A few days ago, the two-year-old son of one of my dearest friends was rushed to the hospital. (Before I go any further, let me just tell you that the baby is fine; he got an absolutely clean bill of health.) Moments after the ambulance came, my friend's husband called to tell me what was going on. I dropped the phone, ran outside, got a cab, and raced to the hospital. On the way over, I started to think about what I would tell the receptionist at the ER. I desperately wanted to be with my friend and her son, and I was afraid the emergency room staff wouldn't understand that we were such close friends that really we were family.
The thing is, I've always had a really broad definition of family. I don't think you need to share DNA or be legally related to someone to be their family. Tonight, just before I sat down to write this, I looked the word "family" up in the American Heritage College Dictionary. It was a pretty long entry, so I'm not going to reproduce the whole thing here, but this was my favorite part: "Two or more people who share goals and values, [and] have commitments to each other. . . ."
There are a lot of people in my life who fit this definition, people who are my family in the truest sense of the world, people for whom I am grateful every single day.
When I got to the hospital, I went straight back to the pediatric ER. I spotted my friend sitting on a gurney, the baby asleep in her arms. I sat down next to her, just like I belonged there. A few minutes later, a nurse came over to take the baby's vital signs. He woke up and started to cry. "It's okay,” the nurse said. "Settle down. Your family is here."
Yes, I thought. We are.
- Courtney Sheinmel
Follow the series of family posts.