“The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other’s life. Rarely do members of one family grow up under the same roof.”
― Richard Bach, Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah
I sat across the table from my beautiful stepdaughter, Michelle, admiring her strength in the face of loss once thought unimaginable. We whetted our appetite with edame. We sighed over sushi so exquisite you thought it the best of aphrodisiacs. Recently Michelle’s solid footing had been shaken by an unexpected turn in the road. For some time she grabbed on to ledges of hope only to be pulled from her safety net time and time again. She landed. She always does. Stronger than ever, she shows a resilience that will carry her into a new chapter. I am convinced it will be a chapter far more wonderful and deserving of her.
I feel very fortunate to have Michelle in my life. Our visit reminded me that our families are not always designed from blood, but from the outcome of our journeys along roads we had never before considered. Timing is sometimes everything. I never had children. Just didn’t happen. Relationships didn’t work. I could have made a choice for single parenthood but elected not to. My marriage to Jim came later in my life. Having children was simply not an option. Still, the family I carved with him merged with that of my own. Friends too are part of the mix. It makes for interesting and joyful gatherings. Some call them blended families. I just call them our family.
Family and community is an important ingredient to a happy life. Somewhere along the road of regret about the choices I did make, I got to stop and see how lucky I am to have made the choice of the life I have. It gave me my husband, Jim. It gave me Michelle. It gave me the blessing of my parents who still lead active and healthy lives. It gave me Doug and Alex, Kurt and Kris, Rose and Gregg and so many others.
In a healthy garden, there is an underlying eco system that is held together by diversity and balance. It is a community with subtle but very real connections that bring a strong foundation to the outer show. Symmetry can come from unusual or unexpected pairing. It can make for a spectacular landscape. Don’t dismiss the intelligence of that offering. Nurture it. Embrace it. Like our families of whatever design, we are rewarded by what we put into it.