I’ve kept in touch with several friends over the years but family contact was much more challenging. Through some cosmic miracle I usually hear from friends right at the moment when I need to, but not so much with family. Till about ten years ago. I specifically reached out to cousins I hadn’t seen in years and, sadly, family funerals and Hurricane Katrina helped unite us more. Actually, that could be considered the positive side to those tragedies.

Now because of my persistence and digital communication like email, texting and Facebook, I often hear from family right when I need to. I was missing family contact this week when out of the blue I received a text from my sister reminding me she was vacationing in Alaska. I didn’t remember she was going to do that, so I’m glad she reminded me. I’m also happy she has friends to share travel with.

Then today I got a Facebook message from a cousin who lives near Seattle who happens to be here this week. Dinner one night? Definitely! Her brother is the retired doctor who gave me some second opinions during my recent medical situation and I saw him recently when he too was in town. They both grew up around here and still have ties to the area. They are the only cousins of my generation who never lived in Louisiana.

Family is very important to me and I am so happy I have been able to reconnect with my cousins. I’ll take most of the blame for losing contact to begin with after I moved away and I’ll take my share of the credit for getting back into their circle. In some ways it’s like we never broke the circle. Many of them were at both of my parent’s funerals, many helped after Katrina (their homes had much less damage than my sister’s did) and most said yes to invitations to what is becoming an annual cousin holiday reunion coinciding with my road trips there. We catch up on childhood memories and share stories about our parents, tales which are often brand new to us. We email family news and holiday greetings. Sure, every family does things like this but it is sort of new territory for me. Very appreciated too.

I consider many of my friends to be family but there is something extra special about blood relation. Maybe it’s my Italian heritage. Maybe it’s just something very normal that I lost sight of for a big chunk of my life. Whatever the reason, I cherish my friends family and my blood family. I am lucky to have them all.