“Family is hard hard hard. But not cousins.”  Anne Lamott

I don’t have many friends.  I have 3 real true friends, my best friends.  One of them happens to be my cousin.  She was my first Valentine, spending Valentine’s Day together for so many years, watching movies or driving aimlessly wasting gas and killing brain cells sniffing car exhaust, eating Cherry Garcia. I forget to call her.  I want to call her, many moments of nearly every day.  But I don’t. We don’t communicate as often as we should, we know how much we both want to… but kids, and life, and phone anxiety. So it doesn’t matter that we don’t. We share life’s joys and sorrows from afar, catching up when we are together ignoring our brood of children over coffee at the kitchen table, staying up way too late to function normally the next day, unable to pull ourselves away from our conversation.  She gets me.  I understand her.  We are so much alike, and unendingly different. We know all of each other’s shit, and none of it matters.  Because, family, it is hard.  So so hard, but never cousins. 

Cousins are family, but the ones that you turn to when the rest of the family begins to fall apart.

You know all the icky hard complicated details of each other lives, the parts you hide from mere acquaintances, the other moms at school, the church ladies, the friends you’ve made at work.  They don’t know your deep dark family secrets, they don’t even know that you avoided that arrest in high school by the skin of your teeth. But your cousins, they know.  They know everything about you, and they love you still.  

Cousins will always be on your side.  They will always be cheering you on.  They will always be praying for you.  

When you are leaving rehab, again. When everyone else feels over it all, you know who will be there?  Your cousins.  When you get the call, cancer, for your mom, for your friend, for yourself… you know who will drive you, who will send care packages, who will research the best damn medical marijuana around… your cousins.   

And when you fall.  When you hit the bottom. When all you can see is darkness, and all you feel is despair, you know who will hold your hand, pull you out of the muck?  Your cousins. 

Matching 4th July outfits. Christmas nights whispering and dreaming and excitement overflowing.  Summers at the pool.  Learning hard life lessons, finding out who you are, becoming who you are meant to be.  Life’s greatest sorrows, the death of your grandpa, your parents divorce, your own divorce, the baby you loved so much who never took a breathe.  And all of life’s joys.  Your graduation, your wedding, that first baby who did take a breathe.  

Your cousins were there, they were feeling it too, the tears, the laughs, the living of life.

I never feel more like myself then when I am with my cousins.  They know me, they love me, they never judge me. I want to hold them all close, live in the same town, have our kids be best friends.   

And that is why I am so glad my boys have cousins.  To live with, to laugh with, to learn with, to cry with.  To share life with, for better or worse, with all the crazy shit life throws their way, to have someone on their side forever.  To help them find themselves, and lead them in the (sometimes wrong, but mostly right) direction they should go.  To cherish.  To Love.  

Those relationships, these friendships, this family.  Cousins… They are sacred.  Holy.  I believe it. 

Because Family is hard hard hard, but not cousins.  Never cousins.    


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