It is hard to escape who I am. The weight of it is sometimes a little hard to bear. I look in the mirror and see many faces, not just mine. I am a link. A link in a chain. A chain that is etched in gold, intricate, strong and intertwining. The chain spans generations, spans time and spans space. My chain started in Malta. The first link. My chain grew in Gozo, the tiny island I call home. The chain stretched and now lies here in Melbourne.
My family is big. My family is loud. We live inside each other’s pockets. I have seventeen first cousins alone. Forty if I include my husband’s. More links in my chain. I speak to my cousins all the time. We see each other all the time. Something would be wrong if we didn’t. I don’t know what it is like to be alone. I have my chain.
I have no stories of disaster, war or havoc to tell. My story is of sacrifice. A common sacrifice. The choice to leave a place called home, to make a better life. A choice. They say that distance makes the heart grow fonder. But my life has only shown me that distance makes the heart ache. Ache for the ones we don’t see. The people we leave behind. The places we leave behind. The traditions we leave behind. From the extreme of living 24,000 km’s away or just in Sydney, the heart aches.
Family defines me. Not just because it is so big. But because it is so damn important. My life has many blessings. My family far outweighs most of them. My parents left so much, so that my sister and I could gain so much more. Only as a parent, I now know, what that means. I want my boys to grow up knowing how important their chain is. Where it comes from and who is part of it. From the cousins in Malta and Greece, to the great-grandparents who have long gone. I want them not just to know. I want them to feel that deep burning inside, that ache, when they think of that chain and how important it is to life. Their life. Sometimes it is a good thing when the heart aches. It keeps me alive.