Getting Real With Shadra Bruce

Spending time with my sister has been an extraordinary pleasure. We truly are the best of friends, but more than that, our children – her 15-year old, her 12-year old twins, my 12-year old, her 10-year old, and my 9-year old – love each other so much. It has been incredible to watch them engage and get to know each other as teens and tweens instead of as little munchkins. I almost cannot tear them apart to leave.

Family ties have always been important in our family. We grew up knowing not only all of our own aunts, uncles and cousins (my dad has seven brothers and sisters; my mom has four) but all of my mom’s and dad’s aunts, uncles, and cousins as well. Great aunts and uncles and second and third cousins are an integral part of our lives and childhood memories.

I guess that is why it has always been important to me that my kids know their cousins and have some sense of the family to which they belong. That is a large part of why we are taking this road trip, in fact. When we moved to New York in 2008, Anika was not quite 6 years old. She did not remember my grandma – her great grandmother or my aunt and uncles. She barely remembered her Auntie Tiana and her cousins. It was very important to me that she establish ties and memories of the people who mean so much.

We’re not done reconnecting with family. In Reno, where we’re headed next, we’ll be visiting with more family (including a cousin I’ve never met). When we head to the coast, my sister and my dad will join us. And, we’re having a family reunion with my mom’s side of the family and all of her siblings and two of her mother’s siblings will be there.

You can make all the friends in the world, but only family can truly understand what it’s like to be who you are. Those shared roots and shared history make a difference.