I let my eyes slowly scan the oval perimeter of faces that lined our new living room walls – sister, cousins, aunt, uncle, significant others.  My heart swelled with gratitude to be in that room … together.

After a decade in a foreign country, I was finally home.  Ten years of hearing about birthday celebrations, Thanksgiving dinners, graduation parties, all via the cyber-grapevine.

Now, we are here.


And I am grateful.

Yet, there are gaps in our circle.  Conspicuous by their absence were three women who should’ve been there.  Three women who were painfully absent.  Three women who shaped and molded each of us present in different depths and capacities, yet defined us all the same.

We share in the loss.  We share in the ache.

The grief and longing and memories bind us even closer, the thread of the past knitting us into something new, even as my sister rubs shoulders with her niece, each with crochet needle and yarn in hand.

I listen to the laughter that permeates the air, and glimpse the wistful, nostalgic  expressions as ‘remember when’ stories are shared.

Together we laugh.

Together we mourn.

Together we remember.

Together, we are family.

Together we live … in the after.