By Amiah Leal ’22
Today is the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, when we celebrate Mary conceived without original sin. When I stopped to reflect on Mary and who she is, I thought about how she is Jesus’s mom. She is His family.
My favorite part of the holiday season is family. Family has always been important to me. However, I can’t say that I’ve always felt important to my own family. All my friends and family can tell you that when I love, I love hard. I love all my friends from the moment our bond is formed, and I’ll do any and everything for them, even if they couldn’t do any and everything for me.
I’ve always been taught that friends will come and go, but no one could prepare me for the moment my family would go. It was during Hurricane Ida, a vulnerable time for many of us. I needed my family the most because my mom was once again activated with the military, and my dad stayed to watch the house. I evacuated with family members to Florida, but I eventually relocated to Texas with family friends because things were not working out. My family had let me down and I felt like it was my fault. I couldn’t understand how people who raised me could be so cruel.
One day, during the evacuation I stepped outside the hotel to get some air. Not only was I homesick, but I was also struggling to feel God’s presence in my life. I didn’t really think anyone would notice. However, this time was different. Once it got too hot, I went back inside, and my extended family was waiting there to embrace me with open arms because they didn’t know where I was and they missed having me around. That was the moment that I realized, God was there and so was my true family.
Now that I really think about it, Jesus had an extended family, too. His disciples were family and the fact that they were not blood relatives didn’t matter. This experience taught me a lot, but most importantly, I have learned that families don’t have to raise you to be real. Ever since I’ve learned this, I’ve felt free knowing that I’m not the only one who doesn’t have a perfect family. Now that I have confidence in the family that I chose I have really great friends and family that don’t seem like they’re leaving anytime soon. My big brother has always told me in hard times like this to, “know where my love is.” If you take anything from this reflection I want it to be that you also have the power to know where your love is. That love is with God and your true family, and that love will never leave you.