And You Are?

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"Don't ask me who any of these people are, 'cause I have no idea."

That's what my brother Nick said as we parked outside the funeral home. We got out of the car, and I went to go hug my aunt who I hadn't seen in almost three years. She pulled away from me saying, "I didn't even recognize you. Sorry I just didn't know who you were." And after all that, she still didn't reach her arms up to hug me back.

My grandfather was 89 when he died. I went to his funeral because it was the right thing to do, but really, I didn't know him very well. The crazy thing is that I didn't know anyone there, and neither did anyone else.

My dad has three sisters and he only talked to them when it was about my grandfather. Now that my grandfather's gone, they have no reason to speak to each other at all.

I have five siblings and years ago, my older brothers made a pact that we would never go down the same road as our dad and his sisters. I was about 10, so I was just going with the flow. Now that I'm 19, the pact is more serious to me.


But I have to admit...I sometimes wonder, in 30 years, will we end up strangers too?

Already there's been a breach in the pact and we barely talk to one of my brothers anymore. Although we're trying not to get this way, maybe it's inevitable since we were raised by our father. We've adopted some of his personality -- especially his outlook on family. We're not afraid to go it alone and even cut ties.

I hope that one day, all of us will put aside our differences, if not for ourselves, for our children. Because at my funeral, the last thing I want my kids saying to their cousins is, "nice to meet you."

With a Perspective, I'm Ashley Williams.

Ashley Williams is 19 and a college student in Oakland. Her commentary was produced by Youth Radio.