Guest post by Samantha Vandeberg:
“Family” is a rather confused and distorted idea for me. During my adolescence, I became the child forgotten and learned that blood family didn’t necessarily equal love and support. My grandmother had raised me with endless love and beauty. She died when I was 13 and there was not a single family member willing to bring me into their home and heart. Everyone needs a family and to be loved, so I developed the strong belief that for me, my family is chosen. My family, a network of adoration, respect, support and compassion, has since been made up of hand picked souls that understand the depth of love in the same way my heart feels it.
This past Saturday, my husband and I officiated the wedding of one of those souls so dear to me that “sister” is far more appropriate than “friend.” Heather set aside a moment during the ceremony for pictures to be taken of the happy bride and groom standing in front of all their family and friends. A moment to capture that special day when everyone they loved was in the same room supporting their new journey.
What came next was something so meaningful to me that years down the road, I’m certain I will think back and still choke up as I smile. My dearest Heather, and her groom, Ken, made time in their wedding ceremony to capture pictures for the NARCOLEPSY: NOT ALONE campaign. They proudly halted their ceremony to surround me with love and support.
As I look through the photographs, it strikes me that this moment in time was more profound than any of us were consciously aware. Heather, and Ken, didn’t just surround me with their love. They also surrounded me with a room filled with their loving and supportive families and gave me a moment to be a part of that. A cherished feeling of having a large supportive family of my own.
The Bride and Groom are now off on their honeymoon and the families are all back in their homes. Everyone is happy and full of smiles. As for me? Well, my heart continues to swell. I may not have a large blood family, but I have a small and perfectly amazing chosen family. The quality of their love and support humbles me and I’m forever grateful to be so blessed.
REM Runner’s Note: Thank you so much to Samantha, Tom, Heather and Ken for including the NARCOLEPSY: NOT ALONE campaign in your wedding ceremony. Thank you, Samantha – for holding the sign with pride and joy. I feel stronger and more supported as a result. Congratulations on your wedding!