Sitting at my aunt’s dining room table, enjoying the company of family and good food, we were suddenly jolted from our adult conversation by shrieks and squeals coming from above. Five little second cousins, and one baby cousin who was trying to take a power nap, were getting their wild things on. We heard a lot of giggling, a few thuds here and there, and several unidentified sounds. The baby’s mom came to his rescue and reported to the rest of us what she witnessed amongst the chaos. There was one little girl cousin puckering up her lips, one little boy cousin awaiting his doom, while three little girl cousins jumped wildly on an air mattress chanting, “On the lips! On the lips!” Before Sydney could plant a nice, big smooch on her poor cousin James’ cheek, the grown ups intervened, capturing the whole thing on video. (Lord, have mercy!)
We are a close family, but…well…not that close.
All silliness aside, it was truly amazing to me how quickly my children bonded with my cousins’ children. James and Sydney were babies the last time we were together, and since that time, we’ve added a few family members. Without skipping a beat, our children fell in love (not the romantic kind of love) instantaneously. They played their hearts out every day in the ocean’s waves and couldn’t wait to see each other the next day. For almost two weeks, they were inseperable.
Saying goodbye was emotional and bittersweet. Buckets of tears were shed by all the little ones (and the big ones too…saying goodbye is hard no matter how old you are). I hate parting ways with those I dearly love, but I am grateful that when we go our separate ways, there is a deep longing in all of us for the next time we will see each other again. And I am grateful that we have inadvertantly passed that down to our children.
James was Sydney’s first real crush. They bonded – on their boogie boards, riding waves, and sharing his goggles – the stuff that real romance is made of. This summer will hold a fond memory for both of them, and as they grow older, they will realize how blessed they are to be family.
When I start to feel the twinge of sadness that missing my family brings, I only have to remember, “On the lips! On the lips!” and a smile is quick to cross my face. As my cousin’s wife remarked, “There are places in the south where marrying a second cousin is perfectly normal…but we are not from those parts.”
Amen to that.