This isn’t a typical travel post, even though it did involve going on a trip and meeting many new people. But it is certainly one that is near and dear to me.
I often don’t and can’t express what family can mean to me. And I don’t want to take it for granted, for as long as I can manage not to.
I would see it at the homes of my friends, family friends, stories from people about their Christmas gatherings. Their weekend stories. “No I can’t do anything this weekend, my cousins are over.” Even visiting a particular, and very good, friend of mine back when we lived in the same apartment building. I would be over at his place with my brother, and his cousins would often be there as well. Four of them. They were his family. He had family.
Growing up in Canada, we just never had close relatives that lived around us. When we lived in Windsor, our closest relatives lived in Detroit. What could have been a 35min trip was a hectic border crossing to get into another country for a visit that happened too far and in between.
Family friend’s parties were always nice and of course you make friends with your friend’s cousins as well. But there has always been that missing element. When you belong to your own people? That didn’t exist in my life. Not until maybe some years ago.
My cousins slowly started coming to Canada. One by one, literally, they were coming here to study or to find work or to visit the growing family for extended stays. I probably missed out on about a years worth of bonding due to my own issues but the change in the family environment was everything that I was looking for where I live.
Fast forward to a major event in my cousin’s life and consequently mine; her wedding. It would be the first time that I would get to attend a family wedding in Canada. And the first one that I wouldn’t be a kid running around (but how fun was that?!) and remembering only flashes of it.
The event became so special to me in July of 2015 that I started making purchases that I otherwise wouldn’t have. An excuse really, to have things that I’ve thought about buying for some time. Another’s life event became a very special one for me.
The joy and closeness that it brought within the family was unlike what I had experienced before. Everyone was organizing, prepping, talking about it. And together. The atmosphere at every family gathering had a theme to it; togetherness.
After several family meetings and hassle, several rides were organized to get about 26 people from Mississauga, Ontario to Rochester Hills, Michigan. Almost every car was going to be packed along with luggage, crossing the border with several people that would be crossing for the first time. My cousin and I (with some encouragement) decided to get a rental to have the comfort of space and time. And it allowed us to have discussions that weren’t meant to be had in the open or around the many children that we would be surrounded by for the next few days.
I was excited for so many reasons – the new suit I would get to wear, the people I would get to see who I don’t see often, the kids, taking pictures, the road trip. It was only going to be for the weekend, but I felt like I was going in to vacation mode.
The wedding itself was an unbelievable memory. The bride looked stunning. The groom, dashing. The couple, beautiful. The storm of selfies and portraits that surrounded the event were terrific and an incredibly great time. I still think about the food, especially the dessert. The mood was so relaxed (although, I’m not speaking for the bride) that everyone was able to mingle and interact. Throughout all the happiness, a certain sadness existed knowing that I would part ways from so much of the family I met after so long, not knowing when I’d see them again.
But when two of the warmest and kindest people you get to know are brought together in holy matrimony (god, I love using that phrase), it is bound to be nothing less than the next step above special.
It was a summer long awaited for and one of the most beautiful I’d ever been a part of.