A couple of weeks ago my cousin lost her fight with cancer leaving behind her husband, her son, daughter-in-law and her unborn grandchild. It’s never easy when someone we love passes away but it is more difficult when they pass away so young and with so much life to experience. But, I know that her legacy will live on and that her granddaughter will always be surrounded by her grandmothers love.
I remember the first time I met my cousin it was 1990 and I was six years old and a bit shy. We were attending our very first family reunion and this was my first time meeting my 2nd, 3rd and 4th cousins. I remember feeling out of place and nervous meeting all of these new faces so I found myself a quiet place to hide. It wasn’t long before a pretty lady with sandy colored hair and glasses came and sat down with me. The first thing that stood out to me was that she didn’t speak to me like I was a baby she actually engaged me in real conversation and I remember that made me feel special. The family reunion was being hosted at her house so she gave me a tour and showed me where I could grab a pop from the coolers. She introduced me to her son who was about my age and her cat “bud” who I instantly adored. She made me feel welcome and she helped me join in on the fun everyone else was experiencing. Because of her the family reunions will always have a special place in my heart and in my memories.
Over the years we would meet again and again at family reunions, weddings, days at the beach and a few times her and her husband joined us for campfires at a local state park. I have a tendency to fade to the back and observe and she always pulled me into the thick of things making me step out of my comfort zone and for that I will forever be thankful. I remember one wedding we attended her and her sister helped me sneak into the men’s bathroom because the line to the women’s bathroom was wrapped around the building. They made sure the bathroom was empty and stood guard so I could go. It’s such a silly memory but it still brings a smile to my face today. Later when I was a teenager the whole family met at the beach to play in Lake Michigan and ride ski-dos. I had never been on a ski-do and I kinda wanted to do it but being more reserved and shy I decided to sit on the beach instead watching everyone out their splashing through the waves. It wasn’t long before my cousin came along and whisked me over to her nephews ski-do she had arranged for his wife to take me out on the water. Somehow she knew I wanted to go out there and she made sure that happened even though I never voiced the desire.
She was the kind of person that always went above and beyond to make people comfortable and happy. She was the type of person that you could meet one time and you would always remember her kindness. I wish I had an opportunity to tell her how cool I thought she was and how thankful I was for her always including me in the fun. It always seems to happen that way we don’t realize how much a person has touched our lives until we are no longer able to tell them. It still amazes me how much one person can really touch your heart and it makes me realize the importance of every interaction we have with others. Every interaction is an opportunity to impact someone’s life in a positive way.
I will never understand why the ones we love are sometimes taken from us prematurely. I wish she had the chance to meet her granddaughter and I wish she had the chance to grow old with her husband who was truly her soul mate. The hardest part of dealing with death is seeing the pain in the eyes of those closest to the deceased knowing that there isn’t anything you can say or do to ease that pain. I pray that they are able to find peace in the memories she left behind and that as time moves forward they will be able to as well.
In honor of my cousin give someone you love a call and tell them how much you love them and how much they mean to you. Be mindful of how you interact with others and try to leave a positive impression.