years and counting.

How did we do it? Well, I could say it was purely devotion, discipline or true love. I could even say stupidity and I wouldn’t be half lying. After all, love does have a silly way of making us all a little stupid. But, of all things I could credit, I would have to say our longevity as a couple was a group effort. We didn’t do it alone. Now, more than ever, I am firmly convinced that there isn’t a single, long-term couple on this planet that has accomplished this feat – alone.

No. Family, friends and the friends who have become our “chosen family” invested their time and love into us, too. For them I am grateful. When our hearts were broken, they were there to help reassemble the pieces. At the times when ends were hard to meet, they gave without hesitation. Encouragement, advice, sometimes nothing more than a sympathetic ear but whatever was needed they provided it freely. They invested themselves in us. Can you identify with this?

Alex and I realize that our family is not normal in the traditional sense; traditional meaning husband + wife + offspring... Yet, our little family doesn’t lack for love, or purpose, or meaning.

I would even argue that perhaps our little family has those things in greater abundance than most of the so called “traditional” ones. Why? Because ultimately, family is more than whom you are genetically linked to. It’s more than what the legal definition of “family” is. It’s a commitment, an investment of love in the people you value as a significant part of your life. And the number of those people vested in our little "non-traditional family" is large, to say the least.

So, as I close, my challenge to you is this: take some time to honestly reflect on the non-traditional family members that have invested in your life. And don’t forget to thank them! Alex, Lexi and I are blessed, grateful and proud to have such family members. And you should be, too.

As always – Enjoy Your Life,

John Aaron Villarreal

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