I am impressed by the group chatting capabilities of Google+. I live far from my siblings and parents. It is miraculous to see each other and visit together over the Internet in real time.
But it still has its limitations.
The love we share as families is powerful. I am not the same person that I was before this reunion on the beach. The experiences and feelings we share as we support and uplift each other, I believe, does change us.
A friend asked me yesterday how the reunion went. I said, "It was wonderful. It was so nice to be with my family and enjoy my kids being entertained constantly by cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents... you know what it's like to be with family..."
"No, actually I don't," she said bluntly.
I was familiar enough with her past that I felt like I had been hit with a brick. I was reminded that there are people who do not enjoy the support network of a loving family.
Tonight during family home evening, my son shared the story of Jesus healing a blind man. When he read to us about him being a beggar before he was healed, he stopped and said, "I have a question. Why didn't his family help him?" We discussed how often people don't have large families like we do, with siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, who care about and love each member of their family.
I remembered the conversation with my friend. I tried to imagine what it would be like to be completely reliant on my own, immediate family unit for support, understanding, love, strength. I knew that my son could not imagine it. He just looked at my husband and I with a confused look as we tried to explain.
How different my views and perceptions of the meaning of life would be without my family. I always felt as if I were part of something huge (my mom's family really is huge) and strong and good - something even important. I felt connected to both of my parents' families. I know I would be different now if I had not grown up with those feelings. How I would be different? I don't know. But those feelings are everything to me.