As a child of divorce, I’ve always felt that there are many things that I missed out on due to my parents’ separation, especially because it was across two countries. Mom moved us all to Chicago, while my Dad stayed in our house in Puerto Rico.
On the list of things I missed, there was of course said house, the country and culture I knew and loved, and even though there was four of us siblings—tight-knit four that we were—we also missed out on family.
It wasn’t that I didn’t have one. I had cousins in Puerto Rico, and I had cousins in upstate New York where my Dad’s siblings lived, but most of their parents were divorced too. Most of them, like my siblings and me, lived with their Moms and had few ties to their Dads (my uncles) resulting in no ties to us. The branches on our family tree were broken.
Back then I wished for the automatic and easy friendships that came with cousins, and envied the huge family gatherings my friends were forced to attend weekly for birthdays and holidays. “Don’t complain,” I’d tell them, “At least you have family.”
Now as adults, and with the help of social networking, my cousins and I have found each other and reconnected. I’ve had the opportunity to meet some of them and form the easy friendships that I always knew would be there. Though we didn’t know each other and were by all accounts, complete strangers, their entry into my inner circle was automatic—no questions asked.
As I see my own nieces and nephews grow up, I am thrilled at the love they all have for each other and the friendships they share, even often at a distance of place and age (they range from age 24 to 1 year old). And although I don’t have my own children, and some of my siblings have had their own separations, I don’t have to remind them of the importance of family ties that extend beyond divorce. We work hard to ensure that our next generation has the opportunity to forge the family friendships that last forever.
*Originally published at Being Latino Online Magazine