Way back in 1975 I came bursting forth into the world. Already present were guys and girls who would help shape me, commiserate with me, tease me, and love me. But that particular year, in 1975, there was an epidemic (I say that with nothing but love). My mom says there was something in the water. I came along, followed by three more girls (first cousins), and a couple of girls and another boy (2nd cousins). On my dads side another baby girl was born.
Now in a Puerto Rican family (or at least my PR family) your first cousins are basically extended siblings and your second, and even third, cousins are just cousins, period. In my big old southern family it's dang near the same.
I grew up with these people... Living in the same neighborhood, on the same street even. We were in the same schools and sometimes even the same classes. When we were little our moms babysat interchangeably. When our teenage years approached, (and we were just plain terrible), we'd go get sent to stay with our aunts until they too got sick of us and would ship us all back to another aunt or mom.
We fought and loved one another just as fiercely as brothers and sisters. We pulled highjinx together and tattled and covered for one another.
As we grew some of us talked less and some of us talked even more. We'd have falling outs that would last a day, or a month, or even years. We had babies and divorces and marriages that lasted. We became rich and poor and middle class. But eventually, no matter what, we we would unstick our heads out of our asses and individual lives and get on with the business of loving one another.
I've been blessed to discover and reconnect with new cousins and get as close as sisters with them. I've been blessed with reconnecting cousins I thought would never speak again. I discovered "the vault", a secret place within our hearts where we could dish out our greatest secrets and fears to one another, without judgement or ridicule.
My cousins were my first, and still some of my dearest friends.
I'm vacationing at the beach this week with one of my girls cousins of 75'. Our daughters happen to be the same age. And to see them giggle at their own secret jokes, and share makeup, and laugh when we reminisce to them about our own antics warms my heart immensely. It's like watching the world rewind.... I see so much of myself not only in my own daughter, but in my cousins daughter. I see so very much of my cousin in my own daughter. And the simple fact that they enjoy one another's company is icing on the worlds sweetest cake!
This time together, much like my youth, has been filled with laughter and joy. We're still staying up late laughing being generally ridiculous. We're still pulling crazy highjinx. We're still gossiping (lovingly) and making fun of our moms (yes, lovingly). Only this time our daughters are joining in on it all. It's nothing short of awesome!
What a beautiful gift we receive in the lifelong friends who share our not only our earliest memories, but our very own DNA. Life will have its ups, downs, and valleys... But I know that through it all, no matter what, I'll always have these amazing people in my corner.