For a very long time, “family” was something that I feared. Family was a group of people who despised each other but had no other choice but to stick together. I grew up watching our family fracture and I even participated in some of the friction. I was my mother’s daughter, and my father’s.

Mother had a long list of issues. She was unable to empathize with people and incredibly selfish. My father is in denial. He continued hanging onto an idea of a wife that was more of a dream than reality, and he kicked himself constantly for it.

There were random happinesses in our childhood. Sunday dinners at grandpa’s house. Trips to amusement parks with our father. Chinese New Year fireworks. These happy memories were very rare, but they served their purpose; they kept me relatively sane.

Before Jamie, family meant people I lived with and didn’t necessarily like. Of course my brother was the exception. I would call my brother my best friend even if he wasn’t my brother.

Now family means something entirely new. When I met Jamie, I didn’t expect to end up where we are. I had just been in downward spiral and I was aimless, just floating. Months before we met, I had been fired from my job, went on academic probation, and ended an engagement. I had admitted defeat, moved back home, and I was working a lowly job while trying to bring my GPA back up. I was lost.

Having been in a long distance relationship that kept me out of the dating pool for four years, I jumped back in with an abandon. The first was a man I met in training, and who knows how it even started. Then there was a string of first dates that never panned out. There were also a couple of boys I actually started to like, but just never really that much.

And then there was Jamie. When we first started talking, I thought he was going to be another one of the same. The more we talked, the more I noticed the difference. When we were talking, even just online, I felt that he was really interested in what I had to say. I felt interesting, unlike all the other times when I simply felt like just another online date.

Everything with Jamie was new. It was really the first time I was in a proper relationship. I had a lot to learn. There were things that I didn’t know about in regards to how to properly love another person because my parents were poor models of romantic love. I made many mistakes, and somehow Jamie forgave them all. He would shocked and upset at my lack of experience and human understanding, but still he forgave me and worked with me.

And I’m glad he did. Otherwise I wouldn’t have ended up here–on a remote farm in Western Australia amongst a group of the most wonderful people I have ever known.

I have sisters. One of them repeatedly spoils me with treats. She’s the one current wearing my baby while she cooks dinner for us. She is amazing.

I have a mother. She spoils me even more. She works tirelessly to keep the household going and still she finds time to do special things for all of us, including me.

I am not used to this–this selfless kind of love. I constantly question whether there is something they want back from me. I want to voice my gratitude, but I don’t have the proper words.

Because of them, family means something different now. Family means giving without expectation. Family means unconditional love. Family means disagreeing with each other without attacking each other.

Never in my wildest fantasies would I have imagined this future for myself. But I am happy to be here. I am happy my son has such a family, and I hope I can live up to the legacy.

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