Kindred Spirits

If you ever watched Anne of Green Gables you will know that Megan Follows nailed that role of Anne.  Anne with an “E” and her friend Diana were the kindredest of kindred spirits.  They knew each other’s heart and soul(or so Anne thought). And although the movie was heavy on sap it solidified in the minds of a generation what it meant to have a friend, a sister, a kindred spirit.

In my life, I have been fortunate enough to have not one but several kindred sister-friends.

And incidentally, most of them have been cousins.  Having a cousin is like having the BEST of both worlds in the area of sisters and friends.  Your cousins are linked to you by your mom or your dad~ after all, they were the siblings: the parents of the cousins.  Families who gather often and stay in touch even more transfer the bond on to their children.  Christmases, weddings,  reunions, family vacations~ time and time again we rekindle friendships and each time it becomes easier to pick up where we last left off.   I have cousins, who as a child, I may have only seen once ever 5-7 years but now I have grown to love them as near and dear parts of my life.

One such cousin and I share an inexplicable bond.  We are not quite 6 months apart in age and I only have 2 recollections of being around her before my 16th birthday.  They lived on the east coast and we on the western prairies.  It was rare for the entire family to gather together so we often missed out on when they came west.   When I got married, she followed shortly after.  I was able to be at her wedding and thus began the 2nd phase of our lives~married, with children.

I got pregnant first and soon heard that she was expecting.  I had a boy, by emergency c-section and 6 weeks later I heard a similar story coming out of Ontario: a boy, by emergency c-section.  About 6 months later, there was a family wedding.  I was excited to go…..but …..I had news.  Not sure how to proceed with the weekend(not wanting to trump the bride) I decided to hold off on sharing.  But no, hiding an unexpected pregnancy when you’re nauseous and showing is like trying to put a cat in the sink~just isn’t going to happen!  So, there it was~ my belly, a 7 month old and a lot of laughter.  A couple weeks after I got home I got the news~ my cousin was also planning for #2.  Oh how fun!  I think we chatted a couple times and shared some of the shock and concerns we had.  After all, we were both in the midst of having our first 2 babies about 13 months apart.

Fast forward a couple years.  Life is good and our family is busy.  This time, I waited for a while longer before I shared that #3 was on the way.  I waited long enough that my cousin had the same news to share around the same time.  The gap was thinning.  Where our first 2 were about 6-7  weeks apart, our 3rd babies would maybe only be 4 weeks apart.  Oh my! We were the talk of the family! Were we planning this? NO!!! Incidentally, we both had boys the first time, girls the 2nd time and when I had my girl the 3rd time, she knew what she’d be having!  Sure enough~ she had a baby girl a few weeks after.

Now, you could say coincidence and yes, it’s probably true.  But even my own doctor by this point was curiously waiting to see what would happen next! Well, I can tell you that on our end, we were done.  Even though we had talked of 4, I was spent physically and emotionally.  It was all I could do to hold myself together, especially since all 3 had been c-sections.   We decided that we would take more care in “insuring” that I would not be getting pregnant anytime soon.  The bills were piling, the kids were growing, my patience was waning.

When my 3rd baby was turning 1, I was barely done weaning her.  I was so enjoying her passive moods, her quiet spirit and the thrill of not being pregnant while chasing a toddler. She was barely walking.  That week I suffered 3 migraines~ something very new to me at that time.  I had only had a couple previous to that when I was pregnant and shortly after giving birth.  My doctor told me they were hormone related.  I figured that with stopping nursing it was likely just a bit of hormonal change that had triggered it.  Shortly after that, I felt myself become exhausted to the point of barely moving off the couch some days.  After a couple weeks of that , my sister in Texas suggested I might be pregnant!  WHAT??!!!!!!! No way. I KNEW that was not the case. My husband had been double shifting all summer, we were on a couple kinds of birth control (which I figured made no difference as we weren’t even seeing, let alone touching each other!) and I always knew when I was pregnant before I even took a test.  It was preposterous!  A few days after that call, I got another call.  This time, from Ontario.  A random, “out-of-the-blue” call that confounded me.  It was my dear cousin.  She called to say “hi” and ask if anything was new.  Nope, nothing new with me, just dealing with kids and life.  She chatted and probed a bit more before I realized where this call was headed.  I wondered out loud if she thought I was pregnant~ I certainly was NOT!   She laughed and said that obviously our little coincidental journey had come to an end because she was indeed expecting #4!! After that phone call I was rattled.  I was shaken to the core. You see, I had been sick every morning for a week.  I thought it was the flu.  I thought I was just overtired. And now, I was completely angry with myself for being so naive!!!  i went to the drug store, bought a test and went home.  Convinced I would put this question to rest once and for all I determined that it would be negative. So I took the test, walked away.  Upon returning and finding the stick with a brightly glowing line I was completely shocked.  There was nothing else to say.  I picked up the phone, called Ontario and said, “What have YOU done to me?”  6 months later she had a girl, 4 weeks later I had a girl.  The only time where she was one step ahead.

Our 4 kids are similar in so many ways~ not going to go into that now.  But forever we are linked and bonded by this experience.

I have other sister-cousins who get me in a way that my own immediate family does not.  I have 2nd cousins who I would drop everything for~ just to be with them in a time of need, or a time of joy.   After all, 2nd cousins are the products of first sister-cousins, right?

There is no bond like the ones created by families who love each other.

There is nothing quite like looking into the face of another who shares your likeness or that of your mother or your father~ knowing full well that though the  miles may have separated for years, your hearts are united by a deeper kindred bond.

That’s what family is.

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