....but I can't describe the feeling of sitting at a dinner table with five incredible women who all happen to be sisters, who all have their parents' looks of patience and mother's facial features, who all love me.
And I don't know why, but I started to cry when I watched five kids spin each other round in a wooden mushroom chair in the middle of the kitchen floor. Something about their pure joy, their delight, their happiness. And something, too, about the inherent friendship of cousins, and my just getting to stand there in the doorway and watch.
My family is so special. And I know everyone thinks their family is special, but I'm not lying.
On the way back from shopping, one of my aunts told me about investigators she taught on her mission to California. On the way there, two others talked about "living in sin" (their words) with their boyfriends. And inbetween department stores, we all sat down at a table and ate French fries together and laughed and took pictures.
Too often, we let the Church (or peoples' activity or inactivity in it) be a dividing force in our families.
That shouldn't happen. Are we Christians, or aren't we?
I am grateful for my mom's family for teaching me, before I knew of any other way, to love one another. To accept individuals despite histories or differences. To tease and always hug. To be true and faithful at least to principles and to each other, if not always covenants and ordinances.
That stuff is important - incredibly so. But first and foremost (just like I learned again this morning at Sister F.'s bedside) comes knowing we're loved by God. From that comes the ability to accept love from others, and to show love back, to God and to all around us.
My maternal extended family has a handle on that. They could write a book on it. I could be really cheesy and say they already have - in my heart, and therefore in everything I ever write that comes from my heart.
Instead, I just want to thank them. For the shopping trip. For the photo album. For the party, for the hugs.
And for the hope. I don't think I'll ever feel as safe in the next 18 months as I did tonight in Bekah's crowded family room.