Sometimes you just need to put yourself out there to remember what love and connections are there for you. Sustained. My cousins hold as much affection for me and our shared memories as I have for them. This side of the family, my father's side, is marked by constancy and a gentle spirit of acceptance, combined with a lightening quick sense of humor, side-splitting but somehow never mean. At the repast, there were deep rocking laughs as the older cousins regaled the younger ones with stories of the mischief we got up to as children. They laughed along with us, indulging us. There is a whole generation of offspring my children's age that I was meeting for the first time. I felt an ache as I sat in the pew behind Uncle Roy's nine grandchildren, all such physically beautiful young people clearly devoted to family. I wished my own children could have lived nearer to them, and been a part of the closely connected crew. I was sorry I had missed their entire growing up, that I had stayed away so long. But as we introduced the cousins from abroad to the cousins from home, it was clear to us that they embraced one another at once. Oh, we laughed and laughed.
Later that night, as we climbed the stairs of my brother's house after the day-long celebration of my uncle's life, my daughter said, "How did I get so lucky as to be born into this family?" I felt it too.