During part of my mini reunion with my sisters this past Thanksgiving, we spent some time watching some old home videos of us when we were kids. What I did expect was a series of bad mushroom haircuts, mismatched outfits, and our young selves talking a whole lot about nothing. What I didn’t expect though, was that I’d start crying watching the videos, unable to quite articulate what the heck was turning up the waterworks.
Now I see the tears resulted from a mix of a few thoughts and emotions—some of it was from wishfulness, wishing we as a family didn’t only get a chance to spend a few days every couple of years together.
Some of it was that I didn’t want just a few days, I wanted more. I wanted the years of memories we couldn’t create–I wanted them at the instrumental occasions and holidays, and I wanted them around on mundane nights for some TV and a cheap dinner. I didn’t just want voicemails and Skype calls, condensed reunions and trips–I wanted it all.
I wish each time we got together, I didn’t have to feel the dreading ache that creeps up of knowing we’d have to part again…that today we are having so much fun, that today we are together, but tomorrow, oh tomorrow, we will all suck it up again and jump back into our respective lives, far away from each other.
Some days, the cost for the cause doesn’t feel worth it. The cost doesn’t seem to make up for the lost Christmases, the non-existent birthdays get togethers, the missing hugs when I was really scared. The me in the video didn’t know how far apart we’d all eventually have to be from each other…and even if she did, she probably wouldn’t believe it then, wouldn’t think it could be possible, that something good could come out of it.
In life we often play the blame game, blaming others for robbing us of joy, of growth, of fulfillment…simply because it’s easier. We blame our past, other people’s choices, failures, to justify our bitterness, our lack of growth and progress, our unwillingness to change. Many days I catch myself wrapped up in the cost, allowing it to infect me with bitterness and self-pity, giving myself permission to wallow in it and rehash all that I’ve missed out on.
But I strongly believe we are given the choice, every day, to either take the cost and forever blame it for all it took away–or take the cost and allow it to give us a cause. A cause to not rob us of a chance to be free, and to be happy. A cause to stop making others pay for the hurts and the losses we may have experienced. A cause to see that those things have happened, but it doesn’t have to trap us in a certain destiny or allow it to solely define us.
So some of those tears from the night of watching those videos, are tears of gratefulness. The videos remind me of my story, of the paths I’ve chosen, of the grace I’ve experienced, of the twists and turns life has brought since the days of those videos. I am reminded of the sisterhood the three of us sisters have built, despite our completely different personalities and paths. I’m grateful for the things I know we understand, of our family’s dynamics and journey, that others simply cannot fully grasp. I’m grateful for parents who exemplify a life of selflessness and generosity, that puts love into action and faith into practice. I’m grateful for the ways we can all still get together, after many years apart, and still be our happy and silly selves like we are in those videos.
I cannot have it all, but I can have something. We can sit and calculate the costs, but it will only distract us from fully recognizing and enjoying the gains–the friends who’ve become like family, the courage and the resilience we’ve built, the people we can pour into from what we’ve learned, and all that have shaped us and weaved our unique story. And all this something, this big beautiful something, is a gain that me in the mushroom haircut could’ve never imagined could blossom from such costs.