I remember seeing my aunt and uncle fade into the background of Samara’s airport security in August 1999, as my parents, brother and I were off to start a new life in the US. I was eight years old and had no idea what was happening or where we were going. My next memory is of my brother and I looking out of the airplane windows trying to guess what we see. I have lived in the US since September 1st, 1999, which means I have been away from the majority of my family for over 16 years. In this time I truly learned the importance of family!
One of the most important things that I learned was that your family is not limited by the people that you are blood related to. My aunt, her daughter, her late son, my parents and my brother are the true blood related relatives that I have in the states, however I truly believe that my family is much larger. Over the years I have met many different people and a handful of them have become part of my family. Whether it’s my boys from Maple Grove, MN or my friends from university, I definitely think that I have more none blood related family here in the states.
Make time for those who are around. My parents and aunt’s family live in Minnesota and my brother lives in Chicago. I try to see and talk to everyone at least once a week. I put in an effort to know what is happening in the week of the most important people in my life. Even knowing what they are doing over the weekend is enough to have a constant communication path.
Not living on the same continent as your family is not an excuse. Skype, WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram, and hundreds of other apps are the reasons why you can’t blame distance for not communicating with the people that you love. I follow my cousin on Instagram and even that is enough for me to know what he is up to and talk to him about some of his adventures. It amazes me that my parents can Skype with my family in Russia, yet I know more about what they are up to. Do let distance by your excuse.
Yesterday I said “goodbye” to my aunt and cousin who were visiting my family and the US for the first time. Before ten days ago, I haven’t seen them for over six years, yet we acted like we saw each other last month. Methods of communication are there, it is up to the individual to put in the effort to be in the lives of those that are important to you. Family is more than your relatives; family is anyone who you choose to put effort towards. I don’t know when I am going to sit in the same room as my Russian family next, but I will know when my cousin catches a giant fish or my aunt plants something new in her garden!