The couches in my family room weren't big enough to hold everyone, so the men had slid the rolling chairs from the kitchen to the edge of where the dining room hardwood met the family room carpet so they could be a part of the conversation that would soon begin. The setup was almost like every other family gathering: Christmas, except the people are split up into their own families, facing the Christmas tree in front of the window, and kids sitting impatiently on the floor waiting for their toys to be opened before they can go play. Birthday parties, where everyone sits randomly and the birthday girl/boy sits with almost a whole couch to themselves to make room for their presents. New Years, except with our family more centered around the table and the food, rather than the usual carpeted gathering place.
So many memories decorate the smells and the laughter of the room constantly occupied with people: Announcements that someone is pregnant, the laughter and competitive spirits created by the new Wii placed in front of the living room, the music that our family seems to somehow be centered on from fun nights of karaoke and dance parties, the center of blanket forts and cardboard box towns, a home theater filled with reclining chairs and popcorn, and even a counseling office. My family has seen it all and have been strengthened by the activities that our family room has held.
It was unusual to have every single family member present at that same time. Every special occasion seems to always have someone missing; whether for work or travels or something unexpected. But this occasion had everyone there, laughing and enjoying the stories; memories made together. Everyone was there because this occasion was different.
There, in the middle of all the craziness, were my parents, holding hands, distant, but still smiling at the recalled memories. This was odd for my mom to be sitting in a house full of people, normally she'd be up making food of some sort, or getting her grandkids drinks. But not this time, she just sat next to my dad, tears and fears showing themselves in her wise and understanding brown eyes. Trials and adversity polka-dotted their marriage and the love that they had made at such a young age. They faced each trial together, as a team, and never let the other fall. The next one would be no excuse to their unity.
I sat down on the floor, my back leaning against the piano bench that faces the east wall. The immense amount of emotions in me conflicted in every way, making me feel hollow. One thing I knew for sure: I was grateful for my family, and I loved them. I knew that what the near future held for us was going to bring our family even closer together. We would need each other to lean on.
Sitting there, observing my family, I thought of 3 Nephi 7:4 "Now behold, there was no man among them save he had much family and many kindreds and friends; therefore their tribes became exceedingly great." Not only did we have a lot of family in that room, but because we had a family, we were "exceedingly great." My family is not perfect. We are not the typical American Dream family. But we still have something precious and of great worth just being part of a family. My family is the biggest support I have. They lift me up. They have helped me grow into the person I am today. They are priceless and of exceedingly great importance to me.
My family, the one that has bonded over years of meeting in that family room, came together again that night with a different fear than any of us had felt before. We had all fasted that day - even the family member who had separated himself from religion - for my mom. The kids had finally all come to a stop at the foot of the couches, sensing the somberness, as we sat in silence for a few moments. Tears flowed easily from even the strongest of eyes. And then, in the middle of the living room that cemented our memories together, as one exceedingly great and giant family, we knelt in prayer for my mom, who was going in to surgery to have her breast cancer removed the following day.
|The family pictures that were taken before my mom's surgery.|