24 Years

In Family, Life Lessons, Pursuit of Happiness on March 2, 2010 at 8:48 am

Last summer, as we were preparing to move from New York to Texas, I received an unexpected e-mail.  It was from a cousin that I hadn’t spoken to since high school.  We both got caught up in some family drama that had nothing to do with either one of us.  Due to misinformation being fed to me, I harbored resentment towards my cousin (who was also a very good friend).  Unfortunately, at that age, we didn’t just pick up the phone and clear things up, so we ended up losing touch.

Years went by, and we missed out on many of the moments that would have been shared had none of this occurred…most notably our weddings and the birth of our children.  Truth be told, I had no intention of reaching out because I believed the things that were said.  While I found it to be surprising, I was also very angry about it.  Thankfully, my cousin was the bigger man, realizing that our estrangement was not because of anything that happened directly between us, and that there was no reason for us to not be a part of each other’s lives.

As I read the e-mail, all of my hard feelings started to fade.  When I reached out to my cousin by phone, we spoke for hours.  By the time that we hung up, the only hard feelings that remained were towards the person that caused them in the first place.  Both of us share the same disdain for the person that tore apart our relationship.  Of course, it also saddened me that we didn’t clear the air sooner.  If we had, there wouldn’t have been so much lost time to make up for.

While we were together for our formative years, we have been out of each other’s lives for longer than we have been a part of them.  Based on the way that we picked up right where we left off after being estranged for 24 years, it is safe to say that we missed out on a lot of good times together.  Thinking about it makes me mad.  Mad at the person that caused it, and mad at myself for allowing it to happen.  But we all know that hindsight is 20/20, and that we cannot go back in time and right our wrongs.

Yesterday, we saw each other for the first time since we were in high school, and it was a great day.  The kind of day that I suspect we would have had many times over had we not been estranged.  It’s amazing to see how similar we both still are after all these years.  Though our paths may have been different, our destinations are nearly identical.

There is no doubt in my mind that we would see each other regularly if we lived in close proximity.  Our wives would become friends, and our kids would have cousins in their lives that they never even knew about until recently.  While this seems unlikely, my hope is that we can at least plan a trip for both families to spend some time together in the near future.  One thing I know with certainty is that it won’t be 24 years between visits.

The silver lining in our estrangement, and subsequent reunion, is that I have learned some valuable lessons that I can pass on to my children so that they don’t make the same mistakes that I have made:

  1. Time moves much faster than any of us realize.  Savor each moment.
  2. Things aren’t always as they seem.  Don’t rush to judgment before knowing all of the facts.
  3. Go directly to the source.  Making decisions based on hearsay is a big mistake.
  4. If you value your relationship with someone, keep an open mind and be willing to forgive and forget.
  5. Don’t spend too much time dwelling on what might have been.  Focus on what can still be.

I’m grateful to my cousin for reaching out and clearing the air.  Although yesterday didn’t fill in all of the gaps of the past 24 years, it was a great start!  Needless to say, I’m glad to have a good friend back in my life.

  1. Having grown up with ZERO cousins and marrying into a family where my husband has over FIFTY, it’s hard for me to relate to the whole concept of what it means to have one. That being said, you made it very clear why we should never listen to he said/she said and go right to the source. Another keeper, Adam!

  2. Wow Adam, that’s a great story. I’m going through that now with my aunt b/c of some lies my sister said about me. At this point, I’m angry and have no desire to reach out. Maybe in time that will change. Funny, I never discussed it with my sister, and we see eachother and talk.(Although we’re not close and never were) It’s the aunt that I can’t seem to forgive. Maybe I’ll send an e-mail or call.

  3. Sad, but very true, same thing happend to my father and his nephew, a misstatement over the death of his daughter and it was over 15 years. thankfully they made up just before my father died and all has been forgiven. the hardest part was that I still had talked to them, and my father was furious. But I knew what they thought was said had not happened but I could not convince. Speak your mind, as life is too short.

  4. Thanks for posting that, Adam. It reminds me of another truth that I sometimes forget: We all make mistakes and we all deserve to be forgiven. Here it seems, the forgiving is something you must do for yourself. Don’t beat yourself up. Glad you reconnected with this cousin and learned a valuable life lesson to pass on to your kids.

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