When blood isn’t thicker than water

I’ve been thinking a lot about family lately. I have been lucky enough to be born into a family full of love. I couldn’t ask for better parents and grandparents, but there are so many people who aren’t this lucky.

The woman I am privileged to be able to call my sister, was not born into the same family as me. She is a sister to me in everything except blood. She was born to parents who were not only unloving, but were downright abusive, and she bore the scars of that beginning long after she cut off contact with them.

When she came into our family, she almost had to try and relearn what a true family was like. She would constantly apologise, just in case anything she said might lead to one of us hating her (her words, not mine). The scars of that upbringing left her with some serious issues, which she fought for years to overcome, and while she was able to cross some major obstacles, I am sad to say that she lost the fight in October last year.

I still find it hard to believe that it’s been almost nine months since she passed. However, in that time of reflection, I have come to realise that the definition of the word ‘family’ is flawed.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines the word ‘family’ as:

1. A group consisting of two parents and their children living together as a unit.

2. All the descendants of a common ancestor.

In my recent experiences, I can say definitively that I have family that falls into neither of these two groups. In the days after the death of my sister, when I was having to deal with official paperworks and management of the estate, when I was having to organise the funeral and then, afterwards, in the time when all goes quiet and everyone else goes back to their ordinary lives, I found a ‘family’ of people that rallied around me. People across the globe, in different time zones, whom I had never met in person, made the effort to send me messages, tokens, and to check in on me to make sure that I was ok.

In contrast, the only people from my biological family to get in touch, have been my uncle, aunt, and one of my cousins. I have a large extended family, and the fact that not one of them has even spoken to me this year, unless they have wanted something, is a fact that I find very hard to stomach.

It is for this reason that I have decided to add another sub point to the dictionary definition of the word family:

3. A group of people (not related by blood) that behave in a close, loving, and caring way towards each other.

It’s not the perfect definition, I know, but for now, it must do. I have come to realise that family may be found in all shapes and sizes, and I am so grateful for my ‘family’, that have laughed and cried and hugged me, who have talked with me late into the night; who have listened to every stupid thought going on in my head.

I don’t know where I would be without you.

I love you all, and you mean the world to me.

Li Carter is a writer, artist and crafter. She lives in South Wales, UK, with her family, and five rescue dogs. She’s on Twitter @rbcreativeli , Facebook: Rainbow Butterfly Creative, and Instagram @rainbowbutterflycreative and is the author of My Only True Friend: The Beginning. She is currently working on a new series titled The QuickSilver Chronicles. She is the original Rainbow Butterfly, and wants to fill an ever darkening world with a little bit of beauty and creativity.


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