Today is Cousin’s Day, and what a great time to think about my amazing cousins and the joy they’ve brought into my life. It is true that cousins are often our first playmates and friends, as children. We learn about sharing and taking turns, settling squabbles and watching out for each other, kindness and being fair. It’s our first realization that family is bigger than our mom and dad, siblings and grandparents.
I have been so blessed with the cousins that I have. Some of my happiest and most fun childhood memories involved my cousins…four on my mother’s side of the family…and thirteen on my father’s side. That’s a bunch of playmates! And play is what we did so well. In the playing I learned about life and adventure, about work and growing up.
It saddens me that as we all grew up and found our way in the world, our paths took us far from each other. Although geographically we all lived near one other, we saw each other less and less as we raised families of our own, worked, lived busy lives. Occasionally Mindy and I connected, because she lived closest to me, but I rarely saw the others.
As adults approaching middle age, we reached the point where loss began to occur within the larger family. When grandparents passed, we cousins huddled together in grief, comforting each other, reconnecting, vowing to see each other more often. We might have a cousins’ gathering or two. And then another funeral would solemnly remind us that time had again slipped away.
It was the loss of my father five years ago, followed by the loss of my Aunt Glenda, that deepened the desire to gather more frequently, to celebrate life, rather than meet at funerals to grieve and lament the passing of time. This year so many of my cousins have been touched by loss, bidding mothers and fathers good-bye. Two of my cousins this very day held a visitation to honor their mother who passed two days ago. My cousin Mindy slipped away from us too this year. More than ever, I cherish my family, desiring to rejoice with the living, even while remembering the departed. And so we shall.
I am so grateful for my cousins, these childhood playmates who have indeed become dear friends. In fond memory of my cousins Bill, Steven, and Mindy, who have blazed the trail before us into the Beyond, I love you and miss you. And to my cousins Greg, Charlie, Sheila, Sarah, Max, Denny, Pam, Alan, David, Christie, Jim, Mike, Lisa and Jeff…Happy Cousin’s Day. I love you. Thank you for journeying with me. Let’s get together again…soon.