Living 3,000 miles away from all of my family has never been easy... and when I haven't seen most of my extended family in 5 years, I feel the difference in a big way.
The opportunity to share slow Saturday mornings are few and far between and the transition between childhood cousins getting married and becoming parents turn into before and after snapshots as we reintroduce each other from wherever we are in our individual walks of life.
But no matter where we are and who we've become, when we get together again, time seems to stop...
Yesterday, almost all of the Schneider clan got together to celebrate the 85th birthday of the best man I know, my grandfather.
I think it would be impossible to overstate the impact he has had on our family.
We have never had to wonder what unconditional love looked or felt like because he and my grandmother defined it for us every day of their lives. They always found ways to bring us closer together even when we were far apart, and in my grandmother's absence, my grandfather tirelessly continues those traditions.
I know her heart would be as full as this room.
So much life has happened since we last shared the same space.
Battles have been faithfully fought and triumphantly won.
My little brother (at age 23) bought (not a typo) his very first home.
My oldest cousin has become the kind of mother I hope to be someday.
And my youngest is head over heels in the kind of love that just makes you smile.
There is so much to celebrate... and so we did just that.
My grandfather is the tie that binds this tapestry of ever-evolving lives together.
He talked a lot about how blessed he has been in life and in love... but it is him who has blessed us with both.
And we are so wholeheartedly grateful.
Happy Love Day.