When I was 19, I came home from college for Thanksgiving. I don't remember the exact circumstance, but I do remember this: I was sitting at the dinner table with my family, upset that I was not sitting at the table with my friends.
I wanted to be in the company of my friends from high school, and I was pitching some kind of a fit. Knowing me, it was likely passive aggressive, and not nearly as subtle or clever as I imagined.
Eventually the issue surfaced explicitly, and an aunt of mine shared some wisdom that I didn't acknowledge at the time.
She said that the love of my family was different than the love of my friends.
I also remember her saying that the love of my family was more important, and that all my friendships would eventually vanish into time, leaving only the most important people: my family.
That memory, though, was created by a frustrated 19 year old, and I don't trust it. Probably she never said that and even if she did, I'm sure that I could not hear or understand what she was really trying to say.
I think, instead, I'll take just the first part.
The love of my family is different that the love of my friends.
This I have found to be true.
There is nothing in the world that comforts me like squeezing in between my mom and my papa on the couch in our living room. There is nothing is the world that makes me smile like the voice of my little sister, singing to me: "Hi, Heather!" and barreling into me for a hug. Nothing like building snow forts with my brothers, nothing like riding in the big truck with my dad, nothing like Christmas Eve at Grandma and Grandpa's with my sister.
I'm blessed to have friends and mentors, friends and mentors that also play unique roles in my life. And in the coming years, I will probably spend more time with those friends and mentors than with my family. Going out into the world, my friends and mentors are the people with whom I will build my adult life.
And always, there will be my family.
My family that I love uniquely, my family that I love completely.
Thank you to Andrew Solomon, who I've never met, whose voice inspired this post.