‘We are blood, you and I’
An elderly woman dressed in black said this to me in a small village in Lebanon. She was my father’s cousin and I had only just met her. She smiled and tapped her wrist, as though the blood we had in common was stored in that exact place.
I can still remember a moment from my first day of high school that has stuck with me. We went around the room to introduce ourselves for the first time. When it was my turn, they asked why I chose to come to this school. I explained in a small voice that one of the reasons is that my cousins came here and it was a bit of a tradition.
‘Oh, who are your cousins?’ My classmates asked.
Well I didn’t really know them at the time but I listed some names that I had heard being thrown around at home. Remarkably enough, one random girl, a real country girl, yelled out
‘Did you say Lucy?! THAT’S MY COUSIN TOO!’
And everyone laughed at her, but she wasn’t kidding. That girl’s mother’s sister actually married my dad’s cousin. So their children are cousins to us both. I could have grabbed the world in my hands, for how small it felt in that moment.
I’ve been thinking about that story over and over since hearing the sad news about those cousins and their Dad passing away to cancer. I’m thinking of them all, even though I see them so rarely. It’s almost all I can think about.
I think back to that girl who, only moments prior had been a stranger to me but was now my cousin through marriage. How when it was her turn to speak, she so candidly confessed that her father was dead and how everyone fell into an awkward quiet but she was perfectly fine with letting us know that inner most thing.
I think about how two sisters are now widows and remember how someone joked to the girl, that she was ‘Sheree’s cousin now’, as though that would make everything okay.
I think about how we are all blood and all connected. I think of this from time to time and keep a place for you somewhere near my wrist, tap it a few times to feel comfort. To come home.