We don’t get choose what family we are born into, we start our lives according to an enigmatic predestination that many attribute to God. This harsh reality for many is one that often makes winners and losers in the socioeconomic ladder before we even realize the glass ceiling above or below us.
The few that transcend the dichotomy that is birthplace or birthright are the ones that refuse to allow fate to determine their destiny. They are the individuals who have become dissatisfied with the status quo and unimpressed with the hands that they are dealt.
My best friend is one such person whose struggles were predetermined. I admired him ever since he told me his story about growing up on his own as a young teenager. Throughout the turmoil and obstacles, he overcame his situation and went on to graduate college and now is a successful businessman with a beautiful house, wife and newborn baby.
The first time I saw a picture of his son, my heart melted. It was a feeling that I couldn’t express with words as I kept going back to look at his picture again and again. I fell in love with him immediately as if he were family. Sure, I know legally “uncle,” is not a title that is recognized under the law and nor would anyone confuse us as relatives. Still, in my heart I have as much love for my best friend’s son as I have for my own nieces and nephews. The peculiar thing about it all is that I haven’t even met him yet.
I didn’t choose what family was going to adopt me. Like most things, I just lucked out as I look back at what I consider the biggest "break" of my life. To me, family cannot be defined by blood lines, legal documents or physical resemblance. It is based on the quality of relationships and the loyalty to those around us.
As a young adult, I have chosen those family members that I wish to be surrounded by and whom I reciprocate my love for. Not surprisingly, not all of them are in my family tree. Family is not a term that I use loosely. Considering someone a family member means that I embrace them and that they have embraced me back. Even though it appears harsh to disown a relative, I cannot in good conscience accept everyone with my last name as family. To do so is ingenious and an undermining of my definition of what family truly is.
My best friend is my brother. I don’t need to see it in writing to believe this truth. He has been there for the ups the downs and everything in between. His son begins the first chapter in his life on good footing because of the sacrifices of his father and it is because of the relationship that I have with his father, that I consider him family as well. One day I hope to tell him a little about his father’s past and the admiration that I have for him, so that he can be as thankful for having a father as I am for having a brother. All together family is about those who have your back when everyone else has turned theirs. It’s about loyalty, love and mutual respect. I can’t say for certain if my own family will expand, all I know is that the family that I have now is the family that I keep.