UNITED STATES—Family is one of the most important things in my life and I think that sentiment echoes with many Americans. However, I’ve come to realize when things are absolutely dire; the people that you need to have your back the most is family. I’m going to be a bit honest here and share a ton about my family dynamics without sugarcoating things.

This past week we faced the arduous task of saying farewell to my grandmother who lived to the age of 90. Yes, that is a crazy feat that not many people can toot their horn about when it comes to their grandparents. It took many people in the family by surprise to say the least because she was recovering so well, and out of nowhere her health took a turn for the worse. I know a few people who have lost parents; however, I don’t know many people who have lost both their mother and father at a young age except for my mother.

So for my father it was very difficult for him to grieve and I gave him plenty of space as I KNEW in my heart, he needed that time to really grieve for his mother and take the time to process that she would no longer be on this Earth in the flesh. It was especially heartbreaking for me to witness my grandfather deal with the death of his soulmate. I mean my grandfather is 95 and this guy moves around like people younger than me. The guy is in great health, and he has battled things that I can barely put into perspective. I mean this is a guy who never obtained an education beyond the third grade because he had to work on a farm, he was the only boy of 9 siblings, and he was the breadwinner for his wife and 9 children.

This is also a guy who fought in World War II and managed to return to my grandmother, who he asked to wait for him while he fought during the war. My grandfather is an absolute hero, and that’s not something I’ve said out loud, but as I reflect and process this recent family tragedy it became a reality. This guy is hurting and he needs the support of his family now, more than ever and I am going to make it my mission to travel more to visit him.

Throughout the weekend, it just put so much into perspective that I have this whole other side of relatives on my dad’s side that I rarely see or speak to. The only time we come together is for big celebrations, or the unfortunate passing of a family member which last occurred in 2013. I mean I have 23 first cousins and 23 second cousins; there is no excuse for us to not get together once a month for brunch, lunch or even dinner to just chat and discuss the good ole times we had growing up. I mean most of us live in the same state and in close proximity to one another it’s not like we’re on opposite sides of the United States.

What was so great about this weekend, even though it was filled with so much sorrow and grief was reconnecting with my roots, hearing my dad, my aunts and uncles talk about their childhood and sharing stories about my grandparents that quite frankly I had no clue about. I mean my grandparents were married for 70 years; it would have been 71 years in November.

That is AMAZING. I mean I don’t know ANYONE in my inner circle or life who has been married longer than my grandparents. That is something I brag about all the time and I will continue to brag about it because it’s historic in my eyes. The weekend wasn’t without drama, because when it comes to family there is always a bit of drama that erupts when you least expect it. And even though there were a few relatives I wanted to deliver a tongue lashing to, it became apparent that it was: not the time do to so; not the place to do so; and would not accomplish anything in the long run if you ask me.

All families have squabbles, and you have to pick and choose your battles. Will the elephant in the room be addressed, without a doubt, but it will transpire at a time when the family is not mourning and when I have a clear perspective on things and I’m not just lashing out for the sake of lashing out. This weekend I learned perhaps the most important lesson of all. Family is important and when united the bond is unbreakable no matter what tragedy or madness emerges in an attempt to destroy it.