I have been an absentee blogger the last few days, during which real life has infringed on my writing time. J. and I left last Friday to visit my family for a Bar Mitzvah. We are back now and I learned a lot over the weekend.
My family is spread far and wide, so get togethers usually take place in Toronto, where I was born. I have visited most years, health permitting, and J. joins me when she is able. My ailing liver interfered with two celebrations years ago, and my attendance at important family events has been increasingly sporadic since my leukemia diagnosis.
It has been seven years since I have seen three of my siblings’ progeny, while I have had sporadic contact with the others. These relationships are some of the many casualties in my battle against cancer, and against illness more generally.
It’s incredible what happens over long periods of no contact. For instance, young people grow. Yes, my nieces and nephews are all taller than last time we met, some markedly so. Those that have not grown in height have grown in maturity and wisdom. All are working toward academic and professional goals, and many have moved away from home. While I was busy being sick, they’ve grown up, in all senses of the term.
Sure, I’ve watched children and adolescents mature before, but a seven-year gap results in especially striking changes if puberty falls somewhere in the middle. My nieces and nephews were real people before, but now they are verging on adulthood, if not firmly in its grasp. This past weekend, it was hard for me to get my head around all these changes. I can’t catch up on what I’ve missed. Instead, I tried to get to know them as the vibrant young people they are today.
I guess I’ve changed over the last 7 years too, but my changes are in a different realm. J. and I have created a home in Calgary. Our years of living in sin ended when we married 4 years ago next week, although any homophobes who are reading this post may beg to differ. We have co-parented a succession of dogs, all of whom have loved J. more than me, and our lives have been enriched through our community of friendships. J. has made great strides in her career, and even added on a second job to support us since my income has slowed to a trickle. I have not yet found a way for my blog to support us. Oh, and that pesky leukemia diagnosis has added considerable instability to our day-to-day lives.
I have missed out on a lot, moving far away and then getting sick, but that did not stop me from marvelling at the miracle of human development. I am so glad to have re-met those burgeoning adults this past weekend, and I did what I could to prompt another family reunion in less than seven years: I asked the niece’s long-time boyfriend to get on with it already. The relationship is 6 years in, and they’ll soon be co-parenting (a puppy, mind you), so it’s about time they get hitched. I hadn’t even been drinking, of course. This liver would never survive until the next occasion if I did.