Sunday, March 22, 2015

Somber Times, Changing Times

Ah, life. Ever so fleeting. The morning after my last post I got a call that I was not expecting and it has truly changed the way that I have been thinking of things lately. On March 8 Lefty and and I were awakened with the news that one of my cousins had passed away, very unexpectedly. These last two weeks have been... indescribable.

I have to say this-- my extended family has been relatively untouched by death. I have friends that lose family members every year, some even every few months or so-- not so with us. The last person in our family that passed away was my sweet aunt and her death was the reason that I moved from Chicago back to my hometown. So, we have definitely been fortunate. But being fortunate in this area makes each loss more shocking. Even more heartbreaking.

I have never really been a very emotional person. I cry when I get ANGRY-- but not really when I get sad. I tend to become very introverted when hit with a tragedy. I am not as vocal as I would normally be-- online or in real life. I am just... less me, if that makes sense. And that is how I have been for the last couple of weeks. I have truly struggled with the death of someone so young (same age as me); someone so integral to our family-- and I am currently making changes in my life to make sure that the time I have becomes the best life that I can make it.

I was asked to speak at my cousin's funeral and I did. It is an honor to stand in front of loved ones and remember great times that you have had, lessons you have learned and events that you will never forget. Listen y'all-- life is moving, full speed ahead, make sure that the life you are living is the life that you want. All too often we live the EXPECTED life, not the one that we WANT.

Below are my remarks from the funeral, may we all continue to rally around one another and keep each other strong...

Hello, my beautiful family.

It is with great sadness that I stand up here and deliver this eulogy for my sweet cousin, Christina. I have spent almost every waking moment since getting that dreaded call last week, trying to make sense of losing someone so early... so unexpectedly. But I can't. There is no making sense of this situation. In a little over a week, I have not come up with one reason why Tina had to be taken away from her daughter, her brothers, Aunt Pam and all of us. There is no answer to the Why.

So what I have decided to do is to celebrate Tina, the life she lived and the impact that she made on all of us. And for me, that impact was significant. You know, most people will tell you that your cousins are your first friends-- especially if you are close in age. Well, there were three of us born in 1977. Born in July, August and October, we spent a lot of time together as kids. And the three of us being so close in age did not help our mothers one bit-- if we were superheroes we would have been known as the Tiresome Threesome. We were into everything as little kids. We were criers, biters and heathen toddlers all at the same time. My first friends. Together we learned some very important life lessons: 1. that being different from one another was ok, 2. that if two of us were guilty we should probably place blame on the one not participating and 3. the most important family rule there is to learn: we can fight & argue with each other, but no one else can fight & argue about one of us. My first friends.

I can't express to you how much I will miss her. How much we will all miss her.

So I am now faced with a different question: How can I honor her memory properly? The answer to that is simple-- for all of us. We can honor Tina's memory by living the best lives that we can, right now, today. Do something that you have always wanted to do; chase your passion, whatever it is; start a new business, travel to every state or internationally. Love this family as much as Christina did: Let's not simply talk about getting together-- let's get together. Let's take care of one another. Be good to one another. Be as giving as Christina was: when she passed, Tina helped saved the lives of people she didn't know-- she was an organ donor... sign up for something like that, volunteer with the Kidney Foundation, the Red Cross, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, become a foster parent. Contribute. Reach out and teach someone else those life lessons Tina helped me learn.

Let today be our new beginning.

I will remember Tina's big smile, great laugh, selfless acts and her amazingly kind heart. Birthday parties in the backyard, mud pies baking in the summer sun, how much she loved her family and how wonderfully sincere she was. I love you. My first friend.


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