“I believe in love even when I can not feel it…”

A few years ago, I was in Chicago for a conference and I was riding the L-train into downtown. As I sat there undoubtedly reading an article on ESPN, the guy next to me struck up a conversation. He introduced himself and we connected over the fact that we were both there from Texas and attending the same conference.

Apparently his brother’s choir was one of the featured performing ensembles. As he sat there telling me about his brother, it stood out to me that he and his brother had different last names. Having step siblings, this isn’t particularly unusual to me but I felt intrigued and decided to ask him about it. He began telling me how they weren’t related at all, not even through marriage. It seemed odd to me that he referred to this guy as his brother when they were, in fact, not relatives at all.

He picked up on my curiosity and began telling me their story. They met in college, became friends, and over time developed this intensely close relationship. The guy I was talking to was a grad student at the time when his “brother” was an undergrad so their friendship was unlikely, their familial bond even more unlikely.

There was never any particularly dynamic event that caused their closeness, they simply had many things in common and a connection. Eventually, he finished grad school and moved away but their bond continued. They frequently spoke on the phone, counseled each other, visited each other when possible. They each began their own families and their kids referred to the other as “Uncle”. It was just this intensely close connection with someone who had no blood connection.

Someone once told me that “you can’t choose your family”. I mean, of course you can’t choose who you are related to by blood but is that the extent of the definition of family? I am inclined to think not.

I miss my parents, my sisters, my brother, my nephews and niece, my cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, etc and I very much look forward to seeing them all more often than I’ve been able to the past four years, but in a different way I’m very much having to leave a different kind of family behind. My chosen family.

I have been incredibly blessed to become a part of many families these last four years, even more so, these past six months. I look around Texas and can easily see all the people who have become parents, children, brothers, sisters, nephews and nieces, cousins, etc. People who were going to make me believe in love simply because they were going to make sure I could feel it.

I think back to that conversation on the L-train and think how lucky I am to have the people I have in my life. I’ll miss seeing so many of them on a daily or weekly basis but I also look forward to those special times when I can talk with them on the phone, counsel them and be counseled, and especially those visits, none more so than those visits with the L-train.


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