Can you even remember all of their names?
As number 8 in a family of 10, I get asked this, among other derogatory questions, all of the time. Coming from a large family in today's society is considered strange; a rare glitch in a nihilistic system. What a tragedy.
My siblings are the greatest gift my parents have ever given me.
My siblings, as well as their spouses and children, are my best friends. When one of us is dealing with a difficult friend, relationship, or stressing over an exam, etc., there's no doubt that that Cosgray will be surrounded. Surrounded not only by realistic advice and strong opinions, but most of all, support and encouragement. One memory stands out in particular to me when writing this; it took place in 3rd grade. Attending public school for the first time had been a stressful, anxiety-ridden experience for me. After taking days of petty bullying from my classmates, I learned about the STAAR. The concept of this government-issued test scared me and only added to my school-related stress. One day after school, I hid myself upstairs to have a lovely emotional breakdown. It took barely 5 minutes for most of my siblings to find me, having a pity party on the checkered couch. While they each had their own way of comforting me, I needed every one of them. Even my brother, who attempted to encourage me by saying "even if you fail the test, you can always just live at home!" As we have gotten older, our individual needs have taken different forms. Just seven years later, three of them comforted me, on that same checkered couch, as I processed the news of losing a friend to suicide. Different struggle; same support group.
As we get older and pass through new stages of life, we have each grown closer to a specific sibling. For example, when I entered high school, my older brother and I became best friends. And when my little sister also became a high schooler, we finally became close; through car rides to and from school. Two of my older sisters now share an apartment together, and two of my other sisters, who are both mothers, just moved into houses near each other.
Having siblings in these various stages of life has also impacted my vision of the world and of sainthood significantly. I get to see one sister living out her vocation as an art teacher, another as a nurse, as well as a brother running his successful beef business. They've shown me how very real the idea of living out a saintly life in one's profession is.
One of my favorite perks of having a big family, though, is how fun it is. Holidays, birthdays and other celebrations are bound to be full of laughter, love, noise and music in our household. There isn't anything much more exciting than a family gathering to me, because it means a party with all of my best friends.
While I understand my Catholic family is not considered normal or desirable by many, I also recognize it's one of society's missing puzzle pieces. Everyone deserves to feel the love and support that I have received from my family.
So yes- not only do I remember all of their names, but they remember mine.