December 2, 1974- December 2, 2009
As I write this,I pray God gives me the words to say what I wish to say. Because this article involves the death of a loved one and I do not have permission from her parents to specifically say anything about her, it must remain somewhat general while I get my point across. This is definitely a challenge.
If my cousin were alive today she would be 35 years of age. Instead, God decided to take her and show her what Heaven was like the week after she asked her Sunday school teacher. She was only eight years old. Her brother was the same age as me, five. She was my dad’s brother and his wife’s first born child. She had blonde hair and brown eyes. Although I remember her as having the gap between her front two teeth that caused most of my cousins (and likely her as well had she survived and she really did have that gap) to undergo the grueling process of braces, I am uncertain. My memories of this cousin are incredibly vague and someone who is remembering back twenty-six years of her life when she was only five at the time is not going to remember what happened perfectly.
My cousin was a beautiful little girl. Of that much I remember perfectly. I also remember she had a lot of spirit. She and another older cousin liked to take turns brushing my one year younger cousin’s hair and my own. It is unfortunate that one of the last memories I have of this cousin is of praying under my breath,”Please don’t let her win, she pulls my hair so bad.” I remember clearly that she won and clearly that although she attempted not to pull my hair, she did. She was only eight years old after all. Had she wanted to be a beautician,there should have been many years to prepare but there were not.
The next memory of my cousin is of a phone call. I am too young to know the specifics of her death outside of it being an accident because of a balloon. She was very seriously injured and was flown to a hospital in Little Rock, Arkansas. In my five year old memory, I remember her death as coming quickly but many years later my mom said she was in a coma for some amount of time. It was not a long amount of time but they did not immediately remove life support because even I on my five year old little knees was praying every night for God to get her better.
The phone call was to tell us she had passed. As a five year old, the concept of death is very confusing. My first experience with death was from my cousin. We did not have dogs, cats, fish, or anything that died. My grandfathers died but it was before my birth and were old. How could a little girl not much older than myself lose her life? How could God allow that?
I wanted to attend the funeral but thankfully my parents did not allow me. The death of my cousin lingered on my mind for years. I could only imagine what it did to her brother. I saw these two cousins a few times a year on holidays and at school. He saw her all the time. When someone who is very much a part of your life suddenly disappears and you cannot understand why, it has to be an extremely confusing, scary, and traumatic experience.
For years following my cousin’s death, I dreamed of her. Often she would tell me we did not have long to be together before we could play again. A five year old does not have a rational mind. At the age of seven,, my hair was cut in a style similar to what my cousin wore at the time she died. People often commented that we looked alike. We did not resemble in the slightest except for the haircut and blonde hair. I wish we had because she was a knock-out even at age eight.
Because I was so small at the time of her death, I went for years not understanding she died at age eight rather than age seven. When I had my eighth birthday, I celebrated away from everyone else happy to be out of the risk of losing my life like she did. For some reason I had correlated our resemblance to meaning we would also resemble on our age of death. A month into my eighth birthday, I realized my math had been in error and that my cousin’s death occurred when she was eight. My ninth birthday came around and I was happy again. Until I was diagnosed with cancer at 9 years and 4 months old, but that is another story.
If my cousin were alive today she would be 35 years old, almost certainly a mom, and who knows what else. I have tried to imagine what she would look like based on those computer generated pictures but my mind is not abstract enough for that. My comfort is in knowing she is with our Father in Heaven and when she asked what Sunday school was like that Sunday, he simply decided it was time to show her.
Though it is impossible to remember every year, all those I remember are of me not failing to remember my cousin’s birthday on December 2nd. I wonder if this will always be the case because of how young I was and how traumatic it was when it happened? I guess time always tells. God had his plans for my cousin and she’s been at peace for a lot of years now. I am also at peace with her being at peace though in my mind I will never forget her. Her final resting place is near that of my three grandparents who have passed on and when I stop through, I leave a flower and I do not say “bye”. I say “see ya later.”