If you're lucky, you are born into a family that loves you for who you are, nurtures your interests, and expects great things from you, all the time.
If you're really lucky, you meet someone along the way who isn't related to you, but becomes family simply by virtue of doing all that stuff, even though he's not technically family.
I am really lucky.
This weekend, I am headed to Tucson to see my brother Mike. It's confusing, to say the least, that I have not one but two brothers named Mike. The first is my twin, my womb-mate, my brother from my actual mother. The second - Mike Rice - I discovered when I was 28 years old, in Charleston, Illinois, while this late-blooming lunatic was in college at Eastern Illinois University. My friendship with Rice was instant. Our connection, unbreakable. Just like family. As we "grew up" together, I somehow became added to his actual family. Their unconditional love extended to me, as if I'd grown up in that old Victorian house in Jacksonville with the wraparound porch and chicken & dumplings in the kitchen.
I was family. I am family.
Mike and I have been there for each other through life's ups and downs. Weddings, funerals, babies (Mike and Rae's, not mine!) and break-ups (mine, not Mike and Rae's) ... Mike has been there, as has Racheal, his wife (but she was my friend first).
We are the very definition of family.
So it's easy to understand why I simply cannot wait to get on a plane tomorrow night and make my way Southwestward. I go because I love them, and they love me. I go, because when I am with Mike, Rae and their daughter Kaylee, I feel like I am at my very best.
You know that scene at the end of the movie "Love, Actually", in Heathrow airport, when everyone is meeting up? At first, it's all the principals from the film, and it's all romantic and crap. But then, it becomes about all different kinds of love - hugs between parents and children, old friends, families.
I disembark from the plane in Tucson and live my own version of that movie.
In less than 48 hours, I will see my brother, my dear friend and sister-in-law, and my niece. I will soak up the love. So time, if you could pass quickly, that'd be great. Thanks.