Dear Cousin

Two weeks ago, my mom called to tell me that my cousin had died. This letter was part of my processing the situation. 

Dear cousin,

This is the first time, you know.

The first time that I am experiencing what it feels like to lose someone close to my own age.

The first time that I am experiencing what it feels like to be completely caught off guard by death.

I want you to know that it hurts a lot, to have you gone. It feels important to me that you know that.

I almost got to see you at our family gathering this past summer. I was disappointed when it didn’t work out. And you messaged me several weeks ago to say that you were planning on coming to our Cober Christmas gathering. I was glad. Glad to hear from you. Glad that you had thought about me. Glad that you were thinking ahead to Christmas. Glad that I would get to see you.

When we were younger, we played all sorts of things together. I remember playing Barbies with you. I remembering Nana teaching us how to embroider together. I remember how quickly you picked up the skill. I remember watching Yentl with you, Nana, and Papa- a cozy evening complete with scratchy afghans and buttery popcorn. It’s strange to think that I am the only one from that evening still alive. We sometimes talked about getting together to watch Yentl again.

We didn’t have a lot in common as we grew older, and that intimidated me, being the shy person that I am. I thought about you a lot though. I prayed for you a lot.

I feel guilty.

Guilty because last Saturday, I played twelve games of volleyball.

Guilty because last Sunday, I was worried about whether or not my very first roast chicken was going to be good or not.

Guilty because I was so busy living in small ways while you were dying.

Guilty because I am still alive, when your life is over with so much of it unlived.

Guilty because it seems as though life has brought me opportunities and blessings that you deserved just as much as I did, but never got to experience.

Guilty because even in my guilt, I have a strong person to cry to, and I don’t know if you had such a consistent, kind strength in your life.

Guilty because maybe I could have done more. What if there was something that I could have done to prevent this from happening?

I had no idea.

No idea that it would hurt so much to know that I will never see you again. No idea that I would so badly wish that I had been more relentless in my loving of you. No idea that I would mourn the loss of relationship and the loss of opportunity to build that relationship.

Dear girl, you were beautiful.

You were kind.

You were affectionate.

You were so sparkly and alive that I often felt quite dull beside you. You were three years older than me, and as a child, your maturity always made an impression on me.

I hope that you felt love somehow. I don’t know what your last hours were like. I have imagined so many scenarios, and they all break my heart. I hope that you had a chance to see God, to feel God, to go home to Him. That has been my heart’s cry.

I look at pictures of you and I ache all over again. Because it’s too hard to believe.

I wanted to see you.

I wanted to know you.

I hope that you knew how much I cared about you. You faced many, many battles in life. If I had another chance, I would try harder to help you fight them.

I’m going to miss you, lovely girl.

The Bible says that nothing can separate us from the love of God. Not life, nor death. You were not alone when you died. Oh, I hope that you felt God. I hope that you reached for him. Eternity feels exponentially more personal to me, knowing that you have become a part of it.

I will remember you always.