I believe family, above all else, should always come first.

Sarah - Salinas
Entered on May 7, 2009
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: family
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In my life, family is the most important part of every day, every week, and every year. My family is the most precious and essential gift I have ever been given. Because of the way I feel about my family, I strongly believe that family, above all else, should always come first.

This relatively simple belief has been instilled into my very heart and soul, and for that I can thank my mother, Kathleen. This incredible woman taught me very early on in my life how valuable and treasured family truly is. From my earliest memories, I can recall my mother always putting my father, my siblings, and me (as well as her own sisters and parents) above herself. If the family needed sacrifice, it was her sacrifice, regardless of how hard it was on her. If there was any need for mending, helping, or healing, it was she who did it.

One cold and lifeless day, my father walked away from my family. The devastation we all felt cannot be described in words, but time soon revealed that our pain and sadness was a blessing in disguise. It was then, because of our immense grief, that the four of us (my three siblings and I) realized we could not survive as a family if we did not cherish each other. My mother had been the perfect model of quiet selflessness for years, and we discovered that “her way” was the only way. We sacrificed. We loved each other. We chose to put the family above our hobbies, our friends, and ourselves. We survived together.

At times it was very difficult to put my family above myself, but it was always worth it. When you know that every member of your family is consciously putting you above themselves, a unique and powerfully loving connection is created and sustained. This connection has nurtured my family through the worst of times and given us all strength through our daily trials and tribulations. Even now, as I am separated from my family by hundreds of miles, I know our connection remains unyielding and I will always have them to turn to.

I now recognize and accept that my father chose to put himself, his wants, and his life above his family, a characteristic that is becoming increasingly prevalent and acceptable in our world. My father forgot what real, sincere, ideal family means. An ideal family immediately loves you without question the moment you are born. They coo over you and fuss over your every need. A genuine, ideal family is a group of people, united through lineage, who, before even considering their own individual wants and needs, choose to adore, appreciate, listen to, and simply take care of each other. The value of family has been diluted and nearly lost is recent decades, and perhaps that is why I have held onto my belief in true family so tightly. Everyday we are reminded that families are not ideal: marriages fall apart, divorces rip sons and daughters in two directions, drug-addicted mothers kill their babies in the womb, fathers abuse their children, and so on. Perhaps humankind just needs to be reminded of how beloved the gift of family is and how we are meant to cherish the unit before the individual. All I know for certain is that I will never forget. My family is and will always be the most important aspect of my life, and I am beyond thankful that this is true.