I think Richard Bach was on to something. That phrase has stayed in my head for years. Other than my immediate family, my mother and my brother, I've never felt a connection to my family. My aunts, uncles and cousins don't know me. And I'm fine with that.
I moved to Maryland to work for a well known sign language interpreting agency. When I had my interview I was told it was a "family" atmosphere. Doesn't every office say that? They were right, which I didn't realize for many years.
Last night I went out with a group of former co-workers. I've known most since 1993, some since 1996. These are the people who went through my dating trials and tribulations, my wedding, the birth of my children and later my divorce. These are the folks who would show up at my house with McDonald's and be willing to hold a baby so I could take a shower (kids with reflux get cranky when they lay down). These are the folks who kept me grounded when I didn't think I could be and always made me feel welcome. These are the folks who would make me nuts at times yet always be there for me. They were my family.
We've gone through so much together - births, divorces, new jobs, deaths - all the things families do. Sometimes we don't see each other for years. But we can always pick right back up from where we left things. I think some of them don't realize how much of an impact they've made on my life. One person in particular stands out for me. She made me nuts when I worked there. I was always kind of scared of her. But when I had a child and would get so frustrated at my husband for doing things "wrong" (read: differently than how I did them), she would tell me "Mommies and Daddies do things differently and it's okay." I would say that over and over in my head until I finally believed it. She was also the first person to tell me that I really would live when my kids were with their dad - I'd never been apart from them for more than a day or two before that. Now they stay with him for a week. That was an adjustment. But she was right. Another is my work twin (we started on the same day). Nothing significant happens in my life without him knowing it, though we may only see each other once every few months. I hope these people know how much I value them.
We all left that company at some point. It was kind of like leaving the nest. But we all stay connected. And thanks to modern technology, Facebook, we're all in touch more than ever. Getting together is like going home. And homecomings are always sweet.