Letters: My Cousins

To say we are a dysfunctional family, would be an incredibly gross understatement.  It’s something you can never really explain to someone; I know I couldn’t explain it to Vic.

I craved closeness growing up.  As the only, only child I would hope and pray for a sibling.  Sadly though, it wasn’t in the cards for my parents.  I struggled to understand the dynamic of this family as a child.  There are so many of us, and no one really kept in close contact, all growing up apart – even though close in age.  My mom had photos of you all, and I was always aware of everyone – yet had no idea why things were the way they were.

On the rare opportunities I did get to see you, as we grew up – I loved it – regardless of the circumstances.  I fell in love with who you were, wanting to know everything about you.  Then, when the occasion past, I would hold tight to that, like I was finally starting to piece together my family – visions of a personality to match the photo.

Through the years, I started hearing stories of why this one didn’t talk to that one (my father held firm that opinions would be kept to oneself when I was small as it had nothing to do with me) – and I remember distinctly sitting in my room thinking how absolutely sad it was that an entire family was torn apart because of sibling bickering and bitchiness.  It made me incredibly sad that due to our parents childhood crap, we would never really know each other.

Then I met Vic and his family was straight from Leave it to Beaver.  I thought they were the minority; an oddity.  I was thrust upon them at Keith’s wedding.  Vic was in the hot seat as Best Man and I was alone in the sea of unknown family members – who made me feel like I had known them my entire life.  I remember thinking it was just the wedding atmosphere and things weren’t normally like this.  But oh it was.  I would run into his family members while shopping or running errands (with or without Vic) and I would enveloped in huge hugs, and we would stand and play catch up.  There were weekly card games, annual parties and get togethers and most everyone went (baring no work commitments).  Open invitations were issued, and no strings were attached.  Everyone, cousins included, were always welcoming and included all newbies, myself and all those that came after, with open arms.  Doors remained open and random visits were actually a thing.

I had found what I had always been looking for.

But it made me even more sad that my own family was so torn.  I had so many incredible cousins who I missed out on knowing due to circumstances that had nothing to do with us.  As a young adult I struggled with a way to reach out, but it was awkward.  It’s not like I could’ve simply looked and said, “Hey!  How have you been for the last 20 years?!”  Wouldn’t it be nice if we could?!

Instead I held tight to the childhood memories we were lucky enough to create and wished you all the best.

Facebook allows a certain level of connection, but most days just serves to emphasize the gap between us all.  I see your children grow, and smile.  Hoping they grow up ignorant to what could’ve been.  Hoping you all decide not to continue the cycle.  Children tend to be the extension of whatever is happening with their parents, we serve as proof of that.

So know, that although we may not talk everyday, not even close, I love you and wish you the healthiest and happiest life imaginable.  Know that, for so many years, I wished it were different.  I don’t hang on to the old rifts that shouldn’t have touched us, but simply don’t know how to change a lifetime of separation.

-T-

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Hi! I'm a professional portrait photographer and lifestyle blogger from a small little city on the east coast of Canada.

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