Shifting Definition

I was blessed with a large extended family as a child. I was one of 13 grandchildren on one side and 11 on the other side. Holidays were loud and fun. I was especially close to my mom’s two sisters. My mom and I are especially close but I also knew that I could go to my aunts for anything. Before COVID-19 restrictions, I enjoyed regular gatherings at a coffee shop with my mom, one surviving aunt, and several cousins. While we cannot gather now, we do porch visits and frequently communicate with each other.

I am also blessed with some exceptional friends. There are three that I message every day, multiple times. They are the ones I can reach in the middle of the night. They know how much I love them They are my people. They are my family, too.

The concept of family has changed since I was a child. People are less likely to live close to extended family. Families are smaller. This has resulted in a different definition of family for my kids than I had. This is one of my fears with my diagnosis. They don’t have the buffer of extended family. They do, however, have an exceptional dad who will do anything for them and will do his very best to be all the family they need. They have my mom, who has an amazingly close relationship with each of them.

People often ask me what they can do for me now as I face cancer. The best thing anyone can do to help me is to act as family to my kids. I am positive it is much easier for me to have terminal cancer than it is for my kids to deal with their mom having terminal cancer. Just as my best friends are my family, I want my kids to find people who will be their family, their go-to people, their support network.

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