My youngest brother is my favorite brother – we just connect on such a high level. He and his wife have twin daughters, and there was a similar instant connection the first time I met them. Recently, my brother and his family came from Canada to California for a visit. They spent the first half of their visit staying with my mom (who lives in South San Francisco) and the second half of their visit staying with me. My son Marcos and I decided to take full advantage of their visit, especially since it was the first time that Marcos was going to meet his cousins.
When we walked into my mom’s house, my brother’s daughters instantly squealed with delight upon meeting Marcos. It did take Marcos a couple of days to get used to his cousins, since he was only 20 months old. On the third day of their stay, though, Marcos really warmed up to the girls. They spent most of the day playing, running and jumping around like cousins normally do. That evening, my mom was getting the girls ready for bed while we were getting ready to drive back home. Marcos had other plans, though. He jumped into bed with his cousins, tucked himself right in between them, and waited patiently for them to read him a story. My heart just melted, and from that night forward, Marcos and his cousins had their new bedtime routine.
As we drove home from my mom’s house, I had ample time to think and reflect. I absolutely loved watching Marcos and his cousins play together, and I could tell how happy Marcos was. But I also thought about how much I missed my brother and his family, and how difficult it would be to see them leave.
Cousins Stay Over
For the last few days of their vacation, my brother and his family stayed at our house. Marcos was delighted to spend each day with his cousins, showing them his favorite toys and making piles of stuffed animals on his bed. Every day, my eyes filled with tears of joy as I watched my son play and giggle with his cousins.
Each morning brought a new adventure, some of which led us to wander around our town of Sonoma. For the first time, I truly saw our beautiful community, and the girls pointed out things I hadn’t noticed before. As a family, we took daily trips to the Sonoma Plaza park and the public library. We inspected the charming grapes of multiple vineyards, and we reveled in the sunshine that allowed us to play outside. We also learned about the history surrounding us in Sonoma – Vallejo’s home, Mission San Francisco Solano, and the Bear Flag Revolt.
Ending on a laughing note!
On our last day, we all went to play outside with Marcos’ big cars. My seven-year-old nieces were crunched like accordions inside the small vehicles built for Marcos’ height. They squealed with joy as they walked up and down the driveway, playing with the red push-around toddler buggy. That evening, we laughed until our sides hurt. Watching them all play was so heartwarming, but also bittersweet. As much as Marcos and his cousins had bonded, I knew that their departure the following morning would be difficult for everyone.
Goodbyes are Never Easy
The morning of my brother’s departure was heartbreaking because I knew I wouldn’t see them for another year. What was most painful to see was the girls’ tearful goodbyes as they hugged Marcos and me. After they left, my heart continued to break upon hearing Marcos call for his cousins. At twenty months of age, he didn’t comprehend that they went back to their house.
I was a wreck for a week, and I didn’t know how to explain to my son that his cousins were gone. I decided to put pictures of them around the house, which helped Marcos see his cousins each day and stay connected to them. However, what helped most was that the girls recorded videos of themselves talking to Marcos, which I shared with him. We were even able to video chat with them some days, which Marcos absolutely loved and still loves!
Reflecting on their visit, what stuns me the most is how much of a connection Marcos made with his cousins. Even at twenty-months old, he formed an incredible bond with them, which I hope lasts for the rest of their lives. And although we live far away from my brother and his family, we’re able to stay connected through technology. So if you’re like me and you have family that lives far away, use technology to video chat and send photos and videos to each other. It will keep you connected, and keep a smile on your face.