The word family, in Hawaiian, is pronounced Ohana, and as Lilo and Stitch would say, it means nobody gets left behind or forgotten.
My family might be a little different. Like many people of color, my family wouldn’t be what you considered the typical nuclear household of the 1950s. My parents separated when I was three years old, and they both got remarried to my stepparents (who I love just as much). Growing up, I was surrounded by my friends who all took their family photos while I had to take two separate photos with my mom’s side and dad’s side. At the time, I felt that what my family and I were doing was totally normal, and I even thought to myself how lucky I was to have four supporting parents than just two - the more, the merrier!
Just like that, I found myself now surrounded by siblings, and I was the baby of them all. I have two half-brothers, one step-brother, and four step-sisters. Big enough, right? When my parents got remarried, I was introduced to their children. They took me in like I was their own, step-siblings or half-siblings no one cared, and I embraced all of my family’s love.
But family isn’t just who your parents are or who your siblings are. Family isn’t just your pet(s) that you obviously love to death either. Family can be your friends, too. The friends that would answer your call in the middle of the night or those friends that you’d bring to your holiday parties are your family. Those friends that keep your promises and don’t judge who you are. Those friends that would fight someone else for bullying you. Those friends that you cry to because you just went through a horrible break-up and then plan to go out and get drunk af with.
Family can be anyone that you count on. Family can be the ones that love you the most. Family can be the friends you haven’t checked on in years, but know you’ll still have each other’s back. Family can be the ones that irritate you the most. The ones you might be angry with and hold a grudge on. But no matter what, you have unconditional love for them.
Family, to me, is not just blood. Family is the ones that are going to ride for you through your ups and downs. Just a gentle reminder for those that may be going through some family issues recently. Families are what help guide us through life. They should inspire you. During any family crisis, keep your family close. These can be your siblings, parents, cousins, friends, anybody that you genuinely love.
Keep them close. Always.
Another Lost Boy
“Family is not an important thing, it’s everything.”
- Michael J. Fox