I lost my 36 year old cousin today. She has been 36 for 9 days now. I remember she was almost a New Year’s baby but not quite. It is surreal for various reasons to me.
My cousin is the first baby I can remember. I was 4 years old when she was born.
I remember the house that my aunt and uncle lived in when she was born. It was not far from my great grandma’s house. Her room was shared with her sister who was 2 years older located right off the living room. They decorated it with primary colors and balloons. I can remember her baby shower they had after she was born. I guess you can say I don’t remember a time she was not living.
These cousins, my deceased and her older sister, are my first cousins on my father’s side. We grew up in the same town. Our families even relocated to a different town at the same time and lived many years across the street from each other. I was close friends with her older sister (2 years younger but seemingly my closest cousin geographically too). However, I will say that there was a bond between myself and my deceased cousin. Like her, I was also the youngest in the family and understood what it felt like to not be included. I would often let her tag along and stand up for her.
I babysat her when I was older. She could be a real pain. But even when she was being one she was funny about it. One time she locked me out of the house when I went to get the mail. Another time she threw a bottle at her sister and missed. However, this resulted in a dent in a microwave which was really expensive and new back then. She knew how to make an impression…
As sisters are, she and her sister were opposites. Her older sister was more serious and stubborn. My younger cousin was easy going most of the time and loved to laugh. I wouldn’t say she was shy, but she also didn’t need to be the center of attention. The one thing that she took very serious was her role as a mother and wife.
She married a man three years her senior. He already had a daughter and was divorced. My cousin stepped into the role of step-mother almost effortlessly. She loved that little girl as much as, if not more, that her own biological mother did. The way she fought for her safety and was so proud of her was inspiring. When my cousin had her first biological child, a daughter, it was not an easy pregnancy or birth. I was there for most of it. Her parents came down for the end of it. That baby girl was only 5 lbs and so tiny. They both made it thru okay. This baby was her first biological daughter, but still her second child.
When they moved away and out of state to be closer to her parents it was really sad for me. She was a friend and we at times were closer than I was to my own sister. Our daughters were almost the same age and she was someone I felt I could talk to.
After, that move she had a baby boy years later. We still kept in touch. We would talk about issues with our kids or even our parents. I was there for her when her daughter got pregnant at 17 and her sister refused to talk to her. I threw a baby shower to make sure her daughter knew she was not abandoned when they all came down to visit her friends and family in the area. This caused some displeasure from my aunt (her mother) and her older sister, but what the hell I had been there.
Life has a way of slapping us around. As things got complicated with her daughter and my relationship with my father we just stopped talking. I pulled away from the family because my dad told me I caused too many issues on that side. There was too many things going on and not a lot of time to clear up all the mud being thrown. So I have not really spoken to her for over 2 years. We also didn’t end on the best terms because of things that instead of asking were just assumed.
Now it’s too late. She is gone. I got a call from a different cousin that told me he heard she wasn’t doing well the day before she died. My father called me a few hours before she died and then after. She died of a sickness not from an accident. I heard she has been not well at least for six months and I am so sad. I am sad for her children, two who are still minors. I am sad for her husband that loves her so much. I know her father is having a horrible time with this. I am sad for her sister. Her oldest is a mother now and so my cousin had two grandchildren. She was a grandma at 34 and too young to die.
Here I sit … I know the family would be okay if I had died. I had thought I was supposed to die by the time I was 12 just like my dad’s sister. When that didn’t happen I was going to die when I was 20 and then I had my daughter.
You see in my family, I looked like her my deceased aunt and never really fit in. I have been outside my family for the last 2 almost 3 years now. They would have some tears but a lot less for me than her. My death would be accepted easier almost like it was a given. It doesn’t seem fair she is gone when parts of me have been dying for years.
I know my two kids would miss me. I know my husband would grieve. But I also know they would all be okay. There are some cousins in my family that would be at my funeral and others that would if they are in the area and have time.
My parents might even feel some relief knowing I was gone. There would be very little disruption in the overall family if I was the one that one not living. I am the one they see as the problem. I don’t even think very many people would travel for my funeral. But as we speak my uncle from another state heads out to where her father is. My father and mother are on their way as well. They all should. She deserves it. Her family deserves all the love and support they can get. I will attend the funeral because I loved her.
I will be the outsider when I am there. But I will be there because I can’t imagine not going.
I can’t remember a time she wasn’t alive. I never thought I would have to.