19.

Today is my 19th wedding anniversary. Almost none of my blood relatives attended. My parents were there, and one uncle, and one cousin. Keep in mind I have three uncles, two aunts (not even counting the ones by marriage), and still had one grandmother and one step-grandmother alive at the time. And so many cousins.

But the truth is, my real family did show up. Because most of my family is not related by blood. The people I consider family are those I’ve gathered—or, more accurately, have taken me in—over the years. My best friend that I’ve known since I was eight is like a sister to me, and her parents are like surrogate parents. She was not only maid of honor but also did the flowers for my wedding, and her mom came, and her grandmother, too, who might as well have been my Mimi. The family that not only gave me a job but more or less took me in when I was in college—they all came to the wedding. My “oniisama” and his wife, who are now also godparents to my oldest son. Oniisama escorted my mother in the processional and his wife was the greeter and managed the guest book.

These are all people who have come into my life when I most needed them. I’ve learned from them. I have so many happy memories of time spent with them. They are my family. Now we all live very far apart, sadly, but I remain in touch with almost all of them. It’s the one reason I haven’t been able to bring myself to delete my Facebook; that site makes it too damn easy to connect. Isn’t that a weird thing to say? But let’s face it: people don’t write letters anymore, and they hardly even answer emails that aren’t urgent business. The convenience factor of social media cannot be understated. Instead of dozens of individual efforts (that is, dozens of independent emails to each person you’d like to stay in touch with), you can “broadcast” updates and keep up with each person in one central location. Facebook = bulk mail.

I’ve gotten off topic. Anyway, this anniversary just caused me to stop and reflect on things like what it means to be “family.” I love my blood relatives, but we aren’t especially close. So I’m just glad to have found others to bond with. Even and especially now, in today’s isolated circumstances, it’s so important to have those connections.