UNITED STATES—Family is the most important thing in the world to me, but it seems the older that I get the more that we drift apart. We are only reminded of how important the bond of family is when a crisis strikes. I have not yet shared this tale, but it’s of importance to me to shed a bit of perspective on the situation. As a kid, I would regularly see aunts, uncles and cousins on my dad’s side of the family. However, as many of us got older and started are own families we have drift apart, and not for the better if you ask me.

We only seem to unite in the midst of a crisis and that is something that tears up my soul. I mean the last time I saw many of my first cousins were a year ago when we had a family reunion on my dad’s side. We recently reunited again this past weekend to be a source of strength for my aunt who is battling pancreatic cancer. Note this is a woman who is already a survivor of breast cancer. So it was not easy for me to see my aunt who is normally so vibrant and full of energy riddled down to a weight that scared me to the core.

In the midst of not only going through chemotherapy, which did not produce the results we hoped, she is now seeking radiation treatments to beat this cancer that is ravaging her body. It is difficult to watch anyone battle cancer and I hate to make this assertion, but I’m seeing it more and more on my dad’s side of the family. I just learned that my uncle is seeking treatment for prostate cancer, which runs in our family. I feel like we have to be more aware of our health and ensure we’re getting the regular check-ups and eating right to protect our bodies.

In the midst of one crisis after another, we came together as a family for a barbeque to unite with each other, to bond, to chat and raise spirits. I did not like the fact that many of the older adults in our family gave the impression that this BBQ was more like a final hoorah for my aunt. She is a fighter and I don’t 1) want her to give up 2) I want us to know that all is not over. I know things are going to turn out the way they are supposed to turn out. When it comes to illness I believe holding onto hope is important, it gives the will and spirit to fight on.

While rallying around my aunt and uncle, we all got to converse, discuss how things are going with our families, where we hope things will go in the future and why we need to spend more time with one another. I’ve said it before and I will say it again, food does indeed bring people together, however, alcohol that little Devil that it is can tear people apart. We have a saying in our family that those who drink it comes naturally because it’s in our blood. However, I had to reiterate to several first cousins, just because we might be susceptible to it, does not mean we have to indulge in it. Getting drunk to face the truth, will not force the truth to disappear, it will still be there when you sober up.

You can’t hide from a crisis, you take your mind off of it temporarily, but at the end of the day until you acknowledge it or confront the issue head on, it will continue to pester you. This is why it so important to continue to nurture those bonds with family, so that one another can provide the emotional support needed during a crisis. We’re strong apart, but we are even stronger when we are a united front.