Chosen Family

Photograph of a group of people

I have been thinking a lot about chosen family.

Today, I saw dear friends who we co-owned a triplex with before we moved to Southern California. The time when we all lived together (they lived on the top floor and we lived on the bottom floor of a shared larger home and then we had a third unit on our property which we rented out) was a time of much change and growth and struggle. It was the house where we established a family after many years in which I felt alone. It was the home we lived in after we got married. It was the home my older daughters first visited with us and to which I brought my son home. It was the home where our dog became part of our family.

It was also the home where I felt the lowest in my life, where I sat on the sidewalk outside, sobbing in desperation and what I thought could never be better.

We are in different places now, just over 10 years later, both physically and emotionally, but these friends remain family in my heart, always. Family are not the people you necessarily see each day, but the people that you can quickly find home with again.

I have been thinking a lot about chosen family.

I used to be deeply saddened on Thanksgiving because it’s always close to my mother’s birthday and it used to be such a big celebration in my family of origin (or at least, bigger than most holidays). This sadness was compounded by the fact that we generally celebrated with my husband’s family which made me feel acutely separated from my own experiences growing up (despite my deep love for his family).

This year, our first Thanksgiving meal was with my in-laws, but my second and third were with friends who have become family, and family that I have found from half a world away (namely, my sister). These people, and so many others who reached out via text and messages and calls yesterday, remind me that I am deeply loved. That I am chosen, as much as I have chosen them.

This, of course, doesn’t replace my mother’s presence, or fill the hole in my heart that has been left by her absence, but it brings me a measure of peace that wasn’t a part of my life for so long.

I am grateful for that peace, and for the ability to breathe it in, and hold it close to my heart, where there used to be only loneliness.

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