I left New York in a hurry and without much of a goodbye to my extended cousins because I'd been diagnosed with bipolar and cloaked in shame. That was 2007.
Around April of 2020, I got an email from one of my northern cousins that a weekly family Zoom would bring us together on Friday nights. Ever so slightly paranoid about hearing of Zoom crashers ruining meetings, I deferred.
Once the security hurdles had been surmounted, I joined the family Zoom. It's become a highlight of my week. We play Pictionary and word games, guessing games and maybe the weirdest but most fun was to give a partner verbal instruction to recreate a dance move. Hard to explain, but man, that was fun!
After months of our weekly get-togethers, we've all confessed our love for each other. I confessed my diagnosis and hasty retreat from New York, and the enormous fear I'd had of stigma is now shrinking in the rearview.