My sons have them. My grandchildren have them. My nephews have them. Seems everyone everywhere has lots and lots of cousins. I always wished I knew mine. Most of them on my daddy's side I never met, and the ones on my mother's side I wouldn't admit to knowing even if they lived across the street.
But all that is changed now. And I'll tell you the truth ... these precious cousins I got to know over the past week were more than worth the wait!
Cousin Jim has been after me for three years to get to our family reunion in Virginia and there was always some reason I couldn't go. This year, I wouldn't make excuses. I bought a nonrefundable, nonchangeable ticket so there'd be no backing out.
I know it's dangerous to build up high expectations of any event but I couldn't help it. It's all I could think about for months. Could it be anywhere close to what I was building up in my mind?
Yes! I never met Cousin Jim before but, after ten seconds, I felt like we had been close friends all our lives. I had asked him for a recommendation of a hotel in Bristol, Tennessee where he lives, and he wouldn't hear of me, a stranger with an 80-lb dog, staying anywhere but with him. Five whole days! He and his wife Brenda just knocked themselves out for us ... such lovely people! And I'm already looking forward to any opportunity to return the favor!
At the reunion and the days following, they introduced me to the wonderful world of cousins! It was a connection and a very special closeness I hadn't expected. Though I was being introduced to most of them for the first time, the love ... the bond ... the strength of this family was as strong as it would've been if I had known them all along.
I adore my cousins! I even have second and third cousins, and the family connection with them is just as sweet.
There is a giant hole in my heart left by my daddy ... how I missed him at the reunion, especially since Edwards traits and voices are so similar in so many ways. Yeah, that part of this blessed experience was a little heart-wrenching, but there was quite the sense of healing and acceptance at the same time.
As a writer, usually better at writing words than speaking them, I'm really having trouble finding any words to express the joy in my heart right now. Never in my highest hopes for this reunion could I have imagined the feelings this has left me with. Instead of a sprinkle of blessings I dared to hope for, God gave me a downpour! He reconnected me with an aunt and uncle who have always been especially precious to me, and He showered me with cousins, cousins, and more cousins. It just couldn't have been any better than that!