There are so many cliches about family.
A family affair.
Family are the friends you're born with.
You can't choose your family.
All of them underscore the same thing. The importance of family. Maybe that importance is how they're always there. Or maybe, for some, family is important because they've taught you lessons -- good or bad -- about life. That no matter what, whoever you call family is sent to you for a reason.
I never really understood the fragility of family. I've been fortunate to come from a family with a strong foundation, and then married into one of the same stability. A rocky family life has never been my story.
It isn't my story now, either.
But the family I have is not the one I imagined for myself.
The family I have started for myself has a hole in it. I have a family of three that looks like a family of two. It's only when you look closely that you can see the third, and how his little life is present in so much that we do. And that despite his absence, our family is still very much intact.
Many people close to me, my family and my friends, can see this. And of the many that see, only some of them understand. Or try to. But it's not universally understood how my family can be both whole and fractured at the same time. And because time does not heal all wounds, it will remain with a little missing piece for the rest of time.
My family tree will always have one branch that couldn't blossom.
And because my family can always support, but not always understand, I've had to branch out myself in search of a community who can understand. To help me not feel quite so isolated.
And I found them. A community -- a family -- of women with similar stories in their own family trees. And we share, and support, and understand each other. And I'm fortunate to have their support and understanding as a new kind of family.
A family who has experienced such great loss, but still has so much light to share.