Family is such a strange concept. At first glance, I think most of us envision a mom, a dad, and some children. But for so many people, family can mean something quite different.
For me, family is first and foremost my parents and my 3 siblings. But it is also my Papa Philippe, my Maman Isabelle, my sister Aurelie, my brother Clement, and my dog Mirabelle in Wailly, France. It's my former boss who I sometimes call my aunt and her daughter who is like my kid sister. It's my wonderful roommates, Jill and Dan. And lately, it's been 30 girls who call me sister and 30 boys who call me mom.
Yesterday I visited the floor at Children's Hospital where I work part time. I haven't been able to work for the last 2 months because I've been doing my ICU rotation, so I asked my friend, Christina, to update me on our frequent flyers, our chronic patients who are on the unit often enough or long enough that we get to know them very well. She told me that an adorable little infant that we all called Mimsie died last month. Mimsie was in the custody of social services and the social worker had located an adoptive family for her, but she was so sick that she never went home. I nearly cried when I heard that she had passed, just thinking how sad it was that she never got to even meet her family.
But as I thought about it more, I realized that Mimsie did have a family during her short life. She had dozens of moms to hold her, scores of aunts to feed her, loads of grandmothers to dress her in cute pink outfits, and armies of big sisters to sing silly songs to her. We spoiled that little girl rotten and we loved her like crazy. Sure, we weren't the typical mom, dad, 2.3 children and a dog, but we were a family. And we miss seeing those big blue eyes in room 24B.
At HFC, our kids don't have that traditional family either. What they do have is nannies, coaches, teachers, interns, mentors, and American visitors. More importantly, they have a whole boatload of brothers and sisters. And those relationships are as real and as long-lasting as anything you could find in a biological family. Some of our kids may never know a mom or a dad, but they do know the love that comes from family.