For many years, I completely missed out on knowing family members who were living in the same city as us. It's the worst feeling in the world to have someone else make decisions for you that will impact your life for years to come in such a huge way. Both sides thinking they were doing what's right, but I was the one that got hurt. It was done supposedly for my best to be kept away from certain people, for my own good, protecting me from some super evil villans that were called other family members. I think at my First Communion, one side wouldn't come if the other side was going to, so no side ended up coming. I remember seeing pictures of just myself and my mom and dad and brothers. I never thought much of it, as I loved my family, but just thought I had a super small one with only an aunt and some cousins. But flesh and blood is a pretty strong bond, and if you miss out on even some of it, you can feel that something is just wrong, even if no one wants to talk about it. Sometimes it still makes me mad and gets the best of my feelings, but then as I sit here writing, it reminds me never to get so mad at someone that I don't want them in my life anymore.
One of the happiest days of my life was when I was in Grade 7 and my Nonna (Grandma) and one of my Zias (Aunts) all of a sudden showed up at my classroom door to introduce themselves to me. I was in shock, but all I remember was feeling a sense of awe and belonging and love. Then I met way more aunts and uncles and cousins, that are still such a permanent and awesome part of my life. I started to see lots of family traits that we all shared, which was kinda funny. Thank God that my Nonna came to hunt me down as I had a lot of happy years with her after that. We became close buddies and everyone says that I looked so much like her and that I have some of her creative qualities, like writing.
But it still seemed all too short for me, this slow at first making up for lost time, even though she lived to be just shy of 100. It breaks my heart thinking that there was a big chance that that could have never happened. And for what. Absolutely no good reason. She was a super funny but super tough lady that I admired for letting NO one push her around. She always said what was on her mind, even to the end, I am told. I still laugh when I think of her out of tune loud voice when she would sing her Italian songs at the top of her lungs. Even in the senior's home at the Italian Center in Vancouver, in the main room where everyone sat and had lunch. (Much to the possible annoyance of the staff?) She loved her Italy and her family and she never laughed at me when I tried to talk to her in my broken Italian and I loved her very broken English. I loved the way that she looked at me, like no one else did.
How does relationship damage start? Before you know it so many years go by and nothing gets better if you continue on the same way as things have just always been done. You don't even know why you have trouble getting close to others, because you have missed alot of that closeness yourself and you couldn't even help it. There are new generations that don't even know why the pattern continues and they don't even know relatives that they would get along with amazingly good. It's like a special closeness that many people miss, but no one is even able to put a finger on it or see clearly to do anything about it. Or know where to start, for that matter. It's like people missing in your life, like a death in the family that not many people talk about.
Too often we really don't look at our adult selves and how we are such a part of our younger self. Good or bad (which we can change, by the way.) Our environment, our family, our genes, our friends, every experience or thought or feeling that we have ever had in our whole entire life makes us who we are today. You can't run from it anymore than you can run from the rain in Vancouver. Sometimes the people closest to us that we love can hurt us more than complete strangers. Why is that? Shouldn't they be the ones always ready to defend us and the ones that we never ever want to hurt us. Of all people, they should know best what hurts us and therefore never ever do it. But it happens. Its inevitable.
It hurts my heart to think about wasted years and wasted relationships. I have had more than enough of that. Who cares who said what, who did what, who hurt who. In the end no one at all wins and everyone looses. Family is a treasure, even if it comes in the form of replacements like super close friends or adopted family that becomes even closer than a birth family. Family doesn't mean that we are always going to get along and like everybody and want to spend time with everyone just because we are related in name. But family is indeed a bond that is like no other. There is love that runs in the veins from start to finish and beyond. No matter what, you cannot replace the void that family leaves, as it will always be part of who you are. Think of all the memories that you will always keep close in your heart. I guess I have to constantly remind myself of that instead of any wasted years.