My cousin died this morning.
I’m having a really hard time processing this.
My cousin has been struggling with a bi-polar disorder for most of her life. She’s been in and out of hospitals and much of her life has been a living hell. She’s struggled to keep a marriage together, managed to raise two amazing kids and has been a chain-smoker for as long as I can remember.
She and I shared a closeness despite the fact that we’ve only been together a few times in our lives, due to the fact that she’s always lived in a different state. We’d met when we were little wee and a handful of other times, mostly at family weddings or funerals. The last time we were together was at a family reunion a ton of years ago. She and I took a long walk together and spoke of Life and Family and things of that nature. We were like-minded, kindred souls. We shared a birthday.
And now, all I can think about is that, despite all her struggles, the pain that she lived with… how her family dealt with her dark times, the unexplained silences and frustrations of never being able to make her happy… now they are making funeral arrangements and saying goodbye.
A month or so ago, her brother told me she had cancer. When I asked him how she was dealing with the news, he told me that she was so medicated that she probably wasn’t even truly aware of what was going on. I decided that it was a blessing, of sorts. And yet it all seemed so unfair to me. As far as I knew, she and her husband had patched up some rough spots and relocated to another state, bought a house and were attempting to start a new life together in a new climate with new surroundings.
But I hadn’t had the time to put together my thoughts and feelings enough to contact her and let her know I loved her and that I would be there for her. I’d told her during our walk at that family reunion years ago that I said a prayer for her every day. She was genuinely touched by that sentiment and thanked me with all her heart. I’ve continued to do that all these years and I see now that all those prayers added up to precisely not much of anything at all.
I wonder if even for a split second, she thought of me before her last breath. If she could feel that I cared or that I’ll always keep her in my heart and that I cherish the memories of times we spent together. I should have told her.
I should have made the time.