It was about two years ago when I received a Facebook friend request from an unknown name. Normally, I instantly delete these requests but this one struck a chord with me, the first name in question was one that I knew.
My Mum comes from a family of six children who grew up with a headstrong mother and a forgiving father. Three boys and three girls made them a family of eight. I grew up knowing my cousins from five of my Aunts and Uncles. Sometimes there was distance, sometimes we only saw one another at Christmas time, other times we went on holidays together but always, no matter what, they were all around. There were birthday calls to be made, tales of broken bones to be told and joys and sadness shared.
One of the six and his wife had five children. Growing up, I knew only their first names and roughly their ages. I knew my Nan knew more of their lives and I would press her for more information but never received much more from her. I was fully aware of these five but they were almost ethereal in my mind.
And then, at age twenty four, I received a Facebook friend request from one of them. I knew their surname but my cousin was married and the surname was alien to me. Still, something about that first name. I opened the request and there was a short message saying she wasn’t sure if I was who I was but she thought that she was my cousin. Fark. I could have cried in that moment.
A few short months later we met our Aunt and Uncle and three of our cousins at my Nan’s funeral. Afterwards, as we talked and stared at each other, we had this photo taken. It was a bittersweet occasion as we said goodbye and hello all at once.
Since this photo I have got to know my cousins Nick and Rachel quite well. On Sunday I met their brother Alex (he was born first so my Mum copied) and his fiancee Laura and all the feelings and thoughts that rushed through my mind two years ago came back. Today is Rachel’s son Flynn’s first birthday. He is the most amazingly wonderful giggling bub I’ve ever known. And I don’t doubt that he is a big part of how we’ve all got to know one another over the last couple of years.
So today is a great big Happy Birthday* to Flynn and a great big Thank You* to Rachel for bringing our family back together.
*Capital letters as apparently I am too cheap for cards and stamps and am instead writing this blog post.