I have been thinking about my family a lot lately. A twinge of pain feels my heart every time. Sometimes, I manage a few tears because am not able to see them and do family things as often as I would like. The occasional visits, exchange of letters, gifts and calls are sweet but I miss them nonetheless. It breaks my heart.
I miss my nephews and nieces terribly. I wish I could spend more time with them; eat ice cream, go fishing in the village pond, cycle to the woods and pick wild fruits. I wish I could tell them stories of old and new, listen and watch their eyes dilate as they tell me of their escapades. Aren’t these what an auntie does with her nieces and nephews?
I wish I would be there for my sister when her daughter, Hannah is not well and they have to spend a few nights in the hospital. I wish I would be there for my brothers and their families. Most certainly, I wish I would see mama more often. More so as she grows older and her memory diminishes. Name it, I wish I would be there.
So maybe you are in the same situation. You live in a city, country, or even continent away from your family. Families are separated for various reasons; work, insecurities, war, the search for greener pastures or even finding one’s self-for those that have the luxury to do so. I sincerely empathize with those that have no family at all.
Family visits are costly and often don’t last long enough. For most, they happen only once a year. For some, visas are prohibitive and travel costs are rather high, making visits impossible even.
Maybe like me, you have moments when you miss your family, so bad it tears your heart into pieces.
It is in these moments that am reminded that we can choose to make home away from home, and family away from family because our need for connection and humanity remains and travels with us wherever we go.
I invite you to take those moments of loneliness as opportunities to reach in and out. Look in your neighbourhood; there is probably a little girl who would benefit from having an auntie. A teenage boy who would value the closeness of a male role model or a few football sessions. A struggling woman who just needs the closeness of a sister or a mother. A little child who would value the stories of a grandmother. And yes, there is a macho tough guy who wishes his brother were around; to give him a pat on the should, to believe in him and to assure him that everything is going to be okay. There is a neighbour who lives by himself and would most certainly value a knock on the door or an invite to lunch.
One would argue, that we live in a more dangerous world. A world where paedophiles, rapists, racists and other bad people freely roam the earth. A world where you cannot trust anyone. Afterall there is data to prove this. I agree. However, I still believe and know that there are good people as well. There is data to prove this too. We just have to look around.
In small ways, there are opportunities all around us. The best relations, are those where we invest; where we take and where we give. I invite you to look within; do you need to accept the generosity of a friendship or merely ask for help? Sometimes, that is all it takes to start something special.
During my sojourns, I have met people who have blessed me in ways I never thought possible. People who chose to invest time in me and whose kindness I have but tried to reciprocate in my own small ways. In so doing, we have grown close-as close as blood family or even closer. They are not just friends. I call them famfriends. I call them family because English fails me (if there is a better word, please help me). So let’s break the rules here too, let’s call them family. Am sure I can be forgiven, after all English is my sixth language. Wink.
The question is, why should we even try? Why should we invest time in relations with strangers? There are many reasons. In my next article, I will share four key reasons that are close to my heart. In the meantime, it will be great to hear of any experiences.