Two Families · 15 January 2011

Everybody has two families, the one you do not choose and the one you choose. The family you were born into and the family that you make up with friends, co-workers, or whatever motley crew you choose to hang out with. I have been fortunate to be blessed with two great families.

My parents and three siblings, two brothers and a sister, remain close even though we are separated by distance and do not see each other as often as we would like. As we were growing up, we spent lots of time with our grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins too. Now, everybody is spread throughout the country and even other parts of the world, but we all still like to see each other or at least catch up online. I suppose that if we were all in one central location, we would spend more time with each other. Family dinners and such would be the norm rather than the exception of just getting together at special occasions and family reunions.

I guess that is why we all have second families. When we are all so spread out from each other, we find other people who we can see face-to-face on a regular basis. And while Facebook and other online friends are great, we all still need to see each other in person to spend time together. We need to be with one other.

Our chosen family is mostly a bunch of people from church who we spend time with on almost a weekly basis. We see each other at church and also get together to study and just be social. We have gone on special outings together and have eaten many meals together either celebrating special occasions or just eating. Where some people have their scrapbooking group or bridge club, we have our small group and others who have become our family.

One of the hardest parts of having any family is saying goodbye. My brother cries every time he says goodbye after an extended visit. It is no secret that he loves his family members and wants to be with them as much as possible. We do not often get to see each other because of distance, so when we say goodbye after spending time together, he cries. Which, of course, makes everybody else cry.

I am sure that there will be tears when a member of our second family moves away. Our neighbors and friends are moving to another state and we will not get to see them every day like we do now. We will not be able to just bop over to have an impromptu dinner or dessert. We will not be able to celebrate the latest accomplishment of our young protégé roper or mechanical bull rider. We will not be able to sing happy birthday to each other’s kids. We will not be able to lend or be lent a shoulder to cry on when times are tough. Life will be different without Larry and Kathy. It will be strange having to let them go out of our day to day life.

It is a strange thing having to let go of people. We have had to let go of our oldest son to leave for college. We have had to let go of loved ones who have passed away. We have to let go of friends and family who move away. It always leaves an empty place when people leave whether it be for a short time or forever. I guess that is why we cry when we say goodbye. Especially, when it is to a family member.

Fortunately, when I need to say goodbye to my family members, I am comforted by words from an old Michael W. Smith song called Friends:

       “Though it’s hard to let you go, in the Father’s hands we know,
       That a lifetime’s not too long, to live as friends.”

In our house, whenever we say goodbye to our family, we give them up to God’s hands whether we say so or not. The words from the song remind me of that thought and comfort me when I give my last hugs and kisses goodbye.

I am thankful for all my friends and family. They have given me more than just memories. They have given me life. They have given me love. And when all is said and done, I am glad that a lifetime is truly not too long to live as friends. Or family. And it is okay to cry whenever we say goodbye. To members of either family.

© 2011 Michael T. Miyoshi

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