I spent about 7 hours at the St. Louis Zoo celebrating my niece's 2nd birthday. I saw lions and tigers, the bear was hiding...Friends came from from the surrounding states for what's basically a family reunion. In Southern Illinois I have no blood family. I moved down here because of love, 3 hours from the flat lands and miles of corn and beans that is Decatur, Illinois. Over the course of 7 years they became my family, my pack. I have a small contingency of friends from Decatur that I've held on to. I consider them family as well. All of them helped me survive my divorce, lended a hand when stuff broke and have supported me in my quest to reconnect with myself. They are sometimes the reason I don't have an assault charge ;)
A few of my friends now have children of their own, another niece and 2 nephews (one I get to finally meet at the end of the month!) have come into my life. I love them dearly and relish my role as an Auntie. We are spread out now, throughout a few states even, so when we have an opportunity to get together we all try to take it, not everyone could but it was a good turnout. It was hot, I was sweaty, despite all of this I had a blast. It's Labor Day weekend, a weekend normally marked by sadness in my life. My uncle was killed during this weekend 7 years ago. There was no sadness, only a resoluteness to make sure that I took the time to stop these people and hug them, to look them in the eye and tell them "I love you" and hope to Gods they realize how much I mean it because they are my family.