Although I have quite a knack for writing columns that stir up controversy, I have decided to take a break from that this week to write about something less stressful and more sentimental.
This past weekend for me has been so overwhelming with emotions, both happy and sad. I was out of town for several days to celebrate the wedding of a close family member, and to mourn the loss of another. Although I live many hundreds of miles away from my family, we are still incredibly close to one another, standing side by side in the best and worst of times.
As a student, caught up in the hectic college lifestyle, I often forget what is most important in life. That assignment I have due at midnight, the test I have later this week all seem like the most significant events here and now. This weekend, however, I was reminded that these are all very minor things, things that are easily forgotten.
All my future accomplishments and failures would mean nothing to me without my family by my side. Every member of my family is an integral part of my identity. As the youngest of my own generation, I believe every personality trait I possess comes from an elder member. Although I didn’t grow up in Pennsylvania, it feels like home, because that is where my parents met and fell in love as high-schoolers. If you asked me about my favorite place in the world, I would say that it’s my Aunt Alice’s home, tucked into the countryside, where many family gatherings have taken place.
Carbondale, Pennsylvania is where many generations of my family have called home. Ever since my ancestors emigrated from Ireland, they have lived in this small, coal-mining town. The streets are lined with beautiful, old churches, tiny homes, and telephone poles. It would not seem much to an outsider, but this little town holds so much meaning to my family and myself.
When I was younger, I’d roll my eyes when my mother ran into someone she went to high school with when we went back to visit. This weekend, however, I was amazed at the sense of community when so many people whom I have never known before came to pay their respects to my recently deceased uncle. At my cousin’s wedding, many people from both the bride and the groom’s side knew each other, and reconnected at the event. Small-town life is unparalleled to anything else; its unique way of life is an essential part of my family identity.
All of us have our own personal stories, good or bad, which are rooted in our ancestry. Whether someone’s family is related to them by blood or not, personally chosen or God-given, they are vital to one’s individuality. For me, personally, my family is the most important thing in the world.
We must remember more often to not dwell on the small things. That failed test and the unnecessary parking ticket won’t matter a few years from now, but whom we call family will. Call a parent, brother, sister, aunt or uncle and tell you how much you love them; you never know when that last time you say those words to them may be.
Collegian columnist Megan Burnett can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @megsbcollegian.