My Grandma Williams had 27 grandchildren (if I counted right, oh plus my Russian cousin... that's 28). My dad was the last of his siblings to marry (by far!) so I'm younger than most of my cousins. Growing up I didn't quite fit in with them. The cool older cousins sat in the basement talking and watching movies on Grandma's ancient wood encased TV--I'm sure they would have let me join them but I always felt the need to spy on them instead. I watched them through the vents in the basement closet.
All the boys who were my age let me play with them, but when I tired of rough housing and throwing pillows there was no way I could talk Jordan, Matt, Brian, and my brothers into playing house with me. Believe me, I tried. Even little Steven wasn't interested (maybe cause I wanted him to be the baby?). My choices were: play rough or don't play. So, I didn't play a lot of the time.
I spent a lot of time in Grandma's bedroom looking at her earrings and fiddling with her music box, or getting drinks with the little paper cups in her bathroom. I also sat upstairs with my parents listening to the stories and laughter from my aunts and uncles. I'm glad I was able to grow up hearing the stories and memories my aunts and uncles shared, but I always wanted to be older and cooler (or maybe a male?) so that I could have fit in better with my cousins.
Over the years I've gotten to be better friends with some of them. Laurie worked at the MTC when I was in there preparing for Hungary. She visited me and came to my classroom a few times. At the family reunion in Heber a few years back (okay, probably 10 years back) I hung out with Angela and Brian and really enjoyed myself. Dan and Jake always made me laugh but they were older and had families while I was still single in high school and college. Cat and I hung out a few times after my mission when she set me up with one of her best friends. But with most of my family scattered across the United States I never really felt the closeness I craved.
Grandma's funeral brought us together. But we weren't stashed in different rooms anymore with the cool kids in the basement and the boys making a mess in the garage or throwing apples at the neighbors in the yard. We were all dressed up, grown up, and grieving for our grandma. I was able to talk to cousins that I hadn't seen in years. Nearly all of us are married with families of our own. And for the first time I felt like I was on the same page with them. It was a little overwhelming because I just wanted to drink it all in, to sit with each cousin and find out where they'd been and what they'd been doing. And although I was told by various cousins at least 5 times that I couldn't possibly be old enough to be married with children (I am 27, I told them...but I won't lie.. the kids have come suddenly) I felt like we were all peers--I wasn't the little loner anymore.
Everybody's since gone home to Washington, Virginia, Delaware, Wisconsin, Illinoise, DC, etc. Who knows when we'll all get together again...but at least now I feel like I don't have to spy through the vents--I just might be one of the cool cousins yet.