“To get there we run, we walk, we fly; because with my family we know where home is, so instead of sending flowers, we the roses.”

While driving home from St. Louis last weekend, I heard the song “Roses” from Kanye West’s new CD. He’s rapping/singing (whatever you’d like to call it) about when his grandmother was in the hospital. All of his aunts and family members had come to the hospital and were waiting to hear if grandma was going to make it. It brought up a discussion Zach and I had on our way to St. Louis about family.

I was raised believing I was going to be an “active” member in both my immediate and extended families. I knew from very early on that if my cousins were playing a game within an hour (give or take) of us, we would be there. I knew I’d be at all the weddings, funerals, births, just all around big moments in their lives. I grew up loving that they were there for me and I was there for them. I honestly believe this is what has led to such an awesome relationship with all my aunts, uncles and cousins.

This past weekend we had found out that Zach’s grandmother’s health was failing. She lived in St. Louis and I decided immediately it would be good to go. Zach only had a few hesitations but we obviously ended up going. On the way there we discussed the differences between our families. All my family (including grandmas and most cousins, etc) have been there every time I’ve needed them or wanted them. My state track meets, my graduations, my wedding, the birth of my son, my miscarriage, my new house. All events; happy, sad or indifferent have been shared with my family. That is in stark contrast to Zach’s family who was just not raised that way. When deciding our wedding details I wanted all of my cousins to be involved. He wanted representation from his side (with good reason) but struggled remembering his cousin’s names. There have many instances like those and it’s completely baffling to me.

After watching Zach’s grandma die it has become more obvious that we really, truly, only get one life here on earth. Thinking back to all those moments when I’ve been the happiest, I realize there is one equation that just works, family, friends, and love too big to fit into one room. So why not make every effort to get my fill of that every day I’m given on earth? It’s so very easy to get wrapped up in our own lives. To skip an event a couple hours away because the house just needs to be cleaned. We find ourselves making excuses why we couldn’t be there for someone who truly needed us because it would be too much work to do it. But I’ve seen the reaction on my loved ones face when I make the extra effort to prove my love for them. I drove 8 hours to go to my cousin’s bachelorette party only to turn around and head back a few hours later. That night she related to me just how much it meant to have me there. Grandma was pretty out of it when we went to see her in the hospital last weekend but when I told her I was there, she looked at me and held my hand for just a few moments. I saw her reaction when Zach said hello as well, it meant something to her and to us, to be there when she breathed her last. Let’s be honest everyone needs proof that they’re loved sometimes, how do you put a price on prooving that to them? It’s definitely worth more than a tank of gas or “time spent with my family”. Granted, I believe we all need down time, time with just me, Zach and Trysten. But I also know it’s much easier to show them that I love them because I get the opportunity every day. I don’t get that opportunity with my sister in Virginia or my in-laws in Chicago. It just means I need to work extra hard so they don’t just know I love them, but can feel it, can literally reach out and touch it.

I assure you, I am most definitely not on a soapbox. I love Zach’s family so much it’s ridiculous (aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents). I see that they do have as close of a relationship as possible being far apart and never having had those moments of making every effort to see each other. I’m not saying my way is better than Zach’s or anything of the sort. I just know it’s what I want from my children. I want them to expect they’ll drive the 4 hours to Chicago if my in-laws have another baby. I want them to know there is literally no distance too far if someone needs them or if they need me. I need them to understand life is not necessarily about the every day. Life is sometimes about the miracles. Witnessing every aspect of life and relate it not just to yourself but also to the people around you. Live life’s biggest moments with the ones you love. Be there for the laughs and the tears. Be an active member of the family and community. I have no idea who sent me flowers on my biggest days, but I can tell you all 420 people who attended our wedding. Save money I’ll tell my kids, instead of sending flowers, be the roses.

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