Hello, Again

What stunned me about the death of my cousin a month ago was the suddenness of it. As far as I knew she was relatively healthy and living in Maryland. But then early on a Monday morning I opened a private Facebook message from her sister urgently requesting prayers. Less than an hour later a follow up message arrived saying, “We lost her.”
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In the hours that followed, I found out more details surrounding her death which did not reduce the loss to any extent, but it made the unthinkable understandable on a purely medical level. A condition that existed from birth, the highs and lows of which were managed during her life, had overtaken her body in the end.

It was all so terribly sad. She was only 57. If genetics were purely in play, my cousin should have expected to live another thirty or thirty-five years. Her mother is 87, lives independently and remains very active. (I’m not sure if she still does it, but my aunt was volunteering at the senior center.)

As I sat with my thoughts and memories about my cousin on the day she died, I realized I hadn’t seen her in fifteen years. It was at a family reunion which took months to plan, but cousins from eastern Long Island to Michigan found the time to come together. It was wonderful to be in the middle of a very extended family. There was no drama, no fighting, no resurrections of past issues that weekend, just lots of hugs and kisses among all the first cousins, introductions among the next tier of cousins and “cousins once or twice removed”. There was laughter, a lot of story telling, tears for those who had passed away, more stories, more laughter and a very memorable photo of the Coleman clan.

A lot of life happens in fifteen years. More than can be posted on Facebook or written about in Christmas or birthday cards. It was terrible to realize that I had lost touch with my cousin. I only thought I was keeping in touch because we were Facebook friends, “liked” some of the same posts and perhaps heard about each other through the family grapevine. I was not happy with the fact that I had been complacent in letting all that time go by, that I didn’t push harder for another reunion. Didn’t we promise one another to do it every two or three years?

Organizing a weekend reunion for a family spread out in more than seven states is a a scheduling nightmare. Just agreeing on a date will involve a hundred emails (my exaggerated guess). No one wants to step forward to do it, although more than ever, many of us want to come together. The thing is, we will be coming together in the next weeks for my cousin’s memorial service. When the date is known, we will push aside things on our calendars. We will make the plans and travel to New England for the service. It seems to me that we make time for funerals because we have to be there to say good bye.

I want to find the time to say hello again. I want to talk — not email, Facebook message, or text– to my cousins and their families. I want to hear about their lives again.
I want to say hello again before I am forced to say good-bye.

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One Response to Hello, Again

  1. Claire says:

    After going through two devastating losses, both unexpected, within three weeks of each other last year, I understand this so well. Fortunately, both my 67 year old mom and 31 year old sister-in-law lived locally so I saw them frequently – BUT this has forced me to rethink relationships and how quickly we can lose the people we love. It has changed me, but for the better. I am really trying harder to keep in touch and really look at my relationships with others. Thanks for sharing.

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