Thicker Than Water

illustration by Natalia Madej

My mother doesn’t understand my penchant for choosing friends over family. “Blood is thicker than water,” she says. I never understood what that meant. Thick as thieves was closer to home. My friends and I plotted, pandered, and protected. Respect was earned. Loyalty gained. And trust was proven. With that love, I found new family. A chosen family.

Today I still struggle with the friends versus family dichotomy. Family can be vindictive, manipulative, and petty. Friends are loyal, supportive, and truthful. I know not everyone friends and family is like this but I know I’m not alone. Blood may be thicker than water but I can jump into cool water when blood runs hot. Water can be frozen and melt again. Blood, as it pumps through your body is one color, but changes when brought to the surface. Enough metaphors?

I love my family. But, I have felt a disconnect on both sides of my family. One longer than the other but a rift nonetheless. Once again that blood versus water trope was tested again when I found out my mother has cancer. It wasn’t family that came out of the woodworks. They were there, sure, but friends–mine and hers–came out in droves. Cancer drives, prayer circles, home maintenance, cash, and company. This is what water does, it flows to fill. Blood can clot, congeal, and become cancerous. (I guess I wasn’t done with the metaphors.) Again, I love my family. I just always feel like they like me. I don’t always feel like they support me. Friends? Friends support you even when you’re wrong. Good friends support you then tell you-you’re wrong.

All of this is just to say thank you to the family I have chosen. Thank you to the family that supports me and mine even when you only know half the story. Thank you for your lack of criticism and reduced amount of drama. Thank you for the care and attention and for stepping up when I need you most.

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