I've been thinking about family lately.
In the past couple of weeks, an aunt and uncle of mine have died. I didn't know either of them well. I had met them both, but the last time I saw either one was years ago.
When I was growing up, both of my parents, for some reason that I've never known, stopped having anything to do with their families. We visited a lot when I was very young, but after I was around 6 or 7, we stopped. It may have been because we moved further away, and travel was expensive, but I don't recall them keeping in touch in other ways, either. They both reconnected with their families after I was grown, but that didn't really do me any good.
What this meant for me is that I grew up knowing I had a whole bunch of cousins (Around 35 of them? I'm not even sure.), but I didn't get to know any of them. Some of them, I knew their names, but some of them, not even that. When I was 17, I met a couple of them, but didn't stay in touch. And when I was in my twenties, I visited some who lived near where I was then, but again, didn't keep in touch. Keeping in touch was somewhat difficult then.
It isn't now.
A few days ago, I suddenly realized that it is likely that at least some of my cousins are on facebook. Not knowing their names, or who is and is not there, I didn't know how to find them. I mentioned that to my Dad, who happened to talk to one of them that day, and she said that yes, she is on facebook, and is friended with several other cousins.
Find one... you find them all, eventually.
So I did.
I sent friend requests to the nine cousins I found. So far, five have responded.
It is a little overwhelming. In a good way.
I don't know what it feels like, really, to have cousins. I remember a little from when I was 6 years old, but since then, have rarely had that opportunity to be with people who are extended family. I'm having to learn what that feels like, and so far, it feels pretty good. There is a sense of belonging, even though these people are, for the most part, strangers to me, really. I'd like to change that- the "strangers" part, anyway.
Another reason I've been thinking about family is that we've had some EMS calls lately that have been more stressful than average. A full arrest, who should have been able to be saved if any are. We had every advantage. We were right on top of that "cardiac chain of survival." Early activation of EMS, early CPR, early defibrillation... or there would have been had she had a shockable rhythm. She didn't. We were called for difficulty breathing, she arrested as we came in the door, and went right to asystole. It was very sad. I still think about her family.
We've had other calls that were serious, too, load and go, don't mess around, this person is SICK. A string of critical calls.
One of the recent ones provided me with a reminder of why I do this.
It was a diabetic issue.
Unresponsive, blood glucose the lowest I've ever seen. Barely hanging on, with his family right there worrying.
But the magic of D50 wins again.
As he woke up, and saw his wife standing near his head, he smiled the brightest, most beautiful smile I have ever seen.
And that, right there, that moment, is what it's all about.
Being able to help people have that moment, to see their family, to smile at each other again.
I nearly wept.
Don't take them for granted. Enjoy every moment together that you get.